Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Libertarian Links

Health insurance: The constitutional battle over ObamaCare has largely focused on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Namely, does forcing individuals to buy health insurance violate the commerce clause? But as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear Florida v. United States, a second issue is of equal importance: Was District Court Judge Roger Vinson correct to rule that the federal government can force states to expand their Medicaid programs as a precondition for continuing to receive matching federal funds for the program?

Law: Top American firms have cut hiring or moved to a lower-tier pay system for many new associates. Corporations are reducing their legal departments. Legal temp companies now pay as little as $20 a hour to lawyers for document reviews that a decade ago might have been billed at $200 an hour.

NC gov. workers' insurance: When she vetoed the original State Employee Health Plan (SB265) North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue indicated that she opposed the increase in premiums, although her own budget proposal would have include premiums, too. With the increase, the total employee’s contribution for their health benefits would have been about 2.7 percent. [...]In a ten-state comparison it was found that even the proposed increase to $11 a month would leave North Carolina with the lowest percentage of employee contributions to their health plan.

Disgusting NC political tactics: Freshman Republican lawmaker Mike Stone says his daughter was “used against” him when a public school teacher instructed her and her classmates to contact elected officials in opposition to budget cuts.

Warning!: Anthony Weiner pic that once seen cannot be unseen.

Haitian stupidity: A couple of years back, the Haitian government decided that it would be an awesome idea to more than double the minimum wage to 61 cents an hour from 24 cents an hour. Many U.S. companies—including Hanes and Levi Strauss—have contacts with* factories in Haiti and were none-too-pleased about the proposed increase. Through the dark magic of lobbying Obama's State Department got involved and a partial exception was carved out for textile companies. [...]Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

I can't decide whether this is police state or nanny state: Taxi driver Nabeel Langrial was talking to another cabbie near the Lumière Place casino last summer when an enforcement agent for the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission stopped to tell him his hat did not conform to the driver dress code. Langrial, a 23-year-old Muslim, told the officer the reddish-brown cap — called a kufi — had religious meaning. [...]Even though the ticket for wearing his Muslim cap ultimately was downgraded to a warning, he still served a one-day suspension earlier this year for not having his cab reinspected after an officer took it out of service that day

Psych: Over at The New Republic, Jamie Holmes, a policy analyst at the goo-goo think tank, New America Foundation offers an interesting argument that willpower depletion is a cause of sustained poverty. In recent years, psychologists have conducted experiments in which they get subjects to make a trade-off, say between eating a cupcake or a carrot. Next, the researchers offer subjects another trade-off, and many give into temptation. It seems that exercising one's willpower depletes it. Holmes argues that the poor in developing countries have to make many more painful trade-offs than do the rich, so that their willpower is sapped all the time, leading them to make bad decisions that keep them in poverty.

What is LEED?
: On a federal level, LEED certification has been adopted as either an outright requirement or a programmatic goal by any number of governmental agencies including four branches of the armed forces, the General Services Administration, the State Department, and the Department of the Interior. At least nine states require actual certification for public building projects, while another half dozen, including Massachusetts, are presently considering such requirements. Still others do not require certification but promote the use of LEED guidelines or encourage certification by offering tax credits or other incentives. Many municipalities and some county governments also require certification. Countless private institutions, such as the Partners HealthCare system, pursue LEED certification of their building projects as a matter of policy. For projects over a certain size, Boston requires building projects to be LEED “certifiable,” which is a significant distinction in that it adopts the standard but not the process.

Prison: Wages fall by about 15 percent after prison, yearly earnings are reduced by about 40 percent, and the pay of former prisoners (unlike compensation for the rest of the labor force) remains stagnant as they get older. The second important effect of imprisonment falls not on ex-inmates but on their families. About half of all prison and jail inmates are parents with children under 18. By 2008 about 2.6 million children had a parent in prison or jail. By age 17, one in four African-American youth has a father who has been sent to prison. [...]Sixty percent of state inmates are re-arrested within three years of being released from prison. Recidivism rates have not fallen despite a fourfold increase in incarceration rates since the 1970s.

Prison: More than 800,000 people are still arrested each year for marijuana alone, despite the widespread misconception that pot has been largely decriminalized, and despite the fact that close to half of all Americans by now have smoked it, and more than half, by some surveys, favor legalizing it.

Sweden (also, half of their children are illegitimate, another effect of the welfare state): Or take Sweden. Long gone are the arguments about the success of that kingdom's alleged "middle way" between capitalism and communism. In 1970 Sweden was ranked third in per capita income among industrialized nations; today it ranks 17th. The country's welfare state is strangling its economy. Taxes consume 55 percent of Sweden's GDP, while public spending equals 65 percent of GDP.

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