Thursday, February 22, 2007

Government Charity Kills

People on the Gulf Coast are finding out the hard way that government charity is a dangerous and, sometimes deadly thing. Remember all of those FEMA trailers? Well, they are apparently not the good deal that many people thought they were going to be.

Along the Gulf Coast, in the towns and fishing villages from New Orleans to Mobile, survivors of Hurricane Katrina are suffering from a constellation of similar health problems. They wake up wheezing, coughing and gasping for breath. Their eyes burn; their heads ache; they feel tired, lethargic. Nosebleeds are common, as are sinus infections and asthma attacks. Children and seniors are most severely afflicted, but no one is immune.

There's one other similarity: The people suffering from these illnesses live in trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

The interiors are fabricated from composite wood, particle board and other materials that emit formaldehyde, a common but toxic chemical.
Air sampling by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at holding stations where groups of trailers were kept before they were set up revealed high formaldehyde levels even in outdoor air. At the holding station in Pass Christian, formaldehyde in outdoor air was 30 to 50 times the level recommended by the EPA, and several times OSHA's workplace standard.
How many people have been sickened or died due to these toxic government trailers? Government charity looks to be a rather sickening proposition. Reasonable people must find it odd that FEMA has no minimum standards for quality that would contain the simplest of rules, such as "Don't use toxic materials in building these trailers, because people might get sick or die".

The amount of foot dragging going on seems all too typical, too. FEMA just doesn't seem to care that their trailers are toxin pits and have little fear of repercussions. Must have something to do with that whole sovereign immunity concept the government and its minions are so fond of.

The people of the Gulf Coast region have been through more than enough since hurricane Katrina. Having to deal with this, on top of unscrupulous insurance companies, lack of housing and a depressed regional economy are seemingly more than anyone should have to bear. As we can see, government charity rarely comes without some poisonous string attached. Sad to say that many of these toxic trailers were made right up the road from me here in Indiana and passed by me numerous times on their way to the Coast. There's plenty of shame to go around on this one.

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The British Are Going, The British Are Going

Is this the reason for the British withdrawal from Iraq? I'm just sayin'. If it is related, could we hope that the Bush twins could find their way to Baghdad?
Prince Harry's regiment is to be sent to Iraq for a six-month tour of duty, defence officials have confirmed.
The timing is surely a coincidence. Right?

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Discriminating Legislation

Once again the ugliness of state sponsored discrimination rears it's draconian head in the mid-West. Indiana's legislature has decided to once again pursue an amendment to their state Constitution that would ban same sex marriages at all levels, civil and religious, despite existing law which already bans same sex marriage. It is also an amendment which would imperil private businesses ability to grant benefits to their employees.
Provides that marriage in Indiana consists only of the union of one man and one woman. Provides that Indiana law may not be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents of marriage be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

The state Senate has already approved the measure and has passed it onto the Indiana House for further action. The gay community is understandably upset by this, as are civil libertarians who can see this measure for what it is, discrimination against a segment of the population via political means.

Many think this bill is likely to die in the House, but with the outpouring of bipartisan support in the state Senate it is not unlikely that it could pass. The oddest of things is that same sex marriage is already illegal in Indiana. The laws of this state are rather clear on the matter and the gay community is not only aware of the law, they are obedient to and reasonably accepting of the established law, for the moment. The proposed amendment, which would allow the masses to vote against a minority is a different matter entirely.

I, like many libertarians hold the viewpoint that the state really has no business telling people who may or may not marry and should not grant favours based upon marital status. It's strictly between the interested parties, (and, on occasion their employers) . Unfortunately, the state does not feel the same way, nor do their supporters and so we are stuck with state sanctioned, sanctified and permitted marriage, like it or not. Marriage has become a political issue and, in the case of same sex marriages one which has all too often placed in the arena of mob rule of late.

What I find especially irritating about the matter at hand this go around ,is the silence on the bill from the Libertarian Party of Indiana. Apparently legislated discrimination is of less importance to the state party than a sales tax holiday, jury service exemptions or other bills currently before the legislature. So far there has been no comment from them. Oh, there has been some commentary from individual libertarians in the state, but no firm stance from the political party and that's unconscionable, given the nature of the bill.

One of the purposes of a political party is to address hot political issues and there are few which are hotter than this amendment. Add into that the fact that the gay and lesbian community are, for all intents and purposes a politically homeless constituency and this would seem to be a heaven sent opportunity for the LP in Indiana to come down on the right side. Saying that the state has no place in marriage is all well and good, but it does not put an end to the issue, nor does it excuse you from taking a stance and choosing a side. Ignoring a hot button issue for political expediency or to preserve some image is cowardice and the political arena should not be peopled with fair weather friends. That's an attitude which has already led us far along the path to ruin.

Political libertarians should be in the forefront of any battle which pits the state against individuals. Here we have a proposed law which would enshrine unequal treatment under the "rule of law" and the one political organisation which you might think would stand opposed to such an act is woefully silent. Libertarians miss too many opportunities, especially in the political arena where friends could be made. Politically minded libertarians often bemoan their lack of growth as a political party and look for new constituencies to reach out to. Well, here's your chance folks.

“He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.” -William James

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