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Showing posts from November 6, 2011

Why the Public Good Is Worth the Cost -- Writer's Poke #337

At this week's Republican Presidential Candidates' debate, one candidate suggested that all government regulations that cost businesses money should be reviewed; those regulations that are found to cost businesses significant cash, and therefore, force businesses to layoff employees, should be immediately repealed.

This idea received a healthy amount of applause. It is easy to understand what regulations "cost," but it's more difficult to perceive what the "benefits" to regulations are. Sometimes it might seem as though government makes laws and passes regulations just for the fun of it, but in all seriousness, when government passes legislation, does it do so with the primary purpose of forcing businesses to layoff employees? If not, what are the purposes behind the legislation, and does the legislation successfully help ensure that businesses meet these purposes in a way that they would not otherwise?

One example might be something like the governmen…

The Misadventures of the Three-Legged Stool -- Writer's Poke #336

I suppose the charm of using “the three-legged stool” analogy is that it helps readers visualize your argument, because let’s face it: trying to keep three different concepts in your mind at the same time can be so taxing.


So, writes Arthur Allen, HPV vaccination is a good thing, but that’s only one leg of the stool. According to Arthur’s 2007 piece in the Washington Post, two other stool legs necessary for a successful vaccination program are positive public perception and appropriate government funding. Without those two “legs,” the stool won’t stand.

When creating a three-legged stool, though, don’t chair builders make one leg at a time? And don’t they attach each leg individually? In other words, even if all legs are “equally” important, one leg must be installed first.

Think about it for a second: Does it really make sense to secure funding first? Why would the government secure funding for a stool leg that hadn’t yet been built? Why would the public be more likely to support a …

Needed: Vaccination against Bad Arguments -- Writer's Poke #335

Rick Perry has taken some heat for mandating the HPV vaccine in Texas. Why? Apparently because he had the audacity to use an Executive Order, because the Pharmaceutical Company that stood to directly benefit from the order will make a profit, and because this same Pharmaceutical Company contributed “thousands of dollars” to the governor’s campaign.


To me, critics of Perry don’t have a very strong argument. First, Executive Orders are legal and part of the governor’s power. Those who complain that the governor used his power should instead be working to amend or eliminate a governor’s ability to issue Executive Orders. Second, Texas has checks and balances like any other state. So, if the governor’s Executive Order was unconstitutional, then the issue could be settled in a court of law. Or, if the people really didn’t like the governor’s mandate, then their elected officials could certainly pass legislation to overturn it. The governor, in other words, is not a dictator, and to sugges…