Saturday, June 12, 2004

The problem with Mixing Church and State

Why did several congressmen participate in a ceremony crowning Rev. Moon as the new Messiah?

I think it's safe to say that the congressmen involved likely had no idea what was going on, only that a potentially huge source of campaign contributions and press support wanted their presence at some kind of award ceremony.

But it illustrates why programs that mix church and state are a really bad idea: whatever the Catholics and the Methodists get from the government, the Moonies, Hare Krishna, and Scientologists will get too. (It is _always_ unconstitutional for the government to pick and choose between religions based on their beliefs). Do your opinions of Bush's Faith-based charities program change when the money is going to the Moonies instead of to Catholic charities?

Similar problems are likely to affect school vouchers. I support school vouchers and choice wholeheartedly, since I don't think the neighborhood you live in should be the primary determinant of the educational opportunity the government provides for you. But, when applied to religious schools, there are a lot of unpleasant groups that I'd rather not see getting government funding. IMHO, this issue will eventually lead to sweeping government influence over private, voucher-subsidized schools. At a minimum, it will prohibit racial and religious discrimination. At a maximum, it could lead to federal curriculum standards dictating the content of history courses, requiring trendy methods of teaching math, and raising lots of constitutional questions.

In the case of school vouchers, the fact that parents have to choose the schools will limit the worst abuses of the system. For faith-based charities, though, as the saying goes "[the needy] can't be choosers."

Friday, June 11, 2004

Good Journalism

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/11/nyregion/11TRAI.html is a great example of what everyday journalism should be -- what happens to people who miss the last train at Grand Central Station? And why do they miss it? Very cool.

I haven't missed a last train before, but I've missed the last hotel room I had to find a train at 2:00 AM with a route long enough to sleep on. Luckily, it wasn't in New York.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Credit where Credit is due

Both bloggers and journalists are talking about how much credit Reagan deserves for winning the Cold War. I think he played a significant role, but, I think Harry Truman deserves most of the credit. Without Reagan, some Soviet dissidents would have spent a longer time in jail, a few more Caribbean countries would have gone communist, and the 1989 revolution may have been delayed 5-10 years.

Without Truman, we would have lost the Cold War without a fight, with France, Britain, Germany, and Japan mired in poverty for decades, and with communist rule in Berlin, Greece, Turkey, southern Korea, possibly Italy, and perhaps even part of Japan.

It is difficult for a historically-reflective person to visit South Korea without thinking that Truman was one of our greatest Presidents, and that the Korean War was one of the most noble things our country has ever done.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Reagan

The difference between Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush is the same as the
difference between George Lucas in the '80s and George Lucas today.