Herbert Sweet

Herbert Sweet

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Land Use Restrictions

In the short run, it can be argued that land use restrictions inhibit economic development. But, eventually, the cumulative impacts of unrestricted land use will be highly visible and the opposite argument can be made. Locales where the land has been protected from the perils of flooding, lack of aquifer recharge and general environmental degradation will become more valuable than those areas not so protected. Where would you prefer to live? It should also not be forgotten that history is full of examples where short run benefits left states and countries permanently degraded as a result of the plundering of environmental resources.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What is driving the noise about healthcare

In the public discourse on healthcare we tend to focus on the words and not the underlying emotions. This is a mistake.

Transcendent to the healthcare discussion are two driving forces. The first is fear derived from the current very real experience or at least the anticipation of loss of job, loss of retirement savings and value of home. Add to this the diminution of power of the traditional white Christian society and you will see a populace ripe for manipulation by demagogic influences.

The second force is the loss of civility in public discourse. This may have occurred when fear of authority quietly dissolved into history. While beyond the memory of most, there once was a time when respect for authority was the norm. The reason for that was because those in power were not reluctant to wield their power and everyone knew it. Looking back at some of that behavior it seems crude by today’s standards. Never the less, the exercise of power does create order and stability.

What is needed is some balance between the individual and the authority of those representative of the larger community – especially when individuals act with impunity towards it. Likely this will not happen as a result of observations such as this but, instead, will occur when the discord gets to such a level that it impairs any action at all. Then there will be a clamor for order and the cycle will reverse.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Public Discussion on Healthcare

In the recent public discussion on healthcare the demagogues have taken over. Instead of rational discussion on cost, inclusion and effectiveness we are being detracted by manufactured issues. The two party system is supposed to counter the corruption that comes with the concentration of power. But with inflammatory rhetoric cynically manipulating public fears, it hardly seems to be working out. While the Republican Party hasn’t produced the only demagogic leaders in town it certainly looks that way now with Pallin, Gingrich and others knowingly twisting the provision on living will counseling into “death squads”. These people have certainly lost my trust. And why are the Democrats so bent on including them in bi-partisanship? Compromise is best used when there is an honest difference of opinion – not with people who seemingly are more interested in their own power than the public good.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Should Congressmen Read Every Bill?

Looking through Google, I see a lot of sentiment supporting the idea that Congressmen should not only read the healthcare bill but should read all of the bills that they pass. I suspect that, even with all of their waking hours devoted to reading bills and even with the staff assisting in their understanding, it might be a physical impossibility. This might be confirmed by checking the bills passed at Thomas.gov.

Could this be resolved by making the laws shorter? Just from my limited experience of writing zoning laws, I would say no. Laws have to be very explicit otherwise they end up as either unenforceable or in court.

If my suspicions are correct, the ideas circulating around that Congressmen should pledge to read all of the bills is just a tactic used by those who oppose the passing of bills they don't like.

What to do about this? The answer seems to me to be that, to handle a lot of information, a lot of people are needed. There would be those who establish the goals and concepts, those who translate that to a structured approach to reach those goals and concepts and, finally, those who construct the detailed text.

After all this is done, there needs to be a structure to verify that everything has been done according to the demands of Congress. It certainly should be Congress that puts it all in motion. For all I know, this is the way that it works. At least I hope it does. If the staff is running the place and Congressmen are negligent (which I'm sure many are), we're in trouble!