Civil Forfeiture vs. Truth and Justice

Civil asset forfeiture strikes at the heart of property rights. Authorities simply seize private property without all the messiness of convicting someone of a crime. It’s blatantly unconstitutional and it shouldn’t happen, but it does. What’s worse, many state governments offer little to no information to the public about what they’re doing with those ill-gotten gains. A new report and video from the Institute for Justice illustrates the case of Georgia quite well. The video was produced by IJ’s multitalented Isaac Reese.

Five Rules for Going to War

The Weinberger-Powell Doctrine offers Congress and the President five key hurdles before military force should be employed. Chris Preble, in this new video, runs through the reasons why President Obama’s Libya incursion fails the Weinberger-Powell test.

Unions and Kentucky

The Lexington Herald-Leader (days after legislators in Wisconsin passed that controversial legislation) has an interesting piece on the toll unions take on the professionalism of teachers, the paychecks of teachers and the resentment the public in Kentucky might someday feel toward teachers. The authors, Gary Beckner and Paula Jackson-Eaglin, represent the Association of American Educators:

The proposed legislation by the Wisconsin governor reduces the superpower status of the teachers unions by ending forced unionism — the practice in which one is required to pay the union as a condition of employment.

On the contrary, what could be more democratic than allowing teachers to make the choice for themselves whether the union meets their needs?

In no way does the legislation eliminate the union; rather, it reins in its ability to forcibly collect dues from teachers. The practice of allowing teachers to think for themselves effectively cuts off millions to union political action accounts.

With its monopoly being threatened, the union is pulling out all the stops to disable this legislation, regardless of the effect on the professionalism of teachers, children in the classroom, or taxpaying citizens.

The unions have enabled AWOL legislators in Wisconsin with their rhetoric, fueled never-ending protests, trashed state capitols, and left their posts in the classroom for days — all in an effort to halt this legislation. Their leaders are clearly more concerned with strikes and sick-outs than the students of Wisconsin.

For years, local educators have joined teachers unions in thinking their money was going to advance their profession. Unfortunately, the National Education Association (NEA) and their local counterpart, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), have grown into behemoth special-interest groups that clearly do not use their member dues exclusively for the advancement of the teaching profession.

Luckily for Kentucky teachers, they can and should make informed choices on where to spend their hard-earned dollars. Many local union teachers believe that because they aren’t forced to pay union dues, this behavior does not affect their membership in the KEA.

I have no problem with collective bargaining for workers in general. People have a constitutional right to organize. It’s right there in the First Amendment. My problem with unions is that, at least in the public sector, people who pay for the government services do not have the ability to opt out of both consuming and paying for the unionized workers’ services. The only truly essential check on the power of unions is the ability for customers to look elsewhere for goods and services.

Borrowing From the Future = ‘The Wimpy Strategy’

Kentucky Senate President David L. Williams and Governor Steve Beshear are locking horns over Kentucky’s Medicaid budget. Beshear’s preferred plan is to simply borrow from next year’s Medicaid spending. The governor is confident that hundreds of millions of dollars in savings from the state’s new managed care plan will emerge and this year’s borrowing will be but a fleeting memory.

Even if those savings emerge, Beshear’s tactic might appropriately be called “The Wimpy Strategy.”

Popeye’s occasional sidekick, Wimpy, is known for offering to repay two hamburgers tomorrow in exchange for a mere one hamburger today. Wimpy is, in all cases, prepared to delay the day of reckoning in exchange for some temporary relief from his pronounced hamburger addiction.

For Beshear, it’s not hamburgers, it’s spending. And though this debate is about Medicaid, this isn’t the first time Beshear has found himself pushing off the difficult choices in favor of immediate gratification. Remember that in early 2008 he justified his bloated budget proposal by claiming that all would be well once the General Assembly legalized and taxed additional gambling in the commonwealth. Lawmakers rightly balked at Beshear’s insistence that the government needed that money more than the productive sector.

But before we declare David Williams a bold exemplar of fiscal conservatism in this struggle over Medicaid, ask this: Why is David Williams only content to cut $139 million out of state spending this year? Isn’t there a wasteful expo center, arena, industrial park, golf course or failing state park that should be on the auction block so the voluntary economy can have its capital back? The answer is clearly yes, but Williams seems content to let these issues fester … at least until after the election.

A Serious Question

Who is the best character who only appeared in one episode of The Simpsons? It’s OK if the character appeared in subsequent episodes, but just for argument’s sake let’s just say that the character can only have lines in one episode. Debate in the comments. I’ll keep my two nominees to myself until I read what you’ve got to say.