Smart people saying smart things

Richard Beck: “Orthodox Alexithymia

When theology and doctrine become separated from emotion we end up with something dysfunctional and even monstrous. A theology or doctrinal system that has become decoupled from emotion is going to look emotionally stunted and even inhuman.

What I’m describing here might be captured by the tag “orthodox alexithymia.” By “orthodox” I mean the intellectual pursuit of right belief. And by “alexithymia” I mean someone who is, theologically speaking, emotionally and socially deaf and dumb. Even theologically sociopathic.

… Orthodox alexithymia is produced when the intellectual facets of Christian theology, in the pursuit of correct and right belief, become decoupled from emotion, empathy, and fellow-feeling. Orthodox alexithymics are like patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex brain damage. Their reasoning may be sophisticated and internally consistent but it is disconnected from human emotion. And without Christ-shaped caring to guide the chain of calculation we wind up with the theological equivalent of preferring to scratch a doctrinal finger over preventing destruction of the whole world. Logically and doctrinally such preferences can be justified. They are not “contrary to reason.” But they are inhuman and monstrous. Emotion, not reason, is what has gone missing.

Neil Gaiman, “Keynote Address,” University of the Arts, May 17, 2012

Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult, in this case recording an audio book, and I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall, and she said it helped.

So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise, and then just behave like they would.

And now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.

Mary E. Hunt: “Bishops Search for Condoms in Cookie Boxes

Emboldened by the Vatican’s hostile takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops] have shown their prowess by choosing to investigate the Girl Scouts of the USA.

… The apparent goal of this exercise of “investigating” gender female persons is to set up and enforce a male-defined model of girlhood/womanhood. A Vatican-, or in this case, USCCB-launched investigation is what Sister Sandra Schneiders, IHM, calls the equivalent of a grand jury investigation. There is the presumption that something is wrong, not something right, that there is guilt to be uncovered, not virtue to be unleashed. What is wrong seems to be women and girls thinking for themselves and acting for the common good.

Mark Thoma: “The Need for Countervailing Power

Before the recession started I could not have imagined that policymakers would fail to put the unemployed first and foremost in all policy decisions. I was sure the unemployed would come before inflation, before banks, before debt reduction and contrived fights over the debt ceiling. How could we possibly turn our backs on millions of struggling households, especially when doing so creates so many additional long-run problems for individual households and for the economy as a whole? Nothing else would be more important than putting people back to work, and we would, of course, come together and mobilize in a national war against high unemployment.

But I forgot something. With the decline in unions in recent decades, the working class has lost both economic and political power. And at the same time, those at the top end of the income scale have gained power both relatively and absolutely. So why would I have ever thought that the unemployed would come first when they have so little organized political power? Is it any surprise that policy has paid most attention to the issues that just happen to be the things those with the most political power care the most about? What was I thinking?

I suppose I was thinking that politicians were honorable, that money wouldn’t trump principle. Silly me. In any case, the question is how to change the balance of power.

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  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Mark Thoma: “The Need for Countervailing Power“

    John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out in his 1952 book a concepr very much like this and it boils down to the need to create balancing forces within society that are strong enough to withstand each other: Government, Labor, and Business. When one gets too strong, the others begin to succumb to the less savory influences of the first.

  • dr ngo

    WRT Neil Gaiman’s point, I first encountered a version of it almost 40 years ago.  I was out of town, staying with a couple my wife and I had known when we were doing amateur theatre there a few years earlier.  My hostess, a young actress when we knew her before, was now directing plays, and I mentioned to her that my wife, also an actress, had vowed never never never to direct, because she wouldn’t know how.  So I asked my hostess: “How did you learn how to direct?”  Answer:  “I just pretend I’ve been cast as a director and then act the part.”  Easy.

  • Kirala

    I do a variation on the pretend-to-be-someone-who-can-do-it at least once a week. As a beginning teacher, I tend to be scared and self-conscious and horribly aware of my plethora of mistakes. So I often pretend I’m impersonating Ms. [Mylastname], who is the Awesomest Teacher Evah, and I just have to fake my way through it till she returns to cover for me. It helps that in today’s world, teaching is the only context in which I’m likely to be referred to as Ms. [Mylastname]. It’s almost a superhero alias. A really cool superhero, like Johnny Snow.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    I always have trouble getting into character with that part.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Saw this yesterday: a venn diagram from Neil’s advice . I’d say it applies to more than just freelancers.

  • Tonio

    I’m not sure of Beck’s point, because I don’t know what would constitute a theology that’s decoupled from emotion. Instead of “right belief,” I’m interested in what constitutes fact that’s independent of belief, which is why I don’t hold a belief either way on the question of whether gods exist. But that in no way excludes “emotion, empathy, and fellow-feeling.” Following the principle of the Golden Rule can be justified both emotionally and intellectually, and it doesn’t require taking a position on the existence of gods.

    Would an example of an emotion-free theology be an RTC dooming others to hell for not obeying the RTC god? My first impression is that such a theology would be very emotion-laden, but with fear and hatred instead of love. But it’s still possible that the theology is factual, meaning that a god could sentence a person to heaven for a lifetime of harming others and another person to hell for a lifetime of helping others. 

    If that scenario were factual, I would certainly not advocate that one should simply sacrifice others to save one’s soul. But I would see it at as the ultimate test of one’s conscience, like the one that Huckleberry Finn faced. That’s part of what I mean about “fact that’s independent of belief.” If there are gods who want people to go against their consciences in how they treat each other, that would be simply part of knowing the risks and consequences involved in decision-making.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Fred, don’t know if you’ve seen Rachel Held Evans’ latest post, but she’s talking about Huck Finn…

  • Tricksterson

    Sooo, the bishops have completely flipped then?  No I mean it, “investigating” an organization over whom they have no authority?  They’ve gone beyond the sinister into the silly.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    They think they have authority over all girls and women. They’re trying to keep contraception from every single female-bodied person in the U.S.,  and do keep contraception of all types from people in other countries, so I don’t know why anyone’s surprised by this.

    People often misuse the term “witch hunt,” claiming that an investigation of a person they like, founded in facts, is a witch hunt. This is, of course, nonsense.

    However, “investigating” a bunch of girls and women for some kind of nebulous “sin” of learning stuff about their own bodies and sex generally and who knows what else, they must be doing something wrong, look at all those girls and women sitting in a group being girls and woman without a man telling them what to do and think and feel and when and how they must allow their bodies to be used by and for men…

    This is a witch hunt. It is exactly that. The bishops can’t burn these girls and women at the stake, or physically torture them, or drown them, or hang them, and I’m sure they regret that. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Of late, the boundaries of the Catholic Church’s authority have grown pretty nebulous. Sure, they can’t prosecute the Girl Scouts, but — apart from chasing them out of Church-owned buildings — they might come up with an argument along the lines of, “Letting the Girl Scouts use public spaces like parks and community centers for their meetings is a violation of our freedom of religion,” and get a few of their sycophants into their legislature to play along with it. After this contraception thing, which started as a Catholic religious freedom thing and quickly transformed into a generalized attack on contraceptive rights even outside of the context of an employee of the Catholic Church or a Catholic-affiliated organization (the Blunt Amendment would have given the veto over women’s reproductive health coverage to any organization, even completely secular ones).

  • The_L1985

    True. But very few people are capable of deliberately siding against the GSA. They’re too widespread, innocuous, and children in uniforms never fail to look adorable and worth-siding-with.

  • Tricksterson

    The bishops should be more careful about who they piss off:

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GirlScoutsAreEvil

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     Oh, yeah, it’s probably not going to work, but they can still try. They’re unlikely to get any kind of widespread societal condemnation, but if they can decrease the overall happiness and well-being of just one little girl, even by a little bit, I really think they’d consider it a job well done.

    One “in” they’ve tried recently is to link the Girl Scouts with Planned Parenthood and an abortion, in an effort to guilt Catholic members (who make up, what, 30% of the GSA’s membership) into withdrawing. They’re not going to get everybody, but they might get to some people. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I don’t understand how any rational, honest Christian theology could even pretend to try to de-couple itself from emotion, even without knowing through psychology that without emotion, people don’t function.

    Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-39

    Love is the first commandment. Love is the second commandment. I see no possible way for any Christian theology to get around that. Jesus didn’t say, “the first commandment is to write erudite-sounding papers that make people realize how smart and rational and masculine-ly above it all you are. And the second is like it: publish or perish.”

  • lowtechcyclist

    One of the reasons I’d have expected Thoma’s expectations to be closer to the truth was that I’d have expected the newspapers and TV to write stories and editorials about the difficulties the unemployed face, and the need to do something about it.  Our lawmakers do feel increased urgency about an issue if it’s getting play in the media, after all.

    But our media have failed us.  The editorials and op-eds have largely been about the need to get our debt and our deficits under control, and about avoiding the risk of inflation.  The first human-interest story I saw in the Washington Post about the difficulties of the unemployed managed to find the most unsympathetic figure possible to put at the center of their story: an unemployed man who, when he was making 50K a year, bought rounds of drinks for all his friends at the bar, and saved up nothing.  And now that he was unemployed, he was drinking away a good chunk of his unemployment check each month.  They must’ve worked hard to find a story to convey the message, “unemployed people are worthless leeches who don’t deserve any help.”

    The failure of the media hasn’t been the whole story, but it’s definitely been part of it.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “workers”? is this guy 200 hundred years old?

    ” The editorials and op-eds have largely been about the need to get our debt and our deficits under control, and about avoiding the risk of inflation.”

    risk? gas is at boom era prices with a depression economy. the deficit  is well past 10 trillion.

    “Government, Labor, and Business. When one gets too strong, the others begin to succumb to the less savory influences of the first”

    He was wrong. We don’t need countervailing forces we need tgo get rid of negative forces. theres no need of any countervailing force to something that is good.  

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    He was wrong. We don’t need countervailing forces we need tgo get rid of
    negative forces. theres no need of any countervailing force to
    something that is good.

    The problem is that “good” in your context is not value neutral.

    The key point is that a capitalist economy is not a stable equilibrium. Because of the fact that humans don’t act like homo economicus, asymmetric information exchange, and what-have-you, you are going to get booms and busts.

    One way to keep an unstable equlibrium at the equilibrium point is to be totally “hands-off, do not disturb” – which is only practicable either economically or scientifically if you put the thing in the deep freeze. Nothing must change – all must be as little-affected as possible.

    Such stasis is not socially ideal. Would you like to never get a raise, ever again? Never be able to change jobs? Never buy any new products? Never see new computers? Eat exactly the same foods day in and day out for the rest of your life?

    Such a situation would, of course, lead to an economy that never experienced booms or busts, but only at the price of a complete lack of dynamism or invention.

    Where did we see a society so concerned with keeping everything exactly the same, so unchanging, so rigid as to be virtually frozen in amber?

    The Soviet Union in the 1970s.

    There is a reason that era is called the Brezhnev Stagnation.

    So, if an unstable equilibrium cannot be maintained in a justifiable manner by means of social and economic stasis, then what?

    Then it can be buffered by equally-strong mutually opposing/reinforcing forces.

    Let us consider the case of a coin balanced most delicately on its edge.

    In vacuum, of course, absent perturbations, it will stay right where it is (an excellent real-world example are the balancing rocks for which Zimbabwe is known for).

    However, in normal atmosphere, air gusts might tip the coin over and unbalance it. But what if two equally-opposed air currents happened to hit the coin on opposite edges?

    Then of course it would stay upright!

    In a capitalist economy, very broadly you have business owners, workers, and the entity that makes the rules and enforces them – the government.

    Business owners and workers have both mutually similar and mutually opposing interests. Workers and owners wish to see the business do well, but workers want more of the pie from the profits, and so does the business owner. How that pie is divided is indicative of the relative balance of economic power between workers and owners.

    To this end, the government is a third mutually reinforcing/opposing entity. By carefully setting the right rules, it can reinforce the workers against the business owners, or vice versa. Since the government sets the rules for how people in society ought to behave, there is a mutual confluence of interests in seeing that crime be punished, and so on.

    But in turn business owners and workers each also have tensions with the government, since individual business owners in general have more money than  individual workers; since business owners are fewer generally, one expects that they will more easily gain the government’s favor.

    But workers have more votes, so they in turn may check the tendency of the government to be influenced by business owners.

    All these three – workers, business owners, and the government – can under the right circumstances, reinforce a socially and economically optimal equilibrium without the need to induce stasis.

    Socially and economically suboptimal situations that tilt away from the desired equilibrium are intimately bound up with shifts in power among workers, government and business.

    And right now, business has too much power relative to workers, and the government is not checking this sufficiently.

    Thus, the need for the Galbraithian Countervailing Power.

  • EllieMurasaki

    We don’t need countervailing forces we need tgo get rid of negative forces.

    You know, you’re right. Get rid of the concentration of wealth in the hands of an ever-shrinking number and everything else will probably right itself.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Somehow I doubt that he sees wealth concentration as a “negative” force. :P

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Somehow I doubt that he sees wealth concentration as a “negative” force. :P

  • Lori

    He was wrong. We don’t need countervailing forces we need tgo get rid of negative forces. theres no need of any countervailing force to
    something that is good.     

    Oh sure, get rid of the bad things and we’ll have no problems.

    What color is the sky in your world Chris? While visiting this planet how did you manage to get through school without learning that plans to get rid of all the bad stuff so everything can be wonderful tend to end very poorly?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I do not! to drunk and hungry to respond but i will soon.

  • P J Evans

     That’s a good sign that you shouldn’t say anything right now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/l.andrew.spencer Leonard Andrew Spencer

    I get Gaiman’s point, but I can’t help thinking of the jokes about Pretending To Be Wise in the semi-satirical fanfic Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, where it involves coming up with a contrary seeming cliche worded in a profound seeming way.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “Get rid of the concentration of wealth ”

    by taking it at the point of a gun. real civilized.

    Why didn’t Cratchett or whatever his name was just quit and get a job someplace else? That’s the question here folks.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Taxes are the price of civilization. Also there’s that jackass who took everything he earned in the Facebook IPO and moved to Singapore so he wouldn’t have to pay.

    Cratchett-or-whoever couldn’t quit and get a new job because there are no new jobs.

  • P J Evans

     Scroll….
     Scroll….
     Scroll….
     Scroll….
    Nothing to see here, anyway.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    “Get rid of the concentration of wealth ”

    by taking it at the point of a gun. real civilized.

    JESUS FUCK I AM TIRED OF SEEING YOU DUMBASS LIBERTARIANS REPEAT THIS “AT THE POINT OF A GUN” OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER LIKE A GOD DAMN FUCKING BROKEN RECORD. I HAVE SEEN THIS SINCE 20 FUCKING YEARS AGO AND I AM SICK OF IT.

    Prove to me the last time actual people with actual guns from the actual IRS ever broke i into someone’s house and in literal fact, took that person’s money.

    People like you literally do seem to think the government can run on thin air forever and ever, or on totally voluntary donations.

    NEWS FLASH, GENIUS

    It’s been done. Repeatedly. And every time, voluntary charity has always fallen far short of the stated goal.

    Why?

    Because rich people don’t just give away all their money! That’s not the point of being rich, for most of them. Even Bill Gates isn’t giving away most of what he’s got until after he’s dead.

    Which could be what, another 30 years?

    Most of what he’s got isn’t physical. It’s in paper! Stock, bonds, that kind of thing.

    Stock certificates aren’t intrinsically valuable. Nor are government bonds, should the government fail to redeem them (which has happened; ever try to redeem, oh, let’s say, Confederate war bonds recently?).

    So what protects the value of that wealth?

    The very government that you so despise.

    By maintaining a stable social order and a working economic system, the very government you profess to dislike and resent protects the value of your money.

    The same money you so grudgingly pay in taxes as the cost of that support to pay the police, the regulatory authorities and the lawmakers who are tasked with making the rules which get enforced by the police and other government officials.

    See, this is why libertarians get treated like they’re thick-as-planks-level-of-clueless. Because what they want is a stable, wealthy country that sugardaddies them with good roads, clean water, honest police, and all the rest besides — without paying a fucking dime for what it costs to keep things that way.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- well, analogies are kind of not a good thing for us to discuss, my fault. We don’t know all that much about the specific economy of Scrooge ville. You’d have to think there was someone nicer than him to work for though. little bit of an S and m thing going on there you think?
     
    “Taxes are the price of civilization.”
     
    because you say so?
     
    “Also there’s that jackass who took everything he earned in the Facebook IPO and moved to Singapore so he wouldn’t have to pay.”
     
    that’s the same thing the soviets said about defectors. we put all these resources into this person blah blah blah.
     
    “Prove to me the last time actual people with actual guns from the actual IRS ever broke i into someone’s house and in literal fact, took that person’s money.

     
    don’t pay your taxes and you’ll find out! point of a gun is an expression but if you didn’t pay what they told you or whatever yu would be arrested which implies the threat of force.
     
    “Stock certificates aren’t intrinsically valuable. Nor are government bonds”

    neither are federal reserve notes. they’re just paper.

    “resent protects the value of your money.”

    the dollar has lost something like 90% of it’s purchasing power since the federal reserve act. They aren’t doing a very good job of protecting it’s value.

    “The same money you so grudgingly pay in taxes as the cost of that support to pay the police, the regulatory authorities and the lawmakers who are tasked with making the rules which get enforced by the police and other government officials.”

    how about we just pay for the police and the regulatory agencies and not pay for the wars and making all those jerks millionaires?

    The roads are horrible anyway. They’ve done as bad a job with that as they have of protecting our weath via monetary policy.

     
     

  • EllieMurasaki

    “Taxes are the price of civilization.”
     
    because you say so?

    Civilization is all our people (especially children and elderly) fed and sheltered and educated. Civilization is all our workforce employed, or keeping the wolf from the door while they’re between jobs, which should never be for long. Civilization is our roads and electric wires and water and sewage pipes built and maintained. Civilization is the advance of science, technology, and the arts. Civilization is health care for all. Civilization is our disputes resolved in a just, fair, and timely fashion. Civilization is safety, for those like Trayvon Martin and Angie Zapata as well as for those like Mitt Romney. Civilization is keeping the few from having power over the many.

    Taxes pay for at least some of every item on that list. Some of those things, taxes should pay for all of it. And that last item, taxes are the only thing that will reduce the financial power that the few have over the many. The rich can’t spend for their own purposes money that’s been earmarked for establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense (within reason, and the US military budget, I agree, is not reasonable), promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

  • P J Evans

    “Taxes are the price of civilization.”
     
    because you say so?

    Trying another analogy (not that I expect you to understand it, bacuse as far as I can tell you’re trying for a Darwin prize):
    Taxes are your membership dues for the organization called the USA. If you don’t pay them, and you have enough money to do so, the organization has the legal obligation to collect them from you, or put you in jail. You can avoid those dues in three ways: leaving the organization (leaving the country), or giving up having enough money to live on, or dying.
    Quit whining about being expected to do what you’re supposed to do as a citizen.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Usually when you don’t pay your taxes? The IRS usually sends you a letter first, instead of sending OMG MEN WIF GUNZ.

    http://www.finweb.com/taxes/what-is-a-federal-tax-lien.html

    And if you’re rich, all you do is just hire a bunch of tax lawyers, don’t try to go to the wall, and you can probably settle out of court for a fraction of the tax burden. All the highly publized Hollywood star tax cheat cases? That tells you something about how many rich people are playing the odds that if they just don’t report income that year, that the IRS will take a few years to find out and by then they can just sweep it all under the carpet.

  • P J Evans

     On the other hand, if you’re a business that deducts payroll taxes and you don’t send that collected money to the IRS – they’ll keep looking for you. Because you’ve stolen from your employees and from the government.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You know, I was driving the other day to uni, and along the way I kept thinking about the TV series, Jericho, and how in the absence of basic civilized authority above the municipal level, people reverted to the kinds of things you hear about from the 1990s in Bosnia, or what-have-you.

    And I thought to myself, that it was a pretty taken for granted kind of thing that in a country like Canada or the US, you mostly go where you please, without being stopped every block or three by armed guards who might just take that day to demand bribes or other ‘favors’ in order to allow you to proceed on your way from point A to B.

    And then at Point B, to be able to use a currency which is legally recognized and supported in order to use things like vending machines.

    Can you imagine haggling with a vending machine in the absence of any recognized common currency? Someone would have to sit AT the machine with the key for it, and barter or otherwise jibber-jabber with you over what constituted roughly equal value for a  bag of chips.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    PJ- I’m more than happy to pay for the things i need or even want. Why should I pay for things I dont want or need? I don’t approve of the war in Afghanistan. Why should I pay for it. They should let you decide what you want your taxes to pay for.

    I woud have no problem leaving the USA and just paying taxes to my state. At least they aren’t constantly declaring wars and inflating the currency. “let the nation state go hang itself” – I can’t remember his name.

    neutrino- yeah it would be so inconvenient if we had a currency that couldn’t be manipulated by a shadowy cabal of bankers in some building somehere.

    Ellie- the taxes all go the the few. washington DC is the richest area in the country. all the politicians and lobbiests and their staffs and all those people are the ones creating the inequality of wealth. Why would we put them in charge of eliminating themselves?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ellie- the taxes all go the the few. washington DC is the richest area
    in the country. all the politicians and lobbiests and their staffs and
    all those people are the ones creating the inequality of wealth. Why
    would we put them in charge of eliminating themselves?

    So fire your congresscritters and hire new ones who’ll distribute tax benefits fairly.

  • Lori

     

    I woud have no problem leaving the USA and just paying taxes to my
    state. At least they aren’t constantly declaring wars and inflating the
    currency.  

    The only reason your state doesn’t do those things is that it lacks the ability. It’s sure as hell not because it’s somehow an inherently more moral form of government.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    “let the nation state go hang itself” – I can’t remember his name.

    Edward Abbey, I suspect you mean. 

    If at some point you develop the courage of your convictions and go live somewhere where the government doesn’t charge you taxes in order to wastefully provide you and your neighbors with services you don’t want, be sure and let us all know how that goes.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Dave- that is who I meant thank you.

    “So fire your congresscritters and hire new ones who’ll distribute tax benefits fairly.”

    only meglomaniacs run for office.  It’s a joke. most people don’t even vote. it’s just like “protection” money you pay the mob.

    Lori- “The only reason your state doesn’t do those things is that it lacks the ability.”

    ding ding ding!

  • EllieMurasaki

    most people don’t even vote.

    One of my dreams is mandatory voting like in Australia.

  • P J Evans

    mandatory voting like in Australia

    I’m not sure that that would really be an improvement.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The weird thing about mandatory voting is that, the way US politics works, we wouldn’t need to have campaigns at all; the effect campaigning has on who people vote for is pretty much negligible; all it really affects is who decides to show up on election day. If everyone had to show up, the vast majority would, at the state and national level, just vote straight ticket for whichever tribe they affiliate with. Every election would be nice and predictable because they’d generally always go exactly the same way. 

  • P J Evans

    Megalomaniacs aren’t the only ones running for office. Egotists (like Rmoney) run for office. Fools run for office too: look at Orly.
    And in the other direction: Carter wasn’t (and isn’t) a megalomaniac. Nor have most other presidents.

    Yo must have failed government and civics in a spectacular way.

  • Lori

     

    ding ding ding!  

    So why would you be glad to pay to your state but pitch a fit over paying to the federal government?

    Have you ever thought a single one of your positions through to the end? Not even the end, just the next logical step or two?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- you’re dream is to force people to do something they don’t want to do that’s great.

    pj- “Megalomaniacs aren’t the only ones running for office. Egotists (like Rmoney) run for office. Fools run for office too: look at Orly.”

    you’re right I stand corrected. All sorts of horrible people run for office.

    lori- “So why would you be glad to pay to your state but pitch a fit over paying to the federal government?”

    state governments are horrible but they can’t declare wars or inflate the currency.  With a significant amount of corruption they actually do things people want.

    My “dream” would be to go back to being a colony: mild taxation with a King who lives on the other sided of the ocean.

  • EllieMurasaki

     Ellie- you’re dream is to force people to do something they don’t want to do that’s great.

    Jesus fuck. I have never said anyone who wants to vote ‘none of the above’ or write in ‘Mickey Mouse’ or the like would be forced to do otherwise. Appear at the voting booth if possible, mail in a ballot otherwise, and nobody said there has to be anything on the bloody ballot, but getting the ballot in front of every eligible voter is going to do a fuckton to make it more likely that every eligible voter votes. And not incidentally, make it much harder for people on your side of the aisle to keep people who’d be on my side were they voters from being voters.

  • Lori

     

    state governments are horrible but they can’t declare wars or inflate the currency.    

    But if the situation was such that you could pay to the state, but not to the federal government then the situation would also be such that the state could wage war & inflate the currency. Do you not get that?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

     bring back the monarchy. at least we wouldn’t have to suffer through the campaign ad onslaught.

    http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Economics-Politics-Monarchy-Natural/dp/0765808684

    Democracy: The God that Failed

  • EllieMurasaki

    And what happens when the monarch outlaws speaking in a libertarian manner?

  • P J Evans

     Jeebus Ghu FSM, you are stupid, and ignorant, and lazy.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *FACEDESK* *FACEDESK* *FACEDESK* *FACEDESK*

    That’s it. I’m done with you. This is my last message directed at you. Bleat out your silly-assed ignorant comments all you like, but I for one now refuse to engage.

    *PLONK*. You’ve joined aunursa, by the way. You should be honored.

  • Lori

     And again I find myself wanting to know why we can’t actually PLONK people in Disqus. Their unwillingness to make that possible is one of Disqus’ greatest faults.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Eh, I just mentally do it. Tends to work well enough anyway.

  • Lori

     That’s my usual method, but it would be nice to have the option.

  • hapax

     Nah, I don’t want to plonk him.

    I really really want to hear his argument that “taxation without representation” was a GOOD thing, and the purest expression of libertarian ideals.

    RON PAUL 2012!!!!!

  • Kubricks_Rube

    “bring back the monarchy”

    Okay, but be warned: when me and my three dragons take the throne, the libertarians will bend the knee and pay their taxes, or it’s to the Wall with the lot of you.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I resent that.

    Lori- the point is the ability to inflate the currency and wage war pretty much totally indepependtly of the “general welfare’ is a bad thing.  states not being able to do that makes them, in effect, better governments than out federal government. That and the fact that they actually can be called to account to spend tax dollars for more than a fraction of what they are supposed to be spending it on.

    and you are right: a state that doesn’t destroy it’s currency or start wars probably couldn’t exist. welcome to anarchism. (anarcho-capitalism)

    Ellie- the monarchy as it existed then was very limited. they wouldn’t have the resources to do any of that stuff. thats the idea. 

  • EllieMurasaki

     Ellie- the monarchy as it existed then was very limited. they wouldn’t
    have the resources to do any of that stuff. thats the idea.

    In what world do you live that any monarchy, other than the current UK monarchy and its like (and the UK, I remind you, is a democracy, queen or no queen), has had difficulty starting wars? Particularly over who should wear the crown?

  • Daughter

     Not to mention, most monarchies became more limited as some form of representative government arose.

  • Lori

     

    states not being able to do that makes them, in effect, better
    governments than out federal government. That and the fact that they
    actually can be called to account to spend tax dollars for more than a
    fraction of what they are supposed to be spending it on.  

    You are incredibly, persistently clueless about how the world actually works.

    The only reason that states can’t do the things you dislike so much is that the federal government has control of those things. In a system where the federal government did not have control over those things (which would be required in order to have a system with no federal taxation) the state would be able to do it and history tells us quite clearly that a fair number of them would do so.

    If you think that states are accountable for how they spend tax money and how no issues with waste, fraud and doing things that you don’t like it’s only because you aren’t paying attention.

    The states are not an inherently more moral form of government than the federal government. The idea that they are is a fantasy.

     

    welcome to anarchism. (anarcho-capitalism)  

    Welcome your own damn self to it, I have no interest in anarchism. On anything but a tiny scale it’s a miserable way for almost everyone to live. Far, far worse than paying taxes.

  • P J Evans

    the monarchy as it existed then was very limited. they wouldn’t
    have the resources to do any of that stuff. thats the idea.

    Another history fail. Monarchies were pretty unlimited before about 1800. That’s why it was a surprise when we didn’t do it that way.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    the colonies didn’t have to fight those wars though did they? I mean, obviously my preference would be for no government at all but the choice is between limited monarchy and unlimited democracy I’ll take the former. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m joining hapax’s chorus line. Tell us WHY taxation without representation was a good thing. Reread the Declaration of Independence before you do.

  • hapax

     

    the colonies didn’t have to fight those wars though did they?

    Oh fer cryin out loud.

    Did you study U.S. History at all? Ever hear of a little thing that we in the States called “the French and Indian Wars”? Did it ever occur to you wonder how George Washington got his military experience?  Do these words from the Declaration of Independence ring any bells?

    He has constrained our fellow Citizens take Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands

    And what on earth is an “unlimited democracy” anyhow, and what gave you the illusion that the USA approaches anything like one?  Or do you confuse the (in theory) constitutional federated republic / (in practice) corporate oligarchy of U.S. governance with the last season of American Idol?

    (Well, there is one similarity — white guys always seem to win)

  • Lori

     

    I mean, obviously my preference would be for no government at all  

    Then move to one of the world’s ungoverned spaces.

    What’s that you say? You don’t want to live in any of those places? Imagine that.

    Also, what hapax said about the your ignorance of US history. It’s either bottomless or you really like being called uneducated on the internet for the lulz.

  • Daughter

    Not only will the IRS send a letter first rather than show up at your door with guns when you don’t pay your taxes, they’re willing to work out payment plans with you. They are even willing to work out, “offers in compromise,” in which they accept a reduced total payment from you in the event you can’t pay them in full. And after ten years, any unpaid taxes to the IRS go away.

    They’re actually quite reasonable. They’ll only be really harsh if you a) ignore their notices, rather than call and try to work something out; or b) don’t pay your payroll taxes if you’re an employer. (And even then they’re can be flexible; a friend of mine leads a nonprofit in which the last executive director didn’t payroll taxes. Because she’s new in the role and not responsible for the last person’s failure, the IRS is willing to work out a repayment plan with her).

    Chris, do you really imagine that the local area bosses who would arise if we had the state of anarchy you desire would be this understanding if you didn’t pay your “protection money”?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “And what on earth is an “unlimited democracy” anyhow,”

    where the goverment grows and grows.

    lori = “In a system where the federal government did not have control over those things (which would be required in order to have a system with no federal taxation) the state would be able to do it ”

    why? you don’t need standing armies or taxes to live.

    “If you think that states are accountable for how they spend tax money and have no issues with waste, fraud and doing things that you don’t like it’s only because you aren’t paying attention. ”

    I said repeatedly that they are. They just have less power so they can’t extend their corruption into wars and money printing.  So clearly power is the problem.

    as for moving to another place: my family and community is here but if it comes to it you may see many going the way of saverin and others. heroic defectors from behind the iron curtain.

    daughter – yeah the IRS are real nice guys. oh my days

    “Chris, do you really imagine that the local area bosses who would arise ”

    we live in the first world and are products of western civilization. Our society wouldn’t regress it would evolve.

    At any rate, you guys know i’m all too willing to venture to the furthest extremes (anarchy, monarchy) of all this but it is academic. As the first commentor in the article we initially discussed pointed out, unions exist to get more for people who HAVE jobs. unions aren’t a solution to joblessness. government spending is not going to create the next industrial revolution. taxing the rich at 70 percent might make you feel better but it’s not going to do anything for this country.  We have a historical crisis that is systemic in nature. we are experiencing flaws in modern democracy that have not existed exactly in this manner before. it’s in front of your eyes on newspapers and tv every day. the status quo is falling apart. Washington got too big. kind of like how the banks got too big. what they are trying to do can’t be done. you can’t have all these different types of people mailing all this money into DC and expect them to mail it back out in a way that all those people will like.  It’s coming to an end right before our eyes. we should embrace it.

     

  • Lori

    we live in the first world and are products of western civilization. Our society wouldn’t regress it would evolve. 

    O just keep asking myself the same question over and over—are you actually this dumb?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    My jaw is literally dropped at the moment. How can anybody be so unthinkingly naive about how civilization works? Hasn’t Lord of the Flies made any particular impact? Or, for that matter, price gouging as routine practice during disasters? ($100 for some water bottles on 9/11, gas prices cranked to $6/gallon post-Katrina, etc)

  • Lori

     Yeah. I’m not sure which is more appalling—the blatant ignorance of how the world works or the implied racism of thinking, against all evidence, that Westerners are immune from going Lord of the Flies.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Reminds me of the time some guy, when presented with the plain fact that the USA comes in dead last on a lot of quality of life statistics, pulled out the hoary old chestnut of “BLAME THE MINORITIES”, only to end up sputtering incoherently when backing out the minority statistics still showed white people coming in pretty much near dead last.

    That kind of casual unthinking racism really is a serious problem, and it’s compounded by a lack of any serious consideration of why we need an impartial rules-setting body in society. Alas.

    In less unpleasant news, have a writeup on EoA. :)

  • hapax

     

    It’s coming to an end right before our eyes. we should embrace it.

    You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny.

    Really, once you start talking like a B-movie villain, don’t you know that you’ve lost the argument?

    P.S.  Just a piece of friendly advice, I’d suggest not trying turning into a giant snake.  It never helps.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    How does my paying part of my paycheck to washington for stuff I don’t want somehow equal civilization?

    You guys are putting the cart before the horse. in the 20th century the economy grew and the government clung to it like a parasite. and grew. and started wars and took more and more money from the people and made the previously stable dollar able to purchase less and less. thats not civilized at all. 

    We didn’t emerge from  anarchy.  In ancient times people believed their leaders were Gods and they devoted everything to them.people like Moses, Jesus and Muhammed were the antidote to that.

    We’re going Lord of the Flies on the road we’re on now.

    neutrino- what does price gouging have to do with this. Yes when there is more demand than supply prices will naturally go up because people are willing to pay more for them when they wouldn’t in normal times. it had nothing to do with absence of authority. There was plenty of authority.

    Who was paying 100 dollars for water bottles on 9/11?? in New York?

  • P J Evans

     It isn’t worth replying to you in answer to your questions, because you don’t understand the answers, if you even bother to read them.

    Go find some site that’s more at your level of understanding, where they’ll cheer your ignorance.

  • Daughter

    “How does my paying part of my paycheck to washington for stuff I don’t want somehow equal civilization?”

    Here’s how: there are plenty of things I don’t want part of my paycheck paying for. Wars, for instance, and subsidies for big corporations.

    But there are plenty of other things that Washington pays for that I think are good. I want low-income mothers to have WIC, so they can have a healthy pregnancy and food for their kids up til age 5. I want federal-backed student loans and Pell grants, so young people who aren’t wealthy can go to college and our populace will be well-educated. I want interstate highways, and research and development, and the CDC looking into diseases, and clean water and food inspection. I want Social Security and Medicare, so that seniors aren’t left impoverished and sick. I could go on, but the point is that there are plenty of things the federal government pays for that I think are important for our civilization.

    The problem, of course, is that in a democracy, people will disagree about what is important for civilization, and hence we get our taxes supporting somethings we don’t want. But in a democracy, you accept that everyone won’t agree with you, and if you feel strongly enough about it, you work to educate and persuade enough people to see and vote your way.

    What I don’t get, is how you somehow believe that monarchy or anarchy would be a better way to go, and that you still wouldn’t have to pay taxes or tributes or protection money that still would go for things you don’t want.  And unlike now, you  wouldn’t have any say in the matter.  Sorry, I don’t have your confidence. We’ve been there before.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    I don’t want to be cheered, I want to discuss ideas. We all have different ideas about how to improve our country. You all generally have this bogeyman of “anarchy” which will result in some kind of extreme corporatism and ultimate loss of freedom.

     funny that we have the same fears with completely opposite solutions.  I see us going in to more debt, maintaining our massive worldwide military empire and being in this state of extreme polarization that drags on for years.  I think you guys accept it and I don’t. Why not go for the brass ring? How about we pass a law that eliminates the pentagon? why not? it’s our country.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Reduce the Pentagon? Right there with you. Eliminate the Pentagon? Better have something good in mind to replace it with, because I kind of like being safe from foreign invaders while on US soil.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    IIRC as far back as the 1990s, when the US government was spending money on the military to the tune of ~$300 billion per year, there were several people who did some studies and made convincing cases that the US government could easily spend $100 billion less and still maintain the necessary state of military readiness that the US’s then-current defence doctrine held as being desirable.

    I’m sure it’s no different than today, but the kinds of politicians who like to talk the game Chris Hadrick seems to believe in are the first to flinch from attacking their sacred cow.

  • P J Evans

     In fact, they’re willing to give that sacred cow more than it has asked for, even as they take things away from people people who desperately need help.

  • P J Evans

    Why not go for the brass ring? How about we pass a law that eliminates the pentagon? why not? it’s our country.

    It’s ours, too, beckwit. We actually have a clue what we’re doing (because we know history and civics), and I don’t think you have anything but propaganda you’ve been spoonfed.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    neutrino- Ron Paul has been at the forefront of calling for defense cuts. He did a bil with Barney Frank on it. 

    and the Dems are just as bad. even some of the “cool” ones are all bought by AIPAC and the defense contractors. 

    I call for eliminating the pentagon and you then try to paint me as some kind of hawk by association gimmee a break.

    Ellie- to me the pentagon is a symbol of the military industrial complex. We don’t need one. We need not to have one.  it’s destroying this country in ways you can easily measure. dollars sucked out of the economy, men and women taken from their families and communities.  My guess is you largely agree with that. Obviously i’m opposed to other spending as well but the military spending is the most glaring and obviously ridiculous. My guess is you largely agree with that.   I don’t think hillary Clinton does. i think she looks at the US as a the de facto King of the “international comminity” and that we use our military resources really quite wisely.  You look at the bill to annoy iran or whatever, it’s totally bipartisan. 

    I wrote an article about it!  http://lesterhalfjr.blogspot.com/2012/04/its-brown-and-in-town.html

    PJ- I know history and civics too, the current status quo is demented and unsustainable.

  • EllieMurasaki

    the pentagon is a symbol of the military industrial complex. We don’t
    need one. We need not to have one.  it’s destroying this country in ways
    you can easily measure. dollars sucked out of the economy, men and
    women taken from their families and communities.  My guess is you
    largely agree with that.

    Do you think all the money that goes to the military and its toys gets shoveled into fireplaces? The US Air Force employs five hundred thousand US citizens. Boeing Military Aircraft, which exists more or less for the sole purpose of selling toys to the USAF, another twenty-three thousand. There’s more like BMA. Don’t forget all the USAF retirees, who get money from the Pentagon. And the USAF is hardly the only thing the Pentagon spends money on.

    The US military-industrial complex is primarily a JOBS PROGRAM. With bonus government-funded health care.

    Unless you’re going to argue that the Pentagon money should be redirected into federally funded jobs programs and health care programs, which I don’t think you are, don’t argue for taking away the Pentagon.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That being said, people like Seymour Melman have argued that the US’s military spending is a very inefficient jobs creation vehicle, so there is truth to the notion that the money could be better spent.

    The thing hindering the process is mainly the seemingly visceral need by a couple of generations of politicians to spend more money than the next ten nations down the line combined for a military out of all due proportion to the USA’s apparently peaceful objectives.

    It does not help one iota that defence contractors know that Pentagon contracts mean easy money and are willing to push for programs that may look and sound snazzy on paper, but tend to translate into long time scales for bringing to fruition.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    to me the pentagon is a symbol of the military industrial complex.

    To me, it’s an office building. Some useful work goes on there. You should try thinking more about reality and less about symbols. 

    How are the thousands of people whose jobs you take away from them by closing the pentagon helping the economy?

  • Lori

     

    I know history and civics too  

    This statement is demonstrably untrue. You are either lying to us or to yourself. In either case there’s no point in trying to discuss anything with you that requires knowledge of history or civics. Or human nature for that matter since you are demonstrably clueless about that as well.

  • P J Evans

    FWIW, military research funding  paid for developing the basis for the Internet. So, if you’re going argue to close the Pentagon because you don’t like what it symbolizes, you damned well ought to find out what all it actually does, instead relying on what you think it might be doing.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “Do you think all the money that goes to the military and its toys gets shoveled into fireplaces? The US Air Force employs five hundred thousand US citizens. Boeing Military Aircraft, which exists more or less for the sole purpose of selling toys to the USAF, another twenty-three thousand. There’s more like BMA. Don’t forget all the USAF retirees, who get money from the Pentagon. And the USAF is hardly the only thing the Pentagon spends money on.”

    that’s horrible and wrong. The pentagon  takes people and resources OUT of the productive economy for it’s purposes. A guy who was going to start a business in his town but joined the national guard now has to go patrol kabul instead. and fire bullets and spend all sorts of resources ina fruitless, useless war. Theres a good chance he will be horrible injured and/ or killed.

     I would MUCH rather all that money go into a “jobs program”.  That would be an awfully large jobs program. the budget is what a trillion a year?

    The idea that we need the pentagon for jobs is simply wrong. They said the same thing after ww2 oh where are all these soldiers gonna go. it never materialized quite the contrary.

    lets all hire 10 people to kill one random person, it will create  jobs and thus help the economy. oh my days.

  • EllieMurasaki

     Is his National Guard salary all going to people outside the US, even that part of his salary spent by his family at home? Are the bullets made by non-US manufacturers?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    PJ- the internet would be pretty useless for most of us  if the free market hadn’t created low priced personal computers.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    The money for the bullets is a waste of money.  They’re going to get fired at people or things and wether they miss or hit it will achieve the same thing:  nothing.  his ability to work is being wasted in a pointless job that has no positive effect on his self,family, or community as opposed to his being a proprieter , laborer, and or consumer in his actual normal environment. 

    It’s ridiculous on it’s face:  We are paying him to fight a war he doesn’t want to fight and we don’t want him to fight!

    a conservative arguing against military spending with a squadron of leftists. Now you’ve seen it all slacktivist!

  • EllieMurasaki

    If you want to argue that military spending should be replaced by federally funded jobs programs, carry on. Meanwhile, US manufacturers of military toys are spending money from the Pentagon on wages and materials, and those employees are buying everything they can afford to buy, and US military folk, stateside and otherwise, and their families are buying everything they can afford to buy, and none of this would be getting bought if not for military spending.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also some Congresscritters have rather frankly admitted the only way they can reliably get jobs for their districts is by earmarking military spending for that purpose.

  • Daughter

    Chris, granting your argument about the wasteful military (and I definitely grant it), you haven’t addressed the other areas that federal taxes fund, such as infrastructure, R&D, health care, education and social safety net. I see these as investments in a decent society. Do you object, and why?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    guys, there are plenty of countries with very small militaries that have robust economies. We don’t need to spend a trillion dollars a year on it. The point of the military is to provide for the defence of the country. it should be as big or small as is needed for that. There are plenty of things people in the military can do and again, after ww2 when all those soldiers came home the economy exploded to the upside.  Unfortunately many died and/or were scarred by their war time experience but the point is ending an outsized military is not going to be bad for the economy.

    More to the point:  Our presence in the middle east incites fundamentalist muslims to attack us here. it makes us less safe. Why would we pay to make ourselves less safe?

    daughter- all government have things they do right. Everyone knows Cuba has excellent healthcare.   germany seems to run a very tight ship economically. It’s nto a quantitative thing that a government thing is bad. if a person is a good doctor and they go work at a government hospital they are still a good doctor. i have no problems that I know of with The Coast Guard, for example.  The problem is the entire package deal heavily favors garbage. You talk about infrastructure. we all agree our infrastructure stinks. yet we havea 4 trillion dollar a year budget. How is that possible? The word infrastructure implies it’s pretty basic and yet the basics are being ignored in favor of…stuff.  Social Security is different because people pay into specifically that. education is worse than the infrastructure as far as the schools go look at the state of the schools.  I would rather not pay for wars and instead privately pay for awesome schools, roads, etc If I thought a democratically elected govt would ever get to the point where it’s priorities actually mirrored those of it’s citizens I wouldn’t bother with any of this stuff.

  • P J Evans

     If you want to know why we have a 4-trillion-dollar budget, go read any of the many articles about what’s actually in it. Or charts:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_United_States_federal_budget
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2012/assets/hist.pdf

  • Daughter

     “I’m not a purist, I just want some semblence of the consent of the governed restored.”

    That’s very different from what you’ve previously argued about completely getting rid of federal taxes.  I think you’d find a lot of agreement here about restoring greater consent of the governed (particularly by getting corporate money out of politics).

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    PJ- we ‘ve been over it.  Our budget was 1.7 trillion in 1999. I don’t remember any riots.

    One liberal trend I like is the “keep the government out of my Uterus” type of argument for pro choice.  It’s very libertarian. My uterus is Iran and the internet and most things.

  • Lori

    My uterus is Iran and the internet and most things. 

    No. No they are not.They are not your uterus. They are not like a uterus. They aren’t sort of like a uterus. They are not.

    Good god almighty, there is just no end to your assholishness.

  • P J Evans

     Do you actually have one, as opposed to using the word as another damned talking point? Because I can’t see anywhere where you’ve demonstrated any understanding that what you’re saying hurts real people more than it benefits them.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    a uterus?


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