Friday, January 05, 2007

The Daily Top Five--Jan. 5

1. What happens when orders conflict with common sense, you get National Guard troops turning tail and retreating because they can't fire back on armed Mexicans crossing the border. Dave Riehl has more on the story. The problem with rules of engagement limitations for "humanitarian reasons" is that you might as well not have any presence on the border at all.

2. Yesterday I posted on George Will's discussion of the minimum wage. Philip Mella has more, noting that Will didn't address three other issues:
[T]here are three related issues Mr. Will declined to address. The first is the meta-analysis that demonstrates how thoroughly seduced a broad swath of Americans and their elected leaders have become by supporting legislation that is at once largely symbolic and has such a potent emotive appeal. Indeed, catharsis has replaced substance in American politics.

Second is the fact that these bleary-eyed politicians and their fawning foot soldiers in the mainstream press will bear no burden regarding the unintended, latent consequences. Here in the Colorado Springs market the local press reported that a number of service-related and restaurant businesses have laid off workers and increased prices in anticipation of a state-passed minimum wage law that took effect this week.

Third is the argument that has the least appeal to our graying cohort of liberals and that is the historically sacred nature of contracts. Employment agreements are predicated on bilateral negotiations whose salary structure should be immune from the intrusive hand of government. But, whether it's the left's excoriation of "obscene profits" by oil companies or CEOs or their apparently unlimited willingness to redistribute income, in their view abridging contractual obligations is a small price to pay.
I still maintain that it is a bad idea for government, let alone Congress, to be involved in wage rules, but if government is to be involved, the states are a better place for this kind of regulation.

3. Generally, I have little use for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, considering them little more than gadflys and attention mongerers rather than a real force for improving the Washington Climate. But every once in a while they come up with a real humdinger, this one about Rep. William "Freezer Money Man" Jefferson's latest gaffe--sending out a fundraising appeal on Congressional letterhead. This is a massive wrong and not just a staff slip-up which is the current spin. Fundraising appeals can't go out on official letterhead and Congressional staff is not supposed to be working on campaign matters on the public dime. In fact, Representatives and Senator may designate one "liasion" between their official staff and their campaign staff. This is a screw up of enormous proportions that just screams for at a minimum a censure and in conjunction with his other, alledgedly, nefarious activities perhpas expulsion.

4. Newly elected DC mayor Adrian Fenty has proposed to take over day to day operations of the public schools through the Mayor's office. While some of his proposals are common sensical, like running all the charter schools through one office rather than the current two, I am not so sure this is the solution Fenty believes it to be. Sara at The Quick and the Ed has more reaction. To e sure, DC schools are pretty bad considering the amount of money pumped into them, but Fenty's plan has one great big hurdle--Congress. A Democratically controlled Congress may not be enamoured with the idea, but since most members of Congress don't send their kids to public schools (and neither does Fenty) they may not care. But sometimes to get results, you need to rattle a few cages and perhaps a sabre or two.

5. When they won election to control Congress, Nancy Pelosi declared that it was time for the grown-ups to run things. But when people like Barney Frank say things like this, it is hard to believe that there are any grownups in Congress, on either side of the aisle.

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