Posts tagged ‘South Carolina’

Post-War Devastation

We associate photos like this one with the devastation of post-war Europe.

02394a.preview

In fact, this is a post-war photo, but it is of Charleston, South Carolina after the Civil War.   We seldom think of such scenes as being relevent to the US, but the South was at least as destroyed after the Civil War as Germany was after WWII.   Sherman's march to the sea in Georgia was famous for its devastation, but in their letters, many of Sherman's soldiers say they were particularly ferocious in South Carolina, the state that they most associated with the war and its start  (though much of the devastation in Charleston was self-inflicted, as a fire to burn the remaining cotton and keep it out of Yankee hands spread to the rest of the city).

Full sized image at Shorpy

Fighting the Competition, One Legislature at a Time

Thanks to an email from a reader, comes this bizarre but all-too-common tale of an industry group supporting licensing to protect itself from competition:

Imagine you were a state legislator and some folks
asked you to pass a law making it a crime to give advice about paint
colors and throw pillows without a license. And imagine they told you
that the only people qualified to place large pieces of furniture in a
room are those who have gotten a college degree in interior design,
completed a two-year apprenticeship, and passed a national licensing
exam. And by the way, it is criminally misleading for people who
practice interior design to use that term without government permission.

You might stare at them incredulously for a moment,
then look down at your calendar and say, "Oh, I get it -- April Fool!"
Right? Wrong.

These folks represent the American Society of Interior
Designers (ASID), an industry group whose members have waged a 30-year,
multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign to legislate their competitors
out of business. And those absurd restrictions on advice about paint
selection, throw pillows and furniture placement represent the actual
fruits of lobbying in places like Alabama, Nevada and Illinois, where
ASID and its local affiliates have peddled their snake-oil mantra that
"Every decision an interior designer makes affects life safety and
quality of life."

Legislative analysis by a half-dozen states that
rebuffed ASID's attempts to cartelize interior design -- including
Colorado, Washington and South Carolina -- has failed to support ASID's
claim that the location of your couch or the color of your bedroom
walls is literally a matter of life and death. As the Colorado
Department of Regulatory Agencies put it, there is "no evidence of
physical or financial harm being caused to . . . consumers by the
unregulated practice of interior designers."

I am not sure this even needs comment.  I traditionally end my posts on licensing with this Milton Friedman quote:

The justification offered is always the same: to protect the consumer. However, the reason
is demonstrated by observing who lobbies at the state legislature for
the imposition or strengthening of licensure. The lobbyists are
invariably representatives of the occupation in question rather than of
the customers. True enough, plumbers presumably know better than anyone
else what their customers need to be protected against. However, it is
hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary
motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who
may be a plumber.

Many other posts in the same vein here

Distance Runners are Nuts

For those who think marathoners are wimps:

Paul Keeley, a U.S. Marine at the South Carolina
Military School, wants to run the Boston Marathon unshod next year.
Last summer, he began training by pounding the streets of Charleston,
S.C., in combat boots, hoping to nurture some preliminary calluses. He
took off the boots this fall but soon landed on a surgeon's table for
an abscess in his middle toe that required draining. Mr. Keeley, 18,
says his calluses had hardened so well that he felt no pain when a pine
needle or some other sharp object penetrated his skin and worked its
way to the bone. He says he's still on track with his
barefoot-in-Boston plan.

"Barefoot running isn't for sissies," says Jonathan
Summers, a 37-year-old Boston horticulturist who took up the regimen
this summer after seeing a couple of unshod runners pass him by at a
local 10K race. "It's like running on sandpaper."...

Paul Keeley, a U.S. Marine at the South Carolina
Military School, wants to run the Boston Marathon unshod next year.
Last summer, he began training by pounding the streets of Charleston,
S.C., in combat boots, hoping to nurture some preliminary calluses. He
took off the boots this fall but soon landed on a surgeon's table for
an abscess in his middle toe that required draining. Mr. Keeley, 18,
says his calluses had hardened so well that he felt no pain when a pine
needle or some other sharp object penetrated his skin and worked its
way to the bone. He says he's still on track with his
barefoot-in-Boston plan.

"Barefoot running isn't for sissies," says Jonathan
Summers, a 37-year-old Boston horticulturist who took up the regimen
this summer after seeing a couple of unshod runners pass him by at a
local 10K race. "It's like running on sandpaper."

Alien and Sedition Acts Return

I fear that this administration has effectively reenacted the much-hated Alien and Sedition Acts of the early 19th century.  Using the "war" on terror as its excuse, the Bush administration is rapidly expanding its ability to grab and hold people indefinitely without charge or trial.  This is not a huge surprise -- many presidents have tried to do similar things in time of war or in reaction to internal security threats.  Much of the Patriot Act was originally proposed by Bill Clinton, after all.

What is new is that the courts and the opposition party are letting him get away with it.

The Sept. 9 court ruling concerning Jose Padilla, an
American citizen locked up in a military prison in South Carolina for
three years, is a case in point. The ruling should send shockwaves
through the American public since the decision seriously undermines
constitutional rights.

A federal appellate court ruled that constitutional rules
that apply to the police do not apply to military personnel.... The federal
government has been given a green light to deprive Americans of their
rights to due process. No arrest warrants. No trial. No access to the
civilian court system. You may not be able to see it on television, but
this court decision is the equivalent of a legal hurricane-and it is no
exaggeration to say that this is a level 5 storm with respect to its
potential havoc for civil liberties.

Federal agents arrested Padilla at O'Hare International
Airport in Chicago just after he arrived on a flight from Pakistan. The
feds claim that Padilla fought against U.S. troops in Afghanistan,
escaped to Pakistan and returned to the United States to perpetrate
acts of terrorism for al-Queda. Instead of prosecuting Padilla for
treason and other crimes, President Bush declared Padilla an "enemy
combatant" and ordered that he be held incommunicado and interrogated
by military and intelligence personnel.
Padilla has not yet had an opportunity to tell his side of
the story. For two years the government would not even permit Padilla
to meet with his court-appointed attorney, Donna Newman. Newman has
nevertheless defended Padilla's rights, arguing that the president does
not have the power to imprison Americans without trials.

Bush has not made any dramatic televised address to the
country to explain his administration's attempt to suspend habeas
corpus and the Bill of Rights, but his lawyers have been quietly
pushing a sweeping theory of executive branch power in legal briefs
before our courts.

I actually am fairly radical on this - I don't think the fact that he is a citizen or not should even make a difference.  Citizenship does not confer rights, and governments don't hand them out -- rights are ours based on the fact of our existence.   While some of the rules of due process may change for non-citizens, just the fact that they are from a different country doesn't give us the right to lock them in a room indefinitely.  This is why I support free and open immigration - there is no reason why a person born in Mexico should have fewer rights to contract with me for a job or a home than an American citizen.  The right to associate, to contract, to agree on wages, to buy a particular home, all flow from being human, not from the US government.

So I wouldn't support Padilla's treatment if he was a Iranian citizen and I certainly don't support it for an American.  Yeah, I know, he may be a bad person.  But we let bad, dangerous people out of jail every day.  Our legal system is structured based on the premise that it is worse to lock an innocent person away than let a guilty person go free.  Its a trade-off that we have made for hundreds of years and I for one am pretty comfortable with.

I also get the argument that we are at war -- in Iraq.  If someone is captured in Iraq, that may be another story.  But Chicago is not in the war zone, by any historic definition of that term (unless you want to use WWII Japanese internment as a precedent, which I doubt).  Just calling it a "war on terror" does not make Chicago a war zone any more than declaring a "war on drugs" makes Miami a war zone where suspected drug users can be put in jail without trial.  Perhaps if Bush could get Congress to officially declare war, he might have firmer legal footing, but I don't think that's going to happen.  As I wrote here:

Yes, I know that there is a real risk, in fact a certainty, that
dangerous people will be let out on the street.  But that is the bias
of our entire legal system - the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard
and other protections of the accused routinely put bad people back on
the street.  We live with that, because we would rather err in putting
bad people back on the street than in putting good people behind bars
for life.  Give them a trial, deport them, or let them go.  Heck,
airdrop them into Paris for all I care, but you have to let them get
due process or go free.

Sure, terrorists are using our free and open society against us, and its frustrating.  But what's the alternative?  I just don't think there is a viable alternative which says that we should destroy our open society in order to save it.  We've got to learn to be smart enough to work within the rules, and it may be that we have to expect that in the future our freedom comes at some statistical increase in the danger to ourselves (by the way, isn't that exactly the trade-off we have enforced on Iraq, without even asking them -- citizens are much freer that under Saddam but at  an increased risk of terrorism?).

By the way - where the hell is Congress?  Stop grandstanding in confirmation hearings and get to work reigning this stuff in.