Why Do I Oppose the Death Penalty?

First, it takes life.

Second, it encourages the taking of life and other forms of revenge. Not only is there no evidence that it reduces crime, but it is defended in the same terms that many criminals use to defend their actions.

Third, it is dishonest. If we are going to kill people, we should do so publicly and graphically. Outside of Florida, where the victim’s head sometimes catches on fire in the electric chair, we have made murder look like a tetanus shot. When we hide from ourselves read more

Remember

One good reason to read history is to discover that many of the worst aspects of our lives today are very recent inventions. It’s extremely fast today: the time that it takes an innovation of the worst sort to become thought of as the way things have always been.
After WWII incomes over $400,000 were taxed at 91 percent. By stages, this has been reduced to 28 percent. As a result, between 1978 and 1990 the net worth of the Forbes 400 tripled and $70 billion per year was lost in read more

Culpeper, Virginia

If you listen to the advertisements of candidates for state delegate from Virginia’s 30th district you may be surprised to learn that socialism is alive and well in this rural section of the piedmont just to the south of booming Northern Virginia and just to the north of Charlottesville where the University of Virginia and strange liberal ideas can be found.

Independent candidate, J.D. “Dori” Callahan is campaigning against socialism. A homemade sign in a yard in Culpeper reads read more

American Violence

Why do kids get shot in schools in the U.S.? The vast presence of guns is one possible contributing factor. So is the violence in U.S. movies, music, books, magazines, and video games. The extreme inequality in wealth in the U.S., poor child raising, high divorce, and low quality schools are other possible culprits. It’s also possible to suspect an American genetic tendency toward violence, but I don’t believe we know enough to address that possibility.

Guns are defended as necessary read more

Crime Prevention

The Washington Post reported on April 20th that a New York-based human rights group called Human Rights Watch has found that two new super-max prisons in Virginia are marked by racism, brutality, and inhumane conditions, and that, with room to spare in these highest security prisons, state officials are rushing to fill them with prisoners “better suited to less harsh conditions.”

In the view of many advocacy groups, including Amnesty International and the ACLU, ALL prisoners are better read more

Jefferson's Sweatshop

The living wage campaign as a national phenomenon has grown rapidly. Twenty-nine cities, counties, and school boards have passed explicit living wage ordinances raising the minimum wage for anyone employed directly or indirectly by that body. These wage rates vary, but are often an amount designed to keep a full-time worker’s family of four out of poverty.

A Living Wage ordinance stipulates that the minimum wage level will be adjusted for inflation and cost of living annually. Other cities read more

Affirmative Action

I went to a duel on a recent evening in a large auditorium at the University of Virginia, with Linda Chavez and the dean of admissions, Mr. Blackburn, speaking on affirmative action. Both had good points, but I’d give Blackburn a clear victory. I’d guesstimate three-quarters of the audience had decided on that outcome in advance. The crowd was slightly rowdy, by UVa lecture-hall standards.

Chavez spoke first. She runs the Center for Equal Opportunity, in DC, and their reports on read more

Right to Work

My state, Virginia, is doing pretty well in the great grand scheme of things. Sure, we’re only in second place in importing trash and in killing convicts. Several states are outpacing us in both incarceration rates and growth of sprawl. But we’re cutting down forests, defunding education, and selling cigarettes as fast as anybody in the area, and we can stand proud as Virginians with the knowledge that our Commonwealth is the home not only of Oliver North, Ken Starr, Pat Robertson, read more

Deconstruction

On April 18th the Washington Post ran a book review by Jonathan Yardley lamenting the damage done to our society by deconstruction and pointing out for the umpteenth time that Paul De Man had sympathized with Nazism in his youth.

If you don’t have a very good idea what deconstruction is, don’t worry about it. Neither does Yardley. The idea found in the writings labeled deconstruction, pragmatism, postmodernism, and so on, which draws the most fire is the notion that humans have to read more

Confidentiality

I recently had a discussion with the editors of a student newspaper at the University of Virginia called the Cavalier Daily. The paper is currently performing an admirable service in its coverage of some questionable judicial proceedings at the university. But the paper printed information which its source had been instructed by the university to keep confidential. I asked the editors whether they opposed the rule that made University Judiciary Committee proceedings confidential. They said they read more