Smart people saying smart things

Brian McLaren: “An Open Letter to Rebecca Kadaga”

I have visited Uganda as a Christian leader and met with a wide variety of Christian leaders. They have impressed me as people of compassion, not violence … of grace, not intolerance. They know that Jesus was once put in a situation similar to the one you face in Uganda today. A group of strict religious leaders pressured him to assent to the killing of a woman widely regarded as a damnable, detestable sinner. They quoted the Bible to make their case. But he resisted that pressure and overcame it. He courageously sided with the woman, and he challenged those preparing to throw stones at her to face their own hypocrisy. Rather than handing them a stone “as a Christmas gift,” he risked his reputation, even his life, in an effort to protect her. He handed them another gift: a model of compassion, a new way of being religious, a new way of being human.

Terence Weldon: “Walking in Our Shoes”

The whole point of the word “heteronormative” is that this is the way the world is constructed, based on a single, majority way of seeing things – without ever considering that another perspective is possible.

In the religious sphere, there is often outrage at the very concept of queer biblical interpretation, or theology from an LGBT point of view, with no recognition at all that “traditional” biblical hermeneutics is constructed from an automatically straight perspective, with no particular justification for it. This is especially clear where modern conservatives insist that they are merely trying to protect traditional marriage “as found in the Bible” – when their understanding is of “traditional” is a very modern one.

Rebecca Levi: “‘Just to Make a Statement’: Power, Sincerity, and the Women of the Wall”

Rabbi Rabinowitz is implying, of course, that it’s impossible to demonstrate and worship at the same time. (It’s also worth noting that his wording rhetorically links Women of the Wall to anti-Occupation demonstrators, another group he likely considers deviant and traitorous to the Jewish norm.) And, in all fairness, the idea that worship is an activity in which you remove yourself temporarily from day-to-day concerns is not a position without, you know, significant precedent. Even etymologically, both the English (from Greek) word “sacred” and the Hebrew word kadosh, “holy,” come from roots having to do with “set-apartness” and “withdrawal.” Similarly, it is hardly controversial to suggest that the main goal of worship should be to direct attention not to yourself, but to the Divine.

But what Rabinowitz doesn’t see — or chooses not to see — is that separating worship from daily affairs and not drawing attention to oneself in the practice of worship is a luxury reserved for powerful people with normative practices. If you’re a member of a group that’s “out,” accessing the same prayer sites, practices and rituals, with the same level of respect and dignity, as the “in” group can’t not attract attention. In such a case, worship necessarily becomes a political action.

Steven Hill: “Don’t Cut Social Security — Double It”

Here’s the dilemma that the United States faces. Since World War II, individual retirement has been based on a “three-legged stool,” with the three legs being Social Security, pensions, and personal savings (the latter primarily centered around home ownership). But two out of three of these legs have been chopped back to blunted pegs, leaving the retirement stool as an unstable, one-legged oddity.

… The gritty reality that the Obama administration and House Republicans must face is that the vast majority of America’s retirees cannot afford to watch them hack off part of the only leg that remains of the three-legged stool. Quite the contrary, we should make that leg more robust by doubling the current Social Security payout, and turning it into a true national retirement system called “Social Security Plus.” Doing so not only would be good for American retirees, but also would be good for the greater macro economy.

Steve Benen: “Jindal’s selective concern for the poor”

For Jindal, poor and disadvantaged kids should have the same educational opportunities as kids from wealthy families. Fine. There’s ample evidence that vouchers don’t work, but let’s stick to the larger principle. The next question is pretty straightforward: can poor and disadvantaged kids have the same access to quality health care as kids from wealthy families? How about the same access to safe and affordable housing? How about nutrition? And transportation? And political influence?

  • Cathy W

    The last article there hits my big criticism of the “equality of opportunity, not outcome” catchphrase common on the right. I was born in a hospital in Detroit in 1971. My family moved to a well-off suburb about two years later. I had access to one of the best public school systems in Michigan, and my family could afford for my mom to not work outside the home, so I had access to a full range of extracurricular activities that depended on someone being able to give me a ride home. 

    How is that any kind of “equal opportunity” with a hypothetical baby in the hospital crib next to mine whose parents didn’t have the opportunity to leave the city, stuck living there as the school system (once world-class, but even in the ’70s, far less so) deteriorated? 

  • Tricksterson

    Hee, the latest “Questionable Content” is a guest strip which mentions a villain named “Doctor Heteronormative”

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Exactly. When America actually comes anywhere near close to providing equal opportunities to all of its citizens, then we can talk about equality of opportunity versus outcome.

    The conservative model only works if you pretend that systemic sexism, racism, classism, etc., don’t occur. Which conservatives are happy to do, not because they actually believe it, but because they see no reason to fix it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    You might know this perfectly well already, but the name is most certainly also a joke on the Girl Genius heroine’s family name of “Heterodyne”.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s not illegal for poor kids to go to good schools, is it? Tada! Equality of opportunity!

  • Tricksterson

    Probably but it’s also a callback to a much earlier strip where a character who is a redneck drunkard who is also secretly a very popular writer of romance novels comes across the word and notes that it would make a great cvharacter name.

  • Tricksterson

    Just as it is illegal for both a poor man and a rich man to sleep under a bridge or on a park bench?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Exactly. Negative freedom is the only freedom. As long as there are no laws forcing you to do or not do things, you’re golden. As I understand it from libertarians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Ah, I remember the redneck romance author character now, but not that particular reference.  To the Bat-archives!

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

    I think that’s why it appeals so much to young upper-middle class white men in the United States, among other places. If you’re relatively free from de facto institutional discrimination, the only things that restricts your opportunities or impairs your liberties are the hard, carved-in-stone laws that apply to everyone.   

  • Green Eggs and Ham

     Correct, because only negative freedoms can be guaranteed in all circumstances.  Positive freedoms require other conditions to obtain.  Since those conditions cannot be guaranteed, then there can be no such things as positive freedoms.

    (It just struck me that the right of a well-regulated militia to bear arms just might be a positive freedom.)

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

    I’m probably going to regret asking this, but my curiosity is overcoming my better judgment: why does it matter whether a freedom can be guaranteed?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I have to admit it–I can’t tell if you’re joining in with my sarcasm or being straight.

  • Baby_Raptor

    What good is having a right/freedom in name only? 

    If you technically have the freedom to, say…Eat pretzels, according to the Constitution, but then a shadowy group from the government bought by Pringles comes along and makes sure that nobody anywhere can ever find pretzels to eat, do you really have that freedom? 

    Silly example, but I think it gets the point across. Rights/freedoms are only really rights/freedoms if you can actually live them. 

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

    (shrug) Sure, if I can never do X, as in your example, then saying I’m free to do X is kind of meaningless.

    But that has nothing to do with the question I asked GE&H, which was about the importance of guarantees.

    Even if I’m not guaranteed to have access to pretzels when I want them, it still matters whether I’m free to eat pretzels when they are available.

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

    Also, thinking about this some more… your equating of rights with freedoms is, I think, flawed. Agreeing on rights has consequences beyond individual freedoms.

    For example, if we agree that I have a right to X, or that I don’t, such an agreement will help shape the kinds of research we do, the kinds of policies we support, the way we structure our society, and all of that in turn affects the chance that I’ll have access to X in the future.

    Rights are idealizations we only asymptotically approach in practice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I believe that the classic example of what you’re getting at here is “[s]uppose you agree that he can’t actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans’, but that he can have the right to have babies.”

  • mb

    My impression, whenever I read an assertion like this, is that people on the extreme left really don’t believe in merit or ability — except as inborn qualities that everyone has equally.
    They don’t believe, for example, that low SAT scores reflect illiteracy, but that they (together with standard grammar) are a tool the rich use to oppress the poor; that everyone should graduate from college and the fact that they not everyone does is evidence of discrimination.
    I’d be happy to be disabused of my preconceptions, which are based on reading such comments on the Internet, not on real-life conversations.

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

    Speaking of benches.

    I’ve brought this up before, but I think it bears repeating.

    For many years in Canada and the USA it was de facto accepted that homeless people should be able to sleep on bus stop benches when transit is slow/not running (that is, at night).

    In the last twenty years, however, there’s been a movement to purposely create bus stop benches that are inconvenient to lie down on.

    I just can’t get over the douchebaggy pettiness of this kind of maneuver. What person purposely sits down and says “How can I design something to inconvenience a person who already has so little?”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’m of the extreme left–in that my political views are to the left of, say, 95% of the population (probably more in the US). That doesn’t remotely resemble what I think.

    I suspect you’re using “left” to mean something entirely different to “the government should own or have significant control over the means of production”.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    One of several reasons that you’re full of shit is that the only people who have been insisting that everyone should graduate from college are conservatives, who have done their damnedest to convert higher education into a for-profit enterprise, which thus wants to capture as large a consumer base as possible, as opposed to just those who actually value academia.

    I’ve never quite figured out if we liberals are elitists or populists. The accusations vary wildly. Me, I lean elitist, at least within an academic context. But then, I also believe there’s no shame in doing a working-class job, and I believe that those who do them should receive living wages and a good quality of life. So funny enough, the world I’d like to build is one in which even fewer people would need to graduate college, because they wouldn’t have a bunch of Randian assholes trying to make life as difficult as possible for people who commit the crime of not making enough money.

  • Caravelle

     I’m confused as to why you would get this impression from Triplanetary’s post, or what that had to do with SATs.

    Do you believe there currently is equality of opportunity and that sexism, racism, classism etc do no affect this ?

    To take your college example, I assume you think people should graduate from college depending on their merit/ability/desire. Now if we observe that statistically speaking, certain classes of people graduate from college less, classes that aren’t directly related to merit or ability – like poor people, or people belonging to racial minorities, there are only two possible explanations : those classes are intrinsically less able and meritorious, or merit and ability aren’t the only factors at play. One can actually investigate both those explanations to see which is more relevant of course. Do you see a third option ?

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Now if we observe that statistically speaking, certain classes of people
    graduate from college less, classes that aren’t directly related to
    merit or ability – like poor people, or people belonging to racial
    minorities

    Conversely, we can observe that certain classes of people graduate from college more even when their merit is questionable.

  • Beroli

     If by “people on the extreme left…don’t believe in merit,” you mean that people on the extreme left don’t believe that some people just inherently deserve to have more and others deserve to starve, then I’ll own it.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    The justification for their exteme wealth normaly given by members of the predator class is that they work hard. I’m ok with the Koch brothers making twice as much as a Snowbowl liftie if they work twice as hard. If you want to have a conversation about the proper reward for luck we can have that. I will start at 1:4. (Plato’s minimum poor to rich ratio).

  • Andrew Galley

    I’m also unclear about why guarantability matters with respect to articulating someone’s rights under a social contract. Even negative freedoms can only be guaranteed to the degree that the social contract persists. And positive freedoms (“freedom from hunger” as a good example) weren’t abandoned by societies that cleaved to them, such as basically all foraging societies, just  because sometimes scarcity of resources made it impossible to realize.

    I mean, if one is a libertarian, presumably one feels that one’s right to property is badly compromised in any modern society; if something can be compromised or eliminated by the power entrusted to preserve it, how is it “guarantiable”? Even a libertarian state would always be in “danger” of sliding into something else.

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

     

    What person purposely sits down and says “How can I design something to inconvenience a person who already has so little?”

    A person who wants those people to go away.

  • MaryKaye

    A local business district hired someone to go round at 5 am and spray homeless people sleeping on business doorsteps with water.  The word used for this was “disruptive maintenance.”  I think this is indeed about wanting them to go away, or die or something–anything to keep us from having to deal with them.

    I would boycott the businesses involved if I could figure out which ones they were.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My impression, whenever I read an assertion like this, is that people on the extreme left really don’t believe in merit or ability — except as inborn qualities that everyone has equally.

    They don’t believe, for example, that low SAT scores reflect illiteracy, but that they (together with standard grammar) are a tool the rich use to oppress the poor; that everyone should graduate from college and the fact that they not everyone does is evidence of discrimination.

    I’d be happy to be disabused of my preconceptions, which are based on reading such comments on the Internet, not on real-life conversations.
    Not everyone wants to graduate from college. Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to decide whether they want to graduate, which requires everyone to be afforded the opportunity to attend. Not everyone is.

    It is entirely possible that someone who scored low on the verbal SAT while attending a school whose students consistently score low on the verbal SAT would score equally low had this student instead been attending a school whose students consistently score high on the verbal SAT. It’s rather more likely that education is not happening in the low-scoring school as effectively as in the high-scoring school. That is a problem that needs to be fixed.

    I saw a quote recently, forget whose name is attached, but it goes that feminism is no longer trying to get a female Einstein into Princeton. Feminism is trying to get female schlemiels promoted as fast as male schlemiels. Much the same principle applies here: economically disadvantaged but intellectually brilliant folks can generally get a full ride to whatever college they want to attend, but economically disadvantaged and intellectually average folks generally have to fork over money, which they don’t have (see economically disadvantaged) and don’t necessarily want to (or can’t) borrow. Intellectually average folks whose economic background makes those loans less intimidating and/or provides close relations with money to pay the tuition outright, they can go to any college they get accepted by. Such folks are also rather more likely to get accepted to begin with than are people with the same capabilities but less money, because such folks are rather more likely to attend well-funded schools, see above. Both are a marked advantage over said people. Those advantages needs to be reduced as far as possible.

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

     > I’d be happy to be disabused of my preconceptions

    Happy to help.

    I’m not really sure what you mean by “the extreme left,” so I’m not sure I’m on it. But I certainly agree with Triplanetary’s assertion systemic sexism, racism, classism, etc. result in unequal opportunity in America, so I’m assuming I qualify in this context.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “believe in merit or ability,” but I certainly believe that there exist innate factors that make some people smarter than others, or faster, or stronger, or etc. (Just for clarity, I don’t mean exclusively genetic factors, although of course those exist too.) I don’t know anyone who doesn’t believe this, actually, even among my very liberal friends.

    I certainly believe that illiterate people score worse on the SATs than literate people, although I also think low SAT scores can reflect things other than illiteracy (e.g. innumeracy). Again, this is not controversial among liberals, and ought not be controversial among anyone.

    I also believe that the children of wealthy families receive advantages that the children of poor families do not receive, and that those advantages mean a wealthy child will typically obtain higher SAT scores and is more likely to graduate from college than a poor child with the same innate ability.

    I do think everyone should have post-high-school educations, as high-schools are too “one-size-fits-all” to provide the educations people need. That’s not necessarily college, though. In many cases apprenticeships would work better.

    So you tell me: do I fit your preconceptions? And if not, what leads you to believe people like me don’t exist?

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

     My response to this is much the same as in my earlier comment: agreement on rights has consequences beyond individual freedoms.

    If I have the right to have babies, despite being male, I’m still not free to have babies. That’s certainly true.

    But if we establish the principle that men have the right to have babies, that changes the way we react as a society when it becomes possible for men to have babies, and it changes the ways we interact with that possibility today.

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

     >

    I’ve never quite figured out if we liberals are elitists or populists. The accusations vary wildly.

    I mostly model the (non-batshit) U.S. conservative view of U.S. liberals that I think you’re referring to here as “Liberals favor policies that give stuff to lots of people, which is valuable in the short term, and are in that sense populists. Liberals are more urban and have had more formal education than conservatives, and are in that sense elitist.”

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    They don’t believe, for example, that low SAT scores reflect illiteracy,
    but that they (together with standard grammar) are a tool the rich use
    to oppress the poor;

    You are aware that if you have enough money, you can hire private SAT tutors to teach your child to game the system and get a higher score than ze would if ze  had just taken the test based on hir merits, yes? 

    I don’t know if I would go so far as to say, “oppress,” but the rich definitely have an advantage over the poor (who maybe can get a school-sponsored group training session before taking the test) in this regard.

  • The_L1985

    Not quite. :)

    Some people have greater inborn academic ability, yes.  As someone with an abnormally high IQ score* who has also worked with students who have Down Syndrome, and has relatives with other forms of mental retardation, I would have to literally be insane to not argue that some people are better at specific tasks than others.  So yes, merit and ability are, to a degree, inborn, and people have different amounts.

    But here’s the thing.  One’s upbringing and environment can have a dramatic effect on a lot of things, including standardized test scores, which university, if any, you go to, etc.  If your parents don’t read to you when you’re a kid, you may grow up functionally illiterate–even if you’re a really smart person.  If the only other young people around you are either working their butts off for scraps, or in a gang, you’re probably going to join a gang, because that’s the most-palatable option that you can see as being available to YOU, personally.  These are not wild-ass conspiracy theories.  This is stuff that’s been tested and proven.

    I don’t believe that everyone should graduate from college.  There are a lot of people whom I have taught in college who quite frankly don’t have the right personality for it, and are wasting their time.  But I do believe that everyone should have the opportunity for a K-12 education that adequately prepares them for the kind of adult life they want–technical training, college prep, whatever, but the student gets to choose.**  We don’t have any of those programs anymore, except for college-prep programs in affluent areas.  Poor kids don’t get JACK–NO auto-repairs classes, NO wood shop, NO college prep, NO NOTHING.  Those programs have all been cut sine NCLB, because the Powers That Be have decided that standardized test scores are more important than an education that prepares our children to live in the real world as reasonably well-rounded adults.

    I believe that everyone who both wants to go to college, and has the ability and inclination to succeed in college, should have the opportunity to go without being held back by financial considerations.  If you’re not wealthy enough to pay cash up front, you are now guaranteed to owe student loans for the majority of your working life (at least 20-30 years) after you leave college, whether you graduate or not, and whether or not you can actually find a job that uses the skills you learned and pays you accordingly.

    Not everybody needs to know calculus.  But everybody needs to know enough math and science to have a basic idea of how hard mathematicians and scientists probably had to study in order to become mathematicians and scientists.  Not everybody needs to be a brain surgeon.  But everybody needs to know enough basic anatomy that when the doctor says to a woman “You have ovarian cancer,” she and her loved ones know where her ovaries are and that this could prevent her from having children.  Not everybody needs to be an historian.  But everybody needs to understand what taxes are for, and the basics of how our government works, so that each of us can vote according to our own interests and opinions, instead of being jerked around by some huckster.

    This is what I mean by equality of opportunity.  I want every child to be able to learn these things.  In order for every child to be able to learn these things, we need:

    - An educational system that does a better job of ensuring poor children don’t fall through the cracks, and that provides better opportunities and options for non-college-bound students.

    - A higher minimum wage, so that parents can spend some time with their families.  People who work hard all day have earned, by the sweat of their brow, the means to feed and clothe their families.  I’m not saying we should make the poor rich, by any means.  But if the minimum wage were raised to the same standards as the minimum wage of the 1970′s, you wouldn’t have households in which both parents are working 2 jobs just to make ends meet.  Once the basic needs of survival are met by each parent working 40 hours a week (or better yet, one parent working 40 hr/wk and one parent working maybe part-time), parents will be able to, you know, PARENT their children.  This alone will help cut down on a lot of juvenile delinquency, because parents will be there to guide and care for their children more of the time.  This, in turn, means fewer people in jail, fewer police officers needed to maintain order, and less government spending on welfare.  Yay!

    - Enforcement of laws against “wage theft.”  Many large companies make so much money that they find it more profitable to withhold their workers’ hard-earned pay, and pay fines to the government, than to actually pay their workers the amount that federal laws require.  This, combined with a pitifully low minimum wage,*** is keeping a lot of people on federal aid (a.k.a. welfare and food stamps) who really shouldn’t have to be.

    - A way of ensuring that ALL students are adequately fed, because malnourished children (10% of all American children) can’t focus well enough to learn much of anything.  Yes, this means welfare for some families–but remember that the children of poor people, by and large, did nothing whatsoever to deserve their poverty, and that keeping them poor is cruel and can destroy their future.

    - Continuing to improve services for students who are still learning English.  The children of immigrants are a source of untapped potential for our country, and we don’t know what we may learn from them, or what they may learn from us, if we don’t try to reach them.  ESL classes for adults, and English-learning services for children, are helping to bridge this gap, but even after you learn how to have a conversation in English, it still takes 4 years or so to learn technical or academic language.

    * Which, btw, are pretty useless for non-math, non-grammatical, and non-memorization sort of tasks, and thus are pretty poor predictors of any sort of success outside of K-12 standardized testing environments

    ** I would like to point out that, while these programs were implemented in the past, there was an unfortunate tendency for racial minorities and students from poor families to be pushed towards the non-college-bound “tracks,” regardless of their personal desires or academic ability.  I’m not sure of the best way to fix this, but allowing for students to select their own “track” around 6th grade or so should at least help.

    *** I’ve done the math for you.  $7.25/hr * 40 hr/wk * 52 weeks in a year = $15,080/year.  You can’t survive on that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Not everybody needs to be a brain surgeon.  But everybody needs to know enough basic anatomy that when the doctor says to a woman “You have ovarian cancer,” she and her loved ones know where her ovaries are and that this could prevent her from having children.

    And, of course, everybody needs to know enough basic anatomy to realize that the female body does not, in fact, have ways of shutting that whole thing down.

    A basic understanding of the actual theory of evolution (or more properly, descent with modification, the how & why not the what) would certainly be a good thing, as well.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    I’ve done the math for you.  $7.25/hr * 40 hr/wk * 52 weeks in a year = $15,080/year.  You can’t survive on that.

    And that’s before taxes.

    (In before some conservative replies, “But minimum wage earners don’t pay taxes!” And then we have to have yet another lesson in payroll taxes, sales taxes, and all those other things Republicans pretend not to know about when it suits them.)

  • The_L1985

     Of course!  But my comment was probably far too long already.  I had to pare it down to a few clear examples.

  • The_L1985

     Even if they didn’t pay any taxes at all, they still wouldn’t be able to survive on that.  Rent and utilities would eat up almost every dollar before you even got to food and basic clothing.  And bear in mind, I’m assuming the basics: electricity, plumbing, heating and air, MAYBE a washer/drier if there isn’t a laundromat in the area, and MAYBE a cheap, pay-as-you-go cell phone for emergencies (forget about cable TV, Internet access that isn’t your local library, or a landline phone).

  • EllieMurasaki

    And minimum wage earners might have, post-refund, paid zero taxes, but withheld taxes is money not available in the paycheck it was earned in.

  • stardreamer42

    You talk about illiteracy as if it were an inborn condition. Low SAT scores may reflect any of several things: (1) poor education, (2) a learning disability making it harder to read, (3) difficulty with taking tests in general, (4) any combination of the above and probably more I haven’t thought of. All of these things can be addressed, but as a society we mostly don’t because it’s easier to just look down our noses and be smug.

  • stardreamer42

     Not everybody needs to be a brain surgeon.  But everybody needs to know
    enough basic anatomy that when the doctor says to a woman “You have
    ovarian cancer,” she and her loved ones know where her ovaries are and
    that this could prevent her from having children.

    And perhaps more to the point right now, everybody needs enough basic biology that when some woman-hating politician says pregnancy can’t result from rape because “a woman’s body has ways of shutting that whole thing down”, everybody knows that HE IS LYING.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    They don’t believe, for example, that low SAT scores reflect illiteracy,
    but that they (together with standard grammar) are a tool the rich use
    to oppress the poor; that everyone should graduate from college and the
    fact that they not everyone does is evidence of discrimination.

    If the SAT, interpreted as a measure of literacy and schoolworthiness, indicates that rich white kids are in general better suited to a formal education than nonwhite kids of any income level and poor kids of any race, then our only choices are “The test is biased” or “By an amazing coincidence, the very same groups who are traditionally privileged are smarter and harder-working than the groups who are traditionally disadvantaged. What luck.”

    I find that second scenario unlikely.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Indeed, if us white dudes were inherently superior, we wouldn’t have had to build a byzantine network of inefficient and destructive institutions to keep ourselves on top. It’s like a little boy standing on his tippy-toes to “prove” he’s taller than his sibling.

  • Green Eggs and Ham

     Sorry, joining your sarcasm.

  • Green Eggs and Ham

     Remembering back to my conservative days, a freedom or right (they often conflate the two) must be, at least theoretically,  deliverable at all times for it to be a right. 

    There can be no human right to clean, safe drinking water, because clean, safe drinking water cannot always be delivered to people at all times.

    For something to be a right, I must be able to demand that I always get it (at least when I want to exercise that right.)

    So negative rights work.  I can demand that you butt out of my business.  You can easily refrain from restricting my free speech, for example.

    Positive rights don’t work because they require a number of intervening features like a robust civilization, which cannot be guaranteed.

    I certainly am not doing justice to the conservative view of negative and positive rights.  It’s been a long time since I thought that way.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So how do they propose to ensure clean safe drinking water for everyone in the situations when it is (or can be made) available in sufficient quantity?

  • Green Eggs and Ham

     They don’t.   There is no free lunch.  There is no obligation that clean, safe drinking water must be provided, even if it is available.  Even if it is widely and trivially available. 

    It’s been a long time since I read Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia.  Nozick was a top flight libertarian philosopher at one of the Ivy League schools, for those that don’t know.  He was a far more potent thinker than Ayn Rand.

    Since there is a great need for clean, safe drinking water, some fine, upstanding entrepreneur will figure out how to provide it to the masses.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So basically it sucks to be someone who can’t afford to pay whatever the water providers care to charge, and it sucks worse if there’s only one water provider who can consequently charge anything they like.

    I am not down with any political philosophy that reinforces the kyriarchy.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Hell doesn’t really feature in my personal theology, but I tell you what–that behavior would get you sent to hell. My God!

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

    Ah, I see what you mean.
    Yeah, this seems like a silly model to me, but it’s cogent.


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