Thursday, August 16, 2007

50+ Things You Won't Learn From [Conservative] Talk Radio Part II

Continuing with my criticisms of Xofferson's "50+ Things You Won't Learn From Talk Radio"

36. When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. – Mother Teresa.

Another common flaw of leftist commentary is an implicit assumption that wealth exists per se, without a care for where it comes from or what effect the policy in question might have on that source. In particular, they seem to have difficulty with the idea that this wealth we have was created by a subset of us, and that the remainder of humanity relies on that. Whatever their reasons for doing so, that's the way it is. So it's best to keep in mind that we can't choose to give people the bare necessities they need (a position I support in many cases), before someone else chooses to create those necessities in the first place. They should be given far more gratitude for what they do give, rather than criticisms for what they do not.

42. Medical decisions should be between doctors and patients, not between big insurance companies and their accountants.

As long as the patients are not able to pay the doctors themselves, and rely on some third party instead, that third party is going to be involved in some of the medical decisions. Changing that third party from insurance companies (big or not) to the government doesn't change that. It just makes the government the insurance company.

And the simple fact with any insurance product is that cost controls are necessary both to control runaway costs on optional procedures, and to direct resources to areas where they might be more efficiently spent. Until we reach that miraculous day where we can afford to cover anything anyone wants, decisions are going to have to be made that may not jive 100% with the desires of doctors and patients.

43. Even people that I disagree with are innocent until proven guilty.

In courts, yes, as they should be. That is one of the principles that defines us as a society. But it does not apply to Joe citizen drawing his own opinion about legal cases. It is jurors, in that role, who must give the presumption of innocence. If someone decides they don't want to have dinner with OJ Simpson because they believe him to be a murderer, they are not violating any precept simply because the jury found OJ not guilty. We hold our government to a stricter standard than its citizens, as we should.

44. Being poor is not a character defect.

No, but then neither is having a prison record. But both very often are an indicator of the presence of certain character defects. We can recognize the advantages of birth that many have relative to others without being complete determinists and ignoring the fact that a lot of people in poor circumstances make a lot of bad decisions that keep them there.

45. You didn’t grow up rich in the suburbs because you’re so smart. (You were born on third base; that doesn’t mean you hit a triple.)

No, they are smart because they grew up rich in the suburbs. The fact that some people got a giant head start through nothing but dumb luck in choosing their parents doesn't make the head start unreal. The guy born on third base is really on third base, the same as the guy who hit the triple.

47. The greatest tragedy in mankind's history may be the hijacking of morality by fundamentalists.

Agreed. So stop helping them by cow towing to religious nonsense like this:

48. The poor go to heaven, too.

and instead concentrate on morality that is based on something a little more relevant than 2,000 year old scribblings like this:

49. In fact, it has been said that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Yeah, and that same quaint book of tales says: "Let a women learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent" right before it blames women for all the sin in the world [1 Tim 11-15]. So let's raise our moral standards a bit, shall we?

54. The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. -- Bertrand Russell.

No criticism of this, I just wanted to reproduce it because it says so much about the times in which we live.

67. Living in poverty is hard work. It’s not for the lazy.

Part of what keeps a lot of people in poverty is the idea that working harder, as opposed to smarter, is the way to live. The idea that there aren't a lot of lazy people out there, and that they would often end up poor as a result, is Pollyannish nonsense. One need not spend too much time in pawn shops, pool halls, and game rooms, to see the kinds of behavior that contribute to poverty. This is just the flip side of the problem with ignoring rich advantage. The fact that much of the disadvantages of poverty are inertial, doesn't make them not have real effects. The average IQs in the suburbs and the slums are different, and so are the work ethics.

I tell you guys, if this is the platform the Democrats think they are going to beat the Republicans with, you're in trouble. Religion Lite will get crushed by Religion Prime every time, because the fundies don't think you aren't goofy enough, and we atheists think you are all goofy. And with the Republicans taking the completely untenable position that in America, hard work and discipline make all the difference, why would you adopt the polar extreme position of birth advantage = life advantage? Some people are born into fucked up lives, and some people fuck up their lives. Get over it already. Because if you don't, you are doomed. There is no anti-Republican anti-war backlash to carry you in 2008.

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