Do Right-Wing Christians Want People to Be Destitute?

This article was originally published on AlterNet in 2014.The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is now in its fourth year, and the numbers point to a solid success. Thanks to Obamacare, millions of people can afford health insurance for the first time, and millions more still have health insurance because now they can't be dropped by their insurance company for getting sick. The once-astronomical growth of costs has slowed substantially, and in some markets is even … [Read more...]

“Because of Politics”

I was reading "Life in Obamacare's Dead Zone", about poor Americans stuck in a coverage gap that arose because the Supreme Court made it possible for red states to refuse the Medicaid expansion. I'll get to their stories, but first, I have to vent about the appalling subhead:"Excluded from the Affordable Care Act because of politics, thousands of poor Americans grapple with the toll — physical and psychological — of being uninsured."Whether the author meant it this way or not, the phr … [Read more...]

When Should a President Prosecute Their Predecessor?

The standout moment at Sunday's debate had to be Donald Trump's thuggish threat to jail Hillary Clinton:"If I win," Donald Trump threatened Hillary Clinton during Sunday night's debate, "I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation... People have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one fifth of what you have done. And it's a disgrace.""You know," Clinton later responded, "It's just awfully good that someone with the … [Read more...]

We’re All In This Together: A Humanist Sermon

Certain recent events in my life have made me think about how human beings depend on each other. However privileged or fortunate you are, you're all but certain to eventually face a challenge you can't overcome alone and need other people's help to pull you through. And I don't just mean in a disaster or a crisis, but for everyday, ordinary things, the kind of situations that most of us can expect to encounter in the course of life.Having children is the perfect example, because it's such a … [Read more...]

On Seasteading and Liberlands

Libertarianism is an ideology of the frontier.Most political ideologies are built to answer, in some fashion, the question of how to get along with our neighbors. It may be through democratic persuasion, or melting-pot cross-pollination, or shared notions of duty and tradition. Libertarianism alone makes the assumption that you don't have to get along with your neighbors. You can limit your interactions with other people to whatever trades you find advantageous, and if you'd rather not deal … [Read more...]

The Injustices of the American Justice System

Again and yet again, America is bleeding. The latest eruption of protests and anger came in response to the brutal, unnecessary police killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and then the carnage in Dallas where a deranged sniper killed five police officers and wounded more before being killed in turn.Whether any of this will spur reform, or whether violence will only beget more violence, either way it's clear that there's a chasm between police and the communities … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Wealth of Nations

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged and her other works, Ayn Rand valorized human ingenuity and drive. In her eyes, the individual ability for achievement is our supreme glory. But where do these desirable character traits come from? What makes one person a productive capitalist while another becomes a shiftless moocher?This is a question that Rand was staunchly incurious about. For all that she glorified brilliance, she never addressed what its origins or … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Almighty Dollar

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsWe're almost to the end of our epic journey through Atlas Shrugged. I've reviewed the whole book and all three movies, pointing out the logical holes and untenable assumptions as they were spotlighted in each scene. In this post and a few more to follow, I want to step back and look at Rand's philosophy as a whole. We'll see some broader themes that deserve more attention.One of the cornerstones of Objectivism is that laissez-faire capitalism is the only … [Read more...]

Have We Hit the Limits of Growth?

Ever since the Great Recession and the grindingly slow recovery that's followed, it's become an especially urgent question whether we can expect the future to be more prosperous than the past. Singularitarians and other techno-utopians predict that technology will make economic growth an ever-upward exponential curve, bringing undreamed-of material abundance and making each generation's life vastly better than the one that preceded it. On the other hand, skeptics argue that minimal or zero … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Open Borders

My recap of the Maryam Namazie-Sam Harris exchange spurred a debate about open-border policies, so I wanted to write a post focusing on that topic. Unfortunately, I believe this is only going to become more relevant, not just because of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, but because it's likely that the next few decades will see millions of people forced to migrate by climate change.On a first pass, it's hard to see what argument could be made against open borders. Shouldn't travel be … [Read more...]