More From the Department of Homeland Insecurity

Based on news reports, it is becoming even more clear that The Department of Homeland Insecurity, and its most visible element The Transportation Insecurity Administration, are getting nearly out of control.  At least they are also getting mostly negative press at this point which may – but I have my doubts – get congress to put a leash on them.

But I have just encountered two more reports that I find disturbing.

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After listening to a CNN report (and waiting 15 or 20 minutes for them to get around to it), it sounds like our travel on Wednesday will be unnecessarily frustrating.

Semi-political ranting/venting follows

My Political Rant

Or a rant in the form, at least initially, of a question: What is the State of California spending its money on?

robot_grrl and I just got our license plate renewals, which in California, include a vehicle property tax. On my two-year-old car, this tax, plus the plate fees, smog fees etc., adds up to over $400.00. For Tara’s six or seven-year-old car, it is less than half, but still more than what we paid in Illinois, including the village fee. Similarly, we pay considerably more than the 3% Illinois state income tax here, and our sales taxes are comparable. Property taxes are, if I remember correctly, generally less for the value of the property, but most of the property is worth at least a bit more — I’m not sure about the assessed value though — so that may offset the total property tax revenue.

However, The State of California is suffering a horrendous budget crisis. There is a gap of billions of dollars, and growing daily. The Governator, or at least his staff, is now talking about making deep cuts in School and health care budgets, and even shutting down State Parks to try to close the gap (I’ll say more on that in a moment).

So, it looks like things that everyone — or at least everyone except for the most dedicated libertarians — consider basic services from a US State or local Government (Schools, Health Care, natural and historic parks) are being cut to save money. The message coming from Sacramento is that there is no other place to cut the budget. So, my question remains, where is the money getting spent?

On the parks issue, it sounds like the Governor’s staff is trying to make sure that they select parks that will cause the most outrage for being closed. In San Diego County, among the parks slated for possible closure are all of Torrey Pines — both the reserve and the very popular beach — two or three other popular state beaches, and both the Anza-Borrego and Cuymaca parks which are draws for both local, semi-local and out of town visitors. The only major state park that I’m at least somewhat familiar with that isn’t on the list to be closed is Old Town, which may actually make money thanks to its restaurants and other shops.

I think that putting the Del Mar fairgrounds on the list of properties that might be sold is a similar move, since if anyone other than the County (or City) of San Diego were to buy the fairgrounds, the fair and its historic and popular race meet — not to mention the events that keep it busy the rest of the year — would either be shut down or have to relocate, or pay rent to the new owners which would end up costing more.

Government Interference

For some reason, I’m still on one of the mailing lists for National Karate in the Chicago area. Normally, I glance at the e-mails just to see what is going on. Most of them are announcements of school closings and events, and there are only one or two every few months. I’m not worried about being on the list.

Today, I got one from the director of the school informing us of a couple of changes that impact the May tournament. Both of these changes are the result of a new state law — probably one that someone believed would protect people.

The first change is that every participant, or at least everyone sparring, must either have a physical in the last year in which they are cleared for this kind of activity, or have a physical from a physician on site. This seems to apply to everyone from the 4-year-olds (at least if it covers non-sparring classes, very few at that are spar yet) up through the teenagers and into adults.

Second, every woman 18 and older who is sparring must have a pregnancy test the day of the tournament, and the physician must read the test and clear them to compete.

Now, I believe that anyone participating in heavy physical activity probably should check with their doctor to make sure that they don’t have a hidden condition that could kill them before they start, and it probably isn’t a good idea for women who are expecting to spar. But, I don’t really like the government both requiring that this be done, and requiring that the organizers of the tournament — in this case the school — check all of this documentation before the tournament.

I’d be relieved that I won’t have to deal with this (and pay for an extra physical or two), except for the fact that if California doesn’t have a similar law already, it is only a matter of time before we have one.

Current Political Placement Meem

Since others have posted their results, I’ll post mine.

My Political Views
I am a center-right social libertarian
Right: 2.56, Libertarian: 4.3

Political Spectrum Quiz

Other results below

Two Gedankenexperiments, out of my thinking about origins and controversy

Off and on over the last few years I’ve thought about a, for lack of a better term, gedankenexperiment related to the strong feelings and reactions people get when dealing with issues of origins. Over lunch I came up with another.

I’ll have to admit that I created these, they reflect my worldview (or perhaps I should say universview), so I am probably guilty of loading the dice a bit. But I’ll have a go anyway.

Experiment 1

DANGER: Origins and Intelligent Design Disussion Ahead

Some people may have noticed that I often keep quiet during discussions of how origins should be taught — although at Windycon I did bring up origins a bit, and then worked with the rest of the panel to move back away. However, since this issue probably won’t go away, I figured I might as well make my case for why my answer is a qualified “I don’t know.”

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Politics Meme

After the cut

(Not Quite) current event responses

I’ve been away — or more correctly way to busy — for a while. Perhaps, I’ll get around to actually letting people know what I’ve been up to in a bit. But first, some commentary:

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