- The Gavel: 0—Number of Republicans Who Voted To Cut Taxpayer Subsidies for Big Oil
Whether we should continue to subsidize big oil companies (the world's most profitable businesses, let's remember) came to a vote in the House. Republicans voted unanimously in favor.
- IT World: Asus motherboard box doubles as a PC case
Asus is going to start shipping one of their Mini ATX motherboards in a padded cardboard box that can double as a case for the computer. They figure it'd only last for about a year. Whether or not anybody actually wants a cardboard box as a computer, I have no idea, but it's definitely clever. A cardboard box computer is sort of the anti-Apple, to a degree that I have to admire.
- Supreme Court: Snyder v. Phelps
Good for the Supreme Court for ruling in favor of Westboro Baptist Church. While Phelps and company are wretched human beings who behave in outrageously awful behavior, they have every legal right to do their thing. What's notable about this decision is that there was a dissenter—Justice Alito.
Published by Waldo Jaquith
Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Charlottesville, VA, USA. more »
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RE: Oil Subsidies
Would it make sense to cut oil subsidies? I very much believe that we need to end our dependence on oil but I wonder if it would be detrimental to take an action that presumably would increase gas prices, hurting the economy. Would it be better to leave the subsidies in place until alternative energy technologies were more available and efficient? or do we need the kick in the pants that much higher gas prices would hopefully provide to really spur alternative energy tech?
I can’t really fault Alito for dissenting. I think I agree with the court on this decision, and certainly agree on the crux of the issue, but Alito’s case is well-argued and certainly within reason. It’s not quite as if he wrote, “I don’t like them, they shouldn’t do that.”
(When did you change the layout of the spam-filter box?)
I’m no economist, but that’s not a line of thinking that I’m very comfortable with. We have oil companies that are incredibly profitable, who we’re propping up with subsidies. And we’re going to keep subsidizing them because we fear that, rather than reducing their profit margins, that they’ll just raise their prices. It feels like we’re being held hostage by oil companies. You could well be right—I just find the prospect disturbing.
No, but I don’t think what he wrote is too far off from that. :) He’s basically arguing that WBC’s speech qualifies as “fighting words,” but they just don’t—WBC is very, very careful to make sure that their expression never leaves the bounds of constitutionally protected speech. The majority refutes Alito’s claim in footnote 3, on page 5, writing:
But, as the court below noted, there is “no suggestion that the speech at issue falls within one of the categorical exclusions from First Amendment protection, such as those for obscenity or ‘fighting words.’”
That said, I do agree with you that Alito’s dissent is relatively well-reasoned, which is to say that I expected him to use exceptionally poor logic, and that’s obviously not the case.
It started breaking a few weeks ago—people were reporting to me that they were submitting comments, but without being asked to complete the CAPTCHA. So I erased and reinstalled it, and then I couldn’t remember what it used to look like. :)
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