Kevin Williamson is being quite unfair to Robert Gates in his editorial piece. Sometimes, an argument from organizational self-interest is the best argument to carry the day on a particular issue, and failing to argue from a standpoint of organizational self-interest means losing the argument on that issue. There are doubtless a significant number of people in the Boy Scouts who would prefer to keep the current ban against gay troop leaders, and no amount of moral suasion is going to change the minds of those people. Equally doubtless: Those who remain opposed to changing the rules banning gay troop leaders continue to hold a lot of sway within the Scouts organization. If moral suasion doesn’t work on this group and won’t persuade them to drop their opposition to gay troop leaders, then an argument based on organizational self-interest is about the only thing that will convince these holdouts to do the right and moral thing. Gates cannot be blamed for using an appeal to organizational self-interest to right a wrong, and Williamson is unwise and unkind to criticize Gates for using the best tool available to change the Scouts’ stance on this issue. [Read more…]
I am pleased to see that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Act has gotten a boost from the United States Senate with the Senate’s decision to grant President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a new trade deal. I wish that I could say that the vote was unanimous, but alas, it wasn’t, thanks mainly to protectionist Democrats who want America’s trade policies to be as antediluvian as humanly possible. Protectionist Democrats may get another shot at undermining American trade policy by opposing fast-track in the House of Representatives. The question is whether House Republicans will join in this effort to sabotage the American economy. [Read more…]
As one who believes that same-sex couples deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and that marriage equality only serves to strengthen the institution of marriage, I am pleased and delighted to see that Ireland has decided to enshrine marriage equality as a constitutional right. This is a remarkable and extraordinary achievement, given the power that the Catholic Church continues to wield in the country. The church, of course, wanted the rest of the country to vote “no” on the issue of marriage equality, but the Irish people wisely concluded that when we talk about God “abounding in steadfast love,” we ought to acknowledge that God’s love is–and ought to be–for all people.
I imagine that eventually, the Catholic Church will find a way to reconcile itself to this message. It had better, lest it be left behind by a world whose people increasingly realize that when two individuals commit to loving one another for the rest of their lives, forsaking all others in the process, that phenomenon ought to be celebrated and not condemned. In any event, congratulations to the Irish people, and to all others who work to end the destructive and intelligence-insulting stereotypes that for too long have made life miserable for too many gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
I always knew that Robert Gates was and is one of the most honorable people around in public life, and he has just proven it again by bluntly telling the Boy Scouts of America that they are going to have to change with the times: [Read more…]
I am perfectly willing to sacrifice something to combat climate change. I am willing to sacrifice tax money. I invite policymakers to enact a carbon tax that will be designed to reduce carbon emissions in order to slow–and hopefully, reverse–the process of global warming. I invite pundits to advocate the enactment of such a tax, and to give our governing class the political cover necessary to implement a carbon tax. And I invite the electorate to reward politicians who call for a carbon tax by electing and re-electing them to positions of public trust, and to punish those who do not by denying them election to those positions. Back in 2007, I argued for the enactment of a carbon tax that would “be pegged to the three-year average change in global tropical temperatures.” My concern back then was to measure the degree to which human activity might be contributing to global warming, and I signed on to the economist Ross McKitrick’s plan to tie any carbon tax to the three year moving average temperature in the tropical troposphere. If it were found that human activity is contributing to global warming, then we could increase such a tax until any increase in carbon emissions could be halted and reduced.
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But here is the thing: I don’t think that the implementation of a carbon tax should constitute a “sacrifice” of any real kind. Indeed, short of geo-engineering, a carbon tax is as close as we are ever likely to get to using a silver bullet to reverse climate change. Not all solutions to climate change need to involve pain, and just because a solution involves pain, that does not mean that the solution will be powerful or consequential.
Longtime blog readers of mine are, of course, quite familiar with my stance on the desirability of carbon taxes. But whether or not you are a longtime reader, check out the rest of the piece.