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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 07:31 PM
Original message
The Real Cost of Living in a Conservative/Libertarian Society
Ive read a lot of threads/posts on DU lately that run something like this:

1. News article is posted describing dire consequences for ordinary citizens who undertake some investment or risk of modern American life.

2. Group A of DU readers comment on how terrible it is that people suffer so.

3. Group B of DU readers point out that the people in the article TOOK A RISK and its their own fault if they didnt do enough homework to know it was too risky, or were too heedless or greedy or otherwise culpable, and personal responsibility is an important and desirable characteristic of adult citizens.

4. A mixed bag of Group A readers and new (Group C) readers expresses umbrage at Group B for blaming the victim or insufficiently understanding why people NEED to take those risks, etc.

5. The thread evolves into a discussion of responsibility vs. need, including reams of Well, when *I* was in those peoples situation stories that illustrate either how the people in the article SHOULD have handled the situation, or how unavoidable such dire consequences can be based on various factors beyond the control of an otherwise reasonable and responsible person.

And it seems to me that were missing the point we should be discussing, which is, what types of risks, and to what degree, should a community attempt to shield its members from? And what are the consequences to the community of over-shielding versus under-shielding people from risks?

Im old enough to remember when American citizens were routinely shielded from many types of risk we face today. A few examples:

Extending credit to uncreditworthy individuals was costly for lenders, and the profits from tightly regulated interest rates were modest. All this made credit more difficult to get for consumers. However, if you were able to get an American Express or Diners Club card back when I was young, there was a good chance youd be able to pay your bills. The same was true of mortgage lending.

Back then, if you bought a home, and indemnified your home against damage with homeowners insurance, the likelihood was very high that you were, in fact, indemnified against just about anything except willful damage you committed. You did not have to shop and compare among many insurers, with a long list of questions to ask each one about Is this covered? What about this? And if this happens? and generally, you didnt have to pay extra for coverage against ordinary risks.

You went to a doctor who had treated you (and possibly your family) for a long time, knew your medical history, and could direct you to whatever, in your doctors judgment, was the best treatment for your problem, and your health insurance (which you took for granted because it came with your job) paid for it. If you or a family member got sick you didnt have to spend many hours on the internet researching the nature of your problem, the various treatments and risks, and planning a careful, costly, time-consuming, energy-draining campaign to get your HMO to cover as much of the costs as possible.

If you had paid into a company-operated pension fund during your working years, the PENSION WAS THERE. You could count on it, the benefits were defined and the risk of managing the money was assumed by the company and insured by the government and your fellow-citizens.

In a thousand daily decisions about how to spend or invest your money, you could reliably assume a minimum level of risk that would let you make that decision based on personal preference rather than a painstaking, time-gobbling research regimen to discover all the hidden risks and the liabilities being pushed onto you, the consumer, because the community no longer values your time enough to assure you certain minimum protections.

Do we blame people who get sick because the meat they purchased at the supermarket was tainted, and they should have known better than to shop at a market in a crummy neighborhood? No, we expect even people who cant afford to go to upscale supermarkets to be shielded from the risk of tainted food by regulations imposed on food suppliers and vendors. We expect our drugs to be safe, our clothing not to catch fire and instantly combust around us if we get too close to a flame source, our children to be able to play safely with the toys we give them, and our vehicles not to roll over during ordinary driving maneuvers.

Which brings me to the question, do we really have an absurdly litigious society, or is our quest to be protected from risk being portrayed as greedy, opportunistic, selfish and costly to everyone by those who would profit from our being unprotected? There are unquestionably many frivolous and self-interested lawsuits working their way through our system, and the legal profession does nothing to discourage them, since they are the only sure winners. But is it unreasonable to expect that the makers and installers of a swimming pool will ensure that its hardware cannot snag or hook onto children playing in the water and put them at risk of drowning?

We all get a laugh out of product liability warnings that elaborately cover the makers against ridiculous misuses by consumers, and perhaps we need to lighten up a little and expect some common sense in many areas where the risk is not likely to affect many people or pose a broad, ongoing cost to the community. Nevertheless, we need to have a serious and substantive discussion about the question of what levels and types of risk are acceptable, and which we should protect our community members from.

When it becomes nearly a full-time job being responsible and protecting ourselves from risk, the cost is too high. Its already impossible for the average person to earn a living working ONE full-time job at minimum wage. When the average middle-class household needs to have one or two adults working anywhere from fifty to eighty hours a week just to pay basic expenses, what suffers when those same adults have to devote an additional several hours a week to researching basic financial and personal decisions to ensure theyre not doing something stupid? When do we raise our children, look after our elders, volunteer at the library, or research the candidates running for election?

Just how much of the risk burden should we be shifting to individuals, and when will it all break down?

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Gormy Cuss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 07:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. In an Ownership Society, the burden is all on the individual.
I'll add only that I'm old enough to confirm all of your observations of then vs. now.
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #1
54. The Only People With Protection Today are Corporations and their
white collar criminals with golden parachutes.
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MaraJade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 10:36 PM
Response to Reply #1
55. How very astute!
"Ownership" sounds, on the surface, like a very good thing. After all, human nature is to desire
ownership over hire. We all want something of our very own. And so, the repukes have coined the
"ownership society" phrase to play on that want. But we all must be careful to read between the lines
on this one.

In a repuke "ownership society," people own not only assets, but liabilities; in particular liabilities that do not actually belong to them and over which they have no control. In their version of the "ownership society," it is acceptable for wealthy people or corporations to use the law to assign or even force others to assume ownership responsibility over risks that are not theirs.

The ranting and raving about "tort reform" is a very good example of this. Of course, reasonable people want to see an end to frivolous suits that waste public money. But reasonable people also want to see bad doctors and irresponsible businesses called to account. Both sides must be addressed to achieve true tort reform. But repukes have a "blame the victim" mentality. Contributors to the repuke party are somehow immune to the harm that they have caused others. I have never heard one single repuke call for physicians to police their own ranks and remove the nutters who are mutilating people. Rather, repukes truly believe that mutilation is a "risk" sick people chose when they sought medical help. You "own" the consequences of seeking any medical help. It isn't the careless doctor's fault that you suffered injury; it is your fault for "risking" the surgery. It is the same with consumer products; the corporation that manufactured the faulty drug or device isn't at fault--you took the "risk" of using the device or taking the drug, and so you are responsible for the consequences.

In life, we all take risks, but to be fair, we must be able to completely calculate the risks for ourselves.

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Reckon Donating Member (729 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 07:43 PM
Response to Original message
2. Nice post.. nt
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senseandsensibility Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. Great post!
Edited on Thu Aug-10-06 07:57 PM by senseandsensibility
Good points. You articulated something that I think most of us sense innately, but don't put into words. Thanks for taking the time to do so. :)
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MrBenchley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
4. Very well said...
I have no respect for libertarianism, which I consider nothing but empty sophistry in defense of base instinct.
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nam78_two Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 08:02 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Well said!
I have never had any respect for the "me, me,me" libertarian philosophy-maybe it could take a superior form, but thats the only form of that philosophy I see in the modern libertarian movement.

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MrBenchley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 08:04 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. What I find especially offensive is the suggestion
that the Democratic party must be remade in their likeness, since their own party is fighting with the Greens and the Maharishi party for last place at the ballot box.
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nam78_two Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 08:14 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Too true
Edited on Thu Aug-10-06 08:16 PM by nam78_two
Also I don't see their "libertarianism" in action on the most fundamental issues regarding liberty-I don't see them speaking out about civil liberties being violated, privacy becoming irrelevant, gay rights etc.

The only "liberties" they seem to care about is the liberty to pollute the environment, consume fast food etc. :eyes:
As someone who has been an environmentalist for 10+ years, I can say with confidence that by and large its the so called Libertarian groups/talking heads that the enviro movement has had most problems with (CATO, Liberty Lobby, AEI etc. etc. And then creeps like John Stossel, that Instapundit douche-bag and so on)

We wouldn't be in such a pickle with reg. to global warming if it weren't for these people....
They work over time to create confusion in the general public's mind about the science of environmental issues...

As someone in the sciences, I can say that about 80% of the scientists I know are strong environmentalists.
The profit over everything else motive is purveyed by them fairly openly...Maybe there is a more liberal(?) form of libertarianism out there somewhere but I haven't come across it.
The only self-proclaimed libertarian in the media I like is Bill Maher....

There tools like Stossel etc. fight minimum wage hikes, universal health care etc. (only in a slightly more low profile way than their anti-environmental BS). Richard Berman-big time libertarian lobbyist in DC-the Centre for Consumer Freedom guy and asshole extraordinaire...

The modern libertarian movement scares me....basically it seems tailor made for the haves to screw the have-nots....

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MrBenchley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Exactly so....
The "freedom" to be a chump is no freedom at all....
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nam78_two Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 08:17 PM
Response to Original message
8. k&r/nt
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senseandsensibility Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 09:20 PM
Response to Original message
10. k and r
One more vote needed for the greatest page!
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Stinky The Clown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 10:22 PM
Response to Original message
11. And the fifth comes from a clown
Nice post, Bright. Thanks for articulating a very important logic.
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nam78_two Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-10-06 10:42 PM
Response to Original message
12. kick...I really like this thread/nt
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Iowa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 01:17 AM
Response to Original message
13. Terrific post. K&R for the morning crowd...
There is a staggering hassle factor involved in a growing percentage of day to day interactions and transactions. I, too, am old enough to remember when it wasn't that way.

I do think that time spent learning about personal finance is well worth it. I also recognize that not many are able or willing to devote the time necessary to learn the ropes. I would estimate that I spent (conservatively) thousands of hours reading on the subject - and I still do. I would also estimate that I could reduce everything that is important to know to maybe 20 pages - but it took me thousands of hours to be able able to know what is important, what isn't, and how to distinguish between the two. And that knowledge changed my life.

To anyone who reads this (not directed to the OP)...One of the most important things to know about investing/personal finance is this: Learn the ropes yourself and do not use brokers, planners, or financial advisers.

Another important thing to know: You are your own worst enemy when it comes to investing, and the only way to protect you from yourself is knowledge.
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Dulcinea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 04:16 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. Basic personal finance should be taught in school.
Things like how to balance a checkbook, how badly you'll get stiffed if you don't pay bills on time, etc.

But, corporate America & the credit card companies would never allow that, of course. How would they make any money off of people who refuse to live according to their means? I don't mean people who have to use credit to survive, like to pay catastrophic medical bills or because they lose a job; I mean the people who make $25k a year but still have an Expedition in the driveway of their McMansion because they have to keep up appearances.

My DH & I are probably despised by credit companies. We pay our bills in full every month & don't have car payments (we don't drive lavish vehicles.) We only owe money on our house, & send extra every month that goes to the principal.
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mad-mommy Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 11:55 AM
Response to Reply #14
25. a few notes and questions
re: "I don't mean people who have to use credit to survive, like to pay catastrophic medical bills or because they lose a job"

So far, knock on wood, we haven't had to use a credit card for bills, in fact your lifestyle sounds like ours... though we are finding it difficult to keep up with the gas prices.


I know, and I have seen people paying for groceries and medical bills with credit cards, that have not had a catastrophic event or loss of job, they just can't keep up.

I also like the part about people keeping up, and living outside of their makes it harder for people who are struggling. The perception thrown onto low to middle class in particular may be that we are just doing fine, because of the McMansions and the big gas guzzling cars. Do you think the need keep up appearances has part to do with why things are the way they are today? If people we're not so willing to pay whatever to have whatever, maybe the cost of living would not be so ridiculous?
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #14
29. Agreed. And a less whitewashed history curriculum
so that students will graduate with a better and more realistic sense of what has happened to people, instead of just learning political mythology.

Having a better sense of what power is, what power does, and how people have lived under power would make people much more aware of risks, rewards and punishments.
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Brazenly Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 05:29 AM
Response to Original message
15. Libertarians - political unicorns?
Like the unicorn, I don't believe any true libertarians actually exist. Unlike the unicorn, their nonexistence is a distinctly good thing.

100% of the people who claim to be libertarian turn out to be either
(a) calling themselves that because they think it sounds cool when they actually couldn't survive for 48 hours in a society lacking the controls, protections, and services provided by government;
(b) a secret control freak ("The government shouldn't tell you how to live - I should");
(c) a Republican with an even stronger personality disorder and weaker tether to reality than usual; or
(d) all of the above.

Press a "libertarian" on any mundane but critical issue like garbage collection and his/her whole bullshit rap falls apart.
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sui generis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:05 AM
Response to Reply #15
19. I definitely possess some libertarian characteristics
but the philosophy as a whole is absurd if you're sharing resources. A libertarian would think nothing of damming up the only river on the island and selling you drinking water or letting you die. A radical capitalist would take it further and think nothing of making it illegal for you to collect rainwater. And a republican libertarian would disagree with radical capitalist on principle but in reality do nothing to stop them.

But I do agree the government should not tell you "how" to live, and I am the last person you could call a control freak, or a republican.

Weak tether to reality - I'll buy that. :P

Seriously though "public safety" and shared resources and the general welfare and health of the population are valid government concerns. Most everything else is debatable.

Who you get married to - w-a-y overboard for the government. Stating that marriage is for procreation? Oh wow. Next stop: Logan's Run.

I think it's not always wise to associate liberatarianism exclusively with republicans, or to construe all of it as abhorrent. Can it be that I'm a democratic-socialist-libertarian? Is there such an animal? As humans, collectively, we have an obligation to take care of our planet, our selves, and those less fortunate than ourselves. We have an obligation to plan for the future, to take care of our elders, and to leave the world a place of hope and optimism for our children. We have an obligation to see the reality in front of us, no matter what you believe or don't believe about the afterlife, and, we have an obligation to GET ALONG with each other. As our populations increase, the cost of health and living and assurance increases, and the availability of vital shared resources decreases. So things like finite fuel and safe drinking water and access to healthcare, employment, education and housing are vital for government to regulate, and heavily. Giving greater weight to a corporation's right to make a profit than an individual's right to health is plutocratic absurdism in a "nation of individuals". But telling people they can or can't serve in the military or marry someone they love if they happen to be of the same sex - that's where I say I'm libertarian. I don't have a problem paying for the administration of government, but telling me that 70 cents of every tax dollar I pay goes to the "military" to pay Halliburton: got a pretty big problem with that. I don't want tax cuts. I don't want to redistribute wealth or keep wealth from accumulating - I'm libertarian that way for sure, but I want the taxes we pay to pay for the welfare, and I use that word without shame, the welfare of our nation.

Smaller government? Yes. No more freaking faith based programs in government. GET RID OF ALL OF THEM. Our government should be optimized to administer to our well being, all of us. The biggest issues we face right now are not war and terrorists but trade deficits, manufacturing decline and increasing transportation costs coupled with declining fuel reserves. Smaller government - yes, less government looking out for corporate interests, and more government looking out for us. Corporations as entities by their very nature are fiefdoms that seek to become kingdoms, and you cannot have a successful kingdom when you recognize the rights of individuals. Our government needs to figure out if we stand for kingdoms or for democracies, and I have a feeling the government of a democracy is "smaller" than the government of a kingdom.
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Brazenly Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #19
21. You got it!
I really can't think of a thing to disagree with you on. Just one point of clarification

"I think it's not always wise to associate liberatarianism exclusively with republicans, or to construe all of it as abhorrent."

I think in this sentence, you're talking about something significantly different from what I'm addressing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're talking about (small l) libertarianism and, specifically, a philosophy of keeping the government out of our bedrooms, churches (or lack of same), and other places it doesn't and never did belong. I'm talking about (capital L) Libertarians, specifically people who identify themselves with a particular political party that not only wants government to stop doing what it shouldn't be doing, but also to stop doing what it should be doing - acting as a facilitating agent for its employers.

You may possess some (small l) libertarian characteristics, but you seem to have too much common sense and too strong a grip on reality to ever be a (capital L) Libertarian.
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erknm Donating Member (86 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 02:00 PM
Response to Reply #21
36. Some real misunderstandings about Libertarians here
Edited on Fri Aug-11-06 02:06 PM by erknm
First, I cannot claim to be the spokes-hole for the libertarian movement or the party. However, in my not so humble opinion, I offer the following:

It is important to separate the libertarian ideology from the libertarian party. There are some similarities of thought, but there are many differences.

The original post, I believe, was correct in pointing out that many people who claim to be libertarian are really closet republicans who want to sound more intellectual. However, having said this, it is similarly incorrect to claim that this is an indictment of the libertarian ideal.

For example:

Libertarians tend to be isolationists, most (including the party) have consistently opposed the Iraq war.

Libertarians do not support the government approval of gay marriage, libertarians do not support the government approval of any marriage, be it between two males, two females, a male and a female or a male and a golden retriever. It is not the appropriate role of government to legislate what it means to be in a relationship.

Libertarians support individual property rights, which is where some progressives fall off the truck.

Libertarians do not support government policy tools to be used for many social causes, such as environmental policy, which is where I fall off the libertarian truck.

Abortion tends to be a somewhat vexing issue for the libertarian movement. It gets to the real question: Whose civil rights are being violated? If they deem that the baby's rights are being violated by abortion then they would be anti abortion. If they deem that a restriction violates the mother's civil rights and do not recognize the baby's civil rights, then they would favor legal abortion. I cannot claim to have my finger on the pulse on this one but I would say that most libertarians are pro abortion rights.

They are also split on education. In the end, libertarians tend to support public funding of education, at least up to the 10th grade, but they do not feel that there needs to be public provision of education. However, some feel that the government should be completely out of the education business, be it funding or providing.

The libertarian ideal would be opposed to affirmative action, welfare, immigration restrictions, unneeded legal restrictions such as drug laws, drinking age restrictions or the oft mentioned prostitution. There are no speed limits in a libertarian world, no requirement for any licensing of professionals such as attorneys, MDs, etc. There are no minimum wage laws, but there are labor unions. There are no restrictions on replacing striking workers, the market will work, if the worker can be replaced, and management deems it appropriate, a libertarian society would not restrict this.

In the end, it seems to me that libertarian ideals (not the republican bastardization of them that we too often see) value the role of the individual to succeed or suffer based on his/her individual behavior.

So, breaking down along progressive vs. republican theology, we have the following:

Progressive libertarian ideals:

No Iraq war, individual freedoms, no government restrictions on marriage or abortion. No immigration restrictions, no drug war. No restriction on unions.

Republican libertarian ideals:

No welfare, low taxation, no union protection or affirmative action.

Where libertarians do not fit in either:

Mainly spending. I laugh when I hear republicans claim to be the low government spending party, it is a ridiculous claim on its face. Likewise the democrats tend to view the government as the solution to most problems.

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Brazenly Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 05:28 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. You forgot the Out of their Freaking Minds libertarian ideals.
Lately, as soon as someone tells me s/he's a (capital L) Libertarian, I immediately tune out. That's after many, many years of trying to get some sense out of these people and finally deciding life was too short to chase after what doesn't exist.

It invariably goes something like this:

Libertarian: We don't need to pay taxes and have the government do things for us. We're better off doing it for ourselves. We can decide for ourselves how to live without interference.

Me: What about garbage?

Libertarian: You take care of your own garbage. If it's important to you not to have it pile up on your lawn, you'll hire a trash hauler or haul it yourself. Problem solved.

Me: Well, that's fine but what if my neighbor decides he doesn't want to haul his, doesn't want to pay someone else to haul it, and is willing to live with it piling up on his lawn?

Libertarian: How your neighbor lives is none of your business.

Me: At some point, all that garbage on his lawn is going to be a health hazard for my home.

Libertarian: It won't get to that point.

Me: Why not?

Libertarian: When you free people of the shackles of big government, they blossom and start taking responsibility for themselves without anyone having to tell them to do so.

Me: I see. So what you're saying is that all the lazy, cheapass, irresponsible, self-involved assholes who currently don't do what they should even thought they're required to will all of a sudden stop being lazy cheapass irresponsible, self-involved assholes when it's optional.

Libertarian: That's right.

Me: Um, I'm late for a meeting. See ya'!

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erknm Donating Member (86 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 05:48 PM
Response to Reply #37
39. Out of their freaking minds is correct , , at least with this one.
Edited on Fri Aug-11-06 06:00 PM by erknm
The libertarian ideal does not tell us that we should not contract for garbage pickup. It does not even tell us that we should not be forced to do it. The concept of choice is, I think, really important here. You can choose to live somewhere in a remote region where your behavior does not impact others. However, in a society in which we pack people together, our moral as well as legal rights do come in conflict. When this conflict arises, the moral solution is often messy. The legal solution is usually an application of utilitarian or Pareto reasoning. Pareto is normally more of a top down solution requiring universal agreement whereas utilitarian reasoning is much easier to apply.

However, in the specific example you cited, the lack of a legal mandate works, not because people care about each other, but because they care about themselves. Keep in mind that even in an area where trash service is mandated as part of the local property taxes, there is no law telling people that they must use the trash service. Periodically I hear about some hermit who is walking on two feet of trash in his house and has never thrown anything away. Normally there is some level of mental instability involved. Having said this, most people do not want to live this way, so voluntary behavior tends to work. I have a summer place in an area where there is no city mandated garbage pickup. I must contract individually to have it done or we can take the trash to the dump ourselves. Or we can find some other way of getting rid of it, perhaps even just keeping it in our basement.

What bastian of libertarian ideology is this, you ask?

In what incredibly reactionary region have I chosen to spend my summers?

In the ultra right-wing (not) W loving (not!!) NRA centrist (NOT!!!) hamlet of Hyannisport MA.

Yes, the home of the Kennedys (we live in an area that is technically within the compound, behind the summer guards) does not require trash pickup. It does not mandate it, does not provide it as part of our incredibly high property taxes. If you want it done, you have to contract for it, and pay for it, yourself.

As I said earlier, I fall off the libertarian truck in some spots (particularly the environment), but trash pickup seems to work just fine, in spite of any government mandate.

I can't say with any real certainty that I understand what this woman was really getting to. Having said that, the mistake she is making is that a pure libertarian utopia requires certain assumptions. For example, without zoning laws or homeowners associations controlling our behavior regarding property, the remedy offered to an individual is the civil court system which has transactions costs that prevent some injured parties from using it.

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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 06:34 PM
Response to Reply #39
42. One problem with the libertarian idea is that it requires an assumption...
...that people will act consistently and reliably in their own best interests.

How's that again?


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erknm Donating Member (86 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #42
45. Individuals do not need to be consistent or reliable,
we need to see on average that people act in their best interests consistently and reliably. And we have that. The question is, how to handle the outliers: With a large bailout program that protects all of us and causes us all to change our incentives because a few are unable to survive?

We need to find a way to target the few, without changing the incentive structure that the majority face.

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PegDAC Donating Member (906 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 11:07 PM
Response to Reply #45
48. What if
Your neighbor hates you? Our heighbor has set fire to our lawn, thrown trash on our lawn, and poisoned our garden with chlorine tablets.
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Brazenly Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #39
43. That's nice for you. Unfortunately not everyone lives that way.
My example didn't come from nowhere. :-)

I live on a small farm. Unfortunately, my neighbors are not the Kennedys. I'd hazard a guess that when you get out of the city, most of the country more closely resembles my neck of the woods than yours.

Our county has a few rather weak and ineffective laws regarding animal waste, but you're on your own to figure out what to do with household trash. We have a disposal company pick up our garbage once a week. It's relatively inexpensive and they charge by the bag so there's a small reward for stepping lightly on the planet.

The moron with the property next to ours chose to go a different way. Too cheap to pay a lousy $7 a month because it might cut into his beer money. For years, he burned his trash. All of it. And he makes a LOT of it. The stench was unbelievable. Eye-burning, stomach-turning, headache causing fumes. We had to close all our windows - winter or summer - on his trash burning days. Then for a few years, he buried it until one autumn he forgot to dig some pits for winter and had to go back to burning it. Now he takes it to town and tosses it in the dumpsters behind businesses. He says if he gets caught, he's going back to burning. This, needless to say, is a strong deterrent to any of his neighbors ratting him out. (He isn't a libertarian - he's just a garden variety asshole. Libertarians never seem to have any contingency plan for assholes, which is unfortunate because the more closely government gets to the libertarian ideal, the more the assholes will come out of the woodwork.)

This is annoying enough here where his assholiness can only affect a few people. What happens when you have jerks like him living in a big city? Having lived in a big city most of my life, I know that the relative anonymity afforded by city living often means the pressure to be a responsible neighbor is MUCH less pronounced in urban environments than it is out here. If I have one jerk like this for a neighbor out in the middle of nowhere, I'd probably have 20 of them within a half mile in the city. The air could get very pungent very quickly. (Okay, to be honest, the city *does* smell bad already, even with garbage laws. But, jeez, think how insufferable it would be without them!)

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erknm Donating Member (86 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #43
44. It becomes a question of ratios
I can just imagine some lone-toothed three legged inbred militant militia type chugging his Coors, stoking the fire from his last five pizza boxes, and shooting the odd ground squirrel with his handy concealed weapon as the sound of Dueling Banjos wafts in the distant background.

I think if we want to jump up into the ivory tower now, then we have to address the most common criticism of a welfare state, that the majority suffer because the minority fail to succeed in the system. The problem is that this comes down to both the definition of success as well an understanding of the actual numbers. We do live in a utilitarian society where we advocate the greatest good for the greatest number. Many of the defenders of a stronger welfare state would have us believe that a tremendous number of people fail to survive at an acceptable level in our current system and require some sort of assistance.

Unfortunately, what constitutes "failure to survive" or "failure to succeed" seems to be a changing target.

There will always be the reactionary who will indicate that any bailouts, anything short of complete independence, will result in the breakdown of society. I am reminded of the ultra conservative talk show host caricature in the movie "Airplane":

"They bought their tickets, they knew the risk. I say: Let 'em crash!"

To be sure, some of those are out there, and like the lovesick teenager finding nothing but desirable girls, progressives are more apt to see these types than are moderates. Having said this, if you listen to the Rush Limbaugh types, you would think that all democrats are socialist idiots who will settle for nothing short of a complete breakdown of personal responsibility leading pure socialism where each gives willingly according to his ability and each takes according to his needs.

Personally I suspect that the true state of beliefs is somewhere in between. The fact is, we must be exposed to the consequences of our actions in order to be compelled to succeed and live a productive life. Most of us usually make the right choice regarding our actions and when we make mistakes, we suffer. However, I apologize for having strayed far afield from the initial point.

As far as rural vs urban living, I disagree with your premise. In the city, there is much more peer pressure which I believe overwhelms the increased freedom from effective anonymity.

Regarding your smelly, trash burning neighbor, you should suggest that he move his trash pile progressively closer to his house. Sooner or later your problem will be solved.

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Brazenly Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 08:05 AM
Response to Reply #44
50. We'll have to agree to disagree
Edited on Sat Aug-12-06 08:07 AM by brazenlyliberal
"As far as rural vs urban living, I disagree with your premise. In the city, there is much more peer pressure which I believe overwhelms the increased freedom from effective anonymity."

Your experience is obviously vastly different from mine. I lived in a major city for decades and now have lived on a farm for 15 years. Neither I nor anyone I knew in the city was subject to anything approaching the kind of peer pressure and pressure to conform that exists in a small town or farming community.

"Regarding your smelly, trash burning neighbor, you should suggest that he move his trash pile progressively closer to his house. Sooner or later your problem will be solved."

This is exactly the kind of facile but essentially useless response I usually get from people who self-identify as Libertarians. Flying in the face of long experience telling me it's a waste of time and bandwidth, I'll explain just once why it makes no sense. Sooner or later, my problem will be solved only if the burning trash actually moves closer to his house. A moron he may be. In fact, a moron he is, but he's not stupid enough to follow a suggestion like that.

I'd love to chat with you some more, but I have to go. I'm late for a meeting.
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Ignis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #37
40. You have that same conversation, too?
I usually try the subject of driving laws, but I think I'll steal your garbage idea. :)
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tedd Donating Member (3 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #37
52. The garbage-collection argument doesn't work

If you move beyond the sphere of self-described libertarians and begin to discuss libertarianism with people who actually know something about it, you'll have to come up with a new counter-argument. There is nothing in libertarianism that requires us to rely on our neighbour's altruism alone to prevent him from filling his yard with garbage.

If the U.S. were to fully embrace libertarian principles, you would still have the Constitution, you would still have statutes, and you would still have common law. The limits on piling up garbage on one's own property would be settled by these methods, with the only difference being that a more constructionist or originalist interpretation of the Constitution would be applied.

Property rights are fundamental to libertarianism, but under libertarianism one person's rights are still bounded by the rights of other people, and those boundaries are still decided by a just legal process.
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newyawker99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-15-06 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #52
65. Hi tedd!!
Welcome to DU!! :toast:
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #19
24. We all want to have our cake and eat it....
..and I understand the distinctions you draw, but one has to be careful with semantics. Libertarians get what marginal validity they have from conflating basic human rights protected by the Constitution with their own looney ideas about restraining the government from interfering with their inclinations to be an asshole, exploit others for their own profit, etc.

Marrying whom you want to: Basic human right, nothing to do with 'libertarianism.'
Keeping the gov't from interfering with your right to open a noisy after-hours club in a residential neighborhood: 'libertarian' fantasy.

Making basic decisions about your own body/health care, etc.: Basic human right, nothing to do with 'libertarianism.'
Keeping the gov't from regulating substances that promote poor health and high levels of risk-taking that end up causing everyone money, so that you can indulge yourself and/or make a profit from dealing: 'libertarian' fantasy.

By the way, please note the word 'regulating,' as opposed to 'criminalizing.' This is one of those fine-distinction areas where one has to have enormous clarity about social costs & benefits versus restricting individuals' choices. Again, the essential discussion to have is, 'what level of risk-shielding do we, COLLECTIVELY benefit from, in excess of the costs in terms of choice restriction? In other words, we need to discuss the social costs of more vs. less regulation. The cost to all of us from addiction and the damage addicts do, versus the cost of losing the choice of recreational use, is a complex one. How addictive is a substance, what are the most likely/common downsides of abuse and the costs associated with them (that is, how much mess is likely to be made,) how much do we all want to pay for treatment and cleaning up that mess. Versus the likely and not inconsiderable costs of enforcing regulation, the costs of loss of personal choice, etc. The equation will vary from substance to substance, and from time to time, and must always be revisited. That's a responsible social process, as opposed to the irresponsible libertarian fantasy that consequences are borne only by the individual at fault.

Ensuring that no barriers based on national origin, skin color, class, religion, and other social distinctions exist to prevent people from living where they want to live: Basic human right, nothing to do with 'libertarianism.'
Denying the government power to monitor and enforce fair housing laws and other regulations that prevent discrimination: 'libertarian' fantasy.

By allowing libertarians to co-opt basic human rights and slap a 'libertarian' label on them, they gain a spurious legitimacy for their fantasies. It is not 'libertarian' to support the rights of individuals to make the decisions that control their own destinies and shape their own lives, that's basic human rights. Calling it 'libertarian' is like the GOPpies claiming having 'family values' as synonymous with being a GOPpie. Boooshwah!

Finally, you can NOT have your cake and eat it. It is not possible to have a "small" government that ALSO shields its citizens from the risks we want to be shielded from. There are nearly 300 million of us, and we live in an era of ever-expanding risks, and we have also allowed all of the infrastructure that USED to protect us from risks to decay or be destroyed. It is not going to be possible to replace it without massive investment in a large and EFFICIENT, EFFECTIVE government. And how do we ensure the government is efficient and effective? That costs money, too. There AIN'T no such thing as a free lunch, no matter what the libertarian fantasy tells you.

A government that ensures safe drinking water, a consistent supply of all necessary power, decent education for children, the enforcement of regulations that prohibit us from cheating, exploiting, and discriminating against each other, not to mention a hundred thousand other necessary functions, WILL NEVER BE "SMALL", either in terms of numbers or cost. The best we can hope for is that our money isn't wasted or pissed away for no results! We can hope that our government employees are kept honest and efficient and hardworking on our behalf, and paid at the level we expect people doing comparable work in the private sector to be paid. We can hope that our government is constantly reviewed so that outdated functions and services are eliminated and/or re-oriented to meet new needs. We can hope for many things, but not "small" or "cheap," and the sooner we come to terms with that and set some realistic expectations, the sooner we can stop pouring trillions down an inefficient rathole and use it to create a just, sustainable, supportive society instead.

Sorry, I don't mean this to sound like a personal rant against you, sui, but you've pushed some buttons and it just poured out...

apologetically but adamantly,
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sui generis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #24
33. semantics - I suppose a thousand words is worth
a characterization

Thanks for the explanation - and I'll even buy most of that.

I don't really want to live in a 70% income tax government either though, no matter how efficient it is. I'll buy that "small L" is actually "big H" humanitarian, and I should start recharacterizing my leanings that way.

Emotional honesty time for sui, I resent the hell out of our government. We let states regulate marriage in treatment that is completely different than what is convenient for the IRS or insurance companies, and cave to states rights or U.S. constitution depending on what controlling outcome we want that week. We tell people they can't smoke dope or dance at babtist highschools because addicts are everywhere and addicts cost society and I have a hard time believing that the government really spends one penny ON addicts in any form whatsoever that they don't recoup from those same people through lien and levy for the rest of their lives.

Police salaries are a sunk cost. We sue the tobacco companies billions of dollars to pay for lung cancer healthcare, and then spend the settlement money on everything but healthcare and education. Administering programs that put people in jail for decades for carrying a roach, or some 18 year old getting statutory for sleeping with his 17 year old girlfriend of 3 years being labeled a child molester, create the very failed rehabilitations that DO cost society, and pads the pockets of the prison lobby. Government oversteps, overcompensates, over interprets, and that is where I think we could use "less" and be a healthier society.

I don't want to live in a nanny state. I don't like living among people who think that Janet Jackson's accidental nipple was worthy of millions of dollars of fines, or who fuzz out asscracks on cartoons because they're afraid people will just go mad with lust and start humping their coffee table. On the other hand I don't want to live in anarchy either, and I am certainly not a "free market" mental case when I can see every day what deregulation has done for air transport, fuel, and essential utilities, a marvelous sort of place where you can't sue your HMO for withholding standard treatment that could have saved your life, where if you can't afford your blood thinners, kidney pills OR food, you will get neither and none.

Human rights vary by user and agreement, unfortunately. On an island that requires the 80% utilization of its three occupants for all three to survive, if one islander is a slacker the other two have increased utilization and a parasite. Get your dander down ;), I don't think that way, but there are plenty of republicans who do and that's reality. Reality in a nomadic life is that the tribe has to move to where the food is. It can't remain with the invalid elderly and the invalid sick. Therefore senior care and healthcare is not a "human right" in that context. Obviously we're not islanders or tribal nomads, but we have people in government and who shop at the same grocery stores you and I do who honestly believe that healthcare, housing and food are not basic human rights, who believe that they can tell you who you "are allowed" to be married to while at the same time sincerely gushing about how their proposal/marriage was the happiest day of their life.

Many forms of crime don't require "punishment" as much as active rehabilitation - particularly crimes committed by individuals against other individuals. The "punishment" in a farming community for stealing a pitchfork is to lock you up for a few days. Locking up a dentist or a doctor or a lawyer for a few days can mean losing professional licensing, certifications, and the ability to work again in a profession that may have paid hundreds of thousands of tuition dollars into education, or owe hundreds of thousands to business creditors expecting that level of income. We're big on punishment without considering the consequences ourselves, and authoritarian types seem to revel in it the most, and tend to most often be in government. Don't do the crime don't do the time. If you suffer misfortune, you did something to deserve it. (sorry had to stop and disinfect hands) We not only can do better, but we damn well better do better. Those big L Libertarian values that people have are born out of resentment and greed with a healthy dose of misappraisal of the world as an island or a tribe.

Maybe what I'm saying is I hate THIS administration well enough to believe that I almost could do better without them. I'm a libertine, not a libertarian, or somesuch. But I think there are also "moderates" and people who would characterize themselves as fiscal conservatives who might make the same false characterization of themselves as Libertarian, not out of greed but out of disappointment with what they get back for what they perceive they put in.

We're both ranting on the same side, I think :P plus I'm over-multitasking at work and a little disjointed between tasks, as usual.
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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 01:39 PM
Response to Reply #33
35. We are ranting on the same side... all the examples you have given of government folly are the consequences of one of two things: The first being the ability of wealthy corporations and special interest groups to skew the legislative process AND suppress the kind of careful, broadbased public discussion that needs to be part of determining what and how we should regulate.

The second is the level of authoritarian influence that has been allowed to deconstruct the social contract.

I'd add a third, which is the insidious effects of allowing the first two groups to decimate the public education system.

It comes down to all of us sitting down together and saying "What do we want our gov't to ensure us in the way of risk protection and benefits?" And Group A says "Well, I want to be protected from X", and Group B says, "I feel threatened by Y," and Group C says "All I need is to ensure that I get Z." But the cost of providing X, Y, AND Z is high, so Group B says, "I don't want to pay taxes for X, do you, Group C?" And Group C says, "No, definitely not, we'll go with Y and Z only. Sorry, Group A, what you want is too expensive and would constitute a "Nanny State" and interfere with our liberties, too."

And then all hell breaks loose, because Group A suddenly falls victim to the risks of X that they wanted protection from, which is no skin off Group B and C for awhile, but suddenly Group B and C notice that the stuff that Group A used to contribute is way, way down and they need to spend more money to replace it. And not only THAT, but they're having to pay to clean up the mess that Group A's disasters causes, so they pass a bunch of laws requiring Group A not to do This, and to always do That, but then Group B and C have to spend money to enforce the laws and pay MORE money to keep the offenders in jail, and eventually they are paying more than they would have paid to simply protect Group A from the risk. And the society is less pleasant, less sustaining, and less effective as a whole, so they're paying more for a crummier product.

But at least they're not paying directly for reducing the risk of X, which is something THEY didn't need, so is basically a waste of their money.

The old How Not To Do It is alive and well in our current government.

Personally, I don't mind paying 70% taxes if that 70% protects me from all the risks I want to be protected from and ensures that the remaining 30% of discretionary income I have will sustain me at a comfortable, enjoyable level.

It's all in what you get for your money, and the one thing we all seem to agree upon is that we're all getting shit-all for our money right now.

But we DO need to be realistic about what change will cost and what it will require.


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index555 Donating Member (166 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 05:28 PM
Response to Reply #24
38. But who decides who "we"are?
and what the risks said "we" want to be protected from are? :dilemma:

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TygrBright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #38
41. The "we" is pretty much decided for us in the Constitution....
...or Charter, or whatever law defines a social polity. That's the bedrock.

As far as who decides what the risks we want to be protected from, well, that's the whole point. WE do. We should be having that conversation all the time, in terms relevant to all of us, with information that will let us fully understand the potential costs and benefits of various solutions.

That's what self-governance is all about. That's why we're a Republic with a representative form of government. So that stuff like that is not decided for us by an absolute ruler or an small oligarchy of powerful and/or wealthy folks.

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Psephos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 10:01 PM
Response to Reply #24
47. Your post is thoughtful and full of insight n/t
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catzies Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 11:56 PM
Response to Reply #19
57. Yes, could we try this time "promoting the general welfare" over
"providing for the common defense?" ;) Just a thought.
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FighttheFuture Donating Member (748 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #15
46. Libertarians = kids in a candy store, confused fools, all of them.
Edited on Fri Aug-11-06 09:55 PM by FighttheFuture
Libertarians are the "I want all my freedoms implied in our Constitution and briefly enumerated in our Bill of Rights, but I don't want to support the mechanisms that society has built to help insure that--government!!" Like kids in a candy store, they want the candy, they just do not want to pay for it!

Add Ayn Rand Objectivism to this mix, with their "selfishness is a virtue" faux-morals and absolute adherence to "property rights" above all, and it really shows itself for what it is--unempathetic and selfish. Couple this with general human nature and it becomes very predatory and feudalistic. It's no wonder so many right-wingers consider themselves Libertarians--they can feel good about being selfish bastards.

Democracy is a real chore. The Democratic Party, not those DLC dicks, but real democrats--of, for and by the people--takes a lot of work. It requires constant vigilance, an educated electorate, an open and transparent government and a free press dedicated to the truth. Also, Democracy does not jive well with Capitalisms worst aspects--the accumulation of wealth, absolute property rights and profit above all. That is why we all need to ask which master we will serve--People or Profit. Both can exist, but you cannot serve two masters. One must be ascendant.
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Malidictus Maximus Donating Member (326 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 11:36 PM
Response to Reply #46
49. They can consider themselves a ham sandwich
for all the sense it makes..

"It's no wonder so many right-wingers consider themselves Libertarians--they can feel good about being selfish bastards."

Neither 'Libertarians' nor libertarians have much patience with the assholes on talk radio and the neocon traitors of PNAC. People who want to enforce their MORAL values on other people who are not interfering with their lives (in other words NOT meaning the jerk letting the garbage pile up next door) are not libertarian. 'Right Wing authoritarians' is a much better description for most of Bushco, the Freepers and the minions of the PNAC. Rooted in a disgusting cross between Roman emperor worship and Hun like intent to ravage exploit everything before them. They believe that they are the recipients of moral revelation, doing God's work and the only arbitrators of Right and Wrong.

Libertarians may believe in the market as the most effective way of distributing and increasing wealth (as with many complex systems it works well in the middle, poorly at the extremes) but not all who believe in Adam Smith's 'invisible hand' are libertarians.

1. Man has the right to live by his own law
to live in the way that he wills to do
to work as he will
to play as he will
to rest as he will
to die when and how he will

2. Man has the right to eat what he will
to drink as he will
to dwell where he will
to move as he will on the face of the earth

3. Man has the right to think what he will
to speak what he will
to write what he will
to draw, paint, carve, etch, mould, build as he will
to dress as he will

4. Man has the right to love as he will
take your fill and will of love as ye will
when, where and with whom ye will

5. Man has the right to kill those who would thwart these rights
Aleister Crowley
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FighttheFuture Donating Member (748 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-14-06 11:27 AM
Response to Reply #49
62. You quote Aleister Crowley? Asshat occultist! Cripes!
Edited on Mon Aug-14-06 11:28 AM by FighttheFuture
Whats missing in that hedonistic little screed is this:

Man does not have the right to shit all over others while pursuing his pleasure.

That is why we create civil society, why governments are instituted among men to preserve these rights..., etc. etc.

Libertarians, one and all, who really claim that half-wit pseudo-philosophy do not want to make the effort to create good government as they want all its protections but none of its responsibilities.

As I said before, and will again, Libertarians = Spoiled Kids in a Candy Store
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lumberjack_jeff Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #15
61. I've met some actual libertarians, as well as some posers
From my perspective, the former have a tenuous grasp on sanity.

The neighbor two doors down is a good example. Guns, generators and rain barrels - he's set up with all he needs. In a way, I respect the desire to be left alone - so I do. On the other hand, he lives an illusion.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 05:43 AM
Response to Original message
16. kr! nt
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Child_Of_Isis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 08:52 AM
Response to Original message
17. self delete
Edited on Fri Aug-11-06 08:53 AM by Child_Of_Isis
ack! wrong post!
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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
18. A Liberal/Libertarian society, OTOH, would be cool
What the conservative libertarians don't seem to get is that fraud and racketeering are not victimless crimes. That's usually because they want to be robber barons after college. :eyes:

But still, wouldn't it be good to have the old system of checks on corporate power, without having laws against smoking pot or lesbians getting married?

It's always about where you draw the line, innit?

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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
20. One of the best posts I've read in a long time.
It seems like much of what we've depended on for years is now taken for granted. Things that the government took care of, are now demonized as big government. Jesus Christ! They're even talking about privatizing roads!

How are we convinced that we don't deserve universal healthcare? That government shouldn't regulate utilities and drug companies that provide services and products that are necessary to live?

A recent experience will help illustrate this. First some background. I worked for over 30 years for a company, that decided to shut down and file bankruptcy in order to get out from under it's pension and retiree inrance obligations. Now, as a former member of the union bargaining committee, I know first-hand, that pensions and retiree healthcare were negotiated in lieu of larger wage increases. That's money we earned over our lifetimes. The executives shielded their pensions and benefits in trust funds.

Now, the federal gov't (PBGC)took over our pensions, d we were cut by half. Then a couple of months ago our health insurance was terminated, and we had 2 choices. Go without insurance or buy insurance through my wife's employer. I thought about going with the former, but we decided to buy the insurance for $600.00 per month.

And it's a good thing. About 2 weeks later, I got sick and had to be hospitalized for 4 days. While I was in there, they ordered all kinds of tests. CAT scans, MRI's, Spinal punctures, blood work, etc. Now, while I was laying in this hospital bed, was I supposed to go over my insurance coverage to see what was covered or not? Question a busy doctor, on the need for these tests, and whether or not I could afford them? Even if I did, I didn't have a computer or internet connection to check. I had to trust his professional judgement.

My wife wasn't allowed to bring my medications, but the hospital provided them. Did I call the billing department and ask them what each pill cost? Of course not. Did I have the option of not taking them? No.

Happily, All the tests came back negative, because they were trying to rule out some pretty serious maladies. But, now the bills are starting to roll in. I started checking my coverage, and I find out that I have big co-pays on a lot of these procedures. $900 on a MRI alone.

People who say we have to take care of every aspect of every decision, aren't dealing with reality.

When I ran for Congress 2 years ago, and even now, when I sometimes give a short speech on behalf of another candidate, and I find I need a little inspiration, I keep a few tapes of some of Bill Moyers speeches.

One of my favorites is where he talks about the Commonwealth. Common Wealth. It's something that brings the rich and the poor together. Something that is there for the benefit of all of us.

We need more Common Wealth.
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 09:51 AM
Response to Original message
22. and ALSO...
Companies could be fined serious money if they flat out lied in their TV commercials! (now "miracle water" is being taunted for curing everything that ails ya...)
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
23.  Very well said - I've been trying to figure out how to
put those ideas into words for some time.
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stevietheman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
26. This very thoughtful post is Koufax-worthy. Bravo! n/t
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mad-mommy Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 12:08 PM
Response to Original message
27. great post
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 12:17 PM
Response to Original message
28. Ditto those saying this is a great posting

I would did, when I ws growing up, the tax burden was squarely on the class of citizens who could afford it.

Now that that is no longer the case, I am feeling the squeeze, it seems like everytime I get into my car, I am worried that I might be pulled over for something (Tickets by police seem to be about the only way that local communities can get revenue they have lost due to tax cuts.)

This is a gruesome way to pay the bills that are publically owed. A low income friend of mine with terminal cancer, did not get around to registering her car. And of course she now faces an exorbitant fine. Should she live, this fine alone will probably cost her the right to have acar.
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ThomCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 12:21 PM
Response to Original message
30. You have written a great post.
Thank you very much. :)

I'm one of those people who think risk-management should be mandatory in product designs, construction and installation. I also think that government should strongly regulate any industry, business or organization that has a predatory interest of any kind.

The fact that someone is selling something does not make him/her benevolent or wise. I don't trust corporations to represent the public good unless they are required to.
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 12:45 PM
Response to Original message
31. Great post.
I'm friends with 2 sisters. One is a financially dependent personality and the other isn't (although she's receiving social security for an illness that keeps her from working). The one who isn't the FDP is always carping about the one who is. The one who is the FDP is always saying she hates to think and escalates problems to high drama when they come along so someone else can figure them out. They each remind me of subsets of our society (and those DU Group A and B you described).

I try and remind the non-FDP that she really is dependent upon the country's tax base so she shouldn't be angry at her sister for getting housing assistance. I also try to remind her that her sister is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to govt welfare; corporations that ship jobs overseas get more handouts. I don't know how to get the other sister, the lazy thinker, to actually think and take some personal responsibility. It's late in life, so there's no changing that old dog anyway.

Anyway, I'm sure those sisters have unresolved issues that have produced anger and resentment and they channel those feelings into attacks on personal responsibility. All that finger shaking is probably more like "Mom liked you best" rather than rational, critical assessments of one's personal responsibility failures.
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bbgrunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 12:53 PM
Response to Original message
32. thanks, Bright, for writing a very lucid post on the issue
of our times. The Ayn Rand culture of self has been insidiously slid into an internal dialogue that has validated the notion that government is "bad". The tension between the individual and the collective has definitely been driven over the edge.
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mrreowwr_kittty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-11-06 01:38 PM
Response to Original message
34. I add my name to those praising you
Very succinct and well-reasoned post. It seems that the average person is increasingly expected to be an expert on taxation, banking, health care, real estate, civil law, etc. etc....while the people who are PAID to be the experts are given a free pass for incompetence, negligence, and outright mendacity.

A perfect example of this is what's happening in my community right now. Back in the '80s a freeway plan was approved which included upgrading a surface street to accomodate projected highway traffic. Shortly after that, the funding fell through and the project was delayed indefinitely. In the meantime, developers were issued permits to build houses in the affected area. Now they have decided that they desperately need to complete the project in order to relieve traffic conditions in other areas. So several hundred families are slated to have their homes razed. There are also schools and churches that will be demolished. These people will be compensated but the remaining homeowners, the ones who didn't get their homes taken, will not be compensated for the loss in value due to having a big, honking freeway running through their backyards spewing diesel fumes 24/7.

Obviously, this represents a failure of planning on many levels. It could have been avoided had the state transportation agency simply purchased the affected land in advance. Barring that, the city did not have to issue building permits. The developers and real estate agents should have known what was proposed and made sure to inform potential buyers of the risk. But who is bearing the brunt of the blame on the editorial pages and in the public discourse? You guessed it. The homeowners. They "should have done their homework" according to the armchair scolds. This despite the fact that the major developer of the houses declared to a reporter that he became aware of the freeway expansion a week before the announcement that it would be done.

I blame the right wing media largely for perpetuating this attitude.
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mkb Donating Member (124 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 08:54 AM
Response to Original message
51. Minimize Risk for Greater Contentment and Happiness
     Some people would say that a life without risk is boring.
 But those people probably aren't the "victims" of
the loss that can happen if you do take risks and fail.
     Politics for the majority or the common person should be
seen primarily as the minimization or reduction of risk for
those who engage in it.  We live in a society where people
with advantages try to lure the unsuspecting majority into
gambling with their lives and the well-being of society. 
There are many things to do in life that are enjoyable and
that contribute to a better world, and that do not involve
taking great risks.
     The major thrust of society lures people with get-rich
schemes that rarely ever succeed.  The fact that they do
succeed in rare instances is used to give them false
     It's just not playing the percentages to get suckered in
to thinking about getting rich as a priority.  The happiness
and contentment that can be found in a balanced, middle-class
existence is not promoted in our society.  The greedy people
do not want you to understand the happiness that exists among
stable and balanced living arrangements.  We can't eliminate
risk from our lives, but we can minimize it and strive for a
stable and enjoyable existence without the roller-coaster
chaos of life involved with putting emphasis on being wealthy.
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kenfrequed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 08:03 PM
Response to Original message
53. Good post.
I completely agree.

Most of the libertarians I have met remind me of selfish children.

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newyawker99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-15-06 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #53
66. Hi kenfrequed!!
Welcome to DU!! :toast:
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catzies Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-12-06 11:53 PM
Response to Original message
56. In too late to recommend, but not too late to kick
This thread is a worthwhile read. :thumbsup:
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 01:49 AM
Response to Original message
58. Right-Wing Libertarianism is a fundimentally flawed ideology.
Edited on Sun Aug-13-06 01:50 AM by Odin2005
It is nothing more then a way to rationalize greedy behavior, it is a result of our degenerating society. Libertarianism cannot work because it is self-refuting, such system would either be overthrown or degenerate into corporate serfdom.

Libertarianism's concept of the relationship between the individual and society is also rubbish. Society is not atomistic (with individuals being the atoms) because, to quote Aristotle, we are by nature social animals; the concepts and relationships that define who we are the result of the social enviroment we are raised in. The individual and society are thouroughly intwined with one another. If I was born into some Amazonian tribe I would have roughly the same personality because of genetics, but I would be a much different person, our social relationships and upbringing DEFINES who we are.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-14-06 08:59 PM
Response to Reply #58
64. *KICK*
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 02:29 AM
Response to Original message
59. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
Indy_Dem_Defender Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-13-06 04:03 AM
Response to Original message
60. Got a joke - What happened to the greed ylibertarian who lost his job?
Edited on Sun Aug-13-06 04:04 AM by Indy_Dem_Defender
He voted democrat in the next election.

During the 2004 election, I ran into a couple of Libertarians who had recently lost their jobs to outsourcing. This was a democratic meetup and these 3 clowns all said they use to work as ITs or some computer positions and made 150K a year and their jobs where sent to India. All three were white males in their late 20's early 30's and had to be 3 of the most selfish people I've ever came across in a casual setting. The whole time when the whole group there was talking about important issues for the election, these 3 idiots kept on bringing up how we need to find a way for them to get their jobs back. Finally I asked if they made that kind of money didn't they save it? The reply was why would the save it they had a talent that could always bring them in a fortune. One said he need his job back or one making the same money or he would have to move back home with his parents. I walked away that night thinking wow what a couple of oxy morans! (Morans/Morons DU inside joke)

By tygrbright great topic to choose, and I'm nominating this topic!
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BluePatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-14-06 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
63. K&R
This kind of reasoned, well-thought-out post is what keeps me coming back to DU. Great thread, too.
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