Reticulator

Dec 032013
 

Uh, oh.  Another crazy patchwork of state and local regulations is under attack.  (The Reticulator is almost always in favor of these crazy patchworks on anti-monopoly grounds.)

In Trempealeau County, Wis., where a number of new sand mines have opened, officials recently imposed a one-year ban on issuing new permits.

“We were looking at hundreds of permits being taken out, dozens of proposed mines that could become operational within a year,” said Sally Miller, a member of the county’s board of supervisors. “I didn’t want us to be 20 years from now saying we wish we had known.”

Even so, some state lawmakers worry a much needed job-creating sector is under threat, and hope to shift regulatory control to the state.

via In Fracking, Sand Is the New Gold – WSJ.com.

Dec 032013
 

To start a bank, you need to spell out how you’re going to guard against cyberattack. To take over the country’s medical care system, you do not.  That’s the advantage of doing things with an unregulated monopoly.

To convince regulators of their viability, the backers behind the Bird-in-Hand group raised about $17 million from investors. Brent Peters, chief executive of the Bank of Bird-in-Hand, estimated the group spent about $800,000 in preparing its application for a new charter, including consulting and legal fees, rent on a temporary office during the roughly seven-month application process and the salaries of top managers, four of whom were on the payroll one month before the bank won FDIC approval.

In its application, the bank had to lay out internal policies and procedures in detail and specify the systems in place to, for example, guard against cyberattacks.

“You are talking perhaps anywhere from 8 to 16 inches of paper,” the bank’s attorney, Nick Bybel, said of the application.

Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low – WSJ.com.

 

 

May 172013
 

Obamacare Sees Swiss Show Mandatory-Private System Works – Bloomberg.

Switzerland’s mandatory coverage.  More expensive health care than we have in the U.S. Basic coverage is defined by the govt. Insurance companies can make money off of the extra policies, but not from basic coverage.

Apr 292013
 

I remember writing the below letter to the editor of the Kalamazoo Gazette, but I had not remembered the topic correctly. I found this one in my e-mail archives, dated August 29, 2004.  I did get a call from the Gazette while I was on the road in northern Indiana, but this letter was never published.

I’ve read and re-read the words from your editorial titled “Campaigns unfit for human consumption,” hoping there is some mistake, but each time I look the words are still there:  “The downside of freedom of speech in this country is that any individual or organization is free to voice its opinions about the government and its leaders.”

That’s not the downside to freedom of speech.   That’s the upside.  As a newspaper, you’re supposed to be reminding us of that rather than creating an environment conducive to censorship.

George W. Bush has said that the so-called 527 groups like the Swift Boat Veterans should not be allowed to put out their ads.  That statement alone shows he is not suited to the role of leader of the free world.  How is he going to bring democracy to Iraq if he doesn’t understand how free speech works at home?   He’s no more fit to be president than John Kerry, who is using the courts to try to suppress the same ads, and who still hasn’t repudiated his wife’s statement that uncivil discourse in politics is somehow “un-American.”

Whatever happened to the old days when people said, “I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it?”  You failed on both counts.  You failed to say a single word of disagreement that explains why you don’t like the swifties’ ads, and you failed to defend their right to have their say.

Maybe you should mediate on the following quotes from the past, when people still believed in free speech:

“We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.”  — John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”

“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.”  — Henry Steele Commager”

Censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence in itself.  It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.”  — Potter Stewart

“The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.”  — Alfred Whitney Griswold

“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”  — John F. Kennedy

John Gorentz (address redacted)

My home phone is xxx-xxx-xxxxand my office number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.   However, if you want to contact me about this, I won’t be at either of those.  As soon as I click send, I’m heading off on a 2 week bicycle trip.  My cell phone is xxx-xxx-xxxx.   I often need a chance to find a place to pull over before I can answer.

 

Apr 072013
 

Re: Max Baucus and Dave Camp: Tax Reform Is Very Much Alive and Doable – WSJ.com.

Senator Max Baucus and Representative Dave Camp:

Write on the chalkboard, one million times: “If we don’t cut spending, tax reform doesn’t matter.”

After you complete that task, write this one a billion times: “Tax reform rhetoric is a coward’s way of evading the hard duty of spending cuts.”

After that is done, you may go outside and join the other kids at recess.

 

Mar 162013
 

A probable example of regulatory failure.  This can happen when the emphasis turns from health and safety to the rules about health and safety.

State building officials say they would like to help Mr. Conway and are considering changes. Local officials say their hands are tied because the codes are written by the state. They also say even amending building codes wouldn’t address fire and health issues at Turtle Island.

via Ah, Wilderness! Mountain Man vs. the Building Inspector – WSJ.com.

Mar 132013
 

Those of my fellow conservatives who think winning elections will fix things should read this article by Ivan Krastev, and ponder.

The nature of any political regime for self-correction is its major characteristic and it is the capacity of self-correction and public accountability that it is at the heart of any democratic advantage. There are now many in Kremlin who, on the contrary, think that excessive democratisation has been responsible for many of the problems that new country faces. Many envy ‘true’ Chinese authoritarianism. But the truth is that in many of its practices China is more democratic than Russia, and its decision-making is undoubtedly superior. Over the last two decades, when China was busy with capacity building, Russia seems to have been pre-occupied with incapacity hiding. When Western commentators try to make sense of the different performance of the new authoritarians, they would well advised to look beyond formal institutional design.

via Is China more democratic than Russia? | openDemocracy.

Jan 162013
 

These people in Vermont get a Leviathan Ankle-Biter award for trying to keep their local school local.

The group that led the privatization effort praises the school, which performs well on state achievement exams, but sees the move as a way to ward off a state push for consolidation that the group says could lead to a merger of the school.

via New Spur to Take Vermont School Private – WSJ.com.

Dec 102012
 

Quiz question: When the referees own one of the teams, does it instill a) more or b) less confidence in their whistle blowing?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking into findings by Consumer Reports magazine that Ford Motor Co.’s F -0.09% Ford Fusion and C-Max wagon hybrids fall well short of their official gas-mileage ratings, an agency spokeswoman said on Monday.

via Ford Fusion, C-Max Mileage Claims Get EPA Scrutiny – WSJ.com.