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Archive for February 19th, 2013

As part of my US v UK government stupidity contest, I’ve shared some really bizarre examples of anti-gun/anti-self defense political correctness.

At first I thought the Brits were more brainless.

Though, to be sure, there’s lots of foolishness in America.

The Brits were in the lead because they actually arrested people who did done nothing wrong.

But now the United States may deserve this booby prize. Here are some details of a Kafkaesque story from RT.

School administrators in Virginia suspended a 10-year-old boy earlier this month after he was caught with an orange-tipped toy gun in his backpack. Now as he awaits his next meeting with his probation officer, his mother opens up about the incident. …she is still in disbelief over what the entire event has done for her son, herself and the community.

But he wasn’t just suspended. He then got arrested.

Just one day after her fifth-grader’s toy gun was discovered on a school bus leaving Douglas MacArthur Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, his mom says he was arrested, dragged to court and questioned, photographed and fingerprinted. “Any time we get a call like this, we take it very seriously until we can determine the extent of the weapon, if it’s real or not, and what the student intends to do with it,” Alexandria Police Department spokesman Jody Donaldson told the Washington Examiner after the boy’s arrest.

Now that the bureaucrats are getting laughed at, they’re beginning to say the whole episode may have been a mistake. Gee, you think?!?

Today, though, Donaldson admits that things may have been a bit different had the authorities taken a breath before they rushed to respond. “If we were able to investigate right away, the outcome might have been different,” she tells the Post. Ms. Gilbert agrees and thinks authorities acted a little too overzealously. Even the mother who first reported the gun that her daughter saw on an Alexandria school bus tells the paper, “It’s such a bad handling of the situation, it was ridiculous.”

But this isn’t a laughing matter. The little boy’s life has been turned upside down.

…the boy has been forced to switch schools and has been entangled in a legal nightmare surely to serve as a thorn in the side of his family for years to come. That, of course, isn’t even taking into consideration what sort of effect the entire incident will have on the boy, who now has a record with local authorities.

It’s quite embarrassing that this happened in my state of Virginia.

You’d expect this kind of vapid political correctness in New York, not in the south.

But the infectious disease of bureaucratic brainlessness is spreading all over Dixie.

Here are some excerpts from a story about some first-rate government stupidity that recently was on display in Alabama.

A high school student in Florence said he has been suspended because of a picture of a gun. Daniel McClaine Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School, said he saved the picture as his desktop background on his school-issued computer. A teacher noticed it and turned him in. …the district policy states students are prohibited from “sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures,” and cannot access, send, create or forward pictures that are considered “harassing, threatening, or illegal.”McClaine said he read the guidelines but does not consider the picture threatening to anyone. …Daniel’s father said after ABC15 contacted the school, the administration backed down and will let his son return to school on Monday instead of Wednesday.

The good news, so to speak is that Daniel wasn’t arrested and the school’s bureaucrats backed down and canceled the suspension.

But it’s hard to be optimistic about the education system after reading this type of story.

If bureaucrats don’t have common sense, how can they teach reading, writing, and arithmetic?

Maybe the bigger lesson (especially given the shocking lack of results after record levels of staffing and funding) is that we should break up the government school monopoly and let parents choose better-quality schools?

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As you can see here and here, I’m a huge fan of Ronald Reagan.

But it’s not just that the Gipper had good rhetoric. He also did a decent job of restraining spending and he significantly lowered marginal tax rates.

Combined with other pro-market reforms and his stalwart willingness to rein in inflation, as well as the fact that his policies led to the collapse of the evil Soviet Empire, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration that Reagan saved America.

That being said, he may not be the greatest president of the 20th century.

I’ve already shared a famous Calvin Coolidge video to show he said the right things. But, even more important, he did the right things.

Here’s some of what Amity Shlaes wrote about Coolidge for today’s Wall Street Journal.

…while Reagan inspired and cut taxes, he did not reduce the deficit. He did not even cut the budget. But if you look back, past Dwight Eisenhower and around the curve of history, you can find a Republican who did all those things: Calvin Coolidge. …The 30th president cut the top income-tax rate to 25% (lower than the 28% of the historic Reagan cut of 1986). Coolidge reduced the national debt and balanced the budget. When he departed the White House for his home in Northampton, Mass., he left a federal budget smaller than the one he found. …”I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy,” Coolidge told voters… The jovial Harding had vetoed only six bills. Coolidge vetoed 50. “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” Coolidge once advised his father.

That last sentence should be repeated as often as possible. Indeed, it’s the reason why I mocked USA Today for calling Congress unproductive.

Since I’m guessing more than 90 percent of legislation undermines our liberty, we’re far better off when lawmakers do nothing.

Anyhow, you won’t be surprised to learn that the Gipper appreciated Coolidge.

President Reagan recognized Coolidge’s achievement, and upon taking office in 1981 he had a neglected Coolidge picture restored to a place of honor near Lincoln and Jefferson in the Cabinet Room.

And if you want to see some evidence of Coolidge’s superb economic stewardship, here’s a look at what happened with both economic output and the burden of government spending.

Coolidge Record

One final point. Just like Reagan was far from perfect, the same is true of Coolidge. I’ve never studied the economics of the 1920s, but it seems likely that some of the policies of that decade (perhaps excess credit expansion by the Federal Reserve?) helped set the stage for an economic downturn.

Though it’s also clear that the statist policies of Hoover and Roosevelt turned the downturn into a Great Depression.

Bush and Obama are sort of the modern version of Hoover and Roosevelt, though fortunately not nearly as bad.

Obama, for instance, raised the top tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent as part of his class-warfare agenda. Hoover, by contrast, boosted the top rate from 25 percent to 63 percent and FDR then pushed it to 77 percent.

P.S. I already gave Amity’s new book on Coolidge a plug as part of my post about the flat tax-sales tax debate at Hillsdale. But in case you didn’t get the hint, here’s where you can order it.

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