Sunday, September 18, 2011

readers recommend

While we were away on our travels, some loyal followers sent the following: (If you need the cites for the articles, ask me.)

IRISH MIKE sent a link to an article in Rolling Stone which discusses the effort by the Republican Party to reduce the number of votes cast by their opponents.

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.

SPARTY sent on a reference to a recent New Yorker article that suggests that many Americans have become deliberately perverse, preferring to suffer inconvenience and even harm to themselves rather than see other people be happy.

I was struck by this passage commenting on a new book by Thomas Freidman and Michael Mandelbaum in which the authors wring their hands when comparing U.S. public services with those in China and Europe:

The reason we don't have beautiful new airports and efficient bullet trains is not that we have inadvertently stumbled upon stumbling blocks; it's that there are considerable number of Americans for whom these things are simply symbols of a feared central government, and who would, when they travel, rather sweat in squalor than surrender the money to build a better terminal. They hate fast trains and efficient airports for the same reason that seventeenth-century Protestants hated the beautiful Baroque churches of Rome when they saw them: they were luxurious symbols of an earthly power they despised....Americans are perfectly willing to sacrifice their comforts for their ideological convictions. We don't have a better infrastructure or decent elementary education exactly because many people are willing to sacrifice faster movement between our great cities, or better informed children, in support of their belief that the government should always be given as little money as possible....

.....the crucial point is that this is the result of active choice, not passive indifference: people who don't want high-speed rail are not just indifferent to fast trains. they are offended by fast trains, as the New York Post is offended by bike lanes and open-air plazas: these things give too much pleasure to those they hate. They would rather have exhaust and noise and traffic jams, if such things sufficiently annoy liberals. Annoying liberals is a pleasure well worth paying for....

In the long story of civilization, the moments when improving your lot beats out annoying your neighbor are vanishingly rare.


Irish Mike said...

In Texas a gun registration is considered a valid voter ID, but a student ID is not.

Bud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bud said...

I'm beginning to suspect that I'm not living in the same country I did when I graduated from college.