A Philosopher's Blog

So Much For Civility…

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on January 20, 2011
Joseph Goebbels
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In the wake of the bloodshed in Arizona, many pundits and politicians decided to tone down their rhetoric and ring in a new era of civility. Members of congress, out of respect for Giffords, also made a point of calling for civility. This, not surprisingly, did not last very long.

Interestingly, the first return to the old way was taken by Democrat Steve Cohen and what an epic return it was. He was clearly not content to be merely a bit uncivil or a bit harsh. No, he went right for the Nazi comparison. By itself, that would have been a rather impressive return to incivility. But Cohen clearly wanted to make the first shot really count. He kicked it up another notch by taking a shot at Sarah Palin (or so I suspect) by tossing in a reference to blood libel. Then it brought it into the stratosphere with a Holocaust reference:

“They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels. You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it. Like blood libel. That’s the same kind of thing, blood libel. That’s the same kind of thing…The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it –believed it and you have the Holocaust.”

While rhetorical comparisons and hyperbole have a role in the political game, Cohens has acted wrongly. First, he seems to have lead the way back towards the old incivility. While I knew this was just a matter of time, I had hoped that the folks in congress would at least  have enough decency to wait until Giffords was out of the hospital before getting back into the old ways. I must admit that I did not think that the first move would include Nazis, Goebbels, blood libel and the Holocaust.

Second, his comparisons are extreme in their hyperbole and have no plausibilty. Even if the Republicans are misrepresenting the facts, they are clearly not comparable to Nazis. Even if they are lying, such alleged lies are not comparable to the blood libel. Also, even if the Republicans achieve their goal of repealing health care, this will not be anything remotely like the Holocaust. The lack of similarities reveals that Cohen was employing poor reasoning skills (his analogies are flawed) and his needless and counterproductive  hyperbole shows that his rhetoric was also lacking.

Third,  there is the ethical concern about using references to the Holocaust in an attempt to score rhetorical points on a political issue that is, in fact, not comparable to the Holocaust. This sort of comparison is, to say the least, lacking in decency and shows considerable disrespect for those who were victims of that horror.

While this seems unlikely to happen, I think that congress should pass a resolution calling on its members to forgo references to Nazis and the Holocaust unless they are 1)discussing what they watched on the History Channel or 2) actually discussing something that is, in fact, comparable to the Nazis and the Holocaust.

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52 Responses

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  1. Asur said, on January 20, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Two points.

    First, being rude is distinct from encouraging violence, and though both should be avoided, only the latter is worth public censure. Hence, calling for civil discourse is too broad; it’s difficult to ardently defend something without offending people on the other side of the issue, and it seems wrong to discourage ardent defense.

    Second, Cohen indeed speaks beyond the pale of reason. By characterizing opposition as a group that is a traditional enemy of America, his language becomes an implicit call to violence against them. This is a good example of where implicit approaches the explicit; all that’s needed here is to specifically say that the opposition are these things.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 21, 2011 at 11:48 am

      I agree with your first point. While I think people should not be rude, I think that people should be restrained from calling for wrongful acts of violence. I do recognize that there can legitimate disagreement over what counts as calling for violence and what separates wrongly violence from acceptable violence.

      • Asur said, on January 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

        I understand your disagreement with the second point; no sensible person would feel such language to justify violence against those spoken against, hence it doesn’t seem to be an implicit call to violence.

        However, this requires that the audience of language like Cohen’s be entirely comprised of sensible people.

        The knowledge that the above isn’t the case requires that we expand what constitutes an implicit call to violence; we must account for audiences of strong emotion coupled with weak judgment.

  2. erik said, on January 20, 2011 at 11:40 am

    We have every right to expect more of our elected representatives, whatever their religious heritage, than we expect of talk show hosts.

    • Asur said, on January 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Agreed; everyone knows that positions of leadership are positions of responsibility, but what seems to be forgotten or ignored is that such responsibility extends to the integrity and decorum with which it’s carried out.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

      True. They should at least make an effort to be professional and reasonable. It really isn’t that hard.

  3. T. J. Babson said, on January 20, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    There is some reason to expect that Obamacare will lead to a government takeover of healthcare in a decade or so.

    • Asur said, on January 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      Gee, imagine a healthcare system whose payment plans were calculated to cover its costs and break even rather than turn a profit.

      How terrifying! Surely such a thing will lead to increased payments and decreased coverage.

      • magus71 said, on January 23, 2011 at 12:03 am

        The whole no profit thing is a chimera.

        You must still pay the bureaucrats that will run the system. They make a profit by having a job. And it’s most likely a job that did not exist before the magical health coverage came into being.

        I mean, is the Postal Service non-profit? Actually, it’s a pretty good paying job by most considerations. Someone’s making money somewhere. This isn’t free.

    • Asur said, on January 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      I should point out, though, that PolitiFact has thoroughly debunked the idea that there is a “government takeover of healthcare” anywhere in the works.

      For all that he could have said it better by saying it differently, Cohen’s point that several of the GOP’s arguments (I’m included high-profile commentators) have no basis in fact — are, in other words, either products of the deranged or willful lies — is correct.

      Of course, maybe PolitiFact is in Obama’s pocket — just like the Pulitzer Prize commission that recognized it for thoroughness and objectivity.

      How deep does the conspiracy go?!

      • erik said, on January 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm

        How deep? As far as “inquirilng” minds can dig, apparently.

        And that depends, it would seem, on how many clips, taken out of context, from over more than half a decade of political life, can be found and strung together to construct the story “inquiring” minds want to hear.

        To paraphrase Homer Simpson: “Pfftt! [Pieces of] facts. You can use them to prove [distort] anything.”

      • WTP said, on January 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm

        Would that be the Pulitzer of which 2010 prize winner Kathleen Parker said “it’s only because I’m a conservative basher that I’m now recognized.”

        Or would it be the one that awarded a prize to this guy:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Duranty

        Of course, that was years ago. Unlike this Prize finalist:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kelley

        You can’t make this stuff up, you know…

        • erik said, on January 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm

          That’s not the same US Supreme Court of Plessy v Ferguson fame, is it?
          Dred Scott v Sanford?
          Roe v Wade?

          You can’t make this stuff up, you know.

          Just sayin’. . . I’m not certain it’s proves any point against PolitiFact– or its claims– to indict the commission that awarded them the Pulitzer simply because that group has been wrong on occasion.

  4. T. J. Babson said, on January 20, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Can we at least agree that the “public option” was sold to left leaning Democrats as a first step toward a single payer system?

    • Asur said, on January 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm

      I’d agree to that, TJ. I supported the public option because I saw it as a possible first step toward a single-payer system, which is something I’d like to see either in my lifetime or my kids’.

      • WTP said, on January 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm

        And a single-payer system is government-run health care. He who has the gold makes the rules. Dance around it all you want, invent philosophical concepts that allow you to believe what you want to believe. Perhaps put your faith in some power-point presentation put together by a bunch of “smart” guys with MBAs. But in the real world, where real people make real decisions that take place in real time with real consequences, single-payer means that the health care system is effectively run by the government.

        • Asur said, on January 21, 2011 at 12:48 am

          I’m not adverse to this. One of the reasons we have government is to, well, run things.

          Clearly, you consider government-run health care to be A Bad Thing; clearly, you must know something I don’t. Or, perhaps, you believe something that I don’t, such as that we do not control our government — for the record, I think we do, hence putting something under government control is equivalent to putting it under public control.

          Should we not determine how our own health is cared for?

          • WTP said, on January 21, 2011 at 9:08 am

            The purpose of government is to maintain order and settle disputes between aggrieved parties. It is not the purpose of government to “run things”.

            I apparently know quite a few things you don’t. I’ve seen government run things into the ground. It’s not that government possesses some sort of bad voodoo that prevents it from running things well, it’s that government is the ultimate monopoly. Monopolies do not allow for newer and/or better ways of doing things. Personal experience in the space program educated me on this more than any school book or philosopher could possibly understand.

            • erik said, on January 21, 2011 at 11:29 am

              Here are two things from Article I, Sec. 8 of our Constitution that I don’t believe come under the heading of “maintain[ing] order and settl[ing] disputes”:
              “To establish post-offices and post-roads: ”
              “to borrow money on the credit of the United States”

              Assuming regulation is an important part of maintaining order (i.e. regs should be established before the act of maintaining order is undertaken) it should be pointed out that much in the health care bill that is objected to by some is regulation. The argument seems to be ” At what point does “regulation of the health care industry” become “government control”.

              Let’s go to PolitiFact, an organizaton whose accuracy has been challenged because it won a Pulitzer and Pulitzers have occasionally been wrongly awarded (see 1/20/7:48 above for a rebuttal of that view).

              “One component that would have lent a small measure of credibility to Hurt’s claim — the public option — was stripped from health care legislation in the Senate.
              The public option would have required a government-run insurance program, which many conservatives said would have grown the government’s role.
              The other element of the plan that would increase government’s role in providing coverage is the expansion of Medicaid. Under the law, Medicaid is enlarged to cover anyone at or below 133 percent of poverty level, which would not include undocumented workers.
              The Congressional Budget Office estimates that will add 16 million new people to Medicaid on top of the roughly 60 million now in it.But that certainly doesn’t make it a “government takeover.

              “It does increase government regulation of the health insurance industry and public funding for health care for lower and middle income uninsured Americans,” said Timothy Jost, a health law professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law. “It does not create a government insurance program, however, and has little impact on health care delivery. ‘Government takeover’ is simply political rhetoric.”
              In summary, yes, government regulation of the existing system increases under the new legislation. More people will be insured. The government will create exchanges to provide coverage for Americans who have trouble getting it now. Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program for the poor, will be expanded.”

              And this:
              http://factcheck.org/2010/10/health-care-spin-again/

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

              That sounds like running things.

              I’ve seen private companies run things into the ground, too. Offhand, I’d say that private and public sectors both abound in suckiness.

            • Asur said, on January 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm

              “It’s not that government possesses some sort of bad voodoo that prevents it from running things well, it’s that government is the ultimate monopoly. Monopolies do not allow for newer and/or better ways of doing things.”

              Alright, what makes a monopoly dangerous? It’s that it no longer has to compete to sell its goods, hence if its goods are essential and the consumer cannot simply forgo them, there is no pressure for it to improve its product or to limit the price of its product to its actual value. I take this to be your point, and so far I agree with it.

              However, this is where a government monopoly differs from a corporate monopoly: a corporate monopoly answers only to its profits, whereas a government monopoly answers to the consumer because it is the consumer, through their elected representatives, that control the government.

              If the government runs things badly, we the people have the political power to effect change in how those things are run.

              Granted, our government suffers from a degree of corruption (lobbyists and pork legislation, I’m looking at you…) and to that degree our government has stopped being for and by the people, but that just means we need to mend the government, not give up on it.

            • WTP said, on January 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm

              Oh for crying out loud. A government monopoly differs greatly from a corporate monopoly (which I do not like either) in that the government has the power to increase their revenue stream by force without your consent, i.e. taxes. When dealing with a corporation, even a corporate monopoly, you have the choice of whether or not to buy the product. You control the revenue flow going to the company. You can choose not to use their services/products. And if you have the capacity to do so, you can go into business and break into that monopoly’s market. Governments do not do competition well.

              My point above that neither you, Asur, nor Mike seem to grasp is that if a private enterprise fails to meet the needs of its market, that enterprise (barring government intervention, a whole other issue) will go out of business. The people employed by that corporation will be out of jobs. There is considerable incentive in such an environment to keep the customer happy.

              “whereas a government monopoly answers to the consumer because it is the consumer, through their elected representatives, that control the government.” Maybe in your philosophical view, but not in reality. Even in a socialist democracy, the more government gets its fingers into different things, the more your control gets diluted. And if you think there are sufficient candidates out there who can understand all businesses well enough to say how they should be run, you are dreaming.

              With private enterprise and the easier it is for private enterprises to enter a free market, the more choices you have and the more demand is put on businesses to meet their customers needs. Businesses that fail to understand this stop being businesses.

            • Asur said, on January 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm

              “My point above that neither you, Asur, nor Mike seem to grasp is that if a private enterprise fails to meet the needs of its market, that enterprise…will go out of business.”

              This is missing a qualifier; it should read: “…if a private enterprise fails to sufficiently meet the needs of its market, that enterprise will go out of business.”

              There is an incentive for enterprise to cut every corner it can; doing so makes more money. What this means is that enterprise just tries to meet enough of your needs to get you to buy the product or service. This is why commercial health plans can and do refuse to cover pre-existing health problems — the pressures of profit margin will leave you out in the cold at every instance where it is not profitable to meet your needs.

              This doesn’t matter when we’re talking about the luxuries market, but when we’re talking about essential goods and services — the things we need to live and live well — not having our needs met causes us real harm and that is why for-profit business is not what we should rely on to meet those needs.

            • erik said, on January 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm

              “. . .if a private enterprise fails to meet the needs of its market”

              What were the insureds’ needs in the health insurance market prior to the new health care law?

              Health care costs that weren’t slowly threatening to bankrupt the country– health care consumer by health care consumer? Preventing people from being dropped from insurance when their health concerns threatened the insurance company’s bottom line? The ability to keep a child on one’s insurance policy until age 26? Not having to fear lifetime caps on insurance coverage so those with serious illnesses would not become impoverished and incapable of pursuing further care? The ability to get and keep insurance despite pre-existing conditions ?

              Back then, before the new health care plan, how many insurance policies sold outside the workplace answered all of the above needs? Any of the above? How many health insurance companies went out of business because they didn’t offer the above? My impression is that few failed and many reaped a financial bonanza, not necessarily because they met many of the above needs, but because the “market” in which they exist doesn’t really function for the benefit of the patient within a free market model.

              As I said, that’s my impression. Any facts that might lead me from that wayward thinking would be greatly appreciated.

            • WTP said, on January 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm

              “This is missing a qualifier; it should read: “…if a private enterprise fails to sufficiently meet the needs of its market…”
              This is a nit pick, but if it’s sufficient, it’s sufficient. How often have you gotten service “above and beyond” at the post office? Continuing…

              “There is an incentive for enterprise to cut every corner it can; doing so makes more money.” – Enterprises make money in many ways. Sometimes by cutting costs by doing things more efficiently, or in the case you state, cheaply. They also make money by expanding their market share by keeping their customers happier than other companies. This provides a disincentive to cheat the consumer. In regard to pre-existing conditions, as I said above, I agree. As do a significant number of those who oppose Obambacare or wth it’s called. The solution is not to cut out free enterprise, but to provide a framework under which it can best work out a solution.

              And also as I said above, a major factor in the problems we have today with health care/health insurance (and we really should be more specific about which is which when discussing the more general issues) is that the end consumer is cut out of the decision making process in purchasing the product. I have found this quote by Milton Friedman most instructive:

              “There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.”

              There is always an excuse when government looks to control businesses. It’s always “But this situation is different…”. All situations are different. I am not saying there is no role for government to ensure that people get what they reasonable believe that they are buying. And health insurance does have certain unique qualities about it that do require different rules. What I am objecting to, and what started this whole discussion about HC when the thread topic is supposed to be “Civility” was TJ’s post and your and Mike’s responses (as I’ve said before, I don’t read erik) in regard to single-payer, government run health care and more generally government’s role in society, i.e. “running things”.

              Sorry for the long post, but it’s to wide of a subject to be able to stay under 3 paragraphs.

            • erik said, on January 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm

              “(as I’ve said before, I don’t read erik) ” :)

              Too bad :(. Else you could have devoted another paragraph to defending your ill-founded attack on PolitiFact. And another paragraph to ‘expanding’ your stated understanding of the purpose of our government beyond the narrow confines of “maintain[ing] order and settl[ing] disputes”: And another to explaining more effectively your statement “And health insurance does have certain unique qualities about it that do require different rules” that I raised and expanded upon in my 6:05 post. Market-wise, health care ain’t peanut butter or denim jeans.

              Please note: “. . .what started this whole discussion about HC when the thread topic is supposed to be “Civility” was TJ’s post. . .” Dr. L quoted Cohen’s “They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels.” The quotation was in ITALICS.” That statement was at the core of the remainder of Mike’s piece.

              You miss a lot when you ignore this ‘troll’.

            • erik said, on January 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm

              :) Apologies for making a ‘bit’ of a stretch to defend TJ. But sometimes he can’t help himself. He needs kindness and understanding, not criticism. I just want him to know I’m there for him. . . :) What I’m saying is,there was no real call to bring up the fact that he sidetracked the original topic a bit.

              But we all seemed more than willing to follow him off the main topic, didn’t we?

            • Asur said, on January 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

              “But we all seemed more than willing to follow him off the main topic, didn’t we?”

              Absolutely. Socrates had a point when he said we must follow the argument wherever it leads.

              I’ve never understood that supposed bit of netiquette; threads run their course, but can still contain things worth exploring in the comments…why not explore?

            • Asur said, on January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

              “This is a nit pick, but if it’s sufficient, it’s sufficient.”

              I’m sorry, W, I should have been more clear; that wasn’t intended as a nit pick but instead as the segue into the next paragraph: ‘sufficient’ to garner your business, not necessarily ‘sufficient’ to meet your needs.

              I think the core of my distrust for business, the thing I can’t get over, is it seems to me that business has a conflict of interest when it comes to my best interest, a conflict of interest that the government doesn’t have: Business is inherently selfish, its looking after #1 and #1 isn’t me.

              In government, that’s Bad Government — that’s oppression, dictatorship, tyranny, get away with as much as you can government. Good Government, though, isn’t looking after itself, it’s looking after the people — and that means me, that means its looking after my best interest.

              I trust that more; that’s why I trust government more than business, and that’s why I think you should too.

            • erik said, on January 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm

              Asur:
              But you must understand that we are not living under “good government” rule. We’re a single vote removed from tyranny, oppression, what have you. Second Amendment solutions could be just around the corner. Release the dogs of civil war!

              Only if we get our house in order—cut out spending for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Title X Family Planning, the Ready to Learn TV Program, for example can we survive. Don’t quote me on this, but those cuts may get us less than one 1% toward our goal of good (aka small) government.

            • WTP said, on January 21, 2011 at 11:38 pm

              Well when I was speaking of picking a nit, I was speaking of myself there. So all’s well.

              “I think the core of my distrust for business, the thing I can’t get over, is it seems to me that business has a conflict of interest when it comes to my best interest, a conflict of interest that the government doesn’t have: Business is inherently selfish, its looking after #1 and #1 isn’t me.” – And government cares about you? As I pointed out above, business that doesn’t focus on the customer will cease to be a business. What is government’s incentive? It has powers way beyond what a business has. Bad business can be avoided. Bad government can’t. What business is capable of the tyranny and oppression that you fear? Tyranny and oppression are government features. Why do you think government is somehow more virtuous or less greedy. Both are made up of fallible humans.

              Let me quote Friedman again, as he says these things more clearly than I can:
              Economic freedom is an essential requisite for political freedom. By enabling people to cooperate with one another without coercion or central direction, it reduces the area over which political power is exercised. In addition, by dispersing power, the free market provides an offset to whatever concentration of political power may arise. The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny.

              A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it … gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

              The strongest argument for free enterprise is that it prevents anybody from having too much power. Whether that person is a government official, a trade union official, or a business executive. If forces them to put up or shut up. They either have to deliver the goods, produce something that people are willing to pay for, are willing to buy, or else they have to go into a different business.

              and lastly:
              The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the “rule of the game” and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.

            • erik said, on January 22, 2011 at 10:01 am

              “A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it … gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want.”
              So for those years before the health care reform bill was signed, insurance companies, through the free market, provided the people “what they want[ed]“.

              Health care costs that were slowly threatening to bankrupt the country– health care consumer by health care consumer. Dropping people from insurance coverage when their health concerns threatened the insurance company’s bottom line. Lifetime caps on insurance coverage ? Losing insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions?

              Sure. The free market was working just according to plan. That’s JUST what the people wanted. Why, before PPACA the populace was shouting from the rooftops (those who weren’t too ill to go to the roof, that is) “Give me less coverage for more money! I can’t wait to lose my life savings! It’s a seriously ill person’s dream come true!” Ah, for the good old days pre- PPACA.

            • erik said, on January 23, 2011 at 12:13 am

              “(as I’ve said before, I don’t read erik) ” :)

              Apologies for returning to the above statement—picking another nit, you might say. :)

              WTF: Are you certain, absolutely certain, that you wrote/said that you “don’t read erik”? Since 12/20/10 I’ve been counting on your actual promise : “this is definitely the last time I will respond to your presumptuous little argumentative blatherings”. . .My new policy is don’t feed the troll.”

              Everything I’ve found here about feeding the trolll refers to responding, not reading:

              http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1670713
              No mention of not reading posts. And that’s important. How am I to know if you’re not feeding me OR if you’re just ignoring legitimate points about your arguments that you simply can’t refute(likely)? :( I’ve gotten positive replies from time to time from those who apparently don’t consider themselves above “feed[ing] the troll”. Q: If “they” feed the troll, what does that say about your sense of where they exist on the food chain at A Philosopher’s Blog? You recognize the troll and they’re incapable of doing so? They enjoy playing with the troll, but you’re above that kind of thing? Hell, perhaps they don’t believe I’m trolling! Perhaps they can tell that, though I may have viewpoints that differ with theirs, I genuinely want to test the strengths of others’ claims. Sometimes that requires finding the weakest link in the claim. Sometimes it requires determining if a poster can be depended on to provide valid support for his point, however minor that point may be.( Note the exchange between Dr. L and me on 12/28 between 1:19 and 3:48).

              Anyway, when you thought you were outing me as a troll I replied: “I’ll promise to ask even more impertinent questions next time you make statements that you expect to be accepted simply because you’re WTP and I’m not. Why should you feel offended that I want some verification?” So , since then, I’ve been “blathering” on in replies to your posts, impertinently asking questions, pointing out weaknesses in your arguments. Living up to the letter of my promise. (see for ex. 1/21 9:28 and 1/21 9:47 )

              At least now you can write past me without playing silly games.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

          What would specifically be wrong with government based health care? After all, private health care insurance charges a great deal, refuses coverage for pre-existing conditions, and so on. As far as the magic of the private sector, I had hoped that the recent economic disaster would have slain that mythical beast. I am not saying that government is magic either-just that both sectors have problems and it is worth considering which would do a better job than the other in certain areas.

          • WTP said, on January 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm

            “What would specifically be wrong with government based health care? “- See my comment above. As for your concerns about pre-existing conditions and such, I agree. What I would like to see from government is create some form of standards, and not just one but multiple standards, which insurance companies could market to. I’m thinking of some sort of FDIC/USDA standards so that when people buy insurance (and actual people would have to buy insurance, see below) they could choose the level of coverage they want. If you want quality of life details down to the level of sexual functionality covered, well you pay for that. If all you are concerned about are the catastrophic situations like cancer or heart disease, then that is all you pay for. Companies would be free to offer plans that meet those standards or not.

            The best thing to do in my opinion, which would also violate many of my own principles, would be for government to forbid corporations from providing health insurance and force everyone to make their own decisions on what kind of insurance they need and pay for it accordingly.

            Note, the above is just crap off the top of my head and perhaps much of it would not work, but I’m just trying to clarify the extreme of zero government involvement vs. government run health care. But ultimately, no one is capable of solving this problem. The market needs to have the freedom to allow various options to play themselves out.

            “As far as the magic of the private sector, I had hoped that the recent economic disaster would have slain that mythical beast.” Even through all of this turmoil, goods still got to people. The “mythical beast” continues to function, and all things considered, function relatively well. Comparing private sector failure to government failure is like comparing the Detroit Lions to a bad semi-pro team. Not the best analogy, but hopefully you get the idea.

            • erik said, on January 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

              The problem with giving the market “the freedom to allow various options to play themselves out”:

              “Thre is, simply, no acceptable free market solution to healthcare. There’s only a free market solution if you’re willing to let lots of poor people get sick and die, which most of us aren’t” Kevin Drum, 1/18/2011 Mother Jones Feed.

              For the most obvious of reasons, it’s not like the free market weeding out good clothing stores from bad clothing stores or good PC makers from poor PC makers.

            • erik said, on January 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm

              I know where I stand on this, but, I have just a few questions?

              How do you think the private sector would have thrived without government intervention in late 2008 (It seems so long ago.) ? Can you say for certain that without the $700 billion dollars TARP plan of Paulson, Bush (the rhino no one called rhino until he tossed up a few failures), et al, the US and world economies would be where they are now? Or even that they would have survived?

              Can you say for certain that the Recovery Act, the money and the temporary government takeovers, didn’t prevent our economy from pllummeting even further into the abyss opened up by free market creations like mezzanine CDO’s?

          • magus71 said, on January 22, 2011 at 11:57 pm

            What would be “specifically” wrong with the government giving me everything for free?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

              Well, there is the matter that you can’t get something for nothing.

  5. Asur said, on January 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I found this piece shocking. I already know what democrats say about this, but could someone on the Right explain to me why this is tolerated, why people who give a public forum for this sort of thing still have jobs, not to mention massive popularity?

    http://www.thenation.com/article/157900/glenn-beck-targets-frances-fox-piven

    • T. J. Babson said, on January 23, 2011 at 1:28 am

      Asur, can you provide a link to what they are talking about as none is provided in the Nation article?

  6. Asur said, on January 23, 2011 at 3:04 am

    Keyword searches are turning up the official Beck articles and positions the Nation is attributing to him, here’s one:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,582097,00.html

    “The Blaze” comment pages are huge and annoying to sift through, but so far I’ve come across one fellow who thinks Piven should commit suicide, another saying “EXECUTE THE LOT of them ASAP!”, and then there’s “I will not sit quietly while my country is destroyed by these criminals. And I can shoot straight raggedy drawers or not!”.

    There’s also a lot of bizarre paranoia in the vein of “They [Piven et al] have Obama and he has the Army and he is just waiting to use it on anyone that interferes with his plan”. Although, at least one commentator seems to have some faith in the Army: “Only thing you can hope for is the Army turning on the government.”

    The Nation article doesn’t seem to be distorting anything.

    • WTP said, on January 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      Not that there aren’t plenty of crazy people on all political fronts, but in addition to TJ’s point, hate-hoaxing wouldn’t surprise me either. Brings to mind this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_Constantine#Noose_incident

      and this:

      http://isteve.blogspot.com/2004/12/kerri-f-dunn-sentenced-to-prison.html

      Interesting that the best link to that full story post-conviction I could find was on a blog, but here’s the CBS News link to the story, pre-conviction…

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/18/national/main607092.shtml

      and I recall hearing the story of her being convicted via a legitimate news source at the time.

      • WTP said, on January 23, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        Mike,
        Not sure if there’s a problem with you blog configuration on not, but as of now, 1:30PM 1/23, my comment above has “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” attached to the top of it. I can see the post from another machine, so I presume everyone else is able to read it.

        • WTP said, on January 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm

          Heh, that would of course be in reference to my post “on January 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm”

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm

          WordPress does seem to snag somethings as spam or hold them for review when they are actually legitimate comments. I make a point of checking to make sure things are not being held in limbo and, lo and behold, I found a few comments there. They should be up now.

    • T. J. Babson said, on January 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      Here’s another take. Piven calls for violence, Beck is opposed to violence. He calls her out on that. She wants to see riots like in Greece.

      http://pajamasmedia.com/tatler/2011/01/23/more-ring-larderism/

      Professor Piven wrote, and The Nation published, an article calling for violent, angry protest. In her piece in The Nation, Piven calls for:

      An effective movement of the unemployed [that] will have to look something like the strikes and riots that have spread across Greece in response to the austerity measures forced on the Greek government by the European Union,[Emphasis mine.]

      More:

      http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/01/028190.php

      Glenn Beck has pulled back the curtain on this disgraceful specimen by quoting her accurately. No one has identified any statements he has made about Piven that are incorrect, or claims that he has in any way threatened her. Unlike Piven, Beck is a staunch opponent of political violence.

      • Asur said, on January 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

        “Glenn Beck has pulled back the curtain on this disgraceful specimen by quoting her accurately. No one has identified any statements he has made about Piven that are incorrect, or claims that he has in any way threatened her. Unlike Piven, Beck is a staunch opponent of political violence.”

        I really don’t know what to say to this.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on January 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm

        Piven’s actual words do not seem to match the interpretation assigned to some of them. But, I am glad that Beck is against violence.

        People should be angry about the economic conditions and they should express that anger to their representatives. However, taking it to the street to bust stuff is generally not an effective way to solve problems.

  7. T. J. Babson said, on January 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

    “The Nation article doesn’t seem to be distorting anything.”

    Maybe not, but I’m always suspicious when an article attacks someone based on anonymous comments on their blog.

    • Asur said, on January 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      The trouble with the comments is that deranged views feed off of each other, so providing them with a forum spreads and amplifies them — and that’s setting aside the reason such views find Beck attractive.

  8. D. Forbes said, on April 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Those who ignore the failures of the past because it is in their best interest will surely recreate those failures for their own benefit in the future


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