My take on I-933

Initiative 933 is on the ballot for Washington State this fall.  Here’s the summary:

This measure would require compensation when government regulation damages the use or value of private property, would forbid regulations that prohibit existing legal uses of private property, and would provide exceptions or payments.

Read the full initiative here: http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/i933.pdf

I am against this initiative.  There are numerous practical reasons why it is bad, such as the billion dollars each year it would cost to administer claims, but I’m going to argue a more philosophical bent:

Any kind of law which reimburses you in the event of damaging government action should also do the opposite: if the value of your property goes up as a result of government action, you should be charged for it.  I can’t imagine why you’d design a system with one but not the other.  For example: all the people along the west slope of downtown Seattle, whose property values would skyrocket if the viaduct came down, should be charged to pay for a new tunnel.  Taken to its logical extreme, every time the government imposes a necessary burden on someone (say, for example, a landfill in their backyard), everyone else gets an implied beneft (no landfill in their backyard) — and therefore, they should be charged for it.  Guess what?  That’s called paying taxes.   And I’m guessing that the neo-nimbyists behind this initiative aren’t going to start clamoring for increased taxes to pay for all their reimbursements.

At the heart of capitalism is the assumption of personal risk.  Nobody has guaranteed that your property will always be valuable.  The price you paid for your exurban McMansion isn’t some fundamental constant of the universe.  If you can’t handle the idea that it could go down, maybe you’re better off investing in some writings by Marx.

This initiative is a sociopathic attack on the fundamental ability of the government to govern.  The point of a governing body is to create laws that enhance the common good.  Sometimes that involves affecting one individual more than others, but in the end everybody benefits.  It’s like a stop light at a busy intersection: some people need to wait a little longer than others, but in the end everybody gets where they need to go in much less time.  Who could possibly think it’s a good idea to pay people to not run red lights?

Flash, boom, how-ya-doin’

I was reading in bed with Kate about 10 minutes ago (about 10pm) when there was a flash of light and a low rumble outside our window.  We both went outside to investigate.  One by one, so did all of our neighbors.  Up and down the street, doors opened and people came out to see what had happened. 

Nobody could figure it out.  It wasn’t lightning.  My guess is a car accident on a nearby street may have hit a power pole.  One of our neighbors suggested a circuit breaker in the nearby power station.  Whatever it was, it was cool to see all of our neighbors (and even meet a new one) and have a brief little neighborhood meeting late at night in the middle of our street.

Babies don’t hold grudges

Ruby’s lunchtime feeding devolved into a screaming match.  She was hungry, but struggling.  She was turning her head away from the nipple, then back on for a few sucks, then away again.  And occasionally she’d arch her back or kick her legs.

None of this is acceptable behavior.  I can follow her face around with the bottle, but Kate can’t do that with her breast so it’s something we’re trying to actively discourage.  Anyway (to keep a long story short) her meal eventually devolved into her wailing on the pillows and me needing to take a five minute break in another room.  Ten minutes later she had calmed down enough for some quiet sobbing and sniffling while I held her, and ten minutes after that her meal proceeded uneventfully.

It has now been a few hours, and this episode has left me feeling drained, sad, and disconnected from Ruby.  Ruby, on the other hand, is back to being as smiley as she’s ever been — as if the whole thing never happened.  I guess babies don’t hold grudges.

Pat Roberston is a Doubting Thomas

Pat Robertson has finally seen the light about global warming.  What changed his mind?  Not the exacting research of thousands of scientists, no.  He had to experience it first-hand.

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.”   But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”