• I have a theory that some constituencies send obnoxious blowhards to Congress because they see it as poking a stick in The Man’s eye.

    Like Senator Al Franken?

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 06:10:43View | Delete

    It’s also corps (“producers”) against “takers” (workers).

    That certainly isn’t how I view things.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 06:07:41View | Delete

    So taxes should be voluntary?

    No, I don’t believe they should be. I believe all citizens should pay some taxes. And collecting the taxes themselves is a taking of money, which, when viewed in isolation, is a morally problematic thing. After all, if I just walked up to you and took $1 out of your pocketbook, you would be upset, right? But, as in the previous example, if I then later handed you the keys to a sports car, you might not be so upset after all. With a great deal of taxation, I think the value that we receive outweighs the moral harm in taking money from people. But that moral harm is still there and it shouldn’t be dismissed. There are two moral dimensions to government charity – the taxation part and the donation part. That is all I’m trying to get across.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:56:58View | Delete

    I didn’t say there was no value to taxation. You are making up arguments that I didn’t make.

    If I take $1 from you and give you a sports car – you got a great deal out of it, but I have still taken $1 from you.

    That is qualitatively different than if you voluntarily hand over $1 and receive a sports car in return, with no middleman in between to do the taking and giving.

    That is the whole point. I didn’t say that taxes are bad. I’m not even necessarily complaining about the tax rates themselves. I’m talking about the physical act of collecting tax money from taxpayers, whatever the rate may be and whatever that money may be spent on.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:51:04View | Delete

    Margaret, I said that in many instances I would agree that the taking of tax money would be justified. I’d place national defense and a police department at the top of the list. It’s not about what the tax money is spent on. It is about the act of taxation itself. If I take money from you and give you an ice cream cone, I’ve still taken money from you even if you got an ice cream cone in return.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:40:29View | Delete

    Margaret, I agree that it takes taxation to do that stuff. It’s not really about what the taxes are used for. It is about the act of taxation itself. It is a taking of money from taxpayers no matter how you slice it. You may call it a justifiable taking, and in many instances I would agree with you. But it is still a taking. That is the point.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:27:26View | Delete

    The government doesn’t “take” food from anybody, the government/taxpayers pay for it.

    Fine – then government must first take tax revenue from taxpayers, and use that tax money to purchase food from producers. At some point along the way, government takes something of value from producers. That is the moral act.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:25:22View | Delete

    See, Margaret, this is what I don’t understand. I am sincerely not here to hijack any conversation. I’m discussing Objectivism because Rand Paul’s statement about health care and slavery, quoted in the main article. Is this not germane to the discussion? Perhaps I’m missing the point of the “Early Morning Swim” links. Was the real point of the Rand Paul link to provide an opening to mock and ridicule Rand Paul? If that is the case then yes I suppose I’ve “hijacked” the conversation because I don’t believe his comments deserve mockery, but open discussion instead.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:19:03View | Delete

    RevBev, no I’m not a doctor. I’m obviously not going to give out a lot of personal details about myself. I don’t have any more firsthand experience with doctors than anyone else, but I do happen to know, perhaps slightly more than most, about medical school.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:16:46View | Delete

    eCAHNonics, I have never claimed that moral arguments only ‘count’ for Objectivists. I think one of Rand’s big contributions to philosophy was a deeper understanding of the morality of charity. If government is going to give food to the needy – a moral act – it must first take food from the producers – another moral act. It is a two-dimensional moral landscape”. Now Objectivists tend to overempahsize that second part, but liberals in my experience tend to minimize or completely ignore the second part.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:06:36View | Delete

    econobuzz, do you know about medical school? About the residencies and the 100+ hour workweeks? If all I’m interested in is chasing dollars, that is not the way to do it. Do people here think that because doctors tend to have high salaries, that they chose that profession because of those salaries?

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 05:02:32View | Delete

    Esp since the opposite would seem to be more realistic. The cost of medical school works in the direction of increasing the # of docs in it for the money.

    Going to medical school with student loans (as is the typical case) means that one must take on a huge financial risk with no guarantee of a high-paying career at the end. A typical cost for medical school is in the neighborhood of $150,000. Plus, medical school is a pretty grueling task. If I’m solely interested in chasing dollars, then there are a lot better risk/reward scenarios – like maybe getting a much cheaper MBA and working at a financial firm.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 04:46:08View | Delete

    No one is forced to have any particular job. Actually, no one is forced to have any job at all. The only requirement is to have food to eat. If you want to do that by living like a hermit in the mountains and growing your own, I personally have no problem with that.

    The slavery argument is of course a moral one, not an economic one. If you coerce me, physically, to mow your lawn, then I am a slave, even if you do end up paying me afterwards. The payment does not mitigate the moral crime of slavery.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 04:40:56View | Delete

    I know for a fact that VA doctors aren’t in it for the money.

    Generally speaking, the medical school process tends to weed out those who are only in it for the money. Medical school is a pretty grueling experience and those that don’t really enjoy it won’t survive it. No doubt there are some doctors who only desire the large paychecks but they are probably in the minority.

  • GeneralPudding commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-05-12 04:36:25View | Delete

    I think their broader argument is that all govt control of everything is the moral equivalent of slavery, regardless of how it works out in practice. Slippery slope & all that.

    No, that’s not it. You may want to check out Atlas Shrugged. I’ve read it, and I don’t agree with all of Rand’s philosophy, but at least I think I understand Paul’s argument. The argument is that if you create a positive right (right to health care, right to food, etc.) which requires that someone be provided with some good or service, then the provider of that good or service is forced to provide it – either directly, or indirectly via coercion from government. And when one is forced to work for another against his/her will, that is a type of slavery. It is not really about “government control of everything”. It is about the nature of rights, and positive vs. negative rights.

  • 1. There will never be any system that is 100% free of fraud. I think we can both agree on that point. HOWEVER, to the extent that fraud increases, it has three detrimental effects: (1) it corrupts the result of an election, (2) it weakens trust in the system and (3) it invites other would-be fraudsters to commit fraud. All three weaken democracy overall because they turn elections into a sham. So there must be SOME voter identity verification system in place, whether or not it includes photo ID’s. (I never claimed that photo ID’s are absolutely essential, by the way.)

    2. There will always be someone for which the barrier to voting, no matter how low it may be, will be too high. Again I don’t think this is a particularly controversial observation. That is unfortunate but there really isn’t much we can do about it, except work to keep the barrier as low as reasonably possible. But the barrier can’t be SO low that fraud becomes rampant. (See #1.) So I am absolutely all in favor of getting as many eligible voters to the polls as possible. But I am not in favor of lowering the barrier to the point where voter fraud becomes a real problem.

    3. In these comments there have been a lot of assertions that claim “photo ID’s have been proven to be worthless for stopping voter fraud” or some such but virtually no evidence provided. Which isn’t surprising because even the experts have agreed that there isn’t much reliable data out there about the extent of the voter fraud problem or the best strategies for confronting it. (See the introduction to the Flanders article I cited above.) Saying the absence of prosecutions for voter fraud ‘proves’ that voter fraud doesn’t occur is not a valid conclusion; it would be like saying the lack of convictions for jaywalking ‘proves’ it doesn’t occur. Blitzgal @ 86 mentioned Van Hollen in Wisconsin; I’m not extremely familiar with what he did, but if he really did only find a handful of voter fraud cases, then it does not necessarily ‘prove’ that voter fraud doesn’t occur in Wisconsin.

    4. The case of the Indiana Secretary of State is rather incidental to this discussion over photo ID’s, because nobody claims that photo ID’s are the only way to stop voter fraud. So when you write:

    The statement that “the real reason for photo ID is to stop voter fraud” is an assertion and it is one that can be falsified. And it has been falsified. Repeatedly. The latest example being the IN Secretary of State indicted for voter fraud in the state with the toughest photo ID law in the nation.

    your conclusion does not falsify the assertion. It is certainly possible to commit voter fraud even with a tough photo ID requirement and that is apparently what this Secretary of State has done. Again, see #1 about there being no such thing as a completely fraud-free system.

    5. I did not claim that there was currently NO security at the polls.

    6. Furthermore it cannot be stated with any certainty that photo ID does not deter would-be fraudsters from committing fraud. Do you have any references for this claim?

    7. As for “meaningless security theater”: I don’t think poll security should be meaningless, but it does need to exist. Again there has to be a balance. If one questionably eligible voter is turned away, but the security systems inherent in the process encourage 2 other would-be voters to cast a vote, then it is a overall net positive. Would you agree?

    8. And I take exception to the idea that requiring photo ID would be “severely punishing all innocent voters” since photo ID is a de facto identity verification system RIGHT NOW for a whole host of activities that we conduct on a daily basis. It’s not like the government would be requiring voters to pass a test, or fill out a 10-page detailed questionnaire or anything. It is the exact same piece of ID that people use to fly on a plane, cash a check, buy alcohol, use a credit card at the store, etc. It’s not necessary to overdramatize the photo ID proposal.

    9. But the bottom line appears to be that you have started with the conclusion in mind, i.e., that Republicans want to suppress the vote, and then have worked backwards to ‘prove’ that photo ID’s are worthless at stopping voter fraud, so therefore you ‘conclude’ darkly that there must be this other, hidden, nefarious evil motive involved…. I think I have made plenty of legitimate, non-nefarious points as to why a strong voter identity verification system should be present. They aren’t mutually exclusive, either – it’s perfectly consistent to believe that Republicans are corrupt jerks and yet also to believe that vote security should be tightened.

  • Why do you think that the arbitrary restrictions that you mention in any way improve democracy?

    So are you arguing against the concept of voting precincts itself? I don’t understand your query. The idea behind voting precincts is to create a systematic smooth way to conduct an election, and to ensure that each person votes only once. I do kinda like that idea.

  • So I take it then that the prevailing view here is favorable towards Obama’s proposal, for potential government contractors to disclose their donations as a condition for receiving a contract. Despite what you may think about Steny Hoyer, are his concerns though not valid? Would it not lead to a potential situation where government contracts only go to those companies who are the best well connected politically? Isn’t there more than a whiff of a political “shakedown” here? It seems that this transparency initiative could unintentionally end up making the nexus between government and corporations even stronger.

  • For starters: I wouldn’t use electronic voting machines designed to be manipulated.
    I would use paper ballots and hand count immediately.

    Finally, after 112 comments, someone willing to answer my question on how to design a voter identity verification system from scratch!

    That seems odd to me that you would insist on the very old-fashioned paper ballot method. Is there something inherently wrong with using electronic devices? We use ATMs to get cash, and we have to input PIN numbers as our identity verification (that along with security cameras). We sign documents online using electronic signatures and electronic verifications of identity. Why not use these types of systems for voting?

  • But I get the distinct impression here that most will object to voter identity verification systems pushed by Republicans because of mistrust over Republicans’ intentions, even if the idea is a good one. That seems somewhat sad in my view.

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