May 16th, 2010

Quaero togam pacem.

Fluoride Controversy, A Toothy Problem

Here's another hypothetical situation, taken from the NationStates online game, where you're the ruler of your own country. Last time the issue was the justness of plea bargaining, and Mr Calvin du Pont the prosecutor won by a landslide, indicating that most of you are OK with the current way the system of plea bargaining works. Now the issue is quite different: Water fluoridation.

The Issue

Recent reports revealing that the dental health of Insert Country Name is far below the regional average have ignited a fierce debate over whether to introduce fluoride to the nation's tap water reserves.

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Two Tea Parties

Now that the Tea Party has taken the plunge to support racism in Arizona, the Party will have the obligatory split over policy. I see a division into two distinct Tea Parties: one of them based on black tea and the other based on green tea. The black Tea Party would continue to support racism (black represents the color of their heart). The green Tea Party will favor a more rational, natural approach to immigration.

What is your opinion of these two parties within the Party? Which other policy divisions can we look forward to?

Drug War: Of Supply and Demand

So, it's long been asserted by opponents of the American drug war that legalizing drugs will cause prices to drop, while demand will not massively increase, reducing the desire for people to fight and kill over drug turf or the like, as it is now less valuable. Of course, this was always armchair economics, and didn't really have a US test case. Well, now it does. To summarize, it appears that legalizing medical marijuana has led to the effective partial legalization of marijuana in general (probably through massive prescription fraud). This, in turn, has led to a massive drop in prices for pot in California. It's easy to see, and actually somewhat shocking. Prices for pot in CA are now lower than they were in the 1980s, during the height of Reagan's anti-drug efforts. And not just lower - they're 60% lower, in nominal terms. That means that pot has bucked inflation and dropped from $5,000/lb in 1984 dollars to $2,000/lb in 2010 dollars. It's like the anti-gold.

Of course the loosened restrictions on supply are not the only reason that pot prices have dropped in CA, and not all pot prices are down - pot grown indoors remains stable, but mostly because growing it without getting caught is so much more difficult. But they certainly aren't helping, and the fact that pot growers appear scared of CA voting to legalize pot certainly doesn't help the argument that criminalization hurts the market. Black markets tend towards massive profitability relative to the same activity in a legal market, due to the increased risk involved. At least with pot, the evidence is mounting that legalization could be one of the more effective, less costly ways to solve the ills that criminalization was meant to address.

The Lamest Show on Earth

Wall Street Journal
by Peggy Noonan

Barring the unexpected, the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court will be confirmed. The tradition, and a good one it is, based on mutual respect, compromise and acknowledgment of philosophical differences, is that conservative presidents get to nominate more or less conservative judges, and liberal presidents liberal ones.

Is Ms. Kagan liberal, or, as liberals now say, progressive? Of course. She worked as an associate counsel in the Clinton White House, just as John Roberts as a young man was an associate counsel in the Reagan White House. She is now an Obama appointee. Along the way she visited the progressive stations of the cross, from Ivy League education (Princeton University and Harvard Law School, with a master's from Oxford along the way) through a career in academia (University of Chicago Law School professor, dean of Harvard Law) and government.

Because little is known of the views she holds, much is made of her manner. She seems to respect either conservatives or conservatism, it's not clear which, seems to have a gift for the managerial side of things and for "forging consensus," as the administration keeps telling us. She seems to get along with everyone and not to be insane.



I agree that the Kagan nomination - after from some tedious hours of senatorial derp derp - is a slam-dunk. I do question Ms. Noonan's comment about the "progressive stations of the cross": Ivy League, academia, and government. I just assume that was her way of adding a little inventive snarkiness to the article, so as to make Boss Murdoch happy. Apparently the "conservative stations of the cross" are parallel, since the current right-leaning justices seem to have followed the EXACT same path.

In tentative support of AZ 1070.

I recently moved from Colorado to Arizona. We moved quite literally two weeks before the signing of the new immigration law. I also work in advertising, as such I have the opportunity to speak to quite a large number of Arizonian business owners, employees and patrons. After listening and speaking with these people over the past weeks, I've realized that most of the residents here support the bill, admittedly my perspective is skewed, I live near Prescott, AZ and the majority of people here are white, old, and pissed. However, in spite of the vitriol (and occasional bumper sticker of Obama pissing on the constitution notwithstanding)I've find a handful of points worth mentioning.

1: Arizona has 370 miles of border shared with Mexico, making in the second longest border behind Texas. For a number of years the state legislature has attempted to get the INS to take a stronger stance against illegal immigration locally, and has been rebuffed frequently.

2: There are an estimated 430,000 illegal immigrants in the state. When you take the 200 census numbers (5,100,000) it accounts for a SIGNIFICANT number of the people living in the state. While most people here believe that crime rates are increasing due to drug cartels, crime for the most part has stayed level and it seems that public opinion is largely dependent on the next big media story. (For example, a rancher near Yuma was killed recently by a group of drug runners crossing the border.)

3: As the economy has tanked, as it usual for people living in stressful times, people are turning to the bogeyman of "OH NOEZ TEH ILLEGLEZ!!" Turning public opinion against people here illegally. To be fair, it seems that justice isn't being served when people buying and selling identification, with little to no fear of INS or local police can flaunt their criminality by committing crimes and literally disappearing only to pick up another name. Stories of illegals making a joke of our legal system are rampant.

Bottom line, people are scared, and pissed.

FWIW, I've got my own set of opinions on the matter. Personally, I could care less if you're here illegally, as long as you are willing to do a MINIMUM set of requirements. You need to get a job, working whatever hours are necessary to support your family. You absolutely are disqualified from government assistance, I know this is heartless to an extent, but as in any country, our duty is to the citizens of our country first, and everyone else second. If you choose to come into the country illegally, or overstay your visa, what-have-you, you abdicate your rights to use government subsidies to support yourself. You NEED to learn the predominant language, which is English; refusing the put the effort forward to learn the language and use it commonly is unacceptable. Remember, you are here illegally, we are not required to cater to you. Lastly, Coming To America (remember that movie? Eddie Murphy, whatta kick!) is normally done to gain a piece of the American Dream(tm). The American Dream(tm) was founded on the backs of people willing to work harder, take more risks, and persevere in the face of adversity, that attitude is expected and required of you.

Obviously not all of this is reasonable to expect, but in light of my personal feelings on the matter. I'm willing to put my tentative support behind the immigration bill as long as it is followed in the manner that it is written. If the people screaming about racism and profiling end up being correct, then by all means, repeal the law, and start over. However, I would agree that something needs to be done, and sadly, it looks to be too far but I'm willing to give it a chance.