Thursday, May 01, 2003

Raise the drawbridge

Lousy thing about living in Vegas: We're a four-hour drive from the closest ocean. Great thing about living in Vegas: We can afford a comfortable, new home in a great neighborhood for about 20 percent less than the slightly delapidated, 30-year-old condo we owned in Culver City, CA. This came to mind when I saw this AP story about a bill moving forward in the California legislature that would impose Portland-style growth controls statewide. (What my pal Steve Hayward calls "suburban renewal.") And you thought housing prices and traffic were bad there now. This Reason article from Randal O'Toole spells out how disastrous Portland's "urban growth boundaries" have been, particularly for low-income residents. Guess our California friends who have been contemplating an exodus from Lotusland may soon have another reason to pack their bags.

The growth-control crowd has a good deal of clout here in Nevada, even though 87 percent of the state's territory is public land. As a result, what little developable property remains is stuffed with houses; the housing density in Las Vegas ranks near the top, nationwide. An excellent overview of the sprawl debate is available in this Policy Review article by Steve, and these articles and links from Reason magazine.

The Aussie way

Interesting story in the L.A. Times (reg required) on why you're seeing so much more Australian wine on the shelves -- at reasonable prices, mind you. The bottom line: Australian winemakers actually listen to consumers, who want beverages they can enjoy, rather than something that intimidates them. The snob factor never enters the Australian consciousness. Money quote:

"We don't take ourselves too seriously," says John Larchet, an Australian wine importer with offices in Melbourne and San Diego. "It is very common for us to say, 'God, that's a good drink.' You'd never hear an American say that about wine."

The article mentions Yellow Tail, our current fave in the $5 price range.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

NRO on Santorum

The story had died down a bit in blogdom, and then Stanley Kurtz revives the issue on National Review Online, taking on libertarian objections to Santorum's commentary head-on. As The Volokh Conspiracy's Jacob Levy points out, the Kurtz posting is lucidly argued ... but wrong. And then there's this, from Kurtz:

The libertarian asks, Just because two married gay men live next door, is that going to make me leave my wife? In a way, the answer is "Yes." For one thing, as a new generation grows up exposed to gay couples who openly define their marriages in non-monogamous terms, the concept of marriage itself will gradually change. No doubt, movies and television in a post-gay-marriage world will be filled with stories of the "cutting edge" understandings of open marriage being pioneered by the new gay couples, even if the actual number of such married gay couples is relatively small.

That's a pretty lame defense of the strength or resiliency of traditional marriage as an institution. "Will and Grace" reruns trumping thousands of years of human social interactions and experience? The subtext here is that Kurtz must believe it's necessary to have the government wielding a shotgun, as it were, to keep the institution of marriage vital. Lacking such coercion, the practice would wither and die. Anyone who buys Kurtz's argument and claims to have a healthy respect for Hayek (or even Burke, to a lesser degree) has some 'splainin' to do.