Weekend Open Thread

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To get you started:

This fun discussion at the New York Times' "Freakonimics Quorum" on how to divvy $10 between a beggar and a hot dog vendor. Ponder the analytical, lighthearted response from Tyler Cowen, the businesslike brevity of Mark Cuban, the disingenuousness of Babara Ehrenreich (she coughs up ten bucks and the coat off her back every time she passes a beggar?), and the utter humorlessness of Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

• President Bush's war czar says it's time to consider a military draft.

• Read up on the sad, ongoing racial saga in Jena, Louisiana. 

Thomas Sowell explains how bad government policy contributed to the subprime meltdown.

•  It wouldn't be the weekend without a tale of another isolated incident.

NEXT: More on the Abigail Alliance

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  1. Let me be the first to point out the “honest mistake” ruling in the isolated incident is most definitely a one-way street.

    And, if true, I’m not sure this qualifies as professional conduct:
    “”The lady (SWAT officer) says ‘Mother F—–, I said get down or I’ll blow your f—— brains out,'”

  2. Thomas Sowell is an idiot. Smart growth (and high housing prices) were around long before 2002, when “creative financing” was still a rarity.

    I shouldn’t call him an idiot; once in a while he provides some insight, but 90% of the time he’s just a political hack for the right.

  3. “I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

    Maybe he’s just trying to be consistent with the program’s name…

  4. Thomas Sowell is like one of those mob lawyers in the movies. His clients are all honest olive oil importers being unfairly harrassed by congressional committees.

  5. I get free bus tokens from the city for school so I’d give him one or more of the tokens, that way he could go downtown and make more money than the few he would had gotten from me. It forces him into a situtation in which he can make more money (which, in a non-metaphor, I don’t approve of) and it comes at a lower cost to me

  6. Fuck the begger. Give money to people who work for a living. What is ironic is that at least in my experience the very people who would give the $10 to the crackhead who would rather beg than work for a living, will shortchange a waiter on a tip. You want to help people out, great, give your money to a cab driver or some college kid waiting tables. Better that than to support someone being a bum.

  7. I like Thomas Sowell on a lot of things, but I don’t understand how someone who believes in a “Constrained vision” of human nature could support the Iraq war and the neoconservative project. The neoconservatives most certainly have the “Vision of the anointed”.

  8. Where is the love my fellow liberts? Some compassion, please … I am just as prone to want to tell people to get a job. But this is the sort of thing that gives us a bad rep. Remember, the bum will spend that money, put it back into the economy in some way, unlike the government in most cases.
    Seems like some of us could use the American version of this.

  9. Why, unlike all other human agencies, do SWAT teams persist in making the occasional error? Is perfection really so difficult?

  10. Next time I need ten bucks, I’m going to the Ehrenreichs. I loved how she starts by stating she’s an atheist, defering to Jesus, recognizing that Jesus wasn’t saying what she thought he was, sweeping that under the rug, and then claiming it’s a matter of religious observance.

    (The quote from Jesus was not talking about charity, it was talking about outwitting people who were trying to screw you over.)

  11. Martino,

    I had a friend in law school whose father owned several businesses. This was when the whole “will work for food” scam came around. He made it a point of stopping and offering a job to every person he saw holding one of those signs. He was serious, he would have given any of them a job doing something if only for a day or two. Not one person ever took him up on the offer. Later, when I moved to Washington DC, a girlfriend of mine worked as a bar tender at a NW restaurant. There was a whole crew of beggers who hung out outside the place hitting up people for money. We talked to them one day and they told us they could make $10 an hour begging and that was easier and better than making $8 washing dishes somewhere. After that I never gave another begger another dime. This is not the 1930s. There is help available for people who want it. These guys just don’t want it. They would rather beg than work. Some of them are mental patients and those people I feel bad for and will give money to. But your typical jive ass hustler out begging, is doing so because that is his job of choice. Fuck him. I wouldn’t give him a dime if they came out of my ass for free every day.

  12. Speaking of homeless stories, theres a woman who sits on a bucket near the I-64 overpass in my city holding up a sign everyday that says IM THREE MONTHS PREGNANT NEED $$ FOR FOOD AND RENT.

    Shes been three months pregnant for two years.

    Give to shelters, not panhandlers.

  13. I hope all those who on principle wouldn’t give a beggar a dime have never taken one from their parents. If it weren’t for a generational transfer of wealth, our economy would have been belly up long ago.

  14. It’s not just the subprime meltdown now. American Home wrote “A” paper.

  15. Martino,

    When the govt spends money it goes back into the economy too. Where else would it go?

    The problem is that capital and labor follow the money. When you have massive amounts of govt spending on useless things, it causes them to be diverted from more productive things. I’m not sure how much productivity is diverted to the liquor industry by wino-aid, but in principle it isn’t a good thing to do IMHO.

  16. I agree with Mickey Klaus. Why is that Wall Street types always talk this great game about how they are risk takers and all that, yet, when the risks don’t pan out, which sometimes happens, they come whining for the government or the fed to bail them out. Sub prime was great for a while and they were all getting rich, now that it is not, that is as they say the way the ball bounces. The same assholes in the banking industry who gave us the bankruptcy bill that screws average people who get into money trouble are now screaming like stuck pigs because they might lose some money. My heart bleeds.

  17. John,
    Good points all, and I have heard anecdotes like these before … let us both divorce the argument from any morally loaded construction. Pure end-game Econ101 … the money given to the beggar would go into the economy just as easily had he been working.He is going to spend it, and keep the rest of us working and earning. Beggars may truly be any of the things that you may wish to call them. But they are an integrated and perhaps integral part of the economy, just unrecognized, like prostitutes.

  18. Edward,

    In addition to supporting my parents when they get older, I’m paying into a Social Security system from which I’m fairly certain I’m never going to see a dime. Which is exactly what a selfish, wino-neglecting bastid like me deserves, I suppose.

  19. John–

    Those wall-street types that say they are for small government and then take every bail-out remind me of farmers I know that talk about “Welfare parasites” and then get $100 grand in subsidies from the feds every year.

  20. Crap, I might have to pay these folks a visit…

  21. But Ceasar, you must pay taxes to support my farming habbit or we will lose the family farm and an entire way of life. How could you not support that?

  22. Crimthink

    Some people support their aging parents and some people’s aging parents support them. an inheritance isn’t earned by the recipient; it’s a form of kinship charity, what Warren Buffet called the lucky sperm club.

  23. John, you are aware that our entire existence is dependent on farmers, right? It’s hardly a “habit”.

    I’m not a huge fan of farm subsidies either, but let’s not get overly disrespectful. The reason I’m able to lead a comfortable life typing at a computer is because somebody else is doing the hard work of growing my food.

  24. As long as it’s an open thread, I came across the results of this UC Davis survey of furries…

    “Politically, 40% of respondents described themselves as “Liberal” or “Very liberal”, compared to the 7% who were “Conservative,” “Very conservative”. 35% were “Not political” or “Other”, and 16% were “Moderate”. Of the 35% who marked “Other,” the dominant write-in was “Objectivist,” which tallied 17%.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furry_fandom

    If this is a truly representative survey, it suggests, by my math, that if you’re lookin’ at a room full of 600 furries, you’re also lookin’ at about a hundred Objectivists!

    That seems like a pretty extraordinary ratio! I’d try to figure out how large the furry Objectivist menace really is in absolute terms, but I’m much more interested in understanding what it is about being furry that Objectivists find so compelling.

    …or visa versa, I guess.

  25. You mean, sell out the treasury to Archer Daniels Midland–Welfare Queen to the World?

    I know you were being sarcastic, but most of those subsidies don’t even get to family farms. Its glorified corporate welfare.

    Its also extremely unfair to developing countries whose entire economies are dependent on a health agriculture sector. Dumping cheap subsidized corn on Mexico, for example, is a big reason why so many Mexicans have to move here to get a decent job.

    Even those subsidies that do get to “Family farms” are silly. Family farms don’t really have much of a place in a post-industrial economy. They are inefficient and outmoded. Yeah, the farmers will have to change their way of life, well, welcome to the industrial revolution.

  26. Cesar,

    When/if that EMP hits, we’re going to need as much of a pre-industrial agricultural base as we can get.

  27. Cesar,

    My mother’s family are wheat farmers. The government subsidies only keep you in business if you have a really big operation. It is the big stake holders and the corporate farms who benifit from subsidies. It is a joke.

  28. I’m surprised that the obvious solution has been overlooked:

    1. Kill the hotdog vendor and rob him of his possessions.
    2. Kill the beggar by ramming a hotdog down his throat. Rob him of all his possessions, but leave one-dollar bill with some mustard residue on it in his hand.
    3. Call the police.

    Bonus:

    4. Write a book about why the evil capitalist hotdog vendor is fault, because he didn’t freely give to the beggar.
    5. Change Name.
    6. Write a book about why the lazy beggar is fault, because he decided to rob money and not work for it.

  29. Speaking of jokes, did anyone else catch the Democratic AFL-CIO Panderfest 2007?

  30. Martino,

    The issue isn’t whether the money given to the begger will go back into the economy, pretty much all money will that is not being saved under a mattress. The point is that the begger hasn’t contributed anything positive and tangible to society. When you buy a hot dog, you no longer need to eat. You money is spent on something productive, and your next $10 can go to purchasing a CD or a car or a house. When you give the begger $10, nothing has been created and nothing new needs to be created based on the transaction. All you have done is transfer wealth around.

  31. Have a cash flow problem in a small buisness and see who lines up to help.No one.

  32. And what about the EU/Libya/France/Nuclear Reactor bruhaha?

    Way to show some sack, EU.
    http://derstandard.at/?url=/?id=2993685

  33. “I hope all those who on principle wouldn’t give a beggar a dime have never taken one from their parents.”

    Do you have any children?

    I’m happy to give the occasional homeless guy a buck or a Newport or something, but comparing helping out a panhandler to childrearing is just crazy. I know all the “ethics of care” theorists try to do this, but it’s just false.

    Based on my own experience with having a child and the experience of all the other people with children I know, there are powerful biological drives incenting us to lavish resources on our offspring. Satisfying those drives is no more altruistic than satisfying the urge to eat a sandwich or to have sex. Trying to force people or guilt people into transfering that drive to a random homeless guy is pointless and shows a profound lack of understanding about the nature of Man.

  34. Ken–

    What the hell is a “furry” anyway?

  35. The issue isn’t whether the money given to the begger will go back into the economy, pretty much all money will that is not being saved under a mattress. The point is that the begger hasn’t contributed anything positive and tangible to society. When you buy a hot dog, you no longer need to eat. You money is spent on something productive, and your next $10 can go to purchasing a CD or a car or a house. When you give the begger $10, nothing has been created and nothing new needs to be created based on the transaction. All you have done is transfer wealth around.
    If someone where to give money to the beggar and eat later, that would be the equivlent of buying a CD and then buying a hotdog later. If someone who enjoys donating $10 to beggars, the money isn’t wasted, it is exchanged for a good (usually intangible) such as feeling good about yourself, or bragging rights in which you could know that you are so much better than everyone else. You might not find much value in the beggar donation transaction, but then again some hippy out there might not find much value in “subcoming to the evil consumerist culture” by buying a CD…value is relative.

  36. A better example would be paying a stripper, psychic, or tipping a waitress etc.

  37. Take money from my parents? Yeah, when I was like 12 or 5 or basically before I could make a living on my own. If I ever see a five year old out begging, perhaps I will give him a buck. Of course that is pretty pointless since his parents would probably take it from him anyway. That is a stupid analogy.

    Jonathan, there is nothing wrong with paying a stripper. She is just using what she has and providing a service. There is nothing wrong with that. I have no problem with tipping and overpaying people who are working for a living. It is the person who refuses to work that I have a problem with.

  38. Ken, nevermind I missed the wikipedia link. Weird, weird people.

  39. Jonathan Hohensee,

    Your statement is absolutely true on the individual economic level, and I don’t mean to discount it because I definitely do appreciate the value in money spent for “a feeling.” The point that Martino was trying to make, and what I was addressing, was more on the macro economic level. The mere transfer of wealth does not contribute anything tangible to society in the way that purchasing a product will. Even if its just a CD, a portion of that money often goes to more jobs to produce more CDs and to research and development to produce better CDs. Money spent on things like drives the economy much more than if we all stood in a circle passing our money around to each other but creating nothing but a smug sense of self-appreciation.

    Martino’s point was that giving money to a homeless person does help the overall economy because the homeless person will spend it on something. That is true, for the most part. In broad terms though, its not the most efficient way to get that money into the economy though. It adds an extra, unnecessary step, for a person that has contributed nothing to the overall economy.

  40. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with paying a stripper, just that paying a beggar is on an equal level of paying a stripper (I should stress that I don’t mean that to be as horrible as it sounds) in the fact that you are making a voluntary transaction to someone in which you exchange money for something intangible.

  41. But not only do beggars contribute nothing to the economy, having a city or a particular neighborhood filled with begging winos actually hurts the local economy. Who will want to go shopping in an area where they will be mobbed by strangers asking for money? Giving them money just encourages them.

  42. Why, unlike all other human agencies, do SWAT teams persist in making the occasional error? Is perfection really so difficult?

    No one minds the occasional error, Edward. It’s just the same error, made for the same reasons, and with the same totalitarian justifications, over and over and over again.

    You snarky little devil, you.

  43. What, no response to the draft talk?

    I have to wonder if this is the General’s way of stoking anti-war sentiment. If he starts hinting to the middle class and upper middle class that a draft might be needed, they’ll make damn sure that we get out of Iraq.

  44. Martino’s point was that giving money to a homeless person does help the overall economy because the homeless person will spend it on something. That is true, for the most part. In broad terms though, its not the most efficient way to get that money into the economy though. It adds an extra, unnecessary step, for a person that has contributed nothing to the overall economy.
    I get what you’re saying, although even then it seems iffy. Would it change the game any if I where to give the money to a homeless man in exchange for a blowjob?

  45. I can’t be the only person who comes to H&R largely for the Edward show.

  46. I write like a bag of assholes.

  47. Does anyone here think its a violation of free speech when a city passes an ordinance outlawing panhandling?

    My city did so a few months ago, and its already being sued by the ACLU for a violation of “civil rights”.

  48. What, no response to the draft talk?

    I have to wonder if this is the General’s way of stoking anti-war sentiment. If he starts hinting to the middle class and upper middle class that a draft might be needed, they’ll make damn sure that we get out of Iraq.

    I don’t see it going anywhere. He’s considering it either like how the military in the past has considered making a nude bomb or how Kerry and x others where “considering” the fairness doctorine.

  49. Does anyone here think its a violation of free speech when a city passes an ordinance outlawing panhandling?

    My city did so a few months ago, and its already being sued by the ACLU for a violation of “civil rights”.

    You live in Orlando?

  50. No, Richmond VA. The political, but also homeless, capital of Virginia.

  51. Check out the comments attached to the article on the beggar and hot dog seller. For example: “I suspect that Ms. Ehrenreich would not give the wino her $10 but instead find someone who looks like a Republican and make him give the wino the money.”

  52. oooh, bum stories.

    A young woman approached me and my wife at Walmart 3 weeks ago saying she had run out of gas and asked if we could spare some change. My wife has a strict policy of not giving to bums and while I’m a sucker I refused since her story didn’t quite add up. Why would you drive to walmart and park if you didnt have any gas or money? And if you really ran out of gas, wouldnt you just call someone to bring you gas? (the only time I ever ran out of gas, this was my course of action).

    When I said, “sorry,” she rolled her eyes and said, “Thanks anyway,” real snarky like.

    Fast forward two weeks. Last Saturday, same lady, different parking lot, she even pointed to a different car (cherokee first time, wrangler second time, maybe she owns two jeeps but no gas, but I doubt it), same result.

    I’m sure both days she made enough money to score some meth (it’s arizona, so I’ll just assume meth was the driving force behind the request.)

  53. Here in Orlando the local anarchist chapter (which is weirdly a large and strong group down here) went insane when they banned people from handing out food in public parks. When one of the FNB kids got caught feeding the homeless, he was charged a small fine, he turned into a freaking mayrter and the Pogressive Council of Orlando (a lose network of Orlando’s far-left leaning orginizations) went absouletly ape shit, following the Mayor around where ever he made a public apparance doing gaudy-historonic protests.

    My college’s newspaper covered it in the most biased way possible, with every week a report on the helpless homeless problem in our fair city and how our Mayor is a facist. Eventually, they ate crow when someone wrote a slamming editoral pointing out that their where already plenty of other homeless feeding/shelter programs in Orlando that where better funded and run much more effeceintly (the anarchists would feed about 50 homeless people once a month, and only feed them vegan food) and that really they where being hysterical over nothing.

  54. I hate Food Not Bombs with a passion.They turned Monroe Park from a nice college park into a rat hole full of winos because of their stupid vegan feeding program. Public parks are not a good place to run feeding programs.

  55. Tell that to pigeons and geese.

  56. At least homeless people don’t shit all over the grass and most of the sidewalks. Seriously, any time I ride my bike in the park, the back of my shirt looks like it was in the bottom of a factory farm chicken cage.

  57. ‘Just considering’ a draft?

    I’d say this is just the opening salvo. The volunteers are worn out. Even with astronomical enlistment bonuses, recruiting can’t keep pace. Unless we get out of Iraq, a draft is inevitable. The only saving grace is that the call for a draft should speed our withdrawal.

  58. If theres a draft, I say they make the 30%ers go first.

  59. Jonathan Hohensee, what an inspiring story. Thank god it’s now a crime to feed the homeless in public parks. Freedom(TM) is on teh march!

  60. Send captured IllegalImmigrants over there. They do the JobsAmericansWon’tDo, right?

  61. Jonathan,

    Interesting question. My inital reaction is that it would make a difference. Mostly I think, because I assume that if you are going to pay $10 for a homeless blow job, you are probably going to do so whether or not you also pay $10 to the homeless guy.

    If you tell me that you only have $10 and the choice is between just giving the homeless guy $10 or getting a blow job from him, I guess there isn’t really a difference. In both cases you are giving the homeless guy money in exchange for the feeling it gives you.

    I will say, if you are the type of guy that is willing to get a blow job from a homeless guy, I serious doubt that you are going to just give him the money.

  62. There’s a vast difference between what people say they would do, when it’s for public consumption and their piety is on display, and what they actually do when no one is paying attention. A couple of years ago, at the Mormon chaple I was attending, we were discussing a passage in the Book of Mormon that unambiguously said you should give to anyone who asks of you. I asked about if that “charity” applied to giving to a drunk panhandler in front of a liquor store with empty tallboys and cigarette butts scattered around him, and was gently rebuked for my hardheartedness. A few years later, I was watching the most Mormon people of all, people with Temple Recommends streaming out of the Salt Lake Temple after attending a session there, passing by a beggar strategically camped out by the entrance. Fifteen minutes later, no one had given anything to the beggar.

    So, pardon me for being cynical, but if Ms. Ehrenreich had $500 in her purse, I doubt she’d hand it all over to the beggar as she implies she would, unless a camera was filming her and she thought avoiding adverse publicity was worth whatever she handed over.

    Personally, I limit charity to people I know who are suffering temporary adversity they are working to turn around, and (if applicable) are willing to change whatever ill-advised behavior got them into that jam in the first place — which I suspect was the actual reasoning of the people at Temple Square, given the booming economy in Utah at that time.

  63. Jonathan Hohensee, what an inspiring story. Thank god it’s now a crime to feed the homeless in public parks. Freedom(TM) is on teh march!

    I honestly and against the ban just as much as the FNB kids are against it, my main peeve is the manner in which they go about it and the fact that they use helping homeless people as a front for their more extreme political viewpoints.

  64. Would it change the game any if I where to give the money to a homeless man in exchange for a blowjob?

    Welcome to H&R, Bob Allen (R-FL)!

  65. http://www.foodnotbombs.net/story.html

    they use helping homeless people as a front for their more extreme political viewpoints.

    Or maybe helping homeless people is an example of putting their message into action…

  66. If theres a draft, I say they make the 30%ers go first.

    The draft won’t come until the Dems are in power. Enlistment will really drop off when Hillary is Commander and Chief. The major supporter in Congress is a Dem and a Dem brought registration back after a Republican killed it.

    Dems love the Universal Service idea but that would be hard to pay for. Anyone want to bet they renig on the debate professed support to draft women?

  67. Helping homeless people is fine, I’d just really would appreciate them doing it some other place than a public park.

    (Note: that doesn’t mean I support a ban).

  68. You say to-may-to I say pretentious-oversensitive-twentysomethings

  69. I’d rather get food from the Bible-thumpers, at least they give away meat and dairy.

    The Mao and Stalin kids can keep their fucking brown rice.

  70. Oh, and are any of you guys looking for a $10 blow job?

  71. This is so ridiculous. This “Freakonomics” author comes up with an idea to excite people into being frightening terrorists against America and you at the misnamed ‘Reason’ Magazine talk about hotdogs and beggars. Why do you not comment on the treason of Levitt and the ‘New York Times’?

    The ‘New York Times’ is a treasonous publication. They break all our military secrets so Al Qaida can read them; their junk economist with his junk economic book ask people to imagine their terrorists (a reasonable request to the treason times as everyone wants people on their side); and they ‘New York Times’ destroys free speech in their craveness and sympathy for Muslim terrorism in not publish those danish cartoons. It’s no wonder that Ann Couler joked that someone should blow the building up.

    “There’s no need to fear; Underzog is here!” (and don’t forget the “Underdog” movie that just came out)

  72. …and the rest of us just whistle, look around at nothing in particular, and slowly back away…

  73. the misnamed ‘Reason’ Magazine

    Aw, man, I’m out of beer! I guess I’ll just have to start straining rubbing alcohol through toast.

  74. say what you will, though about the FNB and other far-left crowds, the girls are usually pretty cute;
    http://orlandofoodnotbombs.org/FNBtwosides.jpg

  75. General question that will tell everyone how much of an economist I am:

    This whole subprime lending meltdown, will it have a direct effect on my credit card loans? i.e., will the credit card rates go up somehow in response to the credit woes this country seems to have? I would imagine that the answer is “yes”. Just need someone to confirm.

  76. the disingenuousness of Babara Ehrenreich (she coughs up ten bucks and the coat off her back every time she passes a beggar?)

    Nice cheap shot. You didn’t tweak anyone else for accepting the question’s premise that they had $10 they were going to spend.

    And man is Mark Cuban a dick or what?

  77. I give money to beggers when they ask, for entirely selfish reasons.

    It takes a certain hardness of heart to look at a fellow human being in trouble and say no. It’s actually an exercise in overcoming the fundamental feeling of compassion towards one’s fellows that makes us human. Sure, maybe you can convince me that in this or that situation it would be rationally better, even from a non-selfish, objective standpoint, for me to keep my change in my pocket, and do the mental work to override the desire to help. But I don’t wanna. That’s work. I’d rather part with a little bit of money than a little bit of my soul. Like I said, entirely selfish.

    Besides, as a liberal, I don’t have the responsibility to make sure that charity by itself is sufficient to further my humanitarian goals. When I write out checks to the causes I’ve chosen, I make sure my money is being spent wisely. When I vote or engage in political activism, I do what I can to make sure that money is spent wisely. But when I’m confronted by a begger, I do what I want so I don’t have to be in a bad mood.

  78. If the subprime loan meltdown results in a credit crunch . . . yeah, you’re credit card rates will rise.

  79. So you don’t care if they go buy a 40 of Colt 45 with your spare change?

    I used to feel sorry for beggars, until I moved to the city and had to deal with them. At first, I gave out change, and guess what? They told all there friends, and every day, I’d walk into 7-11 and get asked by the same person, plus five of his friends. They’d start demanding not just change, but dollar bills. Instead of feeling sorry for them I began to have contempt for them and stopped giving. I don’t appreciate being mobbed made to feel threatened when I just want to buy some damn hot dog rolls and a slurpee.

  80. Dang it . . .your instead of you’re

  81. joe:

    And you can still be a libertarian. You have explained your position very well, I think.

    I am personally against government interventaion for humanitarian reasons. It should be left to individuals like you, to nongovernmental charities, and religious organizations. I am trying to find that quote from the Legends of the Fall, but goes like: “Government has no soul, and it can not be humane”. To rely on government for humanitarian goals is society’s selling its soul to a soulless being. The effect, all compassion in society (if society chooses so) disappears. Hence, we should abolish government sponsored well-fare and health care.

  82. Lord Jubjub:

    Thanks. That is what I thought. Better pay them off now.

  83. Cesar:

    I generally refrain from giving to able-bodied (men or women) beggers. I give only to the elderly and the truly destitute (not the smart kind who waits outside 7-11).

  84. President Bush’s war czar…

    I find it interesting how recent administrations have thrown around the word “czar” so freely. As I recall, “czar” is synonymous with “despot.” It’s like they’re no longer even bothering to hide the “despotism” behind it all…

  85. Cesar,

    Nope. I’ve yet to hear of the drunk who stopped drinking because he was too poor. I don’t see how the act of denying him my change is going to help anything.

    I have heard of drunks who went hungry because they were too poor, so there is some chance of my money doing good. If I had any real reason to believe giving someone my change would hurt him, of course I wouldn’t give it to him. But I don’t, and maybe I’m helping a little.

    iih,

    I don’t believe in government aid to the poor to save souls. I belive in it entirely for the material benefits it provides, whether that’s smooth roads or food in poor people’s bellies and roofs over their heads. My wrench is soulless, too. It’s still a useful tool for turning bolts I want turned.

  86. Cesar,

    Whe blowing off a begger isn’t going to require any effort on my part, I don’t give them a second thought. There used to be this huge, pumped weightlifter-guy who begged for change on the GW campus. I didn’t have any trouble going past him. Like I said, unlike the real charity I give or the politics I agitate for, my change-giving is all about me.

  87. joe, to sum up your comments:

    The beggar is in the business of making you feel guilty so you’ll give him or her money. It’s a job, albeit a really, really unproductive job. You pay them money to assuage the guilt they’ve deliberately created in them, thus paying them for that service.

    Then, you go to the voting booth and vote to rob me and all other productive human beings so you can take that money and give it to more unproductive beggars to further assuage your guilt.

    Thanks for outlining the basis of the welfare state and liberalism (and most of the Democrats you cheerlead for), without the hypocrisy of claiming it’s for the betterment of society. I appreciate your honesty — but not your theft.

  88. There’s a guy who holds a “Will work for food” sign full-time at an expressway exit ramp near my house. I always try to pull up right next to him while waiting at the light and chow down on something while he watches.

  89. “…deliberately created in them you …”

    Fixed my typo.

  90. joe,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t your politics largely about forcing other people to give their money to the idle to assuage your guilt?

  91. From Barbara Ehrenreich’s response:

    And before anyone virtuously offers him a hot dog, they should reflect on the possibility that the beggar is a vegetarian or only eats kosher or Hallal meat.

    Boo-fuckin’-hoo. The phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” springs to mind. The Dalai Lama told his monks-who must beg for their meals-that vegetarianism is a luxury that they cannot afford. You can’t get much more holier-than-thou than a bodhisattva, so I’m pretty sure some humility is in order.

    If a beggar would rather starve than eat a free meal, the decision is on his or her head, not mine.

  92. joe says:
    Whe blowing off a begger I give this huge, pumped weightlifter-guy a second blowing off I didn’t have any trouble going a second effort blowing
    is all about me

  93. joe:

    My wrench is soulless, too. It’s still a useful tool for turning bolts I want turned.

    But some wrenches are better than others, and I do not think that government is the best wrench for the job. Private charities and organizations would do a far better job at turning these bolts.

  94. I’ve come to the conclusion that the defining characteristic of right-wing libertarians (I don’t think it applies to Chomsky) is a total ignorance of the role luck has played in their lives.

  95. My brother tells the beggars he’ll give them a quarter a push-up. It has its logic. Usually beggars find there are easier ways to earn $10.

  96. jh,

    I’m generally against governmental welfare as well, but I find your last post a little lacking in objectivity. First, not everyone considers taxation theft. Second, not all governmental welfare goes to “unproductive beggars.” As you said in your earlier post, there are some people who are hardworking but may be experiencing a temporary financial hardship, and it would be not only humane but also beneficial for us in the end to help those individuals. Now of course you may counter, as I’d argue myself, that the private sector does a better job than the government in this role, but you should’ve emphasized this in your post instead of making the facile accusation of hypocrisy.

  97. My wrench is soulless, too. It’s still a useful tool for turning bolts I want turned.

    Difference is, I’m not paying for your wrench.

  98. joe:

    My basic belief is that humanitarianism should not be outsourced to governments, otherwise the true humanity of the process is gone in vain because we, both beggars and givers as members of society, do not get to exercise and experience this humanity. The poor getting aide from the government will not appreciate the humanity of society (and may will find it unobjectionable to commit atrocities against that society through crime). Some members of society on the other hand will hate the poors’ guts for feeling that they have unjustly taken their hard worked for earnings. They will be forced to feel the animosity towards the poor. So, solution — humanitarianism has to be privately and willfully practiced.

  99. If anybody wants another topic, here’s the useless thought experiment I’ve been mulling lately, and I’d love to hear from the fine people here…

    You get sent back in time — to when/where, I’m not sure, but I’m thinking at least 1000-2000 B.C.E., just use whatever’s interesting to you. You quickly establish some method of communicating effectively with the people of the past. And let’s assume your getting sent back changes the timeline enough that it’s not helpful for you to give the past people information like, “A long time from now, there’s gonna be this guy named Adolf Hitler. Everybody pretend his paintings are awesome, just trust me.”

    I’m not a scientist, by trade or education, but I’m fairly confident that I’d fall towards the more scientifically knowledgeable end of the general population. However, sent back to a relatively primitive society, I think I’d be just about useless to them. I sorta understand the principles at work, but I couldn’t show them how to build a battery or a light bulb. I couldn’t help them isolate penicillin. I don’t know how to mine the right components and smelt steel. I couldn’t demonstrate an internal combustion engine, though I could probably answer a question about it on a standardized test.

    Best I think I could do is explain the scientific method in general terms, maybe a few specific things like the germ theory of disease or heliocentrism, and hope that helps speed up the work of their scientists.

    So, how useful would you be?

  100. Well, I could tell them about Jesus.

    ::dodges tomatoes::

  101. I would be completely useless. How depressing. Thanks a lot.

  102. jh,

    I hope that restating my argument using the word “guilty” made you feel better about yourself, because it certainly didn’t accomplish anything else.

    The rest of your yammering, including completing misstating what I wrote about the relationship between government programs and personal virtue to mean exactly the opposite, is pretty much just your admission that you can’t respond to my actual arguments.

  103. crimethink,

    OK, you’re wrong. My support for government programs has nothing to do with guilt.

  104. iih,

    But some wrenches are better than others, and I do not think that government is the best wrench for the job. Private charities and organizations would do a far better job at turning these bolts.,/i>

    I disagree with your assessment of the practical effects of the two different policies. If I agreed with you about the efficacy of government involvement, then I’d oppose the government’s involvement, but that has nothing to do with this discussion of principles.

  105. Difference is, I’m not paying for your wrench.

    Whether I personally want a wrench is my decision. The existence and funding of government programs is our collective decision.

  106. I get the arguments about A and B making C give money to D. But is it OK for A and B to make C give money to provide police protection for D? Cause what if I’m D and I say, hell, I don’t want or need police protection (I honestly think for example cops have been more a hassle in my life than I’ve ever needed them). I mean, if I were a rich dude with plenty of stuff that big strong poor people looked at hungrily I would think, hell yeah everyone should pay taxes to provide police protection for my, er um, our stuff! So I geuss I’m confused as to how it’s ok for the government to make me cough up dough for police protection, but wrong to take care of poor people, if the principle is that it is always wrong to force another person to give money for something they don’t agree with….

  107. iih,

    I’ll say it again; I don’t support government aid to the poor in an effort to save the souls of taxpayers. It doesn’t. I support government aid to the poor purely for the material benefits it produces.

    I also don’t find it appropriate to deny these material benefits just so there will be more poor people for us to feel virtuous about helping.

  108. All of this talk about guilt really drives how little you think about your fellow man.

    You can’t imagine why someone could be concerned about other people, except in response to a feeling of having personally harmed them?

    What the hell is THAT?

  109. joe,

    If most people think they should help the poor with their own money, then govt intervention is superfluous.

    If most people don’t think the poor should be helped, then govt intervention is undemocratic.

    The current system is one where most people have decided that the poor should be helped with other people’s money, and that’s immoral. It’s not charity when you’re giving away other people’s money.

  110. crimethink,

    How many times would you like me to say that I don’t consider government aid charity?

    I don’t consider government aid charity.

    I don’t consider government aid charity.

    I don’t consider government aid charity.

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    I don’t consider government aid charity.

    I don’t consider government aid charity.

    Quick, now tell me that government aid to the poor isn’t an exercise in virtue, like private charity.

  111. joe,

    If you typed all those manually, I’m impressed. If you copied and pasted, you should be ashamed of your cheating.

  112. OK, now I feel guilty.

    😉

  113. When you give money to a begger, you aren’t really giving them the money; you’re paying them to perform the job of begging. If this makes you feel good, it’s only because you don’t understand what you’re doing.

  114. i agree with crimethink about Tom Sowell, or “Uncle” as I like to call him.

  115. “Politically, 40% of respondents described themselves as “Liberal” or “Very liberal”, compared to the 7% who were “Conservative,” “Very conservative”. 35% were “Not political” or “Other”, and 16% were “Moderate”. Of the 35% who marked “Other,” the dominant write-in was “Objectivist,” which tallied 17%.”

    The idea of a bunch of people dressed up like animals sitting around talking about why it’s not enough to be right–you have to be right for all the right reasons… Am I the only one here who thinks that’s funny?

  116. joe,

    I hope that you too understand that I feel for the poor as much as you do. I am not against society aiding the poor. But I am against government taking up that role. It will ultimately undermine the humanitarianism of society.

    Coming from a heavily socialized society, where assisting the poor and providing them with free health care has done nothing but increase the gap between the rich and the poor and has done nothing but increase the animosity between the two groups.

    I am a firm believer that no soul should be left to suffer while others in society enjoy so much. I am for a community-based humanitarian activism, but if done through government, the “community” part will totally be lost. As in the case of my original homeland Egypt.

  117. joe:

    This:

    Coming from a heavily socialized society, where assisting the poor and providing them with free health care has done nothing but increase the gap between the rich and the poor and has done nothing but increase the animosity between the two groups.

    should be changed to:

    Coming from a heavily socialized society, where assisting the poor and providing them with free health care by government has done nothing but increase the gap between the rich and the poor and has done nothing but increase the animosity between the two groups.

  118. Ken Schultz,

    A better question would be, do objectivist furries believe in animal rights?

  119. I’m a libertarian but also a vegetarian so the hotdog merchant will get none of my money — the homeless guy will only get money if he asks for money to buy shit to fuck him up — if he asks for money to buy food I turn him down automatically. Needless to say I rarely give money to the homeless.

  120. i agree with crimethink about Tom Sowell, or “Uncle” as I like to call him.

    Yeah, hes just an Uncle Tom right? Why don’t you go actually read some of his books (like his trilogy on ethnicity and race) before judging the man ? Asshat.

  121. [D]o objectivist furries believe in animal rights?

    No idea, but either way, I’m sure they’re dicks about it.

  122. Yiff in Hell Fur Fags!

  123. If I saw a beggar next to a hot dog vendor, I would probably become hungry (depending on the appearance of the beggar). So I would buy a hot dog and eat it right there. While eating it I would say something like “You did this to me”, preferably while chewing a mouthful of food.

  124. f anybody wants another topic, here’s the useless thought experiment I’ve been mulling lately, and I’d love to hear from the fine people here…

    You get sent back in time — to when/where, I’m not sure, but I’m thinking at least 1000-2000 B.C.E., just use whatever’s interesting to you. You quickly establish some method of communicating effectively with the people of the past. And let’s assume your getting sent back changes the timeline enough that it’s not helpful for you to give the past people information like, “A long time from now, there’s gonna be this guy named Adolf Hitler. Everybody pretend his paintings are awesome, just trust me.”

    I’m not a scientist, by trade or education, but I’m fairly confident that I’d fall towards the more scientifically knowledgeable end of the general population. However, sent back to a relatively primitive society, I think I’d be just about useless to them. I sorta understand the principles at work, but I couldn’t show them how to build a battery or a light bulb. I couldn’t help them isolate penicillin. I don’t know how to mine the right components and smelt steel. I couldn’t demonstrate an internal combustion engine, though I could probably answer a question about it on a standardized test.

    Best I think I could do is explain the scientific method in general terms, maybe a few specific things like the germ theory of disease or heliocentrism, and hope that helps speed up the work of their scientists.

    So, how useful would you be?

    I’ve actually memorized ceratin details about 9/11 just in case I get sent back in time on 9/10/01 or something (realisticly I don’t expect this to happen, it’s more akin to throwing salt over the shoulder when someone spills the shaker)

  125. jh-still want to know if you support taxation for purposes of providing police protection (A and B making C pay for police for D), and if so, how that is different than taxation for social programs. Before you say, well, the police protects everyone, one can say that welfare provides a safety net for everyone (of course most folks don’t need it, but then some folks go their whole lives and never call the police). I’m not wholly unsympathetic to your point of view mind you, I’m just not sure myself where I can draw the line…
    Cesar-I agree. Sowell’s newspaper columns are often boneheaded blind GOP apology (show me the money!) but some of his scholarly work is top notch, including his excellent stuff on ethnicity (I would add his early work on Marxism which was hardly sympathetic but also fair and balanced).

  126. Sowell’s newspaper columns are often boneheaded blind GOP apology (show me the money!) but some of his scholarly work is top notch, including his excellent stuff on ethnicity (I would add his early work on Marxism which was hardly sympathetic but also fair and balanced).

    “Boneheaded blind GOP apology” is an apt description of much of his newspaper columns (remember a while ago in one of his random, disjointed musings columns when he said something like “Sometimes, I think the only hope for this country is a military coup”?) but there are a few exceptions. Sowell is about as good as anybody at explaining simple economic concepts. Look through his archives for columns that address things like the cost of housing in San Fransisco or the “price gouging” accusations directed at fuel suppliers after Katrina. Those are brilliant. Unfortunately, that clarity of thinking goes right out the window when the topic is dudes kissing dudes or the teeming hordes of IslamoNazis. About the same goes for Walter Williams.

  127. Anonymo was talking about going back to BEFORE Christ, as in 1000-2000 BC, no? Anyway, there’s a few things I could tell them for sure DON’T work, like sacrificing virgins if the king is sick, or if the crops are scarce. That bleeding the patient doesn’t help cure him and mustard packs on the scalp do absolutely nothing either.

    I think if I worked on it I could get a fairly good smallpox vaccine going from cowpox, and if they had any kind of alphabet, figuring out a moveable type for printing, as well as getting some kind of crude paper from wood pulp.

    Plus just good hygiene would help with a lot of those plagues, too. Boiling water disinfects things. Alcohol is a good antiseptic. I got no idea how to make chloroform or ether or any good anesthesia, but I’ll bet a lot of you scientific types do.

  128. Anyway, there’s a few things I could tell them for sure DON’T work, like sacrificing virgins if the king is sick, or if the crops are scarce. …

    Yeah that’s what I’m thinking — the basic concept of science vs. superstition, though obviously some people still have trouble with that today, and this depends on you having some credibility with the past people (which we’ll assume).

    Thinking a bit more, I figure the most useful stuff I can contribute is probably in the area of anatomy/physiology/basic medicine — not that I have any specialized knowledge there, but it’s fairly simply and practical until you get down to the cellular level. I probably could explain, like I said before, germs, sterilization, throw your waste somewhere other than where you bathe and get drinking water, isolate the contagious; I could explain what general functions the blood, brain, heart, lungs, stomach, liver, etc., serve, probably not well enough to teach them useful surgeries, but I could give them a head start on getting something useful. Pharmacologically, they probably know more than I do already as far as the useful plants of their habitat.

    Math, physics: Some concepts of probability would be useful, but I’m not sure what they would already know in that regard, and some of that is redundant with the general concept of science (1 in 6 chance, rather than an angry god controlling your dice). Arithmetic and such I think they’d already know, same for much geometry/trig (depending on when/where). I can do some calculus but doubt I can teach anything useful.
    Newtonian mechanics, I can explain the basics (F=ma, inertia, etc.), but not sure how much practical good that does them — engineering-wise, they’ve already figured out wheels, leverage, pulleys such that I’d have nothing important to add.

    Chemistry, electricity, nuclear stuff: I’m completely useless. I suppose I could tell them the gist of atoms, but what good does that do until much later?

    In sum, I suppose I could be a moderately useful “medicine man/shaman”-type guy and have some positive effect on their standard of living, but they won’t be talking on cell phones or anything a week after I get there. And their benefit from my knowledge, relative to other societies without my help, disappears pretty quickly over time.

  129. I’m generally against governmental welfare as well, but I find your last post a little lacking in objectivity. First, not everyone considers taxation theft. Second, not all governmental welfare goes to “unproductive beggars.” As you said in your earlier post, there are some people who are hardworking but may be experiencing a temporary financial hardship, and it would be not only humane but also beneficial for us in the end to help those individuals. Now of course you may counter, as I’d argue myself, that the private sector does a better job than the government in this role, but you should’ve emphasized this in your post instead of making the facile accusation of hypocrisy.

    NP, hardly anyone considers taxation theft. I do. Feel free to disagree on that point, and explain how taking money or time from me without my consent for government programs that I don’t agree with and never consented to having performed, with prison time if I vigorously resist this taking, isn’t a form of theft. Seems objective to me to have that POV, even if almost no one else has yet reached that conclusion. It’s real hard for people to have an epiphany if they’re personally benefiting from not connecting the dots.

    Sorry I didn’t emphasize that I feel some people do deserve help if it is voluntarily offered. I’m all for voluntary taxation, where people would choose whether or not to contribute to such worthwhile causes on their tax forms — it’s the compulsory stuff I hate. In fact, I personally do a form of this voluntary taxation, donating a tenth of my income to the Mormon church, plus additonal charitable donations and time spent serving others in my calling. That is the governing model I’d like implemented.

  130. jh-still want to know if you support taxation for purposes of providing police protection (A and B making C pay for police for D), and if so, how that is different than taxation for social programs. Before you say, well, the police protects everyone, one can say that welfare provides a safety net for everyone (of course most folks don’t need it, but then some folks go their whole lives and never call the police). I’m not wholly unsympathetic to your point of view mind you, I’m just not sure myself where I can draw the line…

    Mr. Nice Guy, I oppose ALL forms of compulsory taxation whatsoever, including police protection. If the government wants to offer me police protection, I would like to choose between taking their offer and paying a voluntary tax for that service, or heavily arming myself or hiring a private security agency and not getting any government-supplied police protection. I would almost certainly opt for the government police protection, but I’d feel much better choosing to do so rather than having it forcibly extracted from my pay.

    I don’t see any substantial difference between someone taking taxes from you without your consent to pay for police vs. social services.

  131. Look through his archives for columns that address things like the cost of housing in San Fransisco

    Housing is expensive in San Francisco because everyone wants to fucking live there!

    That’s what Uncle Tom Sowell can’t seem to comprehend. Yes, it’s a collectivist nightmare of beauraucratic parasitism run by moochers and thugs. Just like New York, Paris, London, Barcelona, etc. Yet for some reason people want to live in those places; go figure!

  132. Anonymo the Anonymous

    Going back in time and being useful? Try Mark Twains “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” or “The Cross-Time Engineer” by Michael Valdivielso.

  133. We all agree that Thomas Sowell, with the except of a book or two, is a sad apologist for the Gayfers On Parade.

    First, he’s such a supply-sider that he doesn’t take into account demand at all. San Francisco, NYC etc. are expensive because people want to live there.

    But the thing that kills me his silly (it isn’t plausible enough to give much more respect than that) idea that gov’t regulation caused the sub-prime crash. One look at the Florida real estate market shows just how ass-fat-in-the-crack wrong he is. There has been a major boom in housing development and no gov’t entity can stop it. Sprawl went crazy in Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa and most other places in FL. The locals couldn’t have stopped it if they wanted to. And yet…..the market crashed.

    Perhaps Sowell could do some basic work in economics instead of trying to make a case for his preordained political views all the time.

  134. I think Sowell can do economic work, and fair, thoughtful work at that (again, look at one his early books called simply Marxism for evidence, and much of his stuff on ethnicity and economic success). However, it’s clear he just wants to get PAID now. He’ll write anything if the GOP stamps it OK first…
    jh-Thanks, I do think that is a consistent position. I think that once a person says we can have compulsory taxation for police (which many libertarians say) they have little room to argue that it is not ok for other things. I think your position has consistency.

  135. To Reasons credit a while back a fee market think tank ranked the most economically free places to live, and NYC was near the bottom while Wichita was near the top. Reason said certainly there is more to life than economic freedom, because Wichita is a hole and NYC rocks. I think one may argue that wherever you find dynamism you will find parasitical things like government, and that could be why dynamic cities have such collectivist tendencies (they have dynamism despite the collectivism). Of course, I think the better view is that a little bit of government seems essential to economic success (Somalia has no government and look at it) while too much strangles it (think North Korea). Of course, I am quite a heretic because I think government coercion can at times (usually not, but yes at times) create more freedom for more people in the long run. If the government tells employers they cannot spy on me during my lunch break at the office then that constrains the freedom of a handful of people (employers) but expands freedom for many, many more (employees). The old “well you’re always free to work elsewhere” is empirically flawed (corporate standards can be quite uniform at times for all intents and purposes, and the bargaining power of the employee relative to the employer is nearly always lower [who could go without each other longer without starving, you or your boss?]) and conceptually iffy (since you can say the same about government to a libertarian: if you don’t like it you are free to move to another one’s jurisdiction). But when I see government restricting the freedom of the many for the sake of the few (like subsidies) then it’s plainly wrong to a freedom loving person…

  136. Regarding Sowell, it still amazes me that a man as smart as he is–and one who says he has a “Constrained vision” of humanity–can support something like the Iraq War. Theres just a big disconnect there, I think.

  137. Mr. Nice Guy-

    Yes, NYC is a great place despite its big-government tendencies and high taxes. Big cities have other things–culture, dynamism, an educated populace–that smaller places often lack.

    However, you can have the best of both worlds–ex. Hong Kong–a large dynamic city with a high degree of economic freedom.

  138. Mr. Nice Guy,

    You seem to be advancing a utilitarian criterion. But to see if something’s fair. don’t we have to closely examine principle and particulars?

    Also, could you please give an example of spying in:

    If the government tells employers they cannot spy on me during my lunch break at the office then that constrains the freedom of a handful of people (employers) but expands freedom for many, many more (employees).

    Please consider this example of my point: I think that it should be legal for a company to have cameras in their stores to examine the shopping habits of its customers. But I don’t think that a company should be able to monitor the customers inside the rest rooms. That would be a clear violation of the customers’ right to privacy.

    In my preceding example, the fact that the customers outnumber the owners of the store has nothing to do with the conclusions vis a vis fairness.

  139. Balko,
    Thanks for calling Nassim Taleb humorless.
    That made me read what he said. It was a gut-buster.
    Will all posters above and below, please go now and carefully read what Taleb said!
    I have read his Fooled by Randomness and will read his Black Swan if the local library ever lends it to me. (I have it on “hold.”)

  140. iih,

    You’ve said nothing to indicate that your desire to aid the poor is anything but genuine and robust.

    For example, unlike other commenters, you haven’t once attempted to demean the desire to help one’s fellows by dismissing it as “guilt” and implying that such a desire is, on its own, and indication of a character flaw.

    Also, I don’t think that the watered-down “Arab Socialism” of the Egyptian government is comparable to the western, liberal project of incorporating a welfare state into a fundamentally capitalist system.

  141. When jh feels a responsibility to help the poor, it’s good and noble. When people who disagree with him about government policy feel the same responsibility, it’s just “guilt.”

    Sure, that makes sense.

  142. Since thia is an open thread, I’d like to share this swell Mew Wave vid:

    Bananarama-“Shy Boy” (btw, were they hot or what?!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqGawSXcAgk

    Also, check this fine New Wave tune:

    Q Feel-“Dancing In Heaven (Orbital Bebop)”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDdY3dXpdmU

  143. Here’s another great Bananarama vid!

    It’s Bananarama and Fun Boy Three- “Really Saying Something”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBxZNDGj5Ng

  144. With new wave hair-dos, I want GIRLS!

  145. Cesar-Excellent point. Hong Kong is a most interesting example. However, in some ways I remember they have some made government (like in zoning)….But as my most excellent sociology professor used to say, Hong Kong is just a city, and maybe it’s easier to organize things if you just have a city to look over…
    Rick-if you think it is wrong for a business to put cameras as you say then we agree…The hardcore libertarian would say “anything the businessowner can get the employee to put up with is great, oh sweet freedom!” Bullshit say I…

  146. With new wave hair-dos, I want GIRLS!

    Brilliant call, joe!…

    Here’s Another Bananarama -“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF2XN4GMsY8

    Dale Bozzio, and the rest of Missing Persons – “Words”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNU_wyQbAv4&mode=related&search=

    Eurythmics -“Who’s That Girl”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsOMJ8OGNaA

    (BTW, Bananarama are among the girls appearing in this vid)

  147. The hardcore libertarian would say “anything the businessowner can get the employee to put up with is great, oh sweet freedom!” Bullshit say I…

    Wait a minute, Mr. Nice Guy. That’s different than your example of employer spying on employees. Now you’re decribing voluntary interaction. So it should be legal, whatever we think about it.

  148. And of course we have the lovely Debbie Harry and Blondie!! – “Dreaming”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95AEzyWZX8I&mode=related&search=

    and “Accidents Never Happen”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsMzs5HKhj8

  149. Have I left the best New Wave girl’s hair-do for last? What ever, super cute Terri Nunn of Berlin should never be left off the list!

    Berlin – “No More Words”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWXspXwTCOs

  150. joe:

    I know that we agree on the need to have a humanitarian society. It benefits, firstly, the less fortunate in society, the provider of assistance, and, probably most importantly, the strength and cohesion of society as whole.

    We only differ on who should administer the process, government or private institutions?

    Aside from the administrative deficiencies/inefficiencies of government administering the process, I also believe that it hurts society’s cohesion, as I saw in my country of birth (as well as other countries, including European cities — and I have been to quite a few). If nothing else, it hurts one of the most important roles of religious institutions (i.e., churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc).

    If government leaves the business of aiding the less fortunate, these religious organizations will all of a sudden have a much stronger role in society. May be a side effect is that Evangelical Mega Churches would finally stop their attempts at undermining church and state separation as they will have a lot at hand to take care of.

  151. joe:

    You’ve said nothing to indicate that your desire to aid the poor is anything but genuine and robust.

    This is one of the most confusing sentences I had to read in quite sometime 🙂 But this:

    For example, unlike other commenters, you haven’t once attempted to demean the desire to help one’s fellows by dismissing it as “guilt” and implying that such a desire is, on its own, and indication of a character flaw.

    helped explain what you mean.

    Finally:

    Also, I don’t think that the watered-down “Arab Socialism” of the Egyptian government is comparable to the western, liberal project of incorporating a welfare state into a fundamentally capitalist system.

    How do we know that we are not in the US on our way to watered-down, not necessarily socialism, but system of governance?

    Quite frankly, I think the welfare society built in Canada’s capitalist system a bit inefficient, but in many ways less watered-down than whatever it is we now have in the US (and remember that I do have Canadian residence as well, and am quite familiar with their system drawbacks and strengths).

  152. Mr. Nice Guy,

    Hong Kong is a most interesting example. However, in some ways I remember they have some made government (like in zoning)

    Hong Kong also has a robust public housing program due to the high cost of housing in the city. Something like 2 million people in Hong Kong live in public housing.

    http://www.housingauthority.gov.hk/en/residential/prh/0,,,00.html
    http://www.housingauthority.gov.hk/en/aboutus/0,,,00.html

  153. To put that in context, that is between 25-35% of the population of Hong Kong.

  154. joe said: “When jh feels a responsibility to help the poor, it’s good and noble. When people who disagree with him about government policy feel the same responsibility, it’s just “guilt.”

    joe, my views on private charity reflects Jesus’ teachings, which say that one’s motivations for giving matter. In Matthew, for example, He lit into some Judean clergy who conspicuously gave because it enhanced their public image.

    As for the ‘guilt’ thing, I was referring to your own words, where you said you gave out of a sense of guilt, and emphasized that your giving was all about making you feel better. Do you really want to be shamed by having those posts repeated — posts which are a matter of record and easily recalled — or would you rather let it slide? Or do you want to retract those statements?

    No doubt some other people who advocate a larger government role in “charity” do it out of a genuine desire to help others. My point is that it is not really charity if you get the money by robbing others via taxation against their will. If it comes out of your own pocket, and out of concern for your fellow human beings, that is unambiguously charitable. Otherwise, not so much so, even if some people do benefit from the aid given, albeit at the expense of others.

    I understand your POV that wealthy people are rich bastards who deserve to get taxed heavily to help the less wealthy, and that doing so makes you feel better about yourself. I just don’t agree with that POV, and feel the behavior you’re extolling is immoral and wrong, even if the majority of the voters side with you and join you in that theft. Clearly we’ll have to agree to disagree, since you don’t seem the least bit repentant about your complicity and advocacy of this theft.

  155. Neu Mejican:

    Hong Kong also has a robust public housing program due to the high cost of housing in the city.

    That doesn’t negate the fact that Hong Kong realized its fabulous standard of living as a result of largely unfettered capitalism. Thru many time frames, and perhaps currently, residents of Hong Kong have enjoyed the highest per-capita income in Asia.

  156. As for the ‘guilt’ thing, I was referring to your own words, where you said you gave out of a sense of guilt

    I said no such thing. You read your pre-determined script, borrowed from the liberal in your head, onto what I wrote.

    Sort of like this:

    No doubt some other people who advocate a larger government role in “charity” do it out of a genuine desire to help others. My point is that it is not really charity if you get the money by robbing others via taxation against their will. If it comes out of your own pocket, and out of concern for your fellow human beings, that is unambiguously charitable. Otherwise, not so much so, even if some people do benefit from the aid given, albeit at the expense of others.

    And this:

    I understand your POV that wealthy people are rich bastards who deserve to get taxed heavily to help the less wealthy, and that doing so makes you feel better about yourself.

    None of these bear the slightest resemblance to anything I’ve writtern, or believe. You just write crap to make yourself feel better, because you don’t actually have the mental firepower to come up with counterarguments to what I actually write. You see something that kinda sorta reminds of an argument you saw someone else refute, and parrot the refutation.

    Pathetic.

  157. joe, jh:

    What I see happening here is a big waste of time regarding the motive for giving. Is this even worth the waste of time? Regardless of the motive, people like to give and there are those who are willing to receive the donation. Lets not get hung up on issues that really do not play a role on the desired outcome/consensus. The assumption here is that this is a discussion seeking common grounds between people in society with vary different beliefs and backgrounds.

    As I see it, jh and I agree that government should not play any role in the humanitarian process. joe disagrees. The gist of the disagreement is who is best to take care of the process. As for that, see my post above:

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/121885.html#763474

    (you need to copy and paste it in the address bar).

  158. But joe,

    Didya dig the New Wave links with cute girls in em that I posted?

  159. ihh,

    The gist of the disagreement is who is best to take care of the process I agree with that. You agree with that. Unfortunately, jh, believes that there is a disagreement over whether using tax dollars to solve social problems counts as a charitable act. There isn’t actually any disagreement on this point – we all agree that it does not – but for some reason, jh keeps insisting that I believe public welfare programs count as charity work.

  160. Aw, you know it, Rick.

  161. Cool, joe.

  162. That doesn’t negate the fact that Hong Kong realized [but couldn’t sustain] its fabulous standard of living as a result of largely unfettered capitalism.

    Had to add that.

  163. joe:

    I think everyone should have a right to say in which category should his/her taxes go. That way government spending will exactly be one to one what “we the people” want. If we all decide to put it towards defense, then it is a truly blank check to go to war (even though, ironically, it is called “defense” department), if some of us decide to put it towards public welfare and entrust the government in doing a good job at that, then this is where to go. If on the other hand I decide to put that money in, say, building better federal highways, then this is where it goes. And so on. I sometimes wonder why such a tax spending method is pursued. May be it is because the budget is too complex with a monstrously huge government that such a spending budget would be almost impossible to manage without an even bigger government.

  164. joe, jh, and whoever is interested in what I just said, I will be up for may be another 30 minutes, but will check back in the morning. I would really like to know what people think about my last suggestion. I wish crimethink was around. But for now, Lamar and Rick are good enough 😉

  165. Maybe it’s the wine, but I think this statement, “I think everyone should have a right to say in which category should his/her taxes go” shows such a comprehensive misunderstanding about our government and its workings that you should no longer be able to participate in it.

  166. I understand your POV that wealthy people are rich bastards who deserve to get taxed heavily to help the less wealthy, and that doing so makes you feel better about yourself.

    None of these bear the slightest resemblance to anything I’ve writtern, or believe. You just write crap to make yourself feel better, because you don’t actually have the mental firepower to come up with counterarguments to what I actually write. You see something that kinda sorta reminds of an argument you saw someone else refute, and parrot the refutation.

    Pathetic.

    joe | August 11, 2007, 4:25pm | #

    I give money to beggers when they ask, for entirely selfish reasons …

    Besides, as a liberal, I don’t have the responsibility to make sure that charity by itself is sufficient to further my humanitarian goals …

    But when I’m confronted by a begger, I do what I want so I don’t have to be in a bad mood.

    joe | August 11, 2007, 4:46pm | #

    Cesar,

    Whe blowing off a begger isn’t going to require any effort on my part, I don’t give them a second thought …

    I didn’t have any trouble going past him. Like I said, unlike the real charity I give or the politics I agitate for, my change-giving is all about me.

  167. Lamar:

    [but couldn’t sustain)

    I don’t think that the evidence bares that out. Can you offer evidence to support that Hong Kong couldn’t sustain its fabulous standard of living, which was the result of largely unfettered capitalism?

    They still have one of the freest economies in the world. Do they not?

  168. Hey everyone,

    Check out the Parsiad Meteor Shower! It’s only 10:45 here in Colorado and I’ve already seen a few. They’re best after 12:00 AM local time, and usually get continualy better till about 3- 3:30. Look to the East-North East.

  169. iih: “I think everyone should have a right to say in which category should his/her taxes go.”

    I think everyone should have the right to decide which categories of government programs, IF ANY, they will voluntarily subscribe to and support.

    You think that the government should get to decide how much of our money to take, but that each of should have some (easily circumvented by politicians) say about how your individual share of the money (compulsorily taken from you, with or without your assent) gets spent.

    You and joe think that government aid to the poor is a good thing — for the poor — while ignoring the effect on the people being taxed — and believe that morality has nothing to do with whether and how much of this forcible redistribution of wealth should occur, that it’s all about results for the favored political underclass.

    I think these government programs, and the means by which they are financed, are immoral to the core (not to mention counterproductive, ineffective, and oftentimes downright harmful to the purported beneficiaries) and that we should not countenance such immorality because it makes some among us feel better about themselves.

  170. Rick Barton,

    Regarding Hong Kong.

    Like all successful economies, it is a mixed economy. A socialized housing program that accounts for over 1/4 of the population’s shelter is a pretty impressive government program (in terms of scale- in the US that would mean around 90 million people provided shelter with government resources).

    My guess is that it benefits the society as a whole and has a positive benefit for the Hong Kong economy. Hong Kong would be harmed by moving away from this socialized program…at least that is my guess.

  171. jh:

    You and joe think that government aid to the poor is a good thing — for the poor — while ignoring the effect on the people being taxed

    then you have read none of my comments made above.

  172. jh,

    NP, hardly anyone considers taxation theft. I do. Feel free to disagree on that point, and explain how taking money or time from me without my consent for government programs that I don’t agree with and never consented to having performed, with prison time if I vigorously resist this taking, isn’t a form of theft.

    I know you consider taxation theft, as I remember you classifying yourself as an anarcho-capitalist. And I wouldn’t necessarily say your view is wrong; we just disagree on the extent to which the government can demand taxation from its citizens. The point I wanna make is that we do enjoy the services and benefits that our government provides for us. Now some of these, if not most, we can certainly do away with, but I think even you’ll admit that others like national defense are not only necessary but also too enormous and involved (at least at this time) for the private sector to handle. And since the government requires revenue to provide these services and since the U.S. Constitution specifically gives the Congress to lay and collect taxes–this would be true even if we were to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment–I would claim that “taxation is theft” is not an entirely fair statement.

    Sorry I didn’t emphasize that I feel some people do deserve help if it is voluntarily offered. I’m all for voluntary taxation, where people would choose whether or not to contribute to such worthwhile causes on their tax forms — it’s the compulsory stuff I hate. In fact, I personally do a form of this voluntary taxation, donating a tenth of my income to the Mormon church, plus additonal charitable donations and time spent serving others in my calling. That is the governing model I’d like implemented.

    I’m glad that you make charitable donations and perform community service on your own (though I wanna add that your tithe to the Mormon church, if you’re a Mormon yourself, probably doesn’t count as wholly “voluntary” due to the “coercion” of social norms). That said, I don’t think voluntary taxation is a practical choice at this point; as you’ll probably admit, if it were instituted so suddenly an immense recession would ensue. The best way to reduce or eliminate taxes is to do it gradually so that the public can be more open-minded when the government decides to fund some of its services through “voluntary taxation” as you call it.

  173. Neu Mejican:

    Regarding Hong Kong.

    Very good. But how come you don’t wanna comment on all the swell New Wave vids that I linked to? 😉

    Like all successful economies, it is a mixed economy.

    Two points; 1) The term, “mixed economy” also has had the meaning that production is either heavily regulated, or owned by the state. Of course HK has neither of these conditions. 2) It doesn’t follow at all that economic success requires that the economy be mixed, even given the welfare state connotation that we’re using here. In fact, I think that the evidence is that economies often get prosperous in the first place. or at some stage, to the degree that they are unfettered by government.

    My guess is that it benefits the society as a whole and has a positive benefit for the Hong Kong economy.

    Well, most government redistribution programs have exactly an opposite effect. Perhaps a political critical mass has developed for this program that, as often happens, that has less to do with “need” and more to do with political coalitions..

    But it seems that HK is a very unusual situation which may increase the likelihood that the motivation for this public housing program is more genuine and less driven by political power dynamics. (Of course that doesn’t mean it’s not wrong headed) HK has been a very libertarian place. Contrast this to its quite unfree surroundings. This freedom and resultant prosperity have caused a huge population influx into a confined space which has, of course. driven up property values wildly.

    BTW; from one of the links you provided:

    It is the first step up the housing ladder towards self-owned accommodation.

    I wonder what the “pass thru” rate is. IOW, I wonder what the average time is for folks to stay in government owned housing?

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