Open thread: The White House Correspondents Dinner
15 minutes ago
It's often remarked that President Obama has enjoyed a number of getaways, vacations, and mini-vacations during his 20 months in office. But at a Democratic fundraiser Thursday night, the president said, "I'd appreciate a little break."
If you want to register your disgust, a commenter from the previous blog Reconstruct has some helpful suggestions:
Now you’ve seen the video, prepare not to be surprised that your taxes helped pay for it.
The 10:10 Campaign is supported by:
ActionAid (Govt of UK 2nd largest funder in 2009);
The Carbon Trust (surely #1 on the list of quangos-to-go);
The Energy Saving Trust.
Be not surprised that The Guardian is their ‘media partner’.
On the other hand, if you’re outraged by the video, you might be interested to know that they also have a small number of genuine commercial sponsors: O2, Sony and Kyocera all have helped fund the 10:10 Campaign.
I suggest that the first thing to do is to make your outrage known to O2, Sony and Kyocera, suggesting that their commercial interests might not be furthered by funding murderous nazi will-fulfillment propaganda.
Ron Arnold alleged yesterday that Jane Lubchenco and the bureaucrats at NOAA are killing the New England fishing industry. Averse as I am to ever giving bureaucrats the benefit of the doubt, I think the accusation goes too far. The reforms to the fishing system in New England are a step in the right direction for the future of the fisheries and the fishermen who are losing out are victims of past mismanagement of the fisheries, not the new system.
The trouble is that fish stocks are indeed collapsing all over the world, for the most part because governments have encouraged, by subsidy and other misjudged policies, overfishing to a level that private ownership of fisheries would never have tolerated. Fisheries are a textbook example of the tragedy of the commons – fishermen are inclined to take as many fish as they can because if they don’t, someone else will. The textbook answer to a tragedy of the commons is to assign ownership rights, but governments all over the world have refused to do that, or have interfered in traditional arrangements for protecting fisheries. Moreover, governments have subsidized fishing fleets in order to “protect traditional industries” and for other reasons, which has exacerbated the problem by making fishing fleets far too large.
As John Tierney put it in the New York Times, “The Canadian and American governments devastated one of the world's most productive fisheries, the Georges Banks off the coast of New England, by helping to pay for bigger boats. Now, even as scientists urge limits on lobstering, state and federal governments continue to offer tax breaks and other incentives to the lobstermen at Point Judith.”
Tradeable catch share, or ITQs, the system that is being imposed in New England, seeks to remedy this government-caused problem by introducing genuine ownership stakes in the fisheries. Wherever it has been tried, it has worked to restore collapsed fisheries by making the fishermen responsible stewards of the fish rather than, as Tierney says, hunter-gatherers. A recent study in Science magazine found that if such property rights in fisheries had been instituted globally from 1970, then the incidence of fishery collapse would have been reduced by two-thirds. Fish stocks, furthermore, would be rising rather than falling.
Of course, because fishing fleets have been bloated by years of government interference, there will be economic casualties in the course of a move to a more responsible property rights-based system, and the process by which that works out will be seen as anything but fair by the victims. When the Alaskan fishermen of “The Deadliest Catch” fame worked under the old, damaging, dangerous “derby” system where boats raced each other to get as much catch as possible until the fishing window closed, there were 250 boats in the fleet. This shrank to 89 in the season that catch share was introduced, but evidence suggests that the bloated fleet size was itself ruining the industry.
Catch shares not only promote responsible fisheries management, they impose much-needed humility on bureaucrats and government scientists. Again, Tierney underlines this when he talks about the introduction of catch shares to Australia: “In South Australia, the lobstermen act quickly to prevent overfishing, sometimes imposing stricter limits than the ones suggested by scientists. ''We don't have to fight with the lobstermen,'' McGarvey said. ''The old philosophy of fishery scientists was, 'We're philosopher kings and the fishermen are children who don't know what's good for themselves or the fish, so we have to impose regulations.' Now we just tell them what our research shows about the fishery, and they do a great job of regulating themselves.''”
There is no doubt that Lubchenco is a doctrinaire environmentalist, and there is much about her and NOAA to condemn, but the accusations about catch share made in Arnold’s column are an attack upon a proven, workable free-market solution to a problem government has foisted on us. That’s exactly the sort of solution we want environmentalists and this administration to see working.
According to a Canadian nonprofit, Drummond Pike, CEO of the San-Francisco-based Tides Foundation, an innovative leftwing grantmaker, has resigned as head of the group he founded 34 years ago.
A little-known benefactor to radical activist groups, Pike achieved notoriety in 2008 when he personally contributed $700,000 to help coverup and compensate the radical community organizing group ACORN for a nearly $1 million embezzlement by ACORN financial officer Dale Rathke. Dale Rathke is the brother of Pike’s friend Wade Rathke, who founded ACORN and was a founding board member of Tides.
Tonight—on the same day that President Obama endorsed his rally—Jon Stewart came out swinging with his strongest anti-Obama Daily Show segment to date. Inside, video of the unexpected segment, during which Stewart basically called Obama a dishonest idealist.
Last week a Chesterfield circuit court ruled Romito has no obligation to pay dues to the homeowners' association in the tony Bexley neighborhood. Romito bought his property two decades ago, when membership in the association was voluntary. Last year the Bexley Association made membership and dues mandatory. To force Romito to pay dues now, ruled Judge Herbert C. Gill, would be "simply unjust."
Why? Well, the lovely thing about homeowners' associations is that they entail voluntary social contracts. People who join them freely and explicitly consent to live by a set of rules governing the community. When a member flouts the rules, he also violates a universal moral law: the law against breaking promises.
As C.S. Lewis noted in Mere Christianity, people seem to have an innate grasp of certain moral notions: "Everyone has heard people quarrelling . . . . They say things like this: 'How'd you like it if anyone did the same to you?' -- 'That's my seat, I was there first' -- 'Leave him alone, he isn't doing you any harm' -- 'Give me a bit of your orange, I gave you a bit of mine' -- 'Come on, you promised' . . . .Quarreling means trying to show that the other man is in the wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless you and he had some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are . . . .Now this Law or Rule about Right and Wrong used to be called the Law of Nature."
The binding quality of promises seems to be one of those moral notions upon which we can all agree, so much so that the concept of a non-binding promise seems oxymoronic. (Of course legitimate reasons exist for breaking promises sometimes, and everyone can think of hypothetical situations to illustrate them, but those exceptions do not invalidate the general rule.)
Last week someone asked me what poll data I would use to sum up what's happening in this election in the simplest terms possible. Here it is:
-On our last national poll 49% of respondents said the economy had gotten worse since Barack Obama became President.