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The Last Thing We Need Now is a Great Leader
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Author Topic: The Last Thing We Need Now is a Great Leader  (Read 15568 times)
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« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2008, 20:42:50 EDT »

First he makes a point about the relationship of intelligence to the job:
Quote from: Penn Jillette
The idea, especially from the Democrats that I know, is, we just get a smarter guy in the White House, and all the problems will go away. We'll have smart speeches, smart high gas prices, smart bad economy, smart war on terrorism, smart war on drugs, smart hurricanes, smart global warming, smart war in Georgia -- smart, smart, smart.
The point he is making here is valid.  A smart president can make smart speechs.  There is though little he can do about gas prices, that is really beyond his control.  The economy is similar, there is scant evidence that economies can be "managed" in any way except to create temporary booms and busts.  The war on terrorism and the war of drugs are similarly non-sensical, for reasons I think folks around here recognise.  Perhaps the President can do something about the last three, though there is probably not much.  The point is that most of the problems the US faces are not ones the President is really in a position to solve.

See, this just reads off to me as an attempt at caricature, that ends up being straw man instead. A smart president can politic. A stupid president gets politiced. A smart president can look at a bill and, with advisers, make assessments as to the effects. A smart president can encourage healthy debate and change their mind from time to time. A smart president knows his power and what constitutes a violation of that.

Dubya, clearly doesn't. He oversteps his bounds every time. It's not so much of "give him an inch and he'll take a mile", more "refuse him even his inch, and he'll find a way to steal the mile and cover it up, badly". I don't know why asking for a stupid president could be considered a good move.
I agree with you there.

As Jersey says what is needed is some wisdom.
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Blue Boy from Red Country
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« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2008, 18:41:37 EDT »

Quote
I don't want anyone as president who promises to take care of me. I may be stupid, but I want a chance to try to be a grown-up and take care of my family. Freedom means the freedom to be stupid, and that's what I want. I don't want anyone to feel my pain or tell me to ask what we can do for our country, or give us all money and take care of us.

It's easy enough to say something like this when one's life is relatively orderly and secure; for many people, that's not they case - they want someone whose willing to help them. It isn't about being a father figure but rather a good neighbor; something the government has to do because the average citizen is often either not willing or able to.
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jerseycajun
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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2008, 20:11:30 EDT »

Quote
I don't want anyone as president who promises to take care of me. I may be stupid, but I want a chance to try to be a grown-up and take care of my family. Freedom means the freedom to be stupid, and that's what I want. I don't want anyone to feel my pain or tell me to ask what we can do for our country, or give us all money and take care of us.

It's easy enough to say something like this when one's life is relatively orderly and secure; for many people, that's not they case - they want someone whose willing to help them. It isn't about being a father figure but rather a good neighbor; something the government has to do because the average citizen is often either not willing or able to.

Our expectations have changed in many ways to expect that this is the role of government.  Moral hazard: when someone offers you a guaranteed fail safe, your behavior patterns change, and so do your expectations and what others expect of you.
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"If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?" — Frederic Bastiat - from The Law

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."  -  George Washington

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all." - Frederic Bastiat - The Law
Medivh
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2008, 21:18:34 EDT »

This is the whole "private charities should be doing that" thing, yeah? Never minding that private charities are currently overstretched? Because it's pretty much "government help", "private charity help" or "people dying in the streets". And considering we're using a mix of 1 and 2, and 2 is over capacity, taking out 1 seems like a really bad idea, yeah?
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
Blue Boy from Red Country
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« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2008, 22:08:04 EDT »

Our expectations have changed in many ways to expect that this is the role of government.  Moral hazard: when someone offers you a guaranteed fail safe, your behavior patterns change, and so do your expectations and what others expect of you.

These expectations can be considered a natural part of the evolution of society, going all the way back to when common people started to question why nobility had all of the power and wealth... The idea that we should all be working together for the sake of each individual in a society instead of simply supporting the existing social structures also plays into these expectations.

Granted, I'd much rather see more direct means of aiding the poor, but given that most charities are influenced heavily by religious or political beliefs and tend to rely on volunteer work, they themselves wouldn't be adequate to ensure their was a basic safety net for all.

Yes, I'm well aware of the moral hazard. I've seen it first hand with those who milk the welfare system; but that's more due to the fact nothing was ever expected of these people in return for the support... sounds a bit like a chicken-and-the-egg problem, doesn't it?
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jerseycajun
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« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2008, 22:13:04 EDT »

This is the whole "private charities should be doing that" thing, yeah? Never minding that private charities are currently overstretched? Because it's pretty much "government help", "private charity help" or "people dying in the streets". And considering we're using a mix of 1 and 2, and 2 is over capacity, taking out 1 seems like a really bad idea, yeah?

Private charities is only one alternative.  People getting involved personally in their communities is another, offering their time, talent and material goods as deemed necessary and according to how much they feel they can give, and in what way.  Giving when you aren't obligated to do so engenders more mutual respect and genuine gratitude.

You didn't address the issue of moral hazard.  Do you believe it doesn't exist?  That behavior patterns aren't significantly changed through government programs, given enough time?
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"If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?" — Frederic Bastiat - from The Law

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."  -  George Washington

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all." - Frederic Bastiat - The Law
jerseycajun
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« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2008, 22:40:49 EDT »

Our expectations have changed in many ways to expect that this is the role of government.  Moral hazard: when someone offers you a guaranteed fail safe, your behavior patterns change, and so do your expectations and what others expect of you.

These expectations can be considered a natural part of the evolution of society, going all the way back to when common people started to question why nobility had all of the power and wealth... The idea that we should all be working together for the sake of each individual in a society instead of simply supporting the existing social structures also plays into these expectations.

Granted, I'd much rather see more direct means of aiding the poor, but given that most charities are influenced heavily by religious or political beliefs and tend to rely on volunteer work, they themselves wouldn't be adequate to ensure their was a basic safety net for all.

Yes, I'm well aware of the moral hazard. I've seen it first hand with those who milk the welfare system; but that's more due to the fact nothing was ever expected of these people in return for the support... sounds a bit like a chicken-and-the-egg problem, doesn't it?

I don't consider government to be very much a natural entity.  It may be an inevitable one, but strictly speaking, it's a structure of human imagination, whereas liberty is an observation of a human characteristic, when violated it generates friction between the artificial structure and the individual, to varying degrees.

A little bit deeper than chicken and egg, I think.  One may set requirements for receiving aid, such as showing a certain number of job applications per month, holding a job for a predetermined period of time, etc, but to those who are not graced with a lot of initiative, will only do the bare minimum.  The content of an individual's character cannot be judged by filling out a form.  If I give aid to someone and gratitude alone is not enough to motivate him to do more than the bare minimum to improve his situation, when he returns for more I can still turn him down in the hope that if nothing else, hunger will motivate him to improve his situation, and I can choose to help the next person instead, who may take my aid, build upon it, and then turn around and help the next person.  I can see better than a form which person is which, and where the aid will have more impact.

If society is evolving towards a system where the ratio between community aid and government aid drops, we are indeed headed for a cliff.  Whether it's corporate aid, or bailing out homeowners who bought well beyond their means, voluntary aid is the glue which holds communities together, shrinks bigotry and enmity, and provides the kind of strength politicians promise from their soapboxes, but have no clue as to what it means, let alone how to provide it.
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"If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?" — Frederic Bastiat - from The Law

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."  -  George Washington

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all." - Frederic Bastiat - The Law
wodan46
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« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2008, 23:26:38 EDT »

I don't consider government to be very much a natural entity.  It may be an inevitable one, but strictly speaking, it's a structure of human imagination, whereas liberty is an observation of a human characteristic, when violated it generates friction between the artificial structure and the individual, to varying degrees.
People seek to attain goals.  In order to obtain those goals, it is optimal for people to cooperate.  In order to cooperate effectively, a framework must be established.  This framework is the government.

A little bit deeper than chicken and egg, I think.  One may set requirements for receiving aid, such as showing a certain number of job applications per month, holding a job for a predetermined period of time, etc, but to those who are not graced with a lot of initiative, will only do the bare minimum.  The content of an individual's character cannot be judged by filling out a form.  If I give aid to someone and gratitude alone is not enough to motivate him to do more than the bare minimum to improve his situation, when he returns for more I can still turn him down in the hope that if nothing else, hunger will motivate him to improve his situation, and I can choose to help the next person instead, who may take my aid, build upon it, and then turn around and help the next person.  I can see better than a form which person is which, and where the aid will have more impact.
You think because a person is hungry, they magically get educated, healthy, and otherwise able to get a job?  They also lose any drug addictions and mental disorders they got as a result of their poverty?

Also, I'd rather have people be inefficient because they are lazy than because they are unhealthy, ignorant, and miserable.  Neither is doing work, but at least one is happy.

If society is evolving towards a system where the ratio between community aid and government aid drops, we are indeed headed for a cliff.  Whether it's corporate aid, or bailing out homeowners who bought well beyond their means, voluntary aid is the glue which holds communities together, shrinks bigotry and enmity, and provides the kind of strength politicians promise from their soapboxes, but have no clue as to what it means, let alone how to provide it.
Voluntary aid is not as common as you describe, and is leagues behind government aid.  More importantly, when do rich communities help poor communities?  It is the poor communities that are recursive disaster zones, they need outside help, and they can't get it from within their community.
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The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".
Medivh
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« Reply #23 on: September 26, 2008, 00:26:59 EDT »

This is the whole "private charities should be doing that" thing, yeah? Never minding that private charities are currently overstretched? Because it's pretty much "government help", "private charity help" or "people dying in the streets". And considering we're using a mix of 1 and 2, and 2 is over capacity, taking out 1 seems like a really bad idea, yeah?

Private charities is only one alternative.  People getting involved personally in their communities is another, offering their time, talent and material goods as deemed necessary and according to how much they feel they can give, and in what way.  Giving when you aren't obligated to do so engenders more mutual respect and genuine gratitude.

This is even worse than private charities. Let me modify the quoted post to take in the new information.
Potentialities:
1) Government help
2) Private charitable organisation providing similar to 1)
3) Private personal charity providing same as 2)
4) People dying cold and hungry

1), 2) and 3) currently happen. 2) is overstretched, and 3) can't be enforced or expanded. Therefore, removing 1) causes more of 4).

You didn't address the issue of moral hazard.  Do you believe it doesn't exist?  That behavior patterns aren't significantly changed through government programs, given enough time?

I think that, done correctly, the moral hazard of governmental assistance is the least possible for the given issue. I think that people will and do sidestep people who ask them for help, and not solely because the government offers it. Beggars have existed since society began, and they've had a lot of trouble well before there was government assistance. They have less trouble now, through 2), as 3) hasn't expanded per capita since then either.

The problems you see are a select few gaming the system. They were never going to fit in with society anyway. Isn't it more of a moral hazard to leave them dying, just because they're a minor drain? If not, do I get to shoot the executives of Enron, AIG, major banks? They're a much bigger drain on society than any cadre of people on government assistance.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
wodan46
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« Reply #24 on: September 26, 2008, 00:54:30 EDT »

Exactly.

The image of 10s of millions of Americans receiving welfare and being unemployed under a socialized system is an illusion with little basis in fact and lots of presumptions.  However, that 10s of millions of Americans having their potential ability constrained because they are unhealthy, uneducated, or lack the financial power to do anything more than survive to the next day, is NOT an illusion.  It is quite real, a product of our society, and it should be dealt with.

The number of people who would be freeloaders under welfare are small, and the amount of drain they would have on the economy would be minimal.  The drain from the privileged few who have had wealth condense upon them irregardless of their skill is far larger. 

On a parallel note, it always bugs me that people are so opposed to affirmative action, which moves people ahead because they would already be such were it not for society constraining their potential at earlier points, but have no problem with people getting in ahead of others because of wealth and family connections, people who have little or no potential.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2008, 00:58:18 EDT by wodan46 » Logged

The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".
joshbrenton
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« Reply #25 on: September 26, 2008, 09:48:13 EDT »


Our expectations have changed in many ways to expect that this is the role of government.  Moral hazard: when someone offers you a guaranteed fail safe, your behavior patterns change, and so do your expectations and what others expect of you.

I fully agree with you there, JC. I've seen far too many examples of this in my hometown. There are a number of people who are healthy and perfectly capable of holding down a job, but they choose not to and instead take welfare. One woman even admitted that instead of working and having an insurance plan which required co-pays, she stays on welfare so she gets her prescriptions and medical care for free (well, not really for free, since she's taking away tax dollars from everyone in town who works so she can sit on her fat ass). It's just unbelievable.
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Bocaj Claw
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« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2008, 12:05:36 EDT »

And whats the ratio of that one woman to people that actually need the welfare?
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Medivh
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« Reply #27 on: September 26, 2008, 12:07:18 EDT »

I'd just like to remind people, because I see this fallacy a lot when discussing welfare.

The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".

Everyone who's against welfare seems to know of someone who's cheating the system. In some cases, many people. These anecdotes are in no way verifiable and provide little (if any) argument. Ignoring, for a minute, that you can just make anecdotes up from whole cloth, the teller of the anecdote rarely has all the facts.

Case in point, I know a family who would otherwise appear to be cheating the government of welfare. They live in a well-to-do suburb, with a nearly-new car and the inside of their house is decked out quite well. The mother looks a little overweight but otherwise healthy, and the father looks like he could take six bikers in a bar fight. Neither of them work, yet they can support this great lifestyle and send their kid to a school where the classroom size is ten to fifteen on average. And yes, they claim government welfare.

It turns out, though, that the mother has blood clotting issues and a herniated disc or six, and the father has an autoimmune syndrome that means that he can't work. The house was decked out on the cheap from eBay, and the car was bought second hand with gearbox issues that have since been fixed. The house was bought on the cheap before the area was well-to-do. The school is really far out of the way, public, and has only sixty-ish students. The bulk of their income is from the father's life insurance, from when he was diagnosed and working. The main reason why they're pulling down welfare is to cut the cost of the pills that the father needs to live. On government welfare, ~$10/month is spent on medication for the father. Were they off welfare, it would become something closer to $250. The difference would shove them off the edge, as they already get their groceries on the cheap and have little left over. The appearance of wealth is mainly illusory.

This isn't to say that no-one cheats the system. Of course people do. But don't bring up "this woman from my hometown", or "my brother's friend's sister's son's neighbour". It doesn't help, and may even harm your point. For instance, Josh, you deride your anecdote's subject for refusing to co-pay. What if she earns roughly the same in a job as she's handed on welfare? What if she's right on the edge now, and co-pays would push her over? I've heard of that more than once, in people with little training. What's worse is employment prospects for someone in that situation are really low. Six months on welfare, and you're nigh unemployable.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
Bocaj Claw
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« Reply #28 on: September 26, 2008, 12:39:08 EDT »

The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".

Do you mind if I sig this?
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wodan46
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« Reply #29 on: September 26, 2008, 13:17:02 EDT »

Too late.  I like that quote a lot, in part because it isn't just others who make that mistake, I do as well.  Its so easy to get manipulated by a personal story, despite knowing full well how easily those can be warped and fabricated, but much harder to get moved by inert numbers and data that requires effort to even comprehend half the time.
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The plural of "anecdote" is "anecdotes". Not "data".
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