Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gov. Haley Does the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason

SC Governor Nikki Haley has vetoed a bill that would have provided HPV immunization to all seventh graders whose parents did not explicitly decline. Her reason, according to her public statement, is that it would lead to "another taxpayer-funded health care mandate."

Her analysis is correct.
Her objection is incorrect.
Her veto is correct.

Before attempting to override the Governor's veto, the General Assembly ought to consider why she ought to have vetoed.

Indulge me for a moment while I state a belief that cannot be repeated too often: a child is not property -- not of the parent, not of the state. Any public debate that seeks to establish who "owns the child" is misguided and inevitably leads to harmful decisions.

The proposed law would have authorized the immunization of every seventh grader, unless a parent or guardian chose to opt out. This is the wrong way around, not because the parent, as opposed to the state, owns the child but because the parent is the only individual who has a natural interest in the welfare of the child, to the exclusion of all other children save siblings. Parents are held legally accountable for decisions that bring or permit harm to a child, whether or not the intent was malicious. Any action by the state to improve the welfare of a child should be contingent on the express consent of the child's natural or legal guardian, except when there is sufficiently compelling reason to override parental consent.

Does this mean that all immunizations should be optional? In my opinion, no. The efficacy of immunization in stopping the spread of crippling and killing childhood diseases, not to mention the worldwide eradication of smallpox in the 20th century through mandatory immunization programs, convinces me that the collective benefits outweigh the individual risks in most cases.

This has not been established in the case of HPV. The long term risks are not yet known and the public health benefits of immunity to but one type of cervical cancer are questionable at best. I see no reason to bypass the default option of leaving the child's welfare in the hands of the natural guardians, the parents. This is why Governor Haley ought to have vetoed the bill and why the General Assembly should rewrite it before attempting to pass it without her consent.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Progressive Racism

SC Prog Blog has a piece this week titled, "The tale of the infamous goddess Nimrata," a satirical blend of fact and fiction concerning SC Governor Nikki Haley and her decision to adopt a mainstream American image, ostensibly for political reasons. This is but one of a number of instances of left-wing racism directed at Haley since her decision to seek the Governorship.

One passage will suffice to illustrate my point:

"Once upon a time there was an adorable little girl in Bamberg, SC, whose name was Nimrata Randhawa. The beautiful daughter of Indian immigrants from the Punjabi region, she was raised to follow the religious teaching of the Sikh religion from their native land. From her early years, Nimrata developed a profound interest for money and power. The story goes that by the age of 13 Nimrata was already in charge of the exotic coins of her family.

"The transformation continued and by the time she reached adulthood she adapted her birth name to a more Americanized version and took her husband’s last name. Fearing public perception, Nimrata willed her skin to change and by the time she reached complete transformation, she claimed to the be officially white and of the Christian faith."

Last things first: Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Had she chosen to become Jewish, Muslim or Pagan, I doubt there would be any sniping from the Left.

More offensive to me is the author's presumption that Governor Haley is bound by others' perceptions of her as belonging to a particular "race." As Dorothy Roberts has compellingly argued in Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century, race is a social and political, not a biological category. The Human Genome Project has confirmed that there is but one human race. The inherited diversity that does exist defies traditional concepts of race and rather reflects ancient patterns of migration. There is more genetic diversity among the black peoples of Africa, whose ancestors never migrated off the continent, than among any two groups on the rest of the planet. As far as Governor Haley's self-identification as white is concerned, the people of India have long considered themselves to be of Aryan descent and recent DNA studies confirm that Indians of South Asia are more Caucasian than Asian in terms of ancestral groupings. Put simply, Nikki Haley and I share a more recent common ancestor than either of us shares with Mao Zedong, yet we both are closer cousins to Mao than Desmond Tutu is to Idi Amin.

There are so many legitimate reasons to criticize the Governor. Her choice of race and religion are not among them. Whether or not the Right is prone to a generalized racism I cannot say. I do believe many on the Left practice a selective racism that targets those who fail to conform to their stereotypes concerning ethnicity and politics.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reflections on Reaching the Seventeenth Prime of my Life: Confessions of a Reformed Progressive


This is a significant departure from my attitude for most of my life. Rarely have I demurred to offer an opinion on any subject with which I have a passing acquaintence and often but a feigned familiarity is sufficient to justify a judgment on my part. I also like playing with words.

It is increasingly clear to me that my vision is very unclear, when it comes to the Big Picture. I see mostly small things at close range and have no idea how they connect to everything else. They do connect, I think, but how and to what effect is a mystery I do not expect to grasp. So my opinions on politics, religion, social reform, world peace or public policy are no more likely to be any good to humanity than those of anyone else who knows a thing or two.


Though most of my attempts at self improvement seem to have been dead-ends, I am more inclined to view them as Thomas Edison assessed his 40,000 trials leading to the invention of the incandescent lamp: I have never failed; I have discovered so many things that do not work.

Progress for me is often no more than the avoidance of things experience has taught me are unwise. I try new things; many are unwise; each is a new discovery. Progress is a long and winding road that leads to the next turn.


Continuing the twisted trail metaphor, one does not so much reach the end of the road as one reaches a stopping point. There is always one more thing that could have been done, but time runs out for us all. I do not intend my time to expire soon, but eventually it will and I shall leave things undone, trips untaken. The trail I leave behind may or may not be of interest to others. If anyone chooses to pick up where I left off -- if one can even do that -- no doubt that one will discover more things that do not work and that will be progress.