Archive for February, 2009

Bobby Jindal and the Volcano

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

So I think Bobby Jindal is a boob. Let’s just get that out there. But this post really isn’t about Bobby Jindal. It’s about something he said in his Obama rebuttal speech on Tuesday.

CNN has an article about people fuming over Jindal’s volcano comment. Seems he pointed out $140 million in USGS volcano monitoring funds that were included in the economic stimulus bill, and called it wasteful. CNN has quotes from the USGS and a bunch of people living in the shadows of volcanoes about how important it is, and claiming Jindal doesn’t understand the danger because he doesn’t have a volcano in his backyard.

But here’s the rub for me: if the USGS really needed $140 million more (they already get funding) to do a good job monitoring volcanoes, why don’t we give it to them in a normal spending bill?  Why shove it into a rush-job eco-stim bill that nobody gets to read before it gets passed and signed into law?

Even good programs and wise spending are sullied by association with this dastardly bill. Everything any Democrat wanted for the past 20 years got shoved in, and we’ll be paying the price for it for another 40 years.

Why do we pay people not to work?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

So in pondering the rather large stimulus bill that is winding its way through Congress, and the long list of pet projects and crazy ideas that comprises the bill, I was wondering this: why do we pay people not to work?

The bill would extend unemployment benefits, and add a huge pot of money to the old-style welfare programs.  If these people want to work, but can’t find a job, why don’t we put them to work?

  • Unemployment: For those extra 13 weeks, why don’t we hire these people (for the same cost as unemployment) for a 3 days a week, with the extra 2 days for finding a job? What would they do? Tutoring students in the inner-city, anti-graffiti work, cleaning up parks and clearing paths, and repairing the homes of the elderly and poor. (Or this: senior centers are closing because they can’t afford to staff them. Anybody want to play bingo with old people and make them lunch?) Sure, you’d need supervision and materials, but isn’t it better to get something useful out of this money, rather than nothing?
  • Welfare: Many of the recipients are single parents with kids at home, so maybe it makes sense for them to stick around. But tell me why there should be any trash on their blocks or at their local parks? You want welfare?  Keep you block clean. (And then maybe you’ll stop your kids and your neighbors’ kids from throwing trash all over the place!) Volunteer in your kids’ schools. Make phone calls to parents of truant students.

I can’t be the only one who thinks this way. It seems to me to be common sense, that paying people to do nothing is a bad idea.  It discourages work, by letting people avoid the jobs they think are beneath them. It encourages laziness, by not requiring anything from those who are unemployed. Let’s have some responsibility and some accountability. If poverty and starvation were real risks, people would get off their asses, and the stuff that always needs doing, but nobody wants to do it, would start getting done.

Worldview Journalism

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I am not a fan of American evangelical media.  I think the movies, with few exceptions, are cheese; Christian comedy isn’t; and most magazines should turn in their presses to the local media police. Not that the secular versions of these are morally satisfying fare, but rather they don’t pretend to mediocrity — their quality is not judged secondarily to their worldview.

When it comes to journalism, I appreciate honesty and objectivity. I used to like the New York Times, but their super-liberal bias clouds their ability to effectively relate the facts, and they’ve lost the ability to be honest about what they believe and who they are. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pretend, and while I see a great failure to answer many pressing social issues, and a total lack of journalistic compassion, at least the WSJ doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

I liked Newsweek, until the December 15, 2009, issue that declared “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage.”  I’ve heard the same arguments before, but this article, and the editorial column that preceded it, claimed something that had heretofore not been part of the discussion: that those who believe otherwise are irrational, worthless fundamentalists who might as well give up.  “A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.”  All this in the guise of journalistic objectivity.