Quick Roundup 414

Thursday, March 19, 2009

First, a word from my favorite source for cultural commentary....

Save 20 Percent on The Objective Standard now through March 27

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Ranking the Punters

Don't be fooled by the title, which only sounds like it could refer to the ravings of a particularly hard core fantasy football player who can't wait for fall to return....

Scott Powell continues his series of Presidential rankings with an installment on the "punters."

The pressing problem of the Era of the Growth and Decline of the Union that required presidential leadership, but instead met with default and evasion, was slavery. Every year that passed made this point clearer, and every time that presidents "punted" on this issue only made the situation worse. Consequently, one might be inclined to say that the difficulty level of each successive presidency got higher as the nineteenth century unfolded, and that this should be taken into account when judging the presidents in question. However, the issue is moot, because not one of the presidents in question ever did anything particularly impressive that would allow someone who is ranking them to even consider how hard it was for them to do the right thing.
Among the punters is the tenth President, John Tyler, who, I recently learned, has two living grandsons. Yes. Grandsons.

Red State Blues

Texas regularly votes for Republican presidential candidates and is generally regarded as pro-capitalist, but anyone familiar with its legislature would wonder where that reputation comes from. Every session churns out ridiculous headlines, like one I ran across yesterday over lunch pertaining to a proposal to regulate the tanning industry, of all things:
"In the United states and Texas, we don't allow our teens to purchase cigarettes until after they are 18 because it is a carcinogen," said Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton. "Yet we don't do that for tanning beds, which can expose teens to the same risk for cancer."

The bill would require anyone under 18 years old to get a doctor's note before using a tanning bed and would require a parent be with them in the salon. Supporters and detractors said this would be the strictest legislation any state has passed on teen tanning.
Notice the party affiliation of Burt Solomons, as well as his facile use of one bad law as an excuse to pass another. You get bonus points if you recall that many, many things can increase the risk for cancer. What will they restrict or outlaw on that basis next? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the meantime, even slight moves in the direction of greater freedom are greeted with resistance, like a proposal to allow the sale of liquor on Sunday. Brian Phillips explains:
The fact is, if a business wishes to open on Sunday, it is not appropriate or moral for the government to prohibit it from doing so. And it is no less immoral if most of the businesses in that particular industry support such prohibitions. The decision to open on Sunday should be left to the discretion of each individual store owner, not politicians or industry lobbyists.
Later in the same post, he also makes some salient comments on the recent bust of a huge prostitution ring in Houston.

The government does not exist to protect my health. It does not exist to make me able to loaf on a given day of the week. It doesn't exist to prevent consenting adults from buying or selling sex, no matter how distasteful the very idea. It doesn't exist to help my gang run your life or yours run mine.

It exists to protect individual rights, and this protection necessarily precludes it from doing any of those other things.

Heroes of Capitalism Celebrates March

Specifically, you can learn more about James Naismith, the father of March Madness, and Arthur Guinness, the real patron saint of Ireland. Or would that be one of the descendants of Nicholas O'Murphy? I may have to -- erm -- think about that one for awhile.

Houston Rankings

Recently, a virus knocked out the computers at Municipal Court for at least a week, including the day I came to settle a parking ticket. So I settled the ticket by mail. Of course, I never heard anything back, so I ended up having to go online to check on whether the city would permit me to take driver's ed or whether it simply took my money.

My visit to the city government's web site came with a silver lining. I noticed a link to various top ten rankings achieved by the city in recent years. Here are just the top rankings Houston has racked up. Most of them reflect well on the city.
  • Top Metro in the Nation Site Selection Magazine -- March 2009
  • Best City to Live, Work and Play Kiplinger's Personal Finance -- July 2008
  • Best U.S. City to Earn a Living Forbes.com -- August 18, 2008
  • Best City for Your Job BusinessWeek -- June 12, 2008
  • Best City to Buy a Home Forbes.com -- July 14, 2008
  • Best City for Recent College Grads Forbes.com -- June 26, 2008
  • Hottest Labor Market Bizjournals.com -- September 8, 2008
  • Fastest Job Growth (12/07 to 12/08) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment -- February, 2009
  • Lowest Cost of Living Among Major Metro Areas ACCRA Cost of Living Index -- Third Quarter 2008
  • Largest IT Service Economy Onforce, Inc. (VoIP Monitor) -- December 5, 2008
  • Top U.S. Manufacturing Cities Manufacturers' News Inc. (as reported in the Houston Business Journal) -- May 30, 2008
  • Most Accessible City for the Disabled The National Organization on Disability -- February 14, 2008
  • Top Local Government Green Power Purchaser Environmental Protection Agency -- July 2008
  • America's Best Hospitals -- Cancer, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center U.S News & World Report -- July 2008
  • Highest Population Growth in the Nation U.S. Census Bureau (as reported in the Houston Business Journal) -- July 10, 2008
Compiling such lists isn't a proper function of the government, but the entire list is here.

-- CAV


: Added missing hyperlink to Powell's "punter" post.

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