Tuesday, January 13, 2009
From the Office of the Governor:
As governors and citizens, we've grown increasingly concerned over the past weeks as Washington has thrown bailout after bailout at the national economy with little to show for it.
In the process, the federal government is not only burying future generations under mountains of debt. It is also taking our country in a very dangerous direction -- toward a "bailout mentality" where we look to government rather than ourselves for solutions. We're asking other governors from both sides of the political aisle to join with us in opposing further federal bailout intervention for three reasons.
First, we're crossing the Rubicon with regard to debt.
One fact that's been continually glossed over in the bailout debate is that Washington doesn't have money in hand for any of these proposals. Every penny would be borrowed. Estimates for what the government is willing to spend on bailouts and stimulus efforts for this year reach as much as $7.7 trillion according to Bloomberg.com -- a full half of the United States' yearly economic output.
With all the zeroes in the numbers, it's no wonder Washington politicians have lost track.
That trillion-dollar figure is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to checks written by the federal government that it can't cash. Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker puts our nation's total debt and unpaid promises, like Social Security, at roughly $52 trillion -- an invisible mortgage of $450,000 on every American household. Borrowing money to "solve" a problem created by too much debt seems odd. And as fiscally conservative Republicans, we take no pleasure in pointing out that many in our own party have been just as complicit in running up the tab as those on the political left.
Second, the bailout mentality threatens Americans' sense of personal responsibility.
In a free-market system, competition and one's own personal stake motivate people to do their best. In this process, the winners create wealth, jobs and new investment, while others go back to the drawing board better prepared to try again.
To an unprecedented degree, government is currently picking winners and losers in the private marketplace, and throwing good money after bad. A prudent investor takes money from low-yield investments and puts them in those that yield better returns. Recent government intervention is doing the opposite -- taking capital generated from productive activities and throwing it at enterprises that in many cases need to reorganize their business model.
Take for example the proposed Big Three auto-maker bailout. We think it's very telling that each of the three CEO's flew on their own private jets to Washington to ask for a taxpayer handout. No amount of taxpayer largess could fix a business culture so fundamentally flawed.
Our Founding Fathers were clear and deliberate in setting up a system whereby the federal government would only step in for that which states cannot do themselves. An expansionist federal government of the last century has moved us light-years away from that model, but it doesn't mean that Congress can't learn from states that are coming up with solutions that work.
In Texas and South Carolina, we've focused on improving "soil conditions" for businesses by cutting taxes, reforming our legal system and our workers' compensation system. We'd humbly suggest that Congress take a page from those playbooks by focusing on targeted tax relief paid for by cutting spending, not by borrowing.
In the rush to do "something" to help, federal leaders would be wise to take a line from the Hippocratic Oath, and pledge to do no (more) harm to our country's finances. We can weather this storm if we commit to fiscal prudence and hold true to the values of individual freedom and responsibility that made our nation great.
Stepping Right Up! has a post on how other GOP Governors are handling the race for bailout money. Are there any Democratic Governors that don't have their hand out?
Monday, January 12, 2009
I'm all for it.
First, it's not necessarily an all-out breastfeeding ban, but the enforcement of the rules already in effect which state that nipples and aureoles are not allowed. Obviously, the rule was put into effect to regulate the obscene pictures but is being enforced across the board. The word "obscene" has a gray zone that is fought about constantly in the courts but the rule Facebook have put in place give regulators a decent measuring stick. Yes, some non-obscene photos get cut and some obscene photos still get through. Overall, it's a rule that can be enforced evenly and clearly understood by all constituents. That's definitely a positive in anybody's book.
But the whole public breastfeeding crowd drives me crazy. In the name of "ala natural", these women go around baring their breasts for all to see. No it isn't obscene and yes, it's been around since, oh, the creation of humans by God himself, but these women keep forgetting to ask themselves one last question:
Is it decent?
No! No matter the reason, it's not decent to undress yourself in public. Public breastfeeding advocates have no historical basis for their views. The only people who still hang their breasts publicly are the tribes who don't have enough knowledge and manpower to produce enough of their own clothes. You can find their pictures in National Geographic magazine by journalist who had to hunt them down in deep, dank forests. When given donation clothing though I'm not surprised to find that most of them wear it!
I feel pity for the person who buys into the argument that breastfeeding is natural and therefore, it should be public. Natural does not translate into public! Consider these other bodily functions: burping, farting, pooping, peeing, and our ladies menstrual cycle. They are all natural, in fact, needed functions of our body, but most of us wouldn't be caught dead doing them in public.
It's not like it's that hard to avoid breastfeeding in public. I managed to do it for all three of my children.
Texas Monthly gathers and produces the "Bum Steer Awards" for your enjoyment! Consisting only of Texans, they highlight the worst and funniest of our state. Unfortunately you can only access it if you are a registered member. I guess you'll have to read it at the grocery store checkout lines.
Texas Parks and Wildlife came out with their own "Top 10 Texas Conservation News Stories". Ike definitely made the list but there were a lot of other good things that I didn't know about also. But hey, aren't you supposed to start with #10 and work up to #1 when doing a countdown list?
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Exerpts from the LA Times:
Nut allergies -- a Yuppie invention
Some kids really do have food allergies. But most just have bad reactions to their parents' mass hysteria.
Yes, a tiny number of kids have severe peanut allergies that cause anaphylactic shock, and all their teachers should be warned, handed EpiPens and given a really expensive gift at Christmas. But unless you're a character on "Heroes," genes don't mutate fast enough to have caused an 18% increase in childhood food allergies between 1997 and 2007. And genes certainly don't cause 25% of parents to believe that their kids have food allergies, when 4% do.
When I talked to Christakis, he made it clear that -- unlike me -- he doesn't think peanut allergies represent a mass hysteria. That's because scientists believe in rigorous study and proof, while opinion columnists believe in saying something outrageous to get attention.
But we did agree that it is strange how peanut allergies are only an issue in rich, lefty communities.
"We don't see this problem much in African American or poor communities. So there's something going on here. We don't see them in Ecuador and Guatemala," Christakis said.
updated 1/12: Caroline over at Ladyblog posts her personal experience with her daughter's allergies:
My daughter has what her pediatrician and her allergist have termed, “severe allergies” to eggs, peanuts, and all tree nuts. They prescribed EpiPens and dictated that I shoot her up with one if I even so much as think she might have ingested one of these dreaded foods. Seriously. I was terrified and depressed about it for two weeks.
Benadryl or Zyrtec does the trick nicely and I keep one or the other in my purse and at her school.
From the Times Online:
As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God
Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity ofthe people's mindset
by Matthew Parris
At 24, travelling by land across the continent reinforced this impression. From Algiers to Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, then right through the Congo to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, four student friends and I drove our old Land Rover to Nairobi.
We slept under the stars, so it was important as we reached the more populated and lawless parts of the sub-Sahara that every day we find somewhere safe by nightfall. Often near a mission.
Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to-man, without looking down or away. They had not become more deferential towards strangers - in some ways less so - but more open.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Thursday, January 08, 2009
You might have heard the news reports last year. There was a terrible accident with a traveling group of college students and only one survivor. The accident made the news again when the families realized that the surviving girl was not who they had thought.
From the publisher's website:
Meet Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak: one buried under the wrong name, one in a coma and being cared for by the wrong family.
This shocking case of mistaken identity stunned the country and made national news. Would it destroy a family? Shatter their faith? Push two families into bitterness, resentment, and guilt?
Read this unprecedented story of two traumatized families who describe their ordeal and explore the bond sustaining and uniting them as they deal with their bizarre reversal of life lost and life found.
And join Whitney Cerak, the sole surviving student, as she comes to terms with her new identity, forever altered, yet on the brink of new beginnings.
Mistaken Identity weaves a complex tale of honesty, vulnerability, loss, hope, faith, and love in the face of one of the strangest twists of circumstances imaginable.
It was all over the media last week: Abstinence pledgers were a complete failure. Those that took abstinence pledges had sex at the same rate as those who didn't. In fact, those that did lose their virginity before marriage were more likely to do so without any pregnancy or STD protection.
But a few days have passed and now we see a couple of articles from people who actually took the time to look at the data presented. Please go and read Mr. McGurn's article so that you can be informed the next time the topic comes up for discussion.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex
Yes, attitudes do make a difference in behavior
By William McGurn
The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don't. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers: most do not make it to the marriage bed as virgins.
Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in.
"Virginity Pledges Don't Stop Teen Sex," screams CBS News. "Virginity pledges don't mean much," adds CNN. "Study questions virginity pledges," says the Chicago Tribune. "Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds," heralds the Washington Post. "Virginity Pledges Fail to Trump Teen Lust in Look at Older Data," reports Bloomberg. And on it goes.
In other words, teens will be teens, and moms or dads who believe that concepts such as restraint or morality have any application today are living in a dream world. Typical was the lead for the CBS News story: "Teenagers who take virginity pledges are no less sexually active than other teens, according to a new study."
Here's the rub: It just isn't true.
Title IX is the federal law that states there must be equal access to sports for both male and females. The rule helped open the door for female sports such as soccer and basketball but has had a devastating effect on all other sports, especially male orientated ones. If there weren't enough girls in the same sport, the male sport was just shut down. Suddenly, sports such as diving, wrestling, and weight lifting became a no-go for funding because they couldn't attract females to them. Men lost out at a highly disproportionate rate: for each girl added to the sports field, and higher number of men were tossed from the university support.
From One News Now:
Illinois school gets creative, complies with Title IX
"Rather than simply defaulting to this sort of bean-counting mentality of proportionality where you say, you know, 55 percent of our student body is female, [so] that means 55 of our athletes must also be female, they are going for a much more flexible approach that I think will be great for other schools to look at," she contends. "And they are using comprehensive interest surveys, basically asking their student body, 'What sports are you capable of playing? What sports do you want to play?' And they are using that data with the department of education to show that they are in compliance under Title IX."
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Police: Man says he stole to feed family
To pay the $3,500 bond, you have to put down 10%, or $350, in this case. Couldn't come up with the money to buy food but found $350 to get out of jail? It's all about priorities.
A 23-year-old Bryan man tried to steal food from a grocery store to feed his family, authorities said.
He was charged with theft of property worth more than $50 and less than $500, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000 and 180 days behind bars.
Bryan police said around 8 p.m. Friday, employees of the H-E-B Grocery Store off Villa Maria saw the man walking past the checkout with a basket full of food.
The man had placed some of the food items into plastic bags he had brought inside, and when employees asked he could not tell which register he used for checkout, according to police reports.
The food in his basket totaled more than $200 in value, police said.
After repeated questioning by police, officers said the man admitted to stealing and said he needed food for his family.
Police said he also had an outstanding warrant for theft out of Burnet County.
He was released from the Brazos County Jail on $3,500 bail Saturday.