Archive | June, 2012

Misleading Political Rhetoric Uniquely American?

28 Jun

I have posted at least three items pertaining to misleading political rhetoric in America.  One might think, because we are a rather clever people, that this could be a uniquely American pastime.  Au contraire.

 In the Netherlands, there is/was a political party with the name Party for Neighborly Love, Freedom, and Diversity.

 Care to guess what the platform contained?

 It is/was a party to further the cause of – pedophilia and child pornography.  They wanted to lower the age of consent for sex to 12, as well as legalize child porn.  Yes, this party has been around a few years (since 2006) and actually has/had a website.

The Dutch courts just finally overcame their “tradition of liberality”, and shut this group down.  And has requested shutdown of the web site.

 The party’s chairperson is considering an appeal.

 On the other hand, perhaps I should not have been tempted to think of misleading political rhetoric as uniquely American.  All we have to do is review the full names of all the nations in the world, compare them to the actual conditions within those nations, and we will see many glaring anomalies between rhetoric and reality.

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More Political Rhetoric – The Employee Free Choice Act

28 Jun

Below is a piece of Thomas Sowell’s “A Political Glossary:  Part IV”, in which he gives examples of  politicians making shameless use of pious names to apply to legislation that has far-from-pious intent.

The full essay can be found at http://www.creators.com/conservative/thomas-sowell.html , along with Parts I, II, and III (which I wrote about in an earlier post).

Sowell is a senior fellow in economics at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

An excerpt from this essay:    [Bolding is mine]

The Obama administration introduced legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act.” What would it do? Destroy the free choice of workers as to whether or not they want to be represented by a labor union.

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave workers the right to a federally conducted secret ballot election, in which they could vote to have a union or not have a union. But, as more and more workers in recent years have voted not to have a union, union bosses have pushed for a law to allow this decision to be made without a secret ballot. This would allow union organizers to use pressure and coercion on those who don’t want to have a union.

Since union bosses contributed both money and manpower to the election of Barack Obama, it is hardly surprising that he was willing to reciprocate with the “Employee Free Choice Act.”

In this case, the Act failed to pass in Congress. But President Obama accomplished some of its goals by appointing pro-union members to the National Labor Relations Board, whose regulations tilted elections in the unions’ favor.

If you can’t be bothered to look beyond rhetoric to realities, don’t complain about bad laws, or even about the degeneration of law itself into arbitrary rule over what was once a free people.

[End of excerpt]

 Makes sense to me – how about you?

Discrimination in Health Insurance Premiums Necessary?

27 Jun

John Stossel has a good recent essay called “In Praise of Discrimination”, in which he makes the case for discriminating between insurance rates for low-risk vs high-risk policy holders.  Thought provoking.  The entire essay can be found at

 http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_john_stossel/in_praise_of_discrimination

 Here is a piece of that essay:  [Bolding is mine]

 Even Bill O’Reilly lectures me that government should ban discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. Most Americans agree with him. Who likes discrimination? Racial discrimination was one of the ugliest parts of American history. None of us wants to be discriminated against. But discrimination is part of freedom. We discriminate when we choose our friends or our spouse, or when we choose what we do with our time.

Above all, discrimination is what makes insurance work. An insurance regime where everyone pays the same amount is called “community rating.” That sounds fair. No more cruel discrimination against the obese or people with cancer. But community rating is as destructive as ordering flood insurance companies to charge me nothing extra to insure my very vulnerable beach house, or ordering car insurance companies to charge Lindsay Lohan no more than they charge you. Such one-size-fits-all rules take away insurance companies’ best tool: risk-based pricing. Risk-based pricing encourages us to take better care of ourselves.

Car insurance works because companies reward good drivers and charge the Lindsay Lohans more. If the state forces insurance companies to stop discriminating, that kills the business model.

No-discrimination insurance isn’t insurance. It’s welfare. If the politicians’ plan was to create another government welfare program, they ought to own up to that instead of hiding the cost.

Obama — and the Clintons before him — expressed outrage that insurance companies charged people different rates based on their risk profiles. They want everyone covered for the same “fair” price.

The health insurance industry was happy to play along. They even offered to give up on gender differences. Women go to the doctor more often than men and spend more on medicines. Their lifetime medical costs are much higher, and so it makes all the sense in the world to charge women higher premiums. But Sen. John Kerry pandered, saying, “The disparity between women and men in the individual insurance market is just plain wrong, and it has to change!” The industry caved.

[End of Excerpt]

I have wondered since day one who was going to pay for the decree that insurance companies can’t base insurability on pre-existing conditions.  Stossel assumes, or knows, that this means insurance companies can’t charge more for the higher risk inherent in taking on a pre-existent condition.  God help us, if this is true – in that case, Stossel is right – all we will have is a taxpayer supported welfare system, only this time the taxes will go directly to the insurance companies.

You have feelings about this?

 

Thomas Sowell on Political Terminology

27 Jun

Thomas Sowell has posted three excellent essays on Creators.com, all under the titles of “A Political Glossary” (I, II, III).  I will post just a few excerpts below, but the full text can be found at http://www.creators.com/conservative/thomas-sowell/a-political-glossary.html  and is very worth reading.

 Sowell is a senior fellow in economics at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  His unique perspective is influenced by him also being a black conservative.

 Excerpts:

 One of the most versatile terms in the political vocabulary is “fairness.” It has been used over a vast range of issues, from “fair trade” laws to the Fair Labor Standards Act. And recently we have heard that the rich don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes.

Some of us may want to see a definition of what is “fair.” But a concrete definition would destroy the versatility of the word, which is what makes it so useful politically.   .   .   .

[Other terms Sowell helps us understand in a political context in Part I include “racism”, “compassion”, “mean-spirited”, “greedy”, and “the hungry”.]

[Part II is all about the political meaning of the term “access”]

“Access” is one of those words. Politicians seem to be forever coming to the rescue of people who have been denied “access” to credit, college or whatever.

But what does that mean, concretely?

[Part III is all about the political term “social justice”.]

If there were a Hall of Fame for political rhetoric, the phrase “social justice” would deserve a prominent place there. It has the prime virtue of political catchwords: It means many different things to many different people.

In other words, if you are a politician, you can get lots of people, with different concrete ideas, to agree with you when you come out boldly for the vague generality of “social justice.” .   .   .   .

Many years ago, a study of black adults with high IQs found that they described their childhoods as “extremely unhappy” more often than other black adults did. There is little that politicians can do about that — except stop pretending that all problems in black communities originate in other communities.

Similar principles apply around the world. Every group trails the long shadow of its cultural heritage — and no politician or society can change the past. But they can stop leading people into the blind alley of resentments of other people. A better future often requires internal changes that pay off better than mysticism about one’s own group or about “social justice.”

[End of excerpts]

You agree, or take issue with him?

 

 

 

Should U.S. Send Military into Syria Unilaterally?

27 Jun

My short answer/opinion is “No”.

 What happens if no one intervenes?

 If no one intervenes, the powerful military machine in Syria likely quells what it sees as an internal rebellion.  In the government’s view, the cost of such a quelling, in lives of innocents, is only a part of the lesson that the populace must learn.  The gov/mil might even consider that the result from indiscriminate killing, bringing a quicker end to the uprising, will cost fewer lives overall than if they were trying to be ultra-selective (sort of the logic we used when dropping nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945).

Syria’s government could reasonably ask, why should the U.S. choose Syria as its target for intervention?  Not only is this an internal affair, but intervention in Syria’s internal affairs cannot even be justified on humanitarian grounds.  For if that were the case, the U.S. would be intervening in several locations throughout the world – and we’re not.  So why pick on Syria?

 And so what if the Syrian government tries to crack down on communications, internet usage, etc.  Where does it say that the government of a sovereign nation cannot control internal communications media?  North Korea has been doing it for decades, and there doesn’t seem to be international outrage over that.  And many other governments around the world have considerable control over the media inside their borders, including Russia and China.  Aren’t they bigger problems than Syria?.

 What is the plus for intervening?

 First, going in and stopping the bloodshed seems like a humanitarian move.  But we can’t stay forever, and bloodshed may return as soon as we leave. 

Second, it is possible that a newer, friendlier government might emerge. 

 What would be the hope?

 Of course, the hope is that we would help establish a “democracy” that will be friendly toward the West (the United States, in particular), and more open to establishing a lasting peace in the Middle East.

 What would be the LIKELY outcome?

 In Syria, direct intervention may well shift the bloodshed from Syrian civilians to American citizens (our troops).  Or shift the whole uprising, and the opposition to same, into overdrive, resulting in many more lives being lost.

 It is reasonably likely that the Syrian people, and the international community, would come to resent the American presence, either because of the presence itself, or because of the outcome – a new government that could be worse than the Assad government (as could very well happen in Egypt and Libya (and the jury is still out in Iraq), and as HAS happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan).  There is a reasonable probability that unfriendly people (toward the West) will come into power, just as they have in other places.

 We only need look at other interventions and revolutions in the Middle Eastern and other Muslim nations.  So far, not a very good record.  The government in Iraq is shaky, at best.  Egypt is moving toward being a religious state – and a hater of the West – and that’s IF the military doesn’t simply take over.  Afghanistan and Pakistan don’t like us very much.  The Palestinians, though not a nation (yet), seem to be looked at as a state, and all our millions upon millions in foreign aid to them have not won their cooperation or friendship.  The final outcomes in Libya and Tunisia are not determined, as yet.

 

So – My long answer/opinion on whether or not we should unilaterally intervene militarily in Syria is still “No”.

 

 

 

 

Does Anyone Use Data before Taking a Position?

26 Jun

“We like to think of ourselves as rational creatures with a healthy respect for facts and logic and science. And yet when it comes to the most controversial questions of public policy — gun ownership, abortion, church-state separation, waterboarding, illegal immigration, you name it — does anybody start with the data and only then decide where to stand? Most of us move in the other direction.”

 This is from a column by Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe columnist, in a piece titled “Forget the Research; Our Minds Are Made Up”.

 The full column can be found at

 http://jewishworldreview.com/jeff/jacoby062112.php3

 The column really zeroes in on the argument about whether or not children raised by same-sex partners have different ultimate life outcomes than children raised in traditional man-woman partners.

Feminism — Coming Full Circle?

26 Jun

One of my favorite writers, Mona Charen, recently wrote a column in which she challenged the goals of feminists, calling them out-of-touch with what most women really want.  This column is entitled “Grow Up: Life Has Its Trade-offs”.  I thought it was an excellent piece, and you can find the whole column at http://www.creators.com/conservative/mona-charen.html   .  Excerpts are below.

 Charen holds a Law Degree from Georgetown University.  She was a speechwriter for First Lady Nancy Reagan and for presidential candidate Jack Kemp.  She is now a political analyst for radio and TV, a columnist, and the author of several books.  Her essays appear regularly in many newspapers.

 Excerpts from the column:    [Bolding is mine; content in brackets [] is also mine.]

 Despite endless repetition by Democrats and feminists, the idea that women earn less than men for the same work is fiction. Single women without children earn just as much, and sometimes more, than comparably qualified young men. Women earn less (over their whole careers) because they choose to. And they choose to because they place more value on child rearing than on money or status.

A better feminism would applaud women for this and stress the incomparable contribution mothers make to society. Instead, feminists define progress as the “first” woman this or that and the degree to which a woman’s life parallels a man’s. Feminists have been missing what’s best about womanhood for decades.

They keep up a relentless drumbeat for “better” (by which they mean government-subsidized) childcare and fret that men don’t have to make the same trade-offs. But as Anne-Marie Slaughter [author of a book that seems to have inspired this column] found, most women don’t want more opportunities to farm out our children. Slaughter wasn’t even satisfied to have her own husband be the principal parent. She wanted the kind of relationship with her sons that only time — and lots of it — can allow.

Most mothers feel that way, and unlike feminists who find this truth to be embarrassingly retro, we freely affirm that we want to be there for the first words, the first independent ride on a two-wheeler, the Little League games, the school plays, the violin lessons, and the thousand little private jokes, shared confidences, and other intimacies that are some of the sweetest parts of life.

We’ve seen some of the women who are described as “having it all.” We see the glamorous careers, the attention and the prizes. And perhaps we feel a twinge or two of envy. But it’s an illusion. Something has to give. Too many exhausted women blame themselves for not being able to be Ruth Bader Ginsberg, June Cleaver and Sally Ride all at the same time. They’ve been lied to about life, mostly by feminists. Slaughter discovered the truth in time. Many don’t.

[End of Excerpts]

Not the way to be popular among the feminists, huh?