Thursday, June 7, 2007

10th Congressional District Forum

With the caveat that I did not hear the entire thing, here are my impressions of the 10th congressional district candidate forum

It was gratifying to hear most of the candidates express support for the FairTax to one degree or another. I have been a supporter of it for years, to the point of spending a couple of April 15th evenings handing out FairTax brochures to folks dropping their income tax returns at the Post Office on Olympic Drive.

I was most interested to hear the Libertarian, Jim Sendelbach. Libertarians are so right on so many issues, save some specific areas like open borders and foreign policy. I was pleased with Sendelbach’s willingness to secure the borders as part of fixing the illegal immigration program. His noninterventionist foreign policy, while great in a theoretical sense, falls flat when exposed to the totalitarian and ideological thugs who populate the real world.

Whether one agrees with his positions or not, Paul Broun showed himself not to be the Neanderthal that some would have voters believe.

James Marlow’s support of the immigration legislation currently before the U.S. Senate, the only candidate in the race so inclined, may play well in Athens, but will kill him pretty much everywhere else in the district.

Flagpole guru Pete McCommons is a smart guy. I have to wonder, though, about the economic assumptions that formed the basis of his questions concerning tax policy and gasoline “price gouging.”

I doubt that Jim Whitehead hurt himself very much by skipping the forum. Given the political proclivities of Athens-Clarke County, he probably is not going to poll well here, anyway. Besides, he would be competing for what conservative votes that do exist on Paul Broun’s home turf. Even so, I think that he should have shown up.

Finally, some asides: I would like to see a real debate among candidates, as opposed to the forum format used by the Athens Press Club (not that anyone asked me); I get annoyed when candidates omit answering the questions posed to them and go straight into their talking points; and I have yet to get enthused about this race. Of course, the real fun does not start until the runoff campaign begins.

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Jmac said...

I think the forum was well-run, but I see what you're saying in your final point. I think both of the recent CNN presidential debates for both parties were some of the most informative I've seen in years because they let them speak longer than 30 seconds and permitted direct questioning and some give-and-take.

It would be nice - though unlikely in today's world - to see a two-hour honest debate of issues.

Polusplagchnos said...

How would you go about having a "real debate?" I guess that's directed to either of you.

(I suppose, in one sense, we could get that from an online forum/blog for the candidates to comment on each others positions, but then only those with access to the internet and lived experience using it will find that interesting or available. Of course, the same is true of a real debate carried on Lincoln-Douglas style in a town hall forum.)

DoYouHaveAnyIdea said...

The concept of "price gouging" as it relates to gasoline prices has received much attention, mostly from capitalist idealogues who defend the market economy as precluding such a possibility.

The defense, however, ignores that problem that market economics do not work in an environment where supply is constrained through collaborative measures taken by the supply-side. Our current oil/gas "marketplace" has artificially inflated the cost of both. Supply and demand do not explain $68 oil. (Economists suggest a "rational" price based on all factors today in the mid-$40's). More interestingly, $68 oil does not explain $3 gasoline. Refinery capacity has been taken off-line, and has remained so for far longer than any rational explanation.

We lack a true marketplace for these commodities in the United States. The suppliers have taken many years to properly develop the choke points, and cooperation needed to "gouge" the American public. They are doing so now to immense profits.

McCommons was on target here.

james said...

Regarding the Athens Press Club forum, with 10 candidates (or only 9 as the case may be) on the stage, pretty much all you could have hoped for in opening and closing remarks was the candidates’ talking points. During the questioning phase, time limits were such that candidates frequently got little beyond sound bite answers. I will admit that, as a practical matter, it would have been hard to do otherwise without the forum lasting all night.

Once the race is in the runoff phase, however, I would like to see the candidates paired in a format that would allow, and even force, longer, more thoughtful answers. Perhaps questions could entail three rounds for the candidates to establish his/her position, critique the other candidates’ position, and defend against the other candidate’s critique of his/her position. Having a media panel is okay, but I would also like to see the candidates question each other as well, as the questions media ask are reasonably predictable.

Regarding gasoline price gouging, I guess that I am one of those “capitalist ideologues,” who will remind readers that crude oil prices are to a large extent determined by OPEC, a cartel composed of governments, not of oil companies. The political left has been telling me for the last 30 years that I’m not paying enough for gasoline. Until the price goes up, that is. Then, all I hear about is oil company collusion. I guess that it is okay to pay more to government in the form of gasoline or carbon taxes, but not to the folks who actually pump oil out of the ground and refine it at their own financial risks.

So, I suppose that we are gong to have to disagree on this one. FWIW, consider the following:

Thomas Sowell on defining price gouging (Capitalism Magazine)

Daniel Gross on refinery shortages and NIMBYism (Slate Magazine)

Ben Lieberman on price gouging laws (Heritage Foundation)

Investigation of Gasoline Price Manipulation (US Federal Trade Commission)

Boutique Fuels Task Force (US Environmental Protection Agency)