The Wonder Wander

06/05/2017

Come on, Weekend Edition!!

Filed under: Government,News Commentary,NPR,Politics — Tom Malley @ 4:05 pm

I listen to NPR. There it is, out in the open. I admit it freely, with no apologies. I know their bias, so it is a source that is outside my echo chamber. It’s a good thing. I also appreciate that I don’t have to listen to manufactured outrage.

However, on last Saturday’s show, host Scott Simon interviewed Senator Dick Durbin about the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. About one minute into the interview, Mr. Simon asked the Senator, “Should President Obama have submitted the Paris deal to the Senate for ratification…”
Senator Durbin replied that the agreement had no chance for approval in the Senate.

Mr. Simon accepted this non-answer and continued the interview.
First, Mr. Simon, you should have had the Senator answer the question you asked. I have heard you interview conservatives before (kudos for that), and you don’t let them float just any answer to your questions. Why not pursue a direct answer from Senator Durbin.

But more telling is the Senator’s response. Knowing that the agreement had no chance for approval in the Senate, the Obama administration deliberately avoided seeking approval by the duly elected representatives of the people. This was typical of President Obama’s administration, and explains a lot of why people want to undo his “accomplishments.”

Mr. Simon, I hope you do better next time. I will be listening

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11/24/2016

On Leonard Pitts and Donald Trump

Filed under: Government,News Commentary,Politics — Tom Malley @ 5:08 pm

I’m not a fan of Leonard Pitts, who writes for the Miami Herald.  I do, however, read his articles.  I suppose it’s inevitable that if I read enough of his writing, I would eventually find something to agree with.  This is it: A conversation with God about the election — and Trump. I think anyone except rabid Trump partisans could read this article without popping a blood vessel.

In Mr. Pitts imagined conversation, he says to God, “So you’re saying the fight to form a more perfect union is always ongoing?”

This points out something that is often overlooked. The Constitution has never been perfect. The framers knew that. We all know that. It will never be perfect. But we can continue to make our union more perfect.

The right and left disagree very much on many things. But we will never make progress if we continue to call each other “evil” or “idiots” or “buttercups”. We need to come out of our bubbles and engage. Listen to what the other side has to say. Evaluate it objectively without dismissing it out of hand. Try to understand the other point of view. You can do that without agreeing with it.

Like Mr. Pitts said, the fight to form a more perfect union is ongoing. It’s worth it.

06/18/2016

A Fundamental View on Homosexuality

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Tom Malley @ 4:31 pm

How should a Christian respond to homosexuality in today’s world?  If you believe in following what the Bible says, then I think this is the plan:

God’s original plan for human sexuality first appears in Genesis 2:24.  It establishes a relationship between and man and his wife: one man and one woman.  This is what God established as best for the man, the woman, and society.  Of course, people have deviated from this plan in many ways.

Romans 1:22-32 talks about people not following God’s plan.  Homosexuality is mentioned in this passage, although the word “homosexuality” is not used.  Verse 27 cites “men committing shameless acts with men.”  However, this passage is not about homosexuality, it is about all the ways people depart from God’s plan (disobedient to parents, for example).

The book of 1 Corinthians tells how Christians should respond.  In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, the apostle Paul says (my paraphrase):

When I told you not to associate with sexually immoral people or those who are greedy or swindlers, I wasn’t talking about people in the world.  I was talking about people who claim to follow Christ.  We have no business judging those outside the church.  But don’t associate with people who claim to follow Christ and are sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers, or drunkards.

The next chapter (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) reinforces this teaching, and includes homosexuality among the list of unrighteous practices.  Another list of unrighteous acts appears in Galatians 6:19-21.  This list does not mention homosexuality explicitly, but does include sexual immorality, fits of anger, jealousy, drunkenness, and more.  Both of these passages are aimed at how Christians should live, not at people outside of the Church.

Finally, Hebrews 13:4 says that the marriage bed should be undefiled, for God judges the sexually immoral and adulterous.  This reinforces God’s original plan of sexual relationship as lifetime commitment between one man and one woman.

So here are the points that I want to make:

  1. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies any form of hostility or acting out toward homosexuals who are unbelievers.  In fact, however you choose to treat homosexuals, you should feel obligated to act the same way to people who have any sexual relations outside of marriage, who gossip, who disobey their parents, etc.  If you are hostile and demonstrate against all these people you will be a very disagreeable person and will not at all reflect Christ’s love for people.
  2. A homosexual lifestyle, along with all other forms of sexual immorality, is incompatible with being a follower of Christ.  So is a lifestyle of greed, anger, drunkenness, etc.
  3. While Christians may accept (tolerate) homosexuality in society, even civil marriage among homosexuals, they should not be expected to approve of it, to agree that it is a normal alternative life style, or to participate in ceremonies or events that celebrate the gay lifestyle.
  4. Likewise, Christians should vote according to what they believe is best for society.  Since God established marriage between a man and a woman as the best plan for sexual relationships, Christians should not feel reluctant to vote that way.

06/17/2016

The Solution Has to Fit the Problem

Filed under: Government,Politics — Tom Malley @ 5:53 pm

Many industries invest a lot of time investigating problems to make sure their response to those problems will be effective.  In industries such as nuclear power, aviation, and medicine, the consequences of significant problems can be fatal. It is imperative that problems are corrected before they grow into catastrophes.

Problem solving must focus on finding effective solutions. There is no room for posturing in order to look good.  This tendency to adopt a strong posture and propose spurious solutions is found in business as well as in politics.  It is disastrous.

Proposing solutions and putting them in place because “something” must be done is counterproductive. Ineffective problem responses are inefficient and annoying. They don’t fix the problem, and they erode confidence in the system.

So how can we find effective solutions? One article that I read many years ago helped me develop a better approach to problem solving.  I found it on someone’s desk.  It was a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. Some of it could not be read.  I looked for the source, but could not find it. I could not find the author, nor the person mentioned in the article. Still, it helped me focus on what types of solutions are most effective for various types of problems.

The article is reproduced below, as much as I could make out of it.  If you recognize the source of the article, the author, or the person he mentions, please let me know. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

COMPLIANCE by ?? Brobst

Everyone seems to be doing studies these days.  They are studying what they are doing, what somebody is doing, or what nobody is doing.  Being closely allied to safety regulatory programs, I have followed for many years a large number of studies on regulatory effectiveness.  Will Jennings has defined a regulation as “a governmental solution to a problem.”  It’s then logical for people to try to see how effective the problem solution really is.

If a regulation is a solution to a problem, then there is no need for a regulation until a problem has been identified.  Once the problem is identified, it must then be clearly defined, or there can be no national regulation.  As soon as he issues a regulation which sets a legal standard of performance, the regulator must turn his attention to getting compliance with the regulation.  Issuance of a regulation does not, in itself, raise the level of performance by persons who are regulated.  It only sets a legal requirement which, if complied with, raises the level of performance.  It is compliance with the regulation which produces the desired result.

Many regulatory studies have identified compliance–or lack of compliance–as one of the very most critical of all regulatory problems.  To the extent that regulations are not followed, they are useless in raising the level of performance.  Regulations which are not followed are useful only for prosecution.  But what we are after is a higher level of com­pliance, not punishment for noncompliance.

Some regulators believe that the best solution to the problem of non­compliance is to issue more voluminous and comprehensive regulations.  Some of these regulators are driven by a conscientious belief that the lack of compliance comes because the regulation is inadequate.  That is often so but that indicates a need for better regulations, not more regulations.  Some regulators are driven by their enforcement officials or legal counsel who want regulations which are easier to enforce or which will allow a firmer basis for prosecution.  Again. this is a valid reason for better regulations, rather than more regulations.

But the key to public safety is compliance.  Without compliance, the regulation-writing efforts are wasted. How do we improve the compliance?

Investigations of accidents in the hazardous material transportation field have clearly shown that the major cause of accidents–leaks, property damage, deaths, injuries–is a failure by one or more people to comply with a regulation.  Who are these people, and why do they fail to com­ply?  What can we do about it?

It has been my experience that violators fall into four categories:

  1. Those who knowingly and criminally violate the regulations (“Crooks”).
  2. Those who liberally interpret the regulations for their own convenience (“Smarties”).
  3. Those who don’t know or understand the regulations (“Ignorants”).
  4. Those who don’t care about the regulations, or who can’t be bothered by them (“Lackadaisicals”).

Most of the compliance programs I have seen attempt to missing text of violators.  This approach usually hinges around an educational program.  This is very useful for the Ignorants, such as new employees, or as refresher training, or for others who don’t know or understand the regulations.  An aggressive training program will bring about a higher level of compliance by the Ignorants, on the assumption that informed people will act responsibly.  Our social structure is built on voluntary compliance with the law, but one cannot comply with the law if he doesn’t know about the law.  Jennings says that education is then the bridge between issuance of a regulation and compliance with it.

But what about the Crooks?  Or the Smarties? Or Lackadaisicals?  They already know what the regulations require, or at least have been exposed to them.  That Crook who violates the regulations for reasons of profit or competitive advantage is not likely to be much influenced by an education program designed to inform him what the requirements are.  He already knows.  What he will be influenced by is an enforcement and prosecution program that will make it unprofitable to violate the rules.  There are those who will willingly accept a $1,000 noncompliance fine if, by doing so, they can make a $5,000 profit.  But if the fine is $10,000, then the Crook will be more likely to comply.  This implies that if an agency wants to go after the Crooks, it needs an effective enforcement program.  Fortunately, this field of enforcement is one that lends itself to cooperative agreements by Federal and State Governments, whereby State attorneys and courts can enforce the Federal regulations.  On the other hand, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that legal enforcement is the best way to get compliance with the regulations.  The regulating agency should adopt the needed public safety regulations, without regard for that agency’s ability to enforce them.  Then the agency should seek compliance with the regulations through a variety of means, of which enforcement is one, education is another, and surveillance is a third.

The backbone of any compliance program is inspection or surveillance. Inspectors should monitor the regulated activities to find out whether the regulations are being followed. Where the regulations are not being followed, this inspection program then leads to an enforcement action, either to punish the wrongdoers, or to improve compliance, or (hopefully) both.  A good inspection program has another role, however, one that is just as important as sabre-rattling or even head-knocking.  A good inspection program can find out whether the regulations are adequate, whether the education program is adequate, and which problem areas need priority application of agency resources.

Well, there are still two groups of violators remaining.  We have discussed the Ignorants and the Crooks.  How about the Lackadaisicals?  A good compliance program– education, surveillance, and enforcement–will do about as much as can be done for these people, particularly if the compliance program is aimed at their bosses. Their “don’t care” attitude is often a reflection of their management’s attitude, so the compliance program needs to be aimed at the bosses as well as the workers.

How about the Smarties?  They’re also called “Sea Lawyers” and “Nit-Pickers.”  They are experts in finding every possible loophole in the regulations.  They make very liberal interpretations of the rules to suit their own convenience, and are convinced that they can hoodwink an inspector or a jury with their logic.  I fear that this group, fortunately small in size, is essentially unapproachable   missing text clearer regulations for them (not more regulations, just clearer).

So, the three elements of a compliance program are education, inspection (or surveillance), and enforcement.  Teach people the right way to do things, watch them to make sure they do them, and slap their wrists if they persist in doing something else.  And be fair about carrying out the compliance program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

01/28/2016

White House Press Release on FBI Investigation of Hillary Clinton

Filed under: Politics — Tom Malley @ 11:41 am

As the FBI investigation of HRC’s bootleg email system progresses, you can bet that White House Press Secretary Josh “Notzo” Earnest is drafting a press statement for the President to read when the investigation is forwarded to the Justice Department. While we have no way of knowing what will be in the final version, we can guess what some of the draft talking points look like at this stage:

With regard to the news that the FBI is forwarding the results of their investigation on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Justice Department

  • I do not have all the facts of this matter since I just read about it in the newspaper this morning, just as you all did
  • I am shocked, just as you are, by the severity of these allegations
  • I am mad as hell that the FBI would release this report prior to the presidential election
  • As usual, the Justice Department will exercise due diligence in evaluating this report and bringing any charges that are warranted in this matter
  • White House staff will cooperate fully with the Justice Department to slow walk any further investigation and quash this report

01/09/2014

Religious Fundamentalists

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Tom Malley @ 2:12 pm
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I have a simple view of religious fundamentalism and fundamentalists.

Every religion has writings that form the basis for that religion. If you adhere to the tenets of those writings, then you are a fundamentalist. If you choose not to follow some of these basic tenets, then you are not a fundamentalist.

If the writings of a religion say that followers should live at peace with those around them, then a fundamentalist will try to live at peace. If the writings of a religion say that unbelievers should be executed, then a fundamentalist is obligated to either convert or execute people.

Unfortunately, the term Christian Fundamentalist is often used in the same way as the term Muslim Fundamentalist.

06/05/2011

N.Y. Schools Can Ban Church Worship Services, Court Rules, Christian News

Filed under: Government,Politics,Religion — Tom Malley @ 12:47 pm

N.Y. Schools Can Ban Church Worship Services, Court Rules, Christian News.

In short, the court said banning an event that includes protected speech is not the same thing as banning protected speech.  Therefore, the school board can refuse to rent space that will be used for worship services.  One of the justifications for this rationale is that people who see worship services being held in a public school building will be led to think that the public school is supporting the event, and therefore the government is promoting religion.

Very well.  I don’t agree that people will draw this conclusion.  But if that’s the way the schools and courts want to play this, then the schools had better not rent their facilities out for any event unless the school is supporting it.

04/30/2011

Health Care Rationing

Filed under: Government,Politics — Tom Malley @ 12:28 pm
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While we debate health care and talk about rationing, just remember that there has always been health care rationing. When cost is a factor in deciding whether or not to undergo medical treatment you have rationing, and the person paying the bill is the rationer.

For example, consider a time when health insurance was not as common as it is today. In those days some terminally ill patients elected to forgo treatment rather than bankrupt their families. This was especially true when the treatment was expensive and could only hope to prolong life for a short time.

When health insurance became more available, people became more willing to undergo expensive treatment, even if it only provided a few extra months of life. Why not, if the insurance company is paying for it?  However, sometimes the insurance company elects not to pay for it. Now we have corporate rationing instead of self-rationing.

If the government takes over the role of health insurance or even becomes a player in reducing expenditures on health care, then we will move from corporate rationing to government rationing. The more involved the government is with controlling medical expenditures, the more government will be involved in rationing.

That’s just the way it is. That’s the way it has always been.

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