Sunday, November 30, 2008

Demand side management

The Oklahoman ran an editorial today in which an idea called demand side management was mentioned.
A side issue then was whether the power it would have produced (the proposal was rejected) was needed in the first place. Could reductions in demand negate the need for new generating capacity?

Utilities build new plants — or acquire existing ones — to meet projected demand. Failure to provide for expected demand wouldn’t be viewed favorably by consumers. But utilities also must contend with consumer reaction to increased bills to pay for new plants.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has taken steps to forge a policy that would encourage consumers to save power. It’s called "demand side management” and is part of a nationwide trend to provide incentives for customers to cut their need for power.
It will be interesting to see what kind of "incentives" the Corporation Commission comes up with. I can't help but wonder if they will be anything along the lines of Kim Holland's recently proposed "incentives" to get Oklahomans to buy health insurance.

I suspect that what "demand side management" really amounts to is rationing.

And even if electricity could be rationed and individual consumers cut their consumption, will that make up for the supposedly-desired growth in population and business? This is not even mentioned in the editorial.

This is definitely something I will be keeping an eye on.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wedge Strategy, Part 2

Adam Reed has posted the second installment in his series on Wedge Strategy.

Objectivist Round Up #72

Some great posts in this one!

Ultrasound update

ACLU speaks against Lamb’s bill

Local banks opt out

Arvest Bank opts out of Treasury’s capital purchase program

(Excerpt:) Arvest, Oklahoma’s third-largest bank based on deposits, is the latest local banking operation to announce that it will not participate in the Capital Purchase Program. Bank of Oklahoma, the state’s largest deposit-holder, and BancFirst, the third-largest bank, earlier said their strong capitalization would allow them to defer capital infusion from the Treasury.

Southwest Bancorp, parent of the state’s seventh-largest bank, Stillwater National Bank & Trust, will participate in the Treasury program.

However, Arvest will participate in the Temporary Account Guaranty Program, which provides full FDIC deposit insurance protection for noninterest-bearing accounts and for some deposit accounts that pay less than 0.5 percent interest, Sabin said. The expanded FDIC coverage will extend through Dec. 31, 2009.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

He stood looking at the portrait of Nat Taggart on the wall of her office--the portrait of a young man with a lifted head--until she returned, bringing a bottle of brandy and two glasses. He filled the glasses in silence.

"You know, Dagny, Thanksgiving was a holiday established by productive people to celebrate the success of their work."

The movement of his arm, as he raised his glass, went from the portrait--to her--to himself--to the buildings of the city beyond the window.

- from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rights are not excuses

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland is willing to do whatever it takes to "induce" Oklahomans to buy insurance, according to an article in Friday's The Oklahoman.

No health insurance, no football tickets.

Oklahoma must take drastic steps to improve its dismal ranking in the number of residents who have no health insurance, state Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland said Thursday during her agency’s Summit on the High Cost of Health Insurance. Barring a law requiring the purchase of health insurance, which Holland concedes would be a political long shot, "inducements” that penalize those who fail to insure themselves would help, she said.

Among the possible inducements Holland proposed was forfeiture of football season tickets to University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University games, forfeiture of lottery or gaming winnings, loss of state income tax deductions or licenses to drive, hunt or fish.

"None of those are very pleasant, but there needs to be a consequence,” Holland said.
What about the consquences of evading the facts of economics?

State Rep. Kris Steele, co-chair of the House Health Care Reform Task Force, said requiring Oklahomans to purchase health insurance is not a popular stance among lawmakers.

"I believe the place to start is to create a situation within our state that people are without excuse for not having health insurance,” Steele said. "Once we get to the point where people are without excuse, then we create the incentives.”
Excuse? Wanting to make your own choices about how you live your life - is that an excuse, Rep. Steele?

Holland said the use of inducements, such as revoking in-state tuition discounts for uninsured Oklahomans, would send a message. "We have developed this culture over the years that some don’t feel like they have to pay their medical bills,” she said.
Would that culture be called the welfare state?

Judging by the comments posted with this article, any move to "induce" people to buy health insurance would not be popular here in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately there is a movement afoot to require everyone in the country to buy health insurance, according to a post at the blog of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

Somebody needs to remind Commissioner Holland and Rep. Steele that living your life the way you want to live it - including deciding not to buy health insurance if you can't afford it or don't want it - is a right not an excuse.

Update - Nov 22: Commissioner Holland seems to be doing some back-pedaling since the appearance of yesterday's story in The Oklahoman, which apparently motivated "dozens" of people to call and email the state Insurance Department. According to an article in today's edition, Holland now claims that some of her statements - such as the one involving preventing the uninsured from getting OU football tickets - were meant in "jest" and that she supports public discussion of "Oklahoma's heath insurance crisis".

None of the commenters who made posts on The Oklahoman's website,, regarding this story seem to be buying it.

Update - Nov 24: Paul Hsieh has picked up on this story at the blog of FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oklahoma chapter of Americans United needs people

An email from Jim Huff, executive secretary of the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Chapter "members" and/or "interested individuals",

The Oklahoma Chapter has never been in a better financial status and had better numbers of supporters of the "separation" principle in Oklahoma. What we are lacking are individuals to take specific areas of Chapter Leadership responsibilities. The needs will become even more critical in 2009 as Oklahoma's House of Representatives and state Senate come under the leadership of the religious right. We need to have our Chapter organizational structure in place as soon as possible.

I hope you will mark your calendars for TWO IMPORTANT SATURDAYS.

Saturday, November 29th and Saturday, December 6th.
10:00am until noon each Saturday
Belle Isle Library – Northwest Highway and Villa

Each Saturday, there will be two 45 minute sessions:
The first session will be an orientation to Chapter Structure and leadership positions,
The second session will be training on key Separation of Church & State issues in Oklahoma.

OUR NEEDS are for 10 to 15 individuals to accept and carry out essential leadership roles in the Chapter: elected officers, committee chairs and members, specific Chapter project leaders.

As of our Annual Meeting in September 2009, the role of Executive Secretary will be dissolved. The office of Secretary will take on the traditional role as defined in the Chapter by-laws.

To hold leadership roles, the persons must be members of the Chapter. In order to give individuals time to evaluate their interests, their talents and their available time commitments, THE TWO SATURDAYS OF LOCAL CHAPTER ORIENTATION AND TRAINING ARE BEING OFFERED. To attend and participate, membership is not a requirement. But, deep concern for protecting the HISTORIC principle of separation of church and state is essential. No one attending is committing themselves to a specific leadership role.

The National American United (Beth Corbin) will conduct specific training for the Chapters in Oklahoma early in 2009. At that time, more specific commitment to specific leadership roles will be determined. The Oklahoma Chapter will elect new officers for two year terms and appoint committee chairs at our Annual Meeting in September of 2009.

There is no substitute for active leadership. I do not feel comfortable asking individuals to take on leadership roles unless they have an informed understanding of the role. Without the full structure of leadership roles being filled, we are reduced in our effectiveness.

PLEASE, "reply" and let me know (RSVP) if you can attend one or both of the Saturdays. I also solicit your questions and interests that should be included in the two days of preparation. September 2009 will be here much quicker than we would like.

I hope to hear from a good number of you by Wednesday, November 26th. Materials and refreshment decisions need to be made well before Saturday, November 29th. (Our meeting will be over long before the OU-OSU football game.)

Jim Huff
Interested persons can RSVP to Jim by emailing him at this address.

The Religious Right: where to now?

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has an analysis of the Religious Right's impact on the election - and vice versa. Some excerpts:

After eight years of unprecedented access to the White House and (until 2006) in the halls of Congress, Religious Right organizations are about to lose a lot of clout with much of official Washington and could see their influence at the national level diminished.

But it’s unlikely any of these organizations will close down. Rather, they will organize to defeat individual-freedom initiatives put forward by President Barack Obama, and they will place more emphasis on state and local governments as a way to press their agenda forward.

. . .

Obama’s victory is a serious blow to the Religious Right. Top organizations had pulled out all of the stops to defeat him. Main tactics included hyperbolic claims of what to expect under an Obama presidency, the distribution of biased “voter guides” that heavily favored John McCain and an attempt to forge a church-based political machine that would promote McCain. While widely implemented, these efforts were not terribly successful.

. . .

. . . Obama’s electoral landslide does not mean the Religious Right is dead or even seriously wounded. The Religious Right has been part of the American political landscape for more than 30 years and is not likely to fade away simply because of a bad election cycle.

It’s important to remember that several of the Religious Right’s favored candidates won their races, and, more importantly, the referenda results on same-sex marriage shows that this issue remains a potent one for the Religious Right to exploit. With power changing hands in Washington, these groups will shift tactics, not shut their doors.

In short, it is probably too early to declare the culture wars over just yet.

Conditional Rights

The excellent Gina Liggett has an essay on NooodleFood on another cause of the growing 'conditionality' of rights:
The Loss of Values Due to Contradiction

Meanwhile back on the national level

That slap in the face I mentioned? It's got the Republican Party trying to figure out how to keep from becoming an Oklahoma fiefdom. This presents a sterling opportunity for everyone who has an idea on how the Party can spring back in 2010. I see Paul Hsieh's excellent LTE on the subject is getting noticed in places like Hot Air and Little Green Footballs.

I got a rather interestingly worded email today from the RNC:
As we as a Party regroup after our near miss in the presidential election, we must reflect on what our Party has done well and what we can improve moving forward. It is for that reason we have created a new Web site for you to share your thoughts on the direction of the Republican Party. Please take a moment to visit and create an account to begin the dialogue.

The Republican Party has always been the party of reason and hope, and I strongly believe we will continue in this tradition as we work to the future.
Republicans are the party of REASON? Who are they kidding? No mention of religion or values - especially their cherished "family values"? Oh wait, it does mention Sarah Palin elsewhere in the email.

Wow. How the mighty are fallen. And how the fallen are eager to sell-out the evangelicals. Or so we can only hope.

But the 'Party of Reason'?

I'm not holding my breath.

The real issue and the real stakes

I have come to the (provisional) conclusion that every expansion of government since this country's founding was caused by the desire to legislate morality. The desire on both the Left and the Right to impose their brand of collectivism on this country is ultimately grounded in altruism.

And I think that it is only a morality which rejects authoritarianism as such which can support a ban on legislating morality. I'm thinking specifically here of Objectivism's morality of rational self-interest. Objectivism holds that the moral is the chosen, not the obeyed. Those who wish to legislate morality seek to make morality the obeyed, not the chosen.

Does not every attempt to legislate morality violate someone's rights? Is this not one of the very reasons why rights have come to be held as conditional?

After the Gay-Marriage Debacle, Activists Rethink Tactics

On the Evangelical side, Mohler told TIME that religious conservatives see the threat from the gay rights' agenda as much broader than just an affront to traditional notions of marriage. "Full normalization of homosexuality would eventually mean the end to all morals legislation of any kind," he says, echoing the line of reasoning made famous by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent in the high court's 2003 decision striking down state laws that made gay sex a crime.
I hope to be able to expand on this in the future.


From an email posted to a list by a teacher at one of Oklahoma City's high schools:
Today at the big assembly ( . . . ) Kirk Humphreys, acting as the Emcee, introduced Cliff Hudson the former President of the OKCPS Board practically announcing he had chosen him for that post.

He then went on to praise the work of MAPS for KIDS, and made the following statement that I recorded:

"MAPS for KIDS had two fathers. It was Cliff Hudson and me. And we were equal partners."
Kirk Humphreys is the current president of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board. What really makes his statement funny is that a few years ago, Humphreys was the mayor of Oklahoma City, and, as mayor, once ordered the removal of light pole banners advertising the local Gay Pride Parade - leading to a successful lawsuit against the City.

Wedge Strategy

Adam Reed at Born to Identify has posted the first installment of his series on the favorite tactic of theocrats. I wonder if he'll have anything to say about Inhofe's "God, Guns and Gays" campaign?

Proposition 8

Wayne Besen:
. . . the rules of the Mormon, Catholic and Evangelical churches are now enshrined into civil law. We are all unofficial members of these religious institutions and captive to their narrow, sectarian rules. They have effectively hijacked the state and now govern our personal relationships and private lives -- whether we like it or not. I think people are finally awakened to this existential threat and willing to fight back.
I hope so.

Republicans take control of Oklahoma legislature

Republicans in the rest of the country may have been slapped in the face on November 4th, but here in Oklahoma, the situation is exactly the opposite. Republicans have taken the majority of seats in the Oklahoma House and Senate, and if their leaders are to be taken seriously, they intend to keep right on making the same religion-based mistakes that cost the Republican Party its stake in the federal government.

Newly-elected senators were sworn in today, and according to Senate president pro tem Glenn Coffee,
"I am excited about working with our leadership team and the entire Republican caucus to advance pro-family and pro-jobs issues in the state Senate," (emphasis mine)
Oklahoma's Republicans still seem to think that the road to victory is paved with religion - albeit, sugar-coated with a little economic freedom.

I don't know if it was the Left or the Right that came up with the stereotype that only Christians support Capitalism, but I do know that conservatives still buy into it and liberals still use it to attack conservatives. If the encroachment of religion into government is ever to be stopped, this false "package-deal" with Capitalism must be exposed.

Both the Left and the Right need to learn that Capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Objectivist Round Up

This week's Round Up is hosted at Rule of Reason.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The Oklahoman ran my latest LTE today - guess I must have been under the word limit this time!
Protecing the economy

Michael McAlvain (Your Views, Nov. 5) asks, "Why are unelected officials setting monetary policy for our country?” They shouldn’t have that power, nor should elected officials. There is no free market in this country and there never has been, contrary to the assertions of those who point at people like Alan Greenspan. But Greenspan never practiced what he preached in those articles he wrote decades ago about the virtue of capitalism. Proof of that is the fact he accepted the post of chairman of the Federal Reserve in the first place.

America’s economy isn’t created by the government. It’s created by everyone who produces something of value and offers it for the public to buy. The more freedom they have, the healthier our economy is and the American people know that.

The best way for our government to protect the economy is to protect the rights of all individuals, including those individuals who create America’s economy. When government is restricted to the role of protecting the rights of individuals to their own lives, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, then and only then will we have a true free market.

If the process of reaching that goal requires closing the Federal Reserve and allowing banks to fend for themselves, so be it.

Rob Abiera, Oklahoma City

Friday, November 7, 2008

Do Americans understand Capitalism?

Dick Armey rebukes the Republican Party for its embrace of big government in the guise of "compassionate conservatism".
WSJ: 'Compassionate' Conservatism Was a Mistake
I remember when then-head of the Party Ed Gillespie said that it no longer stood for small government. The election is certainly a come-uppance for him and all those who agreed with him. Hopefully, those who believed that their religion required a bigger government will also get the message.

In his op-ed, Armey writes of
. . . an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms.
As I see it, the American public's opposition to the bail-out suggests that they do "understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms."

In other words, they do understand Capitalism.

Did Obama run a Capitalist campaign?

Hmmm . . .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Social Security and the future of freedom

Paul Hsieh of NoodleFood has a post on some potential issues involving Social Security which may come up in the very near future. Social Security is one of the main factors driving the runaway expansion of the federal budget, and anything that affects it could have a huge impact on the country.

Objectivist Round Up #69: The Election

Here it is.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rejecting the Blank-Out

For some time now I have been convinced that many of the arguments against the right to abortion have rested on a fundamental evasion and that the fact being evaded was the existence of the mother.

Now I have learned - thanks to a posting on DemoOkie - of a new movement which seems to tackle that particular evasion head-on. It's a movement of pregnant women and those who choose to advocate for them, and their strategy amounts to - in effect - standing up and saying, "I exist, and I'm not going to let anyone get away with trying to pretend that I don't."

The movement was the subject of a recent blog entry by Sarah Wildman at Slate, which also mentions the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
Pregnant Pause
Posted Friday, October 31, 2008 8:28 AM | By Sarah Wildman

I'm a pregnancy cliché, much of the time. Weepy one moment (hello, Obama-mercial), enraged the next (did you forget to buy milk!?). Most of the time I can ignore the emotional lability or laugh about it. But sometimes that righteous ire is for good reason. The obscene amount of unsolicited advice one receives, for example—all aimed at some kind of collective fetus care that totally eclipses the rights of an individual. (The other day a complete stranger reminded me I shouldn't take "hot baths" lest I hurt my child. Thank you!) But much more importantly: the legistlative means states have taken to ensure fetal rights.

Last night I received a new short video produced by the National Advocates for Pregnant Women that narrates the full impact the various fetal rights initiatives on ballots next week will have if they pass (it's six minutes but it's at minute one that the really intense bits creep in, after the pitch to vote "no"). Colorado has Prop 48, a definition of personhood amendment (McCain has come out in favor of it), which would define life—and, most importantly, human rights—as beginning at the moment of conception. South Dakota has measure 11, mostly banning abortion. Normally these measures are seen as simply means of chipping away at abortion rights, and it's true that's part of their intended impact. In the video Lynn Paltrow, executive director at the NAPW, explains how these amendments end up compromising the bodily integrity of all pregnant women.

NAPW is part of a grassroots movement of women from both sides of the abortion debate who are arguing for the rights of pregnant women not to be ignored or overtaken by fetal rights—something that sounds inherently intuitive but is, in many states, painfully most definitely not. In a letter to the editor of the New York Times two weeks ago, Paltrow explained that "Such measures are used to control, and sometimes punish, women who do not want unnecessary Caesarean surgery; who want to have vaginal births after previous Caesarean surgery; women who love their children but can't necessarily overcome a drug or alcohol problem in the short term of a pregnancy; and women who suffer unintentional stillbirths."

In the video, vignettes give anecdotes about the consequences of these legislative interventions: like the case of Amber Marlowe who, in 2004, discovered Pennsylvania had the right to represent the right of her fetus when her hospital, determining the baby would be too large to deliver vaginally, got a court injunction that superseded Amber's rights for the child, forcing legal, surgical intervention. Amber fled the scene and delivered without complication elsewhere. Laura Pemberton, in Florida, was arrested, put in handcuffs, and forced to have a ceasearan. Both women consider themselves pro-life and both were caught in the peculiar dragnet of fetal rights.

(Note: Sarah's original post contains links which are not reproduced here.)