Quote of the moment, still, again: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., on taxes as the price for civilization

January 12, 2013

It seems we need to keep reminding people of this.

The frequently quotable Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., circa 1930. Edited photograph from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Original photo by Harris & Ewing. LC-USZ62-47817.  Copyright expired.

The frequently quotable Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., circa 1930. Edited photograph from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Original photo by Harris & Ewing. LC-USZ62-47817. Copyright expired.

I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., attributed. (see Felix Frankfurter, Mr. Justice Holmes and the Supreme Court, Harvard University Press, 1961, page 71.)

Did Holmes say that?

The quote was all over the internet in early October 2008 (and later), after New York Times op-ed writer Tom Friedman noted it in his column criticizing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for her assertion that paying taxes is not patriotic.

I found reference to the quote in a book about eminent economists, through Google Scholar:

Eminent Economists: Their Life Philosophies
By Michael Szenberg
Published by Cambridge University Press, 1993
320 pages

On page 201, Szenberg refers Holmes’s view of “taxation as the price of liberty.” In a footnote, he points to Justice Frankfurter’s book. The quote is dolled up a little. According to Szenberg’s footnote:

More precisely, he rebuked a secretary’s query of “Don’t you hate to pay taxes?” with “No, young fellow, I like paying taxes, with them I buy civilization.”

Frankfurter is a reliable source. It’s likely Holmes said something very close to the words Friedman used.

This is mostly an encore post.

Urge others to give a dime and give a damn for civilization:

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Annals of global warming: “Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review”

January 12, 2013

It’s taken too long, but the reports on climate change, required by a 1990 law, flow down the government report-to-the-public pipeline once again.  Mother Jones reports six chief points in the draft document, for which comments are invited before a final document will be issued:

  1. Climate change is definitely caused by human activities. Always nice to hear government officials acknowledge this essential fact. And the report concedes that our only hope of curbing warming is to kick our addiction to greenhouse-gas spewing fossil fuels.

  2. Extreme weather is increasing, and that’s our fault, too.  In particular, searing temperatures, heavy rain, and prolonged drought.

  3. Weather isn’t the only threat we have to worry about. The list sounds like the side-effect warnings at the end of a prescription drug commercial: decreased air quality, insect-borne diseases, and “threats to mental health” are all on the docket for the coming decades.

  4. Our infrastructure is getting hammered, and we’re not spending enough to save it. Floods are destroying farmland; extreme heat is damaging roads, rail lines, and airports; and military installations are at risk.

  5. Food and water security will be up in the air. Especially in water-scarce regions like the Southwest, decreasing snowpack and shrinking groundwater supplies will spark competition for water between “agricultural, municipal, and environmental” uses. At the same time, heavy floods could put water quality at risk with sediment and chemical contaminates. And by mid-century, efforts to artificially protect agriculture (like expanded irrigation) could be over-ridden by temperature and precipitation extremes.

  6. Climate change is hitting plants and animals just as hard as us. Beaches, forests, wetlands, and other ecosystems could shrink or disappear, especially a problem when they play a role in mitigating the impact from extreme weather. And warming, acidifying seas could slam sea life.

The document is available to read online; public comments are invited, but must come in a specific form to be analyzed (the authors expect a lot of comments, and a lot of detailed comments).  Here’s the transmission document from the agency (a few links added here):

Federal Advisory Committee Draft Climate Assessment Report Released for Public Review

A 60-person Federal Advisory Committee (The “National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee” or NCADAC) has overseen the development of this draft climate report.

The NCADAC, whose members are available here (and in the report), was established under the Department of Commerce in December 2010 and is supported through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is a federal advisory committee established as per the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972. The Committee serves to oversee the activities of the National Climate Assessment. Its members are diverse in background, expertise, geography and sector of employment. A formal record of the committee can be found at the NOAA NCADAC website.

The NCADAC has engaged more than 240 authors in the creation of the report. The authors are acknowledged at the beginning of the chapters they co-authored.

Following extensive review by the National Academies of Sciences and by the public, this report will be revised by the NCADAC and, after additional review, will then be submitted to the Federal Government for consideration in the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) Report.  For more information on the NCA process and background, previous assessments and other NCA information, please explore the NCA web-pages. The NCA is being conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and is being organized and administered by the Global Change Research Program.

To simply access and read the draft report, please download the chapters below. However, if you would like to submit comments on the report as part of the public process, you will need to enter the “review and comment system” and register with your name and e-mail address and agree to the terms.  All comments must be submitted through the review and comment system.

Contents of the report, chapter by chapter, for your download:

Download Chapters of the NCADAC Draft Climate Assessment Report! 
Download the Full Report (warning, 147Mb. Very large file)Between chapters, there are some page numbers that are not used. This is intentional and does not reflect missing pages.or download each chapter separately:

Cover page

Introduction: Letter to the American People

1. Executive Summary

2. Our Changing Climate

Introduction to Sectors

3. Water Resources

4. Energy Supply and Use

5. Transportation

6. Agriculture

7. Forestry

8. Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Services

9. Human Health

10. Water, Energy, and Land Use

11. Urban Systems, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability

12. Impacts of Climate Change on Tribal, Indigenous, and Native Lands and Resources

13. Land Use and Land Cover Change

14. Rural Communities

15. Interactions of Climate Change and Biogeochemical Cycles

Introduction to Regions

16. Northeast

17. Southeast and Caribbean

18. Midwest

19. Great Plains

20. Southwest

21. Northwest

22. Alaska and the Arctic

23. Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands

24. Oceans and Marine Resources

25. Coastal Zone Development and Ecosystems

Introduction to Response Strategies

26. Decision Support: Supporting Policy, Planning, and Resource Management Decisions in a Climate Change Context

27. Mitigation

28. Adaptation

29. Research Agenda for Climate Change Science

30. The NCA Long-Term Process: Vision and Future Development

Appendix I: NCA Climate Science – Addressing Commonly Asked Questions from A to Z

Appendix II: The Science of Climate Change

To provide comments:

Between January 14th and April 12th only: Please go to the Review and Comment System to provide comments on the draft.

You must register and accept the terms in the Review and Comment System in order to review this document. Comments will only be accepted through this system.

NOTE: You will not be allowed to create an account in the system prior to 9am ET January 14th, 2013, and the comment period ends at 5pm ET on April 12th, 2013

If 2012 was, indeed, the year excrement got real in climate change, perhaps 2013 can be the year we start to do something about it.

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It’s raining crazy

January 12, 2013

Sheesh! Did climate change boost the crazy crop, or what?

Without much comment, a few stories that cropped up in the browser today; as the comic writer Dave Barry says, you can’t make this stuff up.  If you were trying to sell it as fiction, they’d laugh you out of the room.  Nobody could be that crazy . . . and yet:

  1. Creationists visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found they don’t like what science knows about nature, especially evolution.  Why did they even bother to go?  Story at the Sensuous Curmudgeon.
  2. At Slate, David Weigel wrote about Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan to eliminate the state tax on gasoline — the tax that pays for roads and bridges — and instead tax hybrid cars.   It’s stupid, because it dramatically increases taxes on clean air machines, and it creates the wrong incentives for a tax system.  But it’s dramatically crazy because it sucks money out of the funds to build and repair roads and bridges.  As best I can tell, it takes a tax that collects about $100/vehicle now, and imposes a tax on about 5% of cars, of about $100.  There can’t be enough money coming in to replace the tax.  In short, McDonnell’s plan damages jobs, hurts business, and leaves Virginia in the back row of well-run states.  With patriot plans like McDonnell’s, who needs al Quaeda, the Soviet Union, or China?

    RawStory image of Fox News Eric Bolling flunking math on national teleivision

    Fox News’s Eric Bolling calls the distributive property of multiplication “liberal bias.” It must be embarrassing to flunk algebra so publicly on national television. RawStory image

  3. Sometimes the excess of stupid makes you feel embarrassed for them.  Fox News distorter Eric Bolling accused teachers (natch!) of indoctrinating students in algebra classes.  (See what I mean?  You can’t make up this sort of crazy — oh, you don’t see what I mean?  Read on).  Seems Mr. Bolling has discovered — this is exclusive — that there are problems in algebra books that teach the distributive property of multiplication! Can you get much more liberal that that? Bolling wonders.  The rest of us wonder, can Fox News sink any lower in the stupid sump.  (Distributive property.)
  4. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, James Yeager who claims to be a consultant and instructor in security, urges people to arm up for civil war because, Yeager is sure, Obama is coming to get everybody’s guns.  His profanity-laced YouTube rant is off of his site, but preserved for us (fortunately? unfortunately?) at RawStory.  This is a bit too crazy even for West Tennessee — the state suspended the man’s handgun carry permits. (Would he have been so persecuted, had he been living in East Tennessee?)
  5. Hackers exploited a flaw they found in Java 7 — the U.S. Department of Homeland Security can’t figure a fix, and neither has Oracle, so Homeland Security urges businesses to disable Java on their browsers.

    Bildbeschreibung: Frank Zappa-Statue von Vacla...

    There’s a statue to Frank Zappa in Europe, another in Baltimore; Rep. Gingrey, not so much. Frank Zappa-Statue von Vaclav Cesak in Bad Doberan Quelle: selbst fotographiert Fotograf/Zeichner: Hei_ber Datum: 2003 Sonstiges: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  6. Another Republican Member of the House of Representatives made a burro of himself with comments about rape.  In a bad paraphrase of Frank Zappa, “Rep. Phil Gingrey, what’s gotten into you?”  Gingrey misrepresents a district in Georgia.
  7. The House GOP is still threatening to shoot America’s economy in the head unless Democrats agree to crash the economy in the ditch with draconian, unnecessary and damaging spending cuts.
  8. Anthony Watts already has a half-dozen posts up denying the recent findings that 2012 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous 48 United States.  James Delingpole, at The Daily Mail is just making stuff up.  (Should it be “Gourdian?”) I hadn’t realized there was a King of Denial crown up for grabs.
    Update, January 15, 2013:  Greg Laden reported that the Watts blog has taken crazy to cosmic proportions.

There is good information out there.  I hope there is an army of sane people to get the good information, and sort it from the bad.

I’m going to sleep on it.  Good night!

More:

This one’s for you, Eric Bollinger; from Khan Academy, the Distributive Property of Multiplication:

(Did you notice that the answer was the same under the “liberal” distributive law as it was without its use?)


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