10-22-11 Hodgepodge

Saturday, October 22, 2011

FINO Republicans

Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy notes an unfortunate strategy taken by some Republicans in their quest for medical malpractice reform (at the moment, via an amendment tacked on to Obama's "jobs" bill).

Barnett first quotes Attorney Carrie Severino:

The law's own justification for its constitutional authority should be chilling to anyone committed to limited federal power. The bill’s findings state that health care and health insurance are industries that "affect interstate commerce," and conclude that Congress therefore has Commerce Clause power to regulate them -- even when it involves an in-state transaction between a doctor and patient, governed by in-state medical malpractice laws. Is there any industry that couldn't be found to have an effect on interstate commerce?
And then, after excerpting the from the amendment itself, Barnett adds, "Senate Republicans are claiming that Congress has power over the judiciary of the states because state courts are an activity that "affect[s] commerce."

In one fell swoop, this amendment would damage part of our system of governmental checks and balances, by threatening the independence of state judiciaries and erode the accidental protection of freedom in some states via "states' rights." (That said, I do not regard "states' rights" as a legitimate concept apart from individual rights.)

Barnett proposes Federalist-in-Name-Only (FINO) Republicans as a label for any Republican who supports such a measure.

Weekend Reading

"This false alternative ... arises from a misplaced confidence in government and the erroneous belief in a fixed quantity of available healthcare resources." -- Beth Haynes, in "False Dichotomy: ObamaCare or Let Them Die" at Townhall

"The FDIC is the single biggest pretext for government interference in the financial sector." -- Wendy Milling, in "Why FAS 166 and 167 Rules Are Wrong" at RealClear Markets

"It might take a little work and some concerted habit-breaking, but self-pity can be eradicated by affirming life and finding reasons to love it." -- Michael Hurd, in "More about Pity and Contempt" at DrHurd.com

"Even experts aren't exempt. When Apple went public, state regulators in Massachusetts, barred individual investors from buying the stock. The subsequent return has been over 15,000%." -- Jonathan Hoenig, in "When Ignoring the Herd Pays" at SmartMoney

"Above all, successful entrepreneurship requires a spirit of independence – a willingness and eagerness to see things through one’s own eyes and unique values, to make controversial decisions and take bold actions that less-creative others perpetually doubt, question, or oppose." -- Richard Salsman, in "Steve Jobs and the Money-Making Personality" at Forbes

Calling Their Bluff

Amit Ghate embeds a video of a capitalist picketing one of the various "occupy" squatter camps with a sign advertising employment opportunities. Oddly enough, he is ignored or ridiculed most of the time.

How to Build a Usable Watch

As someone who regularly wonders whether manufacturers and software designers ever actually try using their products, I enjoyed this story about a class project aimed at making a usable watch:
It was, as you can guess, a disastrous user interface. Every button wound up performing multiple functions. Double-press. Press-and-hold. Press two at once. There’s no possible way you could master it without the 3-by-3 inch sheet of instructions in 2-point type.

Inevitably, setting a time -- either for the clock or the alarm -- involves a Sisyphean ritual of pushing in some tiny, painful little button and standing there, waiting, as the digital numbers crawl up or down toward your target.

So for one particularly diabolical piece of homework, I challenged my students to redesign the Wal-Mart watch. Make it easier to use -- without sacrificing any features, and with the understanding that every new button or control would add to the cost and mechanical vulnerability.
The homework generated quite a few good or, or at least interesting, ideas.

-- CAV

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