Thursday, September 30, 2010

State Treasurer - I can't decide

If you want to feel like you need a shower after watching a debate, watch this one:

On the issues, I have to say I think Doug Ducey makes more sense to me than Andre Cherney.

Here's what I can pull from this debate:

Doug Ducey wants to be a responsible banker of the state's finances, fine. They both do. More radically (but its only slightly more radical), he wants to work with the governor to find ways to entice businesses to move to Arizona. How he would do that? Its unknown. But he definitely wants to use the office to be sort of an assistant to the Governor?

Andre Cherney wants to use the Treasurer's office to audit the state's finances and to expose wasteful state spending. I agree with Ducey on this point, I'm not sure a Democratic Treasurer playing partisan games with what is most likely going to be a Republican controlled legislature is a good idea. I think that's an over-reach and will probably be a pretty ineffective tactic.

He also states he wants to use state funds to invest in Arizona companies to promote clean energy and biotech technologies. Again, I agree with Ducey, this seems risky and not an appropriate use of state funds designated and allocated for schools.

Ideologically, I agree with much of what Cherney advocates - ensure money for schools, I wouldn't mind seeing state funds invested in clean energy and biotech and other areas to spur innovation in the state. I also agree that legislature needs better oversight.

But should the person to advocate for these sorts of things be the State Treasurer? Maybe. But he definitely shouldn't be pushing for ideological causes with state funds. If the legislature wants to allocate a slice of the state funds for these kinds of purposes, it should be decided upon there - the legislative branch working with the governor. The treasurer simply should not be risking state funds in this way.

I also disagree with Cherney that Dean Martin has done a poor job as the Treasurer. I'm not knowledgeable enough to know for sure, but my sense is that Dean Martin is a stand up guy whose done a good job in a touch economic climate. He would have been a much better candidate for governor than Jan Brewer. He gets no blame for the fact that we lost a lot of money because of the stock market crash (everything crashed - there were no safe places to put your money in 2008).

Having said that, Doug Ducey rubs me the wrong way. He's this smooth talking corporate guy who says all the right things but you wonder if he's just telling you what you want to hear. His failure to pay his taxes on time is concerning. I also have heard that there were issues with Cold Stone Creamery - too rapid growth, too many franchises too close together which hurt the individual franchise owners in order to boost corporate profits.

And the way he tried to group Cherney with President Obama and then blame Obama for our recession was dreadful. I realize it was a political ploy, but it was stupid and dishonest (I know Ducey realizes Obama did not drive our economy into the ditch, it was pretty well in the ditch when he took office).

And who cares anyways, Cherney is not Obama. Stick with the issues.

So, it seems like we have the choice between uninspiring candidates for Treasurer, which is too bad.

By the way, I endorsed Barbara Leff for Republican nomination for treasure. I stand by that. I think she would have been the the better choice between these two.

But again, I'm basing this opinion off of one flimsy interview. I'm open to your suggestions.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wow, A journalist doing his job

I wish more journalists would ask tough questions like these of politicians of all parties. We would be much better off if they would.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Local Elections Update Part III

So, I recently watched the debates on Secretary of State debates here:

Watch the full episode. See more Arizona Illustrated.

Both candidates seemed perfectly reasonable to me from the perspective of who is best qualified for the position of Secretary of State. In Arizona, however, the Secretary of State has a really good chance of becoming governor, and I have no idea who would make a better governor from this debate.

Of course, it looks like I'm voting Democratic party line (I'm persuadable on some of these candidates, though) with maybe one or two exceptions - we'll see, so I'm probably going to vote for Chris Deschene here for a couple of pretty small-sounding reasons.

First, Deschene seems like he is more sensitive to the needs of making it easier to vote - to try to outreach to more people (I don't have strong evidence of this but it came up in the debate).

Another issue that came up in the debate was the issue about how Republicans recruited sham Green candidates in hopes of diluting the vote. For me this was a triviality. These Green candidates were awful and would maybe garner a handful of votes and it would be quite doubtful that any of them would turn an election.

But Robert Robb has interesting commentary hear on Deschene:

"Democratic secretary of state candidate Chris Deschene has been attempting to beat up incumbent Republican Ken Bennett for watching silently as the Democrats and Republicans litigated over the political inner thoughts of some vagabonds. According to Deschene, Bennett should have demanded an investigation, held a denunciatory press conference and maybe even held up the printing of the general election ballots.

This likewise is deeply troubling. The secretary of state administers our elections. It is even less appropriate for the administrator of an election to be rendering public judgments about the sincerity and motivation of candidates than for a judge to do so."

This did come up in the debate. I guess I have no idea on how I feel about any of this, it all seems like such a small issue.

I did think Deschene had a stronger answer to regarding proposition 111. I have yet to study the propositions, but my first impression is that they are all bad.

Here's Robb on Prop 111:

"* According to the co-chairmen of the Proposition 111 campaign committee, Tom Simplot and Jonathan Paton, “there is nothing in the proposition that would preclude the election of an independent candidate for governor and lieutenant governor.”

But there is.

Proposition 111 plainly says: “each nominee for the office of governor shall run on a ticket as a joint candidate in the general election with the nominee for the office of lieutenant governor from the same political party as the nominee for governor.” (Emphasis added.)

“Each” means every single candidate, no exceptions. “Shall” means it's mandatory. “From the same political party” means, well, from the same political party. Independents don't belong to a political party. So, by the clear and explicit language of Proposition 111, they are ineligible for either the office of governor or lieutenant governor.

Moreover, this is a constitutional requirement that cannot be amended or fixed by legislation.
Asserting differently doesn't make it so.

* Simplot and Paton were writing in rebuttal to a column of mine that also said that it was a dumb idea to put the administration of elections into the office of governor, as Proposition 111 would provide.

Although Proposition 111 clearly says that the lieutenant governor would assume the duties of the secretary of state, Simplot and Paton say that might not end up to be the case. The Legislature would ultimately decide.

The lieutenant governor might be in charge of economic development. Or might not. The lieutenant governor might administer elections. Or might not.

In other words, Proposition 111 proponents want to establish the office of lieutenant governor now, but have the Legislature decide later what, if anything, the office would actually do.

Now there's a plan."

Deschene opposes this proposition, Ken Bennett, in the debate, declared neutrality, but seems inclined to support it.

To be honest, I could probably care less which of these candidates monitors our elections (the primary responsibility of Secretary of State), I do care, however, which of these ends up as our next governor if something should happen to the elected one. However, I have no idea which candidate would make a better governor and this debate did little to help me with that.

Some Election Updates Part II

This post is more of the national variety, but the Republican party just pushed out their "Pledge to America and there's been a tooon of commentary about it already.

Its probably not noteworthy to say there's nothing much in it. And I know its too much to ask that they would put serious policy in a document like that especially if they will probably win a lot of seats back no matter what they do this election time.

But just so everyone is perfectly clear that the Republicans are not really serious about balancing the budget check out this commentary:

"On taxes, it promises to 'stop all job-killing tax hikes' -- that is, to retain all of the Bush tax cuts-- but says nothing about the comprehensive tax reform that will be needed to raise new revenues and balance the budget without avoidable damage to growth. The Pledge maintains the pretence that spending cuts can do all the necessary fiscal lifting -- and even here it is slippery. It promises to 'roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels', which seems fair enough. But it also promises 'common-sense' exceptions for "seniors, veterans, and our troops". Those common-sense exceptions are the whole ball of wax. The idea that you can control public borrowing without higher taxes and by squeezing only non-defense discretionary spending is, I'm afraid, delusional."

And this is the troubling part about the Republican party right now. They claim they can balance the budget by cutting taxes. They talk the talk about their drive to cut government spending, but they lack any serious proposals on how to do so. And then demogogue the Democrats who really tried to inject modest Medicare cuts in the health care bill.

I wish we had a saner political environment right now.

Some Election Day Updates

So, It's a busy season. We're really trying to raise money for JDRF and I'm trying to get ultra-informed about the incoming election and doing my part to inform whoever else who might be reading these blogs.

I wanted to link in Robert Robb's opinions on the Superintendent of public instruction.

In his opinion, he feels both candidates are solid:

"The nominees of both parties, Republican John Huppenthal and Democrat Penny Kotterman, were well informed and articulate. The exchange was, as the contestants described it, spirited, but very constructive.

This race features what competitive democracy promises but rarely delivers: a clear policy choice, honestly conveyed and debated, between two candidates well-qualified to deliver on what voters decide."


"Huppenthal is a longtime state legislator who has specialized in education issues. He's also a policy geek who likes to wallow in data.

Huppenthal is as informed a champion for conservative education reform as the state could ask for. His general approach would be to improve student performance through better and more comprehensive accountability measures.

Kotterman is a longtime teacher. She's steeped in educational policy matters through her activities with the Arizona Education Association, including a stint as its president.

Her general approach is more traditional. According to her, teachers need more support and money to do a better job. She doesn't oppose accountability but is skeptical about basing it principally on student performance on standardized tests, rather than a more holistic approach."

Robb prefers Huppenthal's approach. I guess I prefer's Kotterman's approach, but it seems to me if the choice is between a long time educator and a long time legislator who specialized in education the educator would be the one to choose. But, maybe I'm missing something here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

JDRF Walk For a Cure

We are kicking off our drive to raise money for JDRF research for a cure. Our video is here:

We are sending this letter out to everyone we know:

We are writing to ask for your support in a very important cause. As most of you know, our daughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in November two years ago. This October, we will be participating with thousands of other families in Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Since it’s founding in 1970 by parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes, JDRF has awarded more than $1.1 billion to diabetes research. More than 85 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education.

Type 1, or juvenile, diabetes, is a devastating, often deadly disease that affects millions of people—a large and growing percentage of them children.

Many people think Type 1 Diabetes can be controlled by insulin. While insulin does keep people with Type 1 Diabetes alive, it is not a cure. Aside from the daily challenges of living with Type 1 Diabetes, there are many severe, often fatal, complications caused by the disease. Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

For Elizabeth, diabetes means that she must have her finger poked an average of eight times a day to check her blood glucose level, and that she must have a tiny plastic tube lodged under her skin keeping her connected to an insulin pump 24 hours a day. The pump has improved her life considerably, but it cannot prevent her from still experiencing frustrating high and low blood sugars and the accompanying symptoms of fatigue, frustration, and grogginess.

Elizabeth will never outgrow diabetes, but we have hope that JDRF will find a cure for this terrible disease within her lifetime.

Won’t you please help Elizabeth and all of the 200,000 children with diabetes by joining "The Greatest Cause On Earth” on October 30, 2010? There are three ways you can help:

1. The easiest way is to give a tax deductible donation via the website then select Arizona as your state, and search for the “Live for Lizzie” team. Donate to the walker and fill in the information required.
2. You can join our team, and walk with us. To join our team also go to and search for “Live for Lizzie” and register as a walker. If you’d like to collect pledges in addition to walking, just forward this information to every you know.
3. Send us a donation made payable to JDRF.

No donation is too small. No amount of support is too little. Your consideration is greatly appreciated.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Debates

Ok, I started watching this debate with some bias. The Republican candidate is John Huppenthal who has spent the last 17 years in the state legislature, a lot of that working in education committees. So, I probably dismissed his qualifications a bit. If you google his name on the web, top on the list is the link to his interview with the Corono High School student. According to wikipedia:

"As Wagner continued questioning him, Huppenthal stood up and left the room to retrieve more information about the vote, eventually returning to the interview. A video of the interview which was edited to exclude Huppenthal's return received wide circulation on the internet."

So, even the interview wasn't quite as bad as it appears, although he should have been much better prepared than he was.

Having said that, Penny Kotterman, is the superior candidate. While Huppenthal has been in the state legislature, Kotterman has been in the classroom since 1978, working as an educator at every level.

This difference in experience shows in the debate. Huppenthal takes the more Republican ideological positions pretty consistently. For example, with school reform, his focus is on high stakes testing and "accountability" and keeps referencing data from the most recent research. He talks a decent game and he makes good points, but it sounds like someone whose read a lot about education, not someone who has had first hand experience with it.

Kotterman on the other hand understands teaching from the perspective of one whose pursued it as a long term professional. Its literally been her career. An educator becomes better as they gain experience, staying abreast of the latest research, and continually improving. Diane Ravitch makes this point clearly in her book. Huppenthal seems to come from the mindset popular in today's political class today (especially among Republicans) that anybody can teach as long as they apply a kind of formulaic research based formula against it (granted this is a cynical interpretation of their viewpoint) and more people should have easy access to the profession. You see that as people from business try to use "school reform" as a way to inject business and free market principles and competition into our schools with very poor results.

I think its interesting that Mr. Huppenthal, again from a qualifications point of view, has an engineering degree and a MBA and now he considers himself an expert on schools.

The most poignant part of the debate for me was when they entered the phonics verses whole language debate. Huppenthal describes whole language as something that has been "nuclear bombed" by research. Kotterman explains that there is no one way to teach reading. A teacher uses every tool in her toolbox to teach a child.

Huppenthal's view makes sense from someone whose read about reading in a book. Kotterman's point of view comes from someone whose actually done it.

In my experience, with our kids, Kotterman's perspective is more accurate. Phonics is really important, but so is exposure to vocabulary and simply just surrounding your kids with words and with stories and with books. Ultimately they have to recognize the words on the page and get beyond working through each letter's sound, and I believe (though I'm not sure) that's basically what whole language is all about.

Personally, I think Kotterman is by far the superior candidate in this election.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Some final Douthat on Gay Marriage

So, Ross Douthat after a weeklong vacation finally gets around to finishing the second of his two part posts in response to Andrew Sullivan's response to the gay marriage issue: Part 1 and Part 2. I thought his part 2 post was the stronger of the two.

In part 1, he condemns pretty harshly the conservative response to the emerging gay scene in the early 1980's:

" There’s no question that conservatives had an opportunity, amid the end of the closet and the crisis of the AIDS epidemic, to think constructively about what kind of public accommodations should be made for gay relationships, both to avoid the cruelties that the disease cast into sharp relief (longtime lovers denied access to their dying partners’ bedsides, etc.) and to recognize that committed gay relationships, too, have value for society. Instead, conservatives tended to interpret the spread of HIV as a case of an inherently self-destructive culture reaping what it had sowed. And that “inherently” assumption led them to ignore or downplay the conservative turn in gay culture that the disease inspired — a turn that led, eventually, to the arguments for gay marriage as the most stable and plausible alternative to the closet."

The alternative solution he proposes is pretty weak in my humble opinion:

"So what should conservatives have done instead? Basically, they should have pushed (in, let’s say, the early 1980s) for what Ryan Anderson and Sherif Girgis have urged as a contemporary compromise: A domestic partnership law designed to accommodate gay couples without being sexuality-specific. "

Its a weak solution because, well, I heard this before. But its true, if this would have been offered in the early 1980's, it would have been a radical proposal. But that bridge has been crossed a long time ago, as Douthat readily admits.

But Part 2 is stronger because he gets off the subject of solutions (we are heading toward gay marriage) and back on the subject of lifelong monogamy.

" The benefits of gay marriage, to the couples involved and to their families, are front-loaded and obvious, whereas any harm to the overall culture of marriage and childrearing in America will be diffuse and difficult to measure. I suspect that the formal shift away from any legal association between marriage and fertility will eventually lead to further declines in the marriage rate and a further rise in the out-of-wedlock birth rate (though not necessarily the divorce rate, because if few enough people are getting married to begin with, the resulting unions will presumably be somewhat more stable). But these shifts will probably happen anyway, to some extent, because of what straights have already made of marriage. Or maybe the institution’s long decline is already basically complete, and the formal recognition of gay unions may just ratify a new reality, rather than pushing us further toward a post-marital society. Either way, there won’t come a moment when the conservative argument, with all its talk about institutional definitions and marginal effects and the mysteries of culture, will be able to claim vindication against those who read it (as I know many of my readers do) as a last-ditch defense of bigotry."

Actually Douthat links to an article that deserves its own post - for another time.

Anyway, I am now off the Ross Douthat bandwagon.

In Defense of TARP

I've been making the case for TARP for a long time, not that I have some brilliant insights on TARP but because I've read a lot of papers explaining its necessities and those articles that criticized focused mainly on how to make it more effective or more comprehensive. I've never read or heard an argument that explains how doing nothing would have been better.

So, it amazes me why its so unpopular now.

Well, its been two years to the week of the TARP, here's some literature looking back:

Matt Yglesias:

"TARP was both a good idea and nothing less than an exposure of the myth of the free market. There’s an idea out there about a free market that operates “naturally” and produces a certain distribution of wealth and income. Any further interventions into that marketplace to ensure that prosperity is broadly shared constitutes some kind of illegitimate “redistribution” of wealth and income from its natural state. This is not, however, an accurate description of how any economy featuring a modern banking system works. A world in which we simply didn’t have banking and finance would be, overall, a much poorer world. But a world with banking and finance requires various forms of management—monetary policy, regulation of the financial system, and intervention amidst panics and crises. TARP and the associated activities of the Federal Reserve were examples of such intervention and were good ideas. But they highlight that public policy decisions are integral to the creation and sustainment of modern capitalist economies."

Karl Smith:

" If no one else will defend TARP, I will defend it. I will defend it through any medium, at anytime, under any circumstances. I will be the lone voice in a town hall full of Ron Paul supporters. I will say it at a Code Pink Regional Conference. I will not let this go.

There are few moments when I have shed a tear over policy. Despite initial missteps what I saw was lawmakers coming together in the face of overwhelming public opposition to protect the future of our society. It made me more confident in our government than any other single event I have ever experienced."

Ben Smith:

"Rammed through Congress in the final months of the Bush administration by a political and financial establishment that felt it had looked into the abyss, TARP had the support of not just President Barack Obama but also his likely foes in 2012, such as former Govs. Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. But it has been only sporadically defended, or even explained, by leaders of both parties who have shown decidedly little courage of their convictions."

'It’s become demonized on the left and the right by screamers — Glenn Beck and Rachel Maddow — who have no interest in the facts; they’re just interested in hyperbolizing and generating attention,' lamented New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, a key player in guiding the measure through the upper chamber and one of the few Republicans willing to talk about TARP in positive terms."

"While Obama last week made reference to having narrowly avoided another Depression, he and other leaders have generally avoided trying to explain that mechanism, in favor of trying to change the subject.

All that, despite a broad consensus of economists who think things would have been worse without the bank rescue — and perhaps far worse: In one simple example, American workers’ paychecks might well not have arrived. Think bread lines and cat food.

“The TARP is probably the most effective large-scale government program that the public has vehemently decided was a bad idea, and, therefore, has only the most tepid political defenders,” said the Brookings Institution’s Douglas Elliott. “Unfortunately, the right thing to do for the public just sounds so wrong to Main Street in this case.”

The policymakers who emerged shaken from a Sept. 16, 2008, briefing by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson never managed to win credit for the apocalypse avoided from an American public furious at them for allowing the mess to develop in the first place."

"A study this summer by former Fed Vice Chairman Alan Blinder and Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi was representative of that consensus. They projected that without federal action — TARP and the stimulus — America’s gross domestic product would have fallen more than 7 percent in 2009 and almost 4 percent in 2010, compared with the actual combined decline of about 4 percent.

“It would not be surprising if the underemployment rate approached one-fourth of the labor force,” they wrote of their scenario. “With outright deflation in prices and wages in 2009-11, this dark scenario constitutes a 1930s-like depression.

Back in 2008, that view was persuasive. Republicans like McConnell and Blunt swallowed their distaste for government action and persuaded their colleagues to vote with them for TARP. Liberals like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank swallowed their dislike of Bush and distrust of the bankers."

Ok, just read this whole article..

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Deep Thoughts on Gay Marriage

In my late night browsing, I encountered two pretty intense articles from Eve Tushnet:

First here:

"I think this worldview denigrates the importance of the body. Our physicality--our incarnation--goes far beyond function. That's why kids who grew up with really amazing, sacrificial stepfathers or father figures or male role models, or adoptive parents, very often express both intense gratitude toward the people who loved and raised them, and intense longing or anger or sorrow toward the biological parents who didn't, or who loved intermittently and from afar. It's possible (I know this, because it happens) to both honor non-biological parents and yearn for the connection of DNA, of flesh. Something is missing when parental love is separated from the fleshly, sweaty, physical union which created the child."

"But the other is what I'm going to call aesthetic sensitivity. I'm calling it that because I think attention to the meaning of the physical is essentially a function of the aesthetic sense. People who feel the loss of the biological parent most keenly are, I think, expressing an insight--not a weakness, not a handicap created by their culture, but an insight into what it is to be human.

These are two separate spectra. Someone can be both intensely sensitive to the loss of the biological parent, and extremely resilient. Someone can be really flailing or self-pitying, and not at all interested in the biological connection. But just as resilience is a good thing in itself, so a deep sense of the importance of physical, fleshly relatedness is a good thing in itself. The "family diversity" movement tends to praise resilience and downplay or even denigrate what I'm calling aesthetic sensitivity. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that they do this because resilience makes the adults' lives easier and the other thing does not."

And then as if she's making an argument with herself, then here:

"Gay marriage promises that, for those of us lucky enough to grow up with parents in a loving/good-enough marriage, we truly can fit our own futures and dreams into the family story we grew up with. We can step into our parents' shoes. You all know that I think this promise is based on some really false beliefs about sex difference and family structure, but believe me, I feel the power and attraction of the promise.

And this longing for home is one reason the Church's silences, clinical language, and general lameness w/r/t speaking to actual gay people is so frustrating. Because the truest and best alternative to the home promised by gay marriage is precisely the home promised by Christ, the loving embrace of the Holy Family. When I say that the cure for alienation is in kneeling at the altar rail, this is not especially believable if the actual Catholics you've known were clueless at best and bullying at worst."

Tea Party Reactions

My first reaction from the tea party rhetoric and electoral success is fear and sadness. The tea party agenda seems to be based on fear and ideological purity. Obama and Pelosi are their enemies who should be fought against not fellow Americans with whom to work and with whom to solve problems in the spirit of compromise. Its depressing because its seems like in many cases the Tea Party candidate will win in the generals as well (we'll see).

Why has the electorate after only two years from the conclusion of the Bush disaster, decided to return to something even further extreme? (Well, they didn't of course, Obama is still in the white house for at least two more years).

Well, the Democrats had the office in two of the most challenging political years in a very long time. And they just didn't have the office, they really had the office. With a pretty transformative president. I continue to believe that every single thing Obama did or attempted to do was pretty moderate considering the circumstances. But he did a lot, and collectively, it added up to something big.

After all, he was governing with overwhelming majorities in both the House and the Senate, so he had the political power to move a lot of agenda quickly. But not only that, I believe the circumstances demanded it. Of course, David Brooks imagines an alternative reality where he vetoes the expensive pork filled budget, passes a more modest stimulus and chooses to tackle energy instead of health care. I'm not sure how that would have worked. Largely, it would have kicked the health care can down the road (to when?) and the states would have received much less money from the stimulus resulting in much more drastic and more painful cuts at the state level.

Instead Obama spent a great deal of his political capital fighting the economic fire that started before he took office. Today is the two year anniversary of Lehman's bankruptcy by the way. But even with all of that political capital spent, he went after health care reform. Arguably, the times called for it. Pre health care reform (well we are still living pre-health care reform, it doesn't really take affect until 20140), we had a health care system that leaned far too heavily on an employer based system propped up with government subsidies and regulation. A recession with unemployment hovering around 10% for closing in on two years now, I think, shows you why this system was always a flawed historical accident. Consider, even with the subsidies, many companies (especially small ones) were not able to keep shouldering the burden of our broken health care system. It needed fixing. Obama's plan was an incremental step in a certain direction. Nonetheless, the bill took everything Obama and the Democrats had to get it passed and there's really nothing left going into the primaries.

Now, we have a landscape of angry voters who just want to throw the bums out. And with the Democrats holding the office and calling the shots for the past two years, they will pay the price for it. I'm not sure how avoidable this was. Unemployment would have been high no matter what the government did - much higher without the bank bailouts, marginally higher with the kind of stimulus Brooks proposes.

So, if the Republican party gets pulled toward the right. If the Tea Party anger gets a lot more representation in Congress, is this a bad thing? Not necessarily.

The Tea Party has spent a lot of time blaming the Great Recession on too much government. The Democratic party has blamed this Recession on an out of control and unregulated free market.

Actually, I think to some extent both sides have a point. Our government has grown and grown, through Democratic and Republican rule. The eight years of Bush were particularly bad and particularly corrupt. Throwing Bush out didn't change this fact, at least not enough.

We're spending too much and getting too little from our government and the poor and middle class and bearing the brunt of the consequences. Which is why people get so fed up when they see bank bailouts that help the ruling class (the bankers and the CEO's) while the lower class continue losing their jobs and their homes.

But its not just a problem of too much government, its also a problem of a broken government. They have too often been ineffective or absent failing to do the work that only a government is capable of doing. And a big reason for the Great Recession wasn't just out of control government, but more importantly, it was an out of control and unregulated financial industry creating an unregulated ponzai scheme of credit layered on top of layers of credit. The housing bubble was the underlying foundation, but the real problem was credit.

So, what should happen if the Tea Party gets more representation in our legislative body? For two years, the Republicans got away with obstructionist behavior because they really didn't have the numbers to truly obstruct. The Democrats didn't get everything they wanted, but they got a lot. After November, if the Republicans obstruct, government will grind to a halt and the electorate will notice. This is not what most people want.

I think the next two years will be telling. Can the newly designed Republican party compromise and work with the president?

If they can, we have a shot at creating a nice balance, moving toward a leaner more effective government that pursues necessary infrastructure projects but also creates space and empowers individuals and industry to innovate and create in the free market. If we succeed, we will be following the foundations America was built on proving that government and its citizens can work together in complementary roles.

So, yes, the Tea Party movement from the right might be just what we need. An angry and fired up legislative body that works to cut out the fat. But if they start going after real government meat (think schools and health care or financial regulation or the Federal Reserve) or if they simply refuse to work with Obama "the socialist", we will have 2 years of painful deadlock and Obama wins in 2014 and the Democrats gets some of those seats back.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What This Election Means Part II

This is just a quick addendum to my last post because as always Andrew Sullivan says it better than me.

In this post he quotes Yuval Levin from the Weekly Standard:

"Democrats, as the president’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel explained in 2008, have sought to use the ongoing economic crisis to achieve all kinds of unrelated goals: health care policy they have craved for decades, environmental policy that has little to do with the economy, more protections for unions, a greater role for government in the financial and automotive sectors, and on and on."

So, in my last post I focused on 9/11 and the bank bailouts in reaction to the greatest collapse of our economic system in modern times.

But really, the attacks on Barack Obama have been so over-the-top. I understand people may have principled reasons to be opposed to the health care bill or his energy bill or the specific ways Obama tried to deal with the economic meltdown.

But you really need to put it into perspective:

Health Care

"The health-care plan to provide access to insurance for the tens of millions was a clear part of Obama's election campaign. It eschewed the left's dream - single-payer - and eliminated a public option. It was supported by the drug and insurance companies. It needs constant monitoring and improvement if it is to control costs, but it has set up a market in insurance that could be a model for future conservative innovation. It strongly resembles Mitt Romney's legacy in Massachusetts. None of this was snuck through in the stimulus package described by Rahm Emanuel's infamous aside. It was the result of almost two years of painful attempts at some kind of bipartisan agreement. It reduces the deficit over the long run if the CBO is to be believed - unlike the unpaid for, budget-busting Medicare D that Bush and Cheney foisted on the next generation."

In fact, this bill could have been labelled a Republican bill for many reasons and as I truly believe (I don't think I blogged about how but I've had many facebook debates where I've laid it out - I'll post it later), there are plenty of opportunities to move our health care in much more free market direction than even in our current system.

Environmental Policy

Yuval then writes the befuddling phrase: "environmental policy that has little to do with the economy." In fact, as we know, no gains have been made in curtailing climate change, unless you include some of the green energy components in the stimulus package, and Obama's biggest gesture was to endorse off-shore oil-drilling, to make his environmental policy close to identical to John McCain's. Climate change legislation - cap-and-trade - didn't occur, but even there, that strategy is designed to minimize disruption to markets and came from the right, not the left in the 1980s and 1990s. Again, Yuval makes it seem as if this comes from nowhere, as if the evidence that America is being trounced by China in this vital new industry and if the climate isn't clearly veering toward unpredictable crises were phantasms of the mind."


Then: protection for unions. Again, there is no card-check legislation. It was not a priority. It was not snuck into the stimulus package.

This is just another example where people on the right are just making stuff up.

Greater Role in the Financial Sector

Lastly "a greater role for government in the financial and automotive sectors." What you will notice is that there is no reference in any of this to the appalling economic circumstances Obama inherited which determined both policies. It's like describing FDR's policies as if the Great Depression never happened. What a leap toward Kenyan anti-colonialism that was. Indeed, in the Weekly Standard's headline "madness". Levin, of course, makes no reference to the deregulated chaos that precipitated the financial meltdown that created the worst recession since the Second World War ( or are Richard Posner and Alan Greenspan Kenyan anti-colonialists now as well?). And what Obama has done to rein in some of the abuses is relatively modest, wrought by such radicals as Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, to the consternation and contempt of the left.

And Automotive Sectors

As for the auto companies, the emergency aid given has been a gleaming success with Detroit managing to turn things around far more quickly than most imagined. Ditto the banks, where the government may actually be making money off its bailout soon, just as GM is eager to sell off its government-owned stock to the private sector.


All this Yuval knows. He is not a Beck or Palin with no grip on reality at all. And yet this is what the intellectual right at its best is now dedicated to: pure propaganda on the crudest old right-left axis, arguing that a recession caused in part by a Republican administration's neglect and in part by failed Republican policies can be rectified merely by Republican rule.

Again, I thought it would get worse before it got better on the right. But that we have propagandistic, intellectually dishonest dreck like this coming from their brightest stars - and that large swathes of the American public seem to be buying it - brings one close to despair.

I mean Barack Obama has taken heat on the left for being just another Bush. The fact is that Obama has tried to be as respectful to the markets as he possibly can while dealing with real problems that need to be solved.

You can respectfully disagree with the core of Obama's policies, I'm fine with that. Especially, if you bring to the table alternative ideas and show specifically how they will deal with our world.

(You can't say we need to get more competition into our health care unless you're willing to eliminate employer subsidized health care and then show me how someone with a disability or chronic illness has any hopes of getting the health care they need).

But to label him a socialist or to reduce the debate to "pure propaganda on the crudest old right-left axis" is simply just frustrating.

And the fact that Republicans are campaigning for election on this kind of stuff at every level of government is mind-boggling to me. Can someone please explain it to me?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What This Election Means

I've been thinking about this election a lot lately (obviously). This is a given for a political junkie such as I :-), but its amazing the kind of nation we've become politically speaking. Its especially unnerving what has become of the Republican party and the general political consensus.

Today, in the Washington Post, there are two articles that really sum up two of the most monumental events, both occurring in the last decade, both that continue to shape the political forces in America today particularly so in the Republican party.

Here Robert Samuelson (who actually does not vote by the way and is not affiliated with either party because he believes that voting interferes with his impartiality as a journalist) wonders what would have happened if we would have saved Lehman Brothers.

In the article he lists the events that happened immediately after and because Lehman was allowed to fail:

"-- Credit tightened. Banks wouldn't lend to each other, except at exorbitant interest rates. Rates on high-quality corporate bonds went from 7 percent in August to nearly 10 percent by October.

-- Stocks tanked. After its historical high of more than 14,000 in October 2007, the Dow Jones industrial average was still trading around 11,400 before the bankruptcy. By October, it was about 8,400; by March 2009, 6,600.

-- Consumer spending and business investment (on machinery, computers, buildings) -- together about four-fifths of the economy -- declined sharply. Already-depressed vehicle sales fell a third from August to February.

-- Employment collapsed. Five million payroll jobs disappeared in the eight months following Lehman's collapse. The unemployment rate went from 6.2 percent in September to 9.5 percent in June 2009.

Lehman's failure had dire consequences because it suggested that government had lost control. No one knew which financial institutions would be protected and which wouldn't; AIG soon received a massive loan. Uncertainty rose; panic followed."

All of this happened during the Bush administration and much of what Obama has done in response to this crisis is more of a continuation than a departure. But people are getting punished politically for their votes on TARP and on the stimulus.

Robbert Robb suggests that the way for Schweikert to beat Mitchell (which so happens to be my congressional district) is to emphasize his votes on this issue in particular:

"However, at this point in our country's history, we just cannot afford a congressman who occasionally votes no on small things, such as mostly meaningless budget resolutions. Instead, we need a congressman who will vote no consistently on big things, such as a $700 billion bank bailout, an $800 billion stimulus spending spree, and a trillion dollar health care plan"

I know Robb is speaking strategy here, but its depressing nonetheless. I grant you, the last two items listed are more controversial, but I know of no serious economist (and I read and follow many) who will defend the case that the bank bailouts were a bad idea. So, in essence the way to beat Mitchell is to ride the wave of unjustified populist anger.

Which is why Samuelson's article is so important. Not only was TARP absolutely necessary, we could have rendered it moot if we would have stepped in earlier and more aggressively. And greater intervention early on would have been much less costly then the situation we currently face (considering the massive amounts of GDP we are missing out on because of our unemployment rates).

I didn't mean to spend so much time on this point because I do have another. It is 9/12, marking the day after the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Fareed Zakaria talks about our successes attributed to Bush's first responses to the attacks that have basically marginalized and weakened the terrorist threats in Afghanistan. The world is in a much better place, but we are left with something else:

"So the legitimate question now is: Have we gone too far? Is the vast expansion in governmental powers and bureaucracies -- layered on top of the already enormous military-industrial complex of the Cold War -- warranted? Does an organization that has as few as 400 members and waning global appeal require the permanent institutional response we have created?

I've been asking these questions for a few years now and described our 'massive overreaction' in a 2008 Newsweek essay but with little effect. During the Bush years, there was a reluctance on the left to acknowledge that the administration could have done anything worthwhile to counter terrorism. The far greater problem is on the right, where it has become an article of faith that we are gravely threatened by vast swarms of Islamic terrorists, many within the country.

This campaign to spread a sense of imminent danger has fueled a climate of fear and anger. It has created suspicions about U.S. Muslims -- who are more assimilated than in any other country in the world. Ironically, this is precisely the intent of terrorism. Bin Laden knew he could never weaken America directly, even if he blew up a dozen buildings or ships. But he could provoke an overreaction by which America weakened itself."

And to me, this is what the Republican party, at least rhetorically, has been reduced to. Look at the issues their candidates bring up over and over again: HB1070, the mosque at ground zero, and anger over the bank bailouts and "out of control government spending".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Qualifications for Elected Office?

I'm a software developer by profession and I work at a software company. We are currently in the hiring process so I've been involved in interviews. At many software houses, the interviewing process is pretty intense, probably more so now than normal because of the economy. But you don't want to hire an unqualified candidate because its expensive to train someone and there's a significant difference between a really great worker and a dismal one and it's hard to let someone go once they're hired. So, many companies error on the side of not hiring someone whose qualified in order to avoid hiring someone who is not.

But its really not rocket science to pass these interviews. There are some basic, core computer science skills that we look for - knowledge of the language, knowledge of data structures (trees, linked lists, arrays, hash tables), ability to solve algorithm problems. These are all fundamental skills, but we want to make sure the candidate really knows how to program and has a deep enough knowledge of the software profession. Does that mean that every one we hire will be an all star? No, but at least we have some level of confidence that they should make a reasonably strong enough contribution.

So, really as voters in a political election, we are in essence interviewing our elected officials. We are involved in the hiring process. I'm wondering what are those basic skill sets that a politician has to have to be considered minimally qualified for an elected office? If a candidate cannot show proficiency in these skills, they should be summarily dismissed regardless of ideology. Here's my quick list:

1) Public speaking skills - this is why the debates matter. I want to see how an elected official performs under pressure. Can they sell themselves, can they sell the issues they believe in? Do they seem capable and able to work with other people to drive consensus. Maybe for some offices, this matters less than others. Maybe the State Treasurer can be a little weak in this area if they show strengths in budgets, not sure.

But our Governor, Attorney General, legislative positions. They don't have to be Martin Luther King Jr, but they should show competency. Which is why Jan Brewer's performance should be more of an issue than it may turn out to be. Granted, its just one gaffe and she has shown herself reasonably competent elsewhere, but surely this is a concern.

And its why, if you watched the LD17 debates, there are only three candidates running for the house: The two Democrats: Ed Ableser and Ben Arredondo and Steve May on the Republican ticket. The other Republican running was awful, same for the green and libertarian candidates. They were just wasting my time and they took time away from the other candidates. I really wanted to hear more back and forth among the top 3.

2) Command of the Issues - This goes without saying right? You should have a solid grasp of the issues relevant o the office you're running for. This is exactly why Sarah Palin was a sham candidate. And again, this is why debates matter, this is a candidate's chance to show command of the issues. And in the debates, I want good questions and thoughtful answers. I want to see that the candidate has been thinking about these issues for a long time and shows some signs that they have experience grappling with the issues in the real world. This is why I wish every candidate would agree to as many debates as possible, and I wish voters would punish candidates who refuse to do at least a minimum number of them. Politicians should also be punished if they resort to superficial talking points.

The presidential candidates participated in countless numbers in the run-up to the 2008 elections. And having a lot of chance to engage with each other forced presidential candidates into substance. I loved it and I tried to watch every one.

3) Ethics - Despite what libertarians and libertarian leading Republicans may think, politicians matter. These positions are important and a bad politician can do real damage to our state and our nation. We should be choosing from the best each party has to offer. Do we need to know about every mistake a politician has made? No, but we want to know if the candidate has the people as her priority and not the power or prestige of office. People change and I'm willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, but its fair to bring up , but its fair for the voters to be made aware of them. Again, this is why debates matter because it gives the opposing candidate an opportunity to bring up evidence of ethical concerns.

And, yes, Ben Quayle, your public postings on questionable website matter. Voters may choose to overlook these (and in some cases deservedly so), but they are points to consider, and voters need to know about Tom Horne's SEC violations for example. Do they make Tom Horne unelectable? Not necessarily, but its fair to bring up. Also it's also why Bill Clinton's indiscretions were concerning (although the Republicans took the witch hunt way too far).

I think that's about it (off the top of my head). The best case scenario is when both parties nominate qualified competent candidates who know the issues, who are capable of defending them, and we get interesting, deep and substantive debates, to the point where I can say, well, I prefer this candidate because my views are aligned closer to their positions, but either way, Arizona is probably going to be pretty well served.

I'm not sure this happens often enough, and it definitely doesn't seem to be happening in this election.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Attorney General Debate

I have a lot to say about the LD 17 House debates (I only mentioned the one man Senate show last post), but first you must watch the attorney general's debate here:

First of all, I really don't understand Tom Horne's career path - from what appears to be a pretty deep and prominent career as a lawyer to a sudden (and to me right now an inexplicable) jump into 8 years as Superintendent of Schools, and now back to Attorney General. I think he spent some time in the legislature, but I can't seem to find out these details in my quick perusal of google. It seems like, to me, he's trying to climb the political latter - I don't think he's done a good job as our Superintendent by the way and for good reason, he was completely unqualified to do it. He's probably more qualified for this position, but if the debate is any indication, he seems to be playing some pretty harsh deological cards.

Felicia Rotellini, on the other hand, brought it. I was first introduced to Rotellini with brief introduction of her by the Republic:

"Whoever the Republicans deliver to the general election will be badly damaged by accusations. If those GOP hopefuls are paying attention - and, rest assured, they are - there is one Democrat they don't want to face: Felecia Rotellini.

She will bring it on.

In this field, she is the ferociously smart prosecutor who has clocked significant time in the courtroom taking down lawbreakers and unwinding the complex strands of financial fraud.

As superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, she slapped $5 million in fees and fines on Western Union for violating laws meant to cut off funds to Mexican cartels. In 1999, she was lead litigator in the successful case against accounting giant Arthur Andersen for failing to protect investors from the Baptist Foundation fraud."

And so, I was anxious to see this in anxious. Please watch the debates, she brought it. From the get go, she was on the attack. Horne accused her of getting into the mud, and I can't really comment on the details of what was said in the debate without more research. But it all sounded relevant enough to me. But most importantly, isn't this what you want out of your public prosecutor? She seems perfect for this position.

I feel a little too partisan (something I'm trying hard not to become) to be so consistently Democrat so far, but in this case, I think Rotellini is the superior candidate.

And truthfully, at least in my voting areas, I think the Democrats have honestly the superior candidates - but there's still a journey to take and more candidates to analyze.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Legislative District 17 Debates

Interested in the full two hours? Check it out here.

The Senate debate takes up the first 30+ minutes. Unfortunately, only the Democratic candidate, David Schapira bothered to show up. He was an incumbent in the House, now he's running for the Senate.

His opponent Wendy Rogers posted on facebook: " Stayed out late this evening going door-to-door . . . 7 precincts left to go. Voters OVERWHELMINGLY tell me they appreciate a candidate on their doorstep rather than having to take time to attend a forum to view a candidate from a distance. Shouldn't it be about what the voter wants and not the candidate?"

What? That is weak. Here's her website. Just quickly glancing at her bio, she seems like an impressive person. Its baffling why she would not want to show up to the debates. Here's "random musing's explanation:

"Of course, Rogers could have been pinned down and asked to explain her answer on this questionnaire from the Center for Arizona Policy.

When asked if she supported or opposed 'Prohibiting abortion except when it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother,' not only did she circle 'Support,' she expanded upon that answer by adding 'Honestly, I do not support abortion even to prevent the unfortunate death of the mother.'"

Ummmm...yeah. That one doesn't even fit in with the mainstream of her own party, much less the mainstream of Tempe and south Scottsdale."

Ok, so about Schapira:

First, some background: He's been a high school teacher and now teaches at ASU. His focus has been with education and wants to work across the aisle and has, signing 2 bills in the past year into law that relate to education. What were they? I'm interested. He owns two small businesses. Apparently, being a small business owner, a member or former member of the military, or a teacher or all of the above are prerequisites for a political career :-), sorry Shapira only 2 out of 3 for you.

Shapira's campaign motto should be let's avoid being "penny wise, pound foolish". He uses this phrase to pound our current Republican dominated legislature particularly pointing to the cutting of kid's care (providing health care to children of poor families) and all day kindergarten.

He uses this phrase again in the notion of preserving and maintaining our state parks - this is important because you want to keep our state beautiful and interesting if you want to attract people - people who will move here or visit here. Drastically important in keeping our economy vibrant.

His take on where our legislature blew it:

- A CAP was placed on the rainy day fund and the money was given in tax breaks. I think I remember this, but have forgotten. The rainy day fund has been an issue I've mentioned before that we need to save during boom times so we can spend counter-cyclically during busts.

- Arizona has given massive tax breaks to the wealthiest (Democrats always say that, but Republicans do seem to support those believing the rich are the drivers for our economy and should do as little funding of government services as possible, since they magically know how to spend their money better than the rest of us)

Some additional highlites:

He made the point that the worst things you can do in tough economic times is to raise the sells tax which is an attack agaisnt Brewer's sales tax proposition. Well, since that debate, the Republic claims that the sales tax has not decreased spending. Probably because small hikes in the tax rate applied broadly are not enough to change the behavior of consumers - the price hikes were not noticed in other words.

His main point, over and over again, was on education - to protect educational spending. He ripped the legislature for cutting $2 billion in funding to our schools over the last two years. And the made the interesting point that, again, Brewer's sales tax proposition was really a threat. You don't pass it and we'll cut schools further, to the tune of $800 million. I knew that, still voted for it :-).

My overall impression was that David Schapira was impressive, passionate and had a strong command of the issues. He definitely has my vote and support this election.

And still I'm baffled that Wendy Rogers chose not to show up. Maybe she believes the ones with the largest and most yard signs deserves to win the election. I'm wondering if people out there vote on that metric.

By the way, I will listen to the rest of the debate, which will focus on the candidates running for the two up for grabs house seats and post later.

Friday, September 3, 2010

More on the governor's race from Robert Robb

In this post Robert Robb describes Jan Brewer in a way that aligns with my general (and uninformed) impression of her:

"There is a sense in which Brewer has proven her capacity to manage the office. After a very rough start, she shook up her staff last fall. After the highly experienced and competent Eileen Klein took over as chief of staff, the Brewer administration has marched smartly forward.

Brewer's tenacity got the sales tax increase to the ballot. Real budget cuts were enacted. The management of policy and politics has been in synch and remarkably sound, as the sharp turnaround in Brewer's political standing attests. Obviously standing up for the state against slanderous national criticism over SB 1070 turbocharged Brewer's comeback. But the turnaround was well underway before that."

Honestly, before 1070, I didn't have much of an issue with how she was running the state. And Robb's correct that she did tenaciously defend 1070, its just that this is an issue I strongly disagree with her on, and I felt her tenacity border-lined on unprofessionalism, which the beheading controversy is indicative of.

The budget was a mess and she made the best of a bad situation, and take a look at her resume, she has a deep and accomplished political career highlighted by this:

"In 1996, Brewer ran for chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, defeating incumbent Ed King, and would serve for six years on the board. She inherited a debt of $165 million, and by the end of Brewer’s tenure in 2002, she left Maricopa County in one of the strongest financial positions of any county in the nation.[2] Governing Magazine proclaimed the County as 'one of the two best managed large counties in the nation.'"

But this debate makes it clear, that she's horrible, horrible at public speaking, and a governor has to represent the state and sell ideas to the public.

"Nevertheless, public presentation is part of the governor's job and not a Brewer strong point, to put it mildly. Additionallly, Brewer's inability to master the details of policy raises the question of whether sound instincts are good enough given the difficulties facing the state. (Goddard, for example, was right and Brewer was wrong on the question of whether the state budget has been balanced.)"

Regarding Goddard, Robb has some smart suggestions for him:

"Based upon tonight's debate, Terry Goddard apparently believes the economy is his issue to ride. That's hard to believe. Jan Brewer isn't to blame for Arizona's economic problems. And neither Brewer nor Goddard is going to solve them. There are two arguments that might get Goddard back in the race: he will better protect education spending and he will check legislative excesses. These are believable claims and important to Arizona voters. At this point, anything else for Goddard is playing wiffle ball."

I agree. In the debate, Goddard's attacks on Brewer regarding the economy just didn't resonate with me. No way Brewer was to blame and I think most Arizona voters realize this. And Goddard's suggestions to fix the economy? Well he didn't have any in the debate probably because they just don't exist. Arizona's problems are deep and I don't care whose running this state, they just ain't going to be able to solve them.

But protecting education spending and putting a check on a state legislature that seems to be getting increasingly harsh and increasingly conservative is fundamentally why I'm voting for Terry Goddard.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Governor Debate

Full disclosure, I'm most definitely voting for Terry Goddard this election for a variety of reasons, but let me talk about this debate only.

First of all, the opening by Janet Brewer was a disaster. I don't think this disqualifies her necessarily, but it is pretty obvious she's not a good public speaker. What's amazing is it happened during the opening statement. This is something she should have nailed down and prepared for. It was like she threw it together at the last minute? Maybe it does disqualify her for governor. I'm really amazed by it actually.

But let's get to the substance. I thought Terry Goddard's attack, trying to blame the economy on Brewer, while understandable, was pretty unfair. Arizona is in a massive recession that is the result from a real-estate bubble that has been building up since the early 2000's. I'm not sure any state official is to blame for this. Arizona was an unlucky recipient of national and global trends. Arizona is sunny and has cheap housing. Lots of folks from California moved in. Everyone got caught up in a massive bubble, I'm not sure what we could have done about it.

Well, I do know. Arizona has been way too reliant on cheap housing as a driver for their economy for far too long and now we're suffering real consequences for it.

Terry Goddard is right that our emphasis has to be on schools. Brewer is right in asking the real questions to Goddard - where is he going to get the money. And tax schemes are not going to make up for the fact that there isn't a strong enough educated workforce in Arizona to attract businesses.

We need better schools from top to bottom. We need to do more to make Arizona an attractive place for knowledge workers to move here and then companies will follow. This isn't about low taxes, its about an environment that is desirable to live.

But I really wanted to know how Goddard would have balanced the budget without cutting kids care or all-day kindergarten (he hammered Brewer on all three points - the cuts and the failure to balance the budget). He kept claiming he would bring jobs to Arizona and grow our economy and that's how he'd pay for it, but that's hardly a short-term solution.

Goddard made some good points on the private prison issue and even the libertarian candidate agreed that private prisons should not be used to house violent criminals. Brewer needs to be held accountable for that.

All and all, I think Goddard won this debate, but I'm not sure this debate gives a voters enough information to make an informed voting decision. Other than, I thought Brewer did herself no favors. I'll have to keep digging for more.

Society Will be Free Riding off of Our Labors as Parents

I loved, loved, loved this article about the dangers of depopulation.

Some quotes:

" Less than 50 years ago (1957, the year Lyle Lovett was born, to be precise), the U.S. birthrate hit a record and began to decline. From 3.7 births per woman -- well over the 2.1 required to maintain a level population -- our birthrate has been falling since. It is now hovering just below replacement rate.

In Europe, birthrates are even lower. As a consequence, by 2050 the population of Europe will have fallen to what it was in 1950. Mr. Longman says this is happening all around the world: Women are having fewer children. It's happening in Brazil, it's happening in China, India and Japan. It's even happening in the Middle East. Wherever there is rapid urbanization, education for women and visions of urban affluence, birthrates are falling."

He goes in to explain the reasoning behind why? Because the economic incentives have fallen directly against raising and training our next generation. Never mind that that is one of the most important things we can do as a society.

"They're expected to get educated, get a job, find a nice neighborhood, etc. By the time they do that, they've missed their best years for reproduction. Basically, our societies have put a tax on nurture. Parents create value, but they get little of it."

I love that idea, we as a society have put a "tax on nurture". Parents create value, more than any other job in society, by far, but get little of that value back.

We are about to have our fourth child, and people wonder how we're going to do it. And we are, by the way, committed to giving each of them as good of an education as we possibly can (as any parent is).

But when its not your own child, this concern for education drops precipitously. If we truly cared about education, that would be our most important societal investment.

By the way, we just enrolled our daughter in the Chandler's Children's Choir and it is awesome. I went to a rehearsal last Tuesday and they are preparing to sing with a community orchestra and it was wonderful.

My daughter will also get an opportunity to sing patriotic songs before a Diamondbacks game as well as a lot of other community events.

Do public schools have choirs doing as much? Maybe some do, but there's no reason why they couldn't. It just takes a little extra money (when spread out across the community), a bit more of a sacrifice.

Any parent would want their child to have this kind of opportunity (or opportunities like it).

We as a family have made a decision to have more kids, make a sacrifice to raise them the best way we can. And society will mooch off our labors later. :-).

Just be sure to thank us (and every other family that has decided to raise more rather than fewer kids in a society where its increasingly difficult to do so) later.