Monday, September 10, 2007

Campaign Finance Folly

I'm steamed about campaign finance laws that limit the amount of money people can contribute to political parties or politicians. They are an affront to the constitutional protection of speech. (I fully support mandatory disclosure of donor names and amounts.) People trying to get around the artificial limits on campaign contributions have resulted in a host of undesirable effects.

John Fund passed along a report that renewed my frustration. People feel the need to concoct all sorts of shenanigans to circumvent the absurd campaign finance laws.
Mr. Hsu later became one of Mrs. Clinton's top bundlers--powerbrokers who collect many small donations for delivery to candidates. He brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars to her and other Democratic causes. The Wall Street Journal reports that many of the contributions came from "people who had no prior history of political giving or obvious means for paying."

Take the Paw family of Daly City, Calif., which is headed by a mail carrier who makes $49,000 a year. Members of the family have given almost $300,000 to politicians, including Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, since 2004, often on or about the same days that Mr. Hsu gave money. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether any Hsu donors were illegally reimbursed for their contributions.
I regret that we've created a market for people like Hsu. Reports are now coming in that Clinton will return all the money associated with Hsu. She shouldn't have to, but she really has no choice.

Of course, John McCain is a mastermind behind this reform. It will give me pause in supporting him if he is the GOP candidate.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Baptizing Illegal Immigrants

I was quite surprised to read the following in an extended draft[1] of a biography of President Spencer W. Kimball.
For Spencer to express an opinion baldly and expect compliance was rare, but years later Francis Gibbons remembered such an incident because it was so unusual. In a joint meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve to consider whether illegal aliens should be baptized, some of the brethren supported the position of not baptizing illegal aliens. After hearing all the views and the reasoning behind them, President Kimball said, “I think they should be baptized.” That ended the discussion.
I think I would have been among those arguing the opposite position, but an essential part of my faith is seeking to recognize and follow those whose spiritual vision may exceed my own. President Kimball was unquestionably such a man.

[1] Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Working Draft) by Edward L. Kimball, chapter 4 page 3. This version of the book is available on the CD that accompanies the printed version of the book and was also distributed to BYU Studies subscribers.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Shifting Views on Education?

I just read, in the online magazine Slate, a fascinating article about teachers and the slowly changing perception the public has about them:
High-pressured and punishing—of such macho qualities is social cachet often built in the world of work. Nowhere in Tyler Heights or Stuyvesant, in Perlstein's and Klein's portrayals, do you hear anyone touting the familiar (female- and family-friendly) perks of the profession: the long summer months off, the seasonal breaks, the 3 o'clock dismissals, the heartwarming kids. Teachers' unions never get mentioned, nor do bonuses. The scene is more reminiscent of, say, the Union army, beset by struggles and squabbles within the ranks, yet striving to make slow headway on divisive home ground.

It is precisely the draining rigors of the job that are intrinsic to teaching's appeal, helping it shed its schoolmarmish taint, suggests Fortune in an article about TFA's popularity. "The program has been likened to a domestic Peace Corps, with long work hours and much emotional demand, so it's not for the faint of heart."
Read the whole thing--it's fascinating, and indicates that the exhausting, draining, but hopefully rewarding reality of teaching may actually start getting a little respect in the world.