Pence walks a fine line
Understand the fine political line Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence is trying to walk by looking at the members of the team of policy advisers he has assembled. There is someone who advised President George W. Bush on social and religious issues. There are business-minded allies of Gov. Mitch Daniels. There is a member of the Federalist Society, a group devoted to strongly decentralizing political power.
Pence is doing what he must to woo the two main Republican factions – the social conservatives and the fiscal conservatives. He cannot win without both groups, so he must appeal to both. And because the alliance between them is sometimes fragile, Pence has to be careful he doesn’t twist himself into a political pretzel.
It can be done. Pence is right to focus primarily on economic issues.
Let's study bullying law
In the wake of the suicide of a Rutgers University student, New Jersey lawmakers passed one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the nation, but one with a couple of fatal flaws.
Local school districts have no say on the punishment – there is extensive training required as well as extensive reporting and an 18-page checklist on how to deal with individual incidents. But the law does not specify what qualifies as bullying, so educators don’t know what a valid incident even is. School officials thus have the worst of both worlds: no control and no guidance.
Indiana seems to have gotten those two things right. Our law does define what bullying is. And schools can craft their own anti-bullying policies. So we have both guidance and local autonomy.
Not that our law can’t be improved.
Laws affect real people
American Legion Post 260 in Portage is facing a rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma because of the statewide public smoking ban that goes into effect July 1. As a private club, the post is exempt from the law, and members can decide for themselves whether to allow smoking. But, The Times in Munster reports, the club might lose no matter what it chooses.
If smoking is permitted, there can be no events at the post at which children are permitted, so Legion families will have their options limited. But if smoking is banned, it is feared that attendance will drop and bar sales will be reduced, costing the post money and perhaps even forcing it to close.
That’s only one club in one city. Just imagine how many thousands of people are affected by the law throughout the state and will have tough decisions to make.
Ostrom and the common good
It wasn’t until 2009 that most Hoosiers even learned the state had college professor as distinguished and important as Indiana University’s Elinor Ostrom. When she won the Nobel Prize in economics that year, her 44-year-academic career was capped with a whirlwind of renown.
And just like that, she’s gone. Ostrom died in a Bloomington hospital Tuesday morning at 78 of pancreatic cancer. She was the only woman to ever win the economics Nobel Prize, and she wasn’t even an economist.
She was a brilliant political science thinker, and she will be missed. But her legacy will live on, and other people will add to what she’s learned. We will always have the benefit of what she contributed to the common good.
And “the common good” was what her study was all about.
Again, the court ignores rights
It didn’t get much notice, but there was a Supreme Court decision involving Indiana earlier this week that once more let local governments have their evil way with property owners. It wasn’t as outrageous as the Kelo decision in 2005, which upended the very concept of private property rights. But it was right in line with other post-Kelo decisions strengthening government’s hand and weakening property owners’.
The case was Armour v. Indianapolis, and it involved a property assessment levied by the city to pay for a sewer project in a subdivision. One group of subdivision property owners got financially screwed because they chose one option offered by the city instead of the other one. They sued, only to have the Supreme Court side with the city.