Friday, May 30, 2008

Women's Suffrage and the Size of Government

I only caught a brief excerpt from today's Rush Limbaugh program, but he was reading some bits from - I believe - How Dramatically Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government? It is a freely available 75-page pdf whose abstract reads as follows.

This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote. Using cross-sectional time-series data for 1870 to 1940, we examine state government expenditures and revenue as well as voting by U.S. House and Senate state delegations and the passage of a wide range of different state laws. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise. Contrary to many recent suggestions, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s, and it helps explain why American government started growing when it did.
Interesting points were raised by Rush, but I haven't caught the whole thing.

Two other links for me to follow up on this with:

Update: This must have been the item that Rush was reading on air: Is There Really a Bias Against Women in Politics? History Suggests Otherwise

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Write-In Vote

Aha! I had a moment of inspiration the other night.

[05-24 00:13:17] * hpb may have had an epipanhy.
[05-24 00:13:33] hpb: I think I figured out my write-in votes this year...
[05-24 00:13:49] other: do tell
[05-24 00:13:54] * hpb thanks the garage for still allowing cigarette smoking.
[05-24 00:14:56] hpb: Either a Thomas Sowell/Walter Williams ticket, or Sowell/Larry Elder.
It was brought up previously, and I'm still in agreement with this: a way to vote my views in a way that is not likely to be spun.

I still like what Fred writes. And I guess it is rather Reaganesque to support the party's candidate, but I just find it difficult to support McCain.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Searching for a Candidate

In the past weeks, I've been trying to figure out where I stand to best choose a candidate to waste my vote on this fall (I live in Minnesota -- our electoral votes will go to the Democratic nominee).

Part of this madness started by trying to see whether I'm Chicago school or Austrian school (lately, I tend to think Austrian). One item I enjoyed recently on my journey was How I Became a Christian Libertarian by Steven Yates at Currently, I think this comes as close to the mark as I've seen.

I consider myself to be a conservative, and that leaves me feeling a little left out in the upcoming 2008 presidential election. I'm not alone in thinking For President: None of the Above, but I doubt I've got a whole lot of company. [Or so I thought until I read the comments here.]

Some can put The Republican Party's Real Problem In A Nutshell. My version is that the GOP merely decided to tack left and chuck the conservatives.

I'd started writing this about a week ago before similarly-themed hoopla broke out. I'm a patient shopper -- I'll keep looking.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Expelled Discussion Takes Another Turn

I've been following the Expelled saga since before it was released. There was even some local hoopla prior to its release. It all seemed like humorous reading for a while, encountering delicious lines like this:

The film shockingly exposes the blatant hypocrisy of the scientific establishment. As Stein says in the film, “Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, it’s anti-science.”
I've wandered through many articles on the topic of Intelligent Design, atheism, Darwinian evolution, and such. I find it almost as entertaining as the global warming tennis match. Irony like this is just funny:
One highlight among many is Stein’s one-on-one interview with Richard Dawkins, the dashing Brit who has made a small fortune as the world’s most visible neo-Darwinist.

To his credit, and to the utter discomfort of the public education establishment, Dawkins does not shy from discussing the atheistic implications of Darwinism.

Indeed, Dawkin’s anti-deity call to arms, The God Delusion, has sold more than a million copies worldwide. Where Dawkins wanders into a black hole of his own making is in his discussion of the origins of life on earth.

To Stein’s astonishment, Dawkins concedes that life might indeed have a designer but that designer almost assuredly was a more highly evolved being from another planet, not “God.”

Stein does not respond. He does not need to. For the past hour of the film, the audience has met one scientist after another whose academic careers have been derailed for daring to suggest the possibility of intelligent design.

If only they had thought to put the designer on another planet!
I keep meaning to put it in my NetFlix queue, and fill my time with reviews and commentary such as this one from American Thinker or another from Human Events.

And along the way another brouhaha erupted. And I too wondered if Ben Stein missed his own point. In the meantime, I continue to watch this Darwinian tennis match -- my head bobbing this way and that. And also, of course, reading articles such Ben Stein Provokes the Liberal Wrath by Phyllis Schlafly. The Dang Thing.

Quote of the Day

“Kids staying in school, Americans living longer: Bush Blamed.”

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hillary Clinton on Bill O'Reilly

I didn't see it live, so I'm catching up now.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Confronting Hillary, By Bill O'Reilly
O'Reilly-Clinton Interview Shows Dem Flaw, By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
No Cure for Pandering, By Debra J. Saunders

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Pork and Bridges

Ed Morrissey points out that Pork did not bring down the St. Anthony Bridge.

Minnesotans spend $2.2 billion a year on transportation, more than three times what we spend on public safety (fire and police). It’s the second-largest portion of the discretionary budget in this state, and for good reason. Winters take their toll on roads and bridges, and both are constantly in inspection and repair statuses. The St. Anthony Bridge was no exception to that. Unfortunately, the design flaw didn’t become apparent until the bridge collapsed.
The particulars, perhaps, but in regard to the basic design flaw I beg to differ.
The National Bridge Inventory contains a report on this bridge from 2003. It reports the following items:
  • Deck Condition: Fair.
  • Superstructure Condition: Poor.
  • Substructure Condition: Satisfactory.
  • Scour: Foundations determined to be stable.
  • Bridge Railings: Meets currently acceptable standards.
  • Structural Evaluation: Meets minimum tolerable limits to be left in place as-is.
  • Water Adequacy Evaluation: Superior to present desirable criteria.
  • Bridge Sufficiency Rating: 50%
A University of Minnesota Civil Engineer in a report to MN-DOT recently noted that this bridge is considered to be a non-redundant structure. That is, if any one member fails, the entire bridge can collapse. A key factor is that there are only four pylons holding up the arch. Any damage to any one pylon would be catastrophic. The textbook example of a non-redundant bridge is the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River. It failed shortly before Christmas in 1967 resulting in 46 deaths. A single piece of hardware failed due to a tiny manufacturing defect. But that piece was non-redundant, and the entire bridge collapsed into the icy river. Today, bridge engineers design bridges so that any single piece of the bridge can fail without causing the entire bridge to collapse. It is tragic that the I-35W bridge was built a few years too early to benefit from that lesson.
So I might give a little more credence to the fact that a basic design flaw was identified 40 years prior. One might have thought that this would have pushed it toward the top of the list for replacement, but then again, I'm no bridge designer. (How many non-redundant bridges are still out there that also should be replaced -- hopefully before we use our highway funds and gas taxes for bike paths?)
As it happens, these are the same men who played the lead role in the $286 billion 2005 federal highway bill. That's the bill that diverted billions of dollars of gas tax money away from urgent road and bridge projects toward Member earmarks for bike paths, nature trails and inefficient urban transit systems.
Sure pork did not bring the bridge down, but if Minnesota Spends $1 Billion a Year for Neglible Light Rail Congestion Relief, you'd think maybe some of these distractions are certainly not helping. How about an earmark for a bridge with a known design flaw? One that is right out of a major metropolitan downtown area that was Minnesota's fifth–busiest, carrying 140,000 vehicles daily.

No, pork did not cause the gusset to fail. But IT’S ABOUT PRIORITIES: BIKE TRAILS OR HIGHWAYS? And if pork is the higher priority, then I'm not willing to toss it out as not being part of the problem. Monday morning quarterbacking, sure, but still...
10. Over 40% of the money earmarked by Congressman Oberstar for Minnesota from the 2005 Transportation bill went to bike trails, transit, and other non-road related spending. There was even a $25 million appropriation for a "non-motorized" transportation pilot program in the Twin Cities - using YOUR gas tax dollars.
How much of transportation funding goes elsewhere? Is our legislature even now addressing the funding priorities? Or does it still have systemic issues?
The transportation debate in Minnesota is multifarious and most of the time pits the usual political forces against one another. By leaving the pending $1 billion pork strewn bonding bill (which could have been spent for roads and bridges, but instead will go for rail, zoos, bike paths, and happy trails) out of the debate, Mr. Kupchella has left his viewers wanting. And by saying the vehicle sales tax or MVET diversion of at least 40% to transit isn't really a "diversion" of funds because "that was decided by public vote just a few years ago" (actually it was just in '06), Mr. Kupchella seems to be suggesting that anything the voters or politicians decide on is above reproach. Strange idea for a newsman.
And do they still have their Hands In The Cookie Jar?