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The Conditions Under Which Progressives Will Lease Us to Businesses

One last minute bill in the Rhode Island General Assembly, H8324, may or may not be going anywhere, but it’s worth a look as an educational exercise.

Very simply, it would require any “hosting platform” (e.g., AirBnB) that allows people to “offer any property for tourist or transient use” to be responsible for making sure that the rentals are in compliance with state and local laws and regulations.  It would also require the platform operators to take a more active role in the collection and transfer of all relevant taxes.

This little change in law, affecting a narrow portion of a single industry in the state, carries some important questions of the sort that we don’t consider thoroughly enough.  What is the nature of commerce?  Who works for whom?  Who has responsibility for whom?

From a free-market perspective that starts with the individual as the origin of all economic activity, the property owners are responsible for the product that they are offering, and the hosting platforms work for them.  Because they are the constituents of state and local government, they have a say in that government and can arguably be said to have consented to granting it some authority to regulate their activities.

The progressive perspective that has long been insinuating itself into Rhode Island government and encroaching on Rhode Islanders’ rights is very different.  That view doesn’t begin with individuals as autonomous sources of responsibility and power.  The Rhode Islanders seeking to rent their property don’t truly have ownership of themselves.  Rather state and local government has claims on their activities, and the hosting platforms own their rental businesses.  It is therefore reasonable for the government to require platforms to make sure that their workers comply with its requirements.

From a free-market perspective, a government that imposes requirements on people might create incentive for them to hire a contractor to do tasks for them — for AirBnB to provide inspections for regulatory compliance, for example, with an extra fee.  But from a progressive perspective, the government has a right to tell companies that intend to draw profits from its people what conditions they must impose, or else they cannot do business here.

In other words, progressives implicitly believe that the government is renting us out to the companies.

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“Equal Pay”: From the Radical to the Uselessly Disruptive

Fortuitously, the Providence Journal ran an op-ed by me explaining how insanely radical proposed equal pay legislation actually is:

This legislation must, therefore, be about something other than simple fairness in the workplace. Sure enough, the biggest piece making this legislation so radical is its broad scope — going well beyond the battle of the sexes. Indeed, the “equal pay” umbrella extends to the categories of “race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin,” covering all “comparable work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions.”

Plainly put, this gives the government power to investigate just about any business and dictate changes to its pay policies, because the only pay differences that wouldn’t have legal risks would be those between people of the same race, religion, sex, orientation, gender identity, disability, age, and nationality. For any two employees who aren’t more or less demographically identical, the lower-paid one could initiate a complaint with the state with the same weight as complaints that the employer withheld pay. The law explicitly puts the burden on the employer to explain it and to prove that no other business practice could erase the difference, even if it’s innocent.

Today, the Rhode Island House will consider an amended version of the bill that gives reason to think that some legislators are not quite as crazy as the original bill would require them to be.  House 7427A limits the scope of the bill to race and gender, exempts companies under 18 employees, and reduces employers’ liability in a variety of ways.

The question now is why the legislature is passing anything at all.  Existing law already covers such things, so all this bill will do is create some new regulatory burdens with unproven legal language that may have unintended consequences.

The only explanation is political: that politicians want to be able to say they did something, even if they did nothing good in practical reality.  This gives momentum to the people who are manipulating the cultural narrative while tangling up Rhode Islanders who are doing their best just to support their families and move our society forward.

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Timbs v. Indiana May Not Go Very Far, but It Would Be a Good Step

It is unlikely that a ruling by the Supreme Court Timbs v. Indiana will go far enough to rein in civil asset forfeiture, even if it turns out to be a victory for that cause, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction:

The case is Timbs v. Indiana. It arose in 2013 when a man named Tyson Timbs was arrested on drug charges and sentenced to one year on home detention and five years on probation. A few months after his arrest, the state of Indiana also moved to seize Timbs’ brand new Land Rover LR2, a vehicle worth around $40,000. A state trial court rejected that civil asset forfeiture effort, however, on the grounds that it would be “grossly disproportionate to the gravity of [Timbs’] offense” and therefore in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids the imposition of “excessive fines.”

The state’s forfeiture effort clearly qualifies as excessive. Timbs’ original crime carried a maximum financial penalty of just $10,000. And as the trial court observed, “a forfeiture of approximately four (4) times the maximum monetary fine is disproportional.” The trial court was right to deem the state’s actions unconstitutional.

But the Indiana Supreme Court took a different view when it decided the case in 2017.

If nothing else, the case is an excellent indicator of the fundamental injustice of civil asset forfeiture, inasmuch as it creates an additional category of penalty that isn’t technically considered a penalty.  “We’re taking your property away, but it’s not a penalty; it’s just that your property doesn’t really count as your property.”

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Another State Edging Toward Licensing Reform (Including for Hair Braiders)

Occupational reform catches on in Pennsylvania:

Being a barber, an auctioneer, or even a “campground membership salesperson” in Pennsylvania requires a state-issued license.

That should change, says Gov. Tom Wolf.

Wolf, a Democrat, called Thursday for the state legislature to abolish 13 occupational and professional licenses, following the completion of a year-long review of Pennsylvania’s licensing laws. In place of some of those licenses, the Wolf administration says workers could be required to register with state boards. For others, such as hair-braiders, the administration has recommended eliminating the state’s role entirely.

Is Rhode Island going to take the lead on economic freedom for its residents or be among the last states holding on to insider deals?  Sadly, that isn’t difficult to predict… unless voters start surprising us.

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Assets Forfeited and Returned by RI Police

Based on data provided by the attorney general’s office responding to an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) request, the state’s various police agencies have seized $10,337,190 worth of cash and property since 2012, returning $1,417,559.  That’s an 86% forfeiture rate.

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That rate is not evenly distributed across programs, however.  Law enforcement kept every dollar seized under a search warrant or on the grounds of eluding police, with other crimes producing the following forfeiture rates:

  • Tobacco: 10%
  • Gambling: 30%
  • Prostitution: 50%
  • Counterfeiting: 60%
  • Narcotics: 92%
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Missouri Takes the Obvious Step for Hairbraiders

Missouri has taken a step that Rhode Island should follow:

Previous state legislation in Missouri had required people who wanted to braid hair for profit to obtain a cosmetology license — which required the completion of 1,500 hours of training.

This requirement was time-consuming, expensive, and created an unnecessary obstacle that made using one’s knowledge and skills to earn a living more difficult. Furthermore, it mostly affected women of color, who primarily make up both the customers and the braiders.

The requirement was yet another example of the ways regulations hurt everyday Americans’ ability to provide for themselves and to pursue their own economic liberty.

We can discuss in a more rigorous way when licensing is needed.  Is the use of chemicals a line?  Should it be a matter of life and death or contagion?  But surely, when one person consents to give money to another to braid her or his hair, the government doesn’t have to be in the middle of that transaction, especially to require a license for something that hair braiders don’t actually do.

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The Size of the Forfeitures

As the Stephen Hopkins Center brief (PDF) mentioned in this space yesterday explains, the actual amounts of cash and property that law enforcement agencies seize aren’t huge on a case-by-case basis, bringing into question the assertion by supporters of forfeiture that this power is central to disrupting cartels and kingpins.  Out of curiosity, I put together this chart of the amount of money forfeited to Rhode Island law enforcement agencies in 2016.  (That is, money the agencies got to keep.)

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Consistent with the Hopkins Center brief, these results don’t show an obvious focus on major busts.  The largest number of cases (45) involved cash amounts in the $1,000 to $1,500 range.  Sure, that’s a good bit of money for a person to be carrying around in cash, but that could just be proof of the complaint from anecdotes around the country — namely, that law enforcement is considering having a good amount of cash to be suspicious activity of itself.  But money in this range could be intended for benign things like buying a used car or preparing to go on vacation.

Note, by the way, that these bars use the ranges from the Hopkins Center report.  If we were to break them out by even $500 increments, the largest group would be $501-1,000, which even less suggestive of big-time drug dealers.

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Some Numbers on Asset Forfeiture

The Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights this week released analysis (PDF) of the state’s narcotics-related civil asset forfeitures, wherein police agencies take money and property from people who have not been — and may not be — charged with a crime, under suspicion that the money or property is connected with the illegal drug trade:

Joee Lindbeck, lobbyist for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, testified at both the House and Senate Judiciary committee hearings in opposition to legislation which would require a criminal conviction before seized assets may be forfeited. Ms. Lindbeck asserted in both hearings that the proposed reforms would serve only to protect drug cartels and drug kingpins.

The Hopkins Center reviewed data collected by the Rhode Island General Treasurer on forfeiture cases in in 2015 and 2016, which was provided to us and requested under the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act. The Center then aggregated and analyzed that data in order to assess the realities of how the law is currently being used. The results are clear – the majority of forfeitures were for small dollar amounts, not the type of cash or property “wealthy drug lords” have on hand.

As the brief explains, out of the $970,524 seized, 28.34% was given back as not legitimately confiscated.  A closer review of the numbers shows instances in which law enforcement ultimately returned most of the money or property, but kept some of it.

Rhode Islanders can disagree about whether the ability to take citizens’ property without prosecution is a legitimate use of government power even when those citizens are big time drug dealers.  We will probably mostly agree, however, that the limits should be strict and the guaranteed due process rights very strong on behalf of those whose property is taken, which is what the legislation mentioned in the brief would do.

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When Cash Is a Crime (Or Is Government the Criminal?)

This rather extreme example of civil asset forfeiture has been getting some deserved attention recently:

A U.S. citizen for more than a decade, Rustem Kazazi was flying back to Europe to help his Albanian family repair their home and maybe even to buy a little beach house somewhere along the Adriatic Sea. He placed $58,100 into three clearly marked envelopes, then packed the money away in his carry-on luggage.

It was 13 years of his life savings – and the federal government took every penny.

TSA employees discovered the cash, and agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized it. But first they strip-searched Kazazi and interrogated the 64-year-old without a translator as he covered himself with a towel.

Kazazi says he was carrying the cash in part because robbers in Albania make a practice of targeting people who make large withdrawals at the bank.  In the United States, it seems, the government makes a practice of scanning luggage for cash and taking it away.  In one case, the target may be beaten; in the other, he’ll be strip searched and interrogated in a towel.

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Philadelphia Insists on Worship of the Progressive gods

Welcome to the new “inclusive” paradigm:

Over the past 25 years, Sharonell Fulton has been a mother to more than 40 children through foster parenting in Philadelphia.

She has opened her heart and home to children who have suffered abuse and trauma, offering them an oasis of love and comfort during tumultuous times. …

When Philadelphia recently severed ties with Catholic Social Services, Fulton said that she felt fully “the pain of rejection.” Fulton, who had been using the Catholic Social Services program for her own foster parenting, said that seeing “the city condemn the foster agency that has made possible my life’s work fills me with pain.”

Sadly, nothing is as important to progressive governments as fealty to their gods.  Everybody must proclaim the truth of the progressive religion.  In ancient Rome, Christians were persecuted and executed if they would not go through the motions of worshiping Roman gods.  Very often, the early martyrs weren’t required to explicitly reject their own beliefs (by, for example, speaking ill of Jesus) so much as to bend a knee to the supposedly more powerful ones under a supposedly divine caesar.

Just so, Philadelphia Catholics aren’t forced to proclaim the falsehood of their beliefs, but only to behave as if their beliefs must be false for all practical purposes.  This modern variation is so much the worse because it doesn’t exact its punishment on the believers, but on the suffering and disadvantaged people whom the Catholics wish to help.

We’ll see how history judges secularists who believe it is better that children should suffer than that they be helped by Christians acting according to their beliefs.  Of course, those of us who believe in God also believe there is a much more important judge than credentialed chroniclers of the past.

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How Could Natural Hair Braiding Be So Difficult to Free?

I don’t doubt that Jocelyn DoCouto will eventually win her issue with the State of Rhode Island.  What’s astonishing is that it should take years of advocacy and lobbying to get it done:

I have spent my life mastering the art of African-style, natural hair care. As a young girl, I learned to braid and even practiced on my own head. I later learned more advanced techniques from my aunt. My knowledge has expanded to include weaving, crocheting, extension braiding and many other natural techniques — all collectively referred to as “protective styling.”

I started receiving clients at home, based completely on referrals, and now have customers of all ages. I have even been lucky enough to use this art to give clients who have recently undergone chemotherapy the protective, natural styles they have always wanted. And I strive do the best job possible for every client who walks through my door, because my customers’ satisfaction literally determines whether my business lives or dies.

I wanted to open my own salon, but Rhode Island would not let me. Under state law, I am not allowed to braid hair without a cosmetology license, which requires 1,200 hours of irrelevant training and can cost upwards of $17,000.

As I wrote earlier, Rhode Island can have a vibrant, innovative economy, or it can have its insider system, but it can’t have both.  It is well past time for us to let people like Ms. DoCouto explore their areas of specialty, even if it means some comfortable people have to compete a little harder.

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A Warning to Watch Across the Pond

The story of Tommy Robinson’s arrest may very well prove to have been a key bellwether of the modern West, so it’s worth highlighting here.  For that purpose, I’ll turn to Mark Steyn, who has long been a clear (and entertaining) voice on the broader topic of free speech in the face of Wester Civilization’s cultural collapse:

On Friday, Robinson was livestreaming (from his telephone) outside Leeds Crown Court where last week’s Grooming Gang of the Week were on trial for “grooming” – the useless euphemism for industrial-scale child gang rape and sex slavery by large numbers of Muslim men with the active connivance (as I pointed out to the Sky guys) of every organ of the state: social workers, police, politicians. Oh, and also the media. …

he was outside the Crown Court in Leeds. He was not demonstrating, or accosting or chanting, or even speaking. He was just pointing his mobile phone upon the scene from a distance. Within minutes, seven coppers showed up in whatever they use instead of a Black Maria these days, tossed him inside it and drove off. In other words, these were not “investigating officers” called to the scene: They showed up with the intent to take him away. Within hours, he was tried, convicted and gaoled – at HM Prison Hull, a Category B chokey, or one level below maximum security. The judge in the case, one Geoffrey Marson, spent all of four minutes on trying, convicting and sentencing Robinson. It is not clear whether that leisurely tribunal included his order expressly forbidding “any report on these proceedings” (the case is Regina vs Yaxley-Lennon because that’s Robinson’s real name).

The gag order on reporting about the arrest has apparently been lifted, but that doesn’t drive the chill from the air.  Steyn contrasts Robinson’s treatment with the kid-gloves handling by authorities that allowed these “grooming gangs” to become true, systemic atrocities.

We’re approaching a time in history that calls for clarity, and in cases like this, clarity should be easy.  The question that will determine the future may be how able we are to clear the identity politics from our eyes.

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Confusion on “Pay Equity”

It’s difficult not to feel as if you’re missing something while reading Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White’s recent op-ed in the Providence Journal.  On the one hand, she insists that “[e]nsuring pay equity is crucial for organizations to function successfully” and offers some suggestions for legislation currently working through the General Assembly.  On the other hand, she lists ways companies can achieve “pay equity” without “government overreach.”

The impression, overall, is that White is signaling that some tweaks to the legislation could be enough for her organization to sign on as supporters, but that she has to take a tone of opposition for the benefit of her members.

The whole debate, however, has this feel of missing something, at least in Rhode Island.  For starters, the wage gap is a myth.  It isn’t real.  Remove from the equation factors that should legitimately affect pay (like career choice, hours worked, and so on) and it evaporates.  White’s op-ed doesn’t go there, but she does proclaim that “pay equity” is critical for businesses to function.  If that’s the case, then why would they discriminate?

Another consideration that conveniently gets left out of this discussion is that Rhode Island already has laws against sex-based discrimination.  Without actual evidence of a systemic effort to skirt those laws, making them more stringent is a reckless imposition.

Of course, reckless imposition appears to be the real objective, inasmuch as the most significant action of the legislation on the table is to expand existing sex-based-discrimination law to cover just about every identity group.  Why is nobody acknowledging that reality?

Out of homage to political correctness, nobody seems to want to address the lies at the center of this debate.  Consequently, they’re conducting this surreal discussion as if debating how best to patch a roof that isn’t leaking.  Meanwhile, the foundation of our society is eroding and Rhode Island’s economic walls are crumbling — notwithstanding the governor’s frantic efforts to board them up with corrupt hand-outs.

Well might the Providence Chamber’s members be concerned about this issue, not the least because their spokeswoman is inevitably setting them up by failing to insisting that the state government legislate from within reality.

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Fire Your Personal Assistant Devices

To take a little detour from our usual subject matters around here, I think you’re crazy if this is you:

The woman, who was identified only by her first name in the news report, said every room in her family’s home was wired with the Amazon devices to control her home’s heat, lights and security system.

This particular woman is in the news because an Amazon Echo device (aka “Alexa”) mistakenly acted according to a series of cues that its owners didn’t actually speak and sent a recording to somebody on their contact list whose name happened to be similar to a word from their conversation.

It’s not encouraging that something like this could happen by accident, but more disturbing is that the mechanisms for it to happen are in place to begin with.  At some point, a payoff in convenience or the “neat” factor ceases to be worth the creeping loss of our privacy.  For my part, the fact that computers, tablets, and phones don’t have hard-wired shut-off switches for cameras and microphones already puts us past that line.  Bugging our own homes goes well beyond that.

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Another Left-Wing Threat to Rhode Island Businesses

Don’t miss my essay on so-called “equal pay” legislation in the Providence Journal this week:

The corruption is twofold. First, many political leaders understand the danger to business, yet they may advance the legislation anyway — fearful of being tagged as “anti-woman” from petulant progressives. Worse, to remain in the good graces of the political elite, many prominent insider business groups, who pretend they represent the overall business community, are providing cover for lawmakers, making believe that their negotiated watered-down version is somehow acceptable to other employers across the state. It is not. This is exactly what happened last year with the free-paid-time-off legislation. And this repeated corruption is exactly why Rhode Island suffers one of the worst business climates in the country.

We are also fed the bogus argument that other states have passed similar laws, so Rhode Island must follow suit to remain competitive. False. To gain a competitive advantage, Rhode Island employers should have more freedom than their counterparts to hire workers on mutually agreeable terms, rather than have their hands tied with more government-imposed red-tape.

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A Question of Ballot Design

With the still-recent change in voting technology in Rhode Island, it behooves advocates to keep a close eye on how ballots are designed, as we’re learning in Tiverton:

I took it as evidence that double-checking work is very important when, while creating a sample ballot to hand out at the polls, I marked the circle for the wrong budget at this year’s financial town referendum (FTR).  I was tired and rushed, and it was natural to fill in the oval directly under Budget #2.  Of course, it took only a moment to realize the mistake and correct the error.

However, standing outside the high school on Saturday, members of Tiverton Taxpayers Association (TTA) were actually surprised at the number of comments supporters made about how confusing the ballot was.  Those comments continued after the results were announced, with people writing by email and Facebook message, even stopping us on the street.

It’s very unlikely that this confusion changed the outcome, but for the sake of completeness, we’ll be asking to take a look at the completed ballots, as well as asking the local Board of Canvassers to take steps to make the voting clearer next time.

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PC or PC? Vice President Goodwin Takes Out Restraining Order Against Smalanskas

Michael Smalanskas, who was recently the center of an open debate battle with progressive activists over a bulletin board he posted educating students about traditional Catholic marriage, has been barred from campus and has had a restraining order taken out against him by Vice President for Student Affairs, Kristine Goodwin.

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National Popular Vote and the End Game

Upon the entry of Connecticut into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Michael Walsh emphasizes the practical motivation and effect:

“Work-around”? Nullification is more like it. But this is typical of the fascist Left, offering a “solution” to a non-existent problem in order to improve their chances at permanent political domination. It frustrates them to no end that having conquered California, New York, and Illinois in order to bank 104 electoral votes before a presidential campaign has even begun (270 are needed to win), they discovered that transforming those states into Democrat ghettos meant that every popular-vote margin over 1 is wasted, since the overall national popular vote doesn’t matter.

As I argued when Rhode Island took this leap, it makes no sense for small states.  Rhode Island and Connecticut have more leverage under the electoral college than under a popular vote regime.  But the powers who be in these states trust that their political party will continue to dominate other, bigger states, so they’re willing to sell out their own voters in order to take leverage away from other small states that either aren’t as partisan or are partisan in the other direction.

Walsh has it correct when he writes:

… the idea of independent and, dare I say “diverse,” states is repugnant to totalitarians. As they go about rewriting the history of the United States, one of the things they’re trying to expunge is the idea that thirteen separate colonies came together in order to form a more perfect union. The nation they envision — and which they’re on their way to realizing — is one ruled from Washington, with the states acting as administrative satrapies.

We can project farther into the future, too.  We’ve already had plenty of indication that, once Washington, D.C., is reliably fixed in the hands of an executive to their liking (one who will use the power of government to hurt their enemies and skirt the Constitutional order to subvert that troublesome legislature), they’ll turn to shifting power to a global elite.  Their goal is a planet that has no place to go where you can live as if their philosophy might be wrong.

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Edging Toward the Future of Our Oppressive Past

Christine Rousselle draws attention to a story that seems like a significant slip in our country’s shared appreciation of civil rights and dialogue:

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal organization that promotes life, marriage and religious liberty, has been removed from the “AmazonSmile” charitable giving program after being designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

AmazonSmile is a program that allows users to choose a nonprofit foundation to receive a small percentage of their Amazon purchases. ADF has been part of the program since its inception in 2013.

It is no longer the case that we can have multiple sides defending their own rights and interests.  The SPLC — itself a hate group that has inspired violent attacks — can designate as unacceptable an entirely mainstream conservative organization that specializes in the legal defense of civil rights, and the organization’s funding will come under attack even from broad and neutral-seeming public accommodations like Amazon.

We’ve already seen YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter suppressing conservative views and conservatives’ ability to raise funds.  Add that to campaigns to remove corporate sponsorships.  The next milestone will likely be a decision by Amazon not to carry books by those with whom its executives disagree.

Let’s be direct.  This was a predicted outcome of government’s decision to use the power of law to redefine marriage under the moral mandate that the traditional definition of the institution had no rationale but bigotry.  Once that principle is accepted, rights are written off cheaply.

Even non-conservative Americans aren’t going to like where this assault winds up, whether it’s civil war or shared oppression, but by the time they awaken to the hangover of the “tolerance” happy juice, doing anything about it is going to be painful, indeed.

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A Quick Thought on the Politics of Choice

Progressive Democrat Representative Aaron Regunberg, currently running for the six-figure do-nothing gig of lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, has taken the opportunity of a Planned Parenthood endorsement to remind potential donors that his grandmother was an executive director for that abortion provider in the days before Roe v. Wade:

Her name was Bunny Regunberg. But “Bunny” was a bit of a misnomer. Grandma Bunny was not friendly and fluffy, she was a fighter. And she had to be, as executive director of her local Planned Parenthood in the years before Roe v. Wade.

My grandmother’s work stressed the importance of empowering people to make choices for themselves. Grandma Bunny passed away in 2016, but she left me with a deeply held commitment to stand up and fight for reproductive justice for all.

“Empowering people to make choices for themselves.”  One wonders how far support for such empowerment goes for Regunberg.  Choices about the schools that their children attend?  Choices about how their money should be spent?  Choices about work conditions and compensation?  The list of choices that progressives like Regunberg seek to remove from people’s range of freedom goes on and on.

Apart from self-destructive “choices” that tend to put people under the loving wing of government, progressives’ devotion to “choice” seems to be limited to this “reproductive justice,” which is the farthest thing from justice for the unborn children whom it kills.

In most areas, progressives understand that “choice” and “justice” can be in conflict.  I’m inclined to disagree with them about the circumstances in which that’s the case, but it would explode their rhetoric about abortion if they were forced to admit the trade-offs.

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Turn Left Where the ACLU Used to Be

At least for my entire lifetime, there has been a tension to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  The general sense in the ’90s that it leaned a little left transitioned in the ’00s to a period during which libertarian or even conservative supporters of the group could say things like, “But they’re still good on [this] and [that].”  Now, aided by the wave of available donations for anti-Trump activism, the organization has made a decision, as Scott Greenfield suggests:

This is no civil liberties program, prepared to stand up for constitutional rights no matter whose are at risk. This is a progressive political group, riding the legacy coattails of a group that may still be called the ACLU but has made the active decision to change its mission from the defense of civil liberties for all to promoting a distinct political ideology for its adherents. And it’s gotten fat and rich as a result. …

There are still state organizations, old-time members and staff, who have a certain lust for constitutional rights. When they can support them, stand up for them, without offending their groundlings and piggy banks, they will likely do so. But they will not defend the Constitution if it conflicts with the popular whims of progressive change.

Glenn Reynolds adds that the Trump Era is something of a “Great Revealing, where once-revered institutions turn out to be cheap, partisan shams.”  That may be a little harsh, if only because even shams have to do enough to keep people believing the hype if they want to be perpetual players.  What appears to be happening with the ACLU is that the rewards of letting its freak flag fly have swept away that long-term view and allowed the progressive organization to more overtly be itself.

There is still a need for organizations that promise to defend civil liberties across the board, so perhaps we’ll see right-leaning organizations take up some of the more-leftish causes in order to gain the market of the center.  Meanwhile, the ACLU will be just another far-left activist group, and someday, the tide of the Pubescence will recede, and the various flavors of activism will have to compete with each other for dwindling funds.

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