Monday, February 28, 2011

Class, trip aim for social change through the bicycle

This really-oughtn't-be-on-Page-1 piece highlights a Prescott College program in which students work on bikes and learn about the economic and social effects along with the mechanicals. The comments seethe with bike-hate and PC-hate. It's entertaining if you enjoy that sort of thing.

What everyone seems to have missed is that there's a need for a college course on bike repair -- because most kids are growing up now with very little experience with tools and machines, and most of our secondary schools are no longer teaching mechanical skills.

So this course is not an indictment of the students, rather it's an indictment of our atrophying public-school system and American parents who never teach their kids (or don't know themselves) the business end of a wrench.

I'll tell ya, if a new Axis were to try taking over the world next year, we would have zero chance of building the sort of industrial machine that ultimately won that war. We no longer value the skills.

Editorial: Leaders Must Support Laws I Like, Never Mind the Constitution

Lacking any useful legal knowledge has never stopped the unnamed Courier editor from spewing frothy opinions on how the rule of law ought to work, and he spews mightily in Sunday's editorial about the administration altering policy on suits against the comically titled Defense of Marriage Act. It's sort of pitiful to watch him try to spin his purely emotional issue on a legalistic argument. It would be the ol' peashooter-in-a-gunfight problem, but he hasn't even got any peas.

Here's what happened. A little old widow lady got a bill for over 300,000 clams in taxes for which she'd be exempt if she'd been married to a man. She sued. I would too. The Attorney General marched into the Oval Office and reported, "Mr President, if we go to court against this little old lady, we'll waste a whole lot of money, we're guaranteed to lose, and when the Supreme Court strikes the law down the whole country will come unhinged. Maybe we should drop it." The President, being the pragmatic moderate technocrat that he is, said, "Sounds like we don't have much choice about that," and started drafting a pragmatic, technocratic speech about it. No change in the law, no fireworks. Someone else will have to spend the money to get that same Supreme Court judgment, like all those churchgoers who imagine being gay or not is important, including the Family Research Council.

Despite the reams of precedent for this kind of determination, the editor thinks it's the first time it's ever happened, and only because those Democrats are all secretly gay and want the editor and his wife to be gay, too. And his dog. Here, Fido ....

A clue for the editor to chew on: Equal Protection -- It's Not Just for Straight White Men Anymore.

Editorial: Nothing's More Important to Americans Than the Cost of Gasoline

In Saturday's editorial the unnamed Courier editor complains that "we Americans know that we are being jerked around by factors we can't begin to grasp or unravel" economically, and knits his brow over "escalating gas prices for reasons that are convoluted beyond understanding."

As I wrote in a comment that didn't make it onto the story, I'm not clear on what's so difficult to understand. Conflict in an oil-producing state makes the teevee news, and oil speculators ramp up prices, despite any evidence of disruption of the supply chain. Oil companies add to their record profits, and prices stay high long after the conflict fades from public view. What could be simpler? That's yer "free market" talking.

The editor warns that "Pretty soon, all of this will make the gas wars of the '70s pale in comparison," when the situation has been well beyond that for decades. Incidentally, editor, perhaps you're too young to remember, but the only "gas wars" were between senselessly panicked Americans fighting for places at the pumps. What was going on was a series of simple, predictable cartel actions to wring more profit from an essentially captive market, in other words the "free market" showing its true nature.

I'd like to point out here that Europeans and Japanese would fall over themselves for the bargain prices on gasoline that Americans complain about so tediously, kept artificially low by generous, entrenched government subsidies and protection for the oil industry (that's right, you actually pay a lot more for that gas through your taxes). It's no coincidence that the rest of the developed world suffers higher (read: closer to market) prices and is miles ahead of us in the race to develop and install sustainable alternatives. Damned socialists.

Rather than express thanks for his good fortune -- in the short term, of course -- the editor wants to save his ten cents at the pump by any means necessary: "we could empower stability in that region to some extent, at least," which would presumably mean military intervention that would somehow cost nothing. Look how well that turned out in Iraq and Somalia.

This infantile whining over a paper cut to his wallet while hope for freedom and self-determination spreads across one of the most corrupt and oppressed regions of the planet makes the editor look more than a little oafish. But it's all the more annoying when he draws on the kooky Moonie Times for analysis critical of the administration. Either he really doesn't know that this is a partisan rag on a par with Fox News, or he does and he's using it exactly that way against us.

Again, Courier readers deserve better. The editor reconfirms that he's stunningly uninformed about economics and foreign affairs, and should stay away from them. Get back to your knitting, editor, I'm sure there's a local flower show you can opine upon with authority.

Further reading: Rs love them some Big Oil some more