Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Texas town's ban on renting to the "undocumented" is struck down by a federal judge:
Only the federal government can regulate immigration, U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay concluded in his decision.

The city didn't defer to the federal government on the matter, violating the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, which allows for the federal government to pre-empt local laws, Lindsay said.

Bill Brewer, who represented apartment complex operators who opposed the rule, declared victory.

"It's a good day, not just for my clients," Brewer said. "It's a good day for people who are thinking clearly about what is the proper role of municipal governments in the immigration debate."

Representatives for the city said they had anticipated the outcome. The city has no plans to appeal the ruling because it has already stopped pursuing the ordinance and replaced it with another tactic.

"We're disappointed but not particularly surprised," Michael Jung, one of the city's attorneys, said.

The Farmers Branch council passed the ordinance last year. It would have barred apartment rentals to illegal immigrants and required landlords to verify legal status. The rule would have exempted minors and senior citizens from having to prove their immigration status or citizenship.

Families made up of both citizens and undocumented members would have been allowed to renew an apartment lease if they met three conditions: they were already tenants, the head of household or spouse was living legally in the United States, and the family included only the spouse, their minor children or parents.

The town has scrapped this policy and will be implementing a new one:

Farmers Branch has given up requiring landlords to verify immigration status and instead plans to implement a rule that would require prospective tenants to get a rental license from the city, which would then ask the federal government for the applicant's legal status before approving it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The future of carbon trading? A British environmental committee has put forward an idea of personal carbon rations:

Every adult should be forced to use a 'carbon ration card' when they pay for petrol, airline tickets or household energy, MPs say.

The influential Environmental Audit Committee says a personal carbon trading scheme is the best and fairest way of cutting Britain's CO2 emissions without penalising the poor.

Under the scheme, everyone would be given an annual carbon allowance to use when buying oil, gas, electricity and flights.

Anyone who exceeds their entitlement would have to buy top-up credits from individuals who haven't used up their allowance. The amount paid would be driven by market forces and the deal done through a specialist company.

MPs, led by Tory Tim Yeo, say the scheme could be more effective at cutting greenhouse gas emissions than green taxes.

The Labour government doesn't oppose the idea in principle, either; it merely "warns it is 'ahead of its time'." Every purchase would be monitored and incorporated into this scheme, the news report says. George Monbiot, who is currently advocating a "citizen's arrest" of John Bolton, praises the measure's redistributionism: it "tends to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor."

Some point out the difficulties of the program:

But critics say the idea is deeply flawed. The scheme would penalise those living in the countryside who were dependent on their cars, as well as the elderly or housebound who need to heat their homes in the day.

Large families would suffer, as would those working at nights when little public transport is available.

It would need to take into account the size of families, and their ages. There is huge potential for fraud.

Matthew Elliott of the Taxpayers' Alliance said the cards would be hugely unpopular. 'The Government has shown itself incapable of managing any huge, complex IT system.' he said.

Some are also criticizing this matter more broadly in principle, saying that it would offer too extensive an intervention into the economic lives of its citizens, and some are even calling it "totalitarian." Tim Yeo has a long history of advocating further government intervention in the daily lives of its citizens. For example, last year, he argued that the UK government should work to abolish domestic flights.
Will David Cameron and the other Conservatives also support this plan? Some think they will not.