Wednesday, March 24, 2004

How Commie are You?

With all the Libertarian Purity Test action in the blogosphere, I thought that someone should give you a chance to figure out how Commie you are. Here's an easy self-scoring test straight from the Communist Manifesto. There are 10 statements. Count how many you agree with. If you agree with 1 you're 10% Commie if you agree with all 10 you're ready to teach at Berkeley. [Note: Cal Berkeley's History Page doesn't inform the readers who the University and City were named after. I wonder why?]

Here goes:

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.

4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state; the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

8. Equal obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Girls, Gays, and the Godless

The Boy Scouts have been permitted to discriminate against the 3 G's in their membership requirements but some think that they should not exercise this discretion.

So Eugene Volokh and Mark Kleinman both have blog posts on the topic of Should the Boy Scouts discriminate against the godless. (See here and here.)

The basic argument is that the Scouts have a constitutional right to discriminate against atheists but shouldn't because religious discrimination is bad. As Prof. Volokh put it: "If the Scouts excluded Catholics -- everyone else, Jewish, Protestant, or what have you is fine, but not Catholics -- we'd rightly condemn them..." And Mr. Kleinman made the same argument at greater length.

There are several possible responses to this argument including such throw away lines as "Harvard discriminates against Catholics without being denounced for it; so the practice is not universally condemned." (The % of Catholics at Harvard is much lower than the general pop.) But that would be too easy.

The real argument being made is that discrimination (of some types) is "bad" and that argument should be addressed directly.

The truth is that "discrimination" is normal behavior for primates like us. Primates normally form "troops" (Scout Troops?) and violently exclude non-troop members that they encounter.

Now my misspent youth consisted of being excluded from various "affinity groups" because I was a Haole, fat, unathletic, and uncool. I suffered because of my exclusion. I never considered wheeling on into federal court to sue the asses my fellow students who were discriminating against me. Luckily for them, I support the right to discriminate. When I picked my wife, I discriminated on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, political philosophy, education, and intelligence as well as other factors I can't even specify.

But we don't even have to go that far in this case. There is a good reason for an organization like the Boy Scouts to discriminate against the three G's (girls, gays, and the godless). [They allow gay male scouts but not leaders.] The American Boy Scouts have tried to remain slightly closer to the founding principles of the Scouting movement than the rest of the politically correct bunch have. There's nothing wrong with a little institutional differentiation:

On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country and obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Proud, Commie, and Port Huron

Port Huron Statement - Students for a Democratic Society
Apparently, the Revolution will be Copyrighted.

This text, made available by the Sixties Project, is copyright (c) 1993 by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. This text may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. This text may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.

So the founding document of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is copyrighted? Presumably just this representation.

But the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) did it first in 1960 and it's not copyrighted.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Lawful Uses of Publishing SS Numbers

Professor Volokh suggests on Page 114 of the draft of his law review article on the
topic of Crime Facilitating Speech that publishing SS numbers might be banned because such publication has virtually no lawful value:

Some public speech conveys information that’s usable only, or nearly only, for
criminal purposes (see Part IV.A.2.b). There are only a few sorts of such information:
The best examples are people’s social security numbers and computer system
passwords. This information is not materially relevant to any political or scientific
debates, or to people’s making decisions about their daily lives; it even lacks value as

I can suggest a few:

Lawful Uses of Publishing SS Numbers.

We know that there are lawful uses of publishing Social Security Numbers
(SSN's) because the Federal Government and other institutions used to do
it regularly.

*  SSN's were published on the mailing label of all blank tax returns
mailed to taxpayers from the start of computer generated mailing labels
at the IRS until a few years ago.

*  SSN's (in the form of Military ID numbers) were published in the
Congressional Record for many years as a part of lists of military
officers (who have to be commissioned by Congressional action).

*  SSN's were published by the SEC in the 10K filings (and many other
filings) of corporations on listings of corporate officers and major
shareholders of those corporations.

*  SSN's were routinely published in court filings, DMV records and
other public records.

*  SSN's were routinely published by educational institutions on public
lists of grades or class members (back when such lists were published).

*  The Social Security Administration publishes the SSN's of the dead --
see for example my father's.

In all of these cases the SSN was used as a unique identifier (which is
a valuable use).

It is technically incorrect to compare an SSN to a password.  An SSN is
an Account Name or Username -- not a password.  It is like the "volokh"
in not like the password one uses.

We note that account numbers or usernames are frequently published to
others.  Thus my bank account number is on all my checks and my many
usernames are on all my e-mails.  I have on my desk a book full of a
particular kind of "account number" of members of the general public
published by Verizon.

Knowing someone's unique identifier or account number does not give one
access to their account.  A further security failure is necessary.

Note that most of the SSN publishing on the Net was done as a form of
political protest (which may be of value).  The publishers were
protesting the misuse of an account number as a "password" and the
oppression of people numbering and the security failures of the design
of the financial and credit systems which made identity theft easy.

Possible Terror Attack Risk

Doesn't this article -- Spousal Benefits for Gays at U.N. Challenged -- suggest another reason we might have to eliminate gay marriage and partner benefits?

A U.N. bulletin outlining Annan's new policy says: "A marriage recognized as valid under the law of the country of nationality of a staff member will qualify that staff member to receive the entitlements provided for eligible family members." It also asserts that "a legally recognized domestic partnership" will qualify U.N. staffers for similar benefits.

The United Nations has recognized polygamy, a common practice in the Islamic world, as a legitimate form of marriage and permits employees to divide their benefits among more than one wife. But the decision to expand that right to same-sex partners has fueled intense opposition.

Iran's representative, Alireza Tootoonchian, speaking on behalf of the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said there was "no justifiable basis" for awarding benefits to same-sex couples. He demanded that the United Nations clarify its position in writing and suggested that a compromise be hammered out among the 191 members of the U.N. General Assembly. The OIC is "seriously concerned about extending the scope of the family definition for the purposes of entitlements," he said.

Wouldn't such actions upset Al Quida? I mean, if we're supposed to surrender to these people, to find out what upsets them, and to change our policies to conform to their desires then I guess we'll just have to give up this whole gay marriage thing. We wouldn't want to upset them would we?

$270/hour worth of luxury

The hospital was run down. The city was a working-class city in the Northeast. The patient was there for 6 days. He paid one visit to Radiology. He was not receiving IV fluids. He had a few blood tests. He was given Tylenol and iron pills. The stay was over a holiday weekend and he saw few doctors. The power failed on the floor for 2 hours. He acted as his own Case Manager to remind the nurses to take blood, tell a doctor that a biopsy had been cancelled, and get the specialists together to agree to OK his release. The bill totaled $270/hour.