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Random thoughts

September 14, 2009 2 comments

I wonder if replying to emails I get at work with a Snopes link would cause problems.

In other news, you should read this. Of course, I’ve never read any Ayn Rand, so maybe I should shut up. I’ve sort of half meant to read a book of hers, in the same way that I half consider reading a Twilight book: I would feel better about considering them dreck. Alas, I have better things to do.

Categories: Domestic Policy, The Right

Merchants of Death!

July 29, 2009 Leave a comment

You know, the real problem with this post is that it doesn’t go far enough. I mean, what about the hospitals? They’re party to the “18,000 deaths,” right? Refusing to perform non-emergency care and all. The doctors go right along with it, too.

The insurance companies use sophisticated statistical modeling, not possible without the software industry. So they’re complicit. Microsoft sold those companies Windows licenses, so Bill Gates is responsible for some of those deaths. Hell, maybe some of the software is written in C++; damn you Bjarne Stroustrup! You’re killing people!

So, to recap: insurance companies, hospital employees, doctors, nurses, lobbyists, politicians, and software engineers. All complicit in an ongoing criminal enterprise.

Somehow, I don’t think this is a useful line of argument.

Categories: Domestic Policy

Public opinion

June 2, 2009 2 comments

You can almost hear this blog dying, can’t you?

Anyway, I was thinking about this post by Mark, which is post 93 in his long running anti-hope series.

Progressives like to claim the public is supportive of their agenda based on single issue polling. It seems to me that once public opinion collides with an opposition campaign, things look different. Public opinion is also contradictory. People like more services and they like lower taxes. They can’t have both. California is trying it and it’s not working. Opinion polls show that if you pay income taxes, you think you’re paying too much. So despite the fact that polls also show people will trade taxes for services, they don’t think they’re getting a good deal. That’s ripe territory for conservatives. And if we’re talking about single-payer, it’s hard to see how anything gets past “the government is taking away your health care for some brand new thing that sucks for various reasons.” Even if the various reasons themselves suck, losing your health care is scary.

That’s all obvious, isn’t it?

So single-payer organizing is pointless right now. If we get a public plan, that changes. Are we going to get a public plan? Beats me.

Tortured religion

May 6, 2009 1 comment

This Pew survey about support for torture by religious affiliation is enlightening.

For a group that prides itself on values, evangelicals are the least likely to say torture is never justified, preferring the more relative “sometimes” and the awful “often” options. Mainline protestants have the fewest undecideds and the most in the “never” category and are pretty evenly split between often/sometimes and rarely/never. The unaffiliated prove themselves to be the most anti-torture (but they’re not sure about it, having a higher number of undecideds and fewer “nevers” than the mainline Protestants).

But I like the break out by church attendance. Weekly or monthly churchgoers are pretty comparable, but the bigger jump comes when you go from monthly attendance to seldom or never. I guess all that torture in the Bible goes straight to their heads.

But really, we’re a more pro-torture country that we should be, and that’s disheartening.

Categories: Domestic Policy, Religion

Was "liberty" ever here?

October 13, 2008 3 comments

I must say, there’s something I don’t get about sentiments like this.

Libertarians dislike coercion, meaning government compelling them to do something they don’t want to do. This typically involves taxes paying for various facets of the welfare state. And while most of our political discourse is pragmatic – involving solutions to problems and debating their effectiveness – this view includes philosophical arguments about how big government should be (using government as proxy for coercion, that is).

Here’s what I don’t understand. A society with rules acceptable (generally, not absolutely) to libertarians has never existed. Not only has it never existed, I don’t believe it’s even been attempted. Even if you regard this country at its inception as close, the current welfare state (or even a more minimal version of it) is hardly unconstitutional. Yes, I know people make those arguments, but I haven’t seen a convincing one.

Further, the prospect that such a society could exist seems dismal. We’re social creatures. We are equipped to exist in a society with inter-dependencies and rules of conduct for the benefit of as many members of that as possible. Put crudely, Doug may be annoyed that he’s coerced into supporting certain policies, but they don’t threaten his livelihood. Removing welfare state policies will threaten the livelihoods of people (whether you think that’s morally correct situation or not). A libertarian would probably take issue with that, but remember that all I really need for that argument is the perception or short term realization of a threat. And does anyone really think libertarians could win an election on a platform of abolishing medicare and social security? They’d be demagogued right out the door.

With that state of affairs, how can we get very far from the welfare state? There’s an upper limit (which is far from where we are, given that Europe is still rolling along) and there’s a lower limit (perhaps closer to our current state), but a libertarian society is not within that range.

So given that this is an exercise in futility, why the complaining? If your preferred model of society is simply an impossibility, doesn’t that suggest a problem with your preference? The end result of communism sounds wonderful, but given that it’s an unworkable model of society, why would you advocate for it?

It’s not like I’m saying libertarianism should be ejected from the public sphere. Arguing for smaller government policies will always be one side of an argument and it will be right sometimes (how often you think so would be a determinant of your political worldview). You could get fairly close to a libertarian model regarding social and cultural issues, given that there’s less in the way of direct negative consequences for removing coercion and the arguments seem generally fuzzier.

I’m just saying, if your philosophical starting point for a model of society is “get the hell out of my business,” you’re doomed to failure. It’s simply not workable.

Categories: Domestic Policy

Random thoughts

June 26, 2008 Leave a comment

I’m happy with the D.C. gun ban ruling. Gun control is constitutional, but outright bans are not. Sounds right to me.

The death penalty case is more interesting. I don’t support the death penalty as a practical matter – our justice system isn’t perfect and you can’t take back killing someone. Morally, I don’t know. I don’t feel like wasting time thinking about when we shouldn’t allow it for other reasons. That said, it doesn’t seem so far out of proportion that we need to call it cruel and unusual. Beats me. I’m satisfied with it from a public policy perspective and I don’t really care that it doesn’t satisfy some people’s blood lust.

If we have more crap like FISA from Obama I’m moving him from “good candidate” to “lesser of two evils.” Telecom immunity is something you give away in a compromise; I can live with that. But there wasn’t a compromise, just a giveaway.

An alarm going off and your window open for a solid hour around 7 am is not cool. Asshole.

Categories: Domestic Policy

Obligatory daily post

July 2, 2007 Leave a comment

Is here.

Categories: Domestic Policy
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