Random Thoughts

You Can't Take It With You, But We'll Still Send It!

According to today's Washington Post: The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributed $1.1 billion over seven years to the estates or companies of deceased farmers and routinely failed to conduct reviews required to ensure that the payments were properly made, according to a government report.

In a selection of 181 cases from 1999 to 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that officials approved payments without any review 40 percent of the time.

It is good to see our government being so proactive in catching people who are defrauding the government!

Can We Retroactively Help Out the Stage Coach Driver and Iceman?

According to the Washington Post: Under a Senate bill to be introduced today, computer programmers, call-center staffers and other service-sector workers who make up the vast majority of the nation's workforce would for the first time be eligible for a generous package of income, health and retraining benefits currently reserved for manufacturing workers who lose their jobs to international trade.

As I mentioned yesterday I hate it when government comes up with benign sounding legislation that hides what it is really doing. If you don't believe me, try this: Randomly ask 10 people to tell you what the Trade Adjustment Assistance program does. Even if they happened to read that Washington Post article they probably won't be able to tell you...

But a young Hank Aaron would be sitting on his couch today

In the last few months there has been some attention focused on the deceased percentage of black men playing Major League Baseball. There were even some complaints about MLB setting up playgrounds in other countries while ignoring urban America (and, with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards all focused on urban America, that could become a campaign issue). Gary Sheffield had suggested that he knew plenty of black players who could be playing in the major leagues, if not for the number of Latinos (of course, he didn't name any names).

In today's Washington Post there is a passing reference to Hank Aaron and what he had to go through just for a shot to play MLB. "Born during the Great Depression, Mr. Aaron learned baseball by hitting bottle caps with a stick on the streets and sandlots of Mobile, Ala. He attended segregated schools and suffered racial ostracism as a minor leaguer in the Deep South during the early 1950s."

Wait, wait, wait! Aaron was "hitting bottle caps with a stick" and we've got activists and others complaining today that MLB isn't building them playing fields or recruiting in urban areas?

Hard Cases Make Bad Law

I read an article about the 23 South Korean Christians kidnapped by the Taliban. Of course, I have trouble having sympathy for them because they were in Afghanistan, armed apparently only with the Lord's book. But then, I read that they were from a church in Bundang (spelled with a "P" when I lived there).

Bundang? Yeah, Bundang! I actually lived there for almost a year back when I lived in South Korea.

But I read that the South Korean government is considering passing a law banning civilians from going to Afghanistan. Why not tell folks--you're on your own if you go there without our permission. You will have to depend on your friends and relatives to save you if you choose to go voluntarily to a warzone.

Of course, we can only hope that the Taliban is civilized for just a short time and allows the folks to return to South Korea. Either way, I'm sure president Bush will be blamed...

(Killing) Expertise at the United Nations

According to the Post: In 1997, the United Nations began urging new mothers with HIV to use formula wherever supplies could be provided safely and reliably. Botswana, with an extensive public water system, good roads and a legacy of competent governance, joined the UNICEF-led effort and agreed to pay for the program as a standard service to new mothers.

A decade later, and the results are in: "A decade-long, global push to provide infant formula to mothers with the AIDS virus had backfired in Botswana, leaving children more vulnerable to other, more immediately lethal diseases, the U.S. team found after investigating the outbreak at the request of Botswana's government.

"The findings joined a growing body of research suggesting that supplying formula to mothers with HIV -- an effort led by global health groups such as UNICEF -- has cost at least as many lives as it has saved. The nutrition and antibodies that breast milk provide are so crucial to young children that they outweigh the small risk of transmitting HIV, which researchers calculate at about 1 percent per month of breast-feeding."