Crunch Time for Bush

By: Mr. Wilson on September 4, 2005
Patience with the Iraq War is going sour. Federal reactions to Hurricane Katrina are under fire. And now Chief Justice Rehnquist is dead. As if the Bush administration needed another major issue to contend with. How will the Bush team respond to three simultaneous crises? If the rest of Bush's presidency is any indication, the answer is probably: not well. Begin the countdown to somebody posting on Democratic Underground that Rehnquist was actually murdered in a plot orchestrated by Karl Rove "to distract the country from the Bush administration's failings in dealing with Hurricane Katrina." Oh, and if I were a betting man my five bucks would be on Scalia taking over the center square chair.

All-Around Government Failure

By: Mr. Wilson on September 2, 2005
The more I think about the failures of various levels of government in Katrina's wake, the angrier I get. For a long time I wasn't able to pin down exactly what I thought the failures were. Then I realized: the failures were the most basic failures a government could possibly make. People create governments to protect three things:
  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Property
The protection of those three things is at the core of our government's responsibilities. All we ask of our government is that they keep us alive, let us be free, and prevent others from taking or harming our property. In post-Katrina New Orleans, local, state, and federal governments have failed on all three counts. If we cannot trust our government to do the only three things it really has to do, what can we trust them to do? That New Orleans has descended into anarchy is not surprising. The government violated its contract with the people, so the people severed the contract. I don't blame them. That's not to say I excuse their actions -- just because the government fails you doesn't give you the right to infringe upon the rights of your fellow citizens -- but I can at least, on a very basic level, empathize with their fury. So many levels of government have failed so miserably at such basic tasks, that I can only hope that the reaction nationwide is a strong cynicism toward government in general. Americans have over-trusted their government for too long, in the process forfeiting far too many liberties. Do I actually think Americans will use this unfortunate situation as a catalyst for a general government contraction? No. But a guy can hope.

Power Play

By: Mr. Wilson on September 2, 2005
LES has decided to continue with its recommendation to run a high-voltage power line along the west edge of Nine Mile Prairie. The decision is somewhat surprising considering the intense disapproval of the plan by prairie supporters, whose main complaint is that the power line will ruin the view from the prairie. LES is stuck in a no-win situation. They can keep the line next to the prairie and sacrifice PR points at a time when rates are increasing. Or they can cave in, move the line, and be forced to raise rates even faster due to the extra costs, thus sacrificing PR points. I don't find the prairie supporters' complaint very compelling. I don't think that "it will ruin the view" is a sufficient justification for awarding them de facto veto power over neighboring developments. It would be an unfortunate precedent. Today it's a power line. Tomorrow it's a house, or a gas station, or a Hy-Vee. The prairie's primary purpose is as a biological reserve. A power line will not affect that role. An undisturbed view is a nice bonus, but it is a weak justification for applying this sort of an easement on neighboring property.

Spotted Gators

By: Mr. Wilson on September 2, 2005
I haven't been to a high school football game in years. Until last night, that is. I got to watch the North Star Gators play the Millard South Patriots from the press box at Seacrest Field. I acted as spotter for my cousin, who is North Star's PA announcer. Watching most of a game through a pair of binoculars is a little odd, but I had a lot of fun. As a Southeast grad I probably shouldn't be going to North Star games, but I may just have to go help spot a few more times this season.

In Support of Price Gouging?

By: Mr. Wilson on September 2, 2005
Two quick lessons in market clearing price gouging. Excerpts:'s possible by law to keep prices below their market-clearing levels. In politics and law, that's called "price control." In economics, the result of that policy is called "shortage." At any price below the market-clearing level, buyers will want to buy more gasoline than sellers have to sell. The result is either waiting in line, which is a very inefficient means of rationing compared to letting the price rise, or some sort of legal rationing system (no doubt with extra rations for SUV owners and others who "need" lots of gasoline).
And from Jane Galt:
But it hurts! I hear you moan. "What about my Labor Day driving?" Let me translate. What you're really saying when you say "I don't want to pay more for gas" is "I don't want to either use less gas, or use less of anything else". But as a society, we have to use less gas. You, or someone else, is going to have to consume less of the stuff, because we have less than we used to. If you don't want to be one of the people using less gas, then you have to be one of the people using less of everything else. Thus will the market pretty efficiently strip out driving by those who value it least. Or to put it another way, "Yes, of course it hurts. If it didn't hurt, no one would stop driving."

University of Nebraska Offers Assistance

By: Mr. Wilson on September 1, 2005
NU President J.B. Milliken announced today that the University of Nebraska would make efforts to assist students and faculty affected by Hurricane Katrina. That's to be expected. This, however, seems awfully generous:
"For those students eligible for admission who are unable to return to their home campuses for an indefinite period of time, we will immediately accept as many as we can at our campuses. We will allow them to enroll this fall at in-state tuition rates, and provide assistance in quickly registering them for classes, finding housing and whatever additional help they need." Classes began August 22 in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney, so incoming students would have a reasonably small number of class days to make up. Milliken noted that a number of Nebraska students who were enrolled at Tulane University in New Orleans have already contacted the university. "This is temporary assistance, and when their institutions are able to re-open, we will also help facilitate an easy transfer back home," Milliken said.
To some degree the offer is in the University's self-interest. But consider how much of a pain in the neck this could be for NU's faculty and staff. Surely there are no built-in mechanisms to deal with a large influx of students during a semester, so those mechanisms will have to be created on the fly. If you know anything about bureaucratic behavior, you know that "we'll just make it up as we go" is rarely heard. More often heard is "Let's create a committee!" Milliken knows all that. That he is willing to try to make something like this work makes this a very kind gesture. I wonder how many students will actually accept the offer? Update: I found an online version of the full text of the announcement

Who is to Blame?

By: Mr. Wilson on September 1, 2005
It seems everybody is blaming somebody for Big Bitch and the damage she has caused. It's getting pretty difficult to keep track of all the folks to blame. So I'm making a list.
  • Anybody who opposes the Kyoto Protocol (because they support global warming)
  • The Oil industry (because Nature hates gasoline's pollution, so she destroyed a bunch of the industry's equipment)
  • White people (because Katrina is a "black" name and therefore the "black" hurricane is wreaking havoc on the South for years of racial inequality)
  • Gays (because God hates fags)
  • Evangelical Christians (because God hates intolerant Southerners)
  • George W. Bush (because he used funding that could have paid to improve flood prevention measures to pay for the Iraq War)
  • Abortionists (because God hates baby killers)
Did I miss any?
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