Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Impertinent Observations

Though my opportunities for blogging are fewer and farther between of late (though I hope to remedy that going forward), things are still happening that draw my interest. To wit:

Congressman Paul Broun caused something or a minor stir in the local blogosphere over his recent comments concerning the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States (see here, here, and here). Given his political philosophy, which I share by the way, his comments are not in the least unexpected. Besides which, he is entirely correct. The Sixteenth Amendment permitted the federal income tax, which thereby gave the permanent political class a steady and dramatically larger pot of money to fund their various schemes (oh, and never mind those promises that the income tax would never extend beyond about the highest 1% of income earners and that the highest rate would never be more than about 7%). The Seventeenth Amendment changed the manner in which Senators were elected. Under the original terms of the Constitution, state legislatures chose Senators, as their purpose in Washington was to protect the interests of the states (you know, that pesky concept of federalism in which the central government, the state governments, and the people were each represented). By switching the election of Senators to popular vote, thereby making them functionally equivalent to Representatives, the only difference with whom merely being a longer term, the states lost representation. The result of these two Amendments has been the inexorable growth in the power, cost, and domination of the national government over the those of the states and the people. Broun is correct to advocate their repeal.

Those of us who live in the euphemistically named “general services” district are about to get the double whammy. First it was, and now is again, the idea of divvying up the formerly unincorporated area of Clarke County and mandating that the residents thereof use the private trash hauler assigned to them (the idea is to reduce the number of such haulers through attrition over time). To that will be added the periodic inspection and pumping of residents’ septic tanks. What both of these issues have in common is that the Unified Government steadfastly refuses to provide such services to the formerly unincorporated areas of the county – the Charter be damned (and note that the point is access to services, not the manner of payment for said services). On the other hand, though, City Hall would be quite happy to regulate how and with whom I do business regarding these services, all the while charging me for the privilege.

Speaking of which, what about all of those complaints about the Unified Government not fulfilling the terms of the Charter? Our betters are bandying about the idea of simply rewriting the document to suit their own self-consciously progressive ideology. I am quite eager to see whether the Overview Commission’s deliberations result in any worthwhile suggestions for City Hall – and by that I really mean castigations – but I am not counting on it.

The Clarke County School District is touting its improvement in AYP scores and graduation and dropout rates (read the items for yourselves). So, we are still paying top dollar for results that, while they may be marginally “better” than those to which we are accustomed, remain astonishingly poor. And by the way, I still have received not the first word of feedback from that “open letter” to the members of the Board of Education and the powers that be over on Mitchell Bridge Road.

Also, a lawsuit has been heard in Magistrate’s Court concerning the Unified Government’s Stormwater Utility Fee, on which I will comment more when the verdict is handed down.

Finally, I had a bit of a brush with greatness a few weekends ago at a GSSF match in Dawsonville (I don’t get to shoot much these days and am horribly out of practice). Standing directly in front of me in the registration line was none other than Massad Ayoob, well known for his myriad articles in the “gun press” and as former director of the Lethal Force Institute. He was in Atlanta for a radio appearance and took the opportunity to bust a few caps while in the area. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat.

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