View 850 Sunday, November 09, 2014
“I have observed over the years that the unintended consequences of social action are always more important, and usually less agreeable, than the intended consequences.”
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
The election is over, and the Democrats lost. The Republicans did not win – at least the Establishment Country Club Republicans did not. It is unclear as to who did win, but note that Al Franken, who won a Senate seat by recounts and the mysterious discovery of some ballots in the trunk of a car –
Al Franken May Have Won His Senate Seat Through Voter Fraud
It’s time for real voter registration reform.
As the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund reports, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken’s narrow, 312-vote victory in 2008 over incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman may have come as the result of people being allowed to vote who, under existing law, shouldn’t have been.
cruised to victory this time against a fairly typical and nominally attractive Republican candidate. Franken was able to spend a lot of money on his election. Minnesota is better off economically than many states. Franken has a minimal legislative record (well, the Senate hasn’t originated or voted on many bills in a while), but he did vote for Obamacare. You may draw from this election any conclusions you like, but the notion that the country has decisively rejected Democratic rule is not likely true. The New Hampshire election is another instance: the Democrat did not lose. So while it is true that the Democrats were dealt a great loss, it wasn’t universal. In places where they spent enough money and kept their ground game – getting out the vote – they managed to come through.
The Republicans now have a chance to show that they can actually govern, get the nation out of the economic stalemate – It’s the economy, stupid! – and deal with foreign affairs, but they have that to do. That includes an economic recovery that is not just on the stock market.
The Ebola crisis is not ended, but we could be on a path to control it while we develop an effective vaccine. I have no estimate of how long that might take. Presumably we have better technique now than Jonas Salk had, but on the other hand we have more regulations.
The obvious place to fight Ebola is in the plague zones. Better hospital conditions may raise the survival rate, which is at present only 30% of those who contract the disease and get treatment; the rate is likely much lower among those who don’t get to treatment centers.
While it is true that quarantines cannot indefinitely protect the United States from Ebola, quarantine techniques can certainly lower the probability of an uncontrolled outbreak here. Insisting that those coming from plague zones limit their contacts for three weeks on return from a plague area is reasonable. Those who want to go treat people in plague zones must simply reckon on being quarantined when they come back. If that is unacceptable, don’t go.
Robert McDonald: Cleaning up the VA
I was impressed by Secretary McDonald, but I believe too little emphasis was given to the difficulties of his job: he needs to fire 1,000 VA officials, and so far he hasn’t been able to fire any. Some have been placed on administrative leave, which is in fact paid vacation while accumulating pension benefits; but he has not the power simply to clean out this mess.
VA officials falsified records to show their superior performance and thus win bonuses. It is not clear that civil servants ought to be paid bonuses for doing their jobs, and the actual performance of the Civil Service system – as opposed to holding political officials responsible for the performance of their departments – is good reason for questioning Civil Service vs. “the spoils system” which preceded it. Civil Service was originally intended as job protection from political superiors, and with that protection came an absolute prohibition on taking part in political activities: not only could superiors not demand political donations, but civil servants weren’t permitted to give them even if they wanted to. Their “civil liberty” of political activity went away with acceptance of a government job. This was eroded over the years to the present system in which civil servants in the IRS, the VA, and other agencies have great political power through their unions. Unions of government workers are a fairly recent innovation: originally civil service laws protected them, but unions were not allowed. It is still no clear why supposedly non-partisan government works protected by civil service laws need or should have unions. But that’s another matter.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.