Monthly Archives: April 2005

Deposit and Return

In the hope of encouraging more recycling, Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn is pushing a 5-cent deposit for beverage containers. Unclaimed deposits would be used for environmental programs.

I think this is a terrific idea. It will save me a lot of work because I can now just toss this stuff out the car window when I’m driving, secure in the knowledge that the state already has the money it takes to clean it up. Or else that some enterprising person will pick it up and turn it in for the money. No more guilt!

(I know, I know.)

Sally Goodrich

Some people are amazing.

Sally Goodrich, whose son died in the Sept. 11 attacks, kept a grip on her grief as she surveyed the foundations of the Afghan school being built with money she raised in the United States.

Goodrich, a native of Bennington, Vt., and an administrator for schools in nearby North Adams, Mass., has helped raise about $180,000 for the new girl’s school in Surkh Abat, about 30 miles south of Kabul, in Logar province.

I can’t imagine a better way to help the Afghan people while simultaneously striking a blow against Islamic extremism than to educate a bunch of young girls.

A Funny Thing

My wife went on a business trip on Wednesday and came back Thursday with an amusing story about how she almost got strip searched at the airport.

Strip searched. Ha, ha, ha.

She and her boss were going through the line and the security folks sent her boss in one direction and my wife into some side room. They made my wife take off her shoes. They X-rayed my wife’s purse and found something that bothered them, so they started going through it, taking stuff out and spreading it all over.

Making my wife stand there barefooted while they go through her purse. Great.

They couldn’t find the problem, so this dragged on and on. Meanwhile, my wife’s boss didn’t know what had happened to her, so she called my wife on her cell phone. My wife reached for it, and Skippy the TSA twit yelled at her not to touch it. You know, because they’re in the middle of a search.

I’m seething with anger that this stranger, this self-important little prick would be yelling at my wife. I don’t want to let it show, because my wife would only get upset, and this doesn’t seem to bother her as much as it bothers me.

Eventually, they found what they were looking for: a small utility knife in a credit-card toolkit at the bottom of my wife’s purse. Before they said anything, my wife just told them to take it so she could go.

The worst part is that even if I’d been there, there’d be nothing I could do. They’ve got the numbers, they’ve got the guns, and they’ve got the overbearing federal law enforcement. Yell at them, call them the idiots they are, and they could accuse you of trying to distract them in their duties or some such bullshit. They’ve done it to other people.

Eventually, my wife caught up to her boss, who’d been a little worried. My wife tells it like it’s funny, and maybe it is to her.

Me, I think that internal checkpoints are one of the surest signs of creeping totalitarianism. I think that when the authorities can question you and you can’t question them, it’s tyranny. Only a little bit of tyranny in this case, but even a little bit is way too much.

Protecting Prostitutes, Part 2

A few days ago, I wrote about the Predator Accountability Act being considered by the Illinois legislature. This bill would allow prostitutes to sue their pimps for damages. I pointed out a few problems with the bill.

After writing my little screed, it occurred to me that one defense of this bill is that it gives prostitutes access to the courts to obtain damages. Because prostitution is a crime, prostitutes generally don’t have much access to the courts, and lack of access to the courts is almost always a bad thing for people.

I believe economist David Friedman has suggested that providing an informal justice system for criminals is one of the reasons the Mafia exists. Think of Tony Soprano trying to resolve conflicts between his various lieutenants.

It stands to reason that allowing prostitutes to sue would therefore be a good thing, right? Well…

The problem is that the people who want to allow prostitutes to sue don’t really want them to have access to the courts. I know this because nothing in this act gives prostitutes access to the courts in the way that would be most important to them: The right to use the courts to collect from customers who don’t pay.

Or from agencies that don’t split the money like they promised.

I’m not suggesting we should create special rules that allow certain types of criminals to sue other criminals over difficulties carrying out their criminal conspiracy. That would be a huge departure from current law. People involved in criminal acts cannot usually sue over problems arising from those acts, and that’s how it should be.

What I’m suggesting is that best way to help prostitutes, if that’s really your goal, is to legalize prostitution.