Niger Innis at the UNH

[Innis Ticket]

Your humble blogger went to see Niger Innis at the University Near Here last night; his appearance was sponsored by an odd-couple of student organizations: the College Republicans and the Diversity Support Coalition. I estimated attendance at 50-60 people; not enough to fill the Strafford Room at the Memorial Union Building, but a decent turnout nonetheless.

Mr. Innis is the National Spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of the oldest civil rights organizations in America. His father, Roy Innis, has led the group since 1968. CORE has been controversial for being more friendly to Republicans than your typical civil rights group.

Mr. Innis expressed his gratitude for the invitation (and further gratitude for being invited up to UNH in April, instead of say, November or February). He was a pretty good speaker, assured and voluble.

The major part of his speech concerned energy policy: specifically the disparate impact of proposed "cap and trade" legislation and EPA greenhouse gas (GHG) regulations on the poor. Attendees were given a one-page handout from the Affordable Power Alliance (PDF available here), full of scary (and for all I know, true) statistics about the EPA's GHG regulations. For example, that they will "Increase the poverty rate for African Americans by 2025 from 24% to ~30% -- an increase of 20%".

Almost as a postscript, Mr. Innis then tackled the issue of Tea Party "racism". He pooh-poohed it; he noted that he had been to a number of Tea Party rallies, and he was invariably treated "like a rock star". He noted that alleging racism was nowadays a cudgel used to shut off debate and delegitimize one's opponents.

After the speech, Mr. Innis took questions from the audience. Most, but not all, were supportive. (This is a university, after all.) One attendee took exception to his characterization of pro-cap-n-trade environmental groups as the "Green Mafia"—after all, didn't the Mafia kill people? This lead to a general discussion about civility in political discourse. As usual, many are only concerned with it when it's conservatives doing the discoursing.

Another questioner wanted to make the argument that the Tea Partiers were (indeed) racist. Mr. Innis rebutted him with the (by now) familiar debunking of the March 20 incident where it was alleged that n-word slurs were hurled at members of the Congressional Black Caucus who marched through a Tea Party gathering.

I had to leave before the Q-and-A wound up, unfortunately, but Mr. Innis dealt with even semi-hostile questioning with easy humor. A good guy. Both the College Republicans and the Diversity Support Coalition deserve the University's gratitude for bringing him on campus.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 3:35 PM EST

Crisis of Abundance

[Amazon Link]

The subtitle: "Rethinking How We Pay For Health Care". The author, Arnold Kling, is one of the libertarian bloggers at EconLog; he's also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, who published this book back in 2006. It's short, 87 pages plus front- and end-matter. Although Arnold's an economist, it's written very accessibly for the lay reader. To use an old cliché: he tells you what he's going to say, he says it, and then he tells you what he said.

Arnold ably lays out the issues; although the book is four years old, all of the same issues confront us today; in fact, they've been made even more painfully obvious. Key is his deft presentation of the trilemma confronting anyone daft/hubristic enough to redesign the "health care system". Principles that "must" be satisfied:

  • Unfettered Access. Consumers must be completely free to select any treatment that the health care provider and patient agree would be beneficial.

  • Insulation. Consumers must be protected from the financial and emotional burden of paying for health care procedures. They should have the security of knowing that health care will be provided by private insurance and/or government.

  • Affordability. The health care system must not absorb an inordinate amount of resources. Health care spending should not crowd out more valuable public- or private-sector needs.

Arnold notes that it's pretty clear that the three principles are incompatible in the real world. It must have been frustrating when nearly all players in the ObamaCare debate fudged and obfuscated that simple truth, continuing to assure the American people that they could have all three principles, presumably delivered by friendly ponies that eat rainbows and poop butterflies.

Still, there's always a chance that we could come to our senses and start looking for saner solutions to financing health care. Arnold's policy suggestions are modestly stated, but in fact would vastly improve our future: shift responsibility for health care spending back to individuals; allow innovative health-care insurance products that might provide access to high-cost care more efficiently; consider deregulation of the provision of health care.

All it would take to start down that path are honest and courageous politicians… oh, wait.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 3:34 PM EST

Act of Violence

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The movie's title does not lie. There is an Act of Violence, although you have to wait until the very end of the flick for it. Up until then, it's atmosphere, dialog, suspense, and perspiration. And shadows. Lots of shadows.

Van Heflin plays Frank Enley, a veteran settled into his postwar real estate developer life in sunny Santa Lisa, California with wife Edith (hey hey, it's Janet Leigh!) and a bratty kid. But off in another city, Joe Parkson (Robert Ryan with a bad limp) has noticed Frank's picture in the paper—apparently they routinely highlighted small-town California real estate developers in the papers back then—and immediately packs his .45 and hops a Greyhound for Santa Lisa.

It turns out that Joe and Frank were in the same German POW camp, and Joe blames Frank for his limp, and a lot more. Frank is justly terrified, and goes on the lam to evil old downtown LA. But that only delays the confrontation, and Frank falls in with a bad crowd, typified by Pat, a hooker with a heart of charcoal, played by Mary Astor.

Speaking of Ms. Astor: This movie was made only seven years after she played Brigid O'Shaughnessy in The Maltese Falcon, and you can compare and contrast. It was a rough few years for Mary, or maybe she was just a great actress.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 3:34 PM EST