Wednesday, May 31, 2006

George Will: White Guilt, Deciphered

This morning on WJR, Frank Beckman, prompted by George Will's review, interviewed Shelby Steele about his new book, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. Near the end of the interview, Frank Beckman asked Mr. Steele his advice to Michigan blacks concerning Michigan's Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI). The transcript isn't yet available, but Mr. Steele advised that blacks should vote in favor of the amendment.

Mr. Steele stated that as long as Affirmative Action is in place, all blacks share the stigma of having not succeeded on their own merits, but were promoted only because of Affirmative Action. Mr. Steele maintains as long as that policy is in place, blacks individual will never be viewed, or perhaps even know themselves, whether their accomplishments were real or artificial.

He also made a point that blacks can't blame racism or other external factors for the fact black children entering kindergarten are already two years behind white children. They don't know their colors, numbers, letters, nor have they been read to as much as white children. That poor start, Steele says, can not be blamed on anyone but black parents. Comments like those may relegate him to concert tours with Bill Cosby.

I'm not a regular reader of Newsweek, but it arrives at home with 12 other subscriptions courtesy of unused Delta Miles. George Will's article will appear in the June 5 issue. In online editions appearing early on MSNBC's website, George Will wrote:
So, being black conferred "an almost reckless moral authority," a "power of racial privilege." The "power to shame, silence and muscle concessions from the larger society" was black power. The demand for equal rights became a demand for "the redistribution of responsibility for black advancement from black to white America, from the 'victims' to the 'guilty'."

Hence the black militancy's proclaiming "black power" was really an exercise in the power of helplessness. It was an assertion of white power—white society's power to "take" (LBJ's telling word) blacks to social equality. Hence "black power" was actually a denial of the power of blacks to manage their own escape from an intractable inferiority.

"By the mid-sixties," Steele writes, "white guilt was eliciting an entirely new kind of black leadership, not selfless men like King who appealed to the nation's moral character but smaller men, bargainers, bluffers and haranguers—not moralists but specialists in moral indignation—who could set up a trade with white guilt."
George Will claims the book can be read in two hours. Bill Cosby believes too many blacks can't read it. Shelby Steele wants black parents to read it to their kids. Jesse Jackson wants whites to read it and give blacks credit for it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What's your favorite color?

DeVos DeMagoguery--Henry Payne

Detroit News blogger and political cartoonist Henry Payne makes a great point about Dick DeVos' recent radio ad protesting the high price of gas, the high profits made by oil companies, and disingenuously claiming something should be done about it.

Mr. Payne's article speaks for itself and doesn't need further contributions here to improve its point.

The point that should be considered here is how quickly DeVos has abandoned reason and insulted the intelligence of Michigan voters by towing the left's gas crisis propaganda. This is not the kind of leadership Michigan needs. We already have Democrats crying, "Woe is us," we don't need Republicans crying with them.

The best thing Dick DeVos can do about the ad is abandon it and hope people forget about it. Already we know that despite all the complaints about $3/gallon gas and news stories about how people can't afford to shop, gas usage has increased already this spring and boaters are proclaiming they'll not let gas prices change their favorite summer activity.

DeVos has also come out against the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

On both these issues DeVos has the same position as Granholm. They're also both in favor of ridding the state of the Single Business Tax, though Granholm seems a late-comer. Is their only difference their political party? If that affiliation accounts only for the state's color on some nighttime news map then that's all we're voting for--our favorite color.

If that's what the governor's race has become we're little better off than Sir Galahad approaching the Bridge of Death (November's elections) in Monty Python's Holy Grail. No matter how we answer, blue or red, we may be cast into the Gorge of Eternal Peril, or economic backwaters--unless one of our candidates differentiates themselves with honest dialog. We're adults. We can take it.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Parent Trap

The Parent Trap -- Opinion Journal

Wednesday's Opinion Journal included an excellent piece by Glenn Harlan Reynolds describing how legal and societal attitudes have made parenting increasingly discouraging and discouraged.

It makes a similar point (though better written) as this blog's
Why I'm OK with same-sex marriage. Specifically, that parents perform a function different from and more necessary to society than childless couples. There's little sense improving the prospects of our posterity if there isn't a posterity to improve for.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Digital Incompetence

Digital Incompetence
"If they are lucky, the thief may not realize the value of the stolen file, and it won't be used by criminals to drain veterans' bank accounts or borrow money in their names."
That is probably the first thing that went through my mind. A laptop is stolen by someone who only wants the laptop, but before it's been fenced or otherwise disposed of they discover it contains the names and social security numbers of millions of US Veterans. Which is the better approach; announcing to the thief he possesses million of names and social security numbers worth a lot more than the laptop, or not announcing it for a couple weeks and informing the veterans directly? Obviously, the theft would eventually be publicized, but might the veterans' privacy been better protected if the laptop's contents had been kept secret for as long as possible? In this and other damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't dilemmas the better choice may make itself obvious if we're willing to risk bad publicity later for doing the right thing sooner.

My home was broken-in to once and in an upstairs office there were two computer devices. One was a $200 dumb-terminal and the other was a $2000 computer. It isn't without an appreciation for irony that I tell you they took the dumb terminal.

It matters little how much money they got for it, but it matters in this case because what's inside the laptop is more valuable to some than the laptop itself. Now that everyone knows what's inside the authorities won't be the only ones looking for it--and that is not a good thing.

Invest in higher education to revive economy - 05/23/06 - The Detroit News

Invest in higher education to revive economy - 05/23/06 - The Detroit News

Giving more money to universities will turn-around Michigan's economy. That is the essence of Michael Boulus' rebuttal to Jack McHugh's editorial, "Let money follow students, not lobbyists."

What's interesting is how Mr. Boulus, Executive Director of the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan, accidentally buttresses the original argument by stating, "The states with the higher per capita incomes in our nation are those with the most college graduates -- not the states with the lowest taxes." This is an important point because it focuses on the one education's goals: graduation, and not what the state's universities think it is, higher professor salaries and fancy buildings funded with tax-payer-supported tuitions. If we accept the argument that increasing the number of college graduates is important to Michigan's economic revitalization, then we should focus on better preparing students for college so they may succeed and graduate--wherever they attend college.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

State Senator Gilda Jacobs introduces bill to raise Oakland Co. sales tax to 7%

Reported Thursday in both State Senator Jacobs' newsletter and The Detroit News and Friday in The Mirror, Jacobs and Ann Arbor's Liz Brator introduced legislation to allow counties to raise their sales tax to fund mass transit and road improvements.

In her newsletter, Jacobs said:
“We have long been advocating for a Southeast Michigan transportation system that would be a model of regional transportation, while lessening our dependence on mid-east oil,” Jacobs said. “It’s time to move forward on the issue of public transportation so we can compete with other states for the jobs and commerce that have eluded us. In addition, the funding would provide needed road improvements.”
That's all well and good, but this approach is bad for three reasons. First, raising money for mass transit shouldn't require changing the state's constitution. Michigan's constitution should address important things like how government works, asserting the equality of its citizens, equal protection, the limits of government, and other big ideas deserving a permanent address in a document intended to stand the test of time. It's not a bulletin board for political Post-its®.

Next, the State, much less South Eastern Michigan, doesn't have a mass transit plan. None. In fact, no one has even waxed John F. Kennedy and put a stake in the ground. Raising money for a plan that doesn't exist is irresponsible. That kind of irresponsibility is the product of acting before you think. As excited as Ferndale's city manager, Tom Barwin, may be about mass transit he should bottle his nervous energy and use it for the business at hand--like preserving funding for the city's fire and police departments, reigning in inspectors to stop hassling homeowners improving whole neighborhoods by improving their homes and encouraging inspectors to use their powers for good by citing owners of dilapidated and unkempt homes. Don't bother wasting gas looking for missing handrails when some homes can't even be seen behind overgrown shrubs, grass, and long-parked cars.

Lastly, why use a sales tax to fund transportation? Thinking governments use tax policy to influence behavior they want to encourage or discourage. Want people to quit smoking? Raise taxes on cigarettes. Want people to have more children or take care of aging relatives? Increase the per-dependent deduction. What kind of behavior does raising sales tax discourage? In the proposal offered by Jacobs and Braker it discourages shopping in Oakland County. I bet Oakland County retailers are thrilled about that. Not only has state government failed to provide relief from the Single Business Tax (SBT), now the state wants their customers to shop in other counties! It's fascinating, isn't it?

Paying $3/gallon may cause legislators discomfort in the billfold (or purse), but apparently it isn't the mother of invention we hoped it would be. It hasn't brought our governments together to fashion a plan. It's too early to know whether people will move closer to the office or stop driving low gas-mileage vehicles. Heck, we don't even live close enough to each other to carpool.

The state is still planning to spend $600+ million to widen I-75! Now that's a gas-saving idea.

Contact your state legislators and make sure they know it's a bad idea. It's possible that with all the knee jerking we're reading about they're suffering Restless Legislator Syndrome (RLS) and need a slap upside the head to pop them out of it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New Link -- Stone Soup Musings

I've added a link to my blog to another titled, "Stone Soup Musings." It first attracted my attention because it covered Michigan politics, but it's kept my interest because the author, Kathy, strikes me as intelligent and willing to entertain opposite points of view--or at least isn't hostile or unwelcoming to them.

Of course, don't spend too much time there cause I'd rather have you here. Come back soon!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How America really treats its mothers

We can afford to give parents a break - Washington Post

Jody Heymann is looking out for mothers. In her alternate reality working mothers in the US should be treated differently from other employees. More time off, more flexibility, higher pay. What she ignores in her little world is mothers, and perhaps all women, will find it harder to find jobs as their cost to employers compared to other candidates will favor, well, everyone who isn't a woman of child-bearing age.

That's progress.

True, all the countries she mentions in her article treat mothers better than we do. But America doesn't categorize people and treat them differently or favor one class of person over another. Strike that. Let me rephrase that as "America isn't supposed to categorize..," but that's an article for another time.

Ms. Heymann doesn't seem to recognize small companies, where most people are employed, are seriously affected by the absence of an employee where absences make a difference. Or that by having shorter maternity leaves women may be more employable. Only the Scroogiest employers wouldn't want to give mothers all they want and more, but they have a business to run and that business pays other people so they can feed their families.

Or that mothers in America get to keep more of their pay than working mothers in France or Germany? And that by keeping more of their paycheck they're able to afford more than working mothers in other countries? They're able to wear nicer clothes inside bigger cars with more features and park in a two-car garages attached to a two-story homes on their own property in a top-rated school district which is why, after all, both mom and dad work anyway--they're chasing school districts.

But that wouldn't be towing the feminist line, now, would it?

The article teases us with how better to treat mothers but it's really about giving everybody more paid time-off and makes apples-to-oranges comparison between the US and economic power-houses like Iceland (that was sarcasm for you recent graduates that didn't notice).

Maternity, breast-feeding breaks, sick leave, early childhood education and after-school programs: in Ms. Heymann's opinion these are the benefits the US should give working moms. With these in hand, Ms. Heymann believes,
[The] United States could be truly competitive in the most meaningful sense, and "Happy Mother's Day" would be more than just another myth.
What she misses is the myth of the stay-at-home parent. You've probably seen them on TV. One of a pair of parents that decided raising their own children with their values was their responsibility and more meaningful than outsourcing or getting the ultimate in high-fashioned conveniences, an au pair (the trendy word for nanny). The may even save enough money on parking, work clothes, lunches, taxes and skipping the wet nurse to afford to send their 1.6 kids to private school!

Happy Mother's Day!

Teens spurn negative influences

Funny, how protests are fine for auto workers and journalists when they're picketing, or illegal immigrants when the media loves them, but send a few kids out protesting the negative influences of the media and suddenly it's just not the best way to do things. The Detroit News reported:
Jerry Herron, professor of American studies at Wayne State, called the protest admirable.

"But killing the messenger has never worked," he said. "Talking to their friends, one on one, about the issues, might be another way to get their message across."

So these kids are supposed to talk one-on-one with their classmates? When should I expect an illegal immigrant to come to my door (mistaken for a Jehovah's witness?) to discuss their positions on immigration and birthright citizenship? They don't need to because the media is doing their work for them, bringing their message into my family room. Witness how many newspapers and television reporters drop the word "illegal" when discussing illegal immigration.

When the media starts carrying these teenagers message to my home for them then we can discuss how standing outside with signs isn't the most effective way to get their message across.

Loft construction may begin soon

Loft construction may begin soon

It's hard not to get excited about the proposed loft construction where Ashmore's Truck Rental used to be after viewing the artist's rendering in last week's Mirror. Unless, of course, you live behind it.

A few months ago, after a zoning commission meeting was adjourned due to lack of seating for the hoards, I met with a couple of my neighbors who live close to Woodward behind Wetmore's who weren't excited about their properties being rezoned. I suggested there were three types of people with three different views of the project.

The first is people whose homes will be rezoned, prohibiting them from selling or rebuilding another home on the same property. These are the same people who if they stay in their house they'll be looking at the back of a multi-story building instead of the back of businesses like, well, like Wetmore's. As noisy as that business is, it's only noisy during the day when people expect disturbances. With an apartment building (or townhouses or condominiums) noise will be more persistent.

Another group of people are residents who live far enough away their quality-of-life won't be impacted and are excited about anyone wanting to build in Ferndale, especially if it means bringing in more residents, more children, and increasing the tax base. In their opinion, these are all good things. They're especially good if you're suffering from Royal-Oak-Envy, and see all the new residential construction going on there and wondering why Ferndale isn't seeing as much of it. The article above mentions townhouse pricing in the range of $100,000-$700,000. Certainly at the upper-end of that range we're expecting higher-income residents, probably professionals, which is a good thing for area businesses and restaurants.

The last group is developers who probably have their eyes roaming up and down Woodward throughout Ferndale, licking their chops over the lower property values (compared to Royal Oak) while still maintaining proximity for their prospects to both the Ferndale and Royal Oak downtown shopping and dining districts. That's good news for the city.

How each constituency makes out in the end remains to be seen. The city, especially its neighborhoods, needs renewal. It may be impossible for everyone to be happy. As a friend of mine who was once a civil-court judge once told me, he knew he'd made a good ruling if both parties were equally upset. Maybe Ferndale can pull this off and know they've made good policy when everyone is equally satisfied.

Friday, May 12, 2006

13 or 18? Girl's age at issue in Web date

13 or 18? Girl's age at issue in Web date - 05/11/06 - The Detroit News

If a minor shows a bartender all the necessary identification proving they're over 18 and the bartender serves them, is the bartender guilty of serving a minor or a victim of fraud?

If you're the register of deeds and someone shows you phony papers intending to commit mortgage fraud, is the register of deeds a co-conspirator or simply an unwitting accomplice?

If a 13-year-old convincingly presents herself as over 16 and has sex with any man , regardless his age, is the man guilty of statutory rape or a victim of fraud?

This is the question Macomb county authorities are groping with after arresting a 25-year-old Indiana man after he picked-up a 13-year-old Harrison Township girl he'd met on the internet. The Detroit News reported Thursday how the sheriff's office is making out:

The man met the teen on the popular Internet site

The girl told him and had on her MySpace Web site that she was 18.

"We're working with both the federal agencies and the prosecutor's office to see what charges will be brought against him," said Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel, who said the man had a disorderly conduct and a drug charge in his past.

It's unclear whether the man will face charges.

Hackel called the girl's Web site "provocative" and "somewhat questionable." A check of the girl's site Wednesday shows she identifies herself as 18. Pictures show her lounging on a couch in torn jeans and a low-cut shirt. The site contained Playboy bunny logos and a vulgar expression.

Today, however, WJR (AM 760) is reporting the girl will be charged with truancy, which exposes the parents to prosecution for negligence. So because of the 13-year-old's poor decisions, two men have been arrested and risk serious charges, the parents risk charges, multiple police agencies scrambled to locate a girl who wasn't kidnapped, the reputation and social value of the internet service MySpace has been sullied, and the meaning of an Amber Alert has been diluted yet again. At this rate, no one is going to pay attention to them anymore.

But the Detroit News' Deb Price is excited because Generation-Y DotNetters, which the 13-year-old represents, is more accepting of gay marriage. It's a little early to celebrate that victory.

Though her parents may ground her until she's 18, truancy seems inadequate for all the problems she created.

As comedian Ron White says, "You can't fix stupid," but there should at least be fines.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

How can a tax cut both help and hurt the treasury?

Who gains from tax-cut bill |

I think the answer has to do with whether you're a conservative or something else.

Yesterday, both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity (I was driving around a lot) were running on about all the good news being drowned out by the bad news. An internet search for the good news returned precious few articles, but I was able to find this one from the Christian Science Monitor. The article left me confused because in the beginning it credits President Bush's tax cuts with cutting the deficit an additional $38 billion but later on says something will have to make-up for the tax cuts. How can something that brings money into the treasury be a bad thing?

For those of you who don't recognize good news (and still have your Kerry/Edwards or Mondale/Ferraro bumper stickers) this is what it looks like:

The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, believes the current economic recovery coincides with the tax cuts that went into effect in 2003. Since then, some 5.3 million jobs have been created, the unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 percent to 4.7 percent, household net worth is up $13 trillion, and the budget deficit has dropped $38 billion.

"The economy has definitely recovered starting with the tax cuts enacted in May of 2003," says Bill Ahern, a Tax Foundation spokesman. "That included income-tax cuts as well as dividend and capital gains cuts, and it's impossible to untangle the effects of those different tax cuts."

Meanwhile, even with $3/gallon gas consumer confidence is up, inflation is low, and the stock market is reaching record highs, which is good for pensions, IRAs and 401Ks, and other college savings and retirement plans. How does an average student like Bush do it?

Remember all the flack he got about not creating jobs? I doubt he's feeling the glow of vindication with his approval ratings in the low 30s.

It must be voodoo economics.

If you're a conservative this next part of the article smells like sour grapes from all those people who don't understand taxes much less how tax cuts are a good thing. Clinton/Core supporters (either Bill or Hillary will do -- save your lawn signs) will read this next part as bad news:
But even among economists, the subject of the economic impact of tax cuts is controversial. Democrats argue that after every recession, there is some kind of snapback - and this one was aided by the Federal Reserve reducing interest rates all the way down to 1 percent.

Max Sawicky of the liberal Economic Policy Institute (EPI) argues the economic recovery "is one of the weakest." After the tax increases of the 1990s, he says, the economy performed better. "The latest tax cuts will have no impact on the economy in 2007," he maintains.

Some people just can't stand good news. So instead of finding real bad news they make up bad news for the future. "Oh sure. Things are great now, but it won't last," detractors say. Remember when democrats said the tax cuts would have a short-lived affect on the economy back in 2002? Remember how the $600 rebate Bush returned to families was only supposed to be a blip in a single quarter but with the help of other tax cuts is still pushing our economy forward?

Some people will never understand 15% of $1000 is better than 50% of $100. Let's leave the tough math problems for the adults.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

We have to know our voters?

At a recent political gathering a high-ranking political operator was recruiting volunteers to man phone banks (called victory centers) to help discover "who our voters are." That struck me as very odd.

The problem with too many politicians, and apparently the parties they hail from, is they're trying to find out who their supporters may be instead of articulating a vision of America (or Michigan) and letting the policies and platform speak for themselves and attract supporters. Candidates should want voters to discover who they are. It's called leadership. It's called statesmanship. And so far it's missing from this year's campaigns.

How are we to confidently stand on someone's porch to collect petition signatures when we can't describe a candidate's positions in terms other than; "they aren't a democrat" or "vote for them so Nancy Pelosi won't become speaker" or "vote for them because jobs are important?" And what exactly are they going to about jobs? Or my favorite, "Vote for me: I'll suck less than the other guy."

We deserve the blame for the blandness of our candidates, both democrat and republican. Most of Michigan laughs at Detroit's expense due to their habit of electing ineffective politicians that seem to have had little impact on the city's state of affairs. They prefer mayors with big talk and big possies to mayors with big sticks. Detroiters seem to prefer a council that can't manage to work cooperatively with its own members much less with the mayor. Perhaps Detroit politicians' combativeness and administrative thrashing is exactly what Detroit voters want because the voters keep putting them there.

So what does that say about the rest of the state's candidates? The republican party has again proven its appetite for political infanticide by christening a single candidate for governor like they've done in years past with Bob Dole, Dick Posthumus, and John Engler. DeVos (pronounced de-vos') has no competition in the primary and therefor no reason to articulate anything that might attract criticism. The only thing substantive is his objection to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI). In a press release reported by the Michigan Daily DeVos said:
"I am particularly concerned that this initiative may have the unintended consequence of negatively impacting programs aimed at helping women in education. It may also restrict girls-only and boys-only schools that have proven to be successful."
Basically, DeVos is against the MCRI but not on the side of Michigan blacks, who oppose the MCRI because it would eliminate affirmative action programs in the state. Instead, his opposition is based on a stretch of the initiative's intent to mean something that basically doesn't exist already--single sex schools in public education. The ACLU was perfectly capable of erecting obstacles in 1991 but where do candidates stand on the issue today?

Besides, if you're going to oppose the MCRI why not do it with a convincing argument about how its language will violate instead of protect civil rights instead of some over-extended and poorly-extrapolated straw man? Jennifer Granholm did at least that much. Ultimately, I believe DeVos is secretly in favor of the MCRI but like many other candidates is afraid of the political consequences of taking a principled stand, braving the inevitable attacks of racism and defending his position with reasoned and persuasive arguments.

Jerry Zandstra is the only big-race candidate that supports the MCRI, and he's been all but abandoned by the state republican machinery.

We should be laughing at ourselves but lack the objectivity that allows us to laugh at Detroit.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Blend that gas, use your PIN and keep the windows up - 05/06/06 - The Detroit News

Not every post here has to be heavyweight. I offer this article to prove it.

Brian O'Conner wrote an op-ed in Saturday's Detroit News suggesting we can save gas by leaving our windows up and the AC on:
"According to, it's best to sweat it out around town, when you're driving at less than 40 mph.

"But once you're running over 55 mph, wind drag will lower your mileage by 20 percent or more, so you're better off rolling up the windows and kicking on the AC. At around 45 mph it's a wash, since you've got 10 percent wind drag, experts say."

In November 2004, the Discovery Channel's Mythbusters (one of my favorite shows) tested that in Episode 22:
"Jamie's A/C car ran out of gas first -- Adam's windows down SUV ran for another 30 laps -- completely contradicting the computer mpg estimate. Computer estimate based on air flow into the engine, so it would appear that it is unable to properly model the difference between A/C and windows down."
To be fair, Mythbusters had to run at 45 MPH due to a safety officer's insistence, but that was faster than the experts' 40 MPH.

It probably also depends on the kind of vehicle you're driving. If you're already driving something as aerodynamic as a brick like Jeep, SUV or pick-up truck, it probably matters little where your windows are. Turn your AC on full-blast AND leave the windows down for the dog to hang its face out--who cares?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Remember that clause that read, "..and three fifths of all other persons.."?

Thomas Sowell's book "Black Rednecks and White Liberals" has a chapter devoted to slavery where he faults black leaders for misinterpreting the "three fifths of all other persons" clause from the US Constitution as meaning that blacks were considered only three-fifths of a white person. I'll review the chapter another time but want to touch on that subject now that Michigan is leading the way to initiate an amendment to not include illegal immigrants in the US Census.

First, the original language read:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. (emphasis mine)
Meaning slaves (non-free persons), not blacks, would only count as three fifths of a person. There existed before the drafting of the constitution free blacks, and some of those owned slaves (but that's the subject of another article). If today's black leaders understood the intention of the language they would instead complain that slaves should have counted for even less or not counted at all.

The north correctly considered that enumerating slaves for apportionment among the southern states would have given southern states inflated representation in congress. With greater representation and the stubbornness to continue slavery it would be easier for the south to block any move by northern states to criminalize or restrict slavery. Had slaves not counted at all it is possible that congress may have eliminated slavery legislatively, avoiding a costly civil war--in both lives and treasury.

But that doesn't support the rhetoric used by black leaders. Jesse Jackson wrongly states the purpose was to dehumanize black people when he wrote, "That is why the Constitution called us three-fifths human [to] dehumanize us.."

Jonah Goldberg sums it up well in his National Review article, under the heading Three Fifths Stupid:
Blacks were counted as "three fifths" of a person as a compromise between abolitionists and slave holders. Northern delegates to the constitutional convention argued that blacks should not be counted at all, because they were not allowed to vote and therefore their numbers shouldn't count toward boosting Southern representation in Congress. If slaves were counted, slave states would be able to control the legislative branch and expand the hateful institution into the new territories. Meanwhile, slaveholders wanted blacks counted on par with whites for exactly this reason.

In other words, if the racists had their way, blacks would have been counted as 100% people and if the abolitionists won the day, blacks would be invisible to the constitution. The three fifths was a procedural compromise included in the Constitution because so many of the nation's founders were opposed to slavery.

Which brings us to enumerating illegal immigrants for apportionment. What would happen to northern representation in congress if California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and other states with large illegal populations were able to use their numbers to increase their representation? Those states could use their inflated representation in congress to pass legislation in an equally lopsided way today without illegal aliens having the right to vote.

The kinds of things illegal aliens would vote for isn't difficult to imagine. More immediate is the concern of what those states' new congressional and electoral representatives would vote for while stealing representation from citizens in states like Michigan.

Congresswoman Candice Miller (formerly Michigan's Secretary of State) put it this way in her press release:

Rep. Miller's proposed amendment, known as H.J. Res. 53, would reverse the unfair advantage that states with inflated populations have when it comes to Congressional Representation, and would prevent these states from having such unduly impact on Presidential races.

"I find it absolutely outrageous that people who are in our country illegally are having such a profound impact on our political system."

This week, by a 30-7 vote, the Michigan Senate passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to pass to the states a constitutional amendment that would base congressional representation on a headcount of citizens only. This is the right idea, for the right reasons, and with constitutional precedent. Let's hope congress is listening.

Illegal Immigration Debate - employer addiction and the citizenship clause

The Federalist Society recently updated its Five Questions on Illegal Immigration. Amidst the discussion a few interesting thoughts came to mind.

While talking about the futility of enforcing immigration law at the border, Professor John Eastman, from Chapman University School of Law, says this:
"Although there is a portion of the illegal immigrant employment market that operates under the table, the bulk of it is in the open. Employers file withholding tax returns on these illegal employees, and dutifully receive back notices from the Social Security administration that the name and social security numbers do not match. At that point, any argument that the employer was unaware of the illegal status of his employee is gone (if it was ever credible at all), so imposition of significant fines on the employer would actually produce a significant decline in employers willing to use illegal immigrant labor. Dry up the job market, and you dry up the lion’s share of the incentive to illegal immigration."
Suggesting (rightly) that immigration policy may best be enforced by penalizing employers creating the market for illegal immigrants in the first place, Professor Eastman likens (deliberately?) immigration enforcement to drug enforcement. Like the war on drugs, where America creates a market someone is going to supply it. It matters little whether that market is for cheap labor or cheap drugs. America is addicted to both.

The similarity between the two policies, the matrix of federal agencies responsible for enforcing them, and the responsibility of Americans for creating and perpetuating the problem, is compelling. As drug use has been criminalized and prosecuted, Mr. Eastman suggests a more aggressive policing of illegal immigrant use be prosecuted. Dry up the market and you dry up the supply.

The second interesting point is the presumption their children are US citizens based on the citizenship clause of the 14th amendment. Perhaps incorrectly interpreted for over a century:
The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment actually has two components: 1) “All persons born or naturalized in the United States,” and 2) “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, . . . are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The claim of birthright citizenship is particularly troubling in the context of illegal immigrants, for it permits those who have not followed our law, who have not adopted the United States as their own country and sworn their allegiance to it, to nevertheless demand that the United States confer the privilege of citizenship upon their children (and derivatively upon them as well). The original intent of the 14th Amendment was to mandate that those born on U.S. soil and who were subject to the full and complete, allegiance-owing, can-be-prosecuted-for treason jurisdiction of the United States, would be citizens.
In essence, there can be no citizenship without allegiance. Birthright is insufficient to establish citizenship without subjugation to the laws of the United States of America. Having arrived illegally there first, and perhaps preemptive and primary, birthright is their illegal status. Illegal residents can not become citizens. Since their parents are illegal so are their offspring. Without their parents meeting the criteria for citizenship (which includes entering the county legally) and swearing allegiance to the United States before their native country neither they or their children are eligible for citizenship.

Lastly, there is a correlation made between illegal immigration and our minimum wage laws which is interesting:
One of the reasons there is such a demand for illegal immigrant labor in this country is the draconian regulations imposed on employers who try to hire legal labor. Minimum wage laws render unemployable a good portion of the unskilled labor pool of legal U.S. citizens—just look at the unemployment rates among inner city black youth for confirmation. Do you favor a reduction of the minimum wage laws (or blatant disregard of them, as [some people] do of the immigration laws) in order to help meet the labor demands of the U.S. economy? Mandated benefits, such as those recently imposed by the State of Maryland on Wal-Mart, knock out a good slice of unskilled or low-skilled labor as well. Shall we repeal all those mandates, or just ignore them? How about the numerous laws that make it almost impossible to fire anyone (at least anyone legal) in the workplace? Shall we repeal those laws? Workers compensation laws and the broken tort system also add significantly to the cost of hiring legal workers, providing a strong incentive for hiring illegals. Why don’t we focus our attention on these massive barriers to the competitiveness of American business before toying with permitting such a massive influx of illegal immigrants as is likely to overwhelm our institutions, our security, and our very way of life?
Some may be unconvinced our unskilled labor pool would be willing to do various jobs currently performed by illegal immigrants, but they haven't much of a chance to try, do they? The cost of hiring and firing them combined with the fear of discrimination lawsuits makes illegal workers a deal. No threat there. They won't complain because they'd prefer not to be deported.

Someone is going to pay for health care one way or another. Whether it's Wal-mart or Medicare and hospitals, it gets paid for. In this regard a case for constructing basic nationalized health care for US citizens can be made.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Many people look forward to $5/gallon

Be honest with yourself and everyone around you. If you own an SUV, large pick-up, or any model Hummer you're hoping gas prices soar. Thanks to the new minimum wage law, pimply-faced teenagers at McDonald's can afford $3/gallon gas. You're hoping it climbs upwards of $6/gallon to separate the men from the boys.

Nearly anyone can scrape-up enough money to drive around the real guzzlers when gas is less than $2/gallon. But only someone with your financial resources can truly afford to drive a suburban assault vehicle at 11 MPG when gas prices rise to where they ought to be. Auto dealers will sell anything to anyone--and with leases, discounts, rebates, friends and family plans, and other incentives any idiot can swing a loan to buy a vehicle that should be reserved for the truly wealthy.

What good is showing off your luxury over-sized vehicle if they can be seen just as frequently in Highland Park as they can Bloomfield Hills? How will they know you're not from Highland Park?

At $6/gallon everyone will know you've arrived because you're driving yours while they're riding the bus. As idled SUVs sit in driveways neighbors will think well-to-do distant relatives are visiting... but it won't be you.

Higher gas prices should also pay big dividends for people commuting from Brighton, Oakland Township, and other hard-to-reach communities. Their home values will certainly increase as those that can't afford the commute will be forced to sell their homes and move closer to work. Finally, those villages will become the exclusive retreats you hoped they'd be. High gas prices will purify those uber-suburban towns and leave behind only those who can afford the seclusion long commutes provide. In the morning, with each on-ramp you pass you will know the merging cars, and eventually the buses you catch up to belong to increasingly less accomplished professionals with more pedestrian financial means than yourself.

And finally, Michigan's inland lakes will be quieter without those obnoxious drunks racing Seadoos and Jet-Skis, leaving a more peaceful lake for your water-front home enjoyment. This must be what it was like before the white man came.

Face it, the sooner $6/gallon or higher gas prices come the better. You're ready.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Invisible manufacturing czar - 04/28/06 - The Detroit News

The Invisible manufacturing czar - 04/28/06 - The Detroit News:

Deb Price, Detroit News columnist and long time Barney-Frank-for-President campaign manager has issues with Albert Frink, President Bush's "manufacturing czar." Honestly, I didn't realize such a person existed or if they did what they'd do. Most people would expect that title be held by either GM's Richard Wagner or Toyota's Hiroshi Okuda.
"Michigan lawmakers had hoped that President Bush's manufacturing 'czar' would be a powerful voice in support of the state's battered factory sector. Instead, they're seething in bipartisan anger over what they see as his lack of clout -- and accomplishment.

For instance, Albert Frink, U.S. Commerce Department assistant secretary for manufacturing and services, has rarely even been in the same room as President Bush in his first year and a half on the job."
The article includes multiple uncomplimentary quotes from various Michigan politicians including US Representatives John Dingel, Mike Rogers, Pete Hoekstra and US Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. They wonder why Mr. Frink doesn't spend more time in Michigan. Why should he? Manufacturing, like our retired seniors, is leaving the state for warmer, friendlier clines in the south. If he wants to see manufacturing he can visit it there. The south is gaining manufacturing while the north is losing it. If we had to relive the civil war it would be a different ball game.
"Michigan officials wanted a go-to person on manufacturing who brings together the president, the Congress and trade policy officials on tough, immediate steps to take. In contrast, Frink tours manufacturing plants, prepares letters and reports, and has testified -- twice -- before congressional committees, including last June 8 when he described the outlook for manufacturing as 'good.'"
What Michigan officials really wanted was Harry Potter, or a professor from the fictional Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to cast the "amnesious" charm and roll back the clock to the early 1900s--when Japan wasn't a threat, unions hadn't invaded, government regulations non-existent, and oil hadn't been discovered in the middle east.

Michigan's manufacturing problems are home-grown. The home of democracy's arsenal has become a rehab clinic for manufacturing's oblivious.

Mr. Frink (and President Bush) had nothing to do with how it got that way.

What Michigan politicians don't know is somewhere in Alabama, Tennessee, or any of several states in the south with shiny new plants, think the new commerce secretary is doing a great job. Companies are hiring. Production is ramping up. Pay and benefits are good.

Mr. Frink had little or nothing to do with that, either.

Those states attracted manufacturing by being attractive to manufacturers. I'm unsure of those states' other natural resources but I'm confident their being non-union was one of them. It probably ranked right up there with water.

Ms. Price and our politicians won't let the obvious get in the way of a good conniption.

Mr. Frink didn't impose unaffordable pensions, gold-plated health care benefits or inflated pay. He didn't create a jobs bank with 12,000 workers that don't show up for work every day, unlike illegal aliens who only skipped Monday. According to their detractors, President Bush and Mr. Frink aren't competent enough to have accomplished that much in their short tenure.

These problems have been creeping up for over 30 years and won't disappear with the appointment of a "manufacturing czar" or any other title they may be given. It will take time and leadership in Michigan to fix Michigan's problems -- hopefully before manufacturing become another state's problems.