Filibuster executive appointments?

If the legislature has delegated its authority for making law to an executive agency, then it would seem prudent for the legislature to cast a critical eye on who it is allowing to exercise that authority on its behalf. In fact, it would seem downright irresponsible for it to do otherwise.

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Why don’t we vote?

The more centralized the rule-making power, the more general and uniform the rules must be. If I influence my city council, I might tailor a rule to my local concerns. But, even if I could influence the Congress, they must make rules that encompass not only my needs but the needs of people in New York City and Los Angeles, and the needs of farmers in Wyoming, and of loggers in Maine, and of everyone everywhere else. Really, with a need for that broad a scope, how much influence could my local preferences have?

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Yes, raising taxes affects people!

Taking money out of someone’s pocket by taxing them has exactly the same effect as cutting their salary or raising their mortgage payment or increasing the cost of their groceries. It makes them poorer. It means there is less money for them to pump back into the economy by spending it at the hardware store or at the movies or at the gas station or on someone to cut the grass….

I am not in the camp of, “No new revenue ever”. I sympathize with the Republicans who look at the history of budget debates and conclude that raising revenue before cutting spending leads, inevitably, to spending never being cut because it makes the problem seem not so bad. But I expect, and would support, paying more in taxes if I thought that it was really going to be spent to dig us out of the hole we are in, rather than being a down payment on digging the hole deeper.

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Undecided Voter (again)

If I was standing in the voting booth at 9 pm on election day holding up the counting, they would have a good reason to complain and I would deserve their scorn. But complaining now, in the middle of the evening rush, that I haven’t yet bothered to place my order is just childish petulance. Hey, you in the media! I don’t really care how tired you are. It’s not time to go home yet!

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Politicians “making decisions about your birth control”

As a consumer of resources, I love the idea of someone else paying to support my lifestyle choices. But, as a producer of resources — and as a liberty-minded citizen of the American republic — I abhor the notion that the government should oblige me to provide for the lifestyle choices of others.

Perhaps the availability of contraception transcends mere “lifestyle choice” and comprises a public good worthy of government compulsion. Perhaps it doesn’t. That is worth a debate and I won’t pass judgement on it here.

But I must insist that those debating the issue do so honestly. No one is threatening to take away your birth control. All they are asking is that they not be forced to pay for it.

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Teachers Unions

If teacher’s want to be treated as professionals and to be given professional responsibilities, for their classrooms specifically and for educational policy generally, they must act like professionals in their dealings with school management and with the public. As long as they behave in their employment negotiations like interchangeable labor units, they can’t really expect to be treated as anything other than that in their classrooms.

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“Common Sense” Policies for….

There is a small but virulent group that would ban abortion outright and that hopes to use “common sense” regulations as steps toward that goal. And there is a small but virulent group that would ban gun ownership outright and that hopes to use “common sense” regulations as steps toward that goal.

And so, those “common sense” regulations are, perhaps, not so common and not so sensible. And so, perhaps, we actually can’t agree on them.

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Must Moral Authority come from direct experience?

Have you ever leaped into the heart of a raging fire to rescue someone trapped by the flames? Have you ever stepped into the middle of a domestic dispute to keep it from escalating into violence? Have you ever taught in an inner city classroom plagued by indifference and hostility? Have you ever tended and comforted patients with some fatal and contagious disease? Have you ever put your life on hold to aid the victims of some natural or man-made catastrophe halfway around the world? Have you even ever spent the day hauling away people’s garbage or cleaning their houses or doing some other equally unpleasant job?

I doubt you’ve done most, if even one, of those tasks. I also expect you think someone should do them; and I expect you think mayors and governors and presidents should advocate — and sometimes order — that people put themselves in harm’s way to see those tasks done, even if they have not done those things themselves.

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The “public spiritedness” of government

Regarding the question of private vs. public agency/employee performance and, specifically, the question of “conflicts of interest” when private entities are doing public work: Why does everyone seem to assume — and why do you and most of those you invite to speak on your program grant — that “public servants” are immune to the lure of self-interest and conflicts-of-interest that are presumed to be the hallmark of “private enterprise”?

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