Although books will doubtless be written-and should be-about America's response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, much of the government response can be summed by simply looking at the actions of the Georgia's grandstanding, delusional Republican governor, Sonny Perdue.
First came his post-Katrina announcement that he would suspend the state's modest 7.5 cent gasoline tax. Why? To make gas cheaper, of course. Never mind that higher gas prices were a temporary phenomenon and that state roadway spending is not. The upshot is a loss of targeted revenue that will have to be made up somehow as no provision was made to also reduce outlays.
But Perdue was just getting warmed up. Before Rita ever made landfall, the governor was devising a plan to reduce driving in Georgia so as to-yes, you guessed it-keep the price of gas down. Never mind that a supply shock, the total interruption of normal supplies, was what was driving the price increase, not demand for the stuff inside the borders of Georgia. Once on that deluded path, however, Perdue soon resolved to shut down the state's public schools for two days to save fuel. Amazingly, all but two of the state's nominally independent school superintendents went along with Perdue's mad scheme, itself testament to the lack of critical thinking skills among government officials as well as a dangerous tendency to fall back on herd instincts in the event of crisis, real or perceived. As a result, thousands of parents were left scrambling trying make arrangements for their children, with some forced to miss work in order to stay home with them.
But, hey, the history books will show at least Sonny Perdue did something.
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It is hard to believe that Louisiana actually expects to get some $250 billion in federal aid, including a whopping $40 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to make plots of land dry that by rights should be under water.
For perspective, the entire Corps budget for 2005 is just $4 billion. Louisiana lawmakers propose nothing less than a total terraforming of the state, with the other 49 states footing the bill. If followed through to its logical conclusion, this lavish rebuilding effort would make Katrina the greatest thing to ever happen to the state of Louisiana.
This plan deserves a quick and merciful death, but given trends in spending from both the White House and Republicans in Congress that may be far too much to hope for.
Fans of both freedom and technology need to ask themselves some serious questions when confronted with the reality of China's ongoing attempt to control cybertraffic in and out of the country. First, can the Chinese government succeed? It is easy to assume that such a massive program of censorship cannot possibly work, or that Beijing is not really serious. But what if the government does achieve its goal of making the official government line the view that reaches the vast majority of the Chinese public for years to come? Could it be that a free society is what makes technology liberating, rather than the other way around?
And if there is doubt about the nature of the impact of tech on China, what does that means about engaging China with ever more technology? Does that help or hurt freedom in that country over the long term? Would attempts to restrict China's access to tech cause more problems or force moves toward liberalization?
Such questions are easy to spin out, but honest answers are much harder to come by.
Quote of the Week
"What do you guys think? Is the world really 4.5 billion years old?" -Rusty Carter, who conducts "biblically correct" tours of science museums in the Denver area, to a tour group of 19 school kids.
No Arms for the Army?
The IRA has given up all of its arms, or so says a Canadian general charged with overseeing a dicey disarmament program in Ireland..
Iran, Report to the Security Council Please
The International Atomic Energy Agency has stepped behind a US-backed push to get the matter of Iran's nuclear program referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. Iran is not happy.
The German Solution
At least for VW, the solution is for close ally Porsche to buy 20 percent of the company, effectively making a hostile takeover impossible. There is great fear in Germany that foreign investors will buy up the iconic brand.
Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business
A Reason debate. Milton Friedman, Whole Foods' John Mackey, and Cypress Semiconductor's T.J. Rodgers
"There's Less and Less to Say"
Dylan's late-career revival owes more to his audience than to his muse. Jesse Walker
The value of muddling through in foreign policy. Michael Young
And much more!
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