The case of the Harry Potter stamp

The U. S. Postal Service is coming out with a Harry Potter stamp.  Never mind that there is nothing American about Harry Potter.  And never mind that the stamp is just a shot from the movie, with no particular artistic design.  And that the committee whose job it is to recommend subjects for stamps and to approve designs rejected it.

The postmaster wants stamps to be “more commercial” and less grounded in American history, culture, and landscape.  The goal that is to trump everything else is to make money for the deficit-plagued national monopoly.  Here is another idea:  Instead of tinkering with stamps, offer better service!

An account of the controversy, a picture of the stamp, and some additional thoughts after the jump. [Read more…]

Casino magnate funds crusade against internet gambling

Get ready for a major push to restrict internet gambling–a major lobbying effort, political arm-twisting, and public service ads on how internet gambling hurts children and the poor.

The irony:  All of this anti-gambling sentiment is being stirred up by a billionaire casino owner who wants to stifle the competition.

By the way, he is also a “super-donor” to conservative causes and to Republican politicians. [Read more…]

Conservatives launch war on poverty

Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) is the founder of the Tea Party Caucus, a true limited-government firebrand.  But the potential presidential candidate is launching a war on poverty.  So is Mitt Romney’s running-mate Paul Ryan, the Congressman from Wisconsin known for his budget-cutting schemes.  He too is a likely presidential contender.

After the jump, stories about both efforts.  What do you make of this?  [Read more…]

Two kinds of libertarianism

A writer who goes by the nom de plume “Hamilton” says that both Republican and Democratic intellectuals and policy makers are essentially libertarians.  (He says that there are few old-school socialists or New Dealers left in the Democratic party.)  But there are two different kinds of libertarians:  the school of John C. Calhoun and the school of Robert Heinlein.

Calhoun was the 19th century statesman from South Carolina who was a major spokesman for state’s rights, limited government, and individual rights.  Heinlein was the 20th century science fiction writer who championed individual liberty empowered by technology.   Calhounian libertarians are socially conservative, religious, and inhabit the Republican party.  Heinleinian libertarians are the socially liberal, tend to be involved in the new information technology, and are usually Democrats.

But Hamilton thinks that Calhoun and Heinlein could form an alliance.  I would  question the authenticity of a libertarianism that defends slavery, as Calhoun did, and that supports the power of one person over another that we see in abortion, as Democratic  libertarians tend to do.  But still. . . .What do you think of Hamilton’s analysis, given after the jump? [Read more…]

Obamacare descends into chaos

The deadline for signing up for Obamacare is December 15, if you need the insurance to kick in at the beginning of the year.  That’s less than a month away.  The website still doesn’t work, and the techs that are trying to fix it say they won’t get it done by the November 30 deadline.  Even if they do, that gives Americans without insurance just two weeks to sign up.  (There is a February 15 deadline for signing up without penalty, and an end-of-March deadline as the last chance to buy insurance on the exchanges.)  At last count, only 2% of those who need to have signed up so far.

If they can’t sign up, people whose independent policies have been cancelled will be left without insurance at the beginning of the year.  But President Obama’s decree that they should be able to keep their policies for a year is creating even more problems.

Insurance companies have already set their rates for next year, based on the assumption that those policies would be discontinued.  If those old policies are put back in place, that will throw off the quotes they have already been making.  This not only throws off insurance companies, it throws off the financial model Obamacare has been depending on.  Details after the jump.

[Read more…]

Laws that try to cover everything

In a discussion of the struggling Immigration Reform Bill, George Will tells about the Compromise of 1850.  Henry Clay worked it out, but the bill that would implement it–dealing with scores of inter-related issues, such as limiting the spread of slavery, statehood for California, the mode of territorial government for Utah, what to do about fugitive slaves, and on and on–could never get passed.  It was up to Stephen Douglas, better known as Lincoln’s nemesis, to get the legislation through.   He broke the gargantuan bill apart into smaller bills, each of which found its own constituency, and each of which passed.

Mr. Wills says that part of the problem in our paralyzed government is that bills are just too long.  They try to cover everything.  Which is a symptom of a government that thinks it knows everything. [Read more…]