April 30th, 2012
Carolina Journal Online / John Hood's Daily Journal
RALEIGH – I don’t understand all the fuss about the proposed Buffet Rule. I think it should be the guiding principle for government at all levels.
In a buffet line, you get to choose what you eat and how much you eat of it. Everyone is treated equally and served promptly. Depending on the timing of your visit, you may not be able to get exactly what you’d like – perhaps the fish entrée has been so popular that the kitchen is scrambling to refill the plate, and you have to eat chicken instead or come back in a while – but at least there’s little chance that under-the-table arrangements will cheat you out of an equal opportunity to pick from the available selections.
Some buffets have flat rates. Others, including cafeterias, charge you on the basis of the selection and quantity of food you put on your plate. If you don’t like the pricing policy of the establishment, you don’t have to frequent it.
Governments can’t emulate buffet lines in every respect, of course. They are coercive institutions. Restaurants rely on voluntary patronage. And there are government services to which we are all properly entitled simply on the basis of citizenship, such as the protection of our persons and property, so it would be inappropriate to charge for them a la carte.
But when it comes to sectors such as education, health care, and transportation in which governments play a large financial or regulatory role, a Buffet Rule would make a lot of sense. For example, we should be able to choose which schools our children will attend, rather than have the government foist an educational meal on us and then force us to pay for it regardless of whether we think it academically nutritious enough for our children.
We should be able to choose our doctors, choose our hospitals, choose our medicines, and choose our own health care financing arrangements – be they traditional cost-plus insurance, managed care, or consumer-driven plans. Government’s role should be limited to policing medical fraud and financing a medical safety net for poor children, the disabled, and the elderly in case their families lack adequate insurance and savings to cover necessary care.
We should be able to choose our own modes of transportation for commuting, shopping, and conducting our daily affairs. That means we should pay as we travel in the form of fares, tolls, fuel taxes, and the fueling and maintenance of private vehicles. Government’s role should be limited to coordinating user-financed networks and financing a transportation safety net for those whose economic or medical circumstances prevent them from transporting themselves. Government should not use transportation or land-use policies to force-feed us a Smart Growth lifestyle that most of us would never choose to put on our own plates.
So, yes, I enthusiastically endorse a Buffet Rule for federal, state, and local government. It’s the American Way.
p.s. Hmm, after writing this I realized that I erred in ignoring the second “t” in Buffett. I apologize for making such an obvious mistake. But I’ll stick to my guns: I’m still enthusiastically in favor of a Buffett Rule for government.
After all, there is great political wisdom to be found in many of Jimmy Buffett’s song lyrics. “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” for example, is a song that celebrates the power of imagination and the virtues of consumer choice. “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” encourages an appreciation of the past while embracing the value of new ideas and experiences.
And let’s face it: “I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care” is a masterful satire of modern voting behavior and the prevailing political sentiments of…
p.p.s. Okay, now I’m really embarrassed. It turns out that the Buffett Rule everyone’s been yapping about lately is actually Warren Buffett’s idea that, in the midst of a weak economy, it would be a good idea to raise federal income taxes on entrepreneurs, investors, and employers, even though they already pay a disproportionately large share of total taxes.
No, I don’t endorse that rule. It’s idiotic.
Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation.
April 29th, 2012
UK Daily Mail
By Ian Garland
It was the world’s first stealth boat, a top secret experimental vessel built for the US Navy in the 1980s at a cost of $190million.
Now the Sea Shadow, which was the inspiration for the villain’s boat in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, could be yours for a fraction of that price after being put up for sale on an eBay-style website.
But don’t expect to sail off on any undercover missions – the 563-ton vessel is being sold for scrap.
More from the Daily Mail
April 29th, 2012
(CNSNews.com) - In his commencement speech at Hamilton College on Sunday, former Vice President Al Gore told the graduates that global warming is “the most serious challenge our civilization has ever faced.” But as an undergraduate at Harvard University in the late 1960s, Gore--one of the most prominent spokesmen on climate change today--earned a “D” in Natural Sciences.
Gore’s transcript documents that during his sophomore year at Harvard he earned a "D" in Natural Sciences 6 (Man’s Place in Nature). Also, as a senior at Harvard, he earned a C-plus in Natural Sciences 118.
Gore, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for his work on global warming.
For his college board achievement tests, Gore earned a 488 (out of 800) in physics, and a 519 (out of 800) in chemistry. Gore’s academic records were first obtained and reported on by reporters David Maraniss and Ellen Nakashima at The Washington Post in March 2000.
Gore did relatively well, however, on the SAT, earning 1355 (out of 1600). For comparison, George W. Bush got 1206 on the SAT.
President Barack Obama has not released his academic records. He first attended Occidental College and then transferred in 1981 to Columbia University, where he earned his B.A. He later went to Harvard Law School and earned his J.D. in 1991.
More like this from CNS News
April 29th, 2012
April 29th, 2012
The Wall Street Journal / By MATT BRADLEY
CAIRO—Egypt's ruling military said it would appoint a new cabinet within 48 hours, awarding a major victory to Islamist politicians and cooling a political confrontation that threatened to gridlock Egypt's emerging democratic institutions.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's pledge to lawmakers on Sunday came hours after parliament speaker Saad Al Katatni, a senior member of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which dominates the legislature, suspended sessions on Sunday until the military agreed to dissolve the cabinet.
The military's decision to meet that demand could bring an end to a monthslong battle of wills between the popularly elected legislature and the ruling council of generals led by Field Marshal Tantawi, who have defied parliament's demands that it yield executive powers to the country's first post-revolutionary legislature.
But with the military—not the Islamist-dominated parliament—preparing to appoint some new cabinet members, it remained to be seen on Sunday whether the new appointments will mollify Brotherhood leaders by giving them supervisory roles over key ministries or extend an impasse that has unsettled the country's shaky transition.
Amid the tensions, at least one person was killed on Saturday night after unidentified assailants attacked an anti-military march outside the Ministry of Defense, Egyptian state media reported.
The military's climbdown Sunday comes at a crucial time for the Brotherhood as the powerful Islamist organization stakes out a place for itself in Egypt's nascent government.
It was the military's reluctance to dismiss its cabinet, or devolve more power to the elected parliament, that pushed the Brotherhood to reverse previous pledges not to field a presidential candidate, the organization's leaders say.
The Brotherhood ended up fielding two candidates. Khairat Al Shater, a former deputy guide and the most prominent candidate, was disqualified this month because of a 2006 fraud conviction that kept him from participating in politics.
The group is now backing Mohamed Morsi, the head of its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). In Mr. Morsi, who is far less well-known and charismatic than Mr. Shater, the Brotherhood has less of a chance of winning the country's first post-revolutionary presidency and its future claims to the cabinet, which will be crucial in defining the new Egyptian state's foundation.
Mr. Morsi's prospects were shaken further on Saturday when the hardline Islamist Nour Party, the second largest party in parliament after the Brotherhood's FJP, threw its weight behind one of Mr. Morsi's rivals.
Egypt's cabinet controls the ministries that are responsible for the country's day-to-day governance. Under the presidential system that governs Egypt, the military, which serves as the de facto president, is responsible for appointing cabinet ministers.
"Now is the time for them to actually start to control ministries as much as they can," said Mazen Hassan, a political analyst at Cairo University.
The military leaders who act as Egypt's head of state have repeatedly shot down the parliament's successive votes of no confidence.
While such intransigence has enraged the legislature, the law is on the military's side. A constitutional declaration passed by the military last March didn't give the parliament a right that is commonly found in parliamentary systems—to reappoint the cabinet of ministers.
Sameh Saif Al Yazal, the former general who consults frequently with ruling council of generals, said the military had chosen to stick with the current cabinet for fear that reappointing new ministers only two months before the transfer of power to civilians after president elections in June could be destabilizing.
The tone of the conflict has sharpened in recent months. The Brotherhood has called out a series of protests over the past several weeks to demand that the government, which is led by Prime Minister Kamal Al Ganzouri, a holdover from the Mubarak era, step down.
The Islamist group's leaders have even gambled their country's economic future on the spat. FJP members of parliament have refused to agree to the terms of an International Monetary Fund loan under the current government, which they say is too incompetent to carry out the necessary economic reforms. The Brotherhood also has complained about the lack of detail in the government's reform plans.
Last week, the parliament rejected a series of economic reforms proposed by the Ganzouri government—a blow to negotiations for a $3.2 billion loan offer that could help prevent an economic crisis. The IMF requires broad political support in order to agree to the loan's terms.
Many members of parliament accused the military of deliberately hampering the legislature to diminish public support for the Brotherhood.
"The point that the [military-appointed] current government is trying to make is that the parliament is useless and that the government can do whatever it wants without even having the confidence of parliament," said Amr Darrag, the secretary general for the FJP's branch in Giza.
Indeed, public esteem for the Brotherhood has been in decline. Nearly half of FJP voters said they wouldn't vote for the party again, according to recent polls by the government-funded Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
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