Monthly Archive for June, 2005

The First Hispanic Supreme Court Justice?

Emilio GarzaRumors around some conservative circles have it that tomorrow Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist will announce retirement and Bush will nominate Judge Emilio Garza to be the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.

Others say that Bush will save Garza for a O’Connor retirement, either way, keep your eyes on Emilio Garza, a very likely Supreme Court nominee.

Ohio Gov. Signs Budget Creating Statewide School Voucher Program

I just found who I want for President of the United States in ’08, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

The Friedman Foundation reports:

Ohio Gov. signs budget creating statewide school voucher program
In the 50th year since the school voucher’s introduction, school choice shows remarkable momentum

INDIANAPOLIS – In the 50th anniversary year of when Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman introduced the school voucher idea, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft signed the state’s budget bill implementing one of the country’s largest statewide school voucher plans. The bill also expands the state’s two current programs providing thousands of children the chance to receive a quality education at a school of their parent’s choice.

“Ohio is moving to the forefront in giving families greater educational freedom,” said Gordon St. Angelo, president and CEO of the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation. “These advancements are a testimony to Ohioans’ belief that families should be free to choose a school based their on child’s needs, not their address.”

The new Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Pilot Program will be available to 14,000 children across the state. Children in schools under “academic emergency” will be eligible for the program, which would allow their parents to use a voucher to choose another school – public or private. The vouchers will range from $4,250 for K-8 to $5,000 for grades 9-12. Under the budget bill, the current Cleveland program will expand to include students in grades 11 and 12, and increase the maximum voucher amount to $3,450 from the current maximum of $3,000. The legislation will also remove the pilot status of the state’s school voucher program for autistic children, increase the voucher amount from $15,000 to $20,000 and eliminate the cap on participation.

The passage and expansion of Ohio’s programs come during the 50th anniversary of the school voucher idea Friedman proposed in the 1955 book “Economics and the Public Interest.” In this historic year, Ohio becomes the fourth state to either create a new school choice program or expand an existing one. A total of 33 states introduced school voucher or tuition tax credit legislation in 2005 with nearly 50 percent of the bills passing through committee or at least one legislative chambers.

“It’s fitting that in the year of its 50th anniversary, we’re seeing school vouchers achieve unprecedented levels of momentum,” said St. Angelo. “This year, more states introduced legislation and advanced it further than ever before. A breakthrough is approaching.”

Does Gay Marriage Threaten Religious Freedom?

A while back, Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law At Harvard University, wrote this with regard to gay marriage:

Religious freedom, too, is at stake. As much as one may wish to live and let live, the experience in other countries reveals that once these arrangements become law, there will be no live-and-let-live policy for those who differ. Gay-marriage proponents use the language of openness, tolerance and diversity, yet one foreseeable effect of their success will be to usher in an era of intolerance and discrimination the likes of which we have rarely seen before. Every person and every religion that disagrees will be labeled as bigoted and openly discriminated against. The ax will fall most heavily on religious persons and groups that don’t go along. Religious institutions will be hit with lawsuits if they refuse to compromise their principles.

I find the threat of religious intolerance and discrimination so obvious, so likely, that I find it hard to believe others don’t see it as clearly. Many proponents of gay marriage already (falsely) see gay marriage as a civil rights issue, so with that view in mind, it’s a small step to conclude that religions that teach against homosexuality or gay marriage, are just like a religion that would teach, say, racism or sexism.

In other words, proponents of gay marriage currently have a very difficult time distinguishing between bans on actions and bans on non-actions. Do you think this will get better after gay marriage is allowed? No, it clearly will get worse, especially with the next generation. After gay marriage is allowed, with each passing generation, more and more people are going to (falsely) see a ban on gay marriage as equal to a ban on race, or gender, or nationality. Let me ask you this, how would you see a religion that bans black people from its membership? If there were such a religion, there would have already been people who would have tried to remove the tax exempt status from that religion, who would argue that any politician who belongs to that religion be removed from office, and who would publicly chastise members of that religion, right?

What’s to make you think that the same thing wouldn’t happen to religions that continue to teach against homosexuality and homosexual marriages? Religious people who believe that homosexuality is wrong, whose religion does not allow gay marriage, will be reduced to (the same level as) those members of today’s society that are for racism. Sure, they are allowed to speak publicly, they still have free speech rights after all, but like racists today, they will be rebuked by society, seen as a fringe group of individuals that are out of the mainstream, that don’t deserve to be heard. In short, members of the Catholic Church tomorrow will be seen as members of the KKK today.

I normally shy away from conspiracy theories, but allow me to break one of my rules and float a conspiracy theory on this. Some of my conservative comrades believe that the primary motive behind several proponents of gay marriage, specifically those groups of people that absolutely hate religion, is not to give gays the ability to marry, but the hope that allowing gay marriage will further push religion into the far corners of society. In other words, their primary motive behind gay marriage is not because they care about gays, it is not because they want gays to be recognized publicly, it is primarily because of their dislike for religion. They know that by bringing in gay marriage, they are indirectly pushing out religious politicians from public discourse and thereby furthering their secular utopia.

Either way you look at it, it is so abundantly clear to me that those who (falsely) view gay marriage as a civil rights issue, which will certainly be more people if gay marriage is allowed, will logically follow through on their views, and with time, religions that teach against homosexuality or against gay marriage, will be no different than KKK members today. Some proponents of gay marriage look forward to this day consciously, others do not. Either way, allow gay marriage and the road is clearly paved in that direction.

Still think it’s unlikely? Well it looks like it is already starting to happen in Canada.

Link via Cella’s Review who has more on this.

Quote Of The Day

” The Bush folks, like most conservatives, tend to emphasize nonmaterial causes of poverty: corrupt governments, perverse incentives, institutions that crush freedom. Conservatives appreciate the crooked timber of humanity – that human beings are not simply organisms within systems, but have minds and inclinations of their own that usually defy planners. You can give people mosquito nets to prevent malaria, but they might use them instead to catch fish.

Instead of Sachs’s monumental grand push to end poverty, the Bush administration has devised the Millennium Challenge Account, which is not dismissed by Sachs, but not heralded either. This program is built upon the assumption that aid works only where there is good governance and good governance exists only where the local folks originate and believe in the programs. M.C.A. directs aid to countries that have taken responsibility for their own reform”. –New York Times Columnist David Brooks, in an article titled, “Liberals, Conservatives and Aid”

Capitalism Does NOT Mean Pro-Business

The belief that if one is a strong capitalist that that necessarily implies one has to be pro-business is one of the most common misunderstandings I get when I tell someone my economic beliefs. It also comes in the form of the person listing all the evils corporations have done throughout the world (however, all the good corporations have also done throughout the world are rarely mentioned, but that´s a different story). Here to dispel these two myths are Bruce Bartlett and Radley Balko of the Cato Institute.

Bruce Bartlett, in a dated article titled “Free market doesn’t mean pro-business” writes:

Principled conservatives believe in the free market. While this may seem to equate with a pro-business viewpoint, in fact it often does not. The last thing most businessmen want is a free market, where they must compete, slash prices, continuously innovate, suffer narrow profit margins and live constantly on the edge of bankruptcy. They would much rather have assured profits, monopoly positions, price supports, trade protection and the other trappings of a corporate welfare state.

The great economist Milton Friedman explains that the dichotomy results from the fact that the business community necessarily is made up of existing businesses. By definition, therefore, it does not include those that have yet to be formed. Moreover, the business community is comprised of large businesses with significant political clout and many times more small businesses that individually have no political influence whatsoever.

Big businesses are much more inclined to support governmental solutions to the problems they face because they have the muscle to get them. Government bailouts and trade protection are seldom, if ever, granted to small businesses, only to big ones with high profiles and many employees. It is doubtful that the Bush administration would impose tariffs, as it did for the steel industry, on an industry comprised of many small firms instead of a few large ones.

Consequently, those who expect big businesses to support the free market are constantly betrayed. Big businesses are even known to support tax and regulatory policies that harm their own industries — provided that they could get some loophole for themselves so that their competitors are hurt worse. That gives them a relative advantage, which allows them to increase their market share.

Therefore, those who support the free market and truly want to help consumers often must labor alone and battle big corporate interests. In the words of Friedman: “We cannot expect existing businesses to promote legislation that would harm them. It is up to the rest of us to promote the public interest by fostering competition across the board and to recognize that being pro-free enterprise may sometimes require that we be anti-existing business.”

Radley Balko of the Cato Institute writes:

There’s a difference, of course, though opponents of both fail to recognize it. Free markets, peaceful commerce and capitalism consist of voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange. They create wealth. They enable people to live, to live better, and to live more comfortably.

Corporations, on the other hand, are government-created entities that act in their own interest. As such, they often use government to better their advantage, most always to the detriment of free enterprise. When I defend markets and the machinery of markets, I’m not defending corporations.

As far as the evil corporations goes, he writes:

My point was only to say that those of us who believe in free markets are often accused of supporting nearly everything corporations do, and that’s simply not the case. Corporations fairly regularly behave in ways that are anti-market. They regularly invoke government to stifle competitors, and they regularly lobby for handouts, tax breaks, and welfare from politicians. Other businesses do these things too, but corporations have quite a bit more money, clout, and power. So they do them more effectively. Drawing a distincition between support for markets and support for sole propieterships would have been a bit of a non-starter…

Yes, corporations, businesses, and parternships are the essential machinery of free markets. But they don’t deserve unconditional support from free marketeers. The moment they start rent seeking, begging for corporate welfare, capturing and abusing regulatory agencies, and otherwise invoking the state to tilt the playing field, then yeah, they deserve some scorn.

Picture Of The Day – Democrats Vs. Republicans

Democrats Vs. Republicans

Quote Of The Day

“Those who wrote the Constitution believed that morality was essential to the well-being of society and that encouragement of religion was the best way to foster morality . . .

Presidents continue to conclude the Presidential oath with the words “so help me God.” Our legislatures, state and national, continue to open their sessions with prayer led by official chaplains. The sessions of this Court continue to open with the prayer “God save the United States and this Honorable Court.” Invocation of the Almighty by our public figures, at all levels of government, remains commonplace. Our coinage bears the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.” And our Pledge of Allegiance contains the acknowledgment that we are a Nation “under God” . . .

With all of this reality (and much more) staring it in the face, how can the Court possibly assert that “the First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between … religion and nonreligion,” . . . and that “[m]anifesting a purpose to favor . . . adherence to religion generally” . . . is unconstitutional? Who says so? Surely not the words of the Constitution. Surely not the history and traditions that reflect our society’s constant understanding of those words. Surely not even the current sense of our society, recently reflected in an Act of Congress adopted unanimously by the Senate and with only 5 nays in the House of Representatives . . . criticizing a Court of Appeals opinion that had held “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional . . .

What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle. That is what prevents judges from ruling now this way, now that — thumbs up or thumbs down — as their personal preferences dictate. Today’s opinion forthrightly (or actually, somewhat less than forthrightly) admits that it does not rest upon consistently applied principle”. — Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting in Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that displays of the Ten Commandments in two county courthouses in Kentucky violated the First Amendment. (McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky)

John Walton RIP

Wal-Mart heir John Walton died yesterday when his plane crashed shortly after take off. Readers of this blog may wonder why I am writing about his death, and what exactly his death has to do with conservative Hispanic issues. The answer lies in education, and what John Walton had done for education of poor and less fortunate students (who are heavily minority students).

The Wall Street Journal writes:

Mr. Walton, an heir to the Wal-Mart family fortune and the 11th richest American according to Forbes magazine, had been a stalwart and courageous advocate of using consumer choice and competition to reform failing schools. In 1998, Mr. Walton joined with financier Ted Forstmann and former Walt Disney Co. head Michael Ovitz to create a $200 million scholarship fund so that low-income students in urban areas could attend private schools. He also sat on the board of CEO America, a leading clearinghouse for school choice efforts, and had contributed the start-up budget for the Black Alliance for Educational Options, a pro-choice group of black educators led by former Milwaukee school superintendent Howard Fuller. Mr. Walton’s friend, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said last night that “John Walton’s legacy of investment in education and commitment to the youth of our country was an example to all of us.”

As a philanthropist, Mr. Walton shunned the limelight, but he emerged briefly last November when he explained to Fortune magazine why he was so passionate about education reform: “Our family has come to the conclusion that there is no single area of activity that would have the breadth of impact that improving K-through-12 education in America would have.” said Mr. Walton. “It would have a positive impact on every single societal challenge we face, from crime to productivity to economic health and growth, to true equality.”

Fortunately, the battle for Mr. Walton’s causes will continue. This year he contributed $360,000 to help get a “paycheck protection” initiative on the ballot for California’s special election on November 8th. The measure would require public employee unions — including teachers unions — to get permission from their members before using dues for expressly political purposes. The outcome could determine the future pace of all educational reform efforts in California and other states.

Update: Derek, in the comments section, provides a link with more information on John Walton. The San Diego Union Tribune writes:

Walton focused his giving on creating school choice for the poor. He supported charter schools and contributed $50 million to the Children’s Scholarship Fund, the nation’s largest privately funded school voucher program, with Wall Street financier Ted Forstmann.

Educator Dennis McKeown remembered that soon after he opened King-Chavez Academy of Excellence in Barrio Logan, Walton made an unannounced visit.

Walton pronounced the campus a winner and asked McKeown if there was anything he could do. McKeown said that the bathrooms needed cleaning.

“Where’s the mop?” Walton asked. McKeown said Walton spent the next 25 minutes mopping the school’s bathrooms.

The two stayed in touch, and the Walton Family Foundation recently donated $540,000 to McKeown’s latest project, the reform of King Elementary School in San Diego.

“Any time a hippie like me can connect with an aristocrat like that, I think it’s just God being good,” McKeown said.

Although Walton was a major contributor to the failed state campaign to create a system of taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, he also gave a great deal of money to public schools.

He gave money to the School Futures Research Foundation, which helped start Nubia Leadership Academy, Holly Drive Leadership Academy, Promise Charter School and the former Sojourner Truth Learning Academy, as well as King-Chavez.

In 2003, San Diego city schools announced a three-year, $3 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation to help raise student achievement at some of the city’s lowest-performing schools.

In 2000, Walton donated $100,000 to support a failed attempt to oust San Diego schools trustee Fran Zimmerman, who opposed the back-to-the-basics educational reform championed by superintendent Alan Bersin.

The San Diego Natural History Museum, of which Christy Walton is a board member, has been a recipient of the Waltons’ generosity, as is the Mingei International Museum and the San Diego Zoological Society.

Mick Hager, executive director of the Natural History Museum, described Walton as a quiet man who retired early to bed yet craved athletics and adventure, from scuba diving and skiing to sailing and flying.

“He was a wonderful friend to the museum, and he was a wonderful friend to San Diego,” Hager said.

Walton was an Army veteran who served with the Green Berets as a medic during the Vietnam War. He worked as a crop duster in the 1970s and built boats in the 1980s. He attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio.

Update: More on John Walton and the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) here.

The Supply Siders Were Right – Again

Laffer CurveThe Wall Street Journal writes:

The theory is really one of the simplest concepts in economics. Yet its logic continues to elude the class-warfare lobby, whose disbelief is unburdened by the multiple real-life examples that validate its conclusions. The idea is that lowering the tax rate on production, work, investment and risk-taking will spur more of these activities and thereby will often lead to more tax revenue collections for the government rather than less.

In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan chopped the highest personal income tax rate from the confiscatory 70% rate that he inherited when he entered office to 28% when he left office and the resulting economic burst caused federal tax receipts to almost precisely double: from $517 billion to $1,032 billion.

Now we have overpowering confirming evidence from the Bush tax cuts of May 2003. The jewel of the Bush economic plan was the reduction in tax rates on dividends from 39.6% to 15% and on capital gains from 20% to 15%. These sharp cuts in the double tax on capital investment were intended to reverse the 2000-01 stock market crash, which had liquidated some $6 trillion in American household wealth, and to inspire a revival in business capital investment, which had also collapsed during the recession. The tax cuts were narrowly enacted despite the usual indignant primal screams from the greed and envy lobby about “tax cuts for the super rich.”

Earlier this month the Congressional Budget Office released its latest report on tax revenue collections. The numbers are an eye-popping vindication of the Laffer Curve and the Bush tax cut’s real economic value. Federal tax revenues surged in the first eight months of this fiscal year by $187 billion. This represents a 15.4% rise in federal tax receipts over 2004. Individual and corporate income tax receipts have exploded like a cap let off a geyser, up 30% in the two years since the tax cut. Once again, tax rate cuts have created a virtuous chain reaction of higher economic growth, more jobs, higher corporate profits, and finally more tax receipts.

This Laffer Curve effect has also created a revenue windfall for states and cities. As the economic expansion has plowed forward, and in some regions of the country accelerated, state tax receipts have climbed 7.5% this year already. Perhaps the most remarkable story from around the nation comes from the perpetually indebted New York City, which suddenly finds itself more than $3 billion in surplus thanks to an unexpected gush in revenues. Many of President Bush’s critics foolishly predicted that states and localities would be victims of the Bush tax cut gamble.

ATSRTWT

Update: Heritage Policy blog has more.

Update: Economist Bruce Bartlett thinks we need better arguments than the Laffer curve.

Picture Of The Day

Bush At Fault For Obstructionism

Quote Of The Day

“In the name of my peoples, I’d like to thank all the patients I’ve seen today and to [thank] the American people about the sacrifices for the democratic process . . .The American nation should be deeply proud of its sons and daughters who have worked hard and who have fought hard for the best values of liberation and democracy in Iraq. With such tremendous morale, with such sometimes terrible injuries, they have braved tremendously and they bear their suffering for the sake of humanity, liberation and democracy . . . I would like to say to these patients and to the American people that these sacrifices have not gone in vain. Indeed we shall have a world that is free from terrorism and where the human right and democracy are respected.” — Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, speaking to reporters after his visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

The Supreme Court And The Ten Commandments

There were two important Supreme Court decisions today involving the Ten Commandments. While the news is filled with all of the important details, I just want to highlight one thing.

Souter was joined in his opinion by other members of the liberal bloc — Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, as well as Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor, who provided the swing vote.

Yes my friends, those who consistently voted against the Ten Commandments were all liberal Democrat leaning Justices.

Those in favor?

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that Ten Commandments displays are a legitimate tribute to the nation’s religious and legal history.

“In the court’s view, the impermissible motive was apparent from the initial displays of the Ten Commandments all by themselves: When that occurs: the Court says, a religious object is unmistakable,” he wrote. “Surely that cannot be.”

“The Commandments have a proper place in our civil history,” Scalia wrote. He was joined in his opinion by Chief William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justice Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

You guessed it, the conservative Republican leaning justices.

Picture Of The Day

Social Security Explained

Quote Of The Day

“The Court’s four liberals (Justices Stevens, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg) combined with the protean Anthony Kennedy to rule that local governments have more or less unlimited authority to seize homes and businesses….Justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggested that the use of this power in a reverse Robin Hood fashion–take from the poor, give to the rich–would become the norm, not the exception: “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”

That prospect helps explain the unusual coalition supporting the property owners in the case, ranging from the libertarian Institute for Justice (the lead lawyers) to the NAACP, AARP and the late Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The latter three groups signed an amicus brief arguing that eminent domain has often been used against politically weak communities with high concentrations of minorities and elderly. Justice Thomas’s opinion cites a wealth of data to that effect”. —The Wall Street Journal writing about the recent Supreme Court Decision to allow government to forcibly take away property from citizens

Monterrey Pictures

I have uploaded some (small percentage) of the Monterrey, Mexico pictures I have taken. To view them go here.

Monterrey, Mountains

Tec de Monterrey

Please note: These are not all of the pictures. I have taken several pictures that I will be uploading throughout the week, so save this link and return to it periodically, if you want to see all of the pictures I took.

New BlogLayout

As promised, with the help of my favorite male liberal Oso, I have made several changes to my website. I still haven´t completed it yet, but this is certainly a good start.

For those who were curious, this is how I look. Me

Or this, depending on who you talk to.

Me ALSO

More pictures on the right, I plan to add my recent Monterrey pictures sometime in the following week. Any feedback/suggestions for the blog would be greatly appreciated.