Below is a recent CNN segment highlighting a fact largely lost in the “Ground Zero Mosque” debate: There have been Muslims worshiping in the existing building for a while.
So, what is the response from those opposing the construction of the new mosque? Kick them out? If not and the current situation is fine, how small does a mosque have to be for opponents to be OK with it near Ground Zero? Tricky little facts like this sort of make the heated rhetoric over the issue seem a little overblown.
The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” is a rather good test of our committment to religious freedom. It seems that under different circumstances, say a group of Christians wanting to build a church on property they owned, there would be little to no outcry. But it’s not Christians wanting to build a house of worship near the site where the Twin Towers once stood, it’s Muslims. And that’s clearly the crux of the matter. Despite secondary appeals to saving the present building there as a historic landmark, the real issue boiling the blood of many Americans is that the site will be used to house a mosque.
And in some sense they are rightfully justified in noting the seemingly insensitive desire to place a shrine to Islam so close to the spot where Islamic terrorists killed around 3,000 innocent Americans. The unsettling nature of it is evident.
But the crux of the issue is whether those opposing the mosque believe they should oppose it through protests or through government action. It’s clear that many opponents are pursuing the legal route.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=ground+zero+mosque&iid=8913490″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/8913490/proposed-mosque-near/proposed-mosque-near.jpg?size=500&imageId=8913490″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative legal group connected with the Rev. Pat Robertson, has sought court action, basing its objections at least nominally on the process used to deny the site landmark status. But one can’t deny that behind these objections is a specific aversion to the creation of a large Muslim place of worship just blocks away from the 9/11 site. The rhetoric on cable news and talk radio is abuzz with anger over the plan to build a mosque — not the idea that the present building on the site should be preserved as some sort of landmark.
Want another argument against the way government handles public employment? Take a look at this recent article from the New York Times noting how, on average, 51 New York City bus drivers who took paid leave for simply being spat on took 64 days off. Again, that’s paid time off.
Naturally, according to the report, the unions are supportive of this:
Spitting falls under the category of assault in the drivers’ contract with the authority. And officials at Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents city bus operators, said the extended absences were justified. “Being spat upon — having a passenger spit in your face, spit in your mouth, spit in your eye — is a physically and psychologically traumatic experience,” said John Samuelsen, the union’s president. “If transit workers are assaulted, they are going to take off whatever amount of time they are going to take off to recuperate.”
Imagine the private sector putting up with such abuse of the system. But the public (read: government) sector is all-too-often immune from reality when it comes to costs, much to the detriment of taxpayers.
Imagine paying less than $157 per month for two conjoined studios in the upper east side of New York. That is the result of the government-imposed regulation known as rent control — something that is apparently increasingly becoming scarce.
A recent New York Times article notes the following:
While it is less true today, rent-regulated apartments have provided some New Yorkers with very comfortable lives. [John] Burke, who grew up in Ireland on a farm outside Galway, moved to New York in 1964 to be close to his brother upstate and his 100 relatives in Massachusetts. He worked in restaurants and bars and collected decades of tales of celebrity sightings and romances. He moved into his current apartment in 1977, when the rent was $65, and filled his closets with handsome clothes.
But the report also notes the unintended consequences resulting from this dubious form of government price controls:
The deteriorating low-priced apartments still exist partly because landlords have little financial incentive to make renovations or apply for rent increases. Stabilized rents increase by order of the local Rent Guidelines Board, typically around 3 percent a year, while controlled rents can go up only if the landlord files an application for an increase with the state, a laborious process. And the state will not allow a rent increase if an apartment has major housing code violations.
Pop quiz: When a government regulation requires midwives to be certified by a hospital, what happens when the last hospital certifying those midwives closes? If you guessed “no midwives,” congratulations. If you’re a cynic, you probably guessed “another unintended consequence of government regulation.”
The Guardian recently reported that such is the case in New York:
The collapse of New York’s legal home birth midwifery services has come as a result of the closure two weeks ago of one of the most progressive hospitals in the city, St Vincent’s in Manhattan. When the bankrupt hospital shut its doors on 30 April the midwives suddenly found themselves without any backing or support.
There are 13 midwives who practise home births in New York, and under a system introduced in 1992 they are all obliged under state law to be approved by a hospital or obstetrician, on top of their professional training.
Requiring the additional approval of a hospital or obstetrician is in theory, of course, well-intentioned. But thanks to this well-intentioned regulation, mothers will now be forced to get their care elsewhere.
Had the professional training been enough to legally allow midwives to practice in the city, this would not have been a problem. But regulators, as is often the case, just couldn’t avoid this extra layer of red tape.