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Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits. --Mark Twain
A friend of mine was recently in a "facebook war." All these people she went to school with were up in arms about various "programs" foisted on us by our spendthrift gubmit.
Yet one of the loudest shouters had a kid who had a heart transplant, most of it paid on the public dime. She had a daughter with an illegitimate kid, both of whom were on welfare. Another person who was shouting about "those big leeches on society" was on disability herself.
When challenged, they explained in loving detail how special and different their own special circumstances were, and how that was what the programs were for... not "leeches on society."
The difference, of course, is that we know "them" (the "leeches") as stereotypes, not individuals with individual circumstances. One man's reason is the other man's excuse.
Right here on this forum I have observed people who lament our budget crisis and the terrible intervention of the gubmit that led to social security... yet insist that they, personally, get every dime SS promised (even though the "promise" always comes with a caveat.) Now don't get me wrong, I think SS is a very, very good program, and that person should get every dime. My point is, the special and different circumstances we each accord ourselves vanish when we think about the "other guy."
I also take as a given that we are all subject to the hypocritical instinct alluded to in the Twain quote.
What would we change that does not depend on demonization of the other? For example, what changes are needed on behalf of this class or that class, immigrants, etc. -- what is most needed, what will work best -- without regard to the personal demonization of this or that group of people?
I'll drop in an example: every rich person is not "the monopoly guy", for purposes of this thread ...
Every person who is unemployed is not lazy or stupid or deserving of being unemployed...
Every immigrant is not undocumented, and every undocumented immigrant is not a habitual violent criminal (sneaking over the border is often cited as their "criminal" behavior, but that's a far cry from crack-dealing and gang-banging.)
Every person receiving one or another form of public assistance is not lounging around a luxurious penthouse watching (my favorite new meme on this subject,) "a wide-screen tv."
Dig a little deeper and you find the majority of the rich are just guys happy that they "made it," not Leona Helmsley clones; the great majority of the unemployed would rather have a steady decent-paying job than anything else in life; the majority of immigrants are legal; the majority of undocumented immigrants just want to work hard and make it; the majority of people "sitting around watching a wide-screen TV" are renting it for 37 bucks a month and are looking over their shoulder for the re-po man.
There's a whole branch of social sciences devoted to people's mass behavior in economic decision-making. What people do, to put it simply, is not what they should do, for the best distribution of good outcomes. We do not act rationally. So since we know how great masses of people behave, should we concern ourselves with getting best outcomes, when the stakes are high, or should we concern ourselves that "other people's habits" be allowed to flourish, and then condemn them?
Open discussion. The more "TL; dr" posts the better. I'm sick of the bumper sticker slogans. If you have a thought, please explain in a way that someone who disagrees will understand.
And just for this thread -- just here -- I am going to try really hard not to respond with put-downs either.
I'd love to do this thread in serious/respectful mode, regardless of everybody's behavior elsewhere. I'm going into it acknowledging that all of us do the hypocritical thing. Now let's think through our various positions, but without gnawing away at "other people's habits."
The other thing: let's think about the question of whether government has a role, when all our facts say we will get a certain outcome at the mass level, yet the better outcome has to come at the cost of government, rather than personal, action.
Since this is just a more scientifically accurate "reforming of other people's habits," is this too an overreach? How about if government has to pick up the tab when "other people's habits" can be easily and accurately predicted to create a need for government intervention?
I look forward to the thoughtful comments that will follow.
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IMO this society has become so polarized, there is little effort at reconciliation, instead we rely of instant reaction. Have contended all along that the way news is presented and cycled over and over again, has a deleterious effect on society.
Take for example the Solyndra Case, the assumption was that Obama gave this company millions of dollars in exchange for campaign contributions, and then the company went belly up.. so that made all the right wing blogs and subsequent hysteria ensued.
The reality is that the Solyndra Loans were initiated during the Bush Regime, and there was an attempt to conditionally approve the loan prior to Obama being inaugarated. In July 2005 the Bush Administration signs the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law, creating the 1703 loan guarantee program.
Solyndra is a tiny fraction of DOE's green-energy loan program, and Solyndra's loan guarantees are dwarfed by those of both fossil fuel and nuclear companies, which range into the multiple billions. There was no scandal in the loan process, and there's nothing unusual about having a certain fraction of speculative programs like this fail. It's all part of the way the free market works.
Also what they fail to mention is that Solyndra contributed to both parties, more to Democrats.. but look at where they are located. President Barack Obama, the No. 1 beneficiary of campaign cash from Solyndra's employees, received $2,800. Of this amount, $2,300 came from Ben Bierman, Solyndra's executive vice president of engineering, with $1,300 coming during Obama's 2008 presidential bid and $1,000 being given to Obama in June. A paltry sum in today's politics.. the second leading recipient was a Republican, Peter Shiff, and he got $2,400... none of these sums are overwhelming and buy much influence by today's standards.
Without regard the same lies are told over and over and over again, and become synonymous with some wrong doing or some type of corruption.. while in reality they are not, but someone wants them to be something other than what it is.
As long as this contentious process continues, and people do not think for themselves we will continue to be polarized and not much will be accomplished. The secret is looking for the hard answers and not relying on what others say sans investigation or thought.
Thoughts of Y2K and the 2012 Apocalypse come to mind when i begin to poder (however slightly) this subject. The amount of hysteria and maleability a group is, the more likely they are to be fat and happy (comparatively) and overly concerned with what everyone else is doing. It happened with prohibition, the "War on drugs", and the so-called Moral Majority (sic).
The current condition we find ourselves in- the anti-intellectualism and 'fiscal responsibility" mythology that is overflowing from the septic regions of American society (yes, I'm talking about you, Alabama)- is yet another example of this. What Americans call "suffering" most of the rest of the planet refer to as Nirvanah. We keep forgetting how well off we ALL are. Because of that disability of myopia, we just get bored to stupidity. I remember years ago, before the kids arrived, my wife and I were on vacation in St. Thomas with two other couples we had been very close to. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but despite the fact that we were being catered to like royalty, had tons of money and some kick-azz chronic, we spent too much of our time snipping, argueing about what to do, and near the end, couldn't wait to get it over with. When we went back, we went alone.
Trouble with a big society like we have in America, is thatwe're stuck together. Fortunately, these things pass. Unfortunately, the legacy of our actions during these periods of "boredom" are often long-lasting. We have the results of Prohibition still in existence in the form of organized crime. We have the continued persecution of people who grow and/or smoke pot from the War on Drugs. I am worried about the fallout from our current phase of boredom.
If you could learn to express your thoughts in 1 or 2 paragraphs, perhaps more of us would be inclined to comment.
You do realize very few of us want to read 10-20 paragraph posts, don't you?
Haven't you noticed that you're the only member who posts novels PFiVA? Believe it or not, we don't view your posts as "More interesting" than any other member's.
sorry for my long post....
Well, I suppose your recourse is to insist on a forum rule limiting the length of posts.
As it happens, I spend a great deal of my professional life not only making my own work briefer and less convoluted, but also doing the same for others.
Here, I enjoy the freedom to explore each aspect of a topic. I do accept that you have the right to your opinion of how I post. It is not, however, the subject of the thread, so please refrain from other attempts to hijack.
I made the poster the subject just in case he thought we enjoyed his novels...we don't.
I am not the only member who has given PFiVA hints...
End of story.
What...you got a mouse in your pocket? Who's "we"? You don't speak for me. I enjoy PFiV's posts. They're thoughtful, thorough, and...other stuff....I generally appreciate writing by someone who does it better than me...I mean "I".
I think the dumming-down of discourse in this society is part of the problem. I appreciate his effort, intelligence, style, and resistance to the urge everyone has to shoot off their mouth without backing it up.
You might want to wallow in a forum of ignorant soundbites, jingoisms, and hit-and-run crap, but not me. It's called reading, and if you don't like it, don't read it. No reason to throw out useless jabs that demonstrate that you didn't read the post. You do realize that it only reveals that you're either unable to understand what PFiV's posting or that you don't have the attention span to get through a detailed and thorough remark, right?
Your reaction is wierd and not like you. What's your problem? I know we're all pissed-off about last night, but damn!