Misc. Facebook comments
As Facebook takes up more and more of my time on the computer these days, the less time I spend reading conventional blogs, much less writing my own blog posts. (Baseball is an exception, of course.) So, as a way to get back on track as far as keeping a journal of my observations about the news of the day (week, etc.), here are some things I have written over the past couple weeks:
French "workers" strike
In France, workers have launched a general strike to protest the proposed raise of the retirement age from 60 to 62. President Sarkozy has slipped in popularity recently, and it may just be political opportunism. But there's no doubt that the French working class flatly rejects any suggestion of any limits to their generous welfare benefits, much less austerity. It's an amazing sight to see thousands of people in the most civilized country on earth acting like complete spoiled jackasses. See CNN.com. As I commented on Bill Shireman's Facebook page:
Only in a culture that elevates absurdity and irony to a high art form could such an untenable entitlement system be taken seriously. The only thing that keeps it going is the un-entitled immigrant work force, the growth of which is leading to escalating social conflict. And yet somehow there are still millions of Americans who look to France (and Europe, more generally) as a model we should follow. Go figure.
Andrew Murphy expressed doubt that any Americans regard France as a model for national policy, but sure enough, some folks stepped right up to state quite clearly that they do think we should be more like France. (!!!???) As I said, Go figure...
Carl Tate expressed interest in a recent book on President Andrew Jackson, who was in effect the founder of the Democratic Party as we know it today: stoking class resentment and mobilizing electoral majorities so as to carry out irresponsible populist policy schemes. It's exactly what James Madison warned about in the Federalist #10, and it was a tragic stain on the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, whose Anti-Federalist / Republican Party (usually called the Democratic-Republican Party) morphed into an ugly mob during the 1830s. My comment:
Studying Jackson's presidency might prove useful in understanding how limited government Jeffersonian republicanism degenerated into crass, grab-what-you-can populism. Does that sound familiar?
HINT: Many in the GOP these days call themselves "Jeffersonian Republicans," and the burgeoning "grassroots" movement in the party bears a lot in common with the rural, anti-establishment supporters of "Old Hickory." Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.
Columbus Day 2010
Former Delegate Chris Saxman posed the question, What are people doing to commemorate Columbus Day? I was in an impish mood and wrote:
I observed Columbus Day by discovering a new trail in the Blue Ridge. New for me, that is. Just like America was "new" for Columbus. :-)
Pocket-sized GOP pledge
I've been looking at the Republican "Pledge to America," and I'm sad to say it leaves a lot of important things out. For example, on the issue of health care reform, it calls for repealing Obamacare, which would be nice if they could do it somehow, but there is no hint of recognizing the basic problem with too much insurance driving up costs. Given the divisions in the party these days, it's hard to muster support for any specific agenda, so I understand the practical necessity for a watered-down agenda. Too bad. Anyway, you can get your own pocket-sized Pledge at gop.gov.
ABC Privatization? No.
At first, I wasn't terribly excited about Governor McDonnell's proposal to privatize the state-owned ABC liquor stores. After all, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." Several months later, I remain dubious. The original plan was supposed to "Provide Massive New Funding of $500 Million for Transportation" (see the Governor's Web site, but it would only be a short-term windfall. Over the long term, the state would probably lose revenues. (We really need to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel to pay for road repairs, etc., but that's not likely under a Republican administration, unfortunately.) Even though poll numbers indicate public support for ABC Privatization, even many state legislators on the Republican side are reluctant, and it seems to be an uphill battle to get that passed. The complexities of coming up with a fair licensing system could take months if not years to resolve. I wish the Governor would concentrate on other matters.