The transformation of the Canadian provincial capital of Regina, Saskatchewan, over the past 130 years has been nothing short of remarkable.
Today, it is a city of nearly 200,000 individuals, and features more than 350,000 hand-planted trees, an extensive park system and an array of museums, cathedrals and other elegant structures.
But back in 1882, it was little more than a pile of bones – literally.
The location, near a creek, had been a stopping point for buffalo hunters and gotten its name from remains left at the site.
The mounds of buffalo bones, some left by Cree Indians, were staggering, according to information from the Regina Library.
“The bones resulting from the slaughter were carefully assembled into cylindrical piles about six feet high and about 40 feet in diameter at the base, with the shin and other long bones radiating from the center to make stable and artistic piles,” according to the library’s website. “During the second half of the 19th century, the Métis also slaughtered large numbers of buffalo in this area, and the creek was littered with countless bones.”
Hence, the locale was called “Pile o’ Bones.” However, it was sometimes also referred to by the equally delightful names “Manybones,” “Bone Creek” and “Tas d’Os” – all of which would have taxed the abilities of even the most fervent chamber of commerce official trying to promote the locale.
Book reviews, when done well, can provide useful history lessons in and of themselves.
“Mr. Coolidge’s hallmark was distrust of government. He saw it as an entity that uses ‘despotic exactions’ (taxes) that sap individual initiative and prosperity across the board …” according to publication.
“Coolidge learned at first towards the surging progressive movement, which supported state intervention and union involvement in the economy,” the review adds. “But his views shifted when he saw what those ideas meant in practice.”
The Economist is not noted for being a publication of a particularly libertarian bent by any means, but it recognizes Coolidge’s achievements during his five-and-a-half years as president, during which American debt fell by one-third, the tax rate by half and unemployment dropped precipitously. It’s unfortunate that more Americans haven’t taken note of Coolidge’s accomplishments.
While no means perfect, Coolidge offers an interesting counterbalance to FDR and his New Deal approach.
John Marshall became chief justice of the United States on this date in 1801. Marshall would sit on the high court until 1835, and his opinions laid the basis for American constitutional law and made the US Supreme Court a co-equal branch of government, along with the legislative and executive branches.
But what of Marshall’s predecessors?
The best known of the three men to lead the Supreme Court before Marshall was John Jay, who, among other things, helped write the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.
During Jay’s nearly six years as chief justice (1789-1795), the high court ruled on just four cases, rather remarkable considering today the court receives petitions to hear some 7,000 cases annually.
Jay resigned as chief justice in June 1795 after being elected governor of New York. President George Washington named John Rutledge of South Carolina, an original high court associate justice who had resigned in 1791 to become chief justice of the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas and Sessions, to replace Jay.
Washington’s appointment took effect immediately as the US Senate was not in session.
However, Rutledge’s time on the court proved one of the shortest in the history of the nation. He was a vocal opponent to the Jay Treaty of 1794, which resolved issues remaining from the Revolutionary War but left many Americans unhappy.
His opposition cost him support in the administration and the senate. In addition, questions about his mental stability, driven at least partly by partisanship, were making the rounds.
This blog isn’t big on examining life’s more crucial issues. There are plenty of other folks who do that, and do it with far more acumen than yours truly could ever hope to muster.
Once in a harvest moon, however, something sticks in my craw and it becomes necessary to put aside the desire to delve into history, economics and whatnot to address the truly idiotic.
Case in point: within hours of the horrific shootings at a Connecticut elementary school last Friday, myriad half-wits were hard at work on outlets such as Facebook and Twitter doing their best to show the world their inept grasp of theology, common sense and overall human decency.
I write of those who posted such foolishness as the image which showed the following rhetoric: “Dear God, why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed, a concerned student.” To which God responds: “Dear Concerned Student, I’m not allowed in schools. God.”
Insulting, insensitive and illogical, all in 25 words.
First off, I write what follows knowing full well that those who forward such ill-conceived Internet memes aren’t going to be swayed by any amount of reasoning. Most aren’t even interested in being swayed; they’re simply seeking to push a point of view and will use whatever means available.
As the old saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
One week after a ceremony honoring South Carolina civil rights pioneer George Elmore culminated with the erection of a historic marker in front of the downtown Columbia building he once operated, the structure was promptly razed.
Elmore ran the Waverly 5-and-10 cent store, and area mainstay, up until the late 1940s, when he dared to challenge the state’s status quo and put his name on a lawsuit that sought to end South Carolina’s practice of all-white political primaries.
Elmore’s actions led to economic reprisals and financial ruin, according to The State newspaper.
Last Friday, one week after a ceremony attended by city leaders, academics and Elmore’s descendants, the 1935 structure was reduced to a pile of rubble.
The property’s owner, First Nazareth Baptist Church, which sits next door, has not said what it will do with the razed site or why it chose to knock down the historic structure.
Not surprisingly, there is a good bit of unhappiness in area preservation circles.
The protection of endangered species is a noble and worthwhile goal, but in parts of the world where scratching out a living is the best many individuals can manage, preserving flora and fauna often takes a back seat.
In Madagascar thousands have flocked to the African island nation’s newest national park hoping to strike it rich on a recently discovered seam of sapphires.
The 941,000 acres of virgin rain forest of the Ankeniheny-Zahamena corridor, set aside to protect nation’s famed lemurs and dozens of other rare species, officially became a protected area late last year.
Then in April, sapphires were found, according to Agence France-Presse.
“We had an invasion of illegal miners in this park, which is our most recent protected area,” said Angelo Francois Randriambeloson of Madagascar’s ministry of environment.
The park has 2,043 identified species of plants; 85 percent are found nowhere else in the world. In addition, there are 15 species of lemurs, 30 other mammals, 89 types of birds and 129 kinds of amphibians. And that’s just what’s been discovered so far, according to the wire service.
Russ Roberts of George Mason University hits the nail on the head with a thought-proving piece that identifies an intrinsic issue that arises when government moves to increase its role in the daily lives of its citizenry.
Writing at Café Hayek, Roberts pinpoints the inherent problem as one of motives versus results.
Those within the government may seek to do good through enhanced regulation and many may truly believe they are indeed doing good so, but the simple fact is that government is nearly always operated by those who can’t possibly have knowledge or information regarding the “needs, desires or dreams” of the average individual, Roberts states.
Government, therefore, is basing its decisions on an imperfect understanding of the lives of those it seeks to further regulate.
In fairness, Roberts adds, government officials can’t be expected to know the dreams, desires and needs of each and every individual. In many cases, a single person’s friends and family don’t even fully have such an understanding.
The real difficulty arises when government busybodies couch efforts to regulate the lives of its citizenry as an exercise in virtue.
A 223-year-old book containing George Washington’s copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights sold for nearly $10 million at an auction Friday evening in New York.
After an intense bidding war with an unidentified party, the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, charged with the preservation of Washington’s residence just outside the US capital, purchased the book for $9.82 million, according to Agence France-Presse.
The sale price was $8.7 million; with the commission bringing the total to nearly $10 million, according to auction house Christie’s. Original estimates were that the work could fetch between $2 million and $3 million.
The manuscript, bound by Thomas Allen of New York in 1789, was one of a set of three. The other two copies went to future President Thomas Jefferson and John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.
The 106-page book, bound in white leather, features Washington’s signature on the document’s first page. The documents contain notes in Washington’s handwriting, including notations of the responsibilities of the president.
“It’s an exciting day. We are thrilled to be able to bring this extraordinary book back to Mount Vernon where it belongs,” said Ann Bookout, a spokeswoman for the Mount Vernon Ladies Association.
The following is a reprint from a blog post that appeared on The Nerve, the online news publication of my employer, the South Carolina Policy Council.
I’m posting it here for two reasons: One, I wrote it; and two, I found it intriguing that the salary of state officials in South Carolina has actually far outpaced that of inflation.
I’d say “enjoy,’ but perhaps ‘do your best to struggle through’ would be more appropriate.
The recent upheaval in the S.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Office has many asking if the position is necessary.
For much of South Carolina’s history, short of assuming the role of the state’s chief executive upon the death of the governor or a vacancy in the office – which hasn’t happened in nearly half a century – about the only way for the lieutenant governor to make the news is to gun down a newspaper editor, be one the nation’s largest slaveholders, treat the state’s roadways as though they were Darlington Raceway or act in an unethical manner.
Today, the lieutenant governor is the lowest paid of South Carolina’s nine statewide elected constitutional officers, earning $46,545 annually for what is supposedly a part-time position. That’s barely half of what Secretary of State Mark Hammond earns.
The lieutenant governor’s only constitutional duties are to preside over the Senate and to act as governor-in-waiting.