A Description of the Political Divide

I broach this topic with trepidation. This is not a political blog, and I intend to keep it that way. Political posts tend to reduce readership, and that’s certainly not my goal.

That said, I just read a description of the political divide that I find quite thoughtful. I believe it is a neutral expression, and I hope others take it that way. The description is from a political article, and I link to the article not to endorse its political views, but merely to show my source:

Progressives tend to believe that government — if made to have sufficient size, scope, and proper management over the affairs of man — will fix or at least seriously mitigate the problem of evil in the world. Conservatives tend to believe that human nature is flawed and inclined toward bad things. Conservatives believe that government, being made up of humans, will also be inclined toward bad things, and therefore it must be restrained and not given a dangerous amount of power. They tend to see greater success for fixing problems in society with voluntary associations and institutions, such as families and community and organizations. Progressives tend to believe that man can be perfected, and perfected through government action.

I have often had similar thoughts, which is no doubt why I latched onto this. But I would be interested in hearing others’ (thoughtful) views. Does this seem a fair description of the divide you see? If not, how would you recast it to make it more accurate?

The political divide is a big problem in our society, and if we all understood it better, we would be better able to deal with it. Name calling and ascribing bad motives to the other side isn’t going to help.



Where Does “Yes Means Yes” Lead?

It should not need to be stated, but in the current political climate, it does: Rape is a heinous crime, and rapists should be severely punished. Generally speaking, the criminal law does that, but it does it with the traditional protections of due process. Due process is too much trouble and takes to long to satisfy proponents of “yes means yes.” So, among other things, they wish to shift the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused. Coupled with the he-said, she-said nature of these encounters, an accused person has little chance of acquittal.

[A]s Mark J. Werksman of the Law Firm of Mark J. Werksman and Associates points out, this new standard puts the burden of proof on the accused. When [California politician] Bonnie Lowenthal was asked how an innocent person could prove consent under the new standards (short of having a written contract with notarization), her reply to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune was, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

Your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine is a chilling prospect to people who may be falsely accused of rape.  See also this.

This issue has been percolating through the web for some time and even led to this amusing video:

Maybe a few people chuckled, but yes-means-yes proponents were not deterred.  Recently on the web, we saw a proposed form of contract to evidence consent:

Sexual Consent--online

Though no doubt intended to show the new standard is a joke, I find the proposed contract inadequate to the task and offer an example that is closer to dealing with the issues raised by “yes means yes:”

Sexual Activity Consent Contract

The link is to a PDF.  I encourage readers to pull it up, read it, weep, and contemplate the absurdity.  And yet “yes means yes” raises all the issues addressed in the contract as well as many more I no doubt overlooked. Upon reflection, however, I realize that one of the shortcomings of the form is that it presupposes only two people are involved. I guess I’m old.


For those with no sense of humor, this post does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a solicitation of clients.  I have no interest in drafting such contracts in real life, I have no access to a breathalyzer, and I have no handy list of voyeurs to stand by to testify about alleged revocations of consent. The point of this post is to point out the absurdity of “yes means yes.”

Remember that rape is not the only serious crime.  Murder is usually regarded as quite serious, yet we still afford due process to accused murderers. The need to point that out shows how skewed things have become.

Update July 17, 2015:

When I wrote the above post and linked contract, I was not aware of this site.  Good grief. I do see that it covers something I certainly should not have overlooked: VD.

A Small Glimmer of Light for Hair Braiders

Much occupational regulation is anti-competitive in effect and intent.  Though rules are cloaked in pious claims of protecting the public, their real aim is to protect established market participants.  Hair braiding is a classic example.  Hair braiders do not do what cosmetologists do, but many states have required cosmetology licenses for hair braiders.

One victim of such rules is Isis Brantley of Dallas, Texas.  She was arrested in 1997 for braiding hair without a cosmetology license, but she got the law changed in 2007.  Even with that change, however, she was barred from opening a school to teach hair braiding.  Finally, a U.S. District Court has set aside the rules barring the school.

It’s disgraceful that the government stands in the way of entrepreneurs such as Ms. Brantley, and I wish her and her school well.

A Necessary Law Applied to Stifle Innovation

Government regulation is often necessary, and it often offers significant benefits.  But those benefits cannot be measured standing alone.  They also come with a cost.  One of those costs is potentially stifling innovation.

An example of the risk materialized is the copyright litigation surrounding a company called “Aereo,” which streams broadcast television signals over the internet.  Last June, the Supreme Court said that Aereo’s business was enough like that of a cable company that it violated the broadcasters’ copyrights in the broadcast material.  But cable companies get to retransmit broadcast signals by paying a statutorily-prescribed fee to the broadcasters.  Aereo said, OK, if we’re like a cable company, then we, too, get to pay the fee and retransmit the signals.  Makes sense, right?

No, says the federal district court for the Southern District of New York.  According to that court, Aereo is effectively a cable company for the purpose of having to pay for the signals it retransmits, but it is not a cable company for the purpose of being able to take advantage if the statutorily-prescribed retransmission fee.  I have no opinion on whether the New York decision is correct legally.  I am unfamiliar with the law and concede the court may have been compelled to reach that result.  But if it is the law, Congress needs to fix it pronto.

The result is terrible public policy because it favors entrenched interests over those of market innovators.  That’s a downside of regulation from the perspective of the public.  It is a significant feature of regulation from the perspective of entrenched interests.  This is the world we live in.

Cristina Fernandez Accuses US of Plotting Assassination

Really.  I hate to break the news to her, but neither Argentina in general nor she in particular is high enough on the US’s radar for officials to do that even if they were generally inclined to plot such things.  Which I don’t believe they are.

[Fernandez’s] mental wellbeing was previously questioned by Hillary Clinton in 2010. “Is she taking medication?”, Clinton asked in a diplomatic cable leaked to the press while she was US secretary of state. “How does stress affect her behaviour toward advisers and/or her decision-making?” the memo added.