Glenn Reynolds seems to be calling for governmental regulation of free speech.
If the government can regulate a nonprofit's ability to say it believes that one in five children have been sexually solicited online, then that same government can regulate a nonprofit's way of speaking about Social Security reform, the war on terrorism, or whether low-carb or low-fat diets are the healthiest ways to lose weight.
Apparently, in Glenn's World, nonprofits may only commit government-approved speech. Rules applied retroactively.
Does Glenn know how much scrutiny nonprofits receive? Does he know how much time and financial resources nonprofits already put into meeting regulatory requirements? (I suspect not.) He writes, "Nonprofits need to be getting the kind of financial-accounting scrutiny that businesses get." What leads him to believe that they don't now? Does he think a nonprofit's CEO can't go to jail for signing a false tax return (the non-profit's equivalent of a for-profit's financial statement)?
Is he aware that a typical national nonprofit (to be "national" in this context all you have to do is have "please donate" on a website that is accessible from all fifty states, even if no one donates) is regulated by nearly fifty different government agencies?
Glenn says, "Some readers may think I'm not serious about these proposals. I am." Maybe I missed them, but I didn't actually see any actual suggestions for what regulations he would change, where he thinks enforcement has been lax and what he would do about it.
Glenn's post, by the way, rebutted itself. He quoted a Wall Street Journal columnist who challenged the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's sex stat while (oddly) claiming no one would challenge the (supposedly false) sex stat. But both the columnist and Glenn Reynolds complained about it. The Wall Street Journal and Instapundit's 150,000 readers a day versus the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Is something unfair about this? And even if one side or the other has a larger audience (which?), is not the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children entitled to its opinion?
And, speaking of that opinion, Glenn calls for regulation based on the supposed inaccuracy of a statistic that might not be inaccurate. Does Professor Reynolds not receive spam? Tell me that one in five children who receive e-mail have NOT been sexually solicited online. Probably repeatedly. Unless you narrowly define "solicitation" exclusively as one-on-one solicitations for in-person sexual activity and make a case that Triple XXX porn site solicitations don't count -- an argument made neither by the Wall Street Journal columnist nor by Glenn -- the stat on the face of it appears reasonable. There is just too much porn spam out there for kids not to be receiving it in droves.
But the point of this post is not to take a position on how many kids get sexual solicitations online -- just to say that the government should not regulate the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's right to say what it thinks on the matter, just as Glenn and the Wall Street Journal should be able to say what they think, unfettered by regulation.
When perhaps the nation's #1 blogger calls for government regulation of the content of public policy speech, one wonders: Will a call for government regulation of blog content be next? Sometimes bloggers post things that -- horrors! -- readers disagree with. Should someone go to jail?
Quick, somebody, call the regulators. We're all going to jail.
I actually noticed this National Review "The Corner" post by Ramesh Ponnuru because it contains a link to a Project 21 press release, but I am glad I did.
It seems Senator Arlen Specter has hired one of the NAACP's top lawyers for the Judiciary Committee staff as one of his first acts as Judiciary Committee Chairman.
Dittos on what Squaring the Boston Globe says about FDR's fourth inaugural, and Bush's second.
Harry includes a link to and comments about FDR's fourth inaugural address ("[it] would choke any Democrat who tried to give it today"). Agree. There's something else I noticed, re-reading it. It reads like something someone says when he knows he's dying.
We are in for a tumultuous four years, folks. Nationally, the Right is in the most advantageous policymaking position it has been in since before the New Deal. The Left knows it, and is throwing everything it can against the Right in an attempt to stop or slow its agenda.
One of several top areas of confrontation is, and for some time will remain, civil legal (tort) reform.
I say all this by way of introduction to one of the battles in the tort reform war, as illuminated by a post on Walter Olson's Overlawyered.com today.
In December 2003, Newsweek ran an cover story on tort reform by Stuart Taylor, Jr. and Evan Thomas. Reformers loved it (including me). The liberal Washington Monthly did not. In October 2004, the Washington Monthly picked apart the Newsweek piece. One of the Newsweek authors responded, asking the Washington Monthly to run the response in their magazine. So far, its editors have not.
The rebuttal, along with Washington Monthly's allegations of Newsweek inaccuracies, makes for an excellent survey of some of the key issues involved in tort reform. Walter Olson has it all here.
And as for Newsweek in this instance fighting on "our side" -- well, I did say the Right is in its best position since the New Deal, didn't I?
AOL Television/Discovery Channel is asking the public to nominate up to five people per person for the title of "greatest American," living or dead. They'll tell us who the top 100 vote-getters are.
You can vote online here.
One of my five nominees is my late father. Not all of the greatest Americans are famous.
The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, which has just been deployed to Iraq, wants family, friends and supporters to know they have a blog.
You can visit, read and leave comments here.
I was going to write a post about the whining labor union representing employees of the Social Security Administration, but Dick McDonald did it first.
Dick is way less P.C. than I am, but he hits the nail on the head.
By the way, the White House says the entire kerfluffle is fake -- which is what most sane observers already thought. The union's big whine was that Social Security Administration employees might be asked questions by the public, and be expected to answer them according to their employer's point of view.
There is a way to avoid that, if it actually were happening: Quit. Nobody elected these people. Besides, anyone who is not comfortable working for a variety of presidential administrations should not seek to spend their career as a federal government employee. Sometimes these folks answer to Democrats; other times, to Republicans. Live with it or move on.
Though I am oversimplifying in the service of brevity, there is more truth than fiction in the notion that money spent on inaugural festivities represents a transfer of wealth from big corporations and individuals of decent income to men and women who work for caterers, restaurants, hotels, the D.C. convention center, security firms, limousine services and printers, or who are taxi drivers or police officers on overtime.
What do critics of inaugural spending cited by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others have against working people earning a decent living?
Besides, those who can't stand wealth transfers within the private sector could cheer the fact that the government is taking a nice slice of the private money being spent on the aforementioned services though sales and income taxes.
This stark essay by Robert Samuelson in the January 14 Washington Post goes much further than does the White House in saying that our federal senior citizen entitlement programs need reform. Now.
Contrasting sharply with liberals who claim entitlement programs are not in crisis and claim the Administration is peddling falsehoods, Samuelson says the crisis is real. He does not spare President Bush, however, saying the President's reform effort "betrays a lack of seriousness that promises failure."
Some excerpts from Samuelson's piece:
The nation's problem is not Social Security. It is all federal programs for retirees, of which Social Security is a shrinking part...To avoid violating copyright law, I had to leave a lot out, including Samuelson's more detailed criticisms of both Democrats and the White House.
Our national government is increasingly a transfer mechanism from younger workers (i.e. taxpayers) to older retirees. In fiscal 2004 Social Security ($488 billion), Medicare ($300 billion) and Medicaid ($176 billion) represented 42 percent of federal outlays. Excluding spending that doesn't go to the elderly, the Congressional Budget Office crudely estimates that these programs pay an average of almost $17,800 to each American 65 and over. By 2030 the number of elderly is projected to double; the costs will skyrocket...
Look at the numbers. From 2004 to 2030, the combined spending on Social Security and Medicare is expected to rise from 7 percent of national income (gross domestic product) to 13 percent. Two-thirds of the increase occurs in Medicare. To add perspective: The increases in Social Security and Medicare represent almost a third of today's budget, which is 20 percent of GDP. Covering promised benefits would ultimately require a tax increase of about 30 percent...
The central budget issue of our time is how much younger taxpayers should be forced to support older retirees -- and both political parties and the public refuse to face it. What's fair to workers and retirees? How much of a tax increase (never mind budget deficits) could the economy stand before growth suffered badly? How much do today's programs provide a safety net for the dependent elderly, and how much do they subsidize the leisure of the fit or well-to-do? (About 15 percent of elderly households have incomes exceeding $75,000.) How long should people work?
We need a new generational compact to reflect new realities...
...The debate we need involves generational responsibility and obligation. Anyone who examines the outlook must conclude that, even allowing for uncertainties, both Social Security and Medicare benefits will have to be cut. We can either make future cuts now, with warnings to beneficiaries, or we can wait for budgetary pressures to force abrupt cuts later, with little warning...
I encourage anyone with a stake in the Social Security and Medicare debate (i.e., all Americans not on their deathbed) to read the whole thing here.
I noted a bit of unintentional irony in this New York Times article about Prince Harry wearing a swastika.
On the one hand, the piece notes some observers lamenting the possibility that history is not being properly taught to young people:
...the debate provoked some introspection about whether the memory of the death camps had endured across the generations.On the other hand, it is reasonably clear that the author of the Times piece has scant familiarity with recent British history:
In Jerusalem, Robert Rozett, the director of the library at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, said the photographs of Harry wearing a swastika showed that "the lessons of the Holocaust have not really entered deeply within his understanding and consciousness."
As The Evening Standard, among other newspapers, noted on Thursday, the royal family had an ambiguous relationship with Germany and the Nazis. The House of Windsor was formed in 1917 when the royal family changed its name from Saxe-Coburg Gotha, a name it acquired with the marriage in 1840 of Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg, which was then a duchy in central Germany.If ever two paragraphs in a newspaper looked like padding in an essay being turned in for a high school history assignment, this is it.
In the 1930's, moreover, some members were widely seen as openly sympathetic to the Nazis. In one iconic photograph, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, smiling broadly, were seen greeting Hitler.
Does the Times really need to quote the contemporary British press to know basic facts about British history? Is the ancestry of Queen Victoria's prince consort of more significance than Queen Victoria's own German ancestry (if so, a rare bout of overt sexism in the Times), or has the Times not heard of Victoria's own House of Hanover (Germany)? (If so, the ignorance of the House of Hanover explains why the Times often doesn't quite seem to understand the meaning of the Declaration of Independence as well.) And is the relationship between the Duke of Windsor and Hitler/top Nazis really best described by the fact that there exist photos of them cheerful together? One can say the same about Chamberlain, and Stalin. And probably some dufus from the New York Times, since the Times spent the 1930s parroting the Stalin line, and Stalin and Hitler carved up Poland together.
Someone (me, I guess) should tell the Times how misleading it is to say of the Windsors: "In the 1930's, moreover, some members were widely seen as openly sympathetic to the Nazis." Yes, the Duke and Duchess and Windsor were, but as a result, they were exiled in the Bahamas by his brother, King George VI, and Prime Minister Churchill during World War II. (The weather in the Bahamas might be nice, but the exile was a pointed insult, inasmuch as it was a location as far away from the action as the British government could find.) To tar the present House of Windsor with the sins of relatives they and their direct ancestors shunned because of those sins is hardly fair. Yet, the Times offers readers this line as if his great-grandfather's brother's political views tell us something about the thoughts of 20-year-old Prince Harry.
The House of Windsor is no more pro-Nazi than were German-Americans who fought in the U.S. Army during World War II. The patriotism of those men was not "ambiguous." Having German ancestry does not make one think -- even a tiny little bit -- favorably toward the Nazis, and Prince Harry's German ancestry, while more extensive than perhaps the Times realizes, is irrelevant in this case.
I don't see why one need become a libertarian to be outraged by this. As a conservative, I certainly am.
Professor Bainbridge is right on the money with this one.
If you like, or even buy, tomatoes, read the Professor's post about how Florida farmers are conspiring to keep us from having the opportunity to buy tasty tomatoes in our local supermarkets.