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Wed, May. 24th, 2006, 10:25 am
Dixie Chicks & President Bush

I never really followed the whole Dixie Chicks v. Country Radio saga at the time. I was aware something was going down, but I guess I was too busy to really investigate the details. But, I heard an interview with them yesterday. They talked about the hate mail and death threats they received, mothers telling their children to "screw" the Dixie Chicks, parties in Louisiana where Dixie Chicks' CDs and what not was destroyed, and how they were blacklisted from many a country radio station. So, I didn't know all this. And I thought as I was listening to the radio, as I thought at the time the scandal broke, that they had said something very inflammatory.

Well, not really. They apparently said that they were ashamed that GWB was their President, and ashamed that he was a Texan. They said this in London (I think), because they wanted Europe to know that not all Americans and not all country musicians supported the President's actions. I was pretty amazed at how tame the comment was. I can understand people disagreeing, but the outpouring of hate that resulted kind of shocks me.

Many conservatives will talk about the "politically correctness gone too far." And that even mentioning race risks a backlash. While I think these concerns are vastly overblown, there are cases where that is, no doubt true. Though history does provide a basis for the concerns. But, what happened with the DCs is really concerning. I don't know. I just find it ironic that Americans who claim that we must preemptively invade another country to prevent an unclear threat to freedom from developing would so utterly fail to acknowledge one's right to express an opinion that, to me, is pretty tame.

By the way. A comment on the whole Cuba / secret prison thing. The Soviets? Back in the day? The 'evil empire'? You remember. Most of the folks that were rounded up and detained without legal counsel, without open courts, without due process, etc. They were a legitimate threat to the state. In many cases, willing to use force. Were they evil because they denied their citizens these rights? Or because they treated people so badly?

It now appears that the US Government apparently has secret prisons abroad and contracts out torture. Our own VP and President fought Congress, and a man who actually had the guts to fight in the wars people like them start, for the right to legally torture. There are documented cases in which the US Military has tortured people to death. Maybe you think the situation justifies this behavior. But, you have to admit, it is not the stuff of recruiting posters. Why? Because it is dishonorable.

When the Marine recruit is climbing the rock tower and fighting the demon thing, you just don't see him get to the top where an Iraqi Prisoner is chained and screaming for mercy. The Few, The Proud, Those With Stomachs Strong Enough to Endure the Sounds of Another Human Being Screaming in Agony. Doesn't have the same ring to it, I guess. And now, the administration is talking about tapping the phones of reporters to discover when classified information has been leaked. And prosecute the reporter for leaking it.

This is the most secretive administration of the modern era. It has disregarded safeguards, unnecessarily, for tapping international phone calls. It has collected domestic phone information without obtaining a warrant. And it has done all this secretly, without consulting the American people. It has done so without consulting Congress as a whole. You might say that either of these things isn't that bad. I would disagree, as they were done behind a veil of secrecy. Nevertheless, even if you think these programs are not too much of a threat to our freedoms, we don't know what else is being done. We don't know because we have an administration that won't tell us what they are doing in a war that could last longer than your children's children's life.

I just hope that things are truly shaken up in 2008. This country needs a new direction.

Wed, May. 24th, 2006 05:09 pm (UTC)

I would rather say "collected domestic phone information without paying for it" — because the information in question is on the open market.

And I don't think Clinton should get off the hook on that...in some respects, the program has been downscaled under Bush. (But not raw records.)

Interesting that it's so politically toxic that all of the companies named in the original U.S.A. Today have openly denied it.

Wed, May. 24th, 2006 08:16 pm (UTC)

Well, part of the ruckus was because they did say it in London. Country fans, including my parents actually, were very displeased that they felt the need to say the things they said on foreign soil. Obviously for most of the country fans it is okay to say how you feel about the president here, just don't do it some place else.

My feeling is even if what they said was offensive to some it happened a while ago and everyone, including the Dixie Chicks should just move on. It probably will never happen but oh well.

Mon, May. 29th, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC)

Let me get this straight. Secular progressives are funded by sections of our government to create defamatory "art" (people shitting on Bibles, crosses dipped in urine, et al) that exists solely because it *is* defamatory to the primary religious population in our country, out of control protesters make a mockery of law and order daily, idiotic and anarchistic movies like "V for Vendetta" are applauded and icon-ized by millions of liberals, and you're going to claim that this type of extremism (a la the burning of Dixie Chick's CDs, etc) is native to only one side of the conservative/liberal debate? Admitting that these people exist on *both* sides of the political spectrum (to some degree)is the first step in leveling the playing field and clearing your presuppositions. Where, I ask you, is the outrage that occurs when "conscientious dissenters" burn the American flag? After all, we're talking about a few CD's here. Why are you attacking their apparent overblown proportional lapse (heh heh) instead of defending their rights to free speech? The flag flies both ways my friend, and it is only too common to our natures to defend an action when it suits our cause and attack it when it does not. "Inflammatory" is also your perception. Of course, it's not inflammatory to you, who believes it to be true (as evidenced not only by your past posts but the text that followed today) Understand that what is tame to you, might be inflammatory to someone else for reasons that you might not comprehend.

You bring up an interesting paradox and quandary. Although I have personally never felt the effects of the "liberty-inhibitions" imposed by the "most secretive" regime of all time (nor have I ever known anyone that has) I *HAVE* personally witnessed the increasing restriction upon my civil liberties by none other than the civil-liberty movement itself. Odd, that. The government is increasingly in control of aspects of my life that it is nmot constitutionally entitled to. However, this control is insidious, rather than overt. I have never had the military knock at my door and demand documentation-- however the IRS does this quite effectually (and illegally) every year without my consent. I can no longer call someone "black" in a public setting without fearing reprisal of some sort. My own land is not my land, thanks to property taxes; the recent abominable "eminent domain" decision by none other than the Supreme Court has furthered this atrocity by declaring my land free to be taken by the government if it can find a more tax-worthy use for it. Although my son's medical bills are paid by MO Medicaid the system and the care are both sub-par and I have on numerous occasions made the decision to pay for it myself rather than have poor service at no cost to us. This list goes endlessly on.

I think you (and most liberals, for that matter) need to look deeper. You're endlessly retreading the waters of cautionary tales that are no longer (and, quite frankly never *were* relevant). The concept of a government that creates crises, then leaps in as a saviour, in a ploy to create a vacuum that demands more government, has no more believability than a Hollywood heist movie. Fine and dandy, as long as it's a movie, we all know that it would never work that way in real life. This concept has been further aggrandized by the hijacking of history to suit the ends-- ie. Hitler, Stalin, etc. Never mind the fact that the Nazi SOCIALIST party was far from conservative. Don't stop to think that chain reactions are daily occurences and that sometimes men, through their own idiocy and lack of foresight no less, find themselves in situations that they can no longer control, with circumstances whose rectification requires a further destabilization of morality and ethics.

History is a parable of ignorance, not malevolence.


Wed, May. 31st, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)

I find your tendency to lecture me about "presuppositions" comical. Let's consider all of your own presuppositions that led you to the conclusion (erroneous) that I consider there to be extremists on only one side of the political spectrum.

First, you had to assume that I only post to this online journal - Livejournal. Second, you had to assume that the entries on my own livejournal constitute the exhaustive body of my opinions, that I have not posted an opinion anywhere else - on anyone else's blog, or in any community indicating a view contrary to the one at issue. Those are big assumptions.

Then, you have to assume that, because I have not mentioned someone defiling a Bible or Cross or burning a flag on my journal, and because my view point tends to embrace concepts from the liberal point of view, that I find these actions inoffensive or non-inflammatory. (Which is perhaps most ironic considering the paucity of posts on your own journal indicating indignation in favor of the liberal viewpoint while simultaneously declaring yourself free of presuppositions.) You arrive at this conclusion that I think there are extremists on only one side of the political spectrum despite the fact that I do not state, at any point, that extremists exist only on one side of the political spectrum.

Far from it. You would find me quite angered at the behavior you described and appalled that the federal government funds it. Perhaps a better tack, in the future, would be to point out the existence of your examples of left-wing extremism rather than assuming that I am ignorant of them or find them non-inflammatory. And, in terms of severity, let's not forget Mr. Phelps.

I would add, however, that, in my own experience, it would be a narrow few who would support or patronize "art" consisting of defiling a Bible, or Cross, or what-have-you. They might support the right of the person to that express themselves, even in such a controversial way, but they would not, themselves, patronize the "artist." By contrast, a relatively large segment of the public has reacted to the DC's statement. I was not arguing that these people don't have the right to burn DC CDs. By all means. I just felt that the reaction was more than a little overblown. If a musician I like supports Bush, I may well be less enthusiastic about that musician, but I would not ask my radio station to blacklist the artist. But, then, that's my opinion.

(cont'd in the next comment)

Wed, May. 31st, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)

With regard to your argument about reporters and the First Amendment and your perception that I have failed to place my argument in historical context, here again, your own presuppositions shine through. Did I argue that 50 or 100 years ago the US was a paragon of freedom of expression? No. You are assuming that because I am concerned with the direction the administration is taking with regard to freedom of the press, that I believe that such restrictions are unprecedented. There were battles back in the day for freedom of the press and some of those battles were lost. Supreme Court cases abound. But, one thing about those former battles was that, in general, the laws being fought were out in the open. I really don't have a problem with what the Bush Administration says it is doing. The problem is that they have crafted these programs without making them public. And there is no logical reason to bypass the established mechanisms. So, I am suspicious.

If a reporter releases classified information that truly should be classified then, yes, they should be prosecuted. Example, the diversion for D-Day was known to reporters. They knew that it was a hoax. They decided, clearly, that it should not be reported. Had a reporter attempted to publish that information, by all means, they should have been arrested. But, the only reason we know that the government is tapping phones is because a reporter broke the story. When the government classifies information, such as the fact that they are bypassing the mechanisms in place to protect civil liberties, a reporter may well have an ethical obligation to report that. A healthy press is essential for a democratic society. If the President wants to have this program he should get legislation passed.

As for V for Vendetta and movies like it.... I liked the movie. It was, in my opinion, a good movie. Not great. The portrayal of the government was over the top, in my opinion. The consequences of V's actions were whitewashed. It was, as you say, a movie that embraced the extreme. But, Rome fell. Germany and Italy fell into Fascism. More close to home, the Nixon Administration used the power of the White House to spy on and infiltrate young Democratic organizations in an attempt to subvert their activities. Do I think that we are headed toward Nazi Rule? No. But, I do think that American apathy could lead to a much more restrictive society down the road. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

As for eminent domain. Yeah, scary. But, a literal interpretation of the Constitution. That's what it says. Racial tensions? Yes. But, you know, they weren't true citizens of this country until the late 1960s. There is a lot of bad feelings about that. Does it get taken too far? Yes. Most issues do. Better be careful when speaking in public about religion, race, politics, life, death, fashion, art...and on and on. Race is no different. Want better service from Medicaid? Maybe we ought to stop cutting its budget while providing tax breaks to oil companies? You can't get good service when you aren't willing to put money into the program. Tax man got you down? Maybe we should whittle our incredibly large military, projecting "US influence" in countless countries unnecessarily down a bit? It's the largest military buildup ever and one of the largest budget items each year. Especially now.

So, a few comments. Please don't presuppose that I embrace some generic ideology because I make a comment that tends to support that ideology. Please don't presuppose that, because you do not immediately see how my comment relates to your interpretation of history (history is not, as you have already stated more than once, open to a single interpretation), that my comment is not informed by history. Generally, my comments will be informed by relevant historical events. I will try to make those more clear in my initial posts. For your part, perhaps you could check your own presuppositions?

Finally, please, be your own person. If you do not feel like being "nice" then don't. I value honesty and I see no reason why you should suppress your personality on my account. I'd rather get an accurate picture of who you are. I can handle whatever you throw at me. ;)

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)

Forgive me if you moonlight elsewhere as a conservative. Although I am always (read: seldom) capable of being wrong, I *HAVE* (believe it or not) meandered somewhat aimlessly througout the many pages of this site, and the gist of what you believe (although surely not the fullness) is fairly obvious. Give me some credit. Of course, I am not attempting to "peg" you (I daresay I have :) ), just as I would not wish someone to attempt to do so from reading the relative paucity of content on my own site. I don't expect comprehension, I demand worship. :) There. Enough of my personality seep through there for ya? I'll leave you to ponder what I actually did and didn't say there and move on to the other issues at hand.

Firstly, the "presuppositions" that I referred to are ideological in nature, not factual. I'm talking about embedded ideas informed and maintained (or shunned) by your psychological "thumprint". But you're right, of course. I do *assume* quite a few things about you that are not yet proven. Whether they will be or not remains to be seen. Please surprise me. I haven't been surprised in an argument like this in a long, long time. My wife and I have a thing (no, not sex). She things I'm quick to judge. I tend to agree with her and I try to curtail it. Lately, to my chagrin (and hers) we've been finding that most of the time I'm right. Sigh. You can't win for losing. I apologize if sometimes my rabbit trailing appears to be aimed at you or assuming something about you. It's actually just me telling *you* what I think about something. Don't take it personally. And please lets dispense with the bravado. You don't need to tell me that you don't take it personally in an effort to show me to show you to show me . . blah. Anyways. You're more interesting to me than most liberals because you appear to think outside the box somewhat. I must admit. I am disappointed when I find you thinking inside the box and parroting the progressive line. Consider that a compliment.

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)

I will try to take it as a compliment. I really will. Whether you refer to presuppositions in the factual sense or the psychological fingerprint sense, my point remains. If you claim that I have presuppositions because I consistently argue from a "liberal" point of view then you must simultaneously acknowledge your own "conservative" presuppositions. You immediately assume that I am advancing the stereotypical point of view, yet you routinely toe the party line. Applying the argument evenly would be an excellent first step.

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)

V for Vendetta not only whitewashed the consequences of V's actions, but the actions themselves. It reminded me quite forcefully of the propaganda film masquerading as a fluff piece "Fun With Dick and Jane". As long as crime is committed in a Robin Hood-eque fashion it appears that everything is fine and dandy. And yes, the government depicted was extreme. The point that I was trying to make earlier is that Fascism rises from the ashes of Socialism. The common idea that Conservatism is the closest in the ideological spectrum to Fascism is a myth perpetuated by movies like V for Vendetta, and having no basis whatsoever in historical precedent. That history has been rewritten in an almost storybookish simplicity is both regrettable and duplicitious in masking the true villians that worked behind the scenes. You know what's missing from storybook villains, however? (Conservatives) Motive. In assigning motives such as greed and/or ambition, and/or they're just evil bastards, progressives beg the question. A mad scientist works great in a story, but the real-life mad scientists (Operation Paperclip and the Nazis) were motivated (and sometimes compelled) in very complex ways. It is precisely idiotic notions like these that have led to ignorant statements made by my very own brother to the effect that "Adolf Hitler was a super-genius". Adolf Hitler was a failed artist. Instead of considering the massive ego-front of the German military machine, consider the equally massive inferiority complex that led them to setting that machine into motion. Things like these slip by the pages of history leaving people with an erroneous view of what actually happened, allowing them to construct stereotypes that fill the blank pages where actual living people once roamed.

Yeah, I liked V for Vendetta. Stupid but fun.

And finally, for now, in regards to Medicaid. You assume incorrectly that my problem with Medicaid has anything at all to do with it's funding and/or financial viability. My problem with Medicaid (borne out now by my own personal experience, despite being preceded directly by my ideological disagreement) is now two-fold. This is one of those instances where, once again, to my dismay, I was right. I am both vindicated, and saddened by this, but quite frankly, I lose both ways because of an idiot-sink ideology that keeps programs like Medicaid and/or the "universal health care" "dream" alive. I'll try to pare this down for you.

Again, just as with public schools, the idea becomes that Medicaid needs more funding, or that Medicaid had funding taken away from it. Despite the definition of insanity being "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results", people continue to buy into tripe like the above. Without dipping into the reasons why I think that the marketplace is best equipped to handle healthcare needs (and the direct proof that exists of the success of that notion and the abject failure of its opposite) I'll share my personal experience with you.

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 04:39 am (UTC)

I *WANT* to pay for my healthcare because contrary to some people, I, for one, 1) don;t believe that it's owed to me in any way whatsoever by the overall success of our society 2) I pay for service; the more I pay, the better service I receive. 3) Competition keeps the care, service, personnel, equipment, etc on the tips of its toes. I have experienced long lines (my wife waited 4 hours today in pain in a Swope Clinic for a 30 second cursory examination in by an incompetent "doctor" to tell her that she had mastitis (which we already knew)) Yes it was "free", but it was shitty!!! And I feel shitty paying nothing when I want to bless people with profit for doing their job in an exemplary way. Although proponents of universal health care are fond of using the "huddled masses" argument in decrying their detractors, I cannot adequately describe to you the feeling of ill-usedness, insult to my dignity and individuality, and *money* that I receive in attending *any* government function whatsoever. When are people going to learn that adequate funding is NOT the problem? It is the nature of government itself, and hence why the revolutionary idea of limiting the governments power has led to the richest society on earth. I myself will NEVER (after today's experience) go back to a "universal health care" clinic. I have more respect for myself than that.

You see, Marxism works only in one kind of world; and that is a world without free will and a "perfect" world. Neither of which exists. There is a paradigm that runs this world through, however, easily recognizable but elusive as hell for some people to understand. Prosperity follows freedom. Does Christ tell us that we will be trees planted by streams of water and flourish in season -- because we will be in a greenhouse with perfect tending? No, we are subject to storms, floods, but that is the price for being free. It is why Capitalism is no more a system than our nakedness is our clothes. In freedom we approximate our natural state. The marketplace is what human beings do naturally. Caring for eachother also comes naturally to us, byt trying to force it artificially (socialism, communism, marxism) only leads to disaster because it attempts to impose order for the price of freedom.

You can't say "love me, dammit". The love has to come.

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 03:20 pm (UTC)

Well, here is the problem with conservatives who attempt to use economic principles to decry the horrors of "universal health care." First of all, while you try to argue that funding has nothing to do with it, that flies in the face of basic economic principles. Why are government funded health care programs so bad? Because the government comes down to the hospital and forces bad service upon the patients? No. There are two reasons, I think. First, as you argue, there is no financial incentive. No one is going to make money if the hospital is more efficient. The people you serve have no choice. They must return to you again and again. So, bad customer service is not unusual. And, there is less motivation to increase efficiency. So, that part of your argument is fine. I agree. We'll come back to this in a moment.

But, basic economics tells us that funding is a major cause of the poor quality of care you and your wife received. First, the doctors who are recruited? Not the cream of the crop. That's what you get when pay less than market value for doctors because of lack of funding. (Although, I have to say, my wife and I recently experienced equally poor service from a private urgent care facility. So, certainly, not all private facilities provide excellent care and, I'm sure, there are some quality free public facilities.)

In addition to paying the doctors a below market wage, they are often overworked. Too few doctors are recruited because there is not enough money to hire doctors commensurate to the need. So, the doctors who are recruited are paid less and asked to work more than doctors in the private sector. This explains why the care is, generally, of less quality.

The same is true of staff. Additionally, if the facility is truly a part of the federal government, firing workers is difficult, to put it mildly. So, the nurses, receptionists, etc. that are hired are hired for below market salaries. This means you don't get as quality of workers as you might. Then, you can't fire them. This is a perfect recipe for poor quality care. And, as you conclude, it should be changed.

The solution? Well, two options, I suppose. No free or discount medical care or substantially increase funding. We know your suggestion. Let me offer mine:

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 03:21 pm (UTC)
callandor: Cont'd.

Let me preface my suggestion by saying that a very important economic principle is human capital. What is the difference between Saudi Arabia and Israel? Saudi Arabia has vastly more natural resources....and a vastly lower standard of living. Why? Israel has tremendous human capital. Widespread knowledge and skills. Good health care contributes importantly to human capital. Even if we are to assume that poor adults in this world should pay for their own health care, the reality is, they can't. Or, in some cases, won't. Maybe, we should say to hell with them. But, what about their kids? Healthy kids do better in school, become the engineers, doctors, and lawyers of tomorrow. Healthy kids contribute to our nations human capital, an invaluable resource. I say, universal health care for kids, universal preschool for kids. Universal Montessori preschool, no less.

But, I digress. The solution to both problems is not to limit educational opportunities and health care to those who can afford it. The solution is to increase the funding. Pay off doctors' student loans. Increase the salaries of the doctors and medical staff. Build in reasonable incentives to match the private sector. Reduce the hours worked to those commensurate with the private field. Put more money into the hospital's infrastructure. And privatize it. Let the government provide the money, and that's it. Leave room for a profit margin (without sacrificing the quality of care). And let employees be fired. The customer service problem would be solved overnight if you could fire Mr. or Ms. Attitude. A profit margin would provide the incentive for hospital administration to ensure quality, efficient service - without cutting off those who can't afford health care. (The same goes for education, as far as I'm concerned).

A society as advanced as ours should recognize the importance of human capital. Healthy kids, kids who attend preschool will be vastly more prepared to become productive members of society. That benefits everyone. You see money spent on universal education and health care as a waste. Properly managed, it is an important investment.

As for your statement that capitalism is the natural state of things....I'm afraid I am going to have to pull out the "Western-linear-thought" card you have used on me so many times. Capitalism doesn't work without rigorous enforcement of property rights. And, as I'm sure you are aware, that kind of property rights system is a distinctly western invention.

As for the Christ-greenhouse analogy....I agree things aren't going to be easy in this world. There will be times of trouble. No doubt. But Christ does impose upon his followers a very strong obligation to help the poor. Very strong. And the early Christians sold everything they owned and gave to each other as he/she had need. Not exactly a capitalist organization. But, hey, I'm all about Capitalism, so long as it's properly restrained so that the poor are not abused as they were at the turn of the last century. And remember, Capitalism doesn't really exist. Perfect information, for example, almost never occurs. And that is one of a number of fundamental assumptions essential to the entire model.

But I am actually quite an advocate of free markets and free enterprise. Capitalism is a tremendous engine for prosperity. But, if the virtue of Capitalism is its potential to create prosperity, then we must structure the system to provide the greatest benefits to the largest segment of society possible while maintaining strong economic growth. That's all I want.

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous): Re: Cont'd.

Yes, Israel's translation of it's somewhat meager (comparitively speaking) resources into economic growth far exceeds it's neighboring countries lack of translation of their tremendous resources. No arguments there. Here, I would point to the differences in ideological paradigms that separate Israel from the neighboring fundamentalist Islamic nations as an underlying cause.

I beg to differ with the presupposition present in most of your arguments that today's society, represented by the enormous technological and medical strides that we have taken in the past years, is somehow thus entitled to claim itself more advanced ethically and ideologically than past centuries. Technology has changed, humankind has not. This kind of ignorant chronological snobbery leads to arguments to the effect that our well-being is owed to us by the current prosperity/technological capability of our society. Our capability is the crux, of course.

You see, I don't believe in social engineering. That's why I have consistently referred to complexity theory when talking with you. Your ideas do not equal the world in all its complexity and never will. I see social engineering in your laudable but misguided (imho) attempts to produce, via your ideas, "crops" of well adjusted, provided for children with universal health care.

Again, it comes down the fact that your presupposition will only allow you to make a mock-capitalistic system, (i.e. the idea you proposed above) to fill the lack of function of your socialistic ideal, stick it under an umbrella of government (effectively castrating its effectiveness)-- all because you cannot simply allow nature to take its course rather than trying to force it to do the thing it will do naturally if you just let it alone. Push the river and it pushes back, and believe me, it can push much harder than you.

In conclusion, I haven't said all that I wised to say-- I'll get to it later, perhaps, but my personal observation of the people with whom I was forced to associate in going to many of these government sponsored programs, has not been favorable, by and large. If I had seen evidence of the poor and oppressed (I don't make any more money than most of these people) I might be inclined to agree with you a bit more than I actually do. I see no such evidence, however. I see a passive minority, not an active majority. I see screwed uuuuppppp people, not screwed because they are poor but poor because they screwed themselves. I see people who think that they are entitled and don't want to pay for anything. That's my personal observations from actually being *in* and *to* these places.

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
callandor: Re: Cont'd.

Your single, overriding presupposition is what you concluded your last post with: the poor are poor because they are lazy, free-riding ingrates who think they are entitled to things rather than working for them. All of them (or so many as it doesn't matter). You compare yourself to them. And, economically, perhaps there is some basis for comparison. (One of the saving graces to your argument is that you are not rich). But, as I noted before, wealth is more than dollars and cents. It is also about skills, knowledge, and learned behaviors.

Israel's greater wealth is entirely attributable to a capitalistic, open society? That is a factor. But few other countries, even those that open themselves like Israel has have experienced such rapid growth. Israel benefited enormously from an influx of highly trained, educated, knowledgeable citizens.

Similarly, you have been raised by two intelligent parents. You (probably) were not raised in an environment which has a tendency to produce negative learned behaviors. You were taught reason, analysis, respect for authority, etc. You were taught basic skills at an early age. All things that, while intangible, make a gigantic difference in the capital of a person. And, I may add, all things that you had nothing to do with. Yet, you have benefited from them. (I am assuming much of this, obviously, since I don't know your background, I may be wrong).

You have been equipped with a high degree of capital. You can read and write well. You are articulate and have developed social skills. You have chosen to earn a lower salary because you enjoy what you are doing. But, if you decided tomorrow that you wanted to earn more money, you could. You could be earning multiple times your current income in a few years if you wanted to. You are not poor like those who you speak of.

We are the richest nation in the history of the world. That doesn't increase our obligation? Back in the day, a few decades ago even, most of our citizens struggled to make a living. Some still do. But, the standard of living has increased dramatically. Why don't we have a somewhat greater obligation to provide for those who have not benefited from our society's prosperity? (Especially those legally held back?) It is less of a sacrifice now. We have far more discretionary wealth.

Your own presuppositions are obvious. You believe in a very strong brand of individual rights. You have a presupposition, not shared by many societies, that protecting the rights of the individual are more important than the course of action that most benefits society as a whole. Very Western idea. You assume that the poor are lazy or stupid or both, and, therefore, cannot be helped. (You, especially, should recognize the distinction between lack of intelligence and education.) Your active concern for the well-being of others is limited, largely, to your family and maybe your friends.

I don't presume anything about what the rich will do. There will always be those who give to the less fortunate. But, limited resources means many will miss out on health care and education that could be provided freely, to our country's betterment.

You don't come out openly and say what you suggest we do for the children of those who cannot afford health care. Hope that some kind doctor decides to find and help that child? Or screw 'em and let natural selection decide? Whose going to provide health care and education for all those kids whose parents can't afford it? How will the market rectify that problem? Of course you make no presuppositions about what would happen if the federal government stopped providing medical care. Because of your own presuppositions, you don't have to worry about it. They aren't your kids, and that makes all the difference. You have already said, they aren't your responsibility, aren't your concern. According to your presuppositions, only your family is truly your concern.

(Cont'd below.)

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
callandor: ...


I'd like to point out that, so far, neither of us has done much to convince the other. My conclusions are always going to be based on erroneous presuppositions. I could offer empirical evidence (for example, studies that show that poor kids do substantially better in school when they have attended HeadStart prior to enrollment), but you won't believe the studies. I could point out that some programs to help the poor have worked, while acknowledging that others haven't, but you don't believe the poor can be helped. You certainly don't think they can be helped with government funds. And I can't change your mind. So, why bother?

I want a world where we make it a priority to help those in legitimate need and are not constrained by concerns about money. This doesn't interest you. You have largely abandoned the world poverty post (I think one of your greatest mistakes is applying your view of the poor in America to the poor in the developing world where it is far less accurate). And that's fine.

I will never win you over to my side, you will never win me over to your side. I don't want to live in a world where we just accept that kids are going to die of easily preventable disease, you don't want to live in a world where the government (the only institution with the resources necessary to tackle the problem) expends the money necessary to prevent their deaths. So, you know, that is what this argument keeps coming down to. No matter what you want to say about how you care.

Maybe it can be summed up as I don't want to see the sins of the parent visited upon the children; and you think they must be. Continue arguing if you wish...but I think we will just end up at the same place: what we want to see in this world - what we care about.

Thu, Jun. 8th, 2006 05:29 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): Re: ...

Wow. I must say quite honestly (without any intended antagonism) that you have failed to surprise me. I had to dig through several layers to get to it, but your latest response is not up to par with your previous responses. Allow me to poke a few holes, if you will.

Au contraire, my dear Watson. My *presupposition* is most assuredly not that the poor are lazy and shiftless; I had noted before that, with exceptions (which I was very careful to introduce, even though not technically required to) my personal observations of the poor have been such that I was forced to draw these conclusions. I compare myself to them only insofar are our financial means being more or less equal, our stewardship of said financial means is light-years apart. And note, that I do not claim so in a fit of mean-spiritness. I know poor people (some that I've taken groceries to before anonymously) with whom I would *never* discuss my opinion of the psychological barriers that have stood in the way of their financial advancement. One must observe a certain degree of tact especially as far as relationships are concerned. (I know you're thinking "what the hell!!) My relationship exceeds in this case, my opinion, without, of course, interfering with the relative truth of that opinion. This, to me, is the essence of love. However, in other cases, people I know would be the first to tell you that they are poor because of a) a personal decision to do what they love or b)mistakes that they made.

Yes, one of the saving graces of my argument *is* that I am poor myself. Elsewise you would quite easily be able to write me off as a rich uncaring bastard eh? Well, I guess at least the rich part because the latter part of your post leads me to suspect that "the uncaring bastard" part is more or less suspected already. :0 No, my friend, I am an anomaly to your worldview. I am the Un-Rich Conservative. I like it that way, being a flaw in one's paradigm (or as you might think, a stick up one's ass) is actually quite fun for me. But you ARE right, wealth *is* about more things than just paper money.

You quite studiously ignore that your "influx of highly trained, educated citizens" could only have a) happened and b) been successfully integrated into a capitalistic society. You can't work if there are no jobs, or if the system offers no incentives for performace. I don't care how highly trained you are.

Haha. Don't get me started. :) Yes my parents are both highly intelligent in their own way, yet extremely limited for all of that. Their intelligence will always be limited and warped by their preconceptions and the boxes that they refuse to step outside. As for being raised in a positive environment, well yes and no. No I was never beaten, no, I was never abused, but in some cases warping of the psychological and religious variety can be far more tenacious and harder to get rid of. That is the kind of abuse that I dealt with (in some cases still dealing with) the last 5 years or so. It's been an incredible journey, if you're interested I'll tell you the full story sometime. Let's just say, for now, that if my parents were not religious (and hence bound to the hip to the sect of the religious right that believes in legislating morality) they would be economic liberals. They are possessed of, and probably will always be possessed of a "mooch" mentality of victimization that I've only recently become aware of. And no, I'm not playing the pendulum game. :)

Thu, Jun. 8th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): Re: ...

Yes, I was taught all of the things that you mention from an early age on. However, that was not where I learned those things in the long run. Concepts that are forced on children by our "system" of classroom education are not truly integrated into the ways that human beings actually learn. For one, desire is divorced from its object, enunciating learning as something to be shunned rather than embraced. Rather than allowing an organic process to take its time and blossom appopriately and differently in each individual according to their own desires, children are rushed through a mechanistic industry line that measures its paltry success using "test scores", with the final goal being one's success as (your line) a "productive member of society". Shoot me now please. I read under the desk through all of school and got absolutely horrid grades, yet I went to a national spelling bee twice in grade school, was accepted into every university that I apped for on completion of my last two years of "homeschool highschool" (in which I pretty much jacked around and played video games when my parents weren't home) and then proceeded to "amaze" my local community college professors (one started grading on a graduate school level when all was doing was taking a music appreciation course :)) when I decided to re-attend collge for some damn reason or another. I think it's fairly obvious that learning doesn't come much from out current educational *model* let alone system. It comes from an individuals innate accuities, interests, and what they make of themselves-- not what WE make of THEM. Understand that I shudder every time I hear the phrase "productive member of society". All that means is another worker drone with no capacity for independent thought joining the throng of other media brainwashed idiot drones. Thank God for human individuality that still breaks through this somewhat. You can't stop the brooding resentment though. People long to be free and when you present them with the opportunity they bolt through it. Believe me, I'm a teacher. All this not to make myself loko good, but to make the system look bad as it should and has for ever so long. I digress. . .

Explain to me how it is exactly that I am afforded the opportunity to better myself (I am supposing because I am an "educated" Caucasian male) yet others are not. Your assumption that the scales are tipped and your consequent refusal to allow for the possibility that they may not be are what cloud your vision. I agree that there are lingering elements of racism in this country, and I'll even allow for the fact that some of them genuinely exist aside from the malingering outcry of the Democratic party (and Republican) that keep the strife ripe and rife. How else would they get voters? What I will not allow for, however, is the absurd notion there is a permanent underclass that is *kept* there by the rich. There are examples too numerous to cite of coal miner's sons who are now CEO's of major corporations because they-- got aid from the government?-- no, they worked three jobs through college. Yes, sometimes the scales are imbalanced for a certain individual, yet I would place the burden upon the individual to work hard, rather than on society to to artificially interfere by "balancing the scales" for the individual. Who wants to win a game where the refereee has afforded you a 5 point start because the other team is better than you?

Thu, Jun. 8th, 2006 05:32 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): Re: ...

Being the richest country on earth does NOT increase our obligation. Our responsibilities are the same as they have always been and ever will be. Your statement "those who have not benefited from society's . . " is most telling. It is a simultaneously a euphemism, a whitewash, and an implication of victimhood status. Get down and dirty with "those who have not benefited . . " sometime and learn the truth. Listening to their sob stories and buying it is akin to giving 10 dollars to the bum who accosts you at the convenience store because his "car broke down over there and he needs rubber cement to fix it" (true story -- 20 bucks I'll never see again) This is not to say that we should abandon ALL social programs aimed at helping even the people who have made a mess of their own lives; it is primarily aimed at individuals such as yourself who see the mess that aforesaid programs are currently and conclude that the failure is due to the lack of extremism and/or adequate enforcment of your principles. Let me remind you that the sum total of one person - possessions and one person + other persons possessions STILL equals one poor person.

I think that you be surprised by how many people in American share my brand of "individualism". America is a country founded upon that very principle and although it has been both ridiculed and lauded for it, its constituency remains much the majority. What else would you call a country that rejected the taxation of it's overlord England and fought a war over the subject? Would you be inclined to call the Wild West a communal society? You're living in the wrong country if you're looking for socialistic values. At least you used to be.

You're wrong, I believe in the family unit as the primary function of societal excellence. Your dichotomy of individual vs. society does not exist for me. Individual rights ARE the pathway to societal well-being. You treat society like an engineering project or a machine. I treat and respect society as an organism or a cellular being, one that does not take kindly to misdirected tampering. You are much more a product of Enlightenment/Rationalistic/Western thinking than I in this sense. My view is holistic, your's compartmentalized. Do I need to go on?

In this way while to all intents and purposes (to the ignorant) liberalism masquerades as the fluffier (heh, heh, like that word?) of the two ideologies, when in actuality it is the more hard-line, and the more likely (by far as evidenced by history) to lead directly to fascist societies. Who doesn't think love when you think liberals? Who doesn't think bleeding heart? This is the great deception, one that very few people think deeply enough to come across.

Occam's Razor states that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. The sheer amount of obfuscation that progressives have to use to artificially induce their proposed Utopian paradise would give me pause even if nothing else was screaming out "Run Away! Run Away!".

As far as my proposal to help the poor (evidently I am an uncaring bastard incapable of proposing such things, but hey I'll give it a try, maybe I can make it from that seventh circle of the Inferno to the sixth) I believe it helping the poor to help themselves. Regrettably, at this stage the circular nature of the war between socialization and privatization in the medical sector has gone on long enough that a point of return is rapidly receding from view. Without complete reform medical prices will forever be above the heads of those without insurance and/or Medicaid. I am without opinion on this, I am not informed enough to make an inference as to what could possibly be done to salvage the situation.

Your inference that I do not care will forever be your Achilles heel, I'm afraid, barring any progress that we might have made long the lines that actually DO (gasp) care . . alas.

Thu, Jun. 8th, 2006 05:33 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): Re: ...

I could care less how kids "do in school". Unlike you in this aspect, I am NOT bound to the prevailing opinions/social dynamics and measurements of this day and age. I have already posted to the effect that I believe the current educational model to be nothing more than a foray into a generic conformism.

I AM open to your ideas concerning the poor in countries around the world however. And yes, I do believe that you have a lot more good to say in that arena than this, even though, my opinion concerning your ideas on this topic will certainly influence whatever you say in the other.

Your supposition that the government is the best institution to deal with poverty is perhaps your overwhelming error. I don't even trust the government to get my taxes right or not charge me twice, and you would trust it with the lives of billions of children? Come now.

I do enjoy our talks, though. :0


Thu, Jun. 8th, 2006 03:41 pm (UTC)
callandor: Re: ...

Well, hell. Where to begin. Let's start with your idea that your perception of the poor is based on critical observations and mine is a presupposition. I don't know how much time you have spent with "poor" people. But, you seem to indicate that I haven't spent much time with those "less fortunate." I have. Quite a bit. I won't bore you with the details. But, trust me, I have seen both types of poor. I have seen the alcoholic/drug addicts looking for their next hit. I have seen those with the entitlement attitude, those who don't think they should have to work for anything. I have also seen those who have had some truly bad luck. Those who have psychological problems (often the result of early childhood abuse) that make daily functioning difficult. I have seen those who have had some very bad things come their way. A lot of these folks ended up homeless or near homeless. And I have seen what happens when a concerted effort is made to help them. A "program" if you will. A few weeks ago, (prepare for dramatic, uplifting liberal success story) one of those near homeless stopped by our church to show us his new rig. He went from homeless to over the road truck driver in about six months. In short, my ideas are not some blind adoption of liberal rhetoric. I used to have precisely your view of the world.

On Israel, yes, Capitalistic system helped (Europe's more socialistic system probably could have absorbed those workers also). But, the point remains, you have to have the human capital.

Remember that, in my post, I specifically referred to Montessori preschools. You may not like school in general. That's cool. I have some of the similar objections that you do. I think the Montessori model is more the organic process you would like to see. I am all for changing the "conformity factories."

There will always be examples of the coal miners son who becomes a CEO, the ghetto kid who becomes a Harvard professor, the paraplegic who quarterbacks an NFL team to the Super Bowl. These types of examples, of course, are often cited in speeches to high school and college graduates, at NHS awards ceremonies, and whatever other situation in which an inspirational speech is appropriate. Why are they used in this context? Because they are unusual stories. People beating the odds. It is because they are not the norm that they are celebrated.

Do you surprise me? No. I figured that you were smart enough espouse a different view from the typical conservative outlook. Lots of lower income folks endorse the viewpoint you do. How is it you can better yourself where others cannot? Why do I think the scales are tipped? Well, I am sure that your parents did a number on you, psychologically speaking. I'm open to hearing the story, if you'd like to tell it. I have some experience in this area. But, your parents taught you things that, it appears, you fail to take into account. Perhaps you would always have seen the value of hard work. Perhaps you would have been inherently aware of logic, critical thinking, analysis and deduction. Perhaps you would have taught yourself to read. Or, perhaps your parents taught you these things.

You admitted that your parents never abused you. A lot of kids grow up with some pretty major abuse. You know the stories. I know the stories. Most of the learning I am talking about never occurs in school. All of these kids go to school. But a lot of these kids can't read. Ever. You can argue that this is because they are (dumb, lazy, fill in your adjective). But, getting your ass kicked by your stepfather or watching your mom get her ass kicked, semi-daily, can distract kids. It also affects them deeply at a time when their mind, personality, soul, what-have-you is most impressionable. Sometimes it is very hard, if not impossible, to "work hard" to overcome that kind of stuff.

Thu, Jun. 8th, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
callandor: Part the Second

When Mom and Dad can't read and don't care whether you do or not, it can be difficult to learn. And while I agree that "doing well in school" isn't an end in itself, it helps to get one out of poverty. What you want to do doesn't require a college degree. But, if you want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc., you have to do well in school. Until the system is changed.

Unless I am mistaken, your parents cared about you, demonstrated their love (perhaps imperfectly), taught you (or helped teach you) to read, instilled in you work ethic, etc. These are the many factors completely apart from school that make a person self-sufficient. When I say "productive member of society" I mean a self-sufficient person capable of thinking for themself. I'm not talking about shaping young minds into some sort of preconcieved mold. I am talking about gaining the skill necessary to continue society. Want to live in a world with no doctors, no engineers, no laywers (ok, lawyers is a bad example), dentists?

The scales aren't tipped? Again, this is not my presupposition. I used to believe exactly as you do now. I have changed my mind because of my own observations. Is it a coincidence that the higher paid, more desirable jobs ( i.e., lawyer, doctor, businessman, engineer, dentist, etc.) are filled most by the children of suburbanites? Is it a coincidence that the children of suburbanites make more money, have more capital, etc.? Let's take race out of it. I would propose that what your parents did for a living, more than any other factor (including race), dictates the income status of the child. Income is not everything. But do you really think people like working manual labor for a fraction of what people make in these other jobs? If they aren't choosing these jobs out of choice, maybe it is their environment that is making the difference. That the scales are imbalanced is clear, unless you have a prediliction against the idea.

There are some, and will always be those, who beat the odds. As noted above, their stories are so incredible because they are so rare.

Finally, I keep forgetting to mention this. The Nazi party rose from liberal sources? The economic theory, sure. But, the right wing nationalism that persecuted (millions dead) minorities and gays? That's a bit more the domain of the conservatives, don't you think. And, no, I am not saying that conservatives want to kill blacks, jews, and gays. But, conservatives were the ones fighting desegregation and lead the way in hating on the gays. Extremist liberal doctrine espouses war on capitalism, control of the means of production, etc. Conseervative extremism dehumanizes minorities and homosexuals. The Nazi party was extreme, but these basic social philosophies fit more within the conservative tradition, not the liberal one.

Thu, Jun. 8th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
callandor: Part the Third

All of that having been said, I absolutely feel that the entitlement attitude and the reverse racism are terribly destructive. They are destroying the African-American community. I heartily support what Bill Cosby is doing right now. I think he should be commended for providing some much needed leadership. And I would help no one who is able but unwilling to help themselves. Except maybe providing basic food and shelter.

Any "program" I advocate would require a great deal of work on the part of the recipient. A great deal. No one should sit home and draw money. Ever. The worst thing the liberals have ever done is to absolve the recipients of their compassion of the need to work for what they get. Nothing could be worse. It creates a victimized status, removes the incentive to act, and promotes dependency. It hurts the very people it is designed to help.

And, that is why I am devoting myself to working on international poverty issues. I understand the obstacles faced by the underprivileged here. But, I also think: (1) almost no one starves in this country, (2) most of the developing world would risk death (and do, routinely) for the opportunities that exist in this country. Now, the kids, who make up a relatively large percentage of the homeless and near homeless, that's a different story. But, overall, I feel the need in the developing world is far greater than the need here.

Still, I disagree with your conclusion. I would provide universal health care and universal education. I see it, if nothing else, as an important investment. And the great failing of "the market" is that, and economists almost universally agree, it fails to rectify problems among people who can't pay for services. There is no market for people with little or no income. So, imperfect as it is, I would want some level of government intervention. I don't care if you just have private hospitals and permit the government to provide funding to cover the poor people the hospital treats. But, the government must provide the resources or the resources will not be provided. But, ultimately, I don't care if the government is involved at all. Give me an alternative to government intervention where all people get basic health care and education and I will gladly take it.

As for "our talks", I am glad you enjoy them. I got the distinct impression, from some of your recent comments, that you didn't so much. So, you know, feel free to continue until you stop finding them useful. I am open to getting back to the world poverty discussion. I care about that more than any domestic poverty issue, for the reasons discussed above.

Wed, Jun. 7th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)

Wow. . . I barely remember writing half of what I did last night. It's been a long last few days . . . :)

You're right, in a way, of course regarding funding. However, this changes nothing regarding the source of the problem; adequate funding (or lack thereof) is simply a manifestation of the root problem: a government run enterprise. The private sector allows both the potentiality and reality of *growth*, something that a government-run enterprise cannot do, except perhaps by incrementally changing the amount of funding receieved on a regular basis.(i.e. the "we need more money" crowd) However, whereas in the private sector growth would be preceded by profit and usually followed by an upgrade in facilities, equipment, payscale for the founding members, etc, in the governmental sector there is no such vertical movement. Instead the movement is largely horizontal.

The problems that you speak of, such as overworked doctors, incompetent staff, sub-par service, and poor equipment are all problems that can also occur potentially in the private sector as well. However, the key difference is that whereas in the private sector, the choice to go to a better alternative quite effectively weeds out businesses who operate using sub-par standards, people who use governmental health care systems *have* no other choice. (we will most likely differ as to the cause of this situation)

I think our understanding of the problems inherent to the system is similar (enough) for the time being, to continue on to your further statements.

It seems to me that you wish to continue to believe in the potential viability of a system of socialistic healthcare, despite the demonstrable failure of it's application in every other society, both historically and currently. Of course, failure itself is not proof that the idea or ideal itself is flawed (although I believe it is) hence why you propose hybrid-like blends of Capitalism/Socialism of the system that you believe would fix the current flaws. The best of both worlds. Whitewashed examples of systems such as those currently under employ by nations like France and Canada will not avail you (just in case). I could quite easily give a glowing account of yesterday's events; I mean after all, we saw a doctor in a clean, new facility, same day service, with a prescription, for FREE. They even let us have the baby back there.

In short, you seem to acknowledge the fact that most (if not all) of the problems with your idealized healthcare system stem (and potentially stem) from the presence of the federal government being introduced in the equation. When I pose to you the stunning idea that taking the federal government OUT of the equation entirely might actually balance your equation in an unexpected way, you seem unwilling to accept the idea based on the premise that a purely capitalistic system of healthcare would re-introduce oligarchy. Do you see why I think that pre-suppositions are so important? I make no such presupposition regarding the actions of the rich/wealthy.

Mon, May. 29th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)

Allow me to add . . .

Why exactly is the desire to keep classified information . . . secret, evidence of a conspiracy towards the American people? Since when is the bias so embedded in the progressive movement that it has become that?

Being a journalist (yes, even such elites as we have today) does NOT exempt you from obeying the laws of this nation. And the laws of this country state that the leaking of information (especially such information as may be helpful to an enemy combatant) is a crime punishable by law. Would you prefer that we go back to the days in which we summarily executed such individuals, journalist or no? Would Benedict Arnold, the quintessential "traitor" archetype have obtained a pardon if he had simply mentioned that he was a journalist? The notion that America has "deteriorated" into a land that no longer honors its past ideals of civil liberties is laughable when viewed against the framework of *actual* history. Progressives are fond of idealizing certain points in America's past, and declaring certain things "unconstitutional" when truth be told, they would have been most unhappy in the times of the Founding Fathers that they venerate via their undying "adherence" to so-called constitutional ideals.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling journalists traitors, at least, not yet. They're simply short-sighted individuals, motivated by the same self-importance that has turned journalism from its relatively mundane task of "reporting the news" to "interpreting history". They are celebrities, nothing more, nothing less.

Today's standards are painfully lax by WWII, WWI (well, pretty much all the wars) standards. Please frame your statements in the context of history or refrain from making them.

Mon, May. 29th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC)

Heh, heh, my wife has reminded me of the need to be nice (what else are wives for?) :)

So understand that that last comment regarding "refraining from making comments" could have been better phrased (my true meaning) -- please put this things in the context of history, and have a nice day!!



Tue, May. 30th, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)

what else are wives for?

And that is why I am staying single. I know that original poster obviously knows that wives are very useful for a number of things, and yet...*grins*

Wed, May. 31st, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)

I post merely to introduce hot lesbian sextea into this equation.

Wed, May. 31st, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)

I second that, and I'll raise you a kinky wizard.

Thu, Jun. 1st, 2006 12:50 pm (UTC)

I'll see your kinky wizard, and I'll raise you Draco Malfoy and a goat... in love!