SBP Vetoes Stipend Reform Bill

CRDaily

 Disclosure: I am a member of Student Congress and a cosponsor of the bill in question

Student Body President Will Leimenstoll has vetoed the bill which would eliminate the future Student Body Vice Presidents’ stipend of $2,400. The bill in question was passed by a super majority of the Congress. The Student Body President (SBP) has claimed that the elimination of the stipend would harm the accessibility of the position and there have been claims that the current Student Body Vice President (SBVP) sees an overall loss of money in his/her position.

Members of Congress pointed out, however, that the procedures do exist to have Student Government Officials compensated for related expenditures.

The loss in accessibility was hotly debated in Student Congress on the night the bill was passed, and more than two thirds of Congress decided that accessibility was not harmed by the elimination of the stipend. The reasons for this were:

A) The stipend was not substantial enough to compensate for a part-time job

B) To get enough experience to be a decent candidate for SBVP, the applicant must have been involved in relevant student government organizations that receive no remuneration, and

C) Past SBVPs have been able to find a balance between their duties, a part time job, and academics.

Members of Student Congress pointed out that no other student organization on campus is allowed to grant stipends to officer positions that do not have codified duties over the summer. In the Committee Meetings last Tuesday, the Rules and Judiciary Committee reported legislation to extend the SBVP’s duties over the summer unfavorably, making it unlikely to pass.

Now, the bill will be sent back to Student Congress on Tuesday, and Congress will vote on whether or not to override the veto. The override will require a majority similar to the one that passed the initial bill, and will be taken without debate. However, due to recent changes in Congress’s Standing Rules, any constituent may speak for 2 minutes on agenda items (such as the veto vote).

Make sure that your voice and opinions are heard by coming to Student Congress at 7:30 in Gardener 309.

UNC Bans Hugs

CRDaily

Those who went to the filming of the Stossel Show at UNC heard a representative of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) discuss the speech codes at our University. UNC has the rare dishonor of being put BACK in the “Red Light” zone. For more on that, you can go here, but the purpose of this post is to address the sexual harassment part of FIRE’s complaints about the University.

The Dean of Students has a list of examples of “sexual harassment” (or “sexual harasment” as they call it). According to this list the University considers you to be sexually harassing another student if you “explicitly or implicitly” ask for sex. Obviously if you do NOT do that before having sex, it is rape.

Also, the list names “sexually explicit jokes” (which is free speech, and quite widespread at UNC in my experience) and “Physical interference with or restiction of an individual’s movements” (which is so broadly worded that a hug could arguably be banned) as examples of sexual harassment. I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of Carolina students engage in any combination of consensual sex, jokes involving sex, and hugging. These students could potentially have their lives completely ruined were these restrictions fully enforced because in the digital age, “punished for sexual harassment” will follow and plague an individual for the rest of his or her life. The University therefore has a responsibility to its students to answer FIRE’s criticisms and craft new policy that gives those who are legitimately being sexually harassed recourse, but that does not so grossly over-generalize and overreach on these issues to the point of making them a punchline.

Barney Frank Attacks LCR on Heels of Successes

CRDaily, Politics

Barney Frank, the (thankfully) soon-to-be former Congressman from Massachusetts who oversaw Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the lead-up to the housing crisis, has taken to baseless attacks on queer Republicans. The openly gay Congressman specifically targeted the Log Cabin Republicans, saying they took inspiration from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s overly subservient character, Uncle Tom. When pushed, Frank stood by his comments.
Let’s put this in context. Frank is attacking the Log Cabin Republicans for being “Uncle Toms” because he claims they are accepting the GOP as it currently is, and he claims they are happy with just acquiring more civility. However, the truth of the matter is that the LCRs are looking to CHANGE the party, and they are making good progress.The LCRs played a role in winning over Republicans in New York for Marriage Equality, and they contributed to the number of conservative Republicans (including NC’s own Richard Burr!) to vote for the Repeal of DADT. The LCRs and Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry are making definite inroads in the GOP with regards to Marriage Equality. The LA Times (FAR from a bastion of conservatism) reported in July that 2/3 Republicans supported workplace protections for LGBTQ workers and 51% support some form of legal recognition of gay relationships. Further, the LA times found that among Tea Partiers, the number was even higher (53%).
The work of groups like LCR cannot be overlooked. The fact is that nothing about being queer mandates a particular political ideology. Many queers are fiscally conservative and support the overall small-government message of the GOP; many more do not. However, it is not the place of the majority to subjugate, harass, badger, or demean the minority. That is the kind of bullying that pro-gay rights groups are supposed to take pride in condemning. But then again, queer Republicans don’t know “their place”. According to Barney Frank, their place is with the Democratic Party, or else they’re an Uncle Tom.

The RNC Deals a Blow to Future of GOP

Politics

The Republican Party, with the growth of the Liberty Movement under Ron Paul, had reached an unprecedented (to my knowledge) level of youth voter enthusiasm. Ron Paul’s youth supporters rivaled the enthusiasm that the Democrats had once had a monopoly on (albeit in smaller numbers). So what is the GOP establishment’s reaction? Squash it, now!
Ron Paul and his supporters were pushed to the physical outskirts of the Convention. Ron Paul was forced out of being nominated (which would only be a symbolic victory for the Liberty Movement) by a retroactive change in the rules. The potential action to come from the only major concession to the Liberty Movement (the audit of the Fed) was delegated to a committee. From Obama’s Super Committee, to the Gang-of-“pick your favorite number”, to the Simpson Bowles Committee, we have seen that good ideas and problems are punished or killed by delegating action to a committee of politicians.
When Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Michelle Malkin, and Morton Blackwell all call the RNC out for what they did with the rules, the party needs to examine itself.
Further, the RNC Platform rejected any attempt to change the Party Orthodoxy on civil recognition of homosexual relationships. This is an issue that defines many people (both queer and straight) in our generation. I have spoken to several people at UNC as a Republican, and several are amenable to fiscally conservative ideas but cannot bring themselves to vote for a Party that would deny the legal equality of their queer family and friends. The Log Cabin Republicans and Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry pushed for recognition of Civil Unions, and were often supported by younger Ron Paul supporters. The Old Guard of the GOP refused to budge, however, and reemphasized the Party’s support for DOMA (the constitutionally shaky prohibition of federal recognition of gay marriage and says that states may ignore Article IV, Section I of the Constitution, which states that all states must recognize the judicial proceedings of other states), included thinly veiled desire to repeal DADT, and yet again clung to a desire to amend the Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman (even though religious definitions have no bearing on civil definitions).

Contrast this with the DNC being expected to put support for gay marriage in its platform and the Democrats active outreach that anyone walking around UNC can see. Meanwhile, the RNC has just alienated almost an entire generation of voters. Until there is a change in policy, a bigger tent, or a new direction for the GOP, I predict that the Democrats will continue to monopolize youth voters, which could spell disaster for Republicans in the long term.

Healthcare Decision Underscores Tie Between Economic and Social Freedom

CRDaily, Politics

So, in terms of immediate issues, the Healthcare decision was a mixed bag. On the one hand, Roberts pretty much made up that the mandate was a tax (since the President and Congress went to extreme lengths to make sure it was not a labeled tax in the bill) and is therefore Constitutional, leaving the individual mandate intact. On the other hand, the Supreme Court FINALLY put a limit on Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause. However, what is absolutely shown from this decision is the necessity of economic freedom to secure social freedom.

The government having the power to effectively force you to buy health insurance is an obvious infringement on the individual’s social liberties; it is the government saying, “If you choose not to make the choice that we think you should make, then you will be taxed”. In general, many people who identify as “social liberals” or “cultural liberals” often see infringements on economic freedoms (such as increased taxation, increased regulation, etc.) as desirable, necessary evils, or at least not a fundamental threat to liberty. Meanwhile the same groups also almost unanimously decry infringements on social freedoms (including marriage, birth control, health insurance, food preference, etc.) as intolerable government overreaches. The healthcare decision provides an excellent example of why economic liberty must be seen as equally necessary to a free society by all Americans, but particularly social liberals. In particular, I want to underscore the inherent long-term threat of using taxes to try to encourage people to make a certain personal choice (such as the purchase of insurance).

Let me posit a scenario to demonstrate this from a different angle than the current healthcare issues. Rick Santorum is president along with a House and Senate of social conservatives. Court precedent says that they cannot make birth control illegal, but what they can do is tax it. Court precedent says that they cannot make pornography illegal, but what they can do is tax it.

Now some would correctly argue that the practice of taxing “unwanted” behavior or choices has been around for a very long time and that this has not happened yet, but that is not the point. When the case is being made for economic freedom and free markets, their advocates are not advocating a system of the past, but a new approach to government’s relationship to the economy. The system free marketers advocate for is one where the government cannot pick winners from a list of campaign contributors or losers from a list of opponents and does not tax behavior or choices that it disapproves of because it has been fundamentally changed to be denied the powers to do so. In such a system, social freedoms would be more secured than they are today because one of government’s primary weapons to dissuade certain social practices (the weapon of taxation) will have been taken from it.

This Supreme Court decision impresses upon us the need to get government out of our wallets in order to get it out of our personal lives. Liberty is not something that should be split into different sects. Economic liberty affects social liberty, as I’ve described. Social liberty affirms economic liberty (i.e. government not prohibiting the individual from spending his or her money on “socially unacceptable” ventures, such as gambling). They are connected, and both are absolutely necessary for a free society.

“The power to tax involves the power to destroy” First Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Marshall

Public Employee Unions on the Run

CRDaily

In the wake of the Scott Walker win in Wisconsin, big labor, whose temper tantrum forced this ridiculous recall election, should be shaking. When the governor first implemented his reforms, which (despite liberals crying as if the world was ending) were quite modest, the Unions had all the momentum. The president spoke out publicly for their cause, they were able to rally crowds of people to protest, and they successfully began the fourth recall of a state’s governor in US history. If I had been a leader in one of the big unions at the beginning of this election, I would have been planning ahead to how they should carry their momentum over into Ohio and other states that had implemented reforms to public sector employee unions.

Unfortunately for them, however, Governor Walker’s reforms began to work. Unemployment came down. Given the choice, many workers began to choose to leave the union. Deficits were drastically cut. On paper, this should have been good for everybody in Wisconsin, but the unions and the left did not see it that way. When Walker’s reforms began to work, it seemed that the previously unchecked clout of public sector employee unions in Wisconsin was hurting the state’s economy overall. This is not news to most people; even President F. Roosevelt, the father of the American welfare state, knew that unionizing government workers was an awful idea. But, it took away the unions’ selling point that they helped the state and protected workers. If more people can work without the unions, then why would the public support the unions, especially during recession?

The recall effort saw this, and pretty quickly changed their tune. The left did not completely abandon the union issues, but they certainly did not try to focus on them in the last weeks. They went with personal attacks and flirting with the voter-intimidation-line instead. If they had focused on Scott Walker’s reforms, however, then I believe the 7 points margin that Walker won by (larger than his initial win margin in 2010) would have been even larger. The need to switch took a lot of the energy out of the left’s campaign though, and put it into the Walker camp’s. With tampered down energy, the unions garnered smaller crowds, raised significantly less money, attracted fewer big-name Dems to actively campaign (with the notable exception of Bill Clinton), and only received a last-minute tweet of support from the sitting president. By contrast, the fiscal conservatives supporting Walker raised unprecedented amounts of money for the recall election (not that it made too much difference according to this AP study), attracted nearly every big-name Republican governor in the nation (but to be fair, Romney was notably absent), and had support from across the nation.

Now the question is what does this mean for Public Sector Unions’ (traditional supporters of the Democrats) power nationwide. Well, it means that they likely do not have the momentum to try to overturn established reforms because they will be focusing on preserving what is left of their power. State officials from both parties (Democratic Governor Cuomo is demonstrating this to a lesser degree in NY right now) have just seen that it is possible to go after the lavish pensions and benefits guaranteed by Public Sector Employee Unions as a means of balancing budget sheets.

San Diego and San Jose, California just overwhelmingly approved measures to scale back the lavish public sector union benefits in their cities. Certainly, if two major cities in California have already turned on the Unions, then they should absolutely be afraid of what comes if the economy gets worse or Republicans do particularly well in the November election.