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Bad Reasons for Laws: Find Out What’s in the Bill

24 Jan

Wrapping up our series is a reason given for just one bill. It is the most controversial bill in modern history and will be debated for years and years to come. It is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Back in 2010 the debate of “health care” reform as the hot political topic. Both the left and the right were battling it out to get public support for their version of reform.

At the time, the Democrats had the majority in both the House of Representatives, 255 to 179, and the Senate, 57 to 41 with 2 independents who caused with the Democrats. While not filibuster proof, all the Democrats needed was three Republicans to join their side to prevent one. The Senate passed their version of the reform bill on December 24, 2009. In March of 2010, shortly before the House was to vote on the Senate version of the bill, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House at the time, gave a  speech at the Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties[2]. During her speech she made the following statement:

Some argue this one statement was taken out of context. However, Pelosi is not the only one who scoffed at the idea of reading the bill before it was passed. Isn’t that right Mr. John Conyers?

It is easy, at this point, to draw the logical conclusion there were other members of Congress who did not read the bill before voting on it. Instead of being knowledgeable about the proposed legislation which affects all Americans, these people given authority willfully ignore doing their job and just vote as they are told by their party. This could not be any more wrong and insulting.

In the end, their choice cost many of them their elected offices in the 2010 elections as the Republicans took control of the House and gained seats in the Senate. To say it was a lesson learned though would be a stretch at best. While it is unlikely a politician will use the same or similar phrase again, the arrogance and attitude behind the responses seen will likely not change any time soon.

 

References –

  1. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Wikipedia
  2. Pelosi Remarks at the 2010 Legislative Conference for National Association of Counties

Bad Reasons for Laws: If It Saves One Life

23 Jan

Life happens all around us and sometimes it isn’t very good. News of someone losing their life is almost daily occurrence for most people. We all process this in our own ways. Politicians and pundits however take death and spin it to advance their ideology. After all we the people don’t want people to die, or at the worst die in vain do we? No we don’t and if the law they propose saves just one life then it’s worth it. Is it really?

One of the more recent local examples of this reasoning was when “conservative” Texas Governor Rick Perry tried to force women to take a vaccination for the  Human papillomavirus (HPV)[1]. Back in 2007, Governor Perry decided to by-step the Texas legislature and issue an executive order making it mandatory for girls starting int the sixth grade to get the HPV vaccine Gardasil, made by Merck & Co.

Perry’s reasoning was based on “if it saves one life”. Durring the 2012 US Presidential Republican Primary debate, Perry said the following:

“Did we do it right? Should we have talked to the legislature?” he asked. “Probably so, but at the end of the day, I will always err on the side of saving lives.”[3]

Fortunately the outcry of the public prompted the Texas legislature to create and pass a bill overridding his executive order. Perry did not veto the bill knowing his veto would be overturned by the legislature. While Perry might have had the best interest of the girls and women of Texas in mind, the execution of that interest was almost as poor as his reasoning.

If people used this type of reasoning to create legislation and laws in order to make the world a “safer” place then we would all live in some type of self contained “safe” bubble. People would survive but no one would thrive. Federal, state or other local legislation, laws or even dictatorial type executive orders should never, ever be created or enforced by either political party just to “save one life”. While the emotional outcry for one life lost in some tragic manner seems to demand an emotional response, wiser people know a knee-jerk creation of legislation, laws or executive orders doesn’t bring about real solutions. More often than not it creates more problems than it solves.

 

Resources

  1. Human papillomavirus – Wikipedia
  2. Texas Gov. Orders Anti-Cancer Vaccine – Washington Post
  3. Perry in first GOP debate: ‘I kind of feel like a piñata here at the party’ – KHOU

Bad Reasons for Laws: Have to do Something

22 Jan

For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Sir Isaac Newton was referring to physics when he created his three laws of motion [1]. However, the idea of his third law is seen in many different areas outside of the bounds of physics. Politicians have used this basic concept when they start saying, “we have to do something” to create new legislation in response to an event.

The action of the politicians clamoring to creating new legislation is in direct response to an action from an outside source. The greater the action, the louder the cry to do something. It is an emotional plea to a logical situation. The obvious and most recent example is hearing politicians reaction to the tragedy at Sandy Hook demanding more gun regulations.

There are other examples though of politicians using the “we have to do something” reasoning for creating and getting laws passed. At the same time America was learning about Sandy Hook it was also learning about the “fiscal cliff”[2]. This was the hyped up financial disaster looming over the country due to previous “have to do something” legislation. Ironic isn’t it? In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union, Republican Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma said the following:

“You have to do something, and doing something requires the cooperation of the Senate, which the Democrats run, and the signature of the president,”

And there it is, “have to do something”. But just by doing something lawmakers, politicians and pundits all fail to remember another law most people know all to well by experience. The “law” of unintended consequences[4], or when talked about in a humorous manner Murphy’s law. No matter who well intended some new piece of legislation my seem, there are always caveats which are not addressed and cause problems later down the road. There are a vast number of laws which are examples of this. One such law was actually an amendment to the United States Constitution, it was the 18th Amendment[5] which created the prohibition of alcohol in the United States.

While the idea behind prohibition was well intended by those of the temperance movement [6], the unintended consequences of creating and passing the 18th Amendment proved detrimental to the nation. The article in Wikipedia notes:

“The police, courts and prisons were overwhelmed with new cases; organized crime increased in power, and corruption extended among law enforcement officials.”

In fact the results of the amendment were so bad it was repealed by the 21st Amendment. It was the only time in US history a Constitutional amendment was repealed. While the thought of some people was “having to do something”, the result in that course of action usually result in having to do something again later to fix the emotionally charged legislation. There is a reason the framers made the process of passing laws a time consuming process instead of streamlined one. Calmer and more rational heads will hopefully prevail against the emotionally charged feelings of “having to do something”.

 

References:

  1. Newton’s Laws of Motion – Wikipedia
  2. United States fiscal cliff – Wikipedia
  3. Obama, Boehner try to talk their way down from fiscal cliff – CNN
  4. Unintended Consequences – Wikipedia
  5. Eighteenth Amendment – Wikipedia
  6. Temperance Movement – Wikipedia

Bad Reasons for Laws: Think of the Children

21 Jan

Starting off this series on bad reasons for laws is one most of  us have heard plenty of lately: think of the children! The idea of course is to strike at many people’s inherit desire to protect innocent children. Most people want no harm to come to their children or any others. Children possess the hopeful potential to make this world better than it is and we try to protect and nurture that hope. However, there is a fine line between showing a child as an example for a law and exploiting them for it.

With the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary politicians and pundits began their crusade for or against new laws by pulling on the emotions of Americans. Those against gun rights and those against gun control both have used children to pull people toward their side. However, the most egregious displays has to be when President Obama had children surround him when signing, not a law, but toothless executive orders for more government intrusion on gun ownership.

Children exploited by President Obama for more government gun restrictions.

Agree or not with more restrictive gun laws or rules, using children in this manner is down right deplorable. Later the White House released the videos of these same children reading letters to the President on the issue. I honestly don’t know which is worse.

On the other side the NRA used the President’s children in a video about the President’s hypocrisy for more gun rights restrictions by the federal government. While not quite as bad as President Obama’s use of children, the NRA could have make their point without using directly using the President’s children in their video.

Both sides think trotting out children is a useful strategy in swaying public opinion. Even on more local issues, like seat belt laws. Who would ever be against requiring children to be safe on today’s roads with all the horrible drivers? Apparently in Texas even those who say they are conservative like to use kids. Case in point, Texas State Senator Dan Patrick. While Dan has been conservative in the past before becoming a State Senator, his credentials have become tarnished more and more. In 2010 Dan backed a new law which added three years and over a foot and a half to the requirements for mandatory booster seats for children.

Senator Patrick told on air how lobbyists spoke with him about the “need” to increase the height and age requirements and he backed it “for the children”. This was disturbing to hear coming from someone who champions less government in our lives as their campaign platform.

So the next time anyone comes out and uses the reason, no the excuse for creating or voting for a new law is they were trying to “think of the children” do some research. Odds are it was very likely a bad piece of legislation if they have to resort to stooping that low.

So What the Polls are Saying is…

18 Jan

Looking at the Real Clear Politics (RCP) pages for “President Obama Job Approval” [1] and “Direction of Country” [2] the results presented are interestingly confusing. The RCP polls take all the polls for a particular topic, gather their results and compile them into a singular result. It’s one way to get an idea of how those polled across various different means are responding.

The compiled RCP poll results for “President Obama Job Approval” shows President Obama sitting at an approval rating of 52% as of this article. While it went back and forth through out 2012, it started trending upward days before the election and has continued to do through today. If this is one statistic is viewed by itself one might draw the conclusion the majority of people are please with the direction President Obama is leading the country. People wouldn’t approve of a someone leading them in the wrong direction, would they?

Real Clear Politics fortunately has compiled the poll results for “Direction of Country” and it’s not good news for the President at all. According to the RCP poll results around 57% of those polled feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. However, this trend isn’t new. In fact, this has been the case for almost three years. Only in 2009, between April 20th thru June 13th, did the poll trend downward. After June 13th people began to show their dissatisfaction in the direction of the country.

Are these two polls telling us we approve of President Obama leading the country down the wrong direction? Maybe, maybe not. If not then exactly what are the polls telling us then? Quite honestly, not a whole lot. Which is why polls are dismissed by so many people today. The numbers can be spun in an infinite number of ways by both sides to sell their ideology to the masses. To paraphrase the saying by Ben Franklin, there’s lies, damn lies and statistics. We shouldn’t trust any of the three.

In fairness, Congress has maintained a worse rating than the President over the same time-frame. In fact, the RCP “Congressional Job Approval” [3] compiled poll average for the United States House of Representatives and Senate is embarrassing at just over 80%. In other words, while almost 5 out of 10 people disapprove of the job President Obama is doing, 8 out of 10 disapprove of the job the 435 members of Congress is doing.

In the end, we only have ourselves to blame because it is “we the people” who keep sending people we so drastically disapprove of back to do the same job but expect different results. It makes “we the people” fit the definition of insane quite well. Now there’s something to think about.

References:

  1. President Obama Job Approval – Real Clear Politics
  2. Direction of Country – Real Clear Politics
  3. Congressional Job Approval – Real Clear Politics

New Series Next Week: Bad Reasons for Making Laws

17 Jan

The past few years the United States has seen some bad bills become laws for good reasons, we’re told. The excuses given for these laws passed vary and the reaction ranges from “yeah, I get it” to “are you kidding me”. Rhetoric on flows from those who support the bill trying to convince people it was a good idea and not to fire them come election time. Starting next week Clearly Wrong will look at some of the best of the worst reasons for making and passing laws given by politicians on both sides and pundits and the laws they are referencing. We hope everyone will enjoy the upcoming series.

 

Killing Fields: Planned Parenthood 2011-2012 Annual Report

9 Jan

Social issues tend to be some of the most decisive issues discussed among people. It seems there is an infinite number of opinions regarding them. Chief among those issues today is the topic of abortion. The topic of ending the life of a human being almost always gets emotions charged on both sides of the debate. And no organization is in the spotlight on the issue more than Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood recently released its annual report for 2011-2012. In it are numerous areas where those who are against abortion in some form or fashion, could be critical of the organization. From the perceived gloating regarding “winning” against the Komen Foundation to its support of the Affordable Care Act (ie Obamacare), the report is ripe to be picked apart.

It should come as no surprise to the feelings of those who oppose abortion are going run the range from somewhat upset to furious regarding the numbers on abortion in the report. According to the report, 333,964 abortions were performed by the organization in 2011. Many outlets are doing some math and have figured out this number breaks down to one life ended every 94 seconds.

What isn’t getting much focus, if any, is the staggering number of abortions compared to the miniscule number of adoption referrals. The report cites only 2300 adoption referrals occurred for the whole year. Doing the math and breaking it down to the same time frame as the abortions, it works out to 0.0000739 a second. Not even remotely close to one a second.

According to the report, abortion services accounts for only 3% of the services utilized at Planned Parenthood. Other services, which adoption falls under along with three other services, received only 1% usage. For every one adoption referral there are 145 abortions. Why the glaring difference? In a word, money. Planned Parenthood stands to make more of a profit from an abortion procedure than an adoption referral.

In the end, the organization is ending the lives of the unborn in the name of the all mighty dollar. Gives a new meaning to the phrase “evil rich” doesn’t it?

 

Source –
Planned Parenthood Annual Report – issuu