Forced to vote Democrat: Christianity's Stranglehold on the Right
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29-10-2015, 08:22 PM
RE: Forced to vote Democrat: Christianity's Stranglehold on the Right
(29-10-2015 07:52 PM)RinChi Wrote:  
(29-10-2015 06:36 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Genuine question, though: can anyone actually give a brief, coherent definition of "small government" or "fiscal conservative"? They're popular slogans, to be sure, but absent any examples of actual policy positions... I have never in all my experience encountered anyone advocating government entities be unnecessarily large or wilfully profligate. So you end up with a vague enough slogan that it sounds good to nearly everyone (cf "freedom is the primary right", say) but the clarifications necessary to define it end up encompassing the whole variety of the human experience.

I summed it up briefly in an earlier post I believe, but I can try to explain it better, from my point of view at least.
To me the idea of "small government" is to have a government that serves it's function while refraining from interfering with individuals liberties as much as possible.

No, I get that.

But here's the thing: find me a single person who disagrees with it as a statement of principle. Every conceivable difference of opinion out there is already included in that "as possible"!

(29-10-2015 07:52 PM)RinChi Wrote:  Infrastructure, entitlements, public education, healthcare, national parks, and of course the enforcement of law are all things the government can do without infringing on individual's rights. I gave the example of the smoking laws in an earlier post, another great example is the EPA. Telling me that I can't build something on my own property because there's some Red Breasted Boobies or whatever nesting there and happen to be rare in the area, even though they are common elsewhere, I would argue is completely unnecessary and run contrary to the spirit of the country's constitution. But these kinds of things are all too common nowadays. So much money is wasted on these useless laws.

Is that not a textbook tragedy of the commons scenario?
(ie, the local environment affects more people than just you, ergo, the social consensus is that you do not have the freedom to act unilaterally to change that environment)

Where that level of oversight is going to fall depends on one's own feelings, to be sure, but the nuance is that while there must be a standard decided upon, there will invariably and necessarily be dissatisfaction with it, whatever it is, as an inherent consequence of the process and the continuum distribution of human opinion.

(29-10-2015 07:52 PM)RinChi Wrote:  Many conservatives will tell you that they want the government to all but disappear, not only is this unreasonable, It's counterproductive and even dangerous.

I just assume when people say that that they mean that it should disappear when it suits them.

(29-10-2015 07:52 PM)RinChi Wrote:  There are obvious reasons why a government is necessary. But there are also things that should be off limits to government in a secular, "free" country. Anything that attempts to influence your life choices, anything that regulates what you do with your own body, anything that tells you what to do with your own property, and especially anything that attempts to restrict free speech or expression. There are obvious caveats here, crime is still crime, your rights to any actions stop when they infringe on another human's to be physically safe and healthy.

Yes, but... "Obvious". For all that I think I mostly agree with you, that doesn't make it "obvious".

I think there is genuine, irreducible variation in our (and here I mean human beings in general) understanding of those concepts.

(29-10-2015 07:52 PM)RinChi Wrote:  But you need some real solid backing that something is doing harm to others to suspend any of these things, real harm, not just offending sensibilities, actual physical harm.

I could probably go on, but I think you get the gist.

Indeed.

I do think, however, that it is problematic to dismiss the moral impulses of others even if you don't share them. I don't have much of a purity ethic myself but it's nonetheless a real driver in others. Likewise the converse to someone whose wiring puts equality lower down the ladder than I do. That is not to say that the judgements proceeding from those impulses are not amenable to empirical discourse. Just that even given all the same facts people are simply not going to come to all the same conclusions.

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29-10-2015, 08:29 PM
RE: Forced to vote Democrat: Christianity's Stranglehold on the Right
(29-10-2015 08:17 PM)RinChi Wrote:  I guess we are going back to drug law, not only are they patronizing and insulting, essentially telling people that they don't know what's good for themselves, but they also don't work. They haven't decreased usage rates for adults or minors, they haven't decreased the supply on the streets, and they most certainly haven't lowered crime rates. In fact they have achieved the opposite effect in many cases.

Prohibition genuinely did lower alcohol consumption. It just had many and far worse side affects, as eventually recognised.

To be fair, we don't have the same before/after data for other drugs.

(29-10-2015 08:17 PM)RinChi Wrote:  The solution here isn't legislation, it's education. People aren't morons, of course some will screw up and destroy thier lives (just as they currently do with alcohol), but most wont. Most will learn and understand the risks of putting terrible shit into thier bodies and will avoid it. I don't understand why it's even an argument at this point, it's become nothing more that a sound byte, a shameless pander by politicians to the "family values"(another fallacy) nuts.

The only thing these laws have accomplished is the creation and expansion of huge criminal enterprise, just as it did with prohibition of alcohol no matter to what extent it was enforced, and the absolute stuffing to the gills of a newly minted private prison system with non-violent and possibly otherwise productive members of society. I'm all for learning from mistakes, as I think most rational people are, but for some reason we just don't learn this lesson. What do they say about the definition of insanity?...

Very valid points.

"Present laws are too strict and counterproductive" does not, however, get one to "therefore let us have no laws", which is what you said earlier. You may well have been speaking hyperbolically, I don't know.

(29-10-2015 08:17 PM)RinChi Wrote:  Personally at this point, I'm betting the insistence on having these laws has much more to do with the profitability of those prisons I mentioned than any public good.

A parallel issue when seen from a strict policy discussion, I think.
(albeit a genuine one)

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29-10-2015, 09:48 PM
RE: Forced to vote Democrat: Christianity's Stranglehold on the Right
(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  But here's the thing: find me a single person who disagrees with it as a statement of principle. Every conceivable difference of opinion out there is already included in that "as possible"!

Well, there are lots of people who disagree with it in principle, there are many who for example advocate public anti-swearing laws, this is decidedly not a physical harm to anyone. But I go on to be more specific, and will clarify further shortly.

(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Is that not a textbook tragedy of the commons scenario?
(ie, the local environment affects more people than just you, ergo, the social consensus is that you do not have the freedom to act unilaterally to change that environment)

Where that level of oversight is going to fall depends on one's own feelings, to be sure, but the nuance is that while there must be a standard decided upon, there will invariably and necessarily be dissatisfaction with it, whatever it is, as an inherent consequence of the process and the continuum distribution of human opinion.

The tragedy of commons is inevitably used here, and I should have anticipated and elaborated for it. Indeed it is true that some things will unavoidably harm those around you, and in the cases where that can be substantiated we should allow for regulation. But as long as we define harm properly as physical harm to a person's health, then opinions and feelings are irrelevant. A good example of this is resource extraction, like fracking. If it can be shown that this activity is harming the health of those around you, then regulation would be understandable. This is an area where many right wingers would call me a heretic, but so be it. I would also add that my hypothetical involving "endangered" species is most certainly NOT one of these cases. Perhaps another discussion.

(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Yes, but... "Obvious". For all that I think I mostly agree with you, that doesn't make it "obvious".

I think there is genuine, irreducible variation in our (and here I mean human beings in general) understanding of those concepts.

A fair enough criticism, maybe the assumption that the "obvious" is actually obvious was a poor one to make. As for the concepts, I would argue that there isn't much variation there at all. Laws either restrict those things, or they don't. Actions either harm others in a real and physical way, or they don't. Now whether someone wants to distort and twist those concepts to fit thier own private desires on how the country should be is another matter entirely, and this has traditionally been the problem. We have at several times throughout the country's history, suspended those principles in order to accommodate an individual's, or group's opinions about what they want them to apply to. They have done this through various means, money religion, favors, fear. It is exactly this to which we owe our current predicament, citizens united, the patriot act, american disabilities act, we could go on...

(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I do think, however, that it is problematic to dismiss the moral impulses of others even if you don't share them. I don't have much of a purity ethic myself but it's nonetheless a real driver in others. Likewise the converse to someone whose wiring puts equality lower down the ladder than I do. That is not to say that the judgements proceeding from those impulses are not amenable to empirical discourse. Just that even given all the same facts people are simply not going to come to all the same conclusions.

I agree 100%, one should never outright dismiss the moral impulses of others, and would not advocate such a position. However neither my opinions nor yours, nor anyone else's have any bearing on facts. The key is being objectively true to those facts and not letting self interests, or indeed, any other interests interfere with the process.

(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  "Present laws are too strict and counterproductive" does not, however, get one to "therefore let us have no laws", which is what you said earlier. You may well have been speaking hyperbolically, I don't know.

A semi-fair criticism here. The only laws concerning any substance that even remotely make sense are age requirement laws. If for no other reason than one should be obligated to give children an opportunity to learn the facts about substances before openly being allowed to choose to use them, and of course let them reach an age where they can competently make thier own decisions, which is certainly not the same age for all. I'm sure we could have a constructive conversation on what exactly that age should be, suffice to say, I am not 100% opposed this one case of regulation, though remain unconvinced of it's efficacy. Perhaps I should clarify on this point a bit better in the future.

(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A parallel issue when seen from a strict policy discussion, I think.
(albeit a genuine one)

I would only say that when you have modern, well paid, lobbyists with the influence they have today involved, there's no such thing as a parallel issue.

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A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence. -David Hume
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29-10-2015, 10:39 PM
RE: Forced to vote Democrat: Christianity's Stranglehold on the Right
In local elections back in Nevada, we actually had the option to vote "None of the above" rather than simply abstaining. I liked the fact that they recognized the need to have dissatisfaction with the available options included in the vote count.

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30-10-2015, 08:46 AM
RE: Forced to vote Democrat: Christianity's Stranglehold on the Right
(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  
(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  But here's the thing: find me a single person who disagrees with it as a statement of principle. Every conceivable difference of opinion out there is already included in that "as possible"!

Well, there are lots of people who disagree with it in principle...

Such as, though?

(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  ... there are many who for example advocate public anti-swearing laws, this is decidedly not a physical harm to anyone. But I go on to be more specific, and will clarify further shortly.

But that isn't disagreement in principle. It's merely defining the words slightly differently. To return to your phrasing, that's a disagreement on the proper function of government - I can certainly believe, say, that the government should have a greater role than you believe it should have while obviously nonetheless wishing it to do so as efficiently and non-intrusively as possible. That's why we can call it agreement in principle - it says nothing about agreement on the specifics!

That glosses over the definition of harm, but we'll get back to that.

(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  
(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Is that not a textbook tragedy of the commons scenario?
(ie, the local environment affects more people than just you, ergo, the social consensus is that you do not have the freedom to act unilaterally to change that environment)

Where that level of oversight is going to fall depends on one's own feelings, to be sure, but the nuance is that while there must be a standard decided upon, there will invariably and necessarily be dissatisfaction with it, whatever it is, as an inherent consequence of the process and the continuum distribution of human opinion.

The tragedy of commons is inevitably used here, and I should have anticipated and elaborated for it. Indeed it is true that some things will unavoidably harm those around you, and in the cases where that can be substantiated we should allow for regulation. But as long as we define harm properly as physical harm to a person's health, then opinions and feelings are irrelevant.

I do not think we can so easily and blithely define harm. A universal coherent definition is impossible.

Does social coercion constitute harm, for example? Does manipulation of opportunity? Hell, does a medical procedure entail any harm, no matter the net result might be positive? Does property damage constitute harm? How does one differentiate degrees of separation - say breaking my foot harms me, but does stealing my crutch count as harm, when it is still one step removed from direct physical interaction? Does defunding the medical system that would pay for that crutch count as harming me? Why or why not, to all of the above?

(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  A good example of this is resource extraction, like fracking. If it can be shown that this activity is harming the health of those around you, then regulation would be understandable. This is an area where many right wingers would call me a heretic, but so be it. I would also add that my hypothetical involving "endangered" species is most certainly NOT one of these cases. Perhaps another discussion.

Well, yes, but my point was that even working from the same premises and to the same values, there will be disagreement.

To be a little simplistic, extinction is nothing more than the sum total of local extirpations. And a species only becomes endangered if populations are unprotected in the first place! And that is, indeed, textbook tragedy of the commons. So, again, I do not think it is as simple as declaring an obvious line on what is as so many things are fundamentally a continuum sampling problem.

(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Yes, but... "Obvious". For all that I think I mostly agree with you, that doesn't make it "obvious".

I think there is genuine, irreducible variation in our (and here I mean human beings in general) understanding of those concepts.

A fair enough criticism, maybe the assumption that the "obvious" is actually obvious was a poor one to make. As for the concepts, I would argue that there isn't much variation there at all. Laws either restrict those things, or they don't. Actions either harm others in a real and physical way, or they don't.
[/quote]

Reductive binaries tend not to be useful analysis.
(see also: harm, definition of)

And of course, as you even mentioned before, many laws are far more nuanced. A tax break for environmental retrofitting is neither blanket restriction nor permission - it's an encouragement of certain behaviour a society has decided to favour.

(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  Now whether someone wants to distort and twist those concepts to fit thier own private desires on how the country should be is another matter entirely, and this has traditionally been the problem. We have at several times throughout the country's history, suspended those principles in order to accommodate an individual's, or group's opinions about what they want them to apply to. They have done this through various means, money religion, favors, fear. It is exactly this to which we owe our current predicament, citizens united, the patriot act, american disabilities act, we could go on...

It seems a tad presuppositional to say a priori that another's views are "distorted" or "twisted". You can't just treat your own values and opinions as a baseline. People are too diverse for that!

(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  
(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  I do think, however, that it is problematic to dismiss the moral impulses of others even if you don't share them. I don't have much of a purity ethic myself but it's nonetheless a real driver in others. Likewise the converse to someone whose wiring puts equality lower down the ladder than I do. That is not to say that the judgements proceeding from those impulses are not amenable to empirical discourse. Just that even given all the same facts people are simply not going to come to all the same conclusions.

I agree 100%, one should never outright dismiss the moral impulses of others, and would not advocate such a position. However neither my opinions nor yours, nor anyone else's have any bearing on facts. The key is being objectively true to those facts and not letting self interests, or indeed, any other interests interfere with the process.

Indeed, so far as it goes, but while facts are certainly objective, as soon as we start acting on them we bring a subjective lens to them. It may well be that certain regulations can be objectively show to lead to certain outcomes. But deciding which outcome we desire must come first, and that can't be anything but a subjective decision.

(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  
(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  "Present laws are too strict and counterproductive" does not, however, get one to "therefore let us have no laws", which is what you said earlier. You may well have been speaking hyperbolically, I don't know.

A semi-fair criticism here. The only laws concerning any substance that even remotely make sense are age requirement laws. If for no other reason than one should be obligated to give children an opportunity to learn the facts about substances before openly being allowed to choose to use them, and of course let them reach an age where they can competently make thier own decisions, which is certainly not the same age for all. I'm sure we could have a constructive conversation on what exactly that age should be, suffice to say, I am not 100% opposed this one case of regulation, though remain unconvinced of it's efficacy. Perhaps I should clarify on this point a bit better in the future.

I appreciate your reflection. But even granting that principle you must then also consider marketing and advertising as closely linked, to say nothing of various possible supervised underage use.
(or, say, collateral, in particular the immediately obvious case of smoking - second-hand smoke is genuinely and unequivocably harmful, so how does 'freedom' to smoke balance against 'freedom' not to be involuntarily exposed to unnecessary health risks?)

Too, if we take as given that some form of guaranteed healthcare is in place, what of an individual who privately uses drugs to the point of self-harm, thus necessitating a burden on everyone else to care for them? No act exists in isolation.

And notwithstanding the almost trivial point that content and labelling laws still apply to anything sold legally for human consumption in any case. Alcoholic products must state their alcohol content; where it is legal, marijuana products must (or are being strongly lobbied to) state their THC content.

(29-10-2015 09:48 PM)RinChi Wrote:  
(29-10-2015 08:29 PM)cjlr Wrote:  A parallel issue when seen from a strict policy discussion, I think.
(albeit a genuine one)

I would only say that when you have modern, well paid, lobbyists with the influence they have today involved, there's no such thing as a parallel issue.

Meh. I would still say that a discussion of idealised policy positions is parallel to a discussion of reforming present systems.

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