Wednesday, August 15, 2007

50+ Things You Won't Learn From [Conservative] Talk Radio (Part 1)

Xofferson at Dailykos posted an interesting list entitled "50+ Things You Won't Hear on Talk Radio", a parody of Charlie Sykes famous "50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School", and clearly aimed at conservative talk radio (or are they synonymous these days?). I agree with Xofferson's reaction to Sykes' list for the most part. I mean really, does anyone have to be told naked people look different in real life? But Xofferson's list has it's own problems, and since I've been picking on the right wingers a lot lately, I figure it's time to work on my Southpaw style for a while.

"2. Repetition doesn’t make anything right.

3. Ditto wishful thinking.

4. Ditto the size of your IQ."

There is still too much of a tendency on the left towards intellectual egalitarianism, at least among large populations, especially if there is any hint of a genetic component. I value Steve Pinker's views on this in The Blank Slate. As a consequence, the role of inherent intelligence in people's judgements is often ignored, and that is unfortunate. Whatever weaknesses in definition and interpretation, IQ scores still correlate very well with success in life, and should not be ignored. And yes, I know what he's getting at here, that we shouldn't trust people like Karl Rove, or Dick Cheney (or Joe Biden were Xofferson consistent across the political spectrum) just because they are smart, and he's right. Let's just not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

5. Size only matters if you’re insecure.

Oh yeah? Poll the women you know and get back with me. The overwhelming consensus I get is that there's a threshold minimum below which the entire process is near meaningless. From there, bigger is indeed better until reaching an upper threshold beyond which bigger is painful. Oh, and a minority of them like that last part. [shrug] Don't shoot the messenger.

6. Guns do kill people.

Guns wielded by people intending to kill people combine to kill a lot of people. Let's not replace one canard with another one. Guns make dangerous people more dangerous, and suicidal people more successful. But no one has produced quality data supporting the contention that guns make healthy, peaceful people anything but peaceful and healthy.

7. The rich get rich and the poor get poorer; it’s the Republican way.

Judged on a relative scale, it obviously depends on where you delineate "rich" and "poor". However, a relative scale has a tacit assumption of a rightful claim to wealth merely by existing, and that is highly debatable. This is also not how they are used in the argument above, which is more akin to saying the poor are getting objectively worse off, and blatantly false. The average person in America today has wealth and health care unimaginable to someone like Ben Franklin, who had neither penicillin, nor cars, telephones, or fresh fruit from around the world at his corner market. Should the wealth be distributed differently than it is? Perhaps, let's have that debate. Let's just do it more honestly.

9. People don't choose to be poor, any more than they choose to be gay.

People don't choose to be poor per se, true, but on a localized scale (ie comparing Parisian to Parisian, not Parisian to Ugandan) personal decisions have great influence on one's relative wealth. If there were no differences in rationality of decisions, convenience stores and storage units would be filled with rich people instead of poor ones.

Part II to follow...

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