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Archive for June 14th, 2008

This article begins:

Democrat Barack Obama told voters Saturday he would push an aggressive economic agenda as president: cutting taxes for the middle class, raising taxes on the wealthy, pouring money into “green energy” and requiring employers to set up retirement saving plans for their workers.

Hidden deep inside the article, however, is the following passage:

He said employers should be required to set up retirement saving plans for workers even if they contribute no money to them. Workers would automatically be enrolled unless they choose to opt out, he said.

I am not a huge fan of Obama’s economic policies, but I do like the fact that he prefers a nudging approach as opposed to the full-blown nanny-state one favoured by many politicians. That was also apparent in his approach to health insurance, which, unlike Hillary’s, does not include a mandate that everyone has to buy insurance. In Obama’s worldview, the state ought to be there to help, but not by applying too much direct force. It is debatable if the resulting policies are good, what is indisputable is that this kind of ‘soft paternalism’ that consists of opt-ins, opt-outs and nudges is infinitely preferable to the coercive paternalism advocated by some others who believe they know best how you ought to run your life.

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From an article in the SFgate:

Bill Clinton spent his time in the White House working with Republicans to champion trade, telecommunications and financial deregulation – destructive policies specifically crafted to boost corporate profits at the expense of ordinary workers.

Reminds me of the time when the Left Front government in West Bengal tried to ban computers on the grounds they would hurt workers.

Sometimes it is fun to read lefty opeds and wonder how they got there.

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Since the Judge Kozinski story broke three days ago, I have frequently visited The Volokh Conspiracy hoping that Eugene Volokh — an outstanding blogger who I frequently cite —  would post on the issue. My interest was piqued not only because I admire Kozinski — a brilliant judge with a libertarian streak — but because Volokh had once clerked for him. Here is the expected post, at last.

I’ve tried to avoid blogging about the Judge Kozinski story, because I’m so obviously biased on the subject. I clerked for the Judge. The Judge officiated at my wedding. I talk to him often. I consider him a close friend, he’s taught me a huge amount, and he’s helped me tremendously in my career, and not just by giving me a valuable credential. What I say on the matter will naturally and properly be discounted because of my bias. Still, I can’t help myself any longer, so I’ll pass along what I think, and you can give it whatever credit you think is due.

Here is a link to the rest of Volokh’s article, which I recommend. I agree completely with all his points. However, I am a tad disapponted that he places so much emphasis on the fact that the images on the judge’s site were tame. In other words, while I agree with his conclusion, 

We should all leave Kozinski to his own privately expressed sense of humor, as we’d like the world to leave us to ours,

I would have been happier if he had added it didn’t really matter even if that sense of humour was much racier than what it actually is.

It would be a great day for freedom when the obscenity law is finally repealed. The root of the current controversy is that Kozinski was also going to officiate this case.  Of course, because of the controversy, he has now recused himself from it. The defence, I suppose, would have fancied their chances if he had remained the judge — Kozinski has always known to be a staunch defender of free speech. The prosecution must be chortling with glee.

On another note, I really hope that the LA Times, which broke the story, publishes a retraction and offers Kozinski an apology. They have displayed an astonishing lack of journalistic integrity in their coverage of the matter. It has, to put it lightly, been full of misleading errors. For instance, they said that one of the images showed a man ‘cavorting’ with a donkey when it wasn’t even close to that. But if the LA Times did apologize to this supposedly conservative judge, it wouldn’t really be the LA Times any more, would it?

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