About That Government Shutdown. (Part Two.)

An interesting take on the government shutdown.

There are lessons to be learned from the shutdown.

Government stopped collecting trash and cleaning up public parks in DC, so volunteers stepped in to pick up trash. Without so much government, Stossel says, private citizens will often step in to do things government workers used to do.

Stossel says the shutdown highlights where some government waste can be trimmed.

Farmers don’t get their “support” checks during the shutdown. But Stossel asks–why should they get checks at all? While the big subsidies go to grain and corn farmers, most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies. They survive without them. Other farmers could, too.

FDA inspection of food has stopped during the shutdown. Paul Krugman asks smugly, “does contaminated food smell like freedom?”

But Stossel notes that the main reason food is safe isn’t government. It’s competition. Companies worry about their reputation. Just ask Chipotle, Stossel says. Their stock fell by more than half after food poisoning incidents at their stores; since then they have instituted far more food inspection than government requires.

Most food producers already do that. Beef carcasses undergo hot steam rinses, and microbiological testing goes well beyond what government requires. Market competition protects us better than rule-bound government bureaucrats.

Stossel says most of government could be done away with or privatized.

Man Sues Burger King For Whoppers. (Or Equivalent.)

There are all sorts of abuse in lawsuits these days. There are people who are looking for huge paydays over what are essentially minor issues. The legal system is clogged with such claims which makes getting justice a timely proposition.

Yet there are some lawsuits that we think are humorous as well as pretty creative. This is one of those cases.

Curtis Brooner, is a 50 year old man who likes to eat in a Portland, Oregon Burger King.

…. Brooner said, he frequented Burger King nearly every day because he enjoys the food and it’s just one freeway stop from his work in Troutdale.

Last month after finishing his mean, Brooner used the men’s restroom. However, when he tried to exit the restroom, he found that he could not exit due to a faulty lock or door handle.

Employees slipped a fly swatter under the door and suggested he use it to pry open the lock, the lawsuit says. Brooner allegedly cut his hand attempting that. The lawsuit says he could hear employees on the other side of the door laughing at him.

“The cleanliness of the place was less than desirable,” Brooner tells WW. “Highway bums use it as a changing room. It’s not a pleasant smelling place. Being locked in there for over an hour, you smell like that when you get out.”

Brooner says being trapped triggered his post-traumatic stress disorder, and he sat in the Burger King for another hour, too shaken to drive.

You might be thinking that Brooner is suing over emotional distress, confinement or a myriad of other things.

That’s not the issue.

When States Don’t Abide By Court Decisions.

Carl Malamud is the president and founder of Public.Resource.Org which is a group dedicated to “making government information more accessible.”

The site has lots of resources on where to find state laws, government agency rules, contacts for members of government, etc. It is a great resource and is run as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

As part of the group’s efforts to make information accessible to the public, Malamud posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), which are the laws of the State of Georgia. Malamud would do what the average citizen could not (due to costs): he purchased a copy of the OCGA, scanned it and posted it on Public Resource’s site.

In 2013 the State of Georgia notified Public Resource to take down the OCGA files claiming that the OCGA was copyrighted. Public Resource refused, claiming there was no copyright and even if it did, the issue of “fair use” applied. When Malmud refused to remove the files, Georgia sued.

There were several issues. First, copyrights are there to protect the authors of works. In general, as the laws of a state are the works of the people and elected legislators, the law itself cannot be copyrighted. (Just as a seal or logo of a town cannot be copyrighted.)

Masterpiece Cakeshop Back In The News.

You may remember the case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission which was decided by the US Supreme Court last year.

The case was about Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado and it’s owner, Jack Phillips. In 2012, a gay couple came into the shop and wanted a specialized cake made for their wedding. Parker, who is a Christian, declined to design and make the cake on religious grounds, mainly that he did not want to be creating something that would be used to promote an idea that was against his religious beliefs.

The two men filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission saying Parker had violated their civil rights. The Commission ruled against Phillips and demanded that he and his staff undergo training on the issue and for the next two years write reports that would be reviewed by the Commission on the cakes he sold.

Phillips appealed the decision and the case eventually made it to the Supreme Court which ruled against the Commission but did not endorse Parker’s assertion that he had the right to deny the artistic creation of a cake if it endorsed a message that was against his religious beliefs.

The Supreme Court noted that at the time, Colorado did not recognize gay marriages.

The second thing the Court noted was that someone named “William Jack” had gone to three different bakeries and asked the bakeries to make a cake with a message that demeaned gay marriages. In each case, the Commission upheld the rights of the bakers not to make the cakes which contained messages with which they disagreed.

The Court also took note of the animus of the members of the Commission towards religion itself. From the Supreme Court opinion:

About That Government Shutdown Thing…..

Tone deaf. Just tone deaf.

(h/t to Common Cents and to the Pirates Cove for linking Common Cents)

And A Little Child Will Lead Them……

Dane Best
(Image courtesy The Greeley Tribune.)

Meet Dane Best.

Dane Best is a 9 year old who, on field trip to the Severance, Colorado, City Hall, learned that an ordinance had been passed that prohibited snowball fights.

In the 1020’s, when Severance was founded, the City passed an law that made it illegal to throw “missiles” at people, places or animals. . Part of what got caught up in that law was a snowball. No snowballs, no snowball fights.

I thought it was crazy,” Dane Best said. “Little kids should be allowed to throw snowballs at each other.”

So young Mr. Best decided to make a presentation to the City Trustees asking them to amend the ordinance to allow snowball fights.

It’s a no-brainer, right?

Let kids be kids and throw snowballs at each other. Heck, every Hallmark Channel Christmas love story that takes place when there is snow on the ground has the protagonists engaging in a snowball fight. If it is good enough for the love seen on the Hallmark Channel, it has to be good enough for the rest of the world, right?

(We are joking. Sort of.)

Yet even in a town of approximately 4,200 people,there will be some elected morons officials who are overly officious and ridiculous.

“I ‘Identify’ As……”

We found this both funny and an appropriate comment on those who “self identify.”

(Courtesy Reddit.)

The “N-Word” Debate. Again.

(click image for larger version. Courtesy

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We struggled with a graphic for this post. Nothing new or fresh came to mind and we didn’t want to use the word that we find offensive. We found the above cartoon and feel that it illustrates the issue of this post rather well. And we say that as proud nerds.)

Principal Shannon McParland of Metcalf Middle School in Burnside, Minnesota (and is a white middle aged woman) after being cursed at and verbally abused by a student asked the student a relevant, rhetorical question:

In the email, she described the exchange with the student in which “the student directed profanities and racial epithets toward me and other staff members.”

In a video circulating online, McParland is shown asking someone if he or she is going to call her the N-word following an expletive.

“Are you seriously going to call me a f—- — n—–?” she says in the recording.

McParland is the only person shown in a seven-second clip that appears to be taken from a longer recording.

Let the angst and calls for her firing begin.

Generally speaking, we are against the use of the “n-word.” While we are for protecting speech – even speech that is highly offensive as the “n-word” is – we know that once people start throwing the word around, you lose the audience. By that we mean that words are not just things we say to create noise in our ears. Words and languages are something that convey messages and ideas. For the most part, when you use the “n-word,” you are going to have the listeners stop listening to any ideas you may be putting forth. In other words, of you are out, talking and conversing and you throw the “n-word” out there, people are going to close their ears off to you. Perhaps rightfully so.

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