David Kirkpatrick

April 14, 2009

An update on the war on drugs

Filed under: et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:17 pm

Yep, it’s been totally worth the cost to U.S. culture, social fabric and simple dollars.

Oh wait, not so much.

My apologies to Katherine Mangu-Ward blogging at Hit & Run for reproducing her entire post. It’s short and says everything I would. If you don’t read Reason.com and like the idea of free markets and free minds it’s worth your time to check in on a regular basis.

Katherine’s post:

The prices of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine have been declining for two decades, despite billions of drug war dollars spent to restrict supply. Then there’s this headline today on CNN.com:

Heroin cheaper than six-pack of beer

Don’t worry though. The drug war is totally working.

Via Best of the Web

March 31, 2009

This is why the left scares me …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:23 am

… and ought to concern any freedom-loving American.

This link is a post from Michelle Cottle at the New Republic’s Plank blog. I like the Plank. I have it in my blogroll, but sometimes it reminds why the mindset of the political left really frightens me. (Not unlike how say, the Corner, does the same thing for me from the right.)

Cottle’s post is about the concept of banning fast-food restaurants within 500 feet of public schools, well more specifically on a study that hopes to achieve something along those lines. Cottle doesn’t totally agree with the idea but then this graf appears in the blog post:

I can, of course, already hear the logical response from objectors: Sure this move isn’t The Answer, but where is the harm in trying to make it An Answer. Like all political quests, tackling childhood obesity must be looked at in terms of strategic prioritizing. From a purely legalistic perspective, I can’t imagine that there wouldn’t be complicated, costly, time-consuming law suits (not to mention potential PR problems) if the government moved from controlling what takes place on public school grounds to dictating where private companies who products are in no way proscribed for use by minors can peddle their wares. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done. But whenever we’re talking about imposing new nanny-state limitations on private individuals and/or institutions, there should be serious cost-benefit anlyses conducted beforehand. I have to think there are more obvious, more useful, and less intrusive avenues to be attempted.
(boldemphasis mine)

I reiterate, Cottle isn’t going along with the left-wing groupthink here, but it’s just second nature for her to think (rightly I might add) the political left sees no problem with throwing government action — nanny-state bans in this case — at a “problem” regardless whether the cure might work, or if it’s even curing an actual problem facing our society. And any of the above is nothing more than very, very bad policy and ridiculous government overreach.

Hypothetical clowns like Cottle tacitly describes here were the only reservation I had in voting for Obama. The idea this mindset might feel some sense of entitlement to actual policy decision making was stomach churning. That churning was easily forgotten by simply thinking about “President Palin” and all the fail that reality would entail. (Also.)

December 2, 2008

Philips, Dean Kamen and North Dumpling Island

The release:

Philips Illuminates World’s First LED Nation

North Dumpling Island to achieve net zero energy; converts exclusively to LED lighting

BURLINGTON, Mass., Dec. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Battling today’s energy crisis with technology and ingenuity, North Dumpling Island will become an “off-grid” model of efficiency for others to follow — in part by adopting LED lighting.

The three-acre island off the Connecticut coast is owned by prolific inventor Dean Kamen, who has established North Dumpling as an independent nation – complete with its own constitution, flag and national anthem. When the U.S. Coast Guard cut electrical connectivity to the island’s lighthouse in favor of solar power, Kamen seized the opportunity to exclusively use renewable energy sources together with the latest technical innovations in lighting, water purification and appliances – many of which are his own inventions. As a result, the island will achieve net zero energy – meaning its energy use will be negated by its energy generation.

The fully converted and self-sustaining island will be unveiled in the Spring during a two-day fundraising event for FIRST, an organization founded by Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology.

“With increasing strain on our world’s energy resources, our goal is to make North Dumpling a small but prominent example of what can be achieved on a larger scale with today’s emerging energy-saving technologies. It’s an excellent demonstration of science and engineering as the antidote to the complex challenges of our time,” said Kamen. “The role of lighting alone as a chief energy drain has been well proven, and Philips’ LED lighting systems merge the best of technical innovation with societal benefit.”

Philips Color Kinetics will be the official lighting provider to the island. Installation is now underway and includes:

  —  Replacing incandescent sources with LED alternatives inside Kamen’s
      properties, cutting their lighting-related energy by 70%
  —  Adding controllable, multi-color LED lighting for special effects on
      the island while still cutting overall energy by nearly 50%
  —  Improving the “usefulness” of illumination via the directional nature
      of LED sources which, unlike the island’s former floodlighting system,
      project light exactly where it’s needed for greater efficiency
  —  Allowing the basement space to be illuminated, where the prior
      incandescent sources generated too much heat to be safely installed

“There’s a common misperception that adopting energy-efficient lighting means sacrificing the quality and experience of light that we’re accustomed to. That’s simply not the case with LED systems, which when engineered properly can mimic nearly any ‘shade’ of white light – from warm incandescent to cool fluorescent. Moreover, the inherently digital and directional nature of LED sources allows us to control and customize light as never before,” said Fritz Morgan, Chief Technology Officer, Philips Color Kinetics. “We’re thrilled to install our technology on North Dumpling Island as a demonstration of its wide-ranging uses – from decorative to functional – all while curbing energy use.”

Philips participates in numerous government and industry initiatives related to energy conservation. As a founding member of the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance, the company has helped to develop a technology roadmap for the U.S. Department of Energy as well as Energy Star criteria for LED lighting. Philips also played an instrumental role in the formation and leadership of the Lighting Efficiency Coalition, and recently received a Champion of Energy Efficiency Award from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy – largely for leading the charge to phase out inefficient incandescent lamps in the U.S. market.

  Digital images are available upon request.

  About Philips Color Kinetics

Philips Color Kinetics transforms environments through dynamic and more efficient uses of light. Its award-winning lighting systems and technologies apply the benefits of LEDs as a highly efficient, long lasting, environmentally friendly, and inherently digital source of illumination – reinventing light itself as a highly controllable medium. Headquartered in Burlington, MA, USA, Philips Color Kinetics is the leading center of innovation and product development for Philips’ global LED lighting systems business. The organization also enables widespread adoption of LED lighting through OEM partnerships in diverse markets. More information is available at http://www.colorkinetics.com/.

About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE:PHG)(NYSE:AEX:)(NYSE:PHI) is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 128,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of USD 42 billion (E27 billion) in 2007, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter.

Copyright (C) 2008 Philips Solid-State Lighting Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Source: Philips Color Kinetics

Web Site:  http://www.colorkinetics.com/

February 28, 2008

More than one in 100 jailed in US

Is the US a police state? For the first time in our history more than one in 100 United States citizens are incarcerated.

From a NYT article:

Nationwide, the prison population grew by 25,000 last year, bringing it to almost 1.6 million. Another 723,000 people are in local jails. The number of American adults is about 230 million, meaning that one in every 99.1 adults is behind bars.

Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.

The report, from the Pew Center on the States, also found that only one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 is behind bars, but that one in 100 black women is.

The report’s methodology differed from that used by the Justice Department, which calculates the incarceration rate by using the total population rather than the adult population as the denominator. Using the department’s methodology, about one in 130 Americans is behind bars.

This situation is not cheap. Also from the linked article:

Now, with fewer resources available to the states, the report said, “prison costs are blowing a hole in state budgets.” On average, states spend almost 7 percent on their budgets on corrections, trailing only healthcare, education and transportation.

In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase once adjusted for inflation. With money from bond issues and from the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.

It cost an average of $23,876 to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data is available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year for each inmate in Rhode Island to just $13,000 in Louisiana.

The cost of medical care is growing by 10 percent annually, the report said, a rate that will accelerate as the prison population ages.

Sure, a lot those behind bars ought to be there, but are we, as a nation, more criminal right now than any other period of our history? Asinine minimum sentencing rules, three-strikes laws and the utter failure and policy of suck that is the “war” on drugs contribute heavily to this situation.

As a society it would behoove us to remember when we turn a petty problem into a criminal offense (e.g., much of our drug statutes, turning a third-time convicted shoplifter into a felon, sentencing a women to six years for touching an adolescent’s hair) we are actually creating criminals. Maybe hardened criminals if they are forced to do hard time with actual criminals. You know — murderers, rapists, b-and-e specialists, armed thieves, child predators.

Since I’m in Texas I’d throw in cattle rustlers and trespassers, but those types don’t usually make it to trial.