May 03, 2005

chimerical reactions

If the Terri Schiavo imbroglio did nothing else it should at least convince people that bioethics is not so abstract and distant after all. While the subject is deservedly associated with academic ivory towers, it is still amazing to me how little concern there is over the looming ethical train-wreck. From experience, I know with certainty that mentioning bioethics is the surest way to drive a house (or blog) guest to call it an early night.

I suppose that I must hazard that risk one more time.

This is a hazard worth bearing because science is moving us very far and very fast. If you are a regular reader and followed the links in my post entitled i, heretic, you probably already have an inkling of the profound issues being raised by current and imminent biological research. If you have not personally delved into bioethics or the very latest on what is happening in biology, you owe it to your kids to do so now.

Science fiction stories have nothing on the current experimental projects that can be found on our nation’s lab benches.

If you doubt the urgency of my plea, here is a short AP news story that might get your attention. While it is a continuing challenge to write about this stuff without striking a hyperbolic tone, frankly, if you can pass over the patent application for a humanzee with a wave of your hand, perhaps you have spent a bit too much time Tivoing sitcoms.

Though it may be offensive to our mass media induced instinct to classify and simply, some problems just will not succumb to that effort. I wish I could tell you that I can offer an easy solution to these pressing issues.

I certainly think that the definition of life that I have previously offered rooting humanness and life in the human genome is a starting place, but surely no more than that. Even if we have a sudden infusion of caution and prudence in such matters and pause this kind of research until our ethics, law and society catch up, there will still be those creations that get made by those unscrupulous souls that will inevitably place themselves above or beyond the law.

It would be comforting if I believed that our legal system is fundamentally robust and able to adapt easily to new developments. But the inadequacy of our law to deal with the issues was profoundly demonstrated by the fact that the humanzee patent application was denied on the basis of constitutional prohibitions against slavery. Yes, slavery. It is somewhat chilling that our legal system’s first response was to protect new life forms with the same tools as they would a human being.

The social and intellectual carnage that will be caused when an illegally created humanzee, or some other being resulting from a chimera project yet to be named, falls ill and seeks a human organ transplant makes me shudder in fear.

But there is little doubt that we will choose to continue to ignore our legal predicament regarding a definition of life though the price we will pay for the convenience of procrastination is clear enough. One only has to consider the Terri Schiavo circus to appreciate where we are headed if we fail to act proactively.

Honestly friends, do we really want that cast of characters haunting our lives indefinitely?

I didn’t think so.

But regardless of what thoughtful Americans might desire, I would recommend your girding your mind. Avoiding the national haunt would require leadership and will. Those who pass for leaders in America today are unfortunately politicians first and have much to gain by letting mere disagreements fester into crises. Until we are sufficiently aroused to collectively call bull-feathers on the usual suspects, we will continue to get what we voted for: a slick and well produced reality show.

This time the reality show affects the world in which our children will live in fundamentally different ways than we have never before even imagined.

396 Comments:

Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Obviously we have a starting point by valuing human life. That being said, what can or should we do genetically? All genetic engineering is not the same. Since this is new without clear precedent on how we should act, extreme caution is certainly the responsible thing to do. We need to classify different kinds of genetic work into catagories with similar parameters.

Plant vs animal vs bug (virus, bacteria, fungi, yeast, etc.). Non-human vs. human. Repair of disease vs creation of new.

Then there is legal ownership/parent issues. Who is responsible? Who is the parent? I once heard this crazy scenario where husband A and wife B wanted children, but couldn’t have any. So they took female C’s egg and male D’s sperm, and put it in surrogate E’s womb. So who are the parents and what is their responsibility? In this scenario there are five participants and genetic engineering (I knew engineers were trouble makers ;) would compound the issue as well.

Tony, can you share with us what your wife thinks about all this with her science background? Maybe C.G. could tell us what is allowable for the common good. :-)

Prof. Ricardo

4:20 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

You know, my wife is an extremely intelligent woman, but doesn’t spend a lot of time on the big picture stuff. I know she views life as starting with the completed genome (fertilized egg). I’ll talk to her about it and get her take.

One problem I see is that the attempt to classify is itself a difficult thing. I think one of the most problematic developments that I linked to in the early post is that of building a new biology based on a form of DNA that includes base pairs that do not exist in natural DNA. How we begin to classify that is very hard indeed.

I think the human chimeras are difficult, but not as hard. I suppose you would look at brain tissue genetics, chemistry and morphology. This can be done, I think, but if we don’t draw the lines, then there are going to be some problems that just can’t be handled well on an emergency basis.

4:29 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

I did take note of the latest news, and especially the humanzee reference. This attempt is disheartening, to say the least. Although I'm as interested in scientific progress as anyone, I find myself in agreement with my husband's position, which is simply "we must not do it." If we don't build them, we escape the need to classify them. Where does the research money come from? Our government needs to choke it at the source, maybe to the point of restricting tax credits for deep-pocket donors as well to derail private attempts.

High-tech "medical" engineering to create designer organs for transplantation is an abomination, especially so while there are so many garden variety medical issues that can be addressed with current protocols if the funds were available.

And where's PETA on this? If this doesn't qualify for mistreatment of animals I don't know what would.

I would say that combining DNA between species should stop at the Genesis definition of "after their kind" that is, if a fertile hybrid cannot be created naturally, then it should be forbidden to alter it.

6:31 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

All I can say is if a pig could grow me a brand new prostrate... I would be offering celebration bacon post surgery. That would be good for common good. :)

8:00 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

My wife was in cancer research for quite a few years before she became a stay-at-home mom. Her research lab implanted human cancer cells in mice, grew tumors, and tried to isolate monoclonal antibodies (hybridoma) that would attach or attack the cancer cells. Once isolated they could identify, or mark, the cancer cells. Early detection is everything. It was not at the DNA level exactly, but it was definitely messin’ with mixin’ critters.

That is probably acceptable to most people, but creating monsters for fun and profit is less appealing. By noting the different kinds of messin’ with critters, hopefully we can find the borders of acceptable genetic engineering. However, without a core belief system (based on the Bible, I would say) grounded in right and wrong, any imposed limits on experimentation or disposal of life would seem arbitrary and not have the stigma of committing some great wrong.

Our’s, and our children’s, generation has its work cut out for it.

StillDreamin, My wife’s research was mostly paid for by contributions from wealthy people wanting to make a difference in cancer research. I too thought about PETA. And finally, are you going to the book fair this weekend?

Prof. Ricardo

11:13 PM  
Blogger someone else said...

First of all, I came up with the concept of chimpmanzees and manobos well before these two idiots tried to patent the idea and to give it a much less amusing name. So phooey on them.

Secondly, this is really scary. I am going to try to not get too scared and remember that there are many, many other things out there. I will leave it to the intellects among us to figure out how to deal with this gruesome prospect appropriately. The one thing I would note, though, is that usually people rather quickly deal with new things that are highly objectionable at a gut level while it's the subtler forms of tomfoolery that get passed off as "okay" precisely because they're not as striking or don't stir at the heart strings. So I'd be more worried, about, say, the destruction of ecosystems with genetically engineered plants and animals as well as simple introduction of "natural" species where they don't belong. An ongoing issue...

In any case, I'm glad I don't have to deal with this. :)

Fiddling away,
Saurav

1:07 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Let me get this straight. In this mini-blogisphere, two of you had wives working on cancer research... and both of you allowed them to stop.

For shame, for shame, for shame......

10:25 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Saurav,

I agree with your larger set of concerns, but I do not share your willingness to leave this one to the intellects. The intellects have given us very little lately unless you count electronic technology. Even I will admit that cell phones rock.

I guess where I come down that ultimately this will be a moral and ethical call. Now the intellects might provide us some guidance for sure, but it is up to society as a whole to develop a moral sense of what we should do. There will obviously be substantial disagreements with people coming forcefully from both extremes. We need time and leadership to reconcile these camps.

I do find it comforting that there do exist people such as you who are more cynical about our society than I.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Obviously you do not have a full appreciation of two things. First, what an odious career medical research has become, and second, the how incredibly rewarding motherhood is. That said, I do share your incredulity. I was simply shocked to see fully revealed how junior level medical researchers are treated. Only at the upper reaches does it approach what you and I would probably hope would be the treatment of the folks doing some of society’s most important work.

Most make even less than teachers.

This was really driven home to me when I was interviewing people for a programmer position when I lived in Philadelphia. I interviewed two people with Ph.D.s in molecular biology that were simply looking for better pay to support their families. Or check out this fact: some of the offers my wife received were so low she could have made more money working for Wal-Mart.

Our society is so fundamentally messed up--it is just amazing that we have survived this long. Almost as amazing as the fact that everybody just thinks everything is great and as God intended.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Ricardo,

Any chance you read this link from my earlier blog post?

fundamentally new biologies

Somebody please tell me how we are going to classify those kinds of critters. I have some ideas that I’m ruminating on, but I think there are some big challenges there.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.,
“...two of you had wives working on cancer research... and both of you allowed them to stop.
For shame......”
My wife came home to home school. Having the lab close was a bit of Devine serendipity that forced the issue. My wife now has nearly 30 students enrolled for next fall with a waiting list, split between Biology, Chemistry, and Advanced Biology & Anatomy (all high school level+). All extremely difficult classes. One alumni has already expressed a desire to further a career in science. See one, do one, teach one.

Tony,
I just read the article. Although, I think it is highly unlikely that their work will produce anything of value (after all, God is the author of life), we can consider their created bugs and classify them by characteristics.

These new bugs will either resemble current bugs, or they won’t. I believe we discovered viruses after bacteria, yeast, fungi, etc. At that point we had a “new” creature to catagorize. When we observe a bug now, we compare it to known bugs in order to identify it.

New Lab Bugs (NLB) will be labeled as the inventor so chooses. I would say make him (the inventor) responsible for its consequences. We demand a lot from drug companies. How about adding a new FDA area that tests newly created bugs, paid for by the inventor. In addition to the FDA cost of ~$25 million per bug, lets have them bonded for a billion dollars or so. And oh, if the NLB gets out and kills someone (that’s vehicular (the bug is the vehicle) manslaughter), 20 yrs per incident, not to be run concurrent if more than one, etc. If the NLB has medical benefit (cures cancer, replaces organs), the genetic work will thrive and we can complain about obscene drug company profits. The high entry price keeps out the curious and forces responsibility.

Prof. Ricardo

1:18 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

While I think market pressures and criminal sanctions should be brought to bear, I fear there is no way to keep a lid on NLBs. They are just too easy to produce. Time will tell whether this is end times stuff or not. I do think the risk potential is in that category, but I just do not see how to contain it. Criminal sanctions will help, but it is not a cure for the sociopathic types.

But fundamentally what I see coming is the creation of chimera beings that demonstrate varying degrees of intelligence. It will be automatic that some will rush to provide human rights protections to these creatures. I see a lot of argument coming over where to draw that line. In a world where many people seem comfortable drawing the line on abortion at a place that is logically ridiculous, I am fearful of where that line will end up.

What about a being with 90% human DNA and 10% vampire bat? {Insert obvious joke about politicians here} Now God may indeed choose to imbue such a being with a soul. Morphologically the creature might be indistinguishable from a human being. 90/10 is the easier case. What about 80/20? What about 75/25 with no obvious signs of higher-order intelligence?

Yes, we will classify. But what about my premise of a chimera seeking a human organ transplant through a court appointed guardian? Where are the lines?

And herein lies the problem with letting the “inventor” classify it. Look again at how many people classify fetuses.

The more you think about it, the more evident it is that we have no business tinkering with the stuff until our brains catch up with our technology. And I have zero confidence that as a society we can just allow such things to proceed and expect people to behave rationally when issues start to pop up. Then again, to complete the circle, I also think we have no real choice because some of the people involved in such things are undeterrable.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Also, for those of you still reading I’d add that my blogsite hit count has gone into the tank on this issue. I knew it would: nobody cares a bit about the issue.

I better get another post out quick…

2:06 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

"What about a being with 90% human DNA and 10% vampire bat? {Insert obvious joke about politicians here} Now God may indeed choose to imbue such a being with a soul."

10% vampire bat... I hear a joke about liberals there. :)

Wouldn't you think that if God created man, he/she would have made creation too complex for man to simulate/understand? Or maybe, on the other hand, God really does have a sense of humor.

4:10 PM  
Blogger someone else said...

I do not share your willingness to leave this one to the intellects. The intellects have given us very little lately unless you count electronic technology. Even I will admit that cell phones rock.

Oh, I meant you guys, not the kinds of people who authorized testing of aids medication on poor and minority foster children over the last two decades. Clearly, there's some work to be done on the medical ethics front.

But all is not lost. You should see blogs like http://totheteeth.blogspot.com.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Saurav,

Thanks for the link. I liked what I saw in my brief tour.

To stop the apathy and silence of wealth. Arming itself to the teeth, our nation uses sophisticated bombers of stealth,
As if the world is our plantation.


I think the apathy and silence of wealth sentiment applies domestically also. I heard pro baseball pitcher Randy Johnson makes over $4000 per pitch... in the same society where we have 45 million without health insurance. Go ahead folks... try and put lipstick on that pig.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

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7:10 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

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7:20 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony,
The more you think about it, the more evident it is that we have no business tinkering with the stuff until our brains catch up with our technology.

Do we then decide by mutual agreement to cease all/ some/ most genetic testing until we work out the details? Define what is permissible and what is not? Is that a state, federal, or world issue? Whom do we wish to empower with this jurisdiction? What are the consequences if their empowerment and ban overreaches into areas of cures for cancer and disease?

And finally, your reference to abortion, that is not just intelligence, that is morality. There are extremely intelligent people who are very evil. As we become more multi-cultural and post Christian, we loose our consensus of morality, and with that the ability to make decisions and have them be moral and just. But hey, at least we are appeasing the gods of political correctness.

Prof. Ricardo

9:30 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

First let me comment that I am definitely pro-legalization on drugs. I can direct you to streets in Philadelphia that Amsterdam could not possibly have anything worse than. I am always willing to have that conversation but will not go further now unless there is interest.

Frankly, your willingness to let the scientists do what they want surprises me. You seem to be sensitive to the definition of life issues that this stuff rubs pretty closely up against. Lets turn the hypotheticals around. What about a human genome that has 5% vampire bat DNA? 1%? You see the point. We know that there is tinkering we can do with the genome and still produce a human being: this happens in nature do to environmental influences. I just cannot go all the way to let them do what they want with you.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

OK. I’ve been asking questions, so I try taking a stab at some answers. I’ll do it more as an exploration than a serious defense of a well thought-out approach. I am working toward that as a goal.

Do we then decide by mutual agreement to cease all/ some/ most genetic testing until we work out the details?

Yes, I think this is a must. The difficult nut is which is permissible and not. I would say for right now any testing that involves altering the human genome by adding DNA from other species should be prohibited. Any testing that involves splicing human DNA into other species should be generally prohibited. Releasing new species into the wild should be prohibited.

Is that a state, federal, or world issue?

Clearly, this is a World issue. We should seek global proscriptions and criminalization.

Whom do we wish to empower with this jurisdiction?

I would think an international treaty would create a committee that could oversee recommending prosecutions and methods of local enforcement.

What are the consequences if their empowerment and ban overreaches into areas of cures for cancer and disease?

Well, this is the risk and why I believe it is an important discussion. This risk is obvious: unnecessary pain and suffering. We should clearly avoid this risk if at all possible.

But the risk of doing nothing is pretty horrendous in my mind. I am more fearful of useful research being curtailed by the inevitable knee-jerk reaction of the public when some difficult situation is “suddenly” in the public view. The total public freak-out over some of this stuff could jeopardize research in a lasting and persistent way. Look at how irrational people’s responses are to some of these things and tell me you think if we just ignore it that research will proceed without a problem. Not on your life.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

In the last post, I failed to address your final paragraph.

I agree up to a point that because of the lack of consensus on morality it is becoming increasingly difficult as a society to make moral decisions. But this is not a problem of law, it is a problem of culture and the hearts of men. It is a result of a failure by evangelicals to make their case persuasively.

That failure, I am convinced, is rooted in an inexplicable unwillingness to engage the World in a dialog. Evangelicals, it would seem, would rather rant about Truth rather than gently speaking it as did Christ. I have no doubt that by engaging people forthrightly and compassionately we can have a far greater impact on the World than we ever can through the corrupt and evil tools of political gamesmanship.

My own personal experience bears this out. I do not believe that I have ever intentionally softened my views on Truth here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon or elsewhere. In fact, from what I’ve seen I am far more absolutist in my defense of Truth than the hordes of folks that take up that banner for political purposes. I’m convinced that by engaging in rational dialog with people and supporting the principals of Liberty, we will get our message heard.

I believe in protecting the privacy of my personal correspondence, so I will limit my remarks in this regard, but I wish you could know the breadth of viewpoints of the people who come here and read. There is really a diversity here that the world could be jealous of. And the irony is that I am an evangelical Christian who makes no compromise on standing for Christ. I am consistently unwilling to tell people that what they do or believe is OK. In spite of that “intolerance” I have productive conversations with people of every walk and creed.

This is no credit to me. I thank the Lord daily that he has given me lessons in humility and compassion that make this possible. I am indebted deeply to Francis Schaeffer and many personal friends who have helped me to see the errors of the intellectual constructs of my youth.

It is my firm belief that by serving the World rather than controlling the World, we will have a far greater reach for Christ. If we use love and the brains God gave us, we can win these battles because we are armed with the better argument. Fundamentally, I think those that put their hope in the political system demonstrate less faith in our Lord than those who speak the Truth and leave the enforcement to God.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

So this is an example of your humility? Good god... please keep your other side under wraps.

If this place turns into a church sermon, I'm out of here. Obviously no big loss to those who want one. :)

So to summarize the great worldview debate:

First contender (pretty much limited to the US): All answers, including those we need to define our government and democracy can be found from the bible and absolute truth. If evangelicals were just better at their sales job, we would all see this obvious fact, and we would all build a better, non-pluralistic society/government. Only by politicians mentioning god often and loudly in the public square and basing more of our laws and judicial decisions on the CHRISTIAN bible, can we improve our society.

Second contender (the rest of the western world): Regardless of whether or not a god exists, and whether or not there is heaven or hell following this life, defining our society is up to us (man). A fundamentalist Christian society will be worse, not better than a pluralistic society where no faction, majority or otherwise, gets to dictate morality for the nation. Only by treating religion as a private matter, and truly building a US of EQUAL rights regardless of religious belief, will we ever evolve our society.

All the rest of this rant is just details.

12:16 PM  
Blogger someone else said...

I heard pro baseball pitcher Randy Johnson makes over $4000 per pitch... in the same society where we have 45 million without health insurance. Go ahead folks... try and put lipstick on that pig

Well, how much does George Steinbrenner make per year on the Yankees for doing nothing? Baseball is a strange place to look at management/labor resource allocation (among many other things), but I'd bet that Randy Johnson is not going to be walking away from the game with the same kind of wealth.

I'm not really a socialist (yet), but I do want to point out that the iniquity...err inequity...is well beyond the players making too much :)

And someone needs to fire Bud Selig. To call him a "commissioner" is a mockery since he's a rep of the owners and additionally, he seems like an insipid man who makes horrible policies.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Saurav,

I'm not really a socialist (yet),...

So what's a socialist in the US?

1) Anyone who believes the state should own all factors of production?
2) Anyone who believes in progressive taxation?
3) Anyone who believes in any form of taxation?
4) Anyone who believes in any form of federal welfare?
5) Anyone who believes in federally pooled safety-nets?
6) Anyone who disagrees with the budget just passed extending $106 billion tax breaks for the wealthy, at the same time cutting $10 billion from Medicaid?
7) Anyone who thinks it's immoral for anyone to have a second home in this society as long as we have 45 million without health care?
8) Anyone who goes by the name Common Good on the internet? :)

Being called a Socialist could be badge of honor depending on the meaning/context.

< kids just say NO >
Don't drink the Absolute Truth or greed Kool-Aid. Your society shouldn't be defined by an exclusive religious faction, and you don't have to view your society as a playground for the rich. It doesn't make you un-American to question the wealth distribution of our economic system. A hard statistic is most of you are going to be working Middling people... i.e. NOT rich. The elites you should be worried about aren't the so-called liberal elites taking up for the loving lesbian couple next door, but rather the economic elites who play the average joe as a fool. They are perfectly happy to keep playing reverse Robin Hood with your wallet. The real intelligent design going on is the one orchestrated from Karl Rove's office.
< kids just say NO >

Congress-passed budget plan targets Medicaid

3:48 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Tony, you’re a good man. In spite of what Mr. Good has to say about you. :-D

Human babies 'grown in lab' It’s a little eerie that this stuff shows up so often when it’s the topic of the day.

And for the off-topic blog slap C.G. has been missing from me of late: The trickle UP theory works. Through the tax laws, all the tax credits, deductions, and tax rate drop, the under $50K crowd just doesn’t pay a lot of tax, if any. However, the tax bill for the rich, as they have been telling us, let them off Scott-free. Well, sort of. It seems with a reduction in tax rate, the wealthy apparently did something with their wealth that resulted in more taxable income, because the US government was surprised by an extra $54 billion in tax receipts. Wait a sec...lower tax rate = unexpected revenue boost. Must be on the downside of the bell curve. Another tax cut the last one and we can afford that Nationalistic Health Ins. on the Hanukkah list, eh C.G.?

Prof. Ricardo

4:00 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Wait a sec...lower tax rate = unexpected revenue boost.

Quit drinking the Kool-Aid Prof... that's one greedy pig on that lipstick. Just think how much tax revenue we could generate without taxes. I bet they found that additional $54 billion from your client's returns. :) Hey, Curm found another humble soul mate. Tom DeLay gave a speech today asking for everyone to seek humility. Supposedly DeLay works on his humility every day. I would say whatever time he has been devoting to it should be reallocated to something with better odds... which would be just about anything else.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:51 PM  
Blogger stilldreamn said...

http://totheteeth.blogspot.com

Suarav, I am awed. We have a similar clinic here in Memphis that serves the poor and uninsured and it also runs on shoestrings and volunteers.

Here's some additional food for thought:

http://www.medicalreform.net/

8:29 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

Tony, you are correct science is moving us to fast. I have asked for a complete ban on AI research until we have a way to control a suprior intelligentence. They are talking about connect a computer to a human mind by 2055. I don't believe this should ever happen. As I wrote to the president and other officials that "IF" the Lord wanted me connected to a computer he would have given me an I/O port on my body! He didn't, so until they can be 100% sure that the computer could never take control of the human mind (since both use electrical impulses it could possiblely happen) that no one ever be hooked up to one. These are my feelings and my opinons about how science needs to slow down some, thanks Tony and bye for now.

As far as stem cell research, I see that issue as "IF" the two donors both sign releases for this egg to be used for such reseaarch it is their rights to do so, but just can not take them. I am not sure as to how they acqire the fertilized eggs today, but this should be the only way, I think.

Tony, it is strange that you would bring up this case again. I have a posting at military.com about whether "history is correct or is present day correct?" by straving people to death. Here is the location (if anyone is interested) Military.com Forums > Military.com Forums > World War II > I curious to know the answer?

9:06 AM  
Blogger someone else said...

So what's a socialist in the US?

Okay, at the risk of getting into a prlonged and esoteric discussion about definitions (oh who am i kidding...that should read "in the hopes of"), there are two things I'd say. One is that we should really try to distinguish between political labels in local context and a more literal understanding of the term. Apparently, socialism means one of these things absend the American context.

In the context of the United States? Given how far the radically insane right has taken things nowadays, anyone who supports labor rights, welfare states, grassroots organizing and other such things would probably be (incorrectly) labeled a socialist. Well, that, and "terrorist."

That's why I think some are adopting this approach in frustration :)

But in seriousness, CG, I appreciate your defense of the label "socialist" given the history of red-baiting in the U.S. I don't have the courage :)

11:32 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

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8:03 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Thomas wrote:
"Tony, you are correct science is moving us to fast. I have asked for a complete ban on AI research until we have a way to control a suprior intelligentence. They are talking about connect a computer to a human mind by 2055. I don't believe this should ever happen. As I wrote to the president and other officials that "IF" the Lord wanted me connected to a computer he would have given me an I/O port on my body! He didn't, so until they can be 100% sure that the computer could never take control of the human mind (since both use electrical impulses it could possiblely happen) that no one ever be hooked up to one. These are my feelings and my opinons about how science needs to slow down some.."

Whoa, slow down Thomas. And don't send these kinds of letters to the President. You sound like the kind of guy who's going to pull a Lee Harvey Oswald meets Terry Nichols meets some crazy end-of-the-world Bible preacher. There are already probably 15 FBI guys sitting around watching your house. The Matrix is just a movie....

As for humanzees.... we've already got those things. Most of them live in Arkansas. Once I stopped at a WalMart there on a road trip back from D.C. Those humanzees had their own society and everything!! And they've been migrating too. I even see the Humanzees at the WalMarts here in N. Texas now!!!

Amazing universe we live in!!!

(I guess they deserve rights. But probably we shouldn't let them vote without some kind of high level literacy test.)

8:07 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Saurav,

But in seriousness, CG, I appreciate your defense of the label "socialist" given the history of red-baiting in the U.S. I don't have the courage :)

Newsflash: George Will just became a "socialist" over the weekend. Sunday, on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Will said the following: "It's just a matter of time before the American business community demands Universal Healthcare"... i.e. seperate from the employer. Let the irony sink in... I have been smiling ever since I heard old George make his statement.

I'm not very good at predicting the future (that would be obvious from my history of stock investment), but try out this peek into the future. Globalization will soon hammer our middle class... at least in the short run. At some point, the numbers will reach a threshold where the sales job to the public of "american business and GDP are doing excellent" will not be good enough (job losses also will represent lost consumers). Once this threshold is reached, our spineless elected types will finally be forced to act... and the elephant in the room (health care cost and crisis) will have to be addressed. Of course the answer will be some form of Universal Healthcare, probably some form of public and private mix, and people like me will be yelling "Sorry rich morons... your snake oil doesn't work here anymore". Hopefully this will help us survive, but I suspect it will not be enough to provide the upper mobility of the middle class we once enjoyed. This will provide the die hard conservatives another decade or two to blame any economic situation on "liberal policies like universal healthcare and safety-nets", when in reality the real culprit will be globalization (i.e. the world quits just being the playground for the United States... other people finally get to have decent lives also).

I agree with Thomas Friedman... we need a New New Deal rather than then the insane Grover Norquist knuckle dragger ideology that this administration seems to champion. The upcoming suffering of the US middle class is inevitable. The disproportionate padding of the bank accounts of a few ... business owners, CEO's, lobbyist, etc. is not inevitable. Globalization will either provide the catalyst for us to finally learn how to "be in this together", or it is likely to mark the beginning of the end (you will know your fate by the size the protective wall around your property).

Yeah... I know... I'm a socialist. :(

11:26 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG,

Nothing wrong with being a socialist, take out the human element of it and you will find a peacfull place for the coexistance of, ., oh yeah we had to take out the human element, because as with many things, plug in human and you get the power to rueman or ruin the whole thing.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Actually, I think there is something fundamentally wrong with Socialism. It is utilitarian in its foundations and fails to vindicate the rights of man. Socialism is rooted in the evil of the common good as a gold standard for measuring morality.

Pursuit of the common good within a framework that embraces the natural rights of man, however, is an entirely different thing. Socialism has as much to do with the American moderate view of safety nets as does Capitalism with the payment of wages for labor in a socialist society. Yeah, it looks connected on the surface, but it the underlying framework defeats the “alliteration”.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

"Socialism is rooted in the evil of the common good as a gold standard for measuring morality."

I think that's a dumb way to frame the debate. The simple truth about all of these ideologies and zealotry's we preach to each here is that no one ideology can stand as an absolute when it comes to defining our society/government (I will leave absolute faith or religion to others).

For example:

- we can't be too Christian, or we will be a theocracy.
- we can't be 100% human rights oriented, or we have a taxless society that would have failed many years ago... don't pass go (revolutionary war).
- we can't have too much liberalism (bleeding heart handouts) or you would kill capitalism, and we all go down.
- we can't have too much conservatism, or we wouldn't have safety-nets like Social Security and we wouldn't have enough Government rules to run Capitalism
- we can't have too much libertarianism or the little guy will have no chance, not to mention polygamy would be legal (btw, my book Under the Banner of Heaven is fascinating, and scary).

If anyone of us claims we just follow one of those tenets 100% of the time, they aren't worth listening too, other than for entertainment. All of these pissing contests come down to our personal beliefs about how we should weight these concepts. I happen to believe we have missed the boat a long time ago when we weighted personal liberty too strongly, and weighted "common good" to little. Applying your "gold standard" terminology doesn't really get us there... we are still left to define the balance.

I say a little less ying and a little more yang. :)

4:51 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

My human rights taken in isolation implies no obligation on my part to the sick or elderly... even if my parents. Is that the kind of gold standard we currently have?

4:59 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Another outstanding socialist... Mr. Paul Krugman on Bush's Social Security Scam

--

These are people who denounced you as a class warrior if you wanted to tax Paris Hilton's inheritance. Now they say that they're brave populists, because they want to cut the income of retired office managers.

Let's consider the Bush tax cuts and the Bush benefit cuts as a package. Who gains? Who loses?

Suppose you're a full-time Wal-Mart employee, earning $17,000 a year. You probably didn't get any tax cut. But Mr. Bush says, generously, that he won't cut your Social Security benefits.

Suppose you're earning $60,000 a year. On average, Mr. Bush cut taxes for workers like you by about $1,000 per year. But by 2045 the Bush Social Security plan would cut benefits for workers like you by about $6,500 per year. Not a very good deal.

Suppose, finally, that you're making $1 million a year. You received a tax cut worth about $50,000 per year. By 2045 the Bush plan would reduce benefits for people like you by about $9,400 per year. We have a winner!

6:21 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much, enough not one.

--- Poor Richard, 1733

Maybe the term "enough" should have been mentioned in the Constitution.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Well CG,

I agree that with human nature nothing will be perfect, but I should point out that if this country were christian, we would not be a theocracy in the true sense of christianity. That aside, just like communism and socialism when you add the human element to anything, it all goes hay wire.

The fundamental problem with everything we talk about is, well, us. We mess everything up, and then to fix it we mess it up more. And the best that we can hope for is to die inour sleep. It is the same with the topic of chimeras, it would be great if there were ethical scientist that understood how far to take things, but every one gives in to pride at some point and it is no linger about what it started out to be. It is like when we were young and started to realize that things we did were wrong. How many years of trying to cover up our mistakes did it take for us to realize that if you come out and take your lumps up front life was much better. Like Delay for instance, get off the horse buddy and look at who you just ran over. I do not know if he did anything wrong or not, it does not look good from the gosip angle and the newspapers, but everything is skewed for hype there anyway.

I went to a DNC blog sight yesterday, and started reading some of the stuff on there. It was great, a couple people started out talking about how hatefull the Reps were and the RR, and how they wished those people could just be honest, and then about 6 posts into it they started talking about lynching and burning people. It was rather funny. have not gone to a RNC blog yet, but I figure I would find about the same thing. I am starting to get tired of the extreme sides, Tony how is that third party you are developing coming. I think between all the people we have here on post, we could cover all the cabinet posts with people that would perform in to a higher standard.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Christian Quotation of the Day

May 10, 2005

The mark of modern unbelieving man as a whole is that he
has felt astonishingly much at home in his earthly
surroundings. He has taken a cheerful view of the prospects of
the race and of the future of human history, staying his soul
upon the promise of further “evolution” of the human
individual, the continuous upward progress of civilization, or
perhaps the confident expectation of a completely
revolutionized order of society -- a communist Utopia beyond
the class struggle or something else of that same general kind.
Where such hopes remain unchastened by the cold touch of
reality, there is little prospect of the Christian Gospel
recommending itself to men’s minds, and any wordy defense of
it is likely to be quite useless.
... John Baillie (1886-1960), Invitation to Pilgrimage
[1942]


Kinda fits what we are presently talking about

9:22 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy P,

I'm well aware the best defense for our nations "individual rights focus" is human nature. I have had that conversation with Tony many times. I just refuse to believe we have to accept the current conservative version of where we draw that human nature/collective thought line.

I posted once here about the harm extremism/zealotry does. That zealotry comes from many fronts, from religion to political ideology. Zealots tend to work against a harmonious society... democracy is by definition compromise. That said, there are times where zealotry serves it's purpose. Consider anti-slavery, civil rights, and women's right to vote zealotry. Today I would add Universal Healthcare, free public education and gay rights zealotry. There are many, many times where a large percentage of the population just have to be fought. We just aren't that good when it comes down to it... it often takes a loud and vocal conscience of a few to pull our society kicking and screaming into decency.

Randy, if you are interested in reading quality opposing views, read the NYTimes forums. Start with forums for Friedman and Krugman. If you want to read informed but peeved posts, check out Brooks and Tierney forums. None of them are as smart as us from Curmland :), but pretty smart. Seriously, there are some really bright informed people out there that participate. Add NYTimes Friedman, Krugman and Brooks to a regular weekly read, and I don't think you would be disappointed. For entertainment read Maureen Dowd and Molly Ivins. If you need an conservative equal to Dowd, read Ann Coulter. There is seriously something wrong about Coulter... and I find that very attractive. Oops... was that out loud?

9:35 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy P,

The John Baillie quote is certainly representative of the effect of religion on many in our society. Many use religious belief as a pass on any collective concerns in their society, other than a collective proselytizing of their religious beliefs. I will never get it... it seems perfectly logical than one can strive to improve man's society while here at the same time one strives for eternal salvation. Without a doubt, one of the things that holds us back is such superstitious belief systems. I'm reading about how Joseph Smith created the Mormon religion... just invented it. The guy started spitting out creeds, and found thousand that would actually buy into them and follow him. One of his creeds stated that God expected him to bed multiple wives, including 15, 16 and 17 year olds, many which were stepdaughters. So I'm sure the Baillie's of the world would have us believe religion is a net-positive for society. I have my doubts with this kind of baggage.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

First you say the way I frame the debate is stupid, and then proceed to pretty much agree with me. I guess I can live with being stupid.

I stand by my remarks that I believe that Socialism is founded on an immoral premise that morality is judged on what is good for the larger society. Utilitarianism is an ugly thing when wielded independently of any other moral standard.

What I have never said was that I believe that all utilitarian analysis is immoral. In fact, it is impossible to envision a legislative enactment beyond the most basic that doesn’t entertain the balancing of needs for the greatest benefit of society. My opposition then to Socialism and Utilitarianism are on the basis of them as a moral credo, not as a useful analytical tool.

You ask, ”My human rights taken in isolation implies no obligation on my part to the sick or elderly... even if my parents. Is that the kind of gold standard we currently have?

I would say rather that while as a matter of natural rights you are not compelled to help others, we have founded a liberal republic for the purpose of imposing mutual obligations for the benefit of all. We have decided as free and sovereign individuals to hang together and excepting a few radicals, generally agree that this is conceptually a good thing. The debate then should become over what rights we have acceded to the state and what powers we have invigorated that state with.

In order to be crystal clear, let me say it again like this: the notion of an individual possessing a natural right claim arising from their own need on another sovereign individual makes no sense. We create states and social institutions to address this natural, albeit tragic, condition of man.

Lastly I would add that approving comments of Ann Coulter are simply uncalled for in the civil discourse we engage in here at the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon. I expect better of that of my posters.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG,

The point I got out of it, is that man is constantly trying to improve the way he regulates society, but the problem with this is human nature does not allow for this. The reason laws in society are so important is because of this problem, man is constantly wanting to break out of the mold that he himself put himself into. The hope is that man will continue to evolve into something that can co-exist with other men, and it will not happen ever. You are correct in saying that the RR is a hamper to this process, but the process is flawed to begin with because of human nature. Might I also say, and maybe Tony can give his input, but Baille is not coming from a RR view, he is just stating facts that were true in the 40's and are true now. Let me also note that even thought the RR has muddied up the waters, if everyone lived as Christ did, we would have the communal utopia that you as a socialist are looking for. As with Smith, you cannot take the imperfections of man and place them at the level of God, with God all things are perfect. IMO. And man messes it all up. Jesus was for all intents and purposes the perfect communal leader, and his direction was to care for the poor, before worrying about ones self needs. That is and always will be the truest form of faith

10:25 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Tony,

You make a good point, freedom is as freedom does. No one person is responsible for another, and to tey and force the issue is not a relevent cause for a free society. Why should I pay for the unfortunate welfares of others. Some would say it is my duty and obligation, but who really has that authority, unless we elect people to represent us, and then they should be looking out for us, and not every little thing that interests everyone

11:12 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy P,

Not shooting for Utopia... just Universal Healthcare. Plato's The Republic addresses the human nature issue. Man only compromises on his true human nature (which is indeed very ugly) out of necessity... i.e. it ends up being in one's selfinterest to compromise. I man's nature may be to steal another's possessions... it would be in his selfinterest to increase his wealth in this fashion. However, using reason man decides that everyone running around stealing everyone else's stuff just doesn't work out very well. Out of this, reason becomes the seeds for law and collective thought. We are already in the game of battling "man messes everything up" with reason and law... we can't avoid it. Making sure every citizen has healthcare not only seems reasonable... it appears to be very Christian. Who knew?

11:21 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

I do think it is very important to have a clear understanding of what you believe human rights are and what their origin is. Absent that understanding, things are very confusing. People cause themselves no end of internal turmoil wrestling with rights and fairness. This is what causes people to ignorant cast liberals as socialists when there are really very few true socialists around these days.

I disagree that Jesus was a communist as many claim. True, he proposed many communal types of things, but he consistently called not for a changed legal system, but for changed hearts. His suggestions on how the body of Christ should function were premised on a community of believers, not a large nation state. There was never a hint that sharing and caring should be compelled by force of the laws of man or of God. When Jesus said render up to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s, I believe he spoke very broadly.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Tony,

I think my point was, not that he not calling for changing the legal system, but doing away with it all together, and the changed hearts in the thoughts of christianity would do the job to abdicate the "non-need" for a legal system. This is after all what utopia would look like, there would be no need for the whole to out weigh the one, because there would always be a need for the whole to look out for the one in an unselfish way.

Again as always I "think" I made a point, but if I re-read it I will probably just delete it so I will post and see what happens

11:38 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

Hahahaha…don’t delete!

Yes, I suppose you could describe Jesus’ version of Utopia like that, but then he also said we would never get there. I think that developing general economic principals from his teaching, as did the liberation theology crowd, is very dangerous and fraught with blasphemous potential.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG,

It seems to me that the Universal Health Care is not a problem with me, if I can regain the $200 a month that I pay out and give that up to the Feds for health care and a more inclusive style, with private practices that will take the funding under federal guidelines and charge me a little more to be able to go to a private practice and get healthcare I am fine with it. I think though that it would cost me more than that $200 out of pocket and I would be funding a lot more people that are bypassing the system for their lazy inability to work or want to work.

Again universal health care I think is a good idea, I am scared about what will actually be provided if the Feds get involved and screw it up. Probably something that is not adequate at all to actually cover the total of my needs. Also you have to take into consideration what will happen to those that want to be on life support for the duration of forever. How will we pay for that. Or does the total of the need of all people not having extended life support mean that we pull the plug after, say three months

11:57 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Tony;

Yeah, I was not trying to label Jesus as a communist, just that utopia, when he brings it back with him will be the pure form with out the problems inherent with the system.

CG,

I think the problem with our govt. at the moment is that we are not addressing the fact that man messes up everything that he touches, we just keep plodding along. Each side of the fence does some pretty stupid stuff and ignores some pretty important stuff. And I think what they tend to forget is that we all (the public in general) just want to get along with one another and makae sure that our rights do not get stepped on. The biggest fight the the RR has right now is how the govt is slowly stepping on it's rights to have their children protected for vile thoughts and propaganda like same sex living and partnering, abortion, and the right to pray when and where we feel like we need to. The RR force that is pushing so hard right now, sees a slow and eventual elimination of these rights, and the fear is that prosecution will be intolerant of these rights. you may not see it that way, and you may think that the constitution and judges who uphold the constitution will not allow that, but there are lower court judges right now that are doing it, and if you follow the premise that appelate(sp?) judges are looking at the how the case was tried and not always the merits of the case itself, where do we stand.

Anyway, I thought I would give you some insight into the RR, maybe you could have just a hint of pity for their twisted minds.

I know how they feel, I just have more faith that even if I am persecuted, I will be OK in the Lord. he is my shepard, I shall not want....so on and so forth.

I fall more into the category of

Thou wilt never be spiritually minded and godly unless
thou art silent concerning other men’s matters and take full
heed to thyself.
... Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471), Of the Imitation of
Christ, II.v. [1418]


And this was in 1418.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

And to say that you are for the general public and universal health care for those that can not afford it and won't even discuss abortion with out some specific outline of how we would handle adoption or punishment for those who commit murder in this specific fashion. Seems odd to me. You are not on the same page with yourself

12:21 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

And another thing,

i think if you did not look at the hypocracy in the RR you would be able to more clearly understand the teachings of Christ. And I think you would understand why it is the truth.

Not trying to convert you, just trying to show you another persepective

12:23 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

The problem with the Kempis quote is that it does not answer what a Christian is to do that sees the name of Christ being drug through the mud by others claiming to be Christians. Don’t misunderstand, I think Kempis is certainly correct but at some point, one must speak out for Christ. We cannot let timidity bred from our intimate knowledge of our own fallen condition lead us to remain silent and not defend Christ.

This is a hard line to walk for me. I spend great energy criticizing our President here and do so in part on the basis of the gap between his profession of Christ and worldly practice. Any Christian that undertakes such criticism cannot help but be somewhat reluctant. I personally am not merely afraid of calling splinter and ignoring the logs, but also of the appearance of ignoring the logs.

This is especially dangerous for me because my rhetorical style is very emphatic and I have often been accused of being preachy. But this is a danger I feel called to hazard.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

If you see the need to speak out about people that drag the name of Christ throught he "mud", how do you feel about speaking out about things that are moral issues and are never addressed by congress and or glossed over for "freedoms" such as abortion. You do realize that the RR believes that they are speaking out for Christ. They may just be a little misguided, but as you say

"But this is a danger I feel called to hazard."

5:28 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I do think it is very important to have a clear understanding of what you believe human rights are and what their origin is.

Yeah... I was reminded this weekend that we were not all on the same page regarding the basis or our rights. Senator George Allen... the one who is about to run for president... just said our rights come from God. Shrub has said the same thing. Every time I hear that, and the statement that "we are a Christian nation"... I have the same questions.

1) Either the non-Christian has no rights

or

2) The non-Christian has rights, they just come from a god (or Jesus) they don't believe in

Either way... that belief by definition is a bogus constitutional contract... i.e. it would be the opposite of equal rights regardless of religious belief. So either Senator Allen is just frickin ignorant (scary), or non-Christian should be considered second class citizens. I don't want to be a second class citizen. I may just be pushed into a persecution corner one day... the corner where I'm forced to come out swinging against the religious zealotry sweeping into government. :(

If you think about it, the act of claiming the country by a faction is by definition persecution against anyone that doesn't belong to the faction. Robertson and Falwell are rabid persecutors... I think that would be serial single issue rabid persecutors. :)

10:20 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG,

First the statement that freedom is granted by the Creator, does not limit your freedom, and does not make you a second class citizen, although I can sympathize with how you are feeling, as I wrote earlier, this is the same reason that it seems the RR has grown and voiced their opinion louder than usual. I feel like we are at a turning point in our history as a free nation, and we are trying to give freedom to all, and not infringe on the freedoms of others. Topics in this discussion vary from the "pledge" and or gay marraige, porn and the list goes on. Some, from a secular side can think that the RR's belief that by granting all these "unchecked" rights to others and requiring schools to teach alternative life styles as a choice is an infringment on the rights of people to raise their kids with a belief system. You can also see in the bill of rights and constitution that the frame work was biblical, and early laws were also bible based in their morality. Each side has the opinion that we have either gone too far, or we have not yet gone far enough to satisfy the needs of the secular left as apposed to the RR. I for one would never move to California and allow my children to go to public schools, they have also allienated the RR farther by not allowing Christian schools to partake in scolastic sports, because of their beliefs, so where does that put us at this moment. And the pendulumn swings left a little farther.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

Well, at least as far as abortion goes, I have been pretty outspoken regarding the rights of the unborn. If you would ask specifically, I’m happy to recapitulate my positions or point you to where I have written about it. And if I have not spoken on the subject, I’m always willing to offer an opinion.

Bottom line is that I do feel as Christians we have a responsibility to speak out on moral issues. I do not flinch from this. What I also speak out against is mixing the message of Christ with politics or diluting our Legal protections for the purpose of codifying Christian principals in the laws of our land.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy P,

First the statement that freedom is granted by the Creator, does not limit your freedom, and does not make you a second class citizen,

Good try... although common with religious types. You just quoted the Declaration of Independence which has nothing to do with my rights and laws under the Constitution. Religious types always revert back to the Declaration because they can point to Creator. If they wanted God to be mentioned in the Constitution, they would have. In case you haven't noticed, those old founders spent a fair amount of time thinking this through... can't exactly claim it was a oversight not to mention God in the Constitution. And if the Constitution did say or imply "our rights come from a Creator... let's be honest, Christian Creator", then all non-Christians would be second class citizens by definition. The entire construct breaks down. The only basis for our rights in a pluralistic nation is "human rights"... with no implication about god... period. I always thought the Pledge of Allegiance challenge by Michael Newdow was valid... the only question was whether or not the "under God" phrase and practice warranted new law. At some point you would hope we could all just get along... although putting a child under peer pressure in a public setting concerning religious matters is, and always will be wrong. When I hear a senator and a president use the phrase "god given rights", then I start to think the "under God type of cases" are fights we will have to have again. The push for more religion in government zealotry will leave us with no choice. I tire of the religious types claiming our country as theirs. Use common sense... do you think all of the non-Christians are just going to sit back and say... "yeah, you Christians know best... knock yourself out and we will follow". Don't think so. It's obscene that a faction would say they have a right to THEIR religion in public schools. It's obscene that religious beliefs would effect the teaching of science in public schools. We have a very big problem brewing in this country... and it's called religious zeaoltry. There is zero chance a pluralistic nation can survive unless it keeps religious zeolatry under control. btw... as my dad pointed out, the "under God" phrase was added in to the Pledge of Allegiance when he was young... wasn't even originally included. Kind of strange to call that a custom when it didn't even exist that way except for law makers adding it in. I guess law makers can create "custom" anytime they want.

You can also see in the bill of rights and constitution that the frame work was biblical, and early laws were also bible based in their morality.

bs...

Note the following in the Franklin book when you read it. During the constitutional convention (at a point where it had become particularly tense), Ben proposed hiring a chaplain and starting every morning session with a prayer. The idea was resoundly defeated... Ben's notes to the effect... "not many for morning prayers". I think the entire effort of religious types to equate our constitution with the bible is pure fiction... has been for 200+ years.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

"What I also speak out against is mixing the message of Christ with politics or diluting our Legal protections for the purpose of codifying Christian principals in the laws of our land."

Exactly... could you hurry up and teach this lesson across the country... you don't have much time.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Think about this. I am best of friends with Tony. This would not be possible in a United States that did codify the bible in our law. I repeat... religious protection happens because of the seperation of church and state, not in spite of it.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You have made that bogus contract argument before and it gets less impressive each time your repeat it.

Now, I have no clue about Geo. Allen and what he believes. However, the mere act of stating that one believes that our rights come from God is in no way incompatible with being fully engaged in an open society. The natural rights camp has attracted Christians and Atheists alike because it roots rights sovereign individuals without regard to any other status or conditions.

I look at those who do not believe that men are created by God as simply ignorant of those facts. It does not affect their value as a human being in the eyes of God nor should it before the laws of men. I would suppose that an Atheist advocate of natural rights would take an inverse view and think that my lack of understanding that we are mere probabilistic accidents would in no way denigrate my value as a human being.

Base and judgmental people of every stripe often make the leap that you are ascribing. But the view that failure to agree on creation is somehow determinative or that it should be determinative of someone’s standing before the law is not necessitated by the viewpoint of either side.

I share your view on factional politics, as and Disenfranchised Curmudgeon leader surely knows. But I reject your generalizing the political actions of some angry religious right types to somehow define the view of all Christians. These RR types may wield political power today, but they are far from representing the dominant philosophical view of historic orthodox Christianity.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

You said, ” It's obscene that a faction would say they have a right to THEIR religion in public schools.”

I totally agree. This is why I am opposed to public schools forcing secular humanism down the throats of everybody but the rich.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I am trying very hard to spread my view of the inappropriateness of formally mixing politics and Christianity. Please feel free to help promote my website. I think my reach may have plateaued for the time being.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Base and judgmental here :). That's funny... try and find one group more judgemental religious groups.

You have made that bogus contract argument before and it gets less impressive each time your repeat it.

Hey... you are the lawyer. I would have thought someone with a law background would be the first to acknowledge that you can't have a valid contract between parties without agreeing on the core premises. I would say a society split on the source of our rights operating along in parallel universes would be a constant source of tension... oh yeah, that's exactly what we have.

However, the mere act of stating that one believes that our rights come from God is in no way incompatible with being fully engaged in an open society.

Don't think engaged is the right word here. If a faction believes our rights come from God... I can't really see the distinction from making the statement we are a Christian nation. Sounds about the same to me. Seems like Senators and Presidents of our pluralistic nation should say "our human rights"... otherwise they are promoting a faction.

denigrate my value as a human being...

Whoa... going off track here. Who was talking about the value of a human being? I'm talking about our base society contract, our Constitution. OUR base contract is the Constitution, not the bible or God. It's just common sense that any faction, claiming the USA as their's, or based on their religious beliefs is invalid in a pluralistic society. How could you start a nation of Equal rights by first defining as the basis of those rights a religious belief of one faction? It just doesn't make any kind of logical sense. That's not an attack on religion... that's an attack on the nonsense of one faction claiming USA ownership. Religion should not get a pass because of some special faction status.

But the view that failure to agree on creation is somehow determinative or that it should be determinative of someone’s standing before the law is not necessitated by the viewpoint of either side.

Senator Allen (believes MY rights come from God) -> he confirms a Supreme court judge who also believes MY rights come from God -> Judge rules on "under god" cases and always sides with Christians.

Fairly frickin determinative...
Yep... I would say we all need to agree our Constitution rights are based on our "human rights". That is not even close to saying we all have to agree on creation.

But I reject your generalizing the political actions of some angry religious right types to somehow define the view of all Christians.

I don't remember generalizing... but I would answer it like this. You either think Christianity should be central and public in our government, or you think it should be more of a private matter. I would generalize from there.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Man, you could’ve saved yourself some typing. I am having headspins sorting out your last ramble.

You said, “ If a faction believes our rights come from God... I can't really see the distinction from making the statement we are a Christian nation.”

Well, I’m sorry you do not see it. I really don’t think the argument is esoteric at all. You are essentially saying that because I believe that God created us in his image that it is impossible for me to not believe that this is a Christian nation. Since I have spent a lot of time and energy arguing our Government was intended to be entirely secular, apparently you believe that I have a defect of reasoning. For those few others that might actually read this, I will reaffirm the consistency of my view that our Rights came from God and that our government was very deliberately founded as a secular institution.

Next you accuse me of going off track when I was specifically responding to your remarks about non-Christians being second-class citizens, then lecture me about factional politics (again) when I have repeatedly agreed with you on that point.

Move the La-z-boy back from the television: all that radiation is taking a toll on your synapses.

So then you tell me again about Allen, who I have no interest in specifically discussing. Well, if I knew anything about him I might well think him and idiot, or even worse, a politician. Because certain ideologue have their intellectual constructs lashed up in a flimsy political engineering apostasy is of no consequence to an analysis of what a correct viewpoint would be.

And the fact that you cannot see you are generalizing when you assume that all Christians must think this is a Christian nation is fairly amazing.

Kind of like your staunch refusal to see the violation of the Establishment Clause inherent in state run secular schools.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Why would any person that believes in God desire another individual... that has no more direct communication with god than the individual... to act as a filter between them and god? Why the need for organized religion?

An Ugly Wind Blowing our way...

I had a funny thought. How many nonjudgemental people to you think spend any time on internet blogs? :) Hint: < 1

1:37 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG,

Sorry you missed my point, wish you would have taken the blinders off prior to reading my post. I said
"First the statement that freedom is granted by the Creator, does not limit your freedom, and does not make you a second class citizen, although I can sympathize with how you are feeling"

And I do sympathize with what you are going through as an adult in a country that touts freedom, and then lets the RR dictate what those are. What I was trying to show you is that these are two forces working from differnt sides trying to meet in the middle without giving an inch. And although I believe the degredation of our moral culture, NOT BASED ON CHRISTIANITY, but moral issues that many may see as the forced issues of the RR, is the down fall of this nation, and will plunge us into chaos. And not a social chaos, but an unsocial chaos. This is obviously just my opinion, and probably does not hold much water with you. I am only trying to explain that I see your side of the argument, and would make a correlation between you side, and the side of the RR. Both are looking for freedoms, and both are misguided. As a socialist you believe (and correct me if I am wrong) that social freedoms are as free as what is good for the common good of the nation and states. If that is true you have to begin to understand that the RR just wants to look at the freedoms that are being taken away with the passing of every new law that allows their children to be put in what they consider hazardous conditions, in regards to their childs soul. You being of an opinion that there is no soul and therefore no life after, this is of no concern to you. And frankly the fact that you see the RR as taking freedom away from you, and making you feel like a second class citizen is of no concern to them. This is in fact what Tony disagrees with the most about the RR (Tony correct me if I am worng, and putting words in your mouth that do not taste good).

I agree with you about Newdow's challenge of the pledge, I wish that they could have taken it out. If it were to be in we would have mention of God in the constitution, and it would have been in originally. It should really not even be something the RR is fighting for, we have more pressing issues to resolve in our own hemispheres of influence. Your father is correct in that it should have never been added, I am assuming you understand why it was added when it was. The whole evil empire thing and communism.

Yes and as for the bs you through out there so conveniently, I would disagree, again I will say that you should study the teachings of Christ, and you will see that the founding fathers did have it right and were correct in what they did. From the point of view of a Christian, and not the RR you were guarenteed these inalienable rights by God, that is what our foundation was based on, if you still want to wave your bs flag, I am sorry to say that you are wrong....dead wrong. This is what was intended, but I will also say that the constitution is worded correctly and God is to be left out of state and federal domain to give all not only the rights given by the Creator, but so that people, similar to you, that do not feel there is a God, can be part of the greatest nation on the earth, that allows all to state their opinions, without prejudice or malice.

Now from your stand point I also understand that you do not believe you were given any rights by a creator, whomever that may be under whomever's guidlines they fall into for their beliefs. You feel that the zealotry that exists on the RR will infringe on rights that you are granted in the constitution that does not regard God in anyway shape or form. This also I understand, and to say that we as a nation try to define ourselves a "christian" could be offensive to most that try to assimilate, or not assimilate to this country. After all it is anyones right not to assimilate to our perseved culture if indeed we have one.

So in closing, I am not disagreeing with you, I was trying to show you the other side of the argument, and not trying to rile you up about your freedom. To say though that early interpretation of law was not based on biblical morals is a farse.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Kind of like your staunch refusal to see the violation of the Establishment Clause inherent in state run secular schools.

Hey, when I see a bunch of people gathering on Sunday's to worship at thier secular church, you will have a point. When those gatherings give voice and backing to a secular version of Pat Robertson, you will have a point. When I hear a secular version of Pat Robertson tell me our judges are a much bigger threat than a few bearded terrorist, then you will have a point. I'm afraid some define secularism as "not allowing Christians to dictate life, including public places, to the rest of us". As far as I know, I've never told a Chistian how to live, although you try and make a case I'm telling Christian how to live by supporting public schools. I'm hearing Christians every single day tell me how I should live. You tell me... who sticks their nose in other's business more than the religious? And no, I'm not lumping my buddy Curm in with Pat Robertson. :) Just making sure I keep you awake so you can get some work. :)

btw... Mr. Curm... do you still believe in evolution? I know you did at one point. If I remember correctly, your position was something like "you never saw the conflict between believing in evolution and creation... god just created man through the process of evolution". Or something like that. I'm curious where you stand now.

Your base opinionated secular blog correspondent. :)

2:19 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

You are essentially asking me to explain the Protestant Reformation to you.

Protestants believe (and I will not characterize the Catholic position because I realize there is some nuance therein of which I do not have a full grasp) in a personal direct relationship with God. The function of the preacher is merely that of leading the Congregation. In many ways, a preacher’s sermon is no different than an IT professional rendering an opinion on a technical topic. Or in another way of looking at it, preachers are not authoritative on what the Word of God in fact is-this is left to the individual. In the words of the New Testament, we each have our spiritual gifts and preaching is but one of them.

Why organized religion? Good question. In my view, it depends on what type of organization you are speaking of. I think the large denomination mentality is nothing more than a construct of men to accumulate power. I would say this about all large denominations spanning the gap from the Roman Catholic Church to the Southern Baptist Convention. It is no accident that I find myself presently attending a Restoration Movement Church.

Which brings me to these smaller organizations that are the individual churches. This is an institution that Christ himself ordained. The organization exists more as community of believers than for larger social structure. Christ instituted the Church for the purpose of spreading the Gospel and for uniting Christian brothers and sisters for mutual assistance and fellowship. When church leadership steps outside these narrow purposes, in my opinion they are on shaky grounds biblically. And when you start taking steps of allying directly with worldly institutions such as political parties, then you are playing with potential, if not probable, blasphemy.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good said: During the constitutional convention (at a point where it had become particularly tense), Ben proposed hiring a chaplain and starting every morning session with a prayer. The idea was resoundly defeated... Ben's notes to the effect... "not many for morning prayers".

Tsk, tsk. So many students, so little time. :-) “no many for morning prayers” is not quite so accurate as you might like. From This Independent Republic:

“The eclectic approach of both Franklin and Jefferson to all things made them ready samplers of any thought. But were they Deists? Vergilius Ferm has defined Deism as, first, the view that "God has no immediate relation with the world. . . the 'absentee landlord' view," and, second, that "revelation is superfluous, that reason is touchstone to religious validity, that religion and ethics are natural phenomena, that the traditional God need hardly be appealed to since man finds in nature the necessary guides for moral and religious living." In terms of this, let us examine the plea for public prayer given by Benjamin Franklin on June 28, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention:

In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find the political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible to danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection.

“Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs the affairs of men.

“And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without this concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our partial little local interests; our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a byword down the future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.


Footnote: “The Convention did not accede to Franklin’s plea, fearing that the introduction of a chaplain would lead the public to believe that the Convention was disunited.”

C.G., The evidence is overwhelming to those who have not closed reason and senses that this nation was founded on Christian and Christian compatible ideologies in all their various forms. ALL were not Diest, Athiest, Christian, Puritan, Calvinist, etc.,etc. They all played a part. They each were their own unique blend of philosopies. But the overwhelming influence of the migration and establishment of peoples on this land and the federation of the individual states, was the practice and protection of the Christian religion. That does not make unbelievers a 2nd class citizen. Quite the contrary. Your murderer and my murderer will pay the same price under a Christian government. I doubt you’ll get such guarantees from the Atheist faction.

Prof. Ricardo

3:04 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I hate to break it to you, but a majority of the nominal Christians that would impose their beliefs on you do not attend churches either. I can’t see that as a useful criterion. And BTW, there are secular Churches out there. You pointed one out to me yourself.

And again, when you invoke the names of certain prominent Christians, you confuse a wrong-headed minority as representative of the whole. I am as appalled by the behavior of these people as are you.

The beauty of our system of laws, if we would be so bold as to actually follow them, is that you do not get to tell me what my religious practice is or should be. It is entirely my call and you get no say in the matter. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Disagree all you want with my assertion that the secular worldview is fundamentally inconsistent with the religious practice of my family, but you will still be wrong. Your unwillingness to acknowledge this speaks to your close-mindedness, not mine.

On to simple topics like evolution. Well, my personal belief on evolution requires some explanation. I start from the premise that God created reason, created men as rational creatures, gave men dominion over the Earth, and the free will to make his own choices. I do not see any biblical warrant for the notion that we are compelled to reject what our senses and reason tells us. Now we are admonished to question our reason and to distrust our own confidence in our faculties. Or in other words, we are to be careful about being too certain that we have a complete understanding.

To apply this to evolution, I would simply say I do not know precisely how evolution fits into the order of the Universe. That evolution happens at a genetic level is unquestionable. God would not ask us to simply deny this truth, but rather rest in the confidence that the Creator of the Universe will make his plan plain to us in the future.

It is easy to forget that Western Society (yeah Saurav, I know you don’t buy that construct) was at one time in quite a turmoil over Galileo’s observations proving that the Earth was not the center of the solar system. Over time, this truth has ceased being a problem for Christians, but in a prior age this seemed as key to some folks as does evolution today. I have no doubt that this issue will resolve itself in much the same way.

So if you are asking me if I believe in evolution, I would say no if you mean in the sense that it is an explanation for creation. In the sense that it explains facts that we can ascertain though our senses and reasoning, I have no problem with it.

Here is the key point that I think separates me from the militant anti-evolution crowd: I think that it is incredibly arrogant for a mere man to assert that they have a clear understanding of what exactly the act of Creation by an omnipotent, omniscient, pre-existent Creator is. Man doesn’t even understand the act of creation by men. Perhaps as we understand better the act of creation by men, we will have a better sense of the act of creation by God, as we are made in his image, but I think we will only get so close to understanding.

And this limit is pretty clear if you just look at the account of Creation in Genesis. It is said there that God spoke things into existence. But speech itself is a physical property of a physical created universe. There is little doubt I think that God here is using an anthropomorphism to communicate a complex act to a simple creature.

This whole discussion raises all kind of interesting and fun questions. For instance, is it not possible that an infinite Creator could create a new Earth that appears old? If one begins to ruminate on what is possible by and infinite creator that exists outside of time and space, the mind does truly boggle.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Proffy,

Where you been? Good afternoon. I really have learned to enjoy a bit of history... particularly old Poor Richard. :)

What's "This Independent Republic"? I googled but didn't find it.

Footnote: “The Convention did not accede to Franklin’s plea, fearing that the introduction of a chaplain would lead the public to believe that the Convention was disunited.”

If anything, I would think that makes my point even stronger. If the overriding concern on the table was making a Christian nation, then these man of backbone surely wouldn't have punted because of public perception.

But the overwhelming influence of the migration and establishment of peoples on this land and the federation of the individual states, was the practice and protection of the Christian religion.

I believe there were two, and probably pretty equal motivations to come to America. 1) escape from religious persecution/theocracy 2) economic reasons. A great benefit for many was the chance to practice Christianity as they pleased. The vast majority of the population were Christians. And to that, I would say... so what? Christianity wasn't mentioned in the constitution then, and it isn't mentioned now. What many seem to be saying in their arguments is "since the country was founded mainly by Christians in the late 18th century... we should all consider this a Christian nation for eternity, regardless of changes in demographics and pluralism". Why in the heck would these guys have provided an ammendment process if the original demographics were suppose to represent the social norms from that point on? In 1787, making the claim that this was a Christian nation, although not technically correct, would be more easily defended. In 2005, it just sounds silly.

We are obviously repeating ourselves now, but that's ok.. we seem to enjoy it. :)

"That does not make unbelievers a 2nd class citizen."

Of course we would be second class citizens if the Robertson's ever get there way... and that's exactly what the battle over judges is about. I understand it on some level. Anyone who thinks they have a handle on eternity and the proper relationship with god, doesn't have to stretch very far to decide how we should all live on planet earth in the meantime.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Disagree all you want with my assertion that the secular worldview is fundamentally inconsistent with the religious practice of my family, but you will still be wrong.

No buddy, not close minded... just disagree how far you are willing to stretch the term "free exercise of religion". There are limits to everything... even that sacred right. Drawing those lines/limits is very difficult... democracy requires compromise even when it comes to religious practice. You could claim relgious violation if you aren't allowed to pray in the middle of a busy street. (repeating ourselves again :). You agree that doesn't fly because you are effecting the rights of others (I guess we would have to include some form of threshold violation of other's rights). So for me to agree with your premise of having your "free exercise rights" violated, I have to believe two things. 1) The economic\tax consequences of our public school funding amounts to a violation of your religious practice 2) attending a public school would mean your kid is being taught some religion you don't believe in. I just don't believe either of those is true... so it's not close mindedness, it's disagreement. To me, if I follow your logic, free exercise of religion is pretty open ended... and could invade a multitude of public places. Religion is divisive... why would we want to encourage more division in our public shared places. Note, just because I disagree with the rights violation, doesn't mean I'm not going to ever be for some "opt out/opt in" tax scheme. If we can create that without damaging public schools, or diverting energy from making the needed improvement to public schools... then great. I'm dead against the rich or the religious getting better schools for appeasement, however. Vouchers are appeasement and a punt.

I guess I pretty much remembered your position on evolution from many years back. It's entirely possible that evolution occured just like scientist suggest... but in the end, all of it was at the hand of god. ??

4:09 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Well, #1 is only true if #2 is true. And #2 is most certainly true.

Frankly, if you don’t understand #2 to be true there is very little to discuss. You are of the same ilk that deprives Native Americans the legal right to use peyote as a sacrament-only far more extreme. In your case, you are comfortable telling others not just what to do, but what to believe as well.

On vouchers, you have never once demonstrated why they would damage the public schools. I put forth a reasonably specific argument demonstrating how the public schools can be greatly improved by vouchers. Never once have you argued against the merits. Instead, you resort to the tired old maxims that the secular left loves to repeat over and over. This is understandable because it is hard to argue against something that leaves more money per student in the public school system-which is exactly what the educators constantly tell us is needed.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Jeeze... called base, judgemental and a part of the peyote abstinence ilk all in the same day. Good day. :) Tony... fill me in on the peyote thing.

Randy, I just saw your last post... I had missed it. Good post. I waffle between agnostic and deist more than atheist. Sometimes I argue as an atheist, but I have the same problem with atheism as I do with absolute faith or certainty. It seems just as much a stretch to me to say one is sure there is no god as to say there is a god for sure. We can't know for sure either way until we die... that's why it's called faith. In my deist moments, I look around and say all of this is most likely not due to chance. However, for me, that doesn't automatically lead to a creator that loves us with a heaven or hell waiting. I found most of Thomas Paine's arguments in The Age of Reason compelling. He claimed to believe in a god (one god), but Jesus was just a man. He made the point that revelation can only be between two people or a person and a god that revealed himself to the person. Everything else... even a story passed down from a father to a son is hearsay. With the Christian bible, we are to believe god used a man (his son) to relay his revelation, and then invented a heaven and a hell as consequences for how we followed the hearsay. Paine also addressed the fallacy of language translation and stories passed down through the generations. And back on the subject of revelation through a man... unless we believe we are the only planet god created life on, should we believe he sent Jesus, or another man to all of the planets he created life on as revelation? In the end, it's all faith. I have a easier time believing a god created us, but has no direct involvement with us at this point. There may or may not be a heaven, but I refuse to believe good people are left out by any god that exists that created us and a heaven. When I dream of a heaven or a caring god (which I see zip sign of btw), I can't imagine good people being left behind because they didn't follow hearsay right. I have the same problem believing in a hell. What kind of god would create humans, with no choice on thier part in being here, and subject them to a heaven and hell lottery? Surely a god with infinite powers would come up with a better scheme.

From your post:

As a socialist you believe (and correct me if I am wrong) that social freedoms are as free as what is good for the common good of the nation and states.

I'm not a socialist (sounds like Nixon :), and your statement is close, but not exact. I think we are free as a nation to define robust common good/safety-nets. We are also free not to. IMO, we will only become a better society by continuing to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of goverment common good services... and by adding to the common good as our nation's wealth increases (assuming that is still going to happen). I do think we have to give up freedoms (taxes), by definition, when we choose common good through our representative democracy. 100% free is the same as being 100% tax free... it can never be a reality.

To say though that early interpretation of law was not based on biblical morals is a farse.

Well, based on and including many of the same tenets are not necessarily the same thing. It's really not a big issue to me either way. The constitution didn't come with footnotes, and it turns out the intention of the founders is a very vague term. Which founder's intentions... you can surely find one to match what you want the intentions to be. Ben Franklin through out the idea to limit wealth in his state's constitution. There you go... I can say our founders intended more socialism out of us. :) We have the written constitution and an ammendment process... our future is not limited to founders intentions.

Founder Jefferson quotes

--

"Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves were they to rise from the dead." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:40

"I set out on this ground which I suppose to be self-evident: 'That the earth belongs in usufruct to the living;' that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it... We seem not to have perceived that by the law of nature, one generation is to another as one independent nation to another." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. ME 7:454, Papers 15:392

9:29 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy P,

I forgot one comment I was going to make. It's interesting how we all fear different things about our society. For example, I don't spend a second worrying about gay sex or abortions. What I worry about is major shifts in the wealth gap landscape. I think we will always be able to muddle through on the moral front as long as the economy is sufficient. Destroy the economy or create a distinct "have" and "have not" two tiered society... and all bets are off.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: “What's "This Independent Republic"? I googled but didn't find it.

This Independent Republic, by Rousas John Rushdoony. Studies in the Nature and Meaning of American History, ISBN: 1-879998-24-6, Copyright 1964. A series of essays compiled by his son in this book. R. J. Rushdoony has written about 30 books total. For over half a century he averaged reading over one book per day, thus giving him an incredible perspective of history.

If the overriding concern on the table was making a Christian nation, then these man of backbone surely wouldn't have punted because of public perception.

The public thought the founders were amending the Articles of Confederation. We can not impute our thinking, our mannerisms, our today culture on them and say they “surely wouldn’t have punted because of public perception.” These people did not trust ANY centralized government. Not federal, not state, not nobody. As you know, the AofC was nearly worthless because people did not want the centralized body to have any power unless all representatives from every state agreed. Among other things, disunity was a problem. Compromises were made. Blacks being considered 3/5 of a person is an example of that. The whole shebang could fail with disunity. In that day, in that culture, after however many days, having a clergyman show up might appear to be there to reconcile disunity. I don’t know this for a fact, but it is very plausible, very reasonable.

Prof. Ricardo

P.S. What any of this has to do with "chimerical reations" is beyond me. However, it apparently is what we really want to talk about. :-) It always boils down to defining your world view.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

CG, you are so right, every faction of the public fears different things, I fear that if we do not get on to a more moralistic path, away from gay marraige and abortion, we are doomed to follow the same path as the Romans, Greek, and any nation that has risen to greatness and given in to laziness. I do believe in an obligation to help those in need, and I also understand that some people will take advantage of that, and in small percentages I am also OK with that. I do not think that we need more money and giving in this area, what I think we need to do is revamp what we have, use the people that can work and are sitting on their behinds to do some public service/volunteer stuff.

The wealth gap concerns me also, not quit as much as the moral issues, but it is still a problem, it will not be too awfully long before some president says "let them eat cake" and it will be all over.

You had also mentioned earlier that

"Think about this. I am best of friends with Tony. This would not be possible in a United States that did codify the bible in our law. I repeat... religious protection happens because of the seperation of church and state, not in spite of it."

Two things here,
1. If you presume to know that in theocratic societies that no two people from differing religions are friends then I think you are niave. There are christians in muslim countries, and they are friends with muslims. It always comes back to extremists, those are the people you have to watch out for, anad those are the people you see on the news everyday, that is what gets the viewers... controversy.

And two.

I, and I believe Tony would agree, are not talking about bringing the bible to the fore front and making it the constitution, or even requiring that only priests or preachers can be president of the united states. There is a moral relavence to the teachings of christ though, and they are in line with the ideals you are spouting as a non-socialism, socialist.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: Christianity wasn't mentioned in the constitution then, and it isn't mentioned now.
From This Independent Republic:
“When reference is made to the Christian nature of the United States, the objection immediately raised is the absence of reference to Christianity in the Constitution. The Constitution would never have been ratified had such reference been made, and to safeguard themselves, the people sought and gained the further protection of the First Amendment. Its wording is significant: "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." All the constituent states had in some form or other either a Christian establishment or settlement, or specifically Christian legislation. Religious tests for citizenship, blasphemy laws, singular or plural establishments, and other religious settlements were the rule, jealously guarded and prized, first against British interference, then against Federal usurpation. To preserve the integrity and freedom of the specific forms of Christian statehood of the constituent states, the Constitution forbade any jurisdiction to the Federal Union in this area. The answer to the present federal interference, wrongly based on the Fourteenth Amendment, is not a Christian Amendment but the restoration of the prior jurisdiction of the states”

“The American Revolution was not a revolution in the modern sense of that word. Moreover, it was a defensive war, fought to preserve American liberties from the usurpation and invasion of Parliament. The colonies rightly charged the crown with breach of feudal contract, whereby they could declare that contract null and void. The Constitution was not designed to make the United States a "nation," but to federate already existing states, whose previous unity had been primarily in the British monarch and was now in the Federal Union. As a result, the term "United States" was a plural noun, taking a plural verb. The constituent states being various forms of Christian states, they forbade the Federal Government to enter the area of religion to impose or forbid any establishment or settlement alien to the states. The freedom contemplated, therefore, was not freedom of or from religion, but for religion in the constituent states.”

You know, C.G., that bastion of economic and personal freedom, Taxachusetts, I mean Massachusetts, that state that bans so many kinds of firearms ownership, etc., etc.? An excerpt from their constitution:

“We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording us, in the course of His providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence or surprise, of entering into an original, explicit, and solemn compact with each other; and of forming a new constitution of civil government, for ourselves and posterity; and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, do agree upon, ordain and establish the following Declaration of Rights, and Frame of Government, as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“Article II. It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship.

“Article III. [As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.”

C.G., with state constitutions like this and a distrust of centralized governments, there was no need to mention God in the Constitution. He was mentioned where it mattered, at the state level.

Prof. Ricardo

8:41 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good said: What many seem to be saying in their arguments is "since the country was founded mainly by Christians in the late 18th century... we should all consider this a Christian nation for eternity, regardless of changes in demographics and pluralism".

The principles in the Scriptures that value women, property ownership, worship, parents raising and discipleing their children/families, the pursuit of happiness could be guaranteed by a people that acknowledged God and his principles and codified that knowledge of man in a system of government to protect these rights and liberties. It is the Christians that know that man is inherently evil (prone to sin, temptation, love of power), thus distrust him with power, thus designed a system of government that “separates powers”, has checks and balances, and attempts to eliminate centralization of power. Non-Christian forms of government rarely start off with the premise “man is inherently evil.” They feel that man is basically good. There’s just a few bad apples. If we only have the right people in office, then we can accomplish at the macro level what individuals, or businesses, or communities are not accomplishing at the micro level. Thus their preoccupation with (pardon me here) The Common Good© through forced benevolence on special chosen recipients. Obviously, the Non-Christian faction is not trusting in the benevolence of good Christian men, by definition, and they are so hoping that life is not just three score and ten of selfishness and die. Their good feelings of charity are satisfied by imposing them on others for the Common Good©, rather than personal acts that are a response to their commands from God. Their only hope is to trust in the inherent goodness of men apart from any Christian conviction. A rather futile act if history is to be our guide.

Prof. Ricardo

8:51 AM  
Blogger someone else said...

rant warning:

I've been reading over the comments here, and three things infuriate me (not the people who said them...just the ideas):

One, the constant mention of the Constitution, or "The Founders" or other such things as authorities. They were men--specifically, well educated, propertied, Christian, White, heteronormative, racist men (half of whom or more owned slaves probably)--and the system of government they created reflects that.

We're more than 200 years later! The system has changed (and broken down at least once--i.e. Civil War). So let's take some responsibibility for desigining our own lives, setting our own societal rules for once, regardless of what Thomas Jefferson (yes I'm aware he wasn't at the Convention) or Benjamin Franklin may have thought of something. I say this with an understanding that the rule of law is currently under attack in the United States, but it's frustrating that, as a progressive, I'm now supposed to defend this inherited system? I can't wait for 30 years from now when I can call for an amendment to make the amending process easier without fearing that it would lead to gay people being declared 3/5 of a human being.

Second, this sentiment:

Again universal health care I think is a good idea, I am scared about what will actually be provided if the Feds get involved and screw it up.

Why do some people think that the Federal government should have the authority to maintain the most expensive, most dangerous military force in the world (which incidentally has a huge bureaucracy, both military and civilian) with access to nuclear weapons, and yet they don't trust the government to revamp a completely f@#$ked up health care system. Let's face reality--we already have a system in which we acknowledge that you can't turn away people who are about to die from emergency rooms. Why not rationalize it? Oh, because the Republicans told us we can't trust Big Government as they define it. Well here's a newsflash--i don't trust Big Government, Big Money, Big Christian Blasphemy or any other Big Republican Political Force because it's their rhetoric, not reality.

Also, the Federal bureaucracy is not perfect, and it can use a LOT of reforms, but as far as I know (and I'd love to be corrected if I'm wrong) it's been pretty damn good as far as governments go at least in terms of corruption, transparency, etc.

3. Thomas Friedman is NOT a good journalist these days, nor is he doing a public service by putting out the clap trap he does in some kind of misguided attempt to do popular education. Anyone who argues that American investors having inordinate power to shape policy in Thailand is good for the people of Thailand is going to come across as an idiot to thinking people. I would read Maureen Dowd over him any day, given that she at least gives me something to work from, and Gail Collins is a genius compared to him.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

On the sacramental peyote thing. The Supreme Court has ruled against the right of Native Americans to practice ancient religious rituals involving peyote. It was some extremely obnoxious law. The opinion hinged on the fact that the law regulating the use of drugs was neutral with respect to religious practice. In other words they said they can pretty much interfere with any religious practice for any reason as long as the law was not specifically aimed at interfering with the religious practice.

The decision should have outraged Christians and faithful of every stripe. But, the RR would rather their own viewpoint be vindicated in the law than look at the larger legal consequences of bad law. And if you are following my other arguments closely and applying them, you can see how this ruling eviscerates my argument on Public Schools being a violation of the Free Exercise Clause. My argument is entirely correct, except that we have a stupid and wrong-headed Supreme Court decision (actually, there is more than one) that would need to be overturned to get the rational result.

Oh what a tangled web we weave.


Saurav,

Great rant.

I would be in favor of making the Amendment process easier, though I do believe the super-majority requirement should continue to be very high. For instance, I’d be willing to consider the possibility of a national popular vote with a 2/3 requirement to Amend the Constitution. The thing that would scare me about amending the amendment process is the whole trend in our country to over-democratize. If we engaged in that process I think there is a good chance that we could end up with a 51% majority threshold for Amending the Constitution. Personally, I would not let that fear keep me from going forward.

But let me be clear about my view on the Constitution and Founders. I totally agree that inordinate reverence for either is unjustified and that possibility would have mortified most of the founders. If is not reverence that compels me to respect the documents and ideas, but rather the strength of the system of laws they created and a desire to continue to be a nation of laws. What makes my head explode is the Justice Breyers of the world who view the Constitution as something completely malleable to the whim of current social needs.

Now the Constitution is certainly malleable in two senses. The first is the amendment process. It is sad that we have taken so little advantage of this extremely important constitutional provision. The second is the inevitable logical extension that happens in the courts of law that adapt the constitution to changed circumstance. The key phrase in that previous sentence being “logical”. The kind of logic where the court extends the fourth amendment protections to emails even though there was little “e” when the constitution was written. This is a far different thing from creation of new law that so often gets engaged in by our courts. This has traditionally been more of a creature of the left leaning judges, but is increasingly a creature of the right. Whatever viewpoint it comes from, it is wrong every time it is engaged in.

Your health care remarks are right on target. I just had a short conversation with my Father on this topic last night. He thinks our health care system is just fine in spite of the fact that he is a victim of it on many levels. Don’t get me wrong, he is relatively lucky and I am grateful for this. But my point is that he is so bought in to the RR rhetoric that he does not have even an honest appraisal of his own predicament, much less those that have been victimized in far more horrific ways.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Prof,

My view on this America as a Christian country is somewhere between the extremes. Certainly, at the time of our founding we were a predominantly Christian nation and the points you make regarding State sovereignty on those issues are well taken. There is also little doubt that if you had asked the founders if America was a Christian nation and whether this was a good thing, they would have answered both questions in the affirmative.

But, I think you do not do the founders enough credit for having the good sense to keep the Federal Government out of the business of religion. They were intimately aware of the problems of religious persecution within the colonies. While the certainly did not set out to right every old wrong, they were very conscious of insuring that the new Federal Government would not exacerbate or perpetuate the old order. They were also conscious of the strong trend in America toward increasing toleration of various beliefs.

These were men on the cusp of the enlightenment. Many had one foot on each side of that line. While I do not think they saw the coming heterogeneity of America with complete clarity, they did see that trend and wished to create institutions that would lead to a better society in that context.

Lastly, I would say that your observation that such matters were left to the States is unpersuasive in the sense of it being an indication of what they would desire to do if they had a free hand. The Constitution was a fragile compromise at best. They avoided many issues, most notably slavery, for the sole purpose of creating a compromise document that could withstand the ratification process. To use the document itself to suggest that it means that the founders made a positive assertion that this was entirely the right way to do things on any issue is simply unwarranted.

10:20 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I hope this means you are past tax season and are back. This place is better with you being wrong here a lot. :)

Is that really the current Taxachussetts constitution? Wow...

provided he doth not disturb the public peace

Amen to that.

Prof, I take your position to be... you are not for a national theocracy (in fact you may not view the US as a nation but rather a federation of states), but you think it would be ok for any state to be a theocracy. Correct me if I'm wrong. The Taxachussetts constitution certainly sounds like theocracy. (of course, I didn't take the time to read all of it). Our nation, and any state, obviously has no right to be a theocracy OR favor one religion over another.

btw... you are wrong when you suggest I don't honor your religious conviction to private donation. As I have told you in the past, I just have a problem with using that as a basis to claim we need no federal non-religion tied common good. I'm not Christian... my common safety-nets should not be dependent on Christians or Christian organizations. Regardless, a church network will never be able to match a national pooled scheme... our nation has become to complex. I'm with Saurav... I just don't get the government waste bashing that's gone on forever. What government is perfect? Pick any government that is better due to thier private only charity. I loved the moral teachings from Jesus in the Gospels. If only that simple message was what the RR was actually about. I did not read any lessons on capitalism vs socialism, the preferred structure of government, private only charity, any obligation to restrict rights of gays in our society, etc. I hear people here make a case for socialism or capitalism based on Jesus... and I think I must have missed something. Jesus seemed pretty clear by hanging out with the have nots, the sick, and the gay (if I remember correctly)... and was very clear about the need to take care of them. I just never heard the part about this had to be private only love, or covering this need through collective measures is satanic. I just heard a simple, wonderful message of love and compassion.


Saurav.... PLEASE post more often. My "man is evil" friends here are more than I can handle on my own. I wish David R brought his wrath :) to the table here more often also. The truth of the matter is I really don't have much more faith in human nature than Prof does... I just think Progressive ideas will improve society, while settling for the status quo is too depressing. It just seems like we might as well strive to improve... hey, it keeps us busy. :)

If you have been here long enough (I can't remember), then you know you I have the same sentiments about Universal Healthcare. I consider myself a Cuomo Progressive... if you can provide the population needed service better in the private sector, do it. If not, shut up and help us figure out how to cover the need from the federal level, which by definition then becomes common good. Federal common good has to be controlled by the government, but that doesn't have to mean provided by the government. Any combination of government/private is possible... choose the most efficient. If we had quit arguing about this a couple decades ago, maybe we would have worked through a couple of iterations and ended up at a much better place today.

I think Friedman is absolutely awsome when he covers the middle east. I think he is absolutely average when he covers globalization, capitalism, etc. That said, I think he offered some real value in his "the world is flat" discussion. It is time to have a serious discussion about globalization and the impact on our nation and our education needs. I just boil over when he simply dismisses the reality of competing against 1/10th the salary... and makes such simple minded claims of "let's just outcompete them... and let's just study some more math and science". I haven't read his book, so I'm just basing these comments on his Op-Eds, and recent public appearances.

Maureen Dowd is a very entertaining read... I have no idea how someone who looks like her can be so lethal with a pen/word processor. :) That said, wouldn't you say she dwells in the political name-calling space... i.e. not an apples and apples comparison to Friedman.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Suarav, Tony,

When discussing constitutional ammendements, wouldn't there be two main categories. 1) The structure of government 2) rights related issues. For example, ammendments regarding gays would be a rights issue, and ammendments which would change the way judges or nominated would be a structural issue. I only raise this issue because I'm not sure both categories should be lumped into one ammendment process. It would seem changing one category may be more risky than the other (you pick). This also seems relevent to Tony's Breyer statement: What makes my head explode is the Justice Breyers of the world who view the Constitution as something completely malleable to the whim of current social needs. I've listened to Breyer twice now in public appearances (C-Span), and I never heard him say anything like that. In fact, he makes the point that on the vast majority of the cases, all supreme court justices are in total agreement... i.e. there isn't one of them that doesn't believe there job is to interpret the law. My guess is Breyer would say conflict would hardly ever come up regarding the structure of government spelled out in the Constitution. I'm sure Tony may be able to point to exceptions, but I'm guessing this is an accurate statement. On cases of rights, and new stuff that comes up where a decision has to be made, there is natural disagreement. I think two of the examples Breyer through out where excecution of minors and sodomy laws. If I understand Tony's argument here, these cases would be obvious as the nose on your face regarding the law. Breyer disagrees. Both very bright guys... hows a non-lawyer to know? :)

Tony... on the peyote thing. What I just heard you say was (correct me if I'm wrong):

1) peyote is an illegal substance
2) indians claimed they should allowed an exemption from that law based on thier right to free exercise of religion.

Seems like as a society, there could be two logical fair ways to resolve this. The first would be to make peyote legal for everyone (this is obviously the right answer), and then the problem goes away. The other logical answer is... no, religion doesn't allow you to do something illegal. Seems like the judge, who isn't allowed to make law, has no choice but to ban the religious practice... otherwise he would be charged with making law protecting one faction.

What am I missing?

11:04 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

The Court could’ve done several other reasonable things. First, it could’ve promulgated a narrow ruling that provided a Constitutional exemption for this particular religious purpose. Second, it could’ve struck down that portion of the law that regulated peyote. Third, it could’ve struck down all laws regulating drugs as an impermissible infringement on fundamental human rights.

Here is the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Clearly the drug statutes prohibit the free exercise of religion by some Native Americans. There is no counterbalancing fundamental right that is being protected by the statutes. If peyote use somehow interfered with somebody’s right to life or freedom of speech, then at least you would have a situation where some form of regulation might be permissible. But even in balancing cases, the Supreme Court has seldom (I think never) allowed the law to totally suppress another’s fundamental liberty.

This is a great example of the activist right wing judges in action. The cruel irony is that it endangers the freedoms that we all hold dear in the name of protecting people from themselves. Which of course has been the standard raised by tyrants through the centuries.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

You know we agree on the legalization of drugs. But your following inclusion of acceptable remedies troubles me.

First, it could’ve promulgated a narrow ruling that provided a Constitutional exemption for this particular religious purpose.

So you are saying it's acceptable to allow one faction, based on religion, an exemption from law the rest of us have to follow? I'm convinced I'm not understanding you correctly here. If I am, I have a much better idea of what you mean by "judicial activism". Why would a religious faction be allowed exemption from a law? A related question would be, should we survey religious practices across the country before we make new law? Are we to consider religious factions as special cases over other types of factions. If so, why?

What an awsome loophole that would be. Hold it... god is talking to me... I can just make it out... I'm suppose to start a new religion and I'm suppose to call it the Brotherhood of Taxfree Saints.

I'm with Suarav... I don't trust BIG CHURCH either.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

I’ve told you to back that la-z-boy away from the tele. You never listen.

What I suggested was a middle ground for the prohibitionists that would still be constitutional. It isn’t a religious “exception”. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOESN’T HAVE THE POWER TO ABRIDGE RELIGIOUS PRACTICE. Do the capitals help? I hope so.

Your hypothetical causes zero trouble. Part of the liberty we gave up when we signed the Constitution was submitting to taxes. Add to that the limits we have always placed on fundamental liberties when human rights come into conflict and the answers are clear. Religious practice can be imposed upon only when necessary to vindicate other fundamental liberties and only to the extent necessary to protect those liberties. Absent such a conflict, there can be no abridgement.

I also have no trouble with denying a claim of government interference with religious practice if the claimant cannot make a showing that the practice was genuine. Granted, that creates some awkward questions of fact for a court, but it is probably necessary in narrow circumstances. The vast majority of religious practice will fall under well-defined religious doctrines and present no difficulty whatsoever, as is the case with our issues on the table, peyote and secular public education.

And it is odd bringing up Big Church in this context. For all the issues I have with BC, I don’t see it as very relevant to this discussion.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

OK... I have a rant need also concerning the battle in the senate over judge nominations. This blog started with semi-human creatures, so I'm not sure talking about the senate is really that far OT. :(

A couple of thoughts, followed by suggested rule changes:

1) I don't think the senate should ever become a majority rule body... not even sure about the house, but definitely not the senate. When I hear Frist say... just allow an up or down vote, and we will accept the outcome, I want to hurl. How dishonest can a man be... he knows the fix is in.
2) I think it was disgusting when Reed recently offered to allow some of the blocked judges a vote. I've heard and read some of these candidate statements... I wouldn't vote for them either. However, they are either not acceptable or not. If they were unacceptble at one point, they can't just change over night to acceptable. Maybe Reed offered it as compromise, but it made the Dems stand look unprincipled. I do not think judge filibustering is by definition unprincipled, so I thought Reed's proposal was shallow.
3) I think there is zero difference between judges blocked in committee and judges filibustered on the floor. I hear all this talk about tradition, but both techniques amount to the same thing. Enough with the bs.
4) I think no judge up for confirmation should have to be dragged through public opinion and trial for long periods of time. These are lifetime appointments, so public heated discussion is fine... just not over the course of years.
5) I think it's insane for a majority party (could be a majority by 1 vote) to control the agenda 100%, and each committee 100%. It's like the 49% of the nation who did not vote for Bush and the Reps are suppose to accept being led 100%. I'm up for giving the winners first serve, but we alternate servers from that point on.
6) I don't think the president should have anything to do with judge nominations. I think it should the sole job of the senate, with alternating nominations from the parties. Some argued for this at the constitutional convention... I wish they had won the argument.

So some suggested judge nomination rule changes... definitely would require one of those constitutional structure ammendments.


- president is out of it, only senate nominates and confirms judges
- senate rules are changed to an alternate serve format... details to be worked out
- judge confirmation requires 60 votes AND x% vote from the minority party (alternatively at least 2 votes from the minority party)
- Everyone nominated goes to committee promptly, without delay. Strict timelines will be put in place for the committee.
- Once on the floor, a filibuster would still be allowed, and would require the 60 votes to shut down. I suspect filibusters would not happen with these new rules, but I wouldn't want to rule it out.
- I want more consolidated public disclosure on reasons for NOT confirming a judge. As a citizen, I want a detailed record from each senator on reasoning that was used to block a judge.

Something like that. It's obvious we elect presidents and senators that don't deserve to be there, but in the meantime, we could at least institute new rules to make these guys play better together.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I just brought up the BIG CHURCH statement because I like the ring of it... I will use it often in future debates. It definitely did not apply to the peyote debate.

It isn’t a religious “exception”.

Maybe I should type in caps. If a religious group is deemed exempt from the law (for any reason), and the rest of us have to follow that law, it's an exception, in this case a religious exception. You didn't answer my question about surveying the religions of our country at the time law is made. Surely there are churches out there that perform gay marriages. When our righteous senators and righteous states make gay marriage illegal, should the gay married people belonging to those churches be given an exemption to any constitutional marriage ammendment? It's part of their religious beliefs and practice.

I'm really zealous. You are a part of a privileged faction, and I am not.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Well, so much for me trying to find a middle ground. Really, if a law operates to impair one’s free exercise of religion, then it is unconstitutional on its face. I have no problem with that result.

The reason I did not address the need to survey religious practice by the legislature is that I frankly thought the answer too obvious to discuss. If there are religious practices that they are aware of they should not draft laws that impede those practices. I don’t see an affirmative duty to make really, really double darn sure that they aren’t impeding a religious practice.

You are in fact a member of the most privileged religious faction in our nation: the secular left. Count your blessings my friend.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

I am glad to drop productivity for the sake of the Common Good.

Common Good said:my common safety-nets should not be dependent on Christians or Christian organizations.

Outside of a command by God to take care of the poor, that I am my brother’s keeper and need to share with and help my fellow man (all individual commands), what obligates man throughout the ages, across the globe, to provide a safety-net by social contract? What objective standard is offered so that I am not having to guarantee that my rich buddies drive, say, a Lexus? Or have air conditioning? Both of which are 20th Century luxuries that may one day be a minimum safety-net. Health insurance is a recent invention. We all have stories of how our parents birthed us youngsters for $36.14 + 2 chickens (or whatever). Since health insurance and government’s participation in the health arena, health costs have skyrocketed. Duh? Of course it has. Any time we make affording something easier, more people will demand it. The greater demand can not help but drive prices up. Universal Health Insurance would be the ultimate destruction of health care. ZERO responsiveness of the consumer to price fluctuations. It doesn’t matter if it is government run or government mandated, the results are the same. I know you’ve heard of people going to the emergency room for non-emergencies because insurance would pay it all. I know you’ve heard of people with $5 co-pays going to the doctor for any little sniffle. Folks like me who have a $2000 deductible per family member think loooonnnggg and hard about a doctor’s visit. My family is paying the inflated medical costs because of the insulation most people feel from medical prices that their insurance provides them. Universal health insurance would mean market prices gone to heck (that place you’ll go if you don’t believe in gosh:-). The kindest thing I could do is prevent the healthcare industry, and people’s access to it, from being destroyed by common do-gooders(:-) who have not thought through the economic consequences of Universal Health Care.

Some have put forth a desire to legalize drugs, prostitution, and other unhealthy acts. But is there a price to be paid by those who engage in risky behavior? Will universal healthcare insurance differentiate between a childhood sickness and drug rehab? Cancer or STDs? Injury from your job or from riding wheelies down I-30? How about the plethora of ailments from the grossly obese person? If the medical costs, premiums, and deductibles are all of mine own choosing, then I can choose whether those risky behaviors are worth the increase in my own cost. Does your universal utopian health insurance help people choose responsible behavior? The stinking rich insurance companies thank you for your support.

Prof. Ricardo

2:01 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Prof... I will be with you shortly. I have an emergency to attend to with Plank on this free exercise open ended right thing. :)

Tony... didn't catch the "middle ground". What were you referring to?

If there are religious practices that they are aware of they should not draft laws that impede those practices.

Or draft laws with the known exceptions written in?

OK... talked about the peyote thing with the wife at lunch. She suggested I ask you about polygamy. So I will. :)

Joseph Smith found some gold plates :) in the early 1800's and invented the mormon religion. His original Book of Mormon (their bible) didn't originally include the concept of polygamy. Turns out Joesph had an eye for young ladies (very young) even while married. He took to bedding many of them, and then had a talk with god. God told him man was suppose to have more than one wife. Fairly convenient communication for Joseph, no doubt... but there was the issue of the law (and eventually the mob that didn't approve and ended his life). Anyway, let's suppose Joseph got a hearing at the Supreme Court soon after receiving this polygamy edict from god. You are on the Supreme Court, and Joseph is arguing that he has the right to his free exercising of his 15 year old brides AND to his adult brides. Give us the Plank constitutional ruling on this matter. The wife is very curious... my wife, not Joseph's. :)

OK, one more hypothetical. I think you have stated that the only limit to one's "free exercise of religion" is when it impacts on another's human rights. Let's say one's religious practice is breeding sheep. Over the years, you have become VERY, VERY close with your sheep, if you know what I mean. We have laws on the books about cruelty to animals, but these animals have no human rights protected by the constitution. You are the judge... the society gets to say "that ain't right, stop it or go to jail".. or "that sick, but it's your right?".

Looking for that line... it surely exists.


Note: you could also respond to my question about the gay couple who got married in their church. Would they be exempt from the constitutional marriage ammendment?

2:36 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

The middle ground was trying to carve out the exception. Neither one of us likes that, so why don’t we drop it?

Many moons ago on a message board far, far away, I made a vigorous defense in favor of legalizing bigamy. I think people don’t get it when I say that I truly do believe in Liberty. This is really no different than the gay marriage thing. I don’t think the state should be involved in religious institutions. I totally support the legal right to civil unions of 3 to a million people. Now if we want to have a discussion about my view on the morality of bigamy, that is a different conversation and I am willing to have it.

Bestiality is a far more interesting topic from a legal standpoint. I will be honest and tell you I haven’t spent a lot of time on that one. But, I do think animals deserve the protection of the law as they cannot consent. It is kinda-sorta analogous to statutory rape laws: animals are unable to consent. But, I am unwilling to go so far as to assert animal rights because I think that legally that could spin out of control and I just do not see a solid basis on which to define those rights. At the moment I am unable to come up with a satisfactory legal resolution of this issue and sadly, I am too busy here at the paying job to give it much time at this moment. I will say that while it is an intriguing academic question, I don’t think it has much importance as a social issue.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Outside of a command by God to take care of the poor, that I am my brother’s keeper and need to share with and help my fellow man (all individual commands), what obligates man throughout the ages, across the globe, to provide a safety-net by social contract?

Common sense and reason. We all need a military, so we throw that into the collective pile. You weren't obligated... you were entitled to be killed by those with armies, but you used your reason to say.. hey, you know what, this 100% selfish thing has it's limits. One could argue if man nature is as a social creature or not (Franklin thought man was a social creature), but it's really about man conceding some of his natural selfishness out of necessity. If you haven't read Plato's The Republic, or it's been a long time... check it out. I can't do the subject justice. Anyway, so the military is an obvious collective concession. We could walk up that line of concessions where you and I would agree, and finally find the point where we disagree (I think we have already done that many times). Instead, let's just jump to Universal Healthcare. I don't understand why parents like you (even if conservative) fight concepts like Universal Healthcare. Too me, it's like fighting against insurance... why wouldn't everyone just take care of their own personal responsibilities rather than by insurance? The reason... sh*t happens. Rich or poor, Christian or atheist, lawyer or human :), we share so many risks... lifetime illness of a child, cancer, death of a spouse, family member killed in a terrorist attack, long term disability, mental illness, yada yada yada. Why wouldn't man use the same reasoning he uses for insurance do construct common good safety-nets across society. Remember... many of these risks is stuff that can wipe any of us out. A few... a very few... are wealthy enough be 100% personal responsible... the rest of us need to pool this risk. If 1000 of us go into the pool together, and one ends up a parent of a kid with a lifetime expensive healthcare need, the one isn't wiped out because the other 999 chipped in ahead of time. Raise that 999 to 300 million, and now we are talking. So forget the evil inefficient government rant for just a moment. Address this question on it's merits without economics first. Just assume (even if wrong) that we could do this together very efficiently and in a cost effective way. Would you still be against it?

2:58 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

I will say that while it is an intriguing academic question, I don’t think it has much importance as a social issue.

I bet the sheep disagree.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

btw... there was no reason to pull out the paying job thing. :(

Obviously paying job w/blogging. :)

3:04 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

On the polygamy thing... was your view on the law and our constitution that Mormon's were legally entitled to marry childen or minors (let's say 15 years of age... or you pick an age)?

Based on current law and our constitution, would a person that is not a Mormon be entitled to marry more than one wife?

3:16 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Minors are different. There is a consent issue. I’ll stick with 17 on that and it should be in the Consitution.

Under our current laws, it is illegal in all states to have more than one spouse. In my view, those laws are unconsitituional.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Tony,

Man you are slippery. Fwiw... it seems like a perfectly valid constitional argument that the government has no right dictating cohabitation rules... with the exception of defining the consenting adult age. Where it gets grey for me is when you consider the cult like mind control that is passed on to the community and the kids. It's a bit ironic to champion the rights of other nations, and then ignore cult brainwashing going on in your backyard. Adults have the right to cohabitate as they please, but surely there is a line they can cross where there behavior effecting the children become unacceptable. This is why the law is grey... complexity at every turn.

Under our current laws, it is illegal in all states to have more than one spouse. In my view, those laws are unconsitituional.

So if I'm the Mormon that comes to your Supreme Court asking for plural marriage... your ruling is to declare anti-plural marriage laws unconstitutional? Is that judicial activism? You know the vast majority of this country that doesn't believe in plural marriage will accuse you of judicial activism... the public did not ok plural marriage through the legislative branch. You will say you are acting as an origionalist, and they will call you activist. Seems like the same reasoning would be applied to the sodomy cases... the nation never had the right to make sodomy illegal.

If I'm not a Mormon, and come to your Supreme Court with the same plural marriage request under current law, would you give me the same ruling... i.e. it had nothing to do with the "free exercise" clause? Keep in mind this is purely hypothetical... I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER WIFE. Those guys must really like pain. :) If those guys were smarter, their religion would have been plural short-term girlfriends. :)

Like I said, you are very slippery. I don't believe the "free exercise of religion" can mean anything you want it too up to "not violating the rights of another human". I think that criteria is way too open ended.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I need to get a job that will allow me time to keep up with y'all. Maybe CG's social policies will allow me to stay home for ling periods of time

5:17 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

Maybe CG's social policies will allow me to stay home for long periods of time

Hey, even my policies won't support you for life. :) However, that conservative backhand :), that gave me an interesting idea. Prof thinks we should divide by states... Texas can do it's eat-your-own-kill laissez-faire thing, and California can become one big commune. I've never found that to be a good idea, because you could be 49% in a state and it would be the same as if you were 5%... the losing side is equally screwed regardless of their percentages. Here is a better idea... let's divide federal tax collection by the two party system. We can determine a base tax rate for bare government essentials... military, transportation infrastructure, etc (no safety-net type of frills included in the base tax rate). That will be the Republican tax rate. The Democrats will add on the safety-net tax rate costs to their federal tax. Each citizen will be given a one time option of choosing the Rep or Dem party (opting not to choose puts you in the Republicn party :). Choose Republican and you are entitled to minimum taxes for life, no safety nets, private schools at your expense, private hospitals at your expense, and an ample discussion of god from your politicians in government. Choose Democrat and your taxes will be higher, you will have robust safety nets pooled across the Democrat population, public schools, public hospitals and very little mention of god by your politicians.

This works... I end up with a large enough pool to make robust common good work, and I don't have to argue with the Prof's of the world... other than for fun. :) Heck, we could even have Democrat and Republican housing additions... it would be a hoot. We are still left with Washington theocracy worries, but those guys would sure have a lot less to argue about if take away the tax issue. In fact, it may be a real challenge for them to reinvent the two party dance.

I like it. Thomas... call that one in to the Prez.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I think you are going to have to wait till Hillary gets in for that one

7:12 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Shoot, I had a lengthy post, and the server went down and I lost it.

Let's just say I had the whole judge thing worked out and it sounded really good. Don't think any of you could have put a hole in it.

9:05 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

OK, CG since no one else has taken a jab at this yet I will give it a shot.

I will start by saying I think that because the judiciary is life-time, there should be participation from each of the other two branches. I think I will start from the beginning by saying, I think the Pres should nominate judges to the bench, at the lowest level. I think that the executive branch should end it’s involvement at this point though. I think that there should be yearly reviews done by…probably the House with reports that state the types of cases heard, and the results with synopsis of what was thought of the ruling, and also how the cases were handled at the appellate level, over turned and chastised, or overturned, because they followed the law, but the law was unconstitutional. And so forth and so on. Based on the houses reviews I think the committee in the senate should promote from within, lower courts to higher courts, and there should be a structure for how to get up there. For instance, move from a lower court on one district to a slightly higher position in either the same district or another, (this does not seem to matter, although I think that judges should be pooled from their districts when possible. Now one benefit of this is the Pres does not have power over the subsequent promotions, judges will also be looking at the next level and might mind their P’s and Q’s a little more and bring judgments to the middle ground according to the constitution instead of being way left or way right, promoting the views of their party. I think the same review is done on the appellate judges to make sure they are not skewing to the favor of one party or the other to load the bench with conserves or libs. This way I see that a Pres has a little more to say about who gets into the system at the time of his election, if the people decide this is a campaign issue then the next Pres gets to load up a little on his side when he is in. It also keeps the Pres from being the sole nominator for higher courts and the need for nucular options will not come into play. To keep judges thinking about how conserve or lib they are, and establishes a system that is fair and allows for both sides to have judges they like in particular get promoted. I also think there should be mandatory retirement, of judges that are not moving forward within, I don’t know 15 – 20 years, per seat placement. This allows them to have a decent pension, also allows them to vote their conscience and be ridiculed, like that poor florida judge, but also allows for new blood on the seat from time to time. I am not opposed to there being a level that once attained can be left for life time. I am not sure of the different levels in the Federal system and therefore will leave that up to someone, maybe a lawyer type that knows the system. I see two benefits to this. One good thing is, the appointees to lower courts will be young, but will have supervision, and as they get promoted they will gain vast amounts of experience, in rulings and in how the system runs. It also ensures that someone is looking at their decisions often and counseling them on the law and how it should be maintained and also the constitution. I think we all win in this situation. I know someone will see a problem with some of it, and I am willing to compromise a little, but if we disagree too much I will use the nucular option.

Thank you and God Bless America

9:33 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

Let's just say I had the whole judge thing worked out and it sounded really good. Don't think any of you could have put a hole in it.

I don't know... this is a hole puncturing bunch if I've ever seen one. Tony and I have both lost complete software programs before... it happens to almost everyone in the IT industry if you are there long enough. We noticed the program was always better the second time. Write your post again... I'm dying to rant more about the judge nomination process.

btw... I got tired of the blog post eating of this website also... doesn't happen nearly as much lately. Get to know copy and paste. Before you hit the Preview or Publish button, highlight the entire post and and copy it to the clipboard. (right mouse button -> select all, then right mouse button -> copy). If the blogware eats your post, just come back in and right mouse button -> paste. OR... you can use Tony's technique and do most of your typing in Word... with the upside of being able to check spelling... and then copying that to the blog post window. Yeah... bit of a pain, but sure worth it when you type lengthy posts.

Keyboard cut and paste:

ctrl-c -> copies selected text
ctrl-p -> pastes selected text
ctrl-x -> cuts selected text

9:37 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy P,

Hey, your post either showed up, or you typed it again. Sometimes the post takes a while to show up.

Very creative ideas. However, right out of the gate, I'm very sure I don't want the types in the House having anything to do with this. Simply put, the DeLAY's of the world aren't up to the task. I guess this is a question for Tony, but don't the courts police themselves. I know judges can be impeached, but isn't that just special cases. I could maybe see the merits in Senate oversight like you suggest. In fact, I would like to see a more public face and description of what the politicians are calling "judicial activism". I don't think politicians out to be able to just use that term as a generic. If this review was formalized in the Senate, they would be forced to put some form of definition in place, rather than "you know it when you see it". Most of the so called "judicial activism" is no activism at all... just a ruling someone else doesn't like. I don't see the advantage of having the President in the loop... even more where you have relegated him to "low level" appointments. The dude just needs be cut out of the process, IMO. What does intrigue me, however, is tweaking the "lifetime appointement" model. I understand the purpose was to try and isolate these guys away from politics as much as possible... and as we can see, that was very wise. That said, I actually think your 20 years guarantee thing has merit... it serves the same basic purpose of keeping politics out... with some potential upside of ... as you call it, new blood. I wouldn't structure it around "if you are not advancing", however. I would hate to lose wise judges who have learned from their experience who have no desire to advance... either for preference reasons or being uncomfortable with the next level. I'm sure we have some manificant folks serving as judges in local courts who would be an asset there for as long as they would like to serve.

Whatever solution happens, I am convinced we have to change the rules on 100% majority party control of the agenda. This is true not just for judge nominations... the entire rules of Congress need to change to an alternate serve type of format. It's ludicrous term after term for the 49% that lost to have to be 100% led by the majority. I have become convinced it's a major source of increased polarization, and we are doing this nation great harm by not seeking measures to reduce the tension. We have no chance to all agree... but the rules of the engagement magnify the problem.

Looking forward to lawyer Curm input.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

How Liberal / Conservative Are You?

Your Political Profile
Overall:
75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Social Issues:
100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Personal Responsibility:
75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues:
75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Ethics:
25% Conservative, 75% Liberal
Defense and Crime:
100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

I was kinda surpised on ethics, I think they skewed me on purpose

10:08 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

No that was the second one that I typed in, the first one was gone, probalby good though gave me a chance to think, also I did put in the 20 year limit without advancement, I think that is important, it allows judges to really speak from honesty without worrying about getting canned and having nothing to fall back on in retirment so to speak.

What I said was

"I also think there should be mandatory retirement, of judges that are not moving forward within, I don’t know 15 – 20 years, per seat placement."

10:23 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I also believe that most of the elected factions should be involved, if you allow just the senate to mandate the appointments and elevations in posts, you have the concern of agendas. I just think that we have a fairly good system of checks and balances and should maintain this to somse degree. That is why I limited the Pres, and split responsibility between the House and Senate, leaving the most important stuff up to the Senate, which I agree tends to have more dedicated people to the system, even though we are begining to see minor problems. I do agree that the House tends to be alot more childish about theie squabbles.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I can also see more problems with each party taking a shot at nominations within the Senate if we start to actually have more than two real parties and some siding with each other for their agendas. The parties that are willing to compromise their ethics to further their agenda will for a theoretical Large party that will dominate and then every little gripe of those two parties together will be the majority and we still lose the war if not the battle

10:29 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Great so the day I have some extra time to post, you guys are busy. you all work inthe same office or what?

11:09 AM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

I got in the habit of doing the Word thing a long time ago when message boards were far less reliable than Blogger. Not to mention, I am an atrocious speller. I very seldom type straight in anymore. Just a habit.

I don’t know what input to give on the judges. I definitely see some holes. First, while some form of review is a desirable thing, I think an independent unelected body is necessary for that purpose. It is probably too late to fix, but keeping politics out of the judiciary is essential in my view. I could support some shortening of the tenure … 20 years seems reasonable, but I’m not entirely sure that buys you that much.

Promote within is kind of what happens already. But, don’t lose track of the fact that there is a lot of judges that move from state courts to the federal bench. Some of our greatest jurists (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Learned Hand to name two) have come up in the state court systems and you don’t want to exclude them from the Federal Circuit or Supreme Court just because they have not served in a US District Court.

Sorry for having a job Randy. :-D I’ll try to do better with posting! Some of your remarks are sounding kind of Curmudgeonly...better be careful of your image.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Yes, I have to learn how to conceal any type of veering from the RR profile I so want to hold onto. And yes you should accommodate me. It is after all about ME. HAHAHA ;}

Yes I also see a little (very small) hole in the possibility of pooling from state courts to the Federal courts. I do not see this as an issue, because there can be some kind of seniority established from the get go so these people do not spend years in state and start from the bottom when they get to Federal.

How does the “promotion” in judiciary work anyway? From what I am hearing, that promotion is the nomination of the Pres to a higher “seat”? That is basically what I want to get away from. Seems like in this position with a vast majority of Reps, (which will happen after 2006) there has to be a fairer way for all included. And what we have right now seems to be leveled in a way that means the majority can “take over” and change things drastically in four years or so. I am not saying that this is going to happen, but as polarized as we are getting this is very well what may happen (course Shrub would not do this). I do think that I am not necessarily prompting for over all limitation, just if you are not moving up, you have to make room for the fresh blood so to speak. I think there has to be some sort of guarantee with the judiciary, and when first set up I think they were on to something, so the intent of this process should be maintained in some way. To say that no upward movement, but long enough to garner some type of pension, or safety net, so to speak, is the closest to a “best way” of doing things IMO.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

Randy,

Well, the nomination process is the same for all Federal Judges at all levels. It’s just that the District Court nominees get a lot less publicity than the Circuit Court or Supreme Court nominees. The states all vary though. Some states elect all or some of the judges. Others are similar to the Federal scheme.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

K, trying to understand, bare with me.

For any federal seat, no matter how far up the chain it is has to be Pres nominated. And in that if he thinks you are worthy of moving up three seats in one nomination then he selects you for that nomination?

1:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

"And what we have right now seems to be leveled in a way that means the majority can “take over” and change things drastically in four years or so. I am not saying that this is going to happen, but as polarized as we are getting this is very well what may happen (course Shrub would not do this)."

This is exactly my point about alternating judge nominations between parties... even if more than two parties, you could work out a weighted alternating scheme. I'm not backing off this idea, because I think it's crucial. Any scheme you come up with that leaves a majority in control like we have today makes the stakes of winning and losing too important. Tony talks about electing the best guy, rather than voting for a party and holding your nose. Well, you have a lot better chance if you know all parties can share in the agenda setting, rather than having to live with a party you almost never agree with leading the entire agenda. You have no choice, you have to vote for the party that fits you best. Of course I'm mixing presidential elections and senate elections in that statement, but I think my point is still valid.

Let me give a practical example of how I see this thing playing out. I think electing "mainstream judges", the battle cry you always hear really is too simple. As I mentioned before, I have no heard a couple of public debates with Scalia and Breyer (O'Connor) was at one of them. Now there is very little doubt for me if my only choice was 9 Breyer's or 9 Scalia's... it's a no-brainer... I choose 9 Breyer's. However, here is the kicker. I think the Supreme Court is better for having 1 (and only 1 :) Scalia on the court. I see the law much more grey than Tony does... and to be fair, he's the one who ended up in the upper end of his class studying law at night while holding down a full time job. Curm has never impressed me more, and it always gives me pause to challenge him on intellectual matters. But then I get over it... and slam the pee pee out of him. :) So back to Scalia. I find the originalist viewpoint to me insufficient to serve modern society by itself. I believe too many issues come before the court that simply do not get resolved by "it's the legislator's job". I think stuff comes up that requires judgement from judges that can't be answered by original intent. I think the Bush-Gore Supreme Court case is a perfect example. I don't necessarily like the term "living document", but the opposite implies the constitution is more of a sacred degree from a supreme being rather than a constitution that will obviously change as society changes. But here is the reason I want 1 Scalia on the court. His argument that it shouldn't be a judges job to dictate morality to a nation (i.e. it's up to a nation to define it's morality via democracy and the legislative branch). Of course the dirty little secret is all judges agree with that... but folks like Breyer see some grey in the process of making and judging law, and the Scalia's do not. I want Scalia's black and white voice in the mix, because it's always a loud intelligent voice to balance a judgement on the "grey" against. So back to my alternating server premise. Suppose we have a so-called Supreme Court of 7 moderates (whatever that is) and two Scalia's. The two Scalia's retire at the same time. If the Reps are in charge of everything... as they are now... they will do everything in the power to put two Scalia's back on. The Dems might be saying.... hey two Scalia's is one too many. They are backed into a corner, and have no option but to fight, or roll over for the Republican rubber stamp. Instead, imagine Frist gets first serve and proposes Scalia, and Reed gets second serve, and proposes a left winger. Both sides get a voice for the extreme of their parties on the court, but both our countered by a moderate core of six. (I'm not saying that is what is on the court now... just using this as a hypothetical). IMO, we just avoided the nuclear showdown, but in reality, made the court stronger. I suspect Tony will call all of this politics, and it has no place in law... it's as simple as interpreting the constitution. It's ok... Tony is black and white good and evil, and I'm "my god look at all of the grey around here".

Anyway, that's my opinion. If I'm on the Judicial committee in the Senate, I take a real hard look at the current make up of the court and am willing to make a deal with the other side as long as I at least get to go next. I may bow to the second Scalia on the court if I have a good faith understanding I will be able to balance that with my next serve.

All JMO... which will never happen in this lifetime.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Can't believe Prof didn't bite on my Dem's only safety-net scheme. :(

1:29 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

The problem I see with the alternating system is not with the parties we have now, it has more to do with the future. We are already having trouble with people and judges misinterpreting the constitution and not viewing it as the biblical document that is was intended to be by our founding fathers….:}.

I think that as polarized as we are now we should jump ahead and take into consideration that if another one or two parties start up and become real players, we could have an even bigger problem than we do right now. It is apparent to me that all a party has to do is bring in one or more special interest groups and they can swing what they want; the Dems and Reps are perfect examples. The Dems take on the majority of the small specials and the Reps take on the big groups like RR and Corp America. This is a problem in the future because as I said before, two of these parties can gang up, and I see that as not a possibility, but inevitable in the future. And yes I do agree that your point is valid, we are just too polarized at this point and nothing is going to change that in the near future, and with the adaptation of more parties we are going to see a gang up, and not the integrity that some people are hoping for.

I see what you are saying about Scalia, but I tend to think it is best to have four Scalias and 5 liberals on the court. I do think that at this high court there needs to be a little leeway in making determinations that the legislature does not get to, and setting some kind of precedent. I don’t have problem with that. So in another instance are you willing to lose 2 liberal judges of the 7 to 2 scenario and come out with a 6 to three that way, and then what happens when it is 6 to 3 and you lose 2 more liberal, then we are back to 5 to 4 and so on an so forth. That is why I do not think that what you propose, although better than what we have, is good enough to stand the test of time. I think my idea is still bullet proof.

You may make a good senate committee member, but at some point you are going to have to pick up your banner and play the philibuster or the nuclear option. My way is still better

2:21 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G. said re universal healthcare: Just assume (even if wrong) that we could do this together very efficiently and in a cost effective way. Would you still be against it?

That’s a lot like saying, “if abortion didn’t end in the death of a fetus/baby, would you still be against it?”

You wouldn’t think a lowly self-employed accountant could be such a radical on so many topics, but alas, here I am.

I have three problems with insurance: religious, constitutional, and economic. Arguing the religious portion with you might be a kin to a woman arguing with me on which shade of make up to wear to a casual luncheon with her aunt. It just isn’t relevant to me. But for the curious, you might want to look here.

Constitutional issues are pretty straight forward. It’s a legal argument and I will defer to greater minds like Tony to direct us. Regardless of efficiency, relevance, or morality, either the Constitution provides for the redistribution of wealth or it does not, the implementation or mandating of this plan or it does not.

Economics is the fun part. But in the quote above, you want me to ignore that :-(.

It is difficult to argue against insurance in a culture dominated by insurance. We have homeowners, automobile, health, life, fire, cancer, liability, umbrella, partner buy-out, estate, long-term care, disability, workers comp, and a few others I can think of off the cuff. People are not just having a tough time affording health insurance. There are lots of people who have NO life insurance. Small business that are going bare on liability insurance and workers comp. Many larger businesses are self insuring. To say that we are insurance poor is an understatement. And do you know what commission is made by the agent? Do you have any idea what profit is made by the insurance company? When you are relying on insurance, pooling of money has a cost. Our health care cost now includes the insurance cost.

But, let’s set that all aside as you asked and say that, fantasy world aside, we could do this universal health insurance efficiently and effectively. However, economically, a number of things happen, without an judgment on their benefit or cost, when we implement universal health insurance.

1) Who’s covered? Illegal immigrants, persons already insured, US citizens overseas, etc.?
2) What level of protection does your “reason and common sense” compel us to consider? Is it the same “common sense and reason” that elected President Bush twice?
3) Will its implementation be instantaneous giving an outrageous jolt to the health industry because now people, who previously could not afford medical care, can purchase medical care?
4) Will certain things not be covered, like the consequences of alcoholism or drug abuse?
5) Will any act disqualify someone from coverage, say drug abuse, self inflicted wounds, attempted suicide?
6) Will already high demand doctors reacting to the incredible increase in demand for medical care be allowed to raise their prices, or will price and wage controls be implemented and the market system be sidestepped for the sake of “saving the system?”
7) If we implement price controls, then the high demand, limited supply, artificially held low prices situation will have no choice but create longer lines. How long of a wait is acceptable when going to the doctor? 4, 5, 6, or 7 hours? These are common lengths of time in countries where healthcare is free.
8) If business is to float the bill for this, are we willing to trade 42 million newly insured for 9 million newly unemployed?
9) What is the objective standard by which we can know if this system is a success or a failure? If it is a failure, how easily can it be dismantled? Ever tell 42 million people that you're going to take their Free Health Care away from them? (Its now an entitlement, their right!) And what do the 9 million who lost their jobs for the failed experiment have to say about it?

Frankly, I don’t think you’ve even pondered these questions before. I am not willing to trade this current state of our nation for a third world country. Cuba has great universal health care. I don’t see many folks lining up to take advantage of it. I don’t want the same thing happening here.

Prof. Ricardo

2:58 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:28 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:30 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I just wanted to ask everyone to go the site Make Poverty History
and consider signing the petition there. It's basically the U.K. equivalent to the ONE Campaign, but your signitures are going to the British government before the big G8 meeting this summer.

There are some great little short clips to watch there as well. I particularly like the one with Nelson Mandela (If they made that guy Pope I'd start going to church again.) Instead of hearing all day long about not letting homosexuals or women do this or that, Mandela actually gives us some "protein" for our quests to make our lives more meaningful.

"Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that generation." -N. Mandela.

Sign the petition. Make Poverty History. Make Poverty History

5:33 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Man, I have to be careful what I ask for.

Frankly, I don’t think you’ve even pondered these questions before.

Who has thought everything through... certainly not our elected types. However, you keep implying that by bringing in the 45 million without health insurance, we will devestate the economy. Sorry... I'm not buying it. I am perfectly willing to HURT the economy to bring them in to the circle. You know, like a few longer lines and maybe a few less lake homes. Seems like the Christian thing to do. Your stance reminds me of one of my old lines. You can give a Republican a fish and feed him for a day. Or you can teach a Republican how to own the lake, and feed him for a life.


Let me take a shot at some of your questions... but man, you can type. :)

1) Who’s covered? Illegal immigrants, persons already insured, US citizens overseas, etc.?

Everyone, current insurance merged into new system or replaced, sure... why not cover medical cost overseas if you find yourself in trouble (not many nations more expensive then us anyway).

2) What level of protection does your “reason and common sense” compel us to consider?

All we can afford... equal for everyone. Best for some is no longer acceptable.

Is it the same “common sense and reason” that elected President Bush twice?

Uh, no... different common sense. :)

3) Will its implementation be instantaneous giving an outrageous jolt to the health industry because now people, who previously could not afford medical care, can purchase medical care?

Instantaneous as possible. First priority is the millions that have been left out... they need check ups. Let's be real Christian about it. Let's take care of the kids first.

4) Will certain things not be covered, like the consequences of alcoholism or drug abuse?

Everything covered... drugs, alcohol, mental health, voting Republican...

5) Will any act disqualify someone from coverage, say drug abuse, self inflicted wounds, attempted suicide?


Nope. Dude offing himself probably has a problem with life insurance, but not health insurance.

6) Will already high demand doctors reacting to the incredible increase in demand for medical care be allowed to raise their prices,

I would assume we would end up with more doctors. Very likely some of the specialist types would not make rock star wages... but general practicioners (sp??) would likely do better. This is where advancement will be some form of capitalism/socialism hybrid. IMO, we have the right as a nation to call bs on the hands off policy we have been sold concerning common good needs, like healthcare... and I would throw in the oil and gas business.

or will price and wage controls be implemented and the market system be sidestepped for the sake of “saving the system?”

This is above my paygrade, but remember my motto. Under the one small restriction of EVERYONE IS IN, pick the best public/private combination best suited to cover the need. Anytime private is as good or better.. choose it. Has to be under federal command and control however... a government has the right to audit/police/modify tax funded enterprises... even if tax/personal payment hybrids.

7) If we implement price controls, then the high demand, limited supply, artificially held low prices situation will have no choice but create longer lines. How long of a wait is acceptable when going to the doctor? 4, 5, 6, or 7 hours? These are common lengths of time in countries where healthcare is free.

Whatever it takes to include EVERYONE in the system. I mean, I just can't imagine telling the man with 4 kids ... I have to keep my waiting time short, otherwise I would invite your kids into the waiting room. I would expect that dad to beat the holy sh*t out of me. That said, I've heard Germany's system works pretty well... but I haven't researched it.

8) If business is to float the bill for this,

Whoa... stop right there. Business should have NOTHING to do with Universal healthcare.

are we willing to trade 42 million newly insured for 9 million newly unemployed?

see above... and I don't buy the fact we will increse unemployment by millions because we tax rich people enough to cover poor peoples health insurance. The rich will still be rich... the poor will still be poor with a chance to improve their poverty situation because their health needs are covered (and for sure education).

9) What is the objective standard by which we can know if this system is a success or a failure?

EVERYONE is covered. We have funded the system off the back of the wealthy, and didn't kill capitalism. Let's see... it's your god given right to have 10 homes, or it's your god given right to make sure your family has health insurance. Really tough call... NOT.

If it is a failure, how easily can it be dismantled?

Not possible unless we stick with the insane tax breaks of this administration. It's all really not that complicated... the rich need to have their harvests taxed at a much higher rate in this country. As I have said before... that isn't driven by the need to knock the rich down a peg or to, but rather driven by the need of the poor. Enough already with the personal harvest with no obligation to the poor... this is a society, not a playground for the 1% upper elite. Sad really that we even have to debate such stuff in 2005.

Ever tell 42 million people that you're going to take their Free Health Care away from them?

Get Shrub to do it. He lied 300 million of us into a war. This guy can sell anything.

(Its now an entitlement, their right!) And what do the 9 million who lost their jobs for the failed experiment have to say about it?

Don't buy your argument, but they could say... I'm proud our nation finally considers healthcare a right, and not a priviledge for those who can afford it.

Third world my friend is being the richest nation in the world, and allowing 45 million people, including kids ... to be without heathcare. We are the only western power to make this choice. What price are we willing to pay to claim the #1 GDP?

6:33 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Give some consideration to my ala carte tax scheme by party. I thought it might work for us. :)
I could pay more taxes and have robust safety-nets, and you could keep most of your income, and take care of yourself and your family, maybe with the aid of your Church network. Win-win, and much better than a civil war. You could honk your horn at me when you see me standing in the line at the doctors office. :)

7:52 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.said: Man, I have to be careful what I ask for.
I have a keyboard and I’m not afraid to use it. :-)

9) What is the objective standard by which we can know if this system is a success or a failure?

C.G.:EVERYONE is covered.

Gong! Bad answer. Go to the back of the line. Let me rephrase that: GIVEN THAT EVERYONE IS COVERED, How will we know it’s a success?

In your world once everyone is covered, including those who abuse and cost the system money with no consequence to themselves, it is a success, regardless of how costly the system becomes. Costly in time, money, effectiveness, and responsiveness. Sounds not unlike Green Peace spray painting the baby seals to make their coats worthless to the hunters. The fact that they were slaughtered by polar bears left and right because their camouflage was gone was of no consequence. They didn’t save the baby seals, but they did prevent their good use by the hunters. If you actually DO care for the recipients of health care insurance and actually DO care for “capitalism” not going down the tubes, I would think you would demand something more than mere existence. It appears the champion of healthcare-for-all is more in love with the idea of universal healthcare coverage, than actually improving the healthcare that all do receive.

Right now many county and community hospitals provide “free” or sliding scale healthcare for all in need. Ever gone to JPS (John Peter Smith) in Fort Worth? My niece is without health insurance. She goes to them for reduced rate medicines and healthcare. Covered! A client of mine was a skilled craftsman with employees. Got a spider bite, went into kidney failure. Destroyed his health, his business, his wealth. He’s getting dialysis free or nearly so at JPS. My, my. Healthcare for the masses without Universal Health Insurance. How can this be? Ever been to Parkland in Dallas? Ditto. Hospitals across this country? Ditto. The healthcare system in Cal-uh-Forn-e-uh (as pronounced by the Govenator) is nearly bankrupt because of all the free healthcare going to all the legal and particularly illegal immigrants from Mexico.

I got an idea. Since the poor are being serviced in the medical community, since the system to do so is already in place, let us assist those communities and county hospitals that are having difficulties with financing the “free” healthcare for the needy. How? Federal dollars (don’t have a heart attack, CG :-). If we are coving illegals from Mexico, assess their country a portion of the cost, after all it is their citizens we are servicing. We can finance it by dismantling the Department of Education and Department of Energy, for a start.

My question to you: If my method covers 100% of Americans, would you accept it? Remember, that was your only requirement of Universal Health Ins., the existence of 100% coverage. Or are you too much in love with the idea of Universal Health Ins to achieve the same results some other way?

Pro. Ricardo

12:45 AM  
Blogger someone else said...

Outside of a command by God to take care of the poor, that I am my brother’s keeper and need to share with and help my fellow man (all individual commands), what obligates man throughout the ages, across the globe, to provide a safety-net by social contract?

Fear: by the rich that the poorer and/or otherwise disempowered classes will rise up. Economics: recognition of the loss of productivity brought on by stress-related and other health crises, poverty, poor education, etc. Common sense: If you don't cultivate the human capital of the entire society, you're going to end up with a worse society; evolutionary biology: tit-for-tat works better than take what you can; popular consent (i.e. democracy): read this past week's Business Week article (entitled "safety net nation") on the percentage of people who favor national health care.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I sense a good heart sitting next to that aggressive keyboard :) ... that's why I won't give up on winning you over on Universal Healthcare.

My question to you: If my method covers 100% of Americans, would you accept it?

Yes, IF

1) everyone has access to EQUAL healthcare regardless of economic class or citizen status (I have zero problem collecting money from Mexico for it... good idea... but not a good enough reason to leave those poor folks without or some second class level of care).
2) it becomes a human right delivered faction free.. (I don't know how you can do that without it being a human right under government/constitution protection (i.e. would require a constitutional ammendment).

I'm not married to any "delivery mechanism", public or private. I come to the conclusion it has to be under federal control because of #2 above. In other words, I'm not motivated by a need to have a FEDERAL healthcare system... I come to the conclusion it has to be because of my requirements listed above.

Prof, it's immoral for us to even measure the quality of our healthcare system when 45 million are left out. It's the kind of thing that doesn't even require a trip to the hospitals to audit the quality of care. You already know you failed before you start your audit roadtrip... you have 45 million without healthcare, you have levels of healthcare based on economic classes, you have "winners" refusing to adjust their standards to bring in the "losers"... BY DEFINITION OUR HEALTH STANDARD IS LOW. The best standard of healthcare I am entitled to is the standard of healthcare WE ALL HAVE. I totally expect that to be some percentage less than we could devise if we kept out the lower economic class.... DUH!

Look... this Democrat (and I assume most) are willing to sacrifice some of our healthcare standards, even living standards for that matter (if necessary... still don't really believe that's the case) to bring EVERYONE in. That is our morality... many of us don't need a bible for that, and if we want to bring in the bible we can certainly point to the Gospels like anyone else to defend that position. (Note: I think trying to deciper government structure, economic system, or rules for social justice from the bible is a bit of a stretch... but that's just me). btw... did you just imply insurance is against your religious belief? I probably did understand you on that one.

And to Saurav's point. I wish I hadn't lost my Wealth and Democracy book. It has some of the best quotes in it. I'm going to have to pick up another copy just for the quotes. One of the quotes was from a scholar on history. Let me paraphrase the best I can.

Man can look to the history of socities and come to certain conclusions. One is that in the end, ALL socities participate in wealth redistribution. It's a GIVEN that they will. The only unknown is whether or not that will be VOLUNTARY, or whether or not it will be FORCED (i.e. civil war, uprising of the "have nots", one half of the bifurcated society living behind walls while the other side tries to scale them, etc.)

Third world to me is being the richest nation at the same time being filled with the stingiest population. I don't come to this discussion wanting to stick my nose in other's religion (although Tony makes that charge). I just refuse to give anyone stinginess cover based on political/economic ideology or religious belief. The discussion of social justice leads to "religion" in this country... no way to avoid it... so I don't. I would much prefer to never know about anyone's private religious belief. I'm not the one who drags it into the public square... so those of us who engage on subjects like social justice have very little choice. The irony is when the RR takes this reality that they forced into the public square, and then cry persecution. That is truly rich... oops, that sounded Republican. :)

Seriously... there is enough Dems to pool social risk and provide safety-nets. Let's just go ahead and create that ala carte tax system. This may serve Tony's purposes of getting his public school tax money back. Of course, you will put me in a tough spot when we are both old, me with my Social Security, you having made a wrong bet. That's the real point... how do you tell the "personal responsibility warriors" who failed on their own... to bad dude, you made a wrong bet... now go die in poverty with personal responsibility honor. Of course good hearted people would not let that happen, and those who made the wrong bet and refused to contribute in a collective way would still get benefits in the end. Still... we could skip several decades of arguing.

Tony says "all the capitalism we can stand". I say all of the "collective common good" we can stand... somewhere short of wrecking capitalism. Isn't it ironic that we had much higher tax rates under Clinton, and yet the enonomy rocked.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Equal healthcare, education and rights (even if gay) will be this century's end of slavery, women's right to vote, and civil rights. If we have long enough, that is... and if our economy doesn't collapse.

12:31 PM  
Blogger someone else said...

Equal healthcare, education and rights (even if gay) will be this century's end of slavery, women's right to vote, and civil rights. If we have long enough, that is... and if our economy doesn't collapse.

Yeah, I'm glad you added that second sentence in, because at this point, I would probably settle for just making it to the end of the century (not me, of course (although I wouldn't mind living to 122 :), but society...)

4:15 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

In your world once everyone is covered, including those who abuse and cost the system money with no consequence to themselves, it is a success, regardless of how costly the system becomes.

In your world our healthcare system is a success as long as the quality is high for those who can afford it, regardless of the millions left out.

Let's quit being so anal about discerning between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. Better to let a few undeserving in, then leave a few deserving out. After all, we are talking about equal healthcare and education here... not equal lives.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

I said to Mr. C.G., My question to you: If my method covers 100% of Americans, would you accept it?

Spake he: Yes, IF

1) everyone has access to EQUAL healthcare regardless of economic class or citizen status

Never happen. The reason being some “healthcare” is optional, stupid, or experimental. Much of which should not be mandatory for the taxpayer or insurance companies to foot the bill. At $4-10,000 for breast or butt augmentation, if covered so that EVERYBODY is equal and there is ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY NO DISTINCTION to made by price, EVERYTHING MUST be covered by the new plan. Abortion, cosmetic surgery, Liposuction (Hey CG, this could be the cure for America’s obesity issue - Good job!) etc. Have a tattoo or piercing you want undone, who cares, its covered. Maybe I’m missing how you can not cover foolish excess and abuse of the system if the economic incentive is gone. If you can change cosmetic shape with the seasons, at no cost to you...boy, I can see massive abuse coming. How about dental? That’s health care. I can see it now, every homeless person with brilliant straight white teeth that rival today’s stars, and with a steady diet of booze, a new liver every five years to compliment the ensemble. And why should they not? They’re covered!!! In fact (read below) It’s their right!

2) it becomes a human right delivered faction free.. (I don't know how you can do that without it being a human right under government/constitution protection (i.e. would require a constitutional amendment).

A human right applies to all persons in all ages. The Constitution does not give human rights. It acknowledges human rights. Insurance is a recent invention. My research last year found medical insurance as early as around 1910. I’m not sure of its first debut. But its difficult to see something that did not exist for 6,000 years of human history being a human right when it did not exist. Maybe it’s a good idea. Maybe it’s a fantastic idea. Maybe it is the new minimum standard for our society. But it is NOT a human right. If it was, would you be happy with your current President going in to countries with human rights violations (no health ins.) and waging war to eradicate said human rights violations? Doesn’t quite have the same sting as other human rights violations. Maybe you could find another semantic or descriptive phrase that better described what healthcare is to people.

Prof. Ricardo

10:00 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

How about an obligation of those more fortunate to provide health care for those less fortunate

10:52 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

A couple of brief comments.

Sure... we aren't talking about elective medical procedures. We have to define "basic healthcare"... this already happens with insurance programs.

I've brought up the definition of "US citizen entitled rights" with Tony here. The definition he proposed, and seems to work for me is... "human rights" plus "legal rights". We start with human rights at birth, and our society adds legal rights (i.e. marriage, driver license, etc.). Tony proposes we think of any right listed in the Bill of Rights as the "human rights"... the rest ends up being "legal rights". In hindsight, based on that, I would say the founders who argued to include human rights in the Constitution provided a valuable service. Without the bill of rights, how would Tony have proposed a definition? :) Our "legal rights" potential evolve as our nation's wealth increases... i.e. they are static (sure sounds like a living malleable Constitution). In fact, it sounds like "legal rights" and "social justice" may mean the same thing. I agree... when referring to a healthcare right, it is in the "legal rights" bucket.

The Constitution does not give human rights. It acknowledges human rights.

I don't remember saying the Constitution gives us our rights. I would say our Constitution is our base contract guranteeing protection of our "human rights" AND "legal rights". Maybe our lawyer can wordsmith that a little better... but I'm sure we all basically agree.

I guess one should look at the Bill of Rights as non-negotiable... and everything else is negotiable. For example... is a woman's right to vote a "human right". I would say not. However, a right to "not be held as a slave" would be a human right. Does that mean a "women's right to vote" is a lesser right in our society. Doesn't seem so, IMO. Bummer... the grey shows up again, and again, and again. :)

11:02 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Randy P.said...
How about an obligation of those more fortunate to provide health care for those less fortunate.


Good day to you sir. In my book, the more fortunate are not always the more wealthy, if that was in fact what you meant. I am more fortunate than a lot of people because I am in reasonably good health. And indeed I do have an obligation to help those less fortunate. A moral obligation, not a legal obligation. Unfortunately, there are people wanting to legislate morality (C.G., :-) Though not wanting to bring too much attention to myself, my residence is in a location where I have had the opportunity to help many unfortunate individuals, and I have availed myself to many of these opportunities that did not present too great a threat to my safety. As a command of God, my fortunate-ness is irrelevant to my obligation to minister to orphans, widows, the poor, and those imprisoned, to help shoulder their burdens, to carry their load an extra mile.

But as far as wealth goes, By definition whom is the more fortunate who is obligated to care for those less fortunate, and what is entailed in that care that is obligated, and whom is to be considered less fortunate, and what is to become of those people who do not “care?” Who arrogantly places themselves in the position of obligating only a portion of mankind upon another portion of mankind, not a mutual obligation of kindness and care, but a one way obligation, thus pitting group against group, creating animosity, removing the joy of helping and supplanting it with the legal command on pain of imprisonment, enslaving and indebting(sp?) one group? Lets obligate those Chimera to the rest of us eh? (a pathetic attempt to reintroduce the blog topic...)

Prof. Ricardo

12:54 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

You might have to lump me in with the moral legislation, I am all for legislating on moral issues like adultery, abortion, drugs and people that break the actually existing laws that we have.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

The Chimera thing didn't blow our skirts up... so to speak. :)

not a mutual obligation of kindness and care, but a one way obligation, thus pitting group against group, creating animosity,...

Oh please... cry me a river. This country may very well turn into a country that hates the rich, and it won't be the poor folks fault.

But as far as wealth goes, By definition whom is the more fortunate who is obligated to care for those less fortunate

If you have two homes, you might be more fortunate. If you have a four car garage, you might be more fortunate. If someone drives you back and forth to work in a limo, you might be more fortunate. If your property is subject to "death tax", you might be more fortunate. If your family is very familiar with the term "trust fund", you might be more fortunate. If you have a heliport in your back yard, you might be more fortunate. If you own your own plane that doesn't have a propellor, you might be more fortunate. If other people ever clean your golf shoes or golf clubs, you might be more fortunate. If you have enough money to ever consider needing a prenuptial before getting married, you might be more fortunate. If you are now in the movies with absolutely no talent other than an internet video of you and your boyfriend, and if your dog actually has it's own book out, you might be more fortunate. If you spend more money on shoes in a year than the average price of an automobile, you might be more fortunate. If you make more in two weeks than your employees make in a lifetime (Wal-Mart), you might be more fortunate.

You get the idea... these are kind of fun. I may have to keep adding to this list.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: I agree... when referring to a healthcare right, it is in the "legal rights" bucket.

I’ll drink to that! As far as not being a human right, that is.

C.G>: In your world our healthcare system is a success as long as the quality is high for those who can afford it, regardless of the millions left out.

Actually, I want the quality to be great for everybody. If all you can afford is $100 worth of healthcare, I want it to be quality for them. Shame on any doctor, pharmacy, lab, or hospital that delivers inferior healthcare. The quantity is different, however, as it must be. There must be some relationship based on cost/price system. Insurance greatly severs this relationship, but deductibles and co-pays retain at least a discussable relationship between the two. Having some healthcare not included as you agreed, helps retain some of that healthcare price link. Imagine if you will that C.G. sells widgets on ebay. If price is no object and everybody wants it, what prevents you from raising your price, I mean really high? Nothing. Price does not just gouge the poor and enrich greedy capitalist. It is, to your horror, the necessary tool to ration goods and services to those who need them.


C.B.: Let's quit being so anal about discerning between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor.

My apologies. Thank you for being the Preparation H I desperately needed. ;-)

Better to let a few undeserving in, then leave a few deserving out. After all, we are talking about equal healthcare and education here... not equal lives.

Both of which you wish to divorce from the market place. Healthcare is provided by people and businesses. Both of which, regardless of personal charity and mission, are doing it as an occupation for services or product provided. A man is worthy of his hire, and these hard working people should be paid. Price rations your work and your wage, a doctors work and his wage, and my work and my wage. You are trying to extract this industry from the market forces that guide all businesses. You apparently have been missing all the little economic lessons I have been sending your way. I’m not saying you can’t implement national free healthcare. I’m saying it will have very definite economic consequences (among other things) that are wholly undesirable. I’ll give you 5 stars for having a great heart for your fellow man. I’ll give you 4 stars for your zealotry - oh wait, you don’t like zealotry. Skip that. But you only get ½ star for economics. Your hope for a better world is commendable, but to get to a real better world, you must address real economic forces in that real world.

C.G.: This country may very well turn into a country that hates the rich, and it won't be the poor folks fault.

In today’s culture where nothing is anyone’s own fault anymore, I can see where you would include jealousy too.

If you have... X12

So if someone is unfortunate enough to be financially successful in your eyes, they have overstepped the bounds of peasantry, causing all the ills of the earth through their extravagance and ostentatious displays. Particularly evil are the ones driving a Lexus. These should be hung by their Chimera.

Prof. Ricardo
Chimera, tastes just like chicken.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Randy P.said: You might have to lump me in with the moral legislation, I am all for legislating on moral issues like adultery, abortion, drugs and people that break the actually existing laws that we have.

Me too. But usually people of C.G.’s faction don’t agree with the legislation of other faction’s moral legislation. My own faction legislates moral Biblical laws. Common Good may not have interpreted his desire to install healthcare as a legal obligation as legislating morals. I used that moment in my response to you to goose Mr. Good. He likes the attention.

Prof. Ricardo
Do you want fries with your Chimera?

3:00 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

My apologies. Thank you for being the Preparation H I desperately needed. ;-)

That was excellent. LOL! :)

So if someone is unfortunate enough to be financially successful in your eyes, they have overstepped the bounds of peasantry...

Not until they hang on to "more than they can spend in this lifetime" like it was required for their next breath. I can go from being your best cheerleader on awsome human achievement to your worse critic based on greed and stingyness... all over tax policy. People hold out Jack Welch as a hero... I view him as pure dripping greed. Tax is a very boring subject, but it's where a pluralistic society defines it's soul.

It pains me to be awarded an F in economics from the Prof... but I still have this wild idea that all widget consumption in a society are not equal. We all need education, healthcare, energy... we don't all need a Lexus. Screwing me on the price of a Lexus seems to fit an acceptable level of free choice on each side of the transaction.... i.e. I don't have to buy a Lexus. Screwing me on healthcare with CEO $million dollar pay packages, and $million dollar surgeons doesn't seem like that free choice. A passing grade in the Prof's economic class requires me to accept the market as the master and free arbiter IN ALL CASES. Sorry... a F it is... I have some exceptions. :(

4:05 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Do you want fries with your Chimera?

You can't get fries at a Mexican restaurant.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good: People hold out Jack Welch as a hero...

I thought her first name was Raquel...Oh, I’m thinking of someone else with a different excess. :-D

Not until they hang on to "more than they can spend in this lifetime" like it was required for their next breath.

Acquiring wealth. Just out of curiosity, based upon your statement above without getting into polished golf shoes and personal jet planes, dollar wise how much can someone amass? I hope obviously you do not wish all persons to die pennyless. Particularly if they have offspring they wish to pass their wealth on to. Is it acceptable to die leaving a few hundred thou (home, pension, a few bonds, etc.) for the heirs? What if you have 6 or 7 children and its split between them? Maybe a mil or two?

Prof. Ricardo
I dream of gene “E” with the light brown Chimera...

4:51 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Judge Lefkow testified before the Senate today. It was her husband and mother that was murdered in Chicago back in February. During her testimony, she pointed out that the Pat Robertson's of the world believe judges are a bigger threat to america than terrorism. She also pointed out that members of congress foster similar attacks on the judiciary. I'm sure flaming the fires that put these judges under greater risk comes under the protection of "free speech"... but the Lefkow's are this nations heroes. The Robertsons, Dobsons, DeLays and Corsyns are scum.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Unfortunately CG, the situation with Lefkow had nothing to do with the The Robertsons, Dobsons, DeLays and Corsyns. You can blame the RR and their lackeys all you want. It is very unfortunate what happened to her, and I think the broader issue here is protection for these judges. That is a system that should start now. If the liberal left continues to get their way, every federally elected or appointed official will have to be protected, and then your universal health care is out the window. It is this same type of thinking, you are displaying towards The Robertsons, Dobsons, DeLays and Corsyns that has created some of the misfortunes in this country. The more I think about what is taking place in our legislative branch at this very moment shows me that there is no real way to get universal health care on the board. Unless you want to put it into writing that we are talking about things that are life and death, and the sniffles do not qualify. I see country bankruptcy in the making. If we think that Social Security is going to be a problem then just you wait and see about healthcare. Can’t happen and won’t happen. And have you considered at what point from the conception of life this health care will start. I see it as a rights issue, and at conception we will have to guarantee the rights of all individuals to receive health care, not one more abortion that is not a dangerous pregnancy to the mother. And then I do not think that you can consider that, because the fetus still has rights, and should be protected more under the law due to you social values of taking care of the less fortunate and those that can not care for them selves.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

"Unfortunately CG, the situation with Lefkow had nothing to do with the The Robertsons, Dobsons, DeLays and Corsyns."

Her specific case had nothing to do with the RR, ... but "the RR crazies inflaming other crazies, which puts judges at risk" is directly relevant. You start getting judges "popped" on a regular basis, and you won't have time to get to an economic meltdown. Think about it... you are a judge already at risk in the system. Not only that, your family is at risk... all because you are a judge serving a required function in this society. Then you hear some RR zeolot TV preacher with millions of followers say "your profession is more of a risk to this nation than the terrorists". You know and I know... there are some crazies out there that will act on that kind of bs. Robertson is "scum" for saying that... period. We will either put the RR that wants "more god in our law" back under the rock, or we are toast. Look at these Republican senators strutting their stuff today on the judge nomination process. They are practically peeing themselves over the idea of having a "judicial appointment assembly line". Why did good Republicans allow the RR to capture them like this? Religion is being shoved in our faces... it's bs to say this tension is coming from the other side... some vast left wing conspiracy to do away with god. What bs.

11:10 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Is everyone talking about Healthcare? There is so much on the board now I don't know where to get in.

First off though, Common Good likes to use the word "poor" a lot.
I think a better word would be "relatively" poor, by the World Bank's definition. This means they can't afford things like entertainment, leisure, cultural goods (like fashions and Star Wars toys), education, and "quality healthcare." So no one in the USA is really "poor."

These things are prerequisites to moving up socially and economically though. Prof. said this concerning universal healthcare:"I’m saying it will have very definite economic consequences (among other things) that are wholly undesirable."

I think you are both right on this one. One one hand, building human capital through providing better health and education in necessary for economic growth. But on the other hand, I think there is a limit to it. What kind of Universal Healthcare are we talking about? Cosmetic surgery? People going to the doctors for minor scraps because they know its free, and the doctors inflating the bill?

I'm all for helping people, but not wasting money. How do you know if someone's wasting money? They do it when they have the incentive. If a person has no stake in paying somehow for something, they waste it. Everytime. It's human nature. Just watch these little teenage brats (and spoiled adults) leave the water running and the power on when no one is around. Because THEY aren't paying for it (yet).

I don't have any healthcare, but I feel like I have access to it if I want it. If I had an accident I could go to a county hospital (or whatever they call them). I took my cousin to one and he was complaining about being in line with all these "lower class" citizens. But the choice was his, either he could have worked to arrange better healthcare, or he could just take the free stuff (which is still "relatively" not that bad.)

I think there should be some kind of basic minimum standard, which I assume we have, but there should be limits to keep people from going overboard. Should the state keep Terri Scheivo in a brain dead state til she dies of old age? Now, that's what I call a luxory good. Maybe the state should give her five years to wake up, then her family and friends and all those protestors could start footing the bill (watch how fast they'd change their tunes then).

11:21 AM  
Blogger Randy P said...

"but "the RR crazies inflaming other crazies, which puts judges at risk" is directly relevant. You start getting judges "popped" on a regular basis, and you won't have time to get to an economic meltdown"

If you for one minute think that the RR corners the market on

"crazies inflaming other crazies"

There is a small amount of respect that has just been flushed down the toilet.

First off, you can not hold someone accountaable for free speach and how "crazies" react

Second on, if you think for a minute that the lib left (LL) has not taken every special interest group and gotten them into a frenzy about religion and politics to a point of losing any moral ground, not that the RR wanted, I will give you that they are a little overboard, but moral ground that this country needed to survive another century. All because of the LL. Riots and violent anti war protests, riots in other countries against us. If you think that for one minute third world countries are not watching us at this very moment looking at our "style" of democracy and laughing, falling under the pressure of religious zealots in their country and allowing totalitarian rule and repression, yeah take that.

By the way, going on vacation for an extended weekend, and will finish "how shall we then live".

I am thinking of starting Franklin, by Issacson. Any suggestions

11:57 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

"I think you are both right on this one. One one hand, building human capital through providing better health and education in necessary for economic growth. But on the other hand, I think there is a limit to it."

No, I'm right and the Prof is wrong. Repeat that after me... 100 times. :)

Of course "there is a limit to it"... i.e. all of the collective good we can stand just short of wrecking capitalism". :)

And of course there has to be some form of "incentives" in the system. Trust me... my old man goes to the doctor like a weekly scheduled bowling league... BECAUSE HE CAN. :(

But Yoshi... don't you think we have quite a bit of room to operate between my buddy Prof's Neanderthal line and 45 million without healthcare? :)

12:01 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Randy,

If you for one minute think that the RR corners the market on

"crazies inflaming other crazies"


Sure, crazies everywhere. I could mention some folks who have traveled through Curmland ... maybe even CG. :)

That said, nobody does crazy like a RR zealot. It's an art form.

I need lunch... I'm thinking Chimera.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Beyond Common Good said: “But Yoshi... don't you think we have quite a bit of room to operate between my buddy Prof's Neanderthal line and 45 million without healthcare?”

You’ve quoted it over and over. Me too. Everybody does because the faction known as the LL has paraded it in front of us. But the fact is, its not 45,000,000. It is “Between 21 million and 31 million people were uninsured all year.” The qualifing word is “all.” At any one point 40 million people were uninsured for various reasons. Please do some research for yourself.

Off to play Daddy for a few hours.

Prof. Ricardo

PS, Thanks Yoshi for the kind agreement. Just don’t stand too close. I’m an easy target around here.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

" It is “Between 21 million and 31 million people were uninsured all year."

Oh, that changes everything. 31 millions is certainly an acceptable "left behind" head count, as opposed to 45 million.

Don't get cocky Prof... Yoshi man just half agreed, and he is very young.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

I am not against health care to a point, but the fact remains that if you give every one the right to a freedom that is not necessarily a right, anad health care falls into this category, they will get alzy and not on ly the economny on this country, but thte work ethic and moral values will falter. And don't tell me about the moral value to provide health care. The moral value is to give every one the same chance in school to amount to the same level of education and aquire the materialistic gains as the next guy. We are close to that, and the only way I see actually accomplishing this is to get rid of the dead heads, and allow the kids that want to try get in there and strut their stuff. Universal health care.

2:13 PM  
Blogger Randy P said...

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

Point, Match, game?

2:15 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Give a Rep a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to own the lake and he will eat for a lifetime by charging non-lake owners to fish.

There you go... trickle down in a nutshell.

2:37 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I was thinking about the Universal Healthcare thing. I suppose it might be workable, but it would have to be some kind of insurance where people would have to pay some kind of deductable. Maybe if they had to pay 100 dollars up front they might just put a band aid on it and go in to work anyway.

I probably don't understand or appreciate the urgency of the 31 million without healthcare. But isn't there access to a minimal amount of basic treatment? It seems from my limited observation of things that there is. I know a few mental cases, one in a nursing home that just got new false teeth worth a few thousand dollars, which she didn't really need, but the state paid, so what the hell. I also know a guy with AIDS that got all kinds of drugs and treatment for free. I also have a cousin with a chromosome disorder and he qualifies for about 250 thousand dollars worth of services. Now of course that's just my personal experience, these might all be exceptions to the rule. But is the healthcare situation an emergency?

This healthcare plan would be a dream come true for big-pharm companies. They'd have everyone on all kinds of drugs....

Maybe it's better just to educate people about smoking, proper nutrition, and exercise?

On a related note, I know of this lady who recently barely scraped her hand at work. She went to some kind of K-Clinic type thing for work-related injuries; now the woman is wearing some kind of caste on her arm like she's in a lot of pain. She's totally faking it. Of course, her company is paying the bill since it happened at work. K-Clinic is making money on it, of course...

And guess what? That comes out of everyone's wages in the end, not the company shareholder profits. I guess that's the main reason I'm skeptical about healthcare.

Regarding the incentives thing again, the principle applies to everything. If you give puppies away for free, you'll have fishermen taking them to cut up for fishbait. If you charge them 25.00, those fishermen will pass on by and only those who really want the puppies will fork out the money.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshitownsend said: ... the Universal Healthcare thing....would have to pay some kind of deductable. Maybe if they had to pay 100 dollars up front...

Which rules out the homeless if that is what they are relying on. But the they get free medical care anyway at the county hospital.

But isn't there access to a minimal amount of basic treatment?

Precisely, but C.G. doesn’t see it. I know of nobody, homeless, poor, anybody that is not now getting healthcare. However, as long as there is one not covered, that is an excuse for some to have federal government trample the system and destroy it for all of us. Yep, it will be equal. Equally bad for all. The problem the left have is that the health care is two fold. One, greedy capitalists are making money at it. Two, the free care is being offered on the local level through community hospitals and is not centrally controlled or managed. They love the centralization of power. It gets the power out of the hands of responsible communities and people and places it into their savior’s hands, big government. It is their form of homage or worship of their savior.

But is the healthcare situation an emergency?

Not in the sense that the people are not having their healthcare needs met. But for the LL faction, it’s the end of planet earth as we know it if it doesn’t pass soon.

Prof. Ricardo
Chimera need healthcare too.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Proffy and Yoshi...

Now I know you both are smarter than this. I know I have been through this many times with Prof... I had thought Yoshi also.

But isn't there access to a minimal amount of basic treatment?

And where does that happen most often. The most expensive form of healthcare we have... in the emergency centers. Pool the system, take it out of the expensive emergency domain ... which leaves novel approach to emergency centers... let them deal with emergencies.

Follow Krugman of the NYTimes. We spend more per person than anywhere else, and we don't come close to getting our money's worth.

I'll keep working with you guys... you are worth it. :)

8:03 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:03 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Common Good,

probably we are just misunderstanding each other. I'm just looking at the surface of it.

What link can I go to for a basic outline on what you are endorsing so that I can get a better understanding of it?

8:07 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

and places it into their savior’s hands, big government

....we be for the Middling people... government is their only chance and a lessor evil.... government is the required tool... not something to worship.

Yoshi... I haven't quite worked up a Universal Healthcare plan yet... kind of above my paygrade. :)

Read Krugman's Op-Eds at the NYTimes. Unfortunately, a couple of his lastest (and best) posts on US healthcare just rolled off to archives.

10:32 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good

Yoshi said:“But isn't there access to a minimal amount of basic treatment?”

Common good responded: “And where does that happen most often. The most expensive form of healthcare we have... in the emergency centers.”

Actually, I think we’re making headway here. So far Common Good has dismissed at least 14 million of the over exaggerated number of uninsured that the LL faction has proffered. He above is responding that “yes, the people are getting healthcare, I’m just worried that it is not the most efficient and cost effective way.”

He realizes that, “Of course "there is a limit to it"...

and finally,
And of course there has to be some form of "incentives" in the system.
Meaning that there must be a cost involved like dollars and cents, probably in the form of deductibles, co-pays, and/or insurance premiums. Meaning that once there is a cost involved, that therefore some will not avail themselves to it, meaning that 100% will not, nor cannot, be insured. I think this is quite a “progressive” move by C.G. towards the free market driven that has, is, and shall continue to provide this country the best healthcare on the planet. C.G. just got a better grade in Prof economics class. It just took the tutor Yoshi to bring out his best.

Prof. Ricardo
Chimera holes, free with every dozen.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Good try.

1) I didn't buy into your uninsured numbers... just humoring you.

2) When did I ever say we shouldn't have "incentives" built into the system. I'm pretty sure I don't have the details spelled out Yoshi called for. I don't think I would have to have detailed the way to dismantle slavery, to be a proponent of getting rid of slavery. Of course "incentives" should be in the system, and of course many that are covered "would not be required to pay, incentive or otherwise". I don't know why the concept of "too poor" is that hard for conservatives. Poor people are a real inconvenience, aren't they?

3) I'm not "just worried" about the expensive use of the emergency centers. I am "convinced is incredibly stupid" to provide a healthcare safety net in that fashion. You really can't expect me to put much weight in your economic grades if you are willing to defend our "emergency center healthcare safety-net" system.

4) Why is the anti-Universal Healthcare faction so anti-business. You are crippling business by tying healthcare on their backs. Talk to your buddy George Will.

Speaking of Chimera ... maybe the Houston Grackles are a lab creation. It's probably a leftwing lab conspiracy... I bet those Grackles just attacked Republicans... and of course ALL lawyers.

Even a Grackle Hates Living in Houston

10:00 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Wow... here is a scary thought. Senator Harry Reid made the statement on the Senate floor this moring.

"If the nuclear option goes through, the RR Republicans could put Pat Robertson on the Supreme Court, and there is absolutely NOTHING that could be done about it."

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Good try.

1) - Have you ever been uninsured for health? There are many reasons why someone is not. Switching between ins. companies, between jobs, college students (who are not the industry standard for maturity), those wealthy you depend to finance your Utopia, Christians and other faith factions that have chosen to rely on God or are also included in that 21-32 million “uninsured.” Poor folks too. Why? With Parkland and JPS, why would they spend their Satelite Dish dollars on anything else?

2) When did I ever say we shouldn't have "incentives" built into the system.

You keep saying its above your paygrade and I think you maybe right. Your “all in” demands that incentives be removed. What is an incentive? If someone does not follow the “incentive”, then a consequence must follow. Eventually that consequence MUST be non-coverage of the individual for not playing fair. That non-coverage is less than 100%. Similarly, that Lexus is every bit worth it’s $50k entry fee. But at $10k, some people still can’t afford it, regardless of how valuable it is. At $1k, still there are those few who can’t afford it.

Maybe your incentive is not money, maybe it’s punishment. “We’ll treat that infection and cane you for using the emergency room!”

3) I'm not "just worried" about the expensive use of the emergency centers. I am "convinced is incredibly stupid" to provide a healthcare safety net in that fashion.

Do you think the medical personnel at these county hospitals show up everyday amazed that people are actually showing up for medical care in different degrees of need? Everybody is triaged. The emergency room in all hospitals are geared to channel true emergencies where they need to go and sniffles where they need to go. Right now people WITH insurance are going to the emergency rooms too. Their deductible is so low, or their emergency room use is covered 100%, why not? The incentive to make them quit must be financial. This "incredibly stupid" healthcare net serves all and satisfies all, maybe not some bureaucrats in Washington DC, but satisfies ALL parties involved.

4) Why is the anti-Universal Healthcare faction so anti-business. You are crippling business by tying healthcare on their backs.

Ok, we’re chasing rabbits here. Please tell me that you’re just trying to be obstinate and you’re not that clue-less about economics.

C.G., economic and social “laws”, as it were, are every bit as real and measurable as gravity or any physical property behavior. You can not assign demand or supply by fiat. They are in response to the market. The market is nothing more than the macro inclusion of all willing buyers and all willing sellers and their available knowledge base with respect to current, past, and expected prices and availability. The “market” is not some evil invention of wicked greedy men. It exists since the dawn of man, in communist countries, prisons, and school rooms. Its everywhere. If you are standing on terra firma and you drop an apple, it will fall toward the earth’s center. If you take a known commodity (say, healthcare) and you reduce the price or BY DEFINITION everybody will have it, then those above elementary paygrades are going to know that “if we are going to get it anyway”(100% no matter what) why pay? Why play fair? Why make an effort?

A common characteristic happens to children of the wealthy or other family members subsidized by a family member: they become underachievers. They rely upon the economic benefit, start to see it as their “right,” and will resent the person who is giving, not only if the funds are withheld, but also for having that power over them and their disappointment in themselves for needing or wanting it. This same social response happens to those that will have healthcare thrust upon them.

There are social behaviors and laws that you do not understand. They will affect the implementation of Universal Healthcare, and deferring to a higher paygrade is not going to let you off the hook. Yoshi is not my disciple. He knows these principles. He understands these relationships and is not blind to their evidences throughout history. David Johnston, author of Perfectly Legal, appears to be ignorant of these economic laws and social behaviors as well. So many of your responses ignore basic economic and social laws. Its hard to formulate a response when you ignore the major players. I’ve just purchased several economics books for my son as we do his economics course this year. If you wish I could get you the names of a couple of the key books for you. Then you could at least argue without ignoring major components of the argument. Not trying to be condescending. You’re a smart man, but you got to come on board with the real effects of what you are proposing, at least to a point where we can unproductively argue the details. :-)

Prof. Ricardo
Kibbles & Chimera

1:39 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

C.G.: "4) Why is the anti-Universal Healthcare faction so anti-business. You are crippling business by tying healthcare on their backs."

I actually think it would be good for business. That's the problem. They'd have everyone on drugs and taking state of the art medical tests that they don't need, then sending the bill to the federal government. Plus, as common good said, business would pass their own costs on to the govt.

Prof, if you are buying Economics books for your kids, please take my advice and buy this one (for them and you). I have taken countless classes at UTA and have really become disillusioned with these guys who live in theorectical worlds behind desks. I actually learned to hate economics and wrote it off as complete crap by the time they were done with me. Then this book came along and inspired me again; it makes me want to get a Ph.D. It confirmed many of my intrinsic feelings I had about development problems that my hypnotized simplistic Professors at UTA couldn't understand (truthfully they probably just didn't really care, and are part of the dark side of the Force, unfortunately using their powers only for their own gain). Anyway, the book is brilliant, and not knowing Jeffrey Sachs is like not knowing John Keynes or Adam Smith. It's not a hard read either. Maybe high schoolers might have a hard time... but you should get it for yourself. It might explain to you the difference between Hong Kong and Malawi.
Jeffrey Sachs

Or cut and paste below:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1594200459/qid=1116528796/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1/102-5077746-0280969?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

2:09 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"A common characteristic happens to children of the wealthy or other family members subsidized by a family member: they become underachievers. They rely upon the economic benefit, start to see it as their “right,” and will resent the person who is giving, not only if the funds are withheld, but also for having that power over them and their disappointment in themselves for needing or wanting it. This same social response happens to those that will have healthcare thrust upon them."

By the way, I have seen this PLENTY OF TIMES. It's even something I have to resist myself, but I have 3 cousins who were given probably about a million between the 3 of them, and are completely spoiled, unappreciative, wasteful, etc., on account of having their father's money thrown on them. None of the money is left, and only one of them managed to at least keep a house out of it all.

The irony is they can't stand their father and complain about him all the time. On the other hand, I've had "trickle down effects" from his wealth that I've used quite productively, and I am quite impressed by the man.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

That has to be the longest linked text ever put on the internet. :) I tried to copy out the following, and it crapped out internet explorer. :)

"Kids of wealthy parents grow up to be underachievers".

No, they grow up to be nasty little sluts with video on the internet, and then are given a reality TV show. :)

Prof, most of this population needs to know more about economics... including myself. The main reason we need to be better educated on economics is because our politicians can use about any argument they choose to support their tax policy... and the public never calls them on it. When a politican's only mantra is "lower taxes are best", they should be asked what is the perfect tax rate. The politician should be able to answer that, because in order to take a stance on the current tax rate, and come to the conclusion lower would be better, they are implying they know how to measure the consequences of specific rates. Well... great... share that wisdom with the citizen's who elect you so we can make our own judgements about your economic genius. Please Mr. Congressmen... tell me where the tax rate sweet spot is.

The conservative arguments against universal healthcare include:

1) "we can't afford it"
2) "those who can't afford it don't deserve it"
3) "we can afford it, but by covering those that can't, we effect the quality of those who can".

I can't help anyone with #2 and #3... those are personal shortcomings. :) Your economic point really is pointed at #1. I thought Tony did a pretty good job of shooting you down on that one before... therefore your "economic focus" is off-base. This isn't about economics at our current stage of wealth... it's about choice people make regarding the poor. If we really couldn't afford it, and it really was going to destroy our economy... then of course "economics" would need to be discussed. Our current healthcare system is riddled with coverage not based on "incentives". Unless you really believe #2 above, some people will not pay for healthcare... can't get blood out of a turnip. I know you can't get past this because of your "tough love" belief system... but that's your issue, not economics.

I plan on more "economics" education in the future... but not the immediate future. Include "Saving Capitalism from the Capitalist" in your son's education. It would be good to add into the mix with pure economics text books. It was written by two PHDs from the University of Chicago... and clearly defines free markets and knocks down many of the myths (like there should be no regulation in free markets). The last chapter was really interesting... a glimpse into our future free markets in the US.. and required changes going forward... i.e. planning ahead.

This was your first comment about David Kay Johnson. David mainly addressed "tax dodging" and who is carrying the tax load in this society. What does that have to do with "not understanding economic realities?" Required taxes will be collected. We can give the wealthy a blatant pass if we choose... not sure that is economics.

Yes... rabbits...

Chimera's don't deserve your love... they don't even work.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Let me state something a little different.

Economics is no longer a valid reason to avoid Universal Healthcare. Economics (incentives) of course have to be factored into any design... incentives for those who can pay. We will require "means testing" going forward for more advanced, enlightened social justice.

Yoshi... obviously when I refer to getting healthcare off of the backs of business, I am referring to employers. Are you jacking with me? :) The result, Healthcare becomes a contract between individuals, healthcare providers and government.... business's are freed up to go make a profit, and a family can't lose everything due to healthcare crisis between jobs.

2:55 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:09 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

C.G. wrote: "Yoshi... obviously when I refer to getting healthcare off of the backs of business, I am referring to employers. Are you jacking with me??

I was agreeing with you that companies would benefit from not having to provide health insurance. In fact don't they already do this by not hiring "full-time" workers? This saves them money b/c they don't have to provide healthcare.

And the medicine industry would also benefit as they sold us everything we don't need b/c someone else (us)is paying for it.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Regarding this judge nomination fight:

The Senate is to "advise and consent". Does anyone have any opinion on what the intention of "advise" was? "Consent obviously means accepting or rejecting a nomination, but what does advise mean". Do you think the founders intended that the President consult with the Senate before nominating, or was it just a general concept to be filled in by Senate rules? Maybe that's just the way they talked back then, and you were just suppose to take the two words together to simply mean "the Senate must consent or reject" a judge nomination.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good said:
Let me state something a little different.

Economics is no longer a valid reason to avoid Universal Healthcare.


Of course its not. Your standard is 100% participation. Economic feasibility and consequences are secondary at best.

Of course this economic dismissal is a recent viewpoint of yours considering on the Curm’s web blog you have said in the past: For example, we don't have the capacity ($) to keep every single person in our country on life support... i.e. keep everyone on machines as long as technology can facilitate, regardless of mental capacity. Think we have a health insurance crisis now... just go there.

It would appear that economics matter depending on who’s Shiavo is getting gored. I think economics are a key part to PAYING for anything, or choosing who will be paying. In fact, this issue is nothing but economics. There are already doctors, nurses, drug companies, and hospitals doing what they do - healthcare. What you are wanting to do is make it ECONOMICALLY feasible for ALL to have access. At least that is what I hope your intentions are. Sometimes it seems that those intentions are secondary to implementing a National Healthcare Insurance/Plan regardless of the eventual consequences on all receiving healthcare. We don’t want mediocre healthcare for all. The greater roll that government plays, the more mediocre it will become.

Of the “conservative arguments against universal healthcare,” #1 is a matter of priorities. It was expensive to go to the Moon, but in the sixties we felt it was worth it. If universal (government) healthcare is a good idea, then it should be our focus of what we can “afford.”

#2 - Never said it, don’t defend it. However, because I am generally against universal (government) healthcare you have imputed positions and ideologies on me that are contrary to my nature.

#3 - This IS the crux of the matter. How many people are going to Bosnia, East Germany, and Cuba for those operations? You don’t think their healthcare services have suffered from influences of a controlling government do you? The poor here are already being given healthcare. We’re even giving it to immigrants. Even the illegal variety. You are not adding to those now receiving healthcare, you are wanting to change who is responsible and how it is paid. The healthcare professional does good healthcare because of the patient. By making the purchaser of healthcare an HMO, the government, or some regulatory body, the patient becomes secondary. The healthcare suffers. You play for the one who pays the piper.

The government schools are an example of this. This past century has seen the evolution of local control of schools to centralization (to a degree). From 144,102 school districts in 1930 to 15,361 school districts in 1990 with 4 times the population. The schools went from serving the parents, to serving the institution of education and politicians and the NEA and whoever else could garner sway like Planned Parenthood and such. Do we have a consensus here on the state of education in this country now vs a hundred years ago? The literacy in this country was 99+% two hundred years ago. Right now I’m being kind to say that 25% of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Two hundred years ago there was no compulsory attendance laws - totally voluntary. Now its compulsory. Why is it local operated voluntary institutions ALWAYS out perform their centralized counterparts? I know. And it’s your job to find out before you press the issue of universal (government) healthcare any further. One so caring about healthcare would not do well knowing after an inoperable tumor of centralization engulfed their area of passion and concern, that they played a part in feeding the cancer. There are a lot of reasons to argue against mandatory universal (government) healthcare, and economics is one of them. After all the wisdom from my good friend Common Good is telling: “... healthcare costs are going to be a bitch.

Prof. Ricardo

10:46 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

A little birdie sent me a link to a educational website on the web... and I inadvertently deleted it. The little birdie is off today, so if you will post that link here, I will look at it. Otherwise, send the email to the little birdie again, and he will send me the email next week. :)

I will respond to your other propaganda soon... lunch is calling.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good said:
...lunch is calling.

Then you don’t have much time to kill it, clean it, cook it, and eat it. Chimera? Yea, me too.

The link is www - wait a second. Let me repeat myself: “W” “W” “W” :-D
www.aleks.com

Prof. Ricardo

12:28 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

This thread it too long. I have a response to your Universal Healthcare (UVH from now on) ... but it keeps crapping out.

I looked at the aleks site a bit... turns out I can add and subract some numbers. :) I will look more before my 48 hours expire. I wasn't too excited about having to download a plugin... but I did. :)

Looks like the site is pretty focused on math, accounting, etc. I have been thinking of more "adult non-get-a-job" type of education. Like "The Constitution for Dummies".... "Too Dumb for Democray Remedial Training". :) I was even thinking in terms of the Prof's "profit motive" rants. Provide a way for the "teachers/instructors" of the world to setup their own carriculum.. charge for it... and let the public and the instructors find each other. Maybe some sort of student reviews or ratings so the "hot classes" would be easily found. Of course this is just one of the many ideas I will never really do. :)

2:15 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

"What you are wanting to do is make it ECONOMICALLY feasible for ALL to have access."

I don't have to make it feasible... it's been feasible for a long time. This nation passed the wealth threshold a long time ago which makes EQUAL BASE* healthcare and education regardless of economic class a CHOICE. It may cost all of us some more taxes, it might mean we spend a little less on the military, etc... but it is definetly a choice at this point. A true meritocracy would provide everyone with an equal footing (start) regarding "health" and "education". That's honest meritocracy... not some advantage gained by "what you were born into". There is no such thing as a perfect meritocracy... it's not possible. However, what is possible is not static... possibilities are a sliding scale that marches along with the growth in wealth. The capitalism you defend so well is what's provided for our greater choices. There is no doubt we could make choices that would defeat the common good goals we were trying to achieve... i.e. damage capitalism and the growth in wealth. Recognizing that threat however, and jumping to the conclusion that we can't (or don't need to) do anything from a fedeal level is just nuts.

"Sometimes it seems that those intentions are secondary to implementing a National Healthcare Insurance/Plan regardless of the eventual consequences on all receiving healthcare."

You know better than that. I couldn't be any clearer that my opinion that universal healthcare requires goverment command and control is a conclusion, not a motive.

"We don’t want mediocre healthcare for all."

Well, it's definitely not a goal, but the moral answer of that is dependent on our possibilities given our current wealth. I don't think for a second we are limited to mediocre healthcare for all, but assume it: "we could only afford mediocre healthcare for everyone, or excellent healthcare for some". The moral choice given that hypothetical seems pretty obvious to me... we accept mediocre healthcare. How would you answer that hypothetical? It's a simple question... with no federal vs free market driven premises. Asked another way... how many would you accept leaving behind to have your excellent healthcare?

"The greater roll that government plays, the more mediocre it will become."

Rabbits. Why won't you acknowledge that using emergency centers as our safety-net is about as economically retarded as one could design?

This society just seems incapable of removing our narrow self-interest blinders (or Christian tough love blinders)... no matter how much wealth we accumulate. The "personal responsibilty doctrine" is too simple... it gives people an excuse not to think. There are thousands of reasons people fall through our economic cracks that have nothing to do with them being bad or lazy people. Our society and nation has become too complex for your "private only" ideology. I will never convince you of that... but it's a hoot trying. :)

"The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much, enough not one."

--- Ben Franklin

* We will always have to define the limits of government services, that's the price of a Reprentative Democracy. Of course, some want to get out of that responsibility by accepting an economic system as the only fairness arbiter we need.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Common Good said: “Rabbits. Why won't you acknowledge that using emergency centers as our safety-net is about as economically retarded as one could design?

Precisely. “As one could design.” But “one” didn’t design it did they? “One” didn’t have to. It developed quite naturally and effectively in 10,000 places independent of each other. How about that! Tens of thousands of people erected a system independent of one another to deal with the medical needs of their community, including the indigent, whereby all persons needs were being met at the same time that healthcare personnel were being paid a decent wage to take home to their families. None of it was centrally planned or “designed.” A “designer,” particularly in our progressive age, would have designed an elaborate scheme of agencies, distribution centers, a healthcare ID card, application centers, central processing centers, and thirty day waiting lists to see if colds are severe enough for spending tax dollars on and to give them time enough to process the mountains of paperwork. A “designer” would have never thought it could have just happened. He would have dismissed the invisible hand that Adam Smith spoke of. Your right. To the economically ignorant, ill informed, progressive, government embracing “reasonable man” - which I wholeheartedly agree encompasses the vast majority of Americans (we’ll just call them public high school graduates) - a “designed” system is the only way that makes sense.

Sad, but true.

Prof. Ricardo
Black Widow Spider - The original hourglass figure.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

How about that! Tens of thousands of people erected a system independent of one another to deal with the medical needs of their community, including the indigent, whereby all persons needs were being met at the same time that healthcare personnel were being paid a decent wage to take home to their families.

Oh... you think it is working. Doh! I get it now.

Have a fine day Prof... I'm off to the golf course. Public middling golf. :) Even golf gives me less of a headache then a conservative lesson from the Prof.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

In yet another piece of evidence condemning man for global warming, the ice sheets on Antarctica are thickening.

I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but I’m sure its America’s fault, capitalism’s effects, and the worst offender, the religious right.

Prof. Ricardo

5:16 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:09 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"I don't know how and I don’t know why, but I’m sure its America’s fault, capitalism’s effects, and the worst offender, the religious right."

I didn't read the article, but Prof. I wouldn't fall into the naive trap of thinking that global warming is something that is completely blown out of proportion. It makes you sound like the huge fat guy a few days before his fatal heart attack, saying that french fries and sticks of butter doesn't clog up his arteries. It also makes you sound like my cousin who has already ruined his credit and now tells me to max out mine (for his immediate gratification) and that when the bill comes in "things will work out."

Simply put, it makes you sound irresponsible. Anything, when out of balance, whether it be the human body, our morality, my cacti garden in my little aquarium, or the planet earth itself, can/ will come to an premature end.

I don't know if America, capitalism, etc, is the cause of the ice thickening, but I can tell you I have asthma and it just "didn't appear" out of no where. It was an "effect" of a "cause." And the cause was pollution/ smoke. Who's fault was it? That honor goes to my grandfather whose smoking was more important than my lungs. Now, think of that story as a microcosm of the entire planet. All countries, economic systems cause environmental destruction. We have to at least strive to keep it to a minimum.

It's important to respect that fact, and try to be conservative (non-wasteful) and eco-conscious. We can still be practical and make lots of money and care about the planet at the same time (Just ask Toyota and Whole Foods, the market can respond to eco-friendly and health-conscious consumers). In fact, if a company wants to still have markets 30 years from now, they have to care about the environment.

Trying to put concern for the environment in the narrow prism of "liberal" and "conservative" is dangerous. I think that the so-called Religious Right are somewhat responsible, as you would be, if they belittle and underestimate the environmental problems of the world in front of their children, students, listeners, etc.

It basically amounts to mortgaging my (our) childrens' future, similar to how my grandfather mortgaged my lungs.

People need to think ahead.

Of course I know you already know all this. It's obvious. But there was some implication from your comment that global warming is just a bunch of nonsense.

11:38 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,

Re: Global warming. If you were not privy to the discussion on Global warming we had recently, just go to the Tony’s previous blog. I gave a quote from a Walter E. Williams column that I think you’ll find interesting. Though I too often stab at humor, my poking fun at global warming has to do with the seriousness with which people have taken this unknown given the contradicting evidence, the presumptions necessary in the mathmatical models, and the agenda of those pushing hardest to get us to accept it.

I don’t have much time at the present to deliver a crushing blow to global warming, but I have been following it in the news, radio, television, editorials, internet, books, and anywhere else I could read about it. Those who have been around the Metroplex for a good many years may remember a weatherman by the name of Herald Taft. Very well respected, died of cancer about a decade ago. One of the last things he did was contribute a great deal of time evaluating temperature increases over the last 100 years. He said there was NO indication that there was a warming trend. From what I understand, the global warming proponents have staked their claim on a mathematical model that has something like 25 variables, if any one of which if its projected values is wrong, or if the model itself is wrong, or if the measurements are wrong, or the data points are too sparse or too concentrated in the wrong areas, the whole model fails. And that’s just it, it’s a computer model. I can give you evidence tit for tat with all the global warming evidence.

Now about the global warming crowd. Sorry Tony, but I’ve got to repeart a small quote from Walter Williams here:
You say, "Williams, are the environmentalists lying and deliberately frightening us?" That's part of their strategy. Consider what environmentalist activist Stephen Schneider said in a 1989 issue of Discover: "We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

Here's what former Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., was quoted as saying in Michael Fumento's "Science Under Siege": "We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we'll be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy."


These are the same chaps that claimed a new ice age was due in the 70's. These are the same chaps that talk of a hole in the ozone. NEWSFLASH: It Is Not A Hole! It is a slight depression of about 15% and it was discovered in the 1950's and has not since been as “thin” as it was first measured.

Re: Your asthma. Asthma, cancer, Alzheimer, obesity - I am quote sure that there are a multitude of ailments in the world that are caused by pollution, both industrial and handling consumer chemicals like Diazanon, etc. Government through the FDA and other departments taken over our role of watching out for ourselves. We figure if its on the shelf, its gotta be safe. No body reads the warning labels since so many stupid labels are on products because of idiot lawyers (no offense intended) who have sued everybody over the most inane reasons. Product liability lawsuits are a real measure of how far a society/government has convinced people it will take care of them. Nutrition, or lack thereof, is a great contributor to these ailments. Most is too long for specifics, but our family has modified its diet greatly in response to allergies and for preventative measure. The outstanding growth of fast food restaurants, processed “convenience foods”, is telling. It is also a light at the end of the tunnel to see Whole Foods and Central Market doing well.

My dismissal of global warming mostly has to do with bad characters with bad agendas relying on bad science to determine the next step for our world. And that’s bad.

Prof. Ricardo

7:47 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Can you imagine how many people made "economic" arguments against the abolition of slavery?

5:59 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.

...and economic reasons for abolition too....And your point?

Prof. Ricardo

11:07 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"My dismissal of global warming mostly has to do with bad characters with bad agendas relying on bad science to determine the next step for our world. And that’s bad."

That's interesting you should say that. That's the same reasons why I dismiss most conservatives, "Christians," and anti-globalization protesters. Though all have a little merit to them, it's the members of these clubs that alienate me.

And are these "bad" characters with "bad" agendas people like Dick Cheney and W. Bush who aren't going to try and wean us off oil (in fact they subsidize it) (wonder why? Hmm...) even though pro-business magazines like Fortune say it's eventually going to catch up to us and the longer we wait the more "shock" it's going to have on our economies. And we aren't talking a little shock. We're talking a big one.

Anyway, that's the "bad" agenda for "conservatives" refuting the negative consequences of burning fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow. That's why I don't trust them. They are selling out our future to make a buck today. It's the same reason the sugar companies don't let the U.S. govt. food guidelines recommend low sugar intake. Money.

It's too bad we just for once can't have a president that is a visionary and actually had long-term strategies for the country/ world. It's not too much to ask. Maybe we could clone JFK, he seemed to at least make some damn good speeches.

4:04 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

"My dismissal of global warming mostly has to do with bad characters with bad agendas relying on bad science to determine the next step for our world. And that’s bad."

That's interesting you should say that. That's the same reasons why I dismiss most conservatives, "Christians," and anti-globalization protesters. Though all have a little merit to them, it's the members of these clubs that alienate me.

And are these "bad" characters with "bad" agendas people like Dick Cheney and W. Bush who aren't going to try and wean us off oil (in fact they subsidize it) (wonder why? Hmm...) even though pro-business magazines like Fortune say it's eventually going to catch up to us and the longer we wait the more "shock" it's going to have on our economies. And we aren't talking a little shock. We're talking a big one.

Anyway, that's the "bad" agenda for "conservatives" refuting the negative consequences of burning fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow. That's why I don't trust them. They are selling out our future to make a buck today. It's the same reason the sugar companies don't let the U.S. govt. food guidelines recommend low sugar intake. Money.

It's too bad we just for once can't have a president that is a visionary and actually had long-term strategies for the country/ world. It's not too much to ask. Maybe we could clone JFK, he seemed to at least make some damn good speeches.

4:04 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,

And are these "bad" characters with "bad" agendas people like Dick Cheney and W. Bush who aren't going to try and wean us off oil (in fact they subsidize it) (wonder why? Hmm...)

#1) I am not apologist for Cheney & Bush. Their existence has no bearing on how I feel about global warming. Zip, nadda.

The bad characters of the pro-GW (global warming) group are the proponents of it. They, as my quote above suggests, realize that they don’t know if its true, and if its not, don’t let that get in the way of their agenda. GW is merely a vehicle for their agenda. Therefor their testimony, evidence, and science is suspect.

#2) I hope to God that Cheney, Bush, and other politicians do not feel its their duty to wean us off oil. Its not their job to figure out what energy the wee peasants need this year. Right now oil is cheap, plentiful, and relatively clean for the environment. Compare the emissions from today’s automobiles with those of just 10, 20, 50, & 80 years ago. Almost clean enough to wrap your lips around the exhaust pipe? ;-) Our people have embraced the portable power that fossil fuels offer. That availability has been partially responsible for our many benefits in this country.

#3) And replace the fossil fuel with what? Hydrogen? How do they isolate the hydrogen? It takes lots of power, power derived mostly from fossil fuels. You just moved the fossil fuels from the fuel tank to the power plant, and at greater cost to the consumer. Solar? Yep, I bet we all want to see ambulances powered by electric/solar/etc. coming down the street silently at 23 mph with frustrated occupants trying to “rush” to the scene. Admit it, fossil fuels are the best for local transportation. The public knows it, industry supports this demand, and it is not our representatives job to go behind our backs and wean us off that which is best for us.

So, how many electric/hydrogen vehicles you folks own already? They are available right now. Why not voluntarily choose them for our transportation if they are the best alternative?

<...wean us off oil (in fact they subsidize it) (wonder why? Hmm...)

I’m always willing to learn. Please tell me of these subsidies. Being a free market person I have a great interest in politicians doing stupid things like this. Thanks.

Prof. Ricardo

4:33 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,
...even though pro-business magazines like Fortune say it's eventually going to catch up to us and the longer we wait the more "shock" it's going to have on our economies. And we aren't talking a little shock. We're talking a big one.

As YOU know, price will vary with scarcity. As oil becomes more scarce, those alternatives (alcohol, electric, hydrogen, biodiesel) will become more attractive. People will migrate to the alternatives if enough incentive exists. Any “shock” will be an act of government or terrorism, not a naturally occurring phenomena in the market place. If congress passes a “wean us off oil” tax of $3.00/gallon, that could be a shock. But as foreign oil price goes up, domestic production increases because unprofitable wells become profitable, exploration becomes profitable. It is government that is standing in the way of the Alaska Anwar wildlife reserve oil being tapped. It is government that made offshore drilling a sin. It is government that made opening new refineries prohibitively expensive. And if government is currently subsidizing big oil, that screws with the price information people depend on to make their decisions.

Any “shock” will not be the last drop of oil coming out of the ground. It will be the government either rapidly distorting the market, or rapidly withdrawing its distortion.

Prof. Ricardo

6:41 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,
Anyway, that's the "bad" agenda for "conservatives" refuting the negative consequences of burning fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow. That's why I don't trust them. They are selling out our future to make a buck today.

I don’t think conservatives dismiss all of fossil fuel negatives. However, obsessing over their negatives leads us to rush into alternatives that don’t have a distribution network, not proven, negatives unknown, or negatives not accessed. These kinds of things have happened in the past. Give people information and let the market decide. Currently people, both conservatives and liberals, vote with their dollars and the vote is nearly unanimous, fossil fuels rock. Those businesses willing to supply our fix are not immoral, greedy, or should have any shame for doing so. They are merely providing a commodity at the market price. You are welcome to play the game and no matter how much money you make, you won’t hear me complain about it. You can also market the alternatives with nothing but a profit motive and I will do nothing but sing your praises. Game?

Prof. Ricardo

7:07 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Wow, great response. I must of hit some kind of nerve!

where do I start???

As for you not being an apologist for W. Bush (ironically I often am about 90% of the time), I don't think you are. But I do wonder if you are just parroting some of these Sean Hannity/ oxycotin-popping Limbaugh types, with their sound bites and smug but false sense of confidence.

"I hope to God that Cheney, Bush, and other politicians do not feel its their duty to wean us off oil. Its not their job to figure out what energy the wee peasants need this year."

-What exactly do we pay these people for then? They are somewhat of the captains of the ship, they do have roles to play, like a CEO of a company does. It is their job to avert economic crises in the future. At least, that's what we are socialized to believe, and if not, I don't know why they get to live in that big white house in D.C.

"Right now oil is cheap, plentiful"

-Tell me what gas station you've been going to Prof., cause I'm switching back to bikes myself. And though cars are cleaner than ever, there could be a standardized fuel efficiency requirement across the states so we wouldn't have to have so many refineries. And that standard should be on the lower end of the scale.

"That availability has been partially responsible for our many benefits in this country."

- This is true, and this is what should scare you. To listen to previous generation talk about the great old day of America, I often think how naive they are. They think we've got some superior genetics and morality that made us rich. But we know that in fact it was cheap oil. Lots of cheap oil. And now we have all this (look around). To say "partially responsible" is an understatement. I'd say all technology and the cheap fuel to run it is why we are wealthy today.

So when it runs out...... it's time to wake up to reality that it wasn't genetics or morality that we got so rich on. The oil is running out, I read it, hear it everyday. In fact, I pay for it at the pump. And I watch Bush make up stories about Saddam and his nuclear missles on their way over. And of course the Chinese are buying it all up too to top it all off. I hear Greenspan warning about the high oil prices off-setting growth, etc, leading us into possible recession. These aren't just hysterical claims. They are coming from people whose insight I trust.

And replace the fossil fuel with what? Hydrogen?

-I'm not a scientist. But Fuel Cells are probably the answer. Now it will take an initial public investment (yes, sometimes that's neccessary, this isn't the 1960's theoretical world of economics anymore) to set up a national infrastructure for it. Hey, we built the highways in the 50s (for defense, yea right, to subsidize the auto industry and create an American dependence on automobiles), we can do this too. They can also subsidize or give tax breaks, give incentives to developers to get this stuff out there and on the market.

Wasn't the internet created through subsidies? The public sector financed the military to invent the technologies, now the private sector is getting rich off it without having to pay for the R and D. All that stuff about individualism and decentralization is for introductory economics textbooks. Collective action underpins economic success, the private sector can't do everything

So, how many electric/hydrogen vehicles you folks own already?

My next car will certainly be that new Toyota hybrid. And to the govt.'s credit, they give tax breaks on them. (Speaking of credit, W. Bush, post-election, recently spoke pretty honestly about oil prices. He said (to paraphrase him)they are going up, and that's the way it is, and that it's beyond his control.)

"Please tell me of these subsidies. Being a free market person I have a great interest in politicians doing stupid things like this."

- They do subsidize those Humvees with these huge tax incentives. I read about it in National Geographic. Then those little college brats whose dad buys them Humvees (I know you've seen them) push up prices for all of us (as refineries apparantly can't refine it fast enough).

Then of course the military budget, which is mostly centered around protecting this oil. That's an indirect subsidy. Factor that into the cost and see how much a gallon costs at the pump. Why not tax the pump and lower the income tax? Then people who ride bikes won't have to pay for the war in Iraq. Let the market decide the war, or let the oil companies pay for the defense.

Lastly, I can't tell you the exact subsidies that big oil gets. But I can tell you they get them, and I'll try and look some up for you. They get massive ones. And they have a huge lobby, one of the biggest in Washington DC. We get gasoline actually much cheaper than it would be at a market price.

My friend would always complain about the "high prices" of oil, and would cite the old oil company consipiracy of price fixing. I would always tell him that our oil is already underpriced to begin with. It's being subsidized.

If we paid the real price for oil, I believe we'd see some technological changes real quick as people just wouldn't be able to drive cars anymore with fossil fuels.

"I don’t think conservatives dismiss all of fossil fuel negatives."

-Neither do I. Just Dick Cheney. Really "Conservatives" and "Liberals" are indistinguishable to me. I usually look at the individual. (I really like John McCain by the way, a "conservative.")

"As YOU know, price will vary with scarcity. As oil becomes more scarce, those alternatives (alcohol, electric, hydrogen, biodiesel) will become more attractive. People will migrate to the alternatives if enough incentive exists. Any “shock” will be an act of government or terrorism, not a naturally occurring phenomena in the market place."

-Exactly. And I don't think it's natural if the price of oil is artificially low and then it suddenly becomes "high" to reflect the real price when it starts running out.

"And if government is currently subsidizing big oil, that screws with the price information people depend on to make their decisions."

-I'm going to get back to you on finding you some info on subsidies.

"You can also market the alternatives with nothing but a profit motive and I will do nothing but sing your praises."

I need the capital for that, otherwise I would. They can't build the internet, put men on the moon, and soon clone human beings. They can develop these fuel cells in a short time, less than 20 years (I'm not saying let's scrap oil next year by the way). The big dogs in the business out there are already getting ready for the inevitable change. The govt. could facilitate these changes by setting up the infrastructure for them, giving them tax breaks or subsidies, and letting the price of oil rise to consumers so they'll start demanding alternatives.

Sorry for any typos in advance, but I'd rather start looking for info on oil subsidies than try and correct them.

11:14 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

As for subsidies to "Big Oil," I know I've seen references to that in the Economist magazine (Trust me, I have few original thoughts on these kinds of things).

Use the Economist search engine to find "alternative fuel" articles and you'll find these references (my subscription is up for the time being, I can't do it myself). However, I don't think specific subsidies are usually cited anyway. They merely imply that "Big Oil" is heavily subsidized.

And I threw out that old Fortune magazine, thought I would never need it again. I'll just have look around for something specific and I'll post it when finding it.

I think it's safe to assume subsidies exist beyond what you imagine. All that stuff about "free markets" is undergrad propaganda. From what I hear, they tell you the truth about how it all really works in grad school. (Hint: rat-race and corruption.)

11:28 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Yoshi,

The best I can find on oil subsidies by those complaining about them are as follows:

1) Tax breaks, federal $2 billion.
2) Tax breaks, low state & local sales tax, indirect, $4 billion.
3) Motor vehicle infrastructure and services, $45 billion.
4) Oil-related health and environmental damage, ~ $232 billion.

Ok, let’s say I give you items 1 & 2. Let’s talk about how ridiculous items 3 & 4 are.

#3 - Because oil companies did not build the roads, the signal lights, the road signs, highway maintenance, & ancillary infrastructures, they are considered subsidized by that cost annually? Bunk! I don’t want to drive on Exxon/Mobil roadways, Texaco/Shell toll bridges, etc. It’s not their responsibility to determine where roads, highways, and other infrastructure is placed and what it is to consist of. Maybe I misunderstood what they were talking about. Could you enlighten me and show me how that is not the communities responsibility, but is the oil companies responsibility?

#4 - This is scary. If petroleum products are legal to sell, then oil companies should be able to sell them without having to guarantee how the end user will use or misuse them. I prepare tax returns and accounting. I do an excellent job. However, what somebody does with that return once they leave my office is not my responsibility it is theirs. Same with firearm sales. Save with heavy machinery sales. Same with chemical sales, same with everything. We ALL need to be responsible for our own actions. Placing the consequences of a fossil fuel addicted society on the businesses that have chosen to provide us with the fuel we legally demand is preposterous. Although, in a legal sense I understand how society is evolving from personal responsibility into blaming the deep pocket. That way we can demonize legitimate businesses and get rich off of our misfortunes.

If you want to discuss the real subsidies listed under #1 & #2, I will oblige you. I have a few opinions to share in that area as well. But you probably already guessed that. :-D

Prof. Ricardo

9:24 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

I should just leave this up to Yoshi... he is hitting you with some major body blows. I like his "new math" economics. And for the record... Tony and I know I guy more conservative than you from another message board. He would have definitely been for "Chevron highways". :(

But I have to chime in on the following.

#4 - This is scary. If petroleum products are legal to sell, then oil companies should be able to sell them without having to guarantee how the end user will use or misuse them.

The bullet item was 4) Oil-related health and environmental damage, ~ $232 billion.

I didn't take that to be a "product liability" item... i.e. I used my gasoline wrong so I sued you. It appears to me to represent a fair social contract with the energy industry. I would state something like this: "This society agrees to let private business make profits off of OUR natural resources, in particularl oil and gas drilling. In return, society reserves the right to place regulations on this agreement to protect the health of it's citizens and our environment".

Surely you aren't here to make the case that oil and gas companies should just be given the "profit" end without the "responsibility" end.

10:15 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I'm going to get another subscription to the Economist, then I'll find specific examples of subsidies. I think they are higher than 2 billion that you found. They have a huge lobby. I was thinking the both liberal and conservative Reps and Senators, not D.Cheney, would have to approve of these grants and tax breaks. So I guess I can't really blame D.Cheney, but I was trying to expose that the bad agendas come from both sides.

I don't count infrastructure as part of the oil companies' costs. My post didn't if you read it closely. I was saying in fact that the govt. could help new technology by building some kind of nationwide grid to repower fuel cells at existing gas stations. This costs money, but if they pulled, diverted money away that they already spend on fossil fuel subsidies, they could finance it quickly in the next ten years or so. Net loss to taxpayers would be zero.

Also, as far as I know, in Texas we have a tiny gasoline tax which finances highway construction. That's the way it should be.

The costs of pollution aren't the responsibility of the oil companies, but they are a collective cost to the communities (the USA, me, you) that have to clean it up. So we should all chip in with our tax money to do this. Just like if we all have a party at your house, we should put a few dollars in a pot to help have the carpet shampooed the next day. That's how societies are supposed to work, if they are to work. There are no free lunces in this life. We pay now, or we pay later. And if we pay later, we pay interest.

Prof. I am starting to think you are not in fact a "conservative" at all. Sometimes you sound like one of those Anarchists who think governments should dissolve and everyone will provide their own local security and all that. Just because the government has environmental laws to protect our quality of life doesn't mean we have some oppressive, overbearing force in our lives.

Those pollution clean-up costs should be factored into the "low" cost of oil, making it in reality "higher."

Plus, what about 100 billion a year to protect Iraq. I think that is game, and is part of the costs of fossil fuels. Let's take a vote on it on this blog. We can also throw in foreign aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, or any of those nations. That's to secure oil, not to help "poor people."

What I'm arguing is that oil is underpriced as it is. And the price already seems high (you'll hear even Greenspan mention the threat of it to our economy)and these prices are going to get worse. We should start making the switch now so that by the year 2025 or so we can be ready. The people who manage our country should be doing this. All those fancy lobster dinners and 200 dollar haircuts they get aren't for nothing.

And also, the artic reserve oil is not enough to make a dent in the price or the supply. It's like taking another hit on the crake pipe when you are already high enough. I don't think we should be "white trash" enough to damage a valuable eco-system just to get a tiny bit of extra gas. I mean, when I get rich someday I want to go kayaking up there. I don't want it all trashed out so some plus-sized Americans can drive their SUVs to WalMart for an extra few years. That's at best a temporary solution.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

200.... I win. :)

11:33 AM  

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