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Election Day in Houston

3 Nov

For the first time since I can remember, maybe since I turned 19, I did not vote today. I apparently never registered to vote in the first place! My only excuse is that I got my new driver’s license last year in Austin, and never really got wrapped up in the mayor’s race, removing the two major reasons I would remember to register.

I tried to get excited about the mayoral election, particularly when my friends and coworkers began talking about the different candidates. Since the election is technically “non-partisan”, it becomes a little bit harder to pick your preferred candidate. Not that that’s a bad thing; on the contrary, I think it’s probably the best situation. It’s so easy to claim to be a member of one political party or another, and end up voting for someone who is pretty much against everything you are for, and vice versa. Party politics is generally about idealogy, while local elections are about how many police officers we have or how well our sewer systems work.

Before I realized that I wouldn’t be voting in this election, I made an attempt to learn about the candidates. I found a quiz on the Fox 26 website purporting to “match” you with the candidate that fits your views best. A candidate matchmaker – riiiight. I don’t think you’d fall in love with any of these candidates:

Question: How would you bring more jobs to the city?

#1 The Socialist Workers campaign puts forth and fights for a massive federally-funded public works program to put millions to work at union-scale wages that can be used to build quality, affordable public housing; schools; public transportation; daycare centers; hospitals, to meet the needs of all working people.

#2 We need to use every tool available to bring more national and international businesses to the city. Houston has all the tools to become the center of the new renewable energy industry. We will pair viable alternative energy ideas with local entities that have the ability to bring those ideas to market and create a forum that allows Houston to showcase new technologies.

#3 Because the downturn in the national and international economy is the biggest problem in retaining and attracting good jobs, I have proposed a Hire Houston First policy that will encourage the city to contract with local businesses that create local jobs. I will offer economic development incentives tied to measurable job creation. Houston is the oil and gas capital of the world, and I will use my 20 years of experience in the energy sector to transform Houston into the renewable energy capital of the world, creating new, good-paying jobs for Houstonians.

#4 To keep Houston’s economy growing and attract new, good-paying jobs to the area we need a to start with clear vision and a commitment to keeping Houston business-friendly. My strategy will help grow existing businesses and attract new companies, top level talent, and new, good-paying jobs to Houston with an Office of Economic Development and Job Creation, tasked with recruiting new business, developing existing companies, and helping start-ups and small businesses thrive.

With the exception of the #1 response (clearly Amanda Ulman, the Socialist Workers Party candidate, who in another answer glowingly referred to Cuba’s response to Hurricane Ike), all of these answers are the boring, pat responses you’d expect from politicians. Admit it – you probably skimmed right over them!

If you voted in the election, I defy you to pick your candidate’s answer from that list. I’ll give anyone who can do it something delicious. Like a Hershey bar.

On an unrelated topic, I got stuck in the horrible traffic omnipresent on Kirby between Plumb and Bissonnet and decided to take some photos. Enjoy.

The Big Easy

The Big Easy and the big condo tower

Annise Parker campaign sign

Annise Parker sign

UPDATE: Looks like there’s going to be a runoff … I think that means I still can’t vote. Don’t you have to have voted in the election to vote in th runoff?

UPDATE II:  Petrelis Files makes a very interesting point.  “To Win, Avoid Gay Inc Help; Houston’s Lesbian Parker Top Vote-Getter?”, noting the loss of Proposition 8 (for gay marriage) in Maine.


Steyn “stupid”; issues “uncomfortable”

7 Apr

I understand Michelle Goldberg’s dilemma when challenging what is for the left-leaning, traditionally sacred tenets of the European welfare state.  Indeed, libertarians and conservatives have long pointed out the pitfalls of a social welfare system built upon a shrinking population pool sustained only immigration (libertarians dislike the paternalistic government and high taxes; conservatives dislike the progressive social agenda supporting lower birthrates, ie abortion, gay marriage, etc.)  

While introducing the conservative side of the argument, she calls Mark Steyn “deeply stupid”, and then proceeds to agree with his arguments (though not his solutions).  Not exactly the genius maneuver, Ms. Goldberg, though I’m sure it’s an attempt to protect yourself from a tar-and-feathering from your fellow leftists for betraying those sacred tenets.

Goldberg points out:

I get why liberals have shied away from this discussion, since there’s so many uncomfortable issues involved.

Might those “issues” be “uncomfortable” because facts don’t support your worldview?  In order to make reality more palatable, Goldberg encourages fellow ‘liberals’ to seek solutions which remain in solidarity with the spirit of the social welfare state.  Create more social welfare!  

Basically, the societies where birthrates have plunged to dangerous levels – Russia, Catholic countries like Poland, Spain and Italy, as well as Japan and Singapore – are all places that make it very difficult for women to combine work and family. In countries that support working mothers, like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and France, birthrates are basically fine – they’re either just at replacement, or shrinking in a very slow, totally manageable way.

I’m not sure how having an “at replacement, or shrinking” population makes these countries “fine”.  In a cradle-to-grave social welfare system, the increasing number of workers retiring absolutely require an increasing worker base to tax to pay for it all.  As for relying on the immigrants to shoulder the burden, as Goldberg put herself: “[W]ill those immigrants really support a system in which a good part of their taxes go to maintaining a bunch of old Italians who they don’t necessarily feel any connection to?”

Moving from a homogenous society indoctrinated from “cradle-to-grave” in the benefits and burdens of a welfare state, to a majority immigrant working class supporting retired native-born citizens is a powder keg whether it happens quickly as it is in Italy, or slightly slower, as in Scandinavia.

Goldberg also failed to mention how ‘liberal’ solutions to increase birthrates can be reconciled with the inevitable increase in global warming that will result…

A leading medical journal recently called for British couples to stop having so many children to ‘reduce global warming’. But much of the rest of Europe has a different problem: declining birthrates and ageing populations.

Maybe it’s better to just shy away from this one, Ms. Goldberg.  These issues are getting increasingly uncomfortable.

Hat tip, Jim Treacher.