Sunday, November 28, 2004

Child of InstaPundit

InstaPundit is a big inspiration for me. I am not sure I even need to say this...

If I even come up with one entry per day, though, I will be satisfied!

Don't blame me, I did not read the bill I voted for...

Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) writes in the Washington Post about something that has always bothered me. He is expressing support for measures that will "encourage" Congress-members to read the legislation before they vote on it.

Last Saturday both the House and Senate voted to give the Appropriations Committee chairmen and their staff unrestricted access to the income tax returns of ordinary Americans. This extraordinary opportunity for privacy invasion does not have the majority support of either chamber, and the embarrassed Republican leadership quickly vowed to remove it.

But how did this dangerous provision pass Congress in the first place? The answer is simple: Members didn't have enough time to read the bill.


To prevent such abuses, House rules for the 109th Congress should insist that members have a minimum of three days to read legislation before voting and, further, that any waiver of this requirement require a two-thirds vote of the full House.

I think they should go further. Why not have one mandatory day of reading time for every 100 pages? If it slows them down from adding more and more laws on top of the existing pile, I will not complain.

Don't even get me started on requiring them to do their own taxes.

A Salute to My Guru

For my first post here, I want to salute my guru (Hindi for teacher), Dr. Thomas Sowell.

I first came across his columns in Forbes magazine 15 years ago. Those days I remember trying to make sense of an entry in my paychecks with the name "FICA", and a hefty cut. I decided to look it up in the library and was pointed to the Economics and Politics section in Non-Fiction. There I saw many of his books on the same shelves. I learnt about the mess that is the US Social Security system. But I also picked up a few of Dr. Sowell's books and learnt a lot more about the overlapping spheres of economics, politics, and public policy. To my considerable surprise, I understood and enjoyed reading these books!

His columns helped me understand the hotly debated issues of the day in politics. Using his background as an economics professor and a desire to help us understand the issues, he stripped them of their emotional labels, and showed the economic impact of policies on various players. When these ideas became accessible to me, I found myself enjoying the experience. I even picked up and read some books on economics (!) at the layman's level, books like these at the Armchair Economics Reading List. (Hat tip: Trader Mike mentioned it in the Carnival of the Capitalists )

(Even now, I hesitate to admit I like reading about economics. It is not going to earn me any "cool points" in my IT circles. "Yo, keep it on the down low, bro!")

He showed me a framework of basic economic ideas I could build on. That is why I can say everything I know about politics and economics I owe to his writing. Maybe he will see this salute and make time to meet me someday. Professor?