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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Weekly Muse

September 3, 2001

Welcome to the first Weekly Muse!

Every week, I scour newspapers, web sites, magazines, and other sources for stories that interest me, and tell you what I think of them. Hopefully, you'll be interested and return for more.

I post the column once a week. I approach each story from a conservative/libertarian point of view. But I encourage readers of all political persuasions to read the column and and email me. I enjoy a lively, friendly debate, and will post any thoughtful, well-reasoned messages, along with my response.

But enough introduction noise. Let's get musing!

Reparations, anyone?

The United Nations Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance got off to a wonderful start. Every group that feels victimized is there, trying to get something from someone, but the loudest so far have been the Palestinians and Arabs, who insist that Israel and Zionism are racist. They're preaching hate against Israel, an ironic twist at a love-fest devoted to tolerance. 

African leaders insist on an apology for slavery, in addition to reparations, such as yet more foreign aid and cancellation of their debts. They seem to forget that Africans participated in the slave trade. It was a trade, after all. Many Africans received prized goods in exchange for selling out their countrymen (or, more precisely, members of rival tribes). Like much in history, slavery and the slave trade were abominable, but hardly unique. It's been practiced since the dawn of time, by Africans, Asians, Europeans, etc. It's still practiced in parts of Africa today. Maybe the U.N. Conference should do something about that.

Whining Netscape

Netscape founder Jim Clark has announced that he will withhold a promised $60 million donation to build a biomedical research center at Stanford University. He blames his lack of honesty on President Bush, because he (Bush) didn't send taxpayer money to his (Clark's) favorite line of research (stem cells). Bush restricted the funding to existing stem cell lines. Clark whined that it was "futile to to think that private funding can make up what is being lost to laws driven by conservative politics." So Clark is picking up his previously promised marbles and going home. And it's the President's fault!

Socialized medicine means long waits in Britain

British citizens fortunate enough to afford to are leaving the country to obtain needed surgery. Chris Davies waited three years for doctors to clear his blocked arteries, then decided his life was a wee bit more important and went to Brussels for the triple bypass. Such long waits for necessary surgery is quite common. Britain spends $70 billion worth of taxpayer money for such a convenient, consumer-friendly system.

Mind your manners. Or else.

Beijing Communist dictators have started a drive to compel its citizens to act a bit more sanitary and well-mannered, because of the 2008 Olympics. Beijing mayor Liu Qi listed some of these bad habits, such as grumpy cab drivers, obsessive swearing, spitting on the sidewalk, and endless jabbering. If you get caught engaging in such dastardly behavior, you can get fined up to 60 cents. 

A parking lot attendant who is authorized to assess these fines blames foreigners. "Most of the people I catch aren't Beijing folks. And even if Beijingers do those things, they would say sorry and pay the fine they know it's not good conduct. But the yokels, they don't even think they've done anything wrong, and refused to be punished."

There's one more outlawed bad habit. Insulting migrants. That attendant better watch out.

Burton goes after Ashcroft

Those of you who follow politics know Republican Dan Burton. He's the chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, and he went after Clinton and his numerous scandals pretty hard. For his efforts, Democrats branded him an evil partisan thug. Well, he's now threatening to subpoena Attorney General (and former Republican Senator) John Ashcroft if the AG does not produce requested documents. Still waiting for the Democrat apology.

Insure against bullies

French companies are offering insurance against bullying. For about seven bucks a year, you can get reimbursed if you get your books, shirt, or lunch money stolen, or, even worse, your cell phone. French parents even shut down several schools last year, due to bully-related violence. Now, I can understand if French boys were getting beat up by German girls, but isn't this a bit ridiculous? The only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him, and, if necessary, kick his butt. But the French aren't exactly famous for butt-kicking, are they?

Troublesome Taliban

It's quite fashionable to despise the Taliban, the radical Islamic group that rules Afghanistan, and for good reason. The Taliban oppress women, destroy ancient cultural artifacts, harbor terrorists, and force Hindus to wear yellow patches. The Taliban recently jailed American missionaries for the horrid crime of preaching Christianity. The sentence for such barbarism is death.

The Taliban should go where all dictatorships should, the dustbin of history, but it is important to remember how it got there. 

Afghanistan was once on course to being a modern democratic country, but then the Soviet Union invaded in 1978 and wreaked its usual terror and despotism. After the Soviets withdrew in 1989 and the puppet communist government fell in 1992, rival tribes fought for power. Into that vacuum stepped the Taliban, which took control. Yet another wonderful result of Communist tyranny.

Tax dollars to the dead

The Associated Press reported that $31 million of your tax money was paid by Social Security to dead people. Think about that the next time a politician claims the government needs more money.

The mighty oak

Say you're a property owner in Santa Clarita, California. You've got an oak tree on your property you wish to remove. First, you'll need the city's permission. You could pay up to $100,000 or be forced to plant trees worth an equivalent amount.

Say you merely want to trim or prune the tree. Since the city obviously does not want anyone chopping down any oak trees, they must make convenient to maintain those same trees. You obviously don't think like a city bureaucrat. The trimming permit will cost you $200, plus a $500 deposit; an arborist's report runs $150, with a $400 fee for supervising the cutting, plus a possible $800 fee for someone else to trim the tree. May as well let the tree rot!

There's a word for such an incoherent policy: stupid. But beyond that, cities like Santa Clarita (and there are dozens in California) who pass and enforce such ordinances obviously have little respect for freedom and private property. They feel they can barge onto your own land and tell you how to care for it. They know best. They claim they're protecting the oak tree. They care more about a tree than your freedoms and human rights.

I hope you vote them out the next chance you get.

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