Monday, December 7, 2009

Tale of Two States

Jason sends along a link to a Weekly Standard article that makes an interesting comparison between Texas and California as widely disparate economic models. The two states have followed quite different paths in developing (or devastating) their economies:

From the Great Depression on, California was a dream destination for Americans. Now it looks more like a nightmare, taking on new debt at a rate of $25 million a day."

Texas, on the other hand, boasts unemployment lower than the national average, a budget surplus, no state income taxes, and low rate of repossession on mortgage defaults, Trends writes.

In other words, Texas is economically ascending, while California is in a nosedive.

Texas by itself accounted for 70% of the new jobs created last year. How? Why? The article gives four reasons:

First, Texans believe in laissez-faire markets with an emphasis on individual responsibility. California, on the other hand, has favored central planning solutions and reliance on a social safety net for the past two decades.

Second, California treats environmentalism as a "religious sacrament," rather than just one component in people's quality of life. Texans take a more balanced approach.

Third, California elevates "ethnic diversity" above "assimilation," while Texas has done the opposite.

Finally, while Texas has emphasized streamlining regulatory and litigation burdens, California has used the government to transfer wealth from its creators to special interest groups.

In other words, California has pursued a policy of massive spending and high taxes and the result is that productive citizens and businesses are either crushed or have fled the state. Texas is much more business friendly and is consequently in much better fiscal shape with much better employment numbers.

So, which of the two models are the Democrats in Washington determined to impose on the country? Silly question.


The Other Shoe

The other shoe appears to be ready to drop:

The fight over global warming science is about to cross the Atlantic with a U.S. researcher poised to sue NASA, demanding release of the same kind of climate data that has landed a leading British center in hot water over charges it skewed its data.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said NASA has refused for two years to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act that would show how the agency has shaped its climate data and would explain why the agency has repeatedly had to correct its data going as far back as the 1930s.

"I assume that what is there is highly damaging," Mr. Horner said. "These guys are quite clearly bound and determined not to reveal their internal discussions about this."

There are more details at the link. Maybe there's nothing to NASA's refusal to comply with Mr. Horner's FOIA request, but if they have nothing to hide it sure makes one wonder why they appear so resolved to hide it.


The Irrepressible Law of Unintended Consequences

One need not be a philosopher to appreciate the irony of this:

The APA (American Philosophical Association) strives to establish an anti-discrimination policy that, as Alexander Pruss points out, winds up protecting the very behavior it sought to do away with. The policy seeks to prevent philosophy departments from discriminating in their hiring practices against anyone on the basis of:

...race, color, religion, political convictions, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identification or age, whether in graduate admissions, appointments, retention, promotion and tenure, manuscript evaluation, salary determination, or other professional activities in which APA members characteristically participate. This includes both discrimination on the basis of status and discrimination on the basis of conduct integrally connected to that status,

Pruss observes that such a policy is ironic in that the very conduct which the policy was intended to eliminate becomes protected by the policy:

Suppose George is a member of Westboro Baptist Church (for those who don't know about it, it's a virulently anti-gay congregation--and that's by far an understatement, as is indicated by their URL which I shall not reprint but which you can see if you google for them). George applies for the position of chair of a philosophy department at a state school, and expressly states during the interview that if appointed he would, under all possible circumstances, do his utmost to block the hiring of any gay faculty. It is clear that he ought to be dismissed as a candidate there and then, since he is committed to conduct that is unprofessional in the institutional context he is a candidate for. However the APA policy appears to prohibit dismissing George from one's list of candidates.

Thus, the policy prohibits discriminating against George for his adherence to the tenets of Westboro Baptist or acting in ways that are "a normal and predictable expression" of his adherence. But it is extremely plausible that doing one's best to block the hiring of gay faculty is "a normal and predictable expression" of being a Westboro Baptist .... Therefore, the committee cannot discriminate against George on the basis of his unwillingness to comply with university policies that, we may suppose, prohibit discrimination against gays.

There's more on this at the link. Pruss takes the matter pretty seriously, and I suppose he should, but it amuses me that the more people try to formulate codes to articulate their tolerance of every difference imaginable, the more the law of unintended consequences rises up to bite them. Wouldn't it be easier to simply state that hiring will be based primarily on the candidate's qualifications and character, and let it go at that?