29 March 2015

Tell me the difference between these two statutes; this is important for the future of Indiana and America

Below, I have copied and pasted the operative paragraphs of two separate statutes. Please review and tell me which one is anti-gay, so that I know who to boycott:

Statute #1
Sec. 8. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
             (b) A governmental entity may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if the governmental entity demonstrates that application of the burden to the person:
                   (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and 
                 (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. 

Sec. 9. A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. If the relevant governmental entity is not a party to the proceeding, the governmental entity has an unconditional right to intervene in order to respond to the person's invocation of this chapter.

Statute #2
(a) In general. Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section. 
(b) Exception Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person— 
     (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and 
     (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. 
(c) Judicial relief. A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government. Standing to assert a claim or defense under this section shall be governed by the general rules of standing under article III of the Constitution.

One of these is Indiana's new "anti-gay" law. The other is the 22-year-old Federal RFRA, introduced by Chuck Schumer to protect peyote smoking for religious purposes.

Please let me know as soon as possible, because with all the #BoycottIndiana stuff I've been reading, I am certain that people will be getting sent off to the camps soon in that state. Since none of the predicted dire consequences ever came to pass in the 22 years that the Federal law has been in place, I really need to know exactly what Indiana added or removed to make that state law so uniquely terrible. I didn't want to make this post too long, or I would have included the other 19 state laws for comparison, too.

Hurry! I need to know who to boycott!

28 March 2015

Did Angie's List or SalesForce.com really make some big anti-Indiana economic decisions? Nope.

With all the hoopla surrounding Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a thoroughly uncontroversial law that mirrors almost word for word laws already on the books in nineteen other states and the Federal government, we've seen several companies jump on the #BoycottIndiana bandwagon.

Or have we?

Here's a quick look at two of them: Angie's List and SalesForce.com.

After some negative comments about RFRA by SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff, several outlets have falsely reported that the company cancelled it's annual conference in Indiana due to RFRA.

Here's the problem with those reports: SalesForce announced the conference's move from Indianapolis to New York in September of last year - six months before the passage of RFRA.

You see, in 2013, SalesForce acquired Indianapolis-based ExactTarget, which had held the event in their home town for years. They were already committed to holding the 2014 conference in Indianapolis again, but immediately began negotiations for the following year.

SalesForce is a large, San Francisco-based corporation that has little interest in small midwestern cities as hosts for their events. This move was happening, and did happen, with or without the RFRA.

The company may allow people to draw other conclusions as long as they think the press is positive, but they didn't "Boycott Indiana."

Angie's List is a more interesting story. Much has been made of their announcement that they are now "considering other options" for their ongoing plan to expand their headquarters and add some 1000 new jobs in Indianapolis due to the RFRA.

Here's the thing, though: Angie's List has been actively lobbying to an $18.5 million package of subsidies from the City-County Council for that project. It has gone back and forth between council and committee and is up for a final vote on Monday, March 30th.

Angie's List had better be considering other options, because they can't afford to expand without the subsidies. They are not a profitable company.

How often do we hear about professional sports teams threatening to move if they don't get a subsidized stadium? This is no different. And again, Angie's List is clearly hoping that the press they get by tying this to RFRA will be positive. But if that proposal passes Monday, smart money says they'll go right ahead with the project.

Update: since I originally posted this, Angie's List announced that they are formally withdrawing their application for tax abatement. Sorry, I remain convinced it has 100% to do with economics. Maybe they just figured Monday's vote wouldn't go their way, or maybe they just realized that they need to start turning a profit before embarking on a project like that. After all, they have actually reduced their workforce in the last year, and the subsidy proposal was very unpopular.

The fact is, 90% of the people who want to boycott Indiana have not read (or do not understand) the new law, and most of them have never been to Indiana. Just like Angie's List and SalesForce.com, they are simply chiming in on a trending topic on social media.

Businesses do things for their own reasons, so don't believe the fake momentum from the "boycott" crowd.

19 December 2014

"Blue collar workers are people with brains, too!" a young academic realizes...

Your Waitress, Your Professor - NYTimes.com: If my students can imagine the possibility that choosing to work with their hands does not automatically exclude them from being people who critically examine the world around them, I will feel I’ve done something worthwhile, not only for those who will earn their degree, but for the majority who will not.
I think her conclusion is good, but these sorts of revelations by the academic set are always very amusing to me. (Remember when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton blurted out that we need to realize waiters are people, too?)

Who was it that ever taught or believed that "blue collar workers" were incapable of critical thought? Who was that ever believed education was only valid as a means toward better-paying, and less "dirty" work?

"Why, when I was a boy..." my teachers all had other jobs in the summer; not because teacher pay was so scandalously low, but because why would you not? Work is noble, it is what adults do to sustain themselves and their families. Because idle hands are the devil's workshop.

My geometry teacher was a carpenter and handyman. He once built a pergola at my uncle's house. My speech teacher had a wallpapering business in the summer. My shop teacher painted houses with his son.

Not one of them was in any way ashamed of this work, nor did they try to hide it. The geometry teacher used his work to answer that ageless question from his students, "when will I ever need to use geometry in real life, anyway?"

Try to measure and cut wood for framing without geometry!

I do hope young Brittany Bronson teaches her students not to be narrow-minded, elitist snobs. I am even more heartened that she finally figured this out for herself, and I dearly hope that she goes back to teach her own mentors this lesson.

12 September 2014

What's the real reason we should be outraged by what Ray Rice did? And what's your reason?

There is a reason that Ray Rice's offense shocks us. There is a reason he deserves special opprobrium, and a reason he can hardly any longer participate in polite society, or even, it would appear, in professional football.

But what, exactly, is the reason?

As a thought experiment, let's imagine all the facts, and the video evidence were exactly the same, except that the player involved is Michael Sam. Not because Michael Sam is likely to do this sort of thing - he seems like a perfectly pleasant fellow - but because if it were he, his spouse would also be a man.

Man or woman, I'd like to think we'd be shocked that one would knock a person out cold, then drag that person from an elevator, asking hotel security not to call the cops. But we'd also have noted that the spouse had struck Sam first, and multiple times. In other words, he didn't just hit, he hit back.

So what would Sam's offense be in this hypothetical? Abuse? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't call it that, unless maybe I called it "mutual abuse." Would his offense be that he "won" the fight? Because he clearly did not initiate the physical altercation (at least as far as the videos and his spouse's testimony indicate.)

I can't say for sure, because of course it's only a hypothetical, but I think most of us would conclude that this is a relationship with a lot of problems; dysfunctional is a term that springs to mind. I suspect most of us would also conclude that it's none of our business.

So why is it different when it's Ray Rice and his spouse (then fiance?) The simple fact is that men have a great deal more strength than women; men are larger than women; men have more muscular bodies that can take punches better than women; and men are supposed to protect their loved ones, not hurt them.

Let me simplify that last paragraph: what Ray Rice did was especially bad because men and women are not equal, and they should be treated differently.

At least that's why I think Ray Rice did a terrible thing. I really can't tell you why the usual outrage machine is all worked up. You should ask them.

14 January 2014

The uninformed carry water for government regulation...

Commenters on a Washington Post article about the recent chemical leak in West Virginia perfectly encapsulate the fantasy world Liberals inhabit. A sampling:

"I wonder if they're still making fun of tree huggers?"
"I'm surprised free market forces didn't have this problem fixed years ago."
"This is what happens when corporations run wild."

It's quite amazing when you think about it - a chemical plant that makes, stores, uses and disposes its chemicals only where, when and how government regulations allow leaks chemicals into a water system that is literally owned and run by the government; the contamination is undiscovered until individuals report a smell in the water. The back-up plan once government shuts off water is for private stores to increase bottled water inventories for people to find and buy on their own.

But to these commenters, the only possible culprit is private industry? The only conceivable solution to a problem that occurred amidst thousands of intertwined government regulations is to add more of them?

Brilliant.

Sadder still, numerous uninformed commenters suggested that those who think private industry can be trusted ought to Google "Love Canal." Unfortunately, the true story of Love Canal doesn't exactly make the case for trusting government.

20 December 2013

I've never watched Duck Dynasty and never read GQ and the numbers suggest you haven't either

Apparently some guy on a reality show that 96% of Americans don't watch was interviewed in a magazine that 99.7% of Americans do not read and he said something that has sparked outrage among people who don't read the magazine or watch the show, and have never previously cared about either.

Anyway, the cable TV channel fired him or something, so now a bunch more people who've never watched the show or read the magazine are mad about THAT.

Personally, I've never seen the show, was only marginally aware that printed magazines still exist, and I'm tired of all the phony outrage both by people who ought to respect free speech, and by people who ought to respect at will employment.

To be clear: I don't care. I don't care that you care. As usual, I don't even understand how the big fake news event for the week got selected.

So shut up already.