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Archive for June 12th, 2010

¬†This isn’t really a debate, as much as a skeptical-but-friendly interview with Jacob Sullum of Reason. As you might expect, I want drugs legalized because I don’t like crime, corruption, and violence – all of which are exacerbated by prohibition.

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Here’s a cheerful story I saw linked on Drudge, which shows that sometimes rich people are not guilt-ridden statists and instead stand shoulder to shoulder with ordinary people to fight bad government policy. In Australia, the leftist government wants to impose a class-warfare tax on the mining industry, but the scheme is backfiring as opponents point out such a levy will undermine national competitiveness.

It was, by any measure, a most unusual rally. Many of the placard-waving protesters gathered in a Perth park wore suits and ties, and impassioned speeches were delivered from the back of a flat-bed truck by two billionaires, including Australia’s richest woman. Gina Rinehart’s pearls glistened in the sunlight as she bellowed through a megaphone: “Axe the tax!” Ms Rinehart has a personal fortune of $4.8bn (¬£2.7bn). Andrew Forrest, in monogrammed worker’s overalls, told the well-mannered crowd that Australia was “turning Communist”. Mr Forrest is the country’s fourth richest person, worth an estimated $4.2bn. …Now Kevin Rudd’s Labour government is planning to levy an extra tax on the mining industry, and the industry is furious. The issue has dominated the political agenda for weeks, and is even threatening to torpedo Mr Rudd’s chance of being returned to power at an election due to be held before the end of this year. Labour, which had an unassailable lead over the conservative Liberal-National Party coalition six months ago, is now trailing by six percentage points, according to a poll this week. If that were translated into votes on election day, Mr Rudd would become the first prime minister for nearly 80 years to lose office after just one term. …the mining companies, led by the multi-nationals BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, claim the tax will reduce their competitiveness and threaten thousands of jobs. Amid much fanfare, they have already shelved a number of projects. They have also launched a major advertising campaign. The government has responded with its own advertisements, using $38m of public money. Before coming to power, Mr Rudd promised to curb taxpayer-funded advertising on political issues. So far, the miners appear to be winning the argument. A poll commissioned by the industry, and conducted in nine marginal seats, found 48 per cent of people opposed to the super tax, with 28 per cent in favour. Nearly one in three said they were less likely to vote for Labour because of it

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A number of years ago, I read about a good samaritan who got in trouble for plowing a street so his neighbors weren’t trapped by snow. The local government didn’t like being exposed for incompetence. More recently, I watched a documentary about the Air Florida crash in Washington in the early 1980s, which featured a civilian jumping in the water to rescue a woman while a bunch of bureaucrats were apparently frozen into inaction by procedural rules. Fortunately, the hero in this case didn’t get in trouble for unauthorized rescuing. The same can’t be said, unfortunately, for a rafting guide in Arkansas who was arrested for coming to the aid of a 13-year old girl. This story was linked on Instapundit, and Glenn Reynolds appropriately noted that the bureaucrats must have been pissed that they were exposed for incompetence.

Clear Creek sheriff’s deputies on Thursday arrested a rafting guide for swimming to a stranded young rafter who had tumbled from his boat on Clear Creek. Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a 28-year-old guide with Arkansas Valley Adventures rafting company, was charged with “obstructing government operations,” said Clear Creek Sheriff Don Krueger. “He was told not to go in the water, and he jumped in and swam over to the victim and jeopardized the rescue operation,” said Krueger, noting that his office was deciding whether to file similar charges against another guide who was at the scene just downstream of Kermitts Roadhouse on U.S. 6. Duke Bradford, owner of Arkansas Valley Adventures, said Snodgrass did the right thing by contacting the 13-year-old Texas girl immediately and not waiting for the county’s search and rescue team to assemble ropes, rafts and rescuers. “When you have someone in sight who has taken a long swim, you need to make contact immediately,” said Bradford, a 15-year rafting guide and ski patroller from Summit County. “This is just silly. Ryan Snodgrass acted entirely appropriately. These guys came to the scene late and there was a rescue in progress. They came in and took over an existing rescue. To leave a patient on the side of a river while you get your gear out of the car and set up a rescue system you read about in a book is simply not good policy.”

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