Points for Peggy

Peggy Noonan seems to be doing everything right this week.

First, she is now on Twitter – success.

Second, she has an interesting column out about how she thinks that Obama’s healthcare efforts may be completely thwarted. And in her reasons for why she is worried about the government in our healthcare lives, she brought up a salient point that I really hadn’t considered before:

We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of . . . let’s call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next. Mr. Obama’s own choice for surgeon general has come under criticism as too heavy.

Only a generation ago such criticisms would have been considered rude and unacceptable. But they are part of the ugly, chafing price of having the government in something: Suddenly it can make big and very personal demands on you. Those who live in a way that isn’t sufficiently healthy “cost us money” and “drive up premiums.” Mr. Obama himself said something like it in his press conference, when he spoke of a person who might not buy health insurance. If he gets hit by a bus, “the rest of us have to pay for it.”

This is the principle downside to the “we’re all in this together” mentality. No one always exhibits healthy behavior, and we still argue about whether some behavior is healthy or unhealthy. But when we make the health of any one individual the pecuniary responsibility of all, then we have implicitly sanctioned a very non-fraternal relationship between the most unhealthy among us and the rest of society.

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Prescient Words from The Economist

  economist

On this 40th anniversary of the moon landing, the Economist is rolling out a flashback to its original  report of that seminal event, dated July 26, 1969.

Of course, the piece exalts the achievement and the seemingly unbounded potential that it encapsulated – as it should have.

Even more interesting though are some rather prescient words about a future in which space becomes quotidian:

When new land is struck, behind the explorers come the anonymous toilers to cut the roads and harbours. Space will be no different from earth in this. So it will be a long, expensive and necessarily less exciting slog than the flight of the Eagle. And as the excitement dies and familiarity sets in, the voices that say the money could be better spent on ending wars and poverty on earth must gain converts.

The last sentence, taken in isolation, would better represent the situation we face today. If only we could be so fortunate as to be fed-up with money spent on colonizing the moon; rather, NASA has found even worse ways to squander billions, if not trillions of dollars over the past 40 years.

As we question the future of NASA, I find it apropos to close with the words immediately following the above exerpt – words that I think explain a direction and purpose for a space program that has long been drained from NASA:

But this argument overlooks the factor in human make-up that sets us apart from the apes. When man became a tool-maker, he ceased to be a monkey. The human race’s way of sublimating its highest aspirations has been to build the greatest and grandest artifact that the technology of the time can achieve. Through the pyramids, the parthenons and the temples, built as they were on blood and bones, to the be-spired cathedrals conceived and constructed in ages of great poverty, the line runs unbroken to the launch pad of Apollo. Oddly—or perhaps not so oddly—the churchmen with their unstinting praise of the astronauts have recognised this where the liberally-educated rationalists with their bored carping, and their ill-bred little jokes, have not. Spiralling to the planets expresses something in human nature that relieving poverty, however noble a cause that is, does not. And to the planets, sooner rather than later, man is now certain to go.

Ricci Before Ricci

458031919_118374One interesting news item that I found compelling enough to post on the 4th of July. It appears that Sotomayor really can’t get away from trying to elevate minorities through unconstitutional affirmative action…

Sotomayor chaired the board of directors’ litigation committee for  the The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which sued on behalf of hispanic sanitation workers when not enough of them passed a job test.

Such cases seem to stick to Sotomayor. Certainly she didn’t have a direct hand in this case, although we can be relatively confident that she supported it considering her ruling in Ricci – a ruling that is thankfully now overturned.

Its very unfortunate, and its greater proof that Sotomayor will not be a friend of the originalists on the court.