This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

Categories

Calendar

November 2004
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Process vs. Results

Just want to speak a little bit about my general principles. So far in a couple of the proposed amendments, I’ve said I am for the policy it represents, but will vote against it because it is a constitutional amendment, and I believe that is the wrong way to enact such a policy. But Sam, you say, if you are for the policy, shouldn’t you vote for those items, because that will produce an end result you favor more?

Well, it would, but for one thing. One of the things that I have always based my decisions on, both in my personal life, and in public policy issues like this, is that making sure there is CORRECT PROCESS, is more important that making sure there are CORRECT RESULTS. To use the old cliche for this, “The ends do not justify the means”.

In other words, even if the end state is a desireable one, if the way used to get there is an inappropriate one, then I do not believe one should go in that direction. Examples of how this applies to my views on some policy issues:

* Past discrimination should not be “corrected” by counter balancing it with current discrimination in the opposite direction.
* Using torture on suspected terrorists is not an appropriate way of preventing future attacks.
* The death penalty is not an appropriate way to punish or deter crime.
* Taking money from the rich to give to the poor is not a proper way to address proverty.
* Using “Eminent domain” to obtain land for public works or improvements is inappropriate.
* In most cases (not all), war is not an appropriate response to international disputes.
* There are many things which are “wrong” which should NOT be illegal.
* If someone does not follow the instructions properly and does something wrong when voting, their vote should NOT be counted (if that is what the law says), regardless of their intent.
* In most (but not all) cases, a properly passed law should be followed, even if it is stupid.
* Forcing a minimum wage on employers is not a proper way of addressing poverty.
* Consititutional Amendments are not a proper way to enact policy decisions.

I put the “(not all)” cavet explicitly in a couple of those, but in general the principle is NOT an absolute one. There are undoubitdly many cases where the ends DO justify the means… generally when the benefit of the “end” is much much much greater than the injustice done by the improper “means”. So for instance, in the torture case, if it was KNOWN that via torture one could produce information that would prevent a nuclear attack and save the lives of millions, would it be appropriate? OK, maybe. Are there some cases where the danger or injustice happening is so great that war to correct whatever is wrong is appropriate? Yes, probably.

It is not that I believe that an improper method is an automatic veto of whatever is happening, it is just that I put the bar very high on how much better the results must be to justify using a process or method that is unfair or improper in any way. As an example, on the issue of the proposed constitutional amendments, I’m sure most people view the method (constitutional amendement via referendum or the normal legislative process) as almost irrelevant, and therefore will vote exclusively on the issue itself, and which vote they believe will produce a policy result they prefer.

I on the other hand, consider that the propriety of the process itself, and using a constitutional document as a vehicle for policy issues, to be just as important if not more important than the issues themselves. If I saw any of these issues as something that was vitally important, and I also felt it was for whatever reason an issue impossible to be solved by the normal legislative process, then I *might* consider this as a potential way of addressing the issue, since the seriousness of the issue would overcome my objection to using a constitution in this way… I don’t see that situation in any of the proposed amendments I have looked at so far.

Anyway, I’m sure many will disagree with my logic here, and say the end result is more important than the process. But I believe in process, and following correct process, even in cases where it ends up screwing me over in the end and resulting in policies I don’t approve of. So be it. :-)

Florida Proposed Amendment No. 5

Time for another one. I sure will be busy tonight figuring out the rest of these!!! OK, you all know the drill by now. First, the ballot text:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ARTICLE X
FLORIDA MINIMUM WAGE AMENDMENT

This amendment creates a Florida minimum wage covering all employees in the state covered by the federal minimum wage. The state minimum wage will start at $6.15 per hour six months after enactment, and thereafter be indexed to inflation each year. It provides for enforcement, including double damages for unpaid wages, attorney’s fees, and fines by the state. It forbids retaliation against employees for exercising this right.

Then the real text:

SECTION X. Florida Minimum Wage Amendment

(a) Public Policy. All working Floridians are entitled to be paid a minimum wage that is sufficient to provide a decent and healthy life for them and their families, that protects their employers from unfair low-wage competition, and that does not force them to rely on taxpayer-funded public services in order to avoid economic hardship.

(b) Definitions. As used in this amendment, the terms “Employer,” “Employee” and “Wage” shall have the meanings established under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its implementing regulations.

(c) Minimum Wage. Employerss shall pay Employees Wages no less than the Minimum Wage for all hours worked in Florida. Six months after enactment, the Minimum Wage shall be established at an hourly rate of $6.15. On September 30th of that year and on each following September 30th, the state Agency for Workforce Innovation shall calculate an adjusted Minimum Wage rate by increasing the current Minimum Wage rate by the rate of inflation during the twelve months prior to each September 1st using the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, CPI-W, or a successor index as calculated by the United States Department of Labor. Each adjusted Minimum Wage rate calculated shall be published and take effect on the following January 1st. For tipped Employees meeting eligibility requirements for the tip credit under the FLSA, Employers may credit towards satisfaction of the Minimum Wage tips up to the amount of the allowable FLSA tip credit in 2003.

(d) Retaliation Prohibited. It shall be unlawful for an Employer or any other party to discriminate in any manner or take adverse action against any person in retaliation for exercising rights protected under this amendment. Rights protected under this amendment include, but are not limited to, the right to file a complaint or inform any person about any party’s alleged noncompliance with this amendment, and the right to inform any person of his or her potential rights under this amendment and to assist him or her in asserting such rights.

(e) Enforcement. Persons aggrieved by a violation of this amendment may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against an Employer or person violating this amendment and, upon prevailing, shall recover the full amount of any back wages unlawfully withheld plus the same amount as liquidated damages, and shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. In addition, they shall be entitled to such legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate to remedy the violation including, without limitation, reinstatement in employment and/or injunctive relief. Any Employer or other person found liable for willfully violating this amendment shall also be subject to a fine payable to the state in the amount of $1000.00 for each violation. The state attorney general or other official designated by the state legislature may also bring a civil action to enforce this amendment. Actions to enforce this amendment shall be subject to a statute of limitations of four years or, in the case of willful violations, five years. Such actions may be brought as a class action pursuant to Rule 1.220 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.

(f) Additional Legislation, Implementation & Construction. Implementing legislation is not required in order to enforce this amendment. The state legislature may by statute establish additional remedies or fines for violations of this amendment, raise the applicable Minimum Wage rate, reduce the tip credit, or extend coverage of the Minimum Wage to employers or employees not covered by this amendment. The state legislature may by statute or the state Agency for Workforce Innovation may by regulation adopt any measures appropriate for the implementation of this amendment. This amendment provides for payment of a minimum wage and shall not be construed to preempt or otherwise limit the authority of the state legislature or any other public body to adopt or enforce any other law, regulation, requirement, policy or standard that provides for payment of higher or supplemental wages or benefits, or that extends such protections to employers or employees not covered by this amendment. It is intended that case law, administrative interpretations, and other guiding standards developed under the federal FLSA shall guide the construction of this amendment and any implementing statutes or regulations.

(g) Severability. If any part of this amendment, or the application of this amendment to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the remainder of this amendment, including the application of such part to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected by such a holding and shall continue in full force and effect. To this end, the parts of this amendment are severable.

OK, as usual, the two parts. First, on the merits of this as a policy… Wages should be determined by supply and demand. Period. Government has no business intervening in basic economic transactions like what wages should be. The salary paid for a particular job will settle to a value based on how much employers are willing to pay, and how little employees are willing to work for given the tasks and skills involved. Setting arbitrary restrictions on this process by putting in a minimum wage (or raising it) will only have the effect of employers hiring less people if the positions are ones they can potentially do without, or if not, moving the jobs to states or countries without such a restriction. Sure, some people would end up making more with such a floor on salaries, but many other people would simply end up unemployed. And besides, even if it would “work” it is none of government’s business. So on the merits of the policy, I am against it.

But again, regardless of the merits of the policy, this is indeed a POLICY question, not a question of basic governmental structure. It has no business in a constitution. So…

My vote is: NO

Poll Closings – Handy Chart

Below is a link to a handy reference chart for tomorrow night. Shows what time which polls close where. First polls close at 23:00 UTC on Nov 2. Last polls close at 06:00 UTC on Nov 3.

2004 Poll Closing Times

This chart reflects the poll closing times used by the networks and other media outlets on Election Night. There is an “unenforced pledge” to not project a winner in a state until that state’s polls have closed (which, to the media, means “most of the state’s polls have closed”).

Below the chart is an outline of potential difficulties which may occur where a state spans time zones. (Poll closing times are extended for voters still in line when the hour of poll closing has arrived.)

Anybody willing to place bets on what date and time we will actually have a known winner??? As someone who likes watching the chaos of the whole thing, I’m hoping it will last until December or maybe even January… but… the news gods can’t possibly let me have that much fun. Just watch, the networks will be declaring a winner (and not taking it back) by 01:30 UTC. (That’s 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.)

Florida Proposed Amendment No. 6

OK. Here is another one. First the ballot text:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
ARTICLE X, SECTION 19

REPEAL OF HIGH SPEED RAIL AMENDMENT

This amendment repeals an amendment in the Florida Constitution that requires the Legislature, the Cabinet and the Governor to proceed with the development and operation of a high speed ground transportation system by the state and/or by a private entity.

The probable financial impact of passage of this amendment is a state cost savings ranging from $20 billion to $25 billion over the next 30 years. This estimate assumes the repeal of associated laws, the use of state bonds to finance construction, and could be reduced by federal or private sector funding.

And then the REAL text…

Article X, Section 19, Florida Constitution, is hereby repealed in its entirety.

Where the current text of that Section is:

High speed ground transportation system.–To reduce traffic congestion and provide alternatives to the traveling public, it is hereby declared to be in the public interest that a high speed ground transportation system consisting of a monorail, fixed guideway or magnetic levitation system, capable of speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, be developed and operated in the State of Florida to provide high speed ground transportation by innovative, efficient and effective technologies consisting of dedicated rails or guideways separated from motor vehicular traffic that will link the five largest urban areas of the State as determined by the Legislature and provide for access to existing air and ground transportation facilities and services. The Legislature, the Cabinet and the Governor are hereby directed to proceed with the development of such a system by the State and/or by a private entity pursuant to state approval and authorization, including the acquisition of right-of-way, the financing of design and construction of the system, and the operation of the system, as provided by specific appropriation and by law, with construction to begin on or before November 1, 2003.

OK. I’m all for high-speed rail. It is probably an infrastructure investment that would make sense. And hey, it is just plain cool. If I was in the legislature I would seriously consider voting for it. But once again, I don’t believe this is something that belongs in a constitution. In this case, since it is currently IN the constitution, and this proposal is to take it OUT…

My vote is: YES

If there is to be high speed rail, fine, but either let the private sector do it themselves (preferable) or have the legislature enact it on their own. A constitutional amendment is not the right forum.

Grinning Watermelon

Well, I know I was supposed to be jamming on the ballot issues and all that, but instead I had shifted gears to try to get the September Top Ten out. Well, and several other things. Amy had a birthday party sleepover thing Saturday night, so there was a lot of cleaning and getting ready for that. Then the counting for the Top Ten. Normally that takes me a couple hours. But this time due to the hard drive explosion I was trying to pull together data from several different places, and working all day Sunday was just not enough, so it didn’t get out.

I did take a break Sunday for a little bit to watch Brandy and Amy carve the traditional Halloween watermelon. The red toothy grin managed to scare many small goblins who showed up att he door. Well… actually we had about 15. A little less than I expected given how many kids seem to be around normally. But they were cute and they had costumes.

Today though I won’t work much on completeing the count for the top ten, because now that I have missed that deadline, the election is more pressing. Today Brandy and I will try to get our Florida driver’s licences (we should have done that months ago) to make the whole voting thing easier. (Rather than using something from the list of alternative IDs.)

And I’m going to try to spend the next 24 hours pressing through the rest of the ballot figuring out what I am going to do…

I’d post some pictures of our watermelon and other decorations, but I am lazy.