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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Since When, America?


From a friend's Facebook post today:
Since when did wanting a society:

* that is as inclusive as possible
* that works effectively for all its members
* that provides opportunity equally regardless of accidents of birth
* that places the rights of people above the rights of corporations.
* that protects its resources for future generations
* that treats its citizens equally before the law
* that protects its most vulnerable members
* that cooperates in preference to dominating
* that values education and wisdom

become a "radical" idea?


Thanks, Doug.


3 comments:

Sevesteen said...

*Since when did wanting a society:

* that is as inclusive as possible

Should be as color-blind as possible--If you can do the job, your superficial features shouldn't matter. If you can't do the job, your superficial features shouldn't matter.

* that works effectively for all its members

Define works effectively? Some people need threats to remain in society, some people just can't.

* that provides opportunity equally regardless of accidents of birth

I was born with a certain intelligence, raised by parents who valued education a certain amount, with a certain work ethic, likely a certain tendency to abuse or avoid drugs or alcohol. Most of what I am is an accident of birth at some level. How much of this should an employer be able to consider?

* that places the rights of people above the rights of corporations.

Corporations are owned by people, at least some of those rights aren't lost by incorporating. I'm hungry--is that more important than Walmart's property rights to a box of kale?

* that protects its resources for future generations

How, and who decides? Vegans have a smaller environmental footprint than omnivores. Should that be enforced? How do we deal with an imperfect but improved use of resources, something that damages a little, but replaces something that damages more? Or damages very little under most circumstances but has potential for huge damages?

* that treats its citizens equally before the law

At one level, absolutely--but once again, equal treatment or equal outcomes?

* that cooperates in preference to dominating

Socialism is about dominating. Forced cooperation isn't cooperation, it is force.

* that values education and wisdom

Education should be effective. Not everyone is capable of the same level of education--I'm not capable of earning a doctorate in physics--and if you give me one, I'm no more wise or capable of doing physics. College graduates earn more, but that doesn't mean giving away college degrees or even college tuition will make all graduates earn more. We need to go back to a time when ordinary people could work their way through college through sacrifice and hard work, but also when hard work itself was valued even if it didn't require a degree. As college subsidies rise, so do college costs--and the extra cost isn't going to education or better teachers.

*...become a "radical" idea?

Central planning doesn't work for the majority of society. To think that Americans will do socialism better than all the other places that have tried it and failed is a radically misguided idea.

Mo Rage said...


Only you would, point by point, dismiss not just one but all of the above.

So yes, a society should be color-blind. Agreed. In our 400+ year history, we have been anything but and we still are, to this day.

"Some people need threats to remain in society"? Only the psychotic and we can deal with them.

Yes, anyone's being hungry--or impoverished or homeless, etc.--should be more important than Walmart's property rights to a box of kale... or whatever. That you have to ask means you would put a corporation and its existence for profits above a human's needs. Are you familiar with Christianity? At all? Or humanity? Or being humane? Or moral?

Who decides about our resources for generations? All of us. It's why we have government. They don't decide. Don't go there. We decide. That's what government is.

Equal treatment or equal outcomes? Honestly, it's not infrequent, you work at being difficult. You do it on purpose. It's true, equal treatment. Or as close to it as we can get and then we work to be closer, knowing perfection isn't possible with humans.

Don't pull that "central planning" crap with me. Don't. Just don't. I have never once, here or anywhere else, espoused any support or direction or calling for central planning. By saying that, you're either reading this wildly wrong or just throwing it out there in an attempt to have someone out here follow you down that rabbit hole. I'm no more suggesting central planning or anything like it than I am calling for Communism. You're not stupid. Give your "debate partner" respect enough to not call out things they don't put down. It insults me and degrades you and your argument.

Sevesteen said...

My dismissal isn't of the objective, it is how to get there, and how much force or coercion to use. There are degrees of threats. Not every thief is psychotic, and there are people who only refrain from theft because of the threat of punishment if they are caught. I don't think I'm psychotic, but my behavior in traffic is slightly better because I don't want a ticket. In a small, legitimate way I'm threatened into behaving better.

When the rights of those claiming to be hungry trump the rights of food suppliers, the suppliers lose any incentive to continue supplying, and eventually more people go hungry. When the short term needs of people who failed to plan trump the rights of people who plan for the future, fewer and fewer people plan ahead. Pragmatism is important, I'd rather see effective profit driven food distribution than ineffective altruistic distribution--and realistically those are the only options. For all its faults, Walmart is efficient in most things. (Glad I don't have to rely on them for produce though, most other grocers do a better job there)

As far as resources, it should be the people who own the resources--and that should rarely be government.

You may not use the words "planned economy", but when government controls access to resources, and government decides that hungry people have priority over the food owners, that is planned. And maybe we're not understanding each other yet again, maybe you are only talking theory but think that in the real world Walmart shouldn't be forced to give up their property rights when someone is hungry. I hope so, because all over the world free market economies beat planned economies--and if Walmart has to involuntarily give away food, that's at least partially a planned economy.

My grandfather was a poor Swedish immigrant to the US. In part because he was white, he had opportunities that equally poor minorities didn't have back then, he was able to provide a better life for my father...who in turn was able to provide more opportunities for me. I was taught to read very young--I was fluent enough to read the original Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner books (mostly text, not the Disney picture books) to myself when I was still young enough to enjoy them, and I read novels like William Saroyan's Human Comedy when I was in Kindergarten. I cannot overstate how valuable that has been--and the skills valuable to an employer I eventually gained as a result. At some level this is not fair to people who did not grow up as privileged as I...regardless of race. However employers should be allowed to be color blind, even when birth circumstances and past discrimination leave someone or even groups less prepared for a particular job. Is it discrimination when minorities score lower on a written employment test? Should a police force be required to lower standards for Black applicants? (a local court said yes) This is why I'm talking equal treatment vs equal opportunity. We need to work on the problems that leave a disproportionate number of minorities unprepared so this doesn't persist for more generations, but employers shouldn't have to shoulder the majority of the burden.