Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Rights vs Yours

Many people think free health care is a right, because you supposedly need health care in order to survive, despite almost the entire history of the planet surviving for millennia with little more than an herbal supplement guru at hand.

So why stop there? If health care is a basic human right, then food should be as well. And not just food-all of our clothes. You NEED food and clothes in order to survive. They are basic, inalienable rights, such as the right to free health care. And not just food or clothing, but shelter. We all need free homes as well. But as we know, we need to sacrifice and do our share, which means we need to get to work. So we'll need cars for that. And gas, and car maintenance, and free registration and car washes and stereos.

Basically the only thing in life that shouldn't be universally free to everyone everywhere are comic books. For that, you're on your own.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rebuttal

In the spirit of open-mindedness, I watched the following video to get the other side's take on the healthcare debate:



There's so many things to say-for now I'll just tackle the first 50 seconds or so.

First, it's a fallacy to think that everyone needs insurance. I personally am on a high-deductible plan with my insurance, so I am almost someone who self-insures. There are plenty of people, though, who deliberately choose to not have health insurance. They save up their money and they pay for their health costs themselves. There are people in the world who can't afford big operations, though, definitely. That's why they invented payment plans. We couldn't pay for our c-section this year by just handing the hospital a $5000 dollar bill. We've had to make payments, which we do tax-free via our HSA account.

So this argument just becomes a moral argument, that because we need the fire department we also need health insurance.

I've heard this argument before. But there are few, if any people, who would argue that the government should not pave roads, establish laws, enforce justice, provide for the common defense, and put out fires. There are plenty who say it should not teach our children, pay our social security, run the only postal letter system in the country, give away money to NPR, PBS, the NEA, and so on etc.

If all the government did was pave roads, fight crime, kill terrorists, and put out fires, I'd be all for it. But health care is not more necessary than a paved road. Everyone uses roads. Not everyone uses health insurance. I also think that there's no reason private industry couldn't do these things and do them better than the government. If your house burns down and you don't have fire insurance, then too bad, you should have bought fire insurance.

'Free' health care is something liberals want conservatives to help pay for. So what if we wanted liberals to help pay for something we wanted, such as, say, shutting down and paving over abortion clinics. Would they be for it? It saves lives, and saving lives is a right. Right?

Search for Spock method of politics

There's a scene in Star Trek 3 wherein Kirk and Christopher Lloyd, who plays the Klingon bad guy, are negotiating. Kirk convinces CL to beam up the rest of the cast while the Genesis planet implodes, so everyone gets beamed up-McCoy, Sulu, Dead David, etc. Spock is left there and Kirk says "Hey, you should beam him up too." CL says "No!" "Why?" says Kirk. "Because you wish it!"

So there are a great many things I'll put up with simply because their very existence annoys liberals. I didn't mind Glen Beck until he had that recent massive coronary unhinged screaming moment at a caller on his radio show. I loved Sarah Palin until she resigned (which I completely understand, but from a personal perspective that puts her out of the running with me for prez. VP, sure, but prez, no). But liberals hate both with a fiery blue flame, and thus I support both with a fiery flame. Why? Because you do not wish it.

Probably seems petty, and it is, I guess, but I'd likely use the same logic to vote for Senator Buttars here in Utah. He seems like kind of a moron and says absolutely ridiculous things, but if Massachusetts can keep someone like Ted Kennedy in office for 40 years, we've got to be able to do the same, right? Even if it's just in the name of annoyance?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Layout change

Sorry, I had to change the format yet again-I couldn't stand the old one. I know this new one isn't me, either, but it's at least 3% better than the previous weirdness. I'm going to commit to a final (well, yeah, meaning final for about 2 months at least) update by Sunday night. I know you're all very excited, so try to contain yourselves if at all possible.

Genealogy

Any aunts/family on my Dad's side-I think most of us assume pretty strongly that almost any genealogy in the family has been done going back to about 4 BC. Is this an accurate assumption? Who is the family history expert?

Ponderables

In my latest Neal A. Maxwell book, EM talks about our relationship with God in an interesting way. He says (paraphrasing) "we are not here to build a relationship with God. This implies that we are somehow equals with God. Ours is not to build a relationship with God-we are here to serve and worship God."

I think that's absolutely true, but it's quite different from the standard LDS cultural thought on the subject which is to cultivate a relationship via your manner of prayers and studying.

However, I don't think Elder Maxwell necessarily meant that it is wrong to try to develop an understanding of God and cultivate a communication channel. By relationship I think he mostly means that our relationship with deity who has literally purchased us should be more formal and worshipful than relationship we have with earthly parents or other close family.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Legislative victory vs actual victory

The press talks a lot about political victories (at least when a Democrat is president). In this sense the $700 billion 'stimulus' spending was a 'victory' and Sotomayer getting on the supreme court was a 'victory' and the House passing the 'cap and trade' bill was a 'victory.' But is a victory getting your way or actually succeeding.

Edsel Ford successfully produced a car-a difficult thing to do and a true 'victory' for him personally. Was the car a success? If you get your way and everything you implement sucks, have you really succeeded? Not really.

History has a long memory, and if you can trace future problems back in a straight line to your administration, chances are you won't be thought of too well by posterity. Witness Jimmy Carter, LBJ, etc. Every president is popular for awhile-they have to be to get elected or re-elected. But when we reap the consequences of current legislation, will we be talking about what a victory we're enjoying?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wal-Mart

In response to a Twitter question today of "Why do people think Wal Mart is evil?"

1. Wal-Mart doesn't pay its workers health insurance below management level.
2. Wal-Mart doesn't allow its workers to unionize
3. Wal-Mart buys dirt-cheap products from China, some of which might be made in sweatshops.
4. Wal-Mart squeeze out Mom n' Pop stores, thus crushing the dreams and the lifework of the elderly and kittens and stuff.
5. Wal-Mart is shopped at by icky poor people, and that's icky

I'll take on the items one at a time.

1. So what? Did you really think you'd make your fortune working at Wal-Mart? If you don't like this arrangement, work for a store that will provide health insurance. No one is forcing you to work at Wal-Mart.
2. This is a very good thing. I wouldn't either. Unions are the devil incarnate. Just ask Ken Gladney.
3. Meh. They'll buy the least expensive thing, wherever that is. They can't control the conditions at the place that makes them. And if you're a worker in such a place and you don't like the working conditions, quit and work somewhere else. Again, no one's forcing you to work there.
4. If there was a demand for Mom n' Pop stores, they would still exist. Do you really want to buy all the things you can buy at Wal Mart by having to stop at 12 different stores all over town?
5. Wal-Mart has done more for the poor in this country than any government program ever has.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Done with school

Well, at least for the summer I am. It picks back up on 8/24/09. But until then I will be making the very most of my 2 weeks off. We'll be headed up to Bear Lake for a few days of solitude next weekend and after that, a 'staycation.' We might do a house project or two or three between now and then. My nomination: new interior doors here and there.

I have no idea if my political insights are in demand or not, but I've promised my wife a political vow of silence on Twitter. Thus, any political thoughts will be relegated to T.E.R. my blog that desperately needs its template fixed. That might be the first project of the coming 2-week break.

So here's a quick summary of where I stand on recent political events:

1. Sotomayer: A stupid pick. BHO could have put anyone in there. The choice was NEVER about who he could get in; with a supermajority in both the House & Senate Democrats could have put Bill Ayers on the supreme court. The real importance of the choice was hwo influential the justice would be. And a lightweight like Sotomayer who bases her decisions on 'empathy' and who frequently had her decisions overturned by higher courts will not influence justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas, & Roberts on anything. So it's a wasted choice. Who did she replace, again? Stevens, I think?

2. Health Care: I like my health care just fine and don't want it changed in any significant way. If anyone wants to change anything they can follow Bobby Jindal's advice here: http://tinyurl.com/m7u87f

3. Sarah Palin resigning: A very disappointing move but probably the best recourse for her personally. Unfortunately I'm not a Democrat and experience for the presidency does matter to me a lot more than personality & philosophy. If you don't have a lot of real-world experience running things then I don't want you running the country. Mitt Romney is only marginally better in this regard in that 4 years as governor is better than 2 but still not great.

I think that's all the major stuff. I'm sure I'll be chiming in more over the next 2 weeks. Might even get a few new original Paint artwork items posted.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Corporation

Finals week has arrived. I had a final last night, a final tonight, and just had to finish an extra credit essay on a ridiculous movie called "The Corporation" that one of my teachers forced us to watch. For your snarky pleasure, that essay is below.

In The Corporation, several communication strategies can be highlighted. The film comes in at approximately 2 and-a-half hours and is broken into several segments, each highlighting what is presented as an objective evil perpetrated by corporations. But because of its overwhelming theme, in which no dissenting opinion can get through without being marginalized, ridiculed, or dismissed, I’m concentrating on the hegemonic groupthink present in the presentation of the material, as well as the discursive closure strategies used to accomplish these goals.

In the film, the modern corporation represents the low point of human history; this was apparent by the time the 1:50 mark arrived and the film was comparing corporate practices with those of Nazis. For The Corporation film, the idea of ‘the corporation’ as a business entity is an object of abject abhorrence that completely dominates the entire film’s narrative. In this way the idea of any corporation anywhere as patently evil is taken as sacrosanct. It is the type of hegemony on display that is somewhat more difficult to define.

On the surface the film would seem to be more of a subtle form of hegemony in that it utilizes symbols (i.e. images and audio) to influence people and ‘move’ ideas in a direction different from the predominant viewpoint, namely that corporations, while not perfect, provide incomes and insurance to billions of people across the world and have contributed significantly to the modern conveniences that make life more efficient now than it ever has been before.

However, there is nothing subtle about The Corporation. Though no actual labor strike occurs and the viewer’s life is not inherently altered by the viewing of the film, it represents a form of speech that is nothing if not overt. By choosing the most extreme examples of corporate mistakes and misbehavior, the film makers present only the worst of the worst and the viewer with no additional frame of reference could come away from the movie with a significantly dim view of any corporation. If the film had been more intellectual honest in its approach they could have informed rather than engaged in what amounts to a 150-minute filibuster. They even managed to get a negative-sounding quote about corporations from Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, perhaps the greatest defender of capitalism and corporations the world has ever known.

Group think is present in several instances, although to catch it one would have to be aware that several of the film’s points mirror common talking points from anti-corporate groups and thinkers. But most examples come from the subtext. Why are there no voices allowed to make opposing viewpoints in this film without being marginalized, dismissed, or depicted as foolish?

For example, the expression of the opinion that corporations “transform people’s lives for the better,” it is delivered by a na├»ve-looking teenage boy in what appears to be a 1950s junior high educational film. While he delivers this opinion, cartoonish “Leave it to Beaver”-esque music plays in the background. The scene is cut off with a jarring cut wherein more anti-corporation talking heads arrive to override the previous opinion, putting into place disqualificative discursive closure to marginalize the offending thought, showing the audience that the dissenting opinion is one that can’t be taken seriously.

Given enough time, the film works through almost all types of discursive closure methods to deliver its singular message. Using neutralization, the film tells viewers that a corporation’s concern for stockholders does not qualify as a concern for society. Society in which stockholders apparently do not belong or participate, apparently. In a later scene about sweatshops the film states that corporations create wealth for poor countries but then criticizes the same corporations for sometimes relocating, taking their payrolls with them. In this case the film can’t decide if corporations are evil for enriching poor countries or are evil for ceasing to enrich poor countries. Either way the corporations’ ability to bring wealth to poor nations is rendered a non-issue; something best to not think about too much. This occurs again when discussing layoffs. Corporations are evil and no one should work for them, but corporations that lay people off destroy lives.

Throughout the film legitimation occurs constantly, when the film’s values are presented as the way things should be and as the standard by which all others should be measured. There is a counter-argument to the concept of ‘social accountability’ but in the film the fact that everyone should aspire to this is assumed as normal and uncontested the fact that the world is round. At other times, corporations are discussed to very clearly be ‘not a person.’ This is true-corporations are many people. This is lost on the filmmakers, to whom a corporation is a non-human golem, unthinking and unfeeling.

In the end, the film uses naturalization to make the case that corporations will change, they will come around to the filmmakers’ world view, and they will be fundamentally transformed whether they like it or not. All it takes is some social action and positive thinking. Ironically, however, the film fails to mention that the company distributing The Corporation is “Big Picture Media Corporation”-a corporation. Even more ironically, the inclusion of this fact actually would have conclusively proven their thesis.