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February 26, 2003

Busing

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

From the St. Petersburg (FL) Times:

During the first year of school choice, hundreds of African-American children in St. Petersburg will be bused out of their neighborhoods, leaving behind new schools that are only two-thirds full.

Pinellas school officials acknowledged Tuesday they are limiting enrollment in several elementary schools, including the brand new Douglas Jamerson and James Sanderlin elementary schools in south Pinellas.

The reason, in part, is that not enough nonblack students want to attend schools in predominantly black neighborhoods.

That means hundreds of students who wanted to attend the two brand new schools -- as well as the rebuilt Campbell Park, Fairmount Park and Gulfport elementaries -- will be forced to choose another elementary school, even as their preferred classrooms sit empty.

Posted by jeff at 11:41 AM | TrackBack

February 24, 2003

Political Philosophy - or Lack Thereof

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

Brink Lindsey doesn't know what to call his political orientation, and Steven Den Beste has given up on labels altogether. I've had similar problems (and not just with politics) for a long time, and I've come around to thinking of myself as a federalist (although no doubt I disagree in areas with those who call themselves Federalists). By this, I mean that I want to have government act at the lowest possible level.

If I do not like my school district's behavior and policies, I can move to a nearby town. In so doing, I would shed the problem policies, but still be able to keep my job and visit my nearby friends. If, on the other hand, school policy is set by the state government, I have to move out of state to escape that policy, and have to change jobs (most likely) and will not easily be able to visit friends who currently live nearby. The cost of escaping the bad policy has gone up dramatically. Worse, the further I have to move, the more likely it is that I will have to go to a place with different policies I disagree with, just to avoid the local policies I disagree with.

An example of how this is a problem is Social Security. I don't happen to believe - indeed I don't think any rational person under the age of about 50 can believe - that Social Security will provide a decent retirement income. I do believe that the amount of money invested in Social Security both directly and by my employers over the last 15 years would provide me and my wife a comfortable retirement, had it been carefully invested by me. I cannot get out of this system, which has taken a little less than 29% of my earned income for 15 years and will give me back remarkably little, unless I give up my citizenship, stop working and become destitute or become a member of Congress. In any of these cases, the costs are higher to me than the cost of just forking over the money. It's a heck of a cost, though! If this were a Texas retirement program, I could move to another relatively free state, like Colorado, and the cost of escaping the burden, while still non-trivial, would be reasonable in comparison to the cost of the program. Since it is a Federal program, I have no reasonable-cost way out.

In general, I believe that the United States would be much improved by any movement in the direction of dissemination of power to the lowest possible level. Actually, I take that back! That sentence was an example of how corrupted our political language has become. It should read: in general, I believe that the United States would be much improved any movement by local government to reclaim lost powers from the States, and by the States to reclaim lost powers from the Federal government. After all, it is theoretically the case that the governments derive their legitimacy from the consent of the governed, and thus have only the sovereignty we grant them.

In the end, I really cannot find a better label than federalist for this philosophy.

Posted by jeff at 11:38 AM | TrackBack

February 16, 2003

Check!

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

Steven Den Beste wants us to not include him in any idealogically-based checkboxes:

As I said, I'm "ain't ism". I ain't any ism. If there's any formal political persuasion you can put a name on, it's virtually certain that I disagree with it in some way, on at least one substantial issue — almost always because of practical evaluation of outcomes, given that I'm not particularly impressed by ideology. I'm not even 100% committed to populism, which is why I think the Founders were extremely wise to put a lot of issues off-limits to normal political discourse when they passed the Bill of Rights. The whole point of my article was that I don't think I fit into any boxes.

And much as y'all would like to claim me for your box, please include me out.

OK, so Steven goes into the category for "people whom I don't put in boxes." Check!

Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack