Thursday, September 25, 2008

The annihilation of limited government is upon us.

This is a very sad time for me, and it's a watershed moment for America. After all the problems with large banks, the federal government has stepped in to save some of them and is about to do a whole lot more since last week's volatility. It's incredibly disheartening to see how far we've fallen from the ideals that have kept us free.

I am writing this note to publicly declare that I do not approve of the federal government's actions to save the banks. It realize that there would be catastrophic consequences if they did not, and our whole system as we know it might collapse in a way that could even surpass The Great Depression. That condition could take decades to overcome, and we would be a very poor country in the meantime... meaning that we would learn what true poverty is really like. I would absolutely choose that course because we would come out as strong a nation as we ever were, having kept our individual freedoms and responsibilities and learned valuable lessons about individual security and trustworthiness in the process.

However, what we are choosing instead is to try and ensure safety by subverting the basic rights of individuals to choose their own actions and live through the consequences. We're replacing our old ideals with a system where the government has all power to do as it wishes with any aspect of society. Even if this bailout plan isn't implemented, the fact that it is being seriously considered means that most of our politicians feel they can exert this power over our lives if they perceive a big crisis coming. There are no longer any limits; the only way now to limit what government does is to make front-page news and garner general public outrage so that a majority of politicians are motivated to act. American government has lost its moral compass.

So the future is bleak: our livelihood is subject to the whims of politics; we will be less free to make contracts with one another; and society in general will be much less prosperous and powerful because of the myriad ways that government force can stop associations and limit our range of actions. If people thought there was uncertainty from actions of irresponsible banks and traders, wait to see how much more uncertain will be everyone's future now that we have an all-powerful national government.

I suppose we've been headed this way for a while. It's incredibly sad to watch it happen in front of us, and to know we will have diminished power over our lives starting next week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

CEAG: a Bountiful (and expanding) government watchdog group

Last night I was introduced to the CEAG, a group watching how the Bountiful and Davis County governments are doing their work. They passed around a letter detailing some of the actions that Bountiful City has taken that were either not public or went directly against their stated plans. (I hope they put that flier up on their website soon; it was very informative.)

In the process of discussing issues, a few other specifics came out, one negative and one positive:
  • Bountiful city council passed a mandatory recycling law without discussing other options, despite the fact they announced they would discuss other options.
  • Davis County worked on funding for a regional theater, and they actually did everything in the proper way.
The discussion centered on how the group wanted to be a watchdog that makes sure everything is done in the right way. There was also discussion about financially supporting specific candidates, but not everyone is comfortable with the idea; endorsing candidates, maybe, but not choosing sides. (That's my personal view as well; I'm interested in a group that gives people good information for their own choices, but I'm not so interested if it is going to pick one specific candidate in each race. Hm... but maybe if there was a pot, divvied up to each candidate as much as they've proven themselves to have integrity, that might be interesting.)

You just can't be too safe nowadays. The Feds won't let you.

This is becoming comical. How can any reasonable person keep a company from spending their own money to be as safe as they want, especially when it helps their business? Another article states another one of their arguments: "If the government does not control the tests, the USDA is worried about beef exporters unilaterally giving consumers false assurance." Can anyone really give a reasonable argument for this?

I find it absolutely amazing that they can do this kind of thing.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Health care summit for Utah

The Utah Intergovernmental Roundtable (a U of U organization) is holding their annual summit next month. The topic this year is health care. What's cool is that they have representatives from national organizations like Cato and The Heritage Foundation, whose priorities I share. The cost is $50 per person.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How many executive orders have presidents written?

I was curious how many executive orders George Bush has written compared to other presidents. (I got the counts from the "disposition tables" that go back to Hoover.)

There were 5075 up to Hoover; as of June 28 we have 13466.

268 George W. Bush
363 William J. Clinton
165 George Bush
380 Ronald Reagan
319 Jimmy Carter
168 Gerald R. Ford
345 Richard Nixon
323 Lyndon B. Johnson
213 John F. Kennedy
481 Dwight D. Eisenhower
893 Harry S. Truman
3466 Franklin D. Roosevelt
995 Herbert Hoover

PATH delivers new health care technology

"PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology and Health) is a nonprofit organization that is about making sure that the benefits of innovation in science and technology are available to developing countries and remotely located, low-income groups." Dr Christopher Elias discusses some of their work and how they get it out to people in this podcast. As two examples, they have improved the malaria nets (so you don't have to dip them in insecticide as often), and they have come up with an indicator to tell if a dose immunization has lost it's potency due to inadequate refrigeration. It's fun to hear about.

In each case, he also discusses how they have to make sure to work with all the following aspects, because if you miss one area your initiative may end up being ineffective:
  • new technology
  • systems for delivery
  • individual behavior that needs to change

When do you formally evaluate your charitable work?

Alana Connor and others (a successful evaluator and a funder) did a very interesting, informative discussion on how to evaluate a non-profit's effectiveness. In part of it, she explained that "very few" organizations will benefit from an evaluation because they do not meet the following criteria:

  • the program has a clear theory of change
  • the staff are implementing it with fidelity and you know that and you've measured that
  • someone, somewhere wants to replicate it
  • people are proud of the program

They go into detail on why it's good to evaluate (if you can), what kinds of studies and methodologies are useful, and how to work effectively with all the parties involved. I recommend listening if you're even remotely interested in the topic.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why government should help social entrepreneurs, and why it should not

David Gergen ("advisor to Presidents") gives his views on why our national government should help with innovative social enterprises in this interview; thankfully, it is followed by some commentary that give good arguments why the government should not get involved.