Good news for people who like good news

• “One million workers get pay boost as 10 states adjust minimum wage”

• The Washington National Cathedral will host weddings for same-sex couples:

The cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, told the AP, “I read the Bible as seriously as fundamentalists do. And my reading of the Bible leads me to want to do this because I think it’s being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be.”

(Note: The cathedral is the seat of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and its Washington diocese. Despite the “National” moniker, it does not have any official “national” status. This is America, a nation, not a church. We don’t have official government cathedrals.)

• “Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. agreed to spend as much as $2.5 billion to build two solar projects in California that are set to be the world’s largest photovoltaic development.”

• “The ‘million-a-year’ death toll from malaria has been whacked to fewer than 700,000, the lowest level in recorded human history.”

• “Is there anything more Canadian than a line of customers who kept paying forward an act of goodwill for three hours at a Tim Hortons in Winnipeg? Probably not.” (via Charles Kuffner)

• The new Congress does not include Allen West, Joe Walsh, Dan Burton, Roscoe Bartlett, Mean Jean Schmidt, Cliff Stearnes, Jim DeMint, Joe Lieberman, Ron Paul or Todd Akin.

• “In just over a month the Rolling Jubilee has raised almost half a million dollars, which has been used to erase more than $9 million of debt.”

• Milford, Del., has removed the racist playground signs with the alternative Spanish message threatening arrest and/or deportation.

• Vicco, Kentucky, is a town in Kentucky.

• An interesting experiment at Chicago’s Park Community Church:

At Park Community Church’s 11 a.m. service on the Near North Side, ushers doled out envelopes filled varying amounts of cash with church members instructed to put the nearly $12,000 to work in what the Tribune called “the corners of the community where they think it will do the most good.”

Most of the envelopes had a few dollars inside, while others had more than $100, according to Fox Chicago.

• “Nearly everything I have stood for these past 35 years went down to defeat,” …  said James Dobson. (This would be even better news if not for that “nearly.”)

• And this may seem like it’s not earth-shattering news, but Noah’s moms’ CRV passed the 100,000-mileage mark, and that made me happier than almost any other recent news.

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  • Andrea

    It would be even more fantastic if Dan Burton’s brother Woody would stop allegedly representing me in the Indiana House.

    Can someone explain the last link for those of us who can’t access YouTube?

  • AnonaMiss

    SPOILER ALERT, answering Andrea’s question about the YouTube video

    Teenager recounts an incident when one of his moms asked him and his other mom to come for a car ride. He is sure they’re going to announce that they’re getting divorced but it turns out the car is approaching 100k miles and the mom who asked wanted to share the rollover moment with her family.

  • Andrea

    Thank you, I appreciate it.

  • LL

    RE  “The new Congress does not include Allen West, Joe Walsh, Dan Burton, Roscoe Bartlett, Mean Jean Schmidt, Cliff Stearnes, Jim DeMint, Joe Lieberman, Ron Paul or Todd Akin.”

    This is indeed good news. 

  • Carstonio

    I was hoping that Joe Walsh would be succeeded by Joe Walsh.

  • aunursa

    I’m curious how people here view this letter to the editor.  It was published in today’s local newspaper…

    Editor,

    The president of the United States swore on two Bibles to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

    I am leader of the Fremont Atheist Forum. A Bible is a ficticious mythical book. To acknowledge it as something authoritarian and honorable is ludicrous and unwise. I hope in the future this archaic ritual will be abolished.

  • Carstonio

    I would only object to that use of the Bible if it were a legal requirement, because that would constitute government endorsement of a particular religion, or if it were a social norm. There should be no default here – it should be up to the individual officeholder to decide whether or not to use a holy book and, if so, which one to use.

    It’s tempting to suspect that letter of being a fundamentalist fraud.

  • aunursa

    The writer has sent over a hundred letters to local newspapers.  In every single case he has commented on a current story in order to link it to something religious so that he can express his contempt for religion.

    While I personally have no problem with the president taking the oath on a Bible (or Koran, or Book of Mormon), I recognize that there are valid arguments for not doing so.  I just question whether this hostile attitude is the best approach, so I’m particularly interested in how other atheists* view his tone. 

    * Other atheists besides the letter writer. I don’t intend to imply that I myself am an atheist.

  • Carstonio

    I’m a secularist but not an atheist. The stance in the letter is objectionable, but not on tone grounds. He might sound like a secularist but he really opposes religion, and the two ideas are not the same. One can be a secularist and still be a devout member of a religion.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That is the other thing that was bugging me about the letter. I knew there was something.

  • Lliira

    Being an atheist does not mean opposing religion. I am an atheist and I don’t care what people believe, I care what they do. If someone says Jesus Christ compelled them to do good, then I am happy. If someone says Jesus Christ compelled them to do bad, them I am unhappy. People can worship ketchup bottles for all I care, so long as they don’t hurt others in doing so.

    I agree about this person’s letter — it’s not just the tone that’s objectionable, it’s the content as well. The Bible is not a “fictitious” book. Obviously the letter-writer has absolutely no grasp on different kinds of literature or on history. Sadly that is all-too-common among every group of people, whether religious or not.

  • Carstonio

    My term for people who oppose religion is “anti-theist.” Secularists are a far larger group and includes many believers, many atheists, and many agnostics. I wouldn’t label an anti-theist as a secularist if zie wanted government to endorse atheism.

  • Morilore

    As a rule I don’t think examining someone’s tone per se is constructive, but his actual argument is worth examining.

    On the one hand, “religion is ridiculous,” even if you believe that, is actually not the most important reason that religion and government shouldn’t mix – the biggest reason IMO is that mixing religion and government gives coercive hegemonic power to some people over others for no reason.  “Shoe on the other foot” and all that.
    On the other hand, all of his latter four sentences can be read to say simply, “I am an American atheist.”  That’s not a bad point to make where American civic life and Christianity become intertwined.

  • aunursa

    As a rule I don’t think examining someone’s tone per se is constructive, but his actual argument is worth examining.

    That’s a fair point.  If his goal is eliminating the Bible from the inauguration ceremony, he might be better served by explaining how its use may alienate atheists like himself, or that using a religious scripture is symbolically troubling.  By simply declaring his contempt for the Bible and those who revere it as foolish, he risks estranging many of the very people who might otherwise be sympathetic to his argument.

  • Cathy W

    I think I would tell the writer “Cut it out, you’re making my side look bad”.

    Since there’s no legal requirement, I don’t care what anyone swears on. Swear on what’s meaningful to you, be it a Bible or your grandmother’s rubber ducky or nothing at all. Simultaneously, I would ask that people in general view what’s under any elected official’s hand as they take the oath as a personal choice made by that person and not get bent out of shape about it.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

     What valid reason is there for insisting a president not put a hand on a book while taking an oath?

  • aunursa

    I meant that there are valid arguments for the president not to take the oath of office with his hand on a Bible.  I don’t agree with them, and I think that those here who are more sympathetic to them are in a better position to express them.  Generally I prefer to play devil’s advocate only when there is no one in the room who is a bona fide supporter of the other side.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     I meant that there are valid arguments for the president not to take the
    oath of office with his hand on a Bible.*  I don’t agree with them, and
    I think that those here who are more sympathetic to them are in a
    better position to express them.  Generally I prefer to play devil’s
    advocate only when there is no one in the room who is a bona fide
    supporter of the other side.

    Wait.  Are you saying that you don’t think there exists a valid argument to take an oath of Presidential office without a hand on a Bible?  Because the single best argument there is that it isn’t in the Constitution.  Past Presidents have chosen not to swear on a Bible and didn’t get kicked out, specifically TR, LBJ, and JQ Adams.

    If you’re saying that there isn’t a valid argument to never allow a President to take an oath of office on a Bible that’s a different case.  I would tend to say that it’s in bad taste and gets right up to the edge of the establishment clause, but if it’s an issue of personal choice then there’s a case to be made that it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

    If you’re saying that the atheist editor letter writer wasn’t making valid arguments that you agree with, I’d go with that.  That person was basically just trolling with standard internet atheism.  There might be a good core of argument behind it, but the arguments themselves, such as they were, were just tired, annoying internet cliches.

    Also, I think it’s interesting to point out that the Bibles chosen and the specific reason for the choice got way more play than the fact that they were Bibles.  Obama used Lincoln’s Bible, MLK’s Bible, and some third Bible that escapes my memory for the legal ceremony on the 20th.  I think that set of choices says something about what the point is more than the fact that they’re Bibles and the fact that they were Bibles is more an artifact of American history and the religious bent of America than anything else.  Obama could have sworn on Lincoln’s stovepipe hat and a copy of the Letter from a Birmingham Jail and gotten the same basic effect as using the Bibles got.

  • aunursa

    Are you saying that you don’t think there exists a valid argument to take an oath of Presidential office without a hand on a Bible?

    I think I said the exact opposite.

    I meant that there are valid arguments for the president not to take the oath of office with his hand on a Bible.

  • Carstonio

     

    I don’t have any problem with a president choosing not to use the Bible.
    I don’t think a president should be prevented or discouraged from
    using a Bible or other book or document that he considers sacred or
    authoritative.

    I would add that a president shouldn’t be required or pressured to use a book that zie doesn’t consider sacred or authoritative.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     The second sentence in the bit that I quoted seemed to contradict your first sentence, however:

    I meant that there are valid arguments for the president not to take the
    oath of office with his hand on a Bible.*  I don’t agree with them, and
    I think that those here who are more sympathetic to them are in a
    better position to express them.

    I was questioning what it was you don’t agree with, because the, “I don’t agree with them,” seemed as if it negatively modified, “there are valid arguments.”  So what, precisely, do you not agree with?  That’s what I was trying to get to.

  • aunursa

    Perhaps rather than saying “I don’t agree with them”, I should have said, “I don’t find them compelling enough to defeat the counter-arguments in support of a president being allowed to take the oath with his hand on a Bible.”

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

      Perhaps rather than saying “I don’t agree with them”, I should have said, “I don’t find them compelling
    enough to defeat the counter-arguments in support of a president being
    allowed to take the oath with his hand on a Bible.”

    Okay,
    so at that point you and I wouldn’t have an argument.  I think the
    whole thing dances perilously close to the establishment clause, but I
    don’t think it goes over the line.  As long as it’s the decision of the
    Presidential oath taker in question and said oath taker can choose a
    Bible, a Koran, or a pack of Swisher Sweets then no harm, no foul.

    As an atheist I find that when people write letters like the one the precipitated your comment I want to tell them to just STFU.  The writer wasn’t really trying to make a point beyond, “Bible bad.  Christians stupid.  Me smart.  Derpity derp derp derp.”

  • Andrew

     

    I just question whether this hostile attitude is the best approach, so
    I’m particularly interested in how other atheists* view his tone.

    I don’t think you are acting in bad faith, but there is something off-putting about being asked to respond to an atheist I have nothing to do with.  I’m still unpacking this; I’m not used to not being in a position of privilege.
    As to your question, I imagine that I would find this writer tiresome and his tone unhelpful. I probably wouldn’t worry about his tone being counterproductive though. I guess I assume equanimity in the Christians I might find common cause with.

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

    The oath of office of the President of the United States is not, in the original version, required to be sworn on any religious book.

    I agree that the implicit assumption that Christianity is the default and that the President should swear on a Bible is irksome.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s tempting to suspect that letter of being a fundamentalist fraud.

    ….because…?

  • Carstonio

    Because of the cartoonish contempt for religion and religious people. This resembled the straw-man version of atheism being peddled by fundamentalist demagogues that it was reasonable to wonder if that was the point.

  • Lori

    I dislike the fact that swearing on a “holy” book of some kind is a de facto requirement. I dislike that it would have been a Scandal with a capital S if Obama had chosen some other book or no book at all.

    At the same time, I don’t think this is  a hill I’m willing to die on. If we changed things such that people truly had the freedom to take the oath on any book of their choosing the majority would still pick the Bible because it’s meaningful to them (or at least they want people to think that it is). I understand why it bothers people because it’s so obvious and prominent, but energy and political capital are limited and personally I’d rather focus them on other issues.

  • P J Evans

     It isn’t even required, at least not by the Constitution.

  • Lori

    That’s why I said “de facto” requited. It’s not a law, but as a practical matter people feel that they have to do it. For Obama in particular  choosing not to take the oath on a Bible would have been the same thing as saying that he didn’t want to get anything done during his 2nd term.

  • Carstonio

    I understand why it bothers people because it’s so obvious and
    prominent

    I suspect most of them confuse prominent and normative. The letter-writer is saying that religion should be neither because it’s bad. I would say that no specific stance on religion should be normative because that discourages people from following whatever religion they wish, even when they’re legally free to do so.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I can respect a choice of holy books.
    https://twitter.com/JillBidenVeep/status/292981262371680256 (fake)

  • Vermic

    And Ellison took some heat for not using the Bible.  People should be (and are) free to swear or affirm on whatever they find personally meaningful, or nothing at all if they prefer — it’s their oath, after all — but it’s troubling that in practice, every choice other than the Bible is still controversial.  The custom is fine; it’s attitudes that need to change.

    (FWIW, I don’t place much stock in oaths of any kind.  They all strike me as fairly meaningless ritual.)

  • aunursa

    And Ellison took some heat for not using the Bible.

    That was pretty ridiculous.  Asking a Muslim to swear an oath on the Bible would be like asking a Protestant to swear an oath on the BoM.  Or a Jew to swear an oath on a New Testament.  Or an atheist to swear an oath on any religious text.

    I would have greater confidence in a Muslim taking an oath with his hand on the Koran than with his hand on a book that he considers to be corrupted or otherwise not authoritative.

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

    > I don’t know why anyone would have less confidence in a Muslim taking an oath with his hand on the Koran than with his hand on a book that he considers to be corrupted or otherwise not authoritative.

    I’ve always understood that sort of thing to be mostly about ensuring that Christian symbols retain their status as culturally hegemonic icons. You know, rendering unto Christ what is Ceasar’s, and all that.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I don’t know why anyone would have less confidence in a Muslim taking an
    oath with his hand on the Koran than with his hand on a book that he
    considers to be corrupted or otherwise not authoritative

    There are several reasons.

    First, It’s not really the oath they object to, it’s the fact that he’s a muslim who isn’t willing to sublimate his own religious values to the hegemonic norms.

    Second, for the people protesting, the point of swearing an oath on the bible is not “Because the oath-taker places value in the bible, swearing on it affirms their conviction”, it’s “The bible is magic, and by swearing on it, a person, regardless of whether or not they believe in it, is giving the One True Christian God license to smite that person if they break the letter of the oath.”

  • Tricksterson

    Thomas Jefferson had a Koran?  Cool

  • LouisDoench

    Glad to see that point of view given some exposure for sure. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    I think that author’s being harsher than I would be, but fundamentally correct. Not that I’d write a letter of that sort in the first place. If Obama wants to swear by what he holds holy that he’ll do his job, that’s his business. If that Fremont atheist, should ze become president, wants to swear on zir own honor and nothing more that ze’ll do zir job, or for that matter if Obama wants to do the same, that’s their business.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    The letter aunursa posted is a little odd. Not necessarily fake, just odd. 

    A “forum” usually has moderators or organizers, not “leaders”, so it’s an odd way to identify one’s self.The bible is not a fictitious, mythical book.  The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter is a fictitious book; it does not actually exist. I believe the author meant to say that the bible is a work of fiction and myth. The Bible should be acknowledged as “something authoritarian”, because that word means “favoring absolute obedience to authority”, a viewpoint the Bible most definitely promotes with regards to divine authority.  Perhaps the word the author meant to use is authoritative (meaning accurate or true) but the construction of the sentence doesn’t work then, because the phrase “acknowledge the bible as authoritative” is question-begging. That phrase implies that the bible is accurate and true, that the subject is already decided, and the only question is whether or not we as persons choose to accept or “acknowledge” that truth. So I’m going to presume that the intended sentiment is something like “to present the Bible as authoritative is unwise”.These are “Sarah Palin/ G.W. Bush” type errors of language, using uncommon words or phrases incorrectly because they sound like other uncommon words or phrases with the intended meaning. (fictitious versus fictional, authoritarian instead of authoritative) That doesn’t mean the letter is fake; the urge to want to sound intelligent coupled with the laziness to not make sure you’re using the right words is a property shared across the political and religious spectrum. (see also: irregardless, tow the line, for all intensive purposes, etc. etc. etc.) How do I view that letter? Badly written, and poorly expressed.How do I view the sentiment of that letter? As an atheist, I would prefer that the president swear his oath without a religious text, that he honors his oath on his own terms, from his own convictions, and not from fear of Divine Retribution and/or Eternal Damnation, and that the first act as leader of a secular government is not to publicly display his religious affiliation. But that isn’t going to happen. The presence of a Bible at a swearing-in ceremony is a historical tradition, with the history of the book being a factor. Is it pandering to tie oneself to George Washington or MLK because you’re using a bible they once owned? Yes. Is it pandering to publicly display your Christian affiliation before taking office? Yes. But the truth is, folks like being pandered to every now and then; it makes them feel special and important, and politicians love to pander from time to time, so the bible-thing is not going away any time soon.

  • http://twitter.com/pooserville Dave Pooser

    Liked for the Good Omens shout-out before I even read the rest of the comment.  :-)

  • Baby_Raptor

    “The bible is not a fictitious, mythical book.”
    Can we prove that everything the Bible claims happened actually happened? I doubt it. And if my doubt is correct, then it’s not at all wrong for someone to call it fiction. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    The Bible is not fictitious, nor mythical; it is real. Its historical content may be works of fiction, it certainly contains myths, which would make its content fictional or mythical, its characters fictitious, but the Bible itself is none of the above. Which you know if you’ve ever seen or touched a copy. And I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t catch that myself the first time I saw the letter.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    “The bible is not a fictitious, mythical book.”

    Can we prove that everything the Bible claims happened actually happened? I doubt it. And if my doubt is correct, then it’s not at all wrong for someone to call it fiction.

    Grammar lesson time!
    The word “fictitious” is an adjective, and it modifies the meaning of the noun it’s attached to, in this case, the word “book”.

    The word “fictitious” means “being imaginary” or “of, relating to, or denoting the the imagined elements of fiction”.  A “fictitious person” would be a person who is imaginary, existing only in fiction, such as Sherlock Holmes. Narnia is a “fictitious land”, existing only in the writings of C.S. Lewis. And the Diary of Balin is a fictitious book, existing only as an element in “The Fellowship of the Ring”. 

    You can reasonably say that the Bible is a book of fiction, you can say that the Bible stories are fictional. But the actual book itself is quite real and most definitely exists. Check the nightstand of any hotel and you’ll find that this book exists outside of fiction and myth. 

    It’s not wrong to call the bible fiction. It’s wrong to say it is a fictitious or fictional book. You know, for all intensive purposes.

  • Amaryllis

     My sediments exactly.

  • JustoneK

    Tho I think most people took this conversation on semantics for granite.

  • Kiba

    Yes, and some people take their French benefits for granite as well.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    What is important in the oath of the President — the only oath spelled out in the Constitution (where “so help me God” is not a part of it) — is that the President pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution.   Whether the oath is sworn on a Bible, on nothing (see John Adams and Richard Nixon, Calvin Coolidge and Theodore Roosevelt), on the Koran (see Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota ), on a Torah (lots of Jews to look for; none for president, yet), on the Bhagavad Gita (see Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii), on Action Comics, Huckleberry Finn (no one yet, but I have hopes of being elected one day), the Boston phone book (see William F. Buckley), or the Constitution (see Adams again), the important part is the oath and the pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution.

    Some people take comfort in an appeal to a higher authority, imagined or real.  We have too many real issues to deal with to worry about the title on the book used (but see “Fried Green Tomatoes” for a slightly alternative view, if you must).

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s not the title that concerns us. It is to some degree the content, though if that were the only concern, I at least would be saying nothing. The greater problem here is the expectation that people being sworn into office swear on the Bible. There are two ways to read that expectation. One is that everyone being sworn in is Christian. The other is that those Christians being sworn in are expected to swear on their own sacred text and those non-Christians being sworn in are expected to swear on someone else’s sacred text and not their own (should they have one). Neither is acceptable.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    Ellie, it’s not an official expectation.  In the past the Constitution has been used, and though the evidence is not wholly clear, perhaps no book at all for Coolidge and Roosevelt, both of whom first took their oaths from a justice of the peace or notary public.  The Inauguration Committee does the work to select the book to be used, in consultation with the person being sworn in.

    One of the books used this year was a book from the library of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as book Lincoln used from the collection of the Library of Congress.  The family of King asked that both President Obama and Chief Justice Roberts sign the book, as a sign and symbol of history of the family, as well as the nation.  A fitting tribute.

    Lincoln, of course, was the guy who ran for Congress as a non-Christian, ‘having never been baptized nor seriously studied the faith’ as he said in the campaign flyer.  He was elected, of course; and though he served only one term in Congress, he did manage to become the new Republican Party’s guy for U.S. Senate (back before popular election of senators), and candidate elected to the Presidency.   While Lincoln may be our nation’s greatest theologian, and while he certainly understood Christian scripture better than many including most of his opponents before juries in Illinois and federal courts, it’s difficult to make a case that he was the overweening Christian the author of the letter complains about.  Lincoln threw out of his office the group demanding that he support the Jesus Amendment to the Constitution, for example; nor is there a whit of evidence he was baptized between his run for Congress in 1846 and his death 19 years later. 

    Considering these historical roots in the 2012 ceremony, it’s pretty obvious that the concern of the letter writer IS the title of the book, and not it’s completely ancillary role.

    For the uninformed, perhaps there is an expectation that Bibles be used.  In reality, there is no such expectation.  On television, the common line in courtroom dramas is to swear on a Bible and end with “so help me God.”  Here in Texas, I have never found a Bible in a courtroom (I’m sure I’ve missed a few), nor seen a witness ask for one, nor seen a Bible used.  In Texas.  Television is not real life.  Soap Operas should not be dictating how we deal with people.

    When I grew up in Utah, for years there was a billboard on State Street in Salt Lake County, about 103rd South IIRC, that showed Martin Luther King, Jr., sitting as if in a classroom — probably a class at the Highlands School in Kentucky.  The billboard claimed it was a communist agent training class.  In the radical right compounds in Idaho, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and other nutcase strongholds, there is more angst over Obama’s using an object that belonged King than there is that the object was a Bible. 

    Let’s not equal their nuttiness, even if in a different direction.

    See the article at Wikipedia on “Oath of Office of the President of the United States; Bibles, not always:

    Theodore Roosevelt did not use a Bible when taking the oath in 1901. Barack Obama, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, and Richard Nixon (also a Quaker) swore the oath on two Bibles. John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law, with the intention that he was swearing on the constitution.[8] Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on a Roman Catholic missal on Air Force One. Washington kissed the Bible afterwards,[9] and subsequent presidents followed suit, up to and including Harry Truman,[10] but Dwight D. Eisenhower broke that tradition by saying his own prayer instead of kissing the Bible.[11]

  • EllieMurasaki

    For the uninformed, perhaps there is an expectation that Bibles be used. In reality, there is no such expectation.

    Yeah, wasn’t there a big fuss from Christian directions about dude wanted to be sworn in on the Qu’ran?

  • Lori

     

    For the uninformed, perhaps there is an expectation that Bibles be used. In reality, there is no such expectation.  
     

    You are confusing “requirement” and “expectation”. There is no legal requirement. There is a strong expectation. The expectation was not present in the past, but it is now. If Obama had chosen not to take the oath on a Bible do you really think that saying “Teddy Roosevelt didn’t use one” would have done him a damn bit of good? If so, I think you haven’t been paying attention for the last 4 years.

  • http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/ Ed Darrell

    Like the frothing over Rep. Keith  Ellison’s using a Qur’an for his photo-swearing-in, in 2010?  Yeah, I expect the brainless right would have complained — though, of course, they didn’t object when John Boehner swore in 438 Members of Congress with no scripture at all on January 3.

    I mentioned Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.  There was no serious fuss over her using the Bhagavad Gita to be sworn in this year.  Obama’s higher profile, and my invite more snarking, but there was no serious fuss over Rep. Ellison this year, and I couldn’t find any fuss over Rep. Gabbard at all.

    Progress comes in small steps some times.

    Do you think the Tea Party would complain if someone used the Constitution?  That would be rich.

  • P J Evans

     Somebody did.

  • Tricksterson

    “the Boston phone book (see William F. Buckley)”

    This is one of the many reasons why Chairman Bill was possibly the coolest conservative ever.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I think that the presence of it is mostly a symbolic thing.  The president (whichever president) is swearing an oath, and there should be symbolically something there which the president holds up as authoritative to them, at least as far as upholding oaths are concerned.  

    So for example, if there was an atheist president who did not regard the Bible as something worth swearing on, they should be allowed to swear on something else.  Their heart, or maybe a copy of the constitution, or something else.  The importance of the symbol is that it is meaningful to the person swearing the oath.  

  • stardreamer42

    President Obama is a Christian, so it makes sense for him to swear on something HE believes is holy. If we had a Muslim President, I would expect him or her to swear on the Qu’ran (as does Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison). If and when we have an atheist President, he or she will decide that issue for themselves.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Actually, since Obama’s a Christian it makes sense for him not to swear on anything.

    It’s ironic to swear on a text that includes a story about how the central person in your religion said not to swear on things.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I suspect this person is not aruging honestly. Specifically, I think his specific goal in writing his letter is to cause offense and anger.  He’s a troll. And while I have no reason to doubt that he is what he claims to be, neither would it surprise me if it turned out that he was a fundamentalist christian ignoring that commandment about bearing false witness in order to drum up some righteous fury against atheists.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     Which person?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Since Ross’s comment is about the letter somebody wrote to aunursa’s local paper, I’m guessing the letter’s author.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     Thanks.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Two bibles?

  • Baby_Raptor

    It’s a person stating their beliefs. I say good on him for putting his views out there. he’s far from the only one who feels that way. 

    Why do you care? And why does this make you want peoples’ opinions? You act like it’s something controversial or bad. 

  • aunursa

    Why do you care? And why does this make you want peoples’ opinions? You act like it’s something controversial or bad.

    The writer argues against the president swearing his oath on a Bible.  Regardless of one’s opinion, it’s obviously a controversial issue.

    Why do I care?  Why do I seek opinions?  I suspected that the letter would be self-defeating, that the writer would damage his own case, and that he would turn off even those who would be sympathetic to his case.  I was curious as to the opinions of atheist:, whether they think that this type of letter advances the cause or harms it.  The only way I can satisfy my curiosity is to ask atheists for their opinions.  And many people here, both atheists and theists, were kind enough to do so.

    As I noted previously, this writer has written many letters in which he has taken various angles to attack religion in general.  He has held meetings for his atheist group at the local library.  And he has written a 200-page book including essays and poems by other atheists, and reprinting some 70 of his letters — in his words — “exposing my anger.” It’s almost certain that he is entirely sincere.  And the responses to my question answer my curiosity and support my belief that his anger causes his efforts to be self-defeating.

  • Morilore

    I found the comment in this other* Maddowblog story on Vicco strangely touching:

    FWIW, I would say that in addition to shrinking the bill to a readable size, the folks working to pass it in Vicco and other places are calling it a “fairness” ordinance. We treasure “equality” in this country, but we live day-to-day with the hope of neighborly “fairness.”

    *http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/01/24/16682264-lessons-for-the-small-blue-dot-fair-is-popular?lite

  • christopher_y

    What is going on in the head of a guy who accepts somebody else paying for four coffees for him but refuses to pay for three for somebody else? Even if he’s the Grinch in person he’d still have been ahead.

  • aunursa

    Milford, Del., has removed the racist playground signs with the alternative Spanish message threatening arrest and/or deportation.

    I’m confused.   The website photo shows a sign with the overtly racist messsage: “These public premises and the amenities thereof have been reserved for the exclusive use of white persons.”

    A different website shows a different sign: Outrage in Milford (Update: the Signs are coming down)  According to this website, the sign warns parents that use of the playground equipment is “at your own risk.”  But the signs in Spanish claim: “You have to have a permit to play here or you will be arrested.”

    Did our host intend to link to the other site?

  • EllieMurasaki

    The first sign is ‘shopped, I’m sure.

  • stardreamer42

     I think the first photo is of a real sign from the past; the language of the lower section makes me think perhaps from South Africa during Apartheid. I’m sure it was being used for example purposes. The actual sign, as seen in the linked news article, was equally appalling.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wait, no, that’s a different sign entirely. Probably real, but much much older, not also in Spanish–actually that looks like German. I bet it’s a Nazi sign.

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

    The yellowed sign? That’s in English and Afrikaans.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh. Apartheid, then. Still not the Milford sign.

    Afrikaans is related to Dutch? And Dutch to German, so I was close, right?

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

    Yes. Afrikaans is the linguistic offshoot of Dutch, which in turn is closely related to Low German.

  • stardreamer42

     Ha, I guessed right!

  • christopher_y

    As Invisible Neutrino says. It’s from South Africa during apartheid. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It’s South African. The bottom language is Afrikaans.

    From looking at the actual sign and the other stories on the matter, it sounds like what happened is that they made these “Parental Guidance” signs in English, then rather than having a proper translation done for the Spanish, they just took the Spanish-language version of a different sign. (Since the spanish text is a direct translation of the sign they put on ball fields)

    Now, whether this was a non-malicious mistake born out of negligence, or a deliberate racist act done under the cover of plausible denyability is another question entirely.

  • Tricksterson

    More likely something from the days of Jim Crow

  • Jeff_weskamp

    [Obama’s policies include the belief that]   “… Abortion should be legalized through nine months of pregnancy.

    Imagine full-term, healthy babies across the nation being poisoned or dismembered a few days before normal delivery. What a tragedy!”  —  James Dobson
    Apparently “bearing false witness” is one sin that Dobson is happy to commit.

  • Baby_Raptor

    They all do it. None of them seem to realize that abortion after 24 weeks is illegal except in extreme cases. Or if they do, they choose to lie because pictures of nearly full-term fetuses tug a lot more heartstrings than pictures of a 2 celled clump of tissue. 

    And when you believe bullshit, you need more bullshit to back it up.

  • Kadh2000

    I will grant Mr. Dobson one thing.  If he voted in the election, he has the right to complain about the government.  Of course, it would be nice if he spoke the truth in his complaints.

  • LouisDoench

    Should have read farther before replying.  I would rather my side not come off as cranks, so spamming the letters to the editor with hostile tone like that is imho counterproductive.   

  • EllieMurasaki

    Minimum wage increase, woot!

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

    I watched the video about Noah’s mom’s like three times, because people kept linking to it, and kept closing it after the first few minutes because it was making me unhappy.

    It was only recently that someone I trusted encouraged me to watch the whole thing all the way through. It made me happier then.

  • Jenny Islander

    While I am a Christian, I don’t favor swearing the Oath of Office on a Bible.  We aren’t supposed to have a state religion.  However, I think that having some symbol  at hand on which the President symbolically rests some weight is important.  I think it conveys the message, “I am not up here doing my own wild-goose ideas; I am here to do my duty as defined by people wiser than I who have worked out their ideas through long experience.”

    Hey, how about a copy of the Constitution?

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    • ”The ‘million-a-year’ death toll from malaria has been whacked to fewer than 700,000, the lowest level in recorded human history.”

    Woohoo, go  Gates Foundation, kick that disease’s ass!  (Or whatever passes for an ass in a disease like that.)

  • ReverendRef

    but Noah’s moms’ CRV passed the 100,000-mileage mark,

    And that’s the real gay agenda.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    An artificially high price of labor only encourages unemployment. Low-wage jobs are better than non-jobs.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Spoken like someone who’s never had a low-wage job on which one was relying for their entire support.

    If I had no debt, I would be earning enough to live on my own in this town. Just barely. I could stretch the money by living with a second person in an apartment priced for single occupancy, but that’s a bad idea on several levels. I do have debt, so the only way I can survive on what I earn is by living with my parents, who are not charging me market value for my room and board. And if I didn’t have debt, I would never have a prayer of getting a better job, probably would never have gotten a job this good, since that debt is largely money that went to pay my college tuition and the college was key to my getting this job.

    And that’s without worries about how I’ll pay my medical bills, since my job has excellent benefits.

    I make thirteen dollars an hour. Federal minimum wage is $7.25.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     How does your anecdote affect the validity of my point?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Anybody making less than thirteen dollars an hour in this town is not making enough money to live on. Because minimum wage around here is a little over half of thirteen dollars a hour, there are a lot of people not making enough money to live on. How do you propose to ensure that everyone in this town, in this state country world, makes enough money to live on when you make unhappy noises at the raising of minimum wage?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    What do you mean by ‘live’? The answer for ‘in this… world’ is obviously free trade and foreign investment. I will type an answer for ‘in this country’ a few hours later.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Food. Rent. Medical expenses. Transportation. Clothing. Sundry recurring expenses including but not limited to toothpaste and toilet paper. I’m sure I’m forgetting important things. Ideally also money for continuing education and for entertainment, though the latter needn’t be much. I am pointedly not including money to pay debts with, even though at this income level that’s often a substantial budget item.
    I believe you need educated on the difference between ‘free trade’ and ‘fair trade’ and why the latter is vital and the former appalling. Go forth and educate yourself.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Is it really any more “appalling” than the locals’ previous poverty?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ever had quinoa? It’s grown, maybe can only be grown, in the Andes. The people living in that area have been eating it as a staple and key part of their diet between forever ago and when North America and Europe discovered that it’s a vegan complete protein. The people who are farming it are doing fairly well. The nonfarmers in the area who want to eat it mostly can’t afford to. Nor can they eat several other things, because the people who used to farm those things have gone to monoculture quinoa, that being more lucrative.

    Free trade keeps the side lacking power and money from getting any power or enough money. That’s what it’s FOR.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Free trade has attracted or surely will or would attract suppliers of cheaper food products and jobs for the unemployed farmers. What’s your alternative? Deprive the first world consumer market of quinoa?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Cheaper food, yes. Equally nutritious food, no. Familiar food, no. These people are being malnourished. And if quinoa can’t grow anywhere but the Andes–far’s I know no one’s tried–then yes, deprive first-world markets of quinoa. It’d suck to be a vegan who wants quinoa and can’t have it but can afford umpteen other things that in combination provide the same amino acids and are still vegan. Sucks worse to be a Bolivian who, since the US vegans are buying all the quinoa, is reduced to rice and beans.

  • Lee B.

    The only place outside of the Andes where quinoa has been successfully cultivated is in the Godforsaken San Luis Valley in Colorado.  However, production is severely limited (a few hundred acres at most), unless a more heat-tolerant strain can be developed.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Good to know. Thanks.

  • Cathy W

    The problem with free-market solutions to some problems is that they have a body count. By the time this free-market solution materializes – and it won’t be immediate; selling things to impoverished South American natives isn’t usually everyone’s first thought on how to make money now! – how many people will be dead or diseased as a result of not being able to afford their staple food?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    But buying labor surely might be!

  • Beroli

     

    What do you mean by ‘live’?



    …….
    Seriously?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     Yes, seriously. Millions live with incomes far smaller than $13 per hour (or the local equivalent of that).

  • Lliira

    You are ignoring the actualities of human being’s lives in order to push your ideology. An ideology which has been soundly disproven multiple times, by the way. Ick.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     What do you mean by ‘live’? The answer for ‘in this… world’ is
    obviously free trade and foreign investment. I will type an answer for
    ‘in this country’ a few hours later.

    You might want to read this.  I mean, you, specifically, don’t seem like you’re going to care much, but you’re literally making an argument that should have been put to bed during the height of the British Empire.

    And to everyone else: sorry for flogging my own blog, but I’m working up a series that, among other things, addresses the old “Free markets will save us all and cure the world of its ills!” arguments from a historical perspective.  It seemed way easier to offer a link than a five-page comment…

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    My first job out of college was working retail for minimum wage.  I was promised a twenty-five cent raise about six months after I got the job since I demonstrated reliability (which means that I was the only employee still there after six months, everyone else including the original manager had quit without warning.)  

    That twenty-five cent raise never materialized.  

    The only time I actually got a raise during that job was when the federal minimum wage went up.  

  • Beroli

    An artificially high price of labor only encourages unemployment. 

    Neither more nor less true than, “Raising taxes on the wealthy will cause all the job creators to move to Somalia.”

    Which is to say, no more true than, “If you spill salt without throwing some over your shoulder the world will immediately be consumed in flames.”

    Your average wealthy “job creator” employs the minimum possible number of people to get the job done and pays them the minimum amount s/he (…usually he…) can get away with. If the law forces one of those numbers up, the other will not drop to compensate, because both of them are already as low as the employer can get them.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You are ignoring “the job done”, as you put it, in your analysis. “The job done” is not static.

  • Beroli

    You are ignoring “the job done”, as you put it, in your analysis. “The job done” is not static.

    If you really think Target or JPMorgan Chase or WalMart or Time Customer Service is aching to expand their services, if only they could spread out the same wages over a larger number of employees, you’re ignoring reality entirely in favor of ideology.

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

    That is a static, microeconomic picture that takes no account of changing conditions which could conceivably set the market-clearing wage above the minimum wage. For example in the late 1990s in BC and Alberta people were seeing teenagers get hired out of high school at McDonald’s for $10 an hour plus promises of full-ride scholarships at university.

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

    Employers hire people because they need workers to meet demand and turn a profit. No employer has ever hired someone for no other reason than because the price of labor was low. And the other side of that is that if disposable income is too low, consumer aggregate demand goes with it and that encourages unemployment (because, again, no employer hires people just to stand around, even if they only make a $1 an hour.)

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    What brings in more income? Low-wage employment or unemployment? A low price of labor allows employers to expand production.

  • JustoneK

    Depends who’s gettin’ the income, donnit?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know. How much is in an unemployment check, and what’s the time between checks? Is it enough to live off of for that time period? I doubt it, but low-wage employment income isn’t either.

    Oh, you meant which produces more income for companies and/or the government? Yeah, fuck that.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     I did not mean “income for companies and/or the government”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    In that case, since your point relies on the exact dollar value of ‘low-wage employment’ versus ‘unemployment benefits’ for the same person for a timespan of given length, it’s on you to provide us those numbers.

  • P J Evans

     In California, the maximum unemployment payment is $450 a week, or about $1400 a month. It’s almost enough to live on. Or,as I usually put it, it’s a slower way of going broke.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that’s what I figured.

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

    Employers don’t expand production because they want more inventory to sit on the shelves rotting. They expand production because they forecast the demand for their goods will be higher. Increasing the disposable income of citizens makes it easier for people to buy more things (demand), which gives employers a reason to expand production by hiring more people. 

    What part of this is confusing? This is the same logic that Democrats use to extend unemployment benefits (it’s not just to be nice; if people have no income they won’t spend, and if they won’t spend more people will become unemployed because employers cannot and will not keep people employed just to stand around and do nothing). It’s also the same logic that Republicans use to extend tax cuts; they’re not doing it just to be nice either — if people keep more of the income they do earn, they will be able to spend it on goods and thus encourage consumers to buy more things, which encourages businesses to make more things, which encourages them to hire more people. 

    Again, employers don’t hire people because labor price is low, any more than they don’t build factories because zoning permits are easy to get even though they know that they won’t be able to sell what they make. Those things might help facilitate expansion, but only if the economy is strong enough to justify expansion in the first place. 

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Average prosperity cannot be printed or taxed-and-spent into existence. Demand is enabled by supply. That supply is derived by saving&investment. Medieval farm workers most assuredly wanted a first-world life. They just could not afford it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I have five thousand quirlils for sale. You wanna buy one? They’re going cheap. What, you don’t want one? Nobody else does either? Well, that doesn’t make sense, because if demand is enabled by supply, then the fact that I have quirlils for sale should produce a line of people at my door clamoring for quirlils.

    What I need to sell quirlils isn’t just having them. It’s people who want them and, crucially, can afford to buy them.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    What the heck are quirlils and why would I want to buy one?

  • EllieMurasaki

    What they are doesn’t matter. The point is that my having them doesn’t make you want to buy them. Now read the rest of that comment.

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

    And that, in microcosm, is the problem with Say’s Law. It’s equivalent to saying that by producing goods and services, the money will magically appear to buy them, ignoring the problem of demand – people who have the money to buy such things.

  • Cathy W

    Sure, sometimes demand is enabled by supply. Sometimes not – if people can’t afford your widget, making more widgets is going to leave you with a big pile of widgets nobody can afford.

    Other times, supply is enabled by demand… or curtailed by lack of it, which is one of the bigger problems in our economy at the moment. If suddenly I can afford your widget, where I could not before, I will buy it! And then you will make another widget to replace it! And maybe you will need to make so many more widgets that you hire more widget-makers! Henry Ford was on to something when he paid his employees enough to afford a car, maybe?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Perhaps. Or, perhaps, money might have been spent on capital goods to make a car even cheaper. I have to agree with you here.

  • Cathy W

    Okay, then. Let’s look a little bigger. Maybe not all of Henry Ford’s employees bought cars. Maybe some of them bought bigger houses. Maybe some of them bought food. Then the people who sold them bigger houses or food paid their employees. Then the employees of the house-builders and food-sellers, who now had more money because Henry Ford’s employees were buying things, could buy things of their own. Maybe bigger houses. Maybe more food. Maybe cars. And the cycle kept going. Yes. You agree here?

    So. Take the hypothetical minimum wage earner. Whatever he or she is buying, it isn’t a lot. A small apartment. As others have put it, enough food to starve to death more slowly. Not so much electricity. Now this person has a couple extra bucks in his or her pocket every week. Maybe he or she will buy more food – enough to not starve to death at all! Maybe he or she will buy more electricity! And then the sellers of food and electricity will have more money!

    What he or she will certainly not do is stick it under the mattress. Which is good. People sticking money under the mattress makes the economy slow down.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I have already addressed that argument- “An artificially high price of labor only encourages unemployment. Low-wage jobs are better than non-jobs”. Besides, delayed consumption is not necessarily a bad thing. It reduces scarcity in the short term, thus paving the way for larger projects.

  • JustoneK

    How long a delay is good then?  For how many people?  How scarce is scarce enough?  Is it not poverty until folks start dying?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, and that initial statement of yours remains very fucking wrong and also either completely ignorant of or completely insensitive to what it is actually like to have a low-wage job.

    Read Barbara Ehrenreich sometime. Nickel and Dimed. And keep in mind as she narrates her adventure of working low-wage that she had an
    escape hatch
    . In fact, as I recall, she used her escape hatch. She quit her last low-wage job and went back to her middle-class existence well before her plan had said to.

  • AnonymousSam

    Strictly speaking, you’re right, low wage > no wage.

    In practice, however, low wage = no wage, except the person making pennies on the hour is also making a significant profit for their employer, and then we’re back to the tired and trite Republican talking point, “If we just let billionaires make a little more money, they’ll produce infinity+1 jobs and everyone will have summer houses in the Philippines and a sports car for each of their seven children.”

    Annnnnd then employers report record profits and wages continue stagnating while prices continue rising, and we get a little bit closer to society collapsing or a revolution — one of the two.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Please,  AnonymousSam, this (the United States) is a stable democracy. Revolutionary anxiety is expressed at the voting booth. Also, as this is the richest country on Earth, total societal collapse is very improbable.

  • AnonymousSam

    This country also has the biggest issues with disparity of wealth distribution in the world, and if you hadn’t noticed, the Republicans–rich people that they are–are really, really keen on the idea of taking the right to vote away from poor people. Historically, taking impoverished, desperate people and stripping away their rights tends to end poorly.

    It also doesn’t help when they’re scorning poor people actually thinking they have a right to food, of all things. So yes, just keep pushing. See where it winds up.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    “In the world”-nonsense. I strongly doubt attempted creation of disenfranchised classes will be successful.

  • AnonymousSam

    You strongly doubt–what. Right. You are absurdly privileged. Rather than bother pointing out the many examples of this in recent history (apartheid, slavery, low castes, peasantry classes), the fact that we have a non-trivial number of people called “discouraged workers” who have been kept in the gutter so long that they’ve stopped trying to escape it ought to be enough to know that what you strongly doubt could happen has already come to pass.

    No further interest in feeding the troll.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I strongly doubt attempted creation of disenfranchised classes will be successful.

    So no one in the US is female and gets paid less than a male coworker doing the same job? No one in the US is black or Latina and has trouble finding a job because the resume callbacks more often go to equally-qualified white-sounding names? No one in the US has cut food stamps while proclaiming that no one will be hurt by this because food stamps are always only supplemental food money, even though for lots and lots of folks on food stamps, that’s their whole household food budget? No one in the US has said it’s legal to pay employees with disabilities less than their able-bodied coworkers, less even than federal minimum wage? which as we keep pointing out isn’t enough for able-bodied people, and people with disabilities have all sorts of added medical and other expenses related to the disability/ies.

    Attempted or potential creation of disenfranchised classes is really not the main concern here.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I was speaking  solely of voting rights. I  support full freedom of employers to fire employees and set wages at their discretion.

  • EllieMurasaki

    One, fuck you. Two, no one in the US has expanded early voting hours in majority-white districts and restricted early voting hours in majority-black districts? No one in the US has put the correct voting date on the English version of the Maricopa County notices about voting and a too-late date on the Spanish version? Three, FUCK YOU.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     I concede your point.

  • Cathy W

    You’ve made that assertion, yes. If the economy were really supply-limited at this time, you’d probably be right. But the economy seems to be demand-limited right now – we can tell this, because consumer spending is down!  And consumer spending is down because wage income is down! – in which case an artificially high price of labor might actually increase employment, because people will buy widgets they were not previously buying, meaning employers will have to hire people to make and sell widgets.

    Also, you can’t meaningfully delay consumption of food and shelter. Like I said, the ideal free market may work, but it has a body count – or are you advocating reduction of the surplus population?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    “in which case an artificially high price of labor might actually increase employment”-It might, but it equally well might create more unemployed. I do not want governments to take such risks. The surplus population is typically reduced nowadays by terrifyingly low birthrates.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m more worried about high birth rates myself. Part because a woman with seven children is very probably a woman who has no control over her reproduction and therefore cannot have much control over her life, part because, really, isn’t seven billion enough? If not too many–I’m afraid seven billion is far too many, and there’s no ethical way to bring that number down in a hurry.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    7 billion is certainly not sustainable if everyone is to have a first-world standard of living. I’m expecting the world population to start declining in a century or so. I would still not like to see the world look like Japan.

  • EllieMurasaki

    7 billion is certainly not sustainable if everyone is to have a first-world standard of living.

    Define ‘first-world standard of living’. I have a feeling that what you mean by the phrase is rather more luxurious than what I’m thinking of when I say ‘reasonable standard of living’. Also, why are you worrying about low birth rates?

    Yeah, the transitional stage between here and the sustainable population will suck. No argument there. But you don’t care about the transitional stage between ‘hungry Bolivians because the US is eating all their quinoa’ and ‘Bolivians with a reasonable standard of living because quinoa money and magic have produced jobs in Bolivia’, so why do you object to the transitional stage in which world demographics look like Japan?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I don’t view Japan-like demographics as a “transitional stage”. The world population was sustainable four thousand years ago due to high death rates. The world population will likely be sustainable a century or two from now due to low birth rates. This will lead to an average age of the world population higher than it is now. This will lead to slower economic development, more conservatism and authoritarianism, and less innovation.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You speak of conservativism as a bad thing while you trumpet economic-conservative talking points such as raising the minimum wage having a downside. I am confused.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I was speaking of ‘conservatism’ as a state of mind.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The world population will likely be sustainable a century or two from
    now due to low birth rates. This will lead to an average age of the
    world population higher than it is now. This will lead to slower
    economic development, more conservatism and authoritarianism, and less
    innovation.

    Which is why the lower average age back, say, between about AD500 and AD1100 led to rapid economic growth, liberal politics and the spread of democracy?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     High death rates aren’t exactly conductive to civilization.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So how do you propose to get to a sustainable population size without passing through a place where death rate is higher than birth rate?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Exactly my point. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Are you proposing that we do not attempt to reach a sustainable population size?

    What do you propose we do when society collapses under the weight of too many human bodies?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     No to your first question. As prices rise due to higher demand and resource scarcity, birth rates will fall.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I suspect massive history fail in that comment but I am not sufficient of a student of history to pinpoint it…and for the birth rate to fall far enough for the population to begin decreasing, deaths must exceed births, which you say you don’t want.

    Also delaying the question of population size till the world falls apart from overpopulation, rather than addressing it now when it’s merely straining at the seams, seems a highly unethical way of dealing with the problem.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     I don’t think it’s unethical. I do not view ‘overpopulation’ as a stagnant point; the definition of the term for me depends on resource availability/scarcity, which is not stagnant. I also don’t see the world as ‘falling apart’ during the period when natural resources become so scarce as to encourage world population shrinkage.

  • Cathy W

    You think people will simply crawl peacefully into a hole and die, then? Or do you have some other term to describe a world racked by starvation, disease, and wars fought over the smallest quantities of the most basic resources?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    There is a probability death rates will increase after our resource base becomes strained. Wars require huge amounts of resources, so I doubt they will become more common. Starvation may or may not occur (food is not the most expensive thing a child needs), but I strongly doubt it will be any higher than it is today. Disease may become more common.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Ain’t you ever read that bit from the Grapes of Wrath? The one where somebody’s pointing out that a nickel will buy something for a person’s kids to eat, something is more than nothing, and people whose kids will have nothing without that nickel are willing to kill each other over that nickel? Wars might take lots of resources. That doesn’t mean that, if the resources get hard enough to come by, the wars over resource supplies won’t happen.

    And if there’s not enough food to go around, how the hell are we going to avoid starving in greater numbers/percentages (whichever you’re talking about, I can’t tell) than presently except by more widespread hunger and malnutrition?

    It is not possible to bring the population down by any ethical means save control of reproduction. You are uninterested in getting the birth rate below the death rate via control of reproduction; if society follows your lead, then society will inevitably take one or several of the unethical means to reduce the population, and nobody will like that much, especially the people who die of things that they wouldn’t die of if there were fewer people sharing the existing resources.

    (We might, through vertical agriculture or what have you, get enough food to feed fifteen billion people. Would we be able to produce enough fresh water for us all to drink? Enough space for us all to live? I doubt it.)

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     

    It is not possible to bring the population down by any ethical means save control of reproduction.

    -Agree with you on this one.

    You are uninterested in getting the birth rate below the death rate via control of reproduction;

    -I was not giving a prescription; I was giving a description of the problems that would be associated with that. I think the price system will sort out any overpopulation by encouraging potential parents to have fewer children. Water is a renewable resource, so I’m not worrying about any potential scarcity of it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Jesus Herbert Walker Christ, you seriously don’t get it, do you? Pricing poor people out of the reproduction market–putting words together in a not-joking thought that is accurately described by the first third of this sentence–how clueless is it possible to be?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     I don’t see what’s clueless about my statement.

  • EllieMurasaki

    People who are short on resources do not overall tend to have fewer kids. Some of them do. Some of them find themselves with no way to avoid having more kids. Some of them have more kids on purpose; more mouths to feed, but also more hands to bring in food and money. (That latter is pretty much only an effective strategy if child labor is allowed, but in desperately poor societies or if the child’s working in the family business, it usually is.)

    And the very suggestion of pricing people out of the resource market has a nasty whiff of the same stench that permeates the concept ‘forced sterilization of the poor’.

  • Isabel C.

     So you know as little about science as you do about human compassion, huh?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     What do you mean?

  • Cathy W

    Let me ask you: right now, on average, worldwide, who has larger families, the very rich or the very poor?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     The very poor. This is due largely to the fact most of them are farm workers. Children can be useful on the farm.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Precisely. Which is why, given a resource shortage, people tend to want more hands with which to produce or acquire resources, and consider the need to stretch over more people the resources the household thus acquires an acceptable tradeoff.

  • Cathy W

    Then how do you get from that to “In times of resource shortage, the poor will have fewer children?”

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     I strongly doubt that labor-intensive agriculture or heavy industry would be thriving industries during a time of resource shortage.

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

    People have to eat. One way or another they’ll have to get food, which of necessity means at least some revival of agriculture.

    You seem eager to simply toss off whatever you can come up with that justifies a world-view that is basically mean and cramped in outlook to anyone who isn’t you.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     Clearly I should think through some issues in more depth before I comment on them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    He sees the light!

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     No, I see my inability to think clearly on the subject of how the world population is to decline during a resource crunch. I’m still right about the minimum wage, though.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You acknowledged the possibility that you’re talking out your ass. That’s a vast improvement.

  • Isabel C.

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

    As far as a lack of compassion, your desire, or at least willingness, to see a bunch of people killed off because OMG FREE MARKETS speaks for itself. You’re a vile little excuse for a human being, aren’t you?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Since he started this thread by expressing the view that minimum wage is too high, that isn’t a surprise.

  • Cathy W

    I kind of came to that conclusion last night. I’m not sure why I’m still trying, except that I thought I’d made a dent when he agreed with me about Henry Ford doing himself a favor by paying his workers above-market wages.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No, what he said is “perhaps” Ford was right, or “perhaps” Ford could have invested in more factory equipment to make cars cheaper such that they could be afforded on crap wages. You made a good point and he acknowledged it; I see nothing in his response that indicates he agrees.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    In which comment may that willingness be found? I have no doubt that cisterns and aqueducts will make drinking water shortages unlikely to be more common in the future. Besides, the melting ice caps will release water, thus increasing precipitation. Over-use of aquifers will, in any case, not make labor-intensive agriculture more profitable.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I am unconvinced that there’s any particular reason to think that the magic number of maximum-sustainable-population-with-everyone-having-a-decent-standard-of-living  is known. It could be that 7 billion, 8 billion, maybe more is doable once we get rid of the idea that treating human beings like human beings should be prioritized ahead of the accumulation of wealth.

    But all that said, there’s no birth control like affluence. Every effort we make to give a first-world standard of living to people who don’t have one is also an effort to reduce population trends.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

      I am unconvinced that there’s any particular reason to think that the
    magic number of
    maximum-sustainable-population-with-everyone-having-a-decent-standard-of-living 
    is known. It could be that 7 billion, 8 billion, maybe more is doable
    once we get rid of the idea that treating human beings like human beings
    should be prioritized ahead of the accumulation of wealth.

    Another thing that will matter greatly is if we keep doing things the same way we’ve been doing them or start using our imaginations.  vertical agriculture, for one thing, could potentially increase food production immensely while cutting down significantly on the resources needed.

    And the architecture would be really cool.  Although I just discovered that Googling for “vertical agriculture” can quickly take you to some really weird peoples’ websites.  That’s also fun.

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

    Which obviously explains why a dollar spent on unemployment benefits or food stamps produces nearly two dollars in economic activity and a dollar spent on tax benefits that involve buying more capital goods produces well under a dollar in economic activity.

  • Cathy W

    Or, looked at from the other side, cutting off unemployment and food stamps will actually increase the unemployment rate, as the people who previously sold goods and services to people on unemployment and food stamps will lose customers.

    Long story short: putting more money in the hands of people whose incomes do not meet their basic needs makes the economy grow.

  • JustoneK

    You’ve never been without electricity, have ya?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Your implication is correct.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Money-privileged person without empathy for the not-money-privileged should maybe shut the fuck up about things strongly affected by money privilege and the lack thereof.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I have empathy for the not-money privileged. Also, even if I didn’t have empathy for the not-money privileged, I still would see no reason for me to STFU “about things strongly affected by money privilege and the lack thereof”.

  • JustoneK

    In what way is dismissing the experiences of lower income people in favor of your own, self-admitted inexperience of lower income life empathetic?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Either I missed a comment notif or Harding edited a comment to replace the original text in its entirety, because the context part of the JustoneK comment notif I’m replying to contains a comment I hadn’t seen. I suspect I’m not getting all my comment notifs. Bah.

  • JustoneK

    You replying in gmail or something?  or is it random disqus crap

  • EllieMurasaki

    Replying in Gmail, yes. Work comp won’t load Disqus.

  • JustoneK

    Then I can also assume you’ve never had to worry whether to spend your paycheck on toilet paper and another box of cereal or on the bike repairs, which is your only mode of transport to workplaces.

  • P J Evans

     Only if you don’t mind having to share an small apartment with someone else, and work two or even three jobs.

  • Twig

    Why is the good news comment thread so sad?

  • Isabel C.

    Yeah, I was wondering that myself.

    On the good-news front: looks like I’ll have a little extra money at the end of this pay period. I was thinking of donating some to charity, and while my usual is either Planned Parenthood or something to do with Alzheimer’s, I remember reading an article linked from here that said something about how anti-malaria charities are actually the most worthwhile, and that kinda stuck with me.
    Anyone here have opinions about that, or suggestions? I’m still not sure what I think. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Define ‘worthwhile’. By most lives saved per dollar (which is certainly a valuable measure of worthwhileness but far from the only such measure), yeah, dealing with malaria or neglected tropical diseases is the way to go.

  • Otrame

    We have hundreds of millions of square feet of space in this country that could be used for solar energy without damaging the environment, or displacing any endangered species. The space is not currently bein used for anything.

    Well, except keeping the rain out of your local Walmart or Home Depot or, indeed off of you.

    Putting solar collectors on such places will not harm that function at all. In fact, solar collectors will not only provide electricity, but will also provide insulation from the heat of the sun, lowering air conditioner bills.

    It is true that this would be expensive to an individual, probably too expensive in upfront costs. So, why don’t energy companies lease these spaces for a fee, say 10% of current value of the energy produced. The collectors remain their property, with updating and maintenance their responsibility. Or they could to a “use your share of the income to buy the collector if you want to” deal. What ever.

    Lately, every time I go past a large warehouse- like building, all I can think of is the amount of energy not being collected.

  • P J Evans

     It’s surprising how many buildings (and parking shelters) have solar panels on the roof. (At least in some areas.)

  • Dan Audy

    While a good idea in general, the main reason is that splitting them up in piece-meal chunks that way ruins the economy of scale and makes inspection and repairs extremely expensive.  Another problem is that solar panel installation is fairly dangerous, roofers (the closest profession) have a fatality rate of 37 per 100,000.  While on a per TWH of energy produced solar is fairly low on the deaths produced scale compared to other forms of energy those deaths are in the immediate community rather than poor people far away or as a result of pollution and toxins.  A major push on solar power would result in large numbers of inexperienced installers and labourers which would spike those fatality rates during the first couple years.

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

    When the price of raw materials goes up, manufacturers adjust for it and keep going; they don’t cut back production. Why should the price of labor going up cause them to cut that back?

  • EllieMurasaki

    The honest truth? Because it’s to their benefit to keep wages as low as possible, and they want to punish somebody whenever they’re forced to bump up that bar, and use that desire to punish somebody as leverage to avoid having to bump up that bar.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Tell that to U.S. consumer goods manufacturers during WWII. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Um, isn’t WWII when a bunch of factories got repurposed for producing things for soldiers? The cutback on consumer goods production in the era had nothing whatsoever to do with labor prices. I would in fact be utterly unsurprised to discover that wages dropped on average, on account of the white men were all off soldiering and everybody else wasn’t expecting wages as high as white men’s.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

     I was responding to Jamoche’s point that “When the price of raw materials goes up, manufacturers adjust for it and keep going; they don’t cut back production.”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I know you were. Your counter seemed to indicate that you believe the drop in consumer goods production in WWII was due to an increase in the price of labor. It was not. It was due to it being hard to make nylon stockings when both the fabric and the factories were being commandeered for the war effort.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    How did you know it? Divine revelation? Seriously, I wasn’t. Trust me on this one.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which is why I said SEEMED to indicate. I know very well I am incapable of mind-reading and might have misunderstood, though the number of people saying the same thing as me in response to that bit would tend to indicate that I understood what you said just fine, you just didn’t say what you meant to say.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Sorry for my misunderstanding.

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

    That, and wage and price controls.

    Still, the drawing of so many people into the labor force and the deliberate tactic of squeezing wages together had some very salutary long-term benefits.

  • Cathy W

    It wasn’t that the price of raw materials had gone up and so production was cut back to compensate – raw materials were prioritized for the military, so couldn’t’ be gotten legally at any price, and consumer goods were rationed, so maintaining production for the civilian market wouldn’t’ve helped. Pity the guy in the nylon stocking business – except that now he’s temporarily in the parachute business, so maybe it’s a wash.

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

    Your statement ignores that it was an artificial situation at the time; so much production was being redirected to the military that the US government temporarily began commanding the entire economy.

  • stardreamer42

    That argument is SO last century. Come up with something that hasn’t already been debunked.

  • stardreamer42

     Some Wal-Marts do have solar collector panels on the roof. They use the power generated from those to offset their own electricity demand, and (probably) sell any extra back to the grid. Solar panels aren’t very efficient anywhere outside of the Southwest, but in that area you do see them.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZNNUWEXUPQUQAYGBFDHTEIJBUI Joshua

    People survive on low wages in large part because of government welfare programs. If you work at a Walmart for $7.25/hour (current federal minimum wage) and are able to reliably get 40 hours a week (most stores try to cap the number of hours their employees work to around 30), you would probably make just around $14000 a year, well below the federal poverty line. Taxpayers subsidize Walmart’s payroll in the form of food stamps/TANF payments, housing assistance, and other tax credits and transfer payments that make it possible for Walmart employees to survive on their miserly wages.

    Now, if that’s the way we want it, that’s fine. But I think welfare should be a temporary solution for people who are actually able to work but are only temporarily on hard times; it shouldn’t substitute for paying workers fairly.

    We’re kind of in this ‘in-between’ space where workers often can’t earn a living wage on their own and the government disavows any responsibility for helping them. I feel as if we should pick one side or another; we either let people help themselves and we step in and help them. We shouldn’t do neither.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Fifteen thousand, assuming forty-hour week and no unpaid time off ever. Though I suspect ‘paid time off’ is a thing Walmart’s minimum wage employees scoff at the notion of them getting.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Small reminder for Geds and others who care about ableist language, which to my knowledge is almost every regular here: Please consider that “derp” is pretty much just the sound-effect version of “that’s retarded”. It comes directly from language used to bully/insult the developmentally disabled. (If you’ve never seen an asshole smacking himself in the chest with the edge of his hand and uttering “Herp derp derp!” to refer to and insult or even directly bully someone with a mental/developmental/cognitive disability, I really envy you. It’s a rage-inducing sight.)

    If you wouldn’t say “that’s retarded” about something you think is foolish, because you don’t want to perpetuate ableist values in your insult vocabulary, please consider also refraining from that “herp derpity derp” crap too.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     Small reminder for Geds and others who care about ableist language,
    which to my knowledge is almost every regular here: Please consider that
    “derp” is pretty much just the sound-effect version of “that’s
    retarded”. It comes directly from language used to bully/insult the
    developmentally disabled. (If you’ve never seen an asshole smacking
    himself in the chest with the edge of his hand and uttering “Herp derp
    derp!” to refer to and insult or even directly bully someone with a
    mental/developmental/cognitive disability, I really envy you. It’s a
    rage-inducing sight.)

    That’s interesting.  Also something I did not know, as I just picked it up from random internet memes and never actually knew the origin, so I just think of it as internet shorthand for “stupid argument not worth articulating.”  I’m pretty sure that the comment that set off this comment marks the first time I’ve ever used the term.  It will also mark the last time I use the term.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I kind of thought it came from Derpy Hooves. I suppose instead that the name is a commentary on the Friendship is Magic character.

  • AnonymousSam

    In my experience, living on minimum wage… isn’t really. Well, not for very long. Does slowly dying of malnutrition count as living? Because if so, then yes, you can keep your stomach relatively well-filled with instant rice and ramen, provided you don’t have to pay for many utilities. You just start to feel a wasting thinness to your innards, begin to feel increasingly easily tired, get sick easily and don’t get better… after it’s gone on long enough, you start blacking out, have stretches of missing time…

    I skipped the next step, which is falling asleep and waking up in a hospital, if at all. I got out of it at the time I started having blackouts. The worst part of it was, this was when my income was around minimum wage, and I’ve worked for significantly less in the past — the fact that my work history includes working for what was basically $1.39 an hour isn’t proof that people can live on little; it’s proof that employers are happy to experiment to see what’s the most entertaining way to kill peasants.

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

    Please,  AnonymousSam, this (the United States) is a stable democracy.

    That’s what they said about the Roman Empire, too.

  • AnonymousSam

    According to knowyourmeme.com, it actually originated from the movie Baseketball, and South Park (same creators) continued usage of it until it hit meme status. It’s pretty much always had the message “retardation is hilarious,” which isn’t exactly a stellar message at all.

    Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped a few commercial groups from getting ahold of the meme and going mainstream with it, which is why we have things like Derpy Hooves and AdventureQuestWorld’s DerpQuest.

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

    In general, the humane way to population reduction is voluntarily lowering the birth rate through the free choice of people – women in particular.

    To this end women need to have free agency: the ability to make their own decisions and not be required socially to have children as a means of old-age support.

  • AnonymousSam

    Underscoring this point. If we strip away most of society’s safety nets, then the only possible way to continue living comfortably into one’s old age, when it becomes impossible to work consistently if at all, is to have children who can support the parents.

    It also becomes very hard to take claims of empathy seriously if one’s position is “Well, they should just work until they fall apart, and then they should die.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    I’d like to note that the President-elect is not required to swear the Oath of Office. Just like with testifying in court, they can choose to make an affirmation instead.

    This is so as not to infringe on the religious liberties of people with a religious aversion to swearing oaths, such as Quakers.

    (Nixon was a Quaker who nonetheless swore the Oath of Office on two Bibles, but that’s pretty minor on the list of reasons Nixon was the Worst Quaker Ever.)

  • Water_Bear

    Isn’t it great that we can all come together in the spirit of loving harmony and spend six pages expounding on how atheists are so mean and arrogant and OMG, like, so bad at writing? Such a bunch of whiners, why, I bet they’re all upper-middle class straight white boys too, they’ve probably never even really suffered anyway! 

    I mean, seriously, WTF? 

    Atheists are a tiny powerless minority, the least trusted single group in America. It’s not like Comrade-Leader Dawkins is going to come in and steal your Bible, anything an atheist says against religion has about as much political weight as a vegan complaining about MacDonalds. And what, exactly, are these “Anti-Theists” or “Internet Atheists” saying that is so much worse than the constant (and much louder!) stream of religious extremists promoting violence from every corner of the world in service to every deity ever devised?

    If we spent one tenth the amount of time we complain about rude atheists here talking about the active cover-up of thousands of child rapes by the Roman Catholic Church, or the ongoing Muslim practice of female genital mutilation, or the surge of attacks of LGBT* people in Russia back by the Russian Orthodox Church  or any of a thousand other topics like them, this weird obsession with “Internet Atheists” might not seem like naked bigotry. But no, why talk about people actually hurting each other when we can all have a good laugh about those stuck-up no-Godnicks.

    …ugh

  • AnonymousSam

    That poor army of strawmen, what did they ever do to you?

    (Protip: “Atheists suck” is a sentiment not expressed even once in these six pages. In fact, you’re accusing several atheists of bitterly complaining about atheists instead of complaining about the things they frequently complain about. This seems like it would cause something in the fabric of space and time to break. Have you divided by zero recently?)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Dude, what the hell blog are you reading? Decrying Christians who are full of shit is a full-time occupation around here.

  • AnonaMiss

    OK it looks like I missed most of this argument and as resident (Left) Libertarian Who I Don’t Think? Most Of You Hate, want to weigh in a little bit on the minimum wage. Mostly because it sounds like Enopoletus is misapplying

    A legislated minimum wage is necessary in the real world at this point in time. (Libertarian Utopia would of course be populated by Homo Economicus operating on the Ford business model, just like how global warming would be Solved! by the Free Press exposing environmentally unsafe practices so that if the damage was severe enough for consumers to care, the companies who damaged the environment would have to either shape up or go out of business.) Because I am still a libertarian, I do hold on to the idea that at some time in the future, after globalization has finished its awkward teenage years, a minimum wage may become irrelevant – but that would be effectively a post-scarcity world, and is science fiction, not grounds for ideologuing-up today’s economic policy.

    However, large increases in minimum wage can increase local unemployment in 1 of 3 ways: outsourcing, automation, and driving struggling companies out of business. In addition, conditional minimum wage increases like the ACA can raise underemployment, as employers cut back on hours to squeeze as many employees as possible into those loopholes. Simply raising the minimum wage without also taking action to smooth out the bumps could be a problem.

    Biggest bump to smooth is the loopholes. Wait staff, part time employees, minimum wage needs to be minimum fucking wage.

    The “struggling company” situation – yes, this situation still exists. Not everyone works for a massive supercorp which pays its CEOs and stockholders the money they could be spending on keeping their employees off of welfare. This would be mostly a short-term employment problem, and could be minimized or eliminated entirely (well, except for the companies that would be going under anyway ofc – hard to say what’s the dying blow) by minimum wage increases being small, predictable, and frequent, instead of these gigantic jumps.

    Automation is a tricky one because in the long run, it works out well for the society as a whole: it’s a mass loss of employment in shitty jobs in favor of a smaller gain of employment in less shitty jobs and an increase in the quantity and quality of production over the long term, as it’s much easier to upgrade your automation equipment than it is to make the leap from humans doing the work to automation. It just really sucks to be one of the people who get screwed by it in the short term and may not survive to see the long-term benefits. I’m going to take a pass on this one since the USA has already gone through this transition, but we may see this sort of upheaval if China ever institutes a minimum wage (hey, it could happen…). I think it’s worth noting though that a minimum wage hike would have to be pretty damn high in order to provide the activation energy for the human workers to automated system transition. Meaning that, again, it could be reduced by making minimum wage increases small, predictable, and frequent.

    Outsourcing is the big one. I don’t know what to do about this one. Obviously there are a lot of businesses that can’t outsource – Wal-Mart can’t send its greeter jobs to China – but there are still a lot that can. Again we get this activation energy situation: it’s already cheaper to operate overseas, but they need a strong, sudden incentive to get them to actually move their operations, because the act of moving the operations is costly in itself. If it weren’t for the foreign policy implications and our spoiled-rotten consumer market the whole outsourcing problem could be solved with tarriffs designed to “make up” the difference in cost of goods made overseas – if you don’t pay your employees American minimum wage, we’ll charge you at the port! – but, yeah, China would skin us alive. So again I guess our best solution would be to keep minimum wage increases – say it with me! – small, predictable, and frequent.

    But it’s not true that raising the minimum wage has no effect on employment.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Left Libertarian?

    I think you and I have radically different ideas about what left wing ideology is.

  • AnonaMiss

    Since IIRC you live in Australia, what constitutes left wing in our respective countries is also radically different.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Yeah, but I still think you’re equating left with progressive. People do it in Australia, too. It might seem like I’m playing semantics, but it’s an important distinction.

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

    The equivalent would be something like “anarcho-syndicalist” – basically in the vein of writers like Proudhon, et al.

  • AnonaMiss

     Mm. That’s probably true. One thing it’s hard to keep a hold of in this country is the meaning of political terms, heh.

    Honestly, I grabbed the “Left” label as a way of distinguishing myself from the flood of social conservative Republicans who were burned by GWB’s reckless spending and started labeling themselves “libertarians” instead, occasionally with a grudging nod to “Yeah we could legalize marijuana I guess.” When Ron Paul is unironically described as a “libertarian” while simultaneously saying that individual states should have the right to determine whether or not gay marriage is legal? Time to find me a new label, I’m not using the one he’s claimed anymore.

    My stripe is more “Make no regulation on people’s private activities that doesn’t harm other people (they can harm themselves though). Let people make bad decisions (but try not to let them die for it unless that was their intention), but come down hard as fuck on fraud. Also, if minarchy includes only the basic stuff required for the
    well-being of the society, guess what: the well-being of the society
    requires at a minimum not having people dying of starvation. What the minimum should be does not magically coincide with what helps you make money. Wrt regulation, government’s primary regulatory duty should be to break up the monopolies & oligopolies. If you can manage it, sunlight is the best disinfectant, as bad publicity can be a more potent regulatory force than any legal action & is also significantly less expensive for the regulator. Destruction or defacement of public property, like say the earth itself, is a crime and should be prosecutable on companies as well as persons. Also 100% estate tax past a low cap would be a great way to fund the government. Wealth people give to you is yours; but you were the one who made the better mousetrap, not your heirs. This ain’t an aristocracy.”

    If you know of a better way to boil that down, please do share.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    If you know of a better way to boil that down, please do share.

    Well, for a start I’d say that disagreeing with socially conservative Republicans doesn’t make you left wing any more than disagreeing with the Pope makes me Martin Luther. And if you believe that the role of government should be as small as possible without destroying society while Ron Paul believes that sometimes and not others, then you should grab the label “libertarian” and say that he’s the one who needs to move.

    You haven’t described anything that sounds remotely left wing to me. Just bog standard not-an-arsehole right wing.

  • AnonaMiss

    While I mostly agree with your assessment, I’m really surprised that you don’t consider “The government should confiscate inheritances and use them for the good of the people” left wing.

    Also, as a linguistic descriptivist, I would argue that the meaning of the word libertarian has changed. A word means only what it’s recognized by native speakers to mean. I can’t oust the assholes nesting in the American Libertarian party simply by virtue of prior claim to the word; especially since I’m heretically large-government for a libertarian, so didn’t quite fit into the previous definition anyway!

  • Tricksterson

    They exist they’re just quite rare.  David Brin is one or claims to be.  The main difference is whether they emphasize social liberties (left) or economic ones (right).  Another way i’ve heard it put is the left believe humans cooperative drive is stronger than their competitive one and the right believes vice-versa.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The main difference is whether they emphasize social liberties (left) or economic ones (right).

    See, this is where I disagree. Emphasising “social liberties” doesn’t make you left wing, it makes you a social progressive. We have right wing social progressives. I respect their social positions, but I’m not voting for them because their economic views are bad for the people I’m most concerned about.

    The difference matters because there are plenty of social progressives who are all about equal rights for people of minority races, religions and sexual identities–which I support–but when it comes to economics they generally prefer the free market to do its thing rather than back government intervention. Except that the free market doing its thing without government intervention inevitably screws over the poor and working class. So these sort of progressives basically care about standing up for the marginalised, except for the people marginalised by poverty.

    It’s philosophically inconsistent but very common, in my experience. I’m involved in progressive politics, and one of the observations of the movement in my country over the past couple of generations is that it’s been increasingly dominated by the middle class and their concerns. The left is a minority faction within progressive politics which is very much of the middle class, by the middle class and for the middle class.

    Of course the social issues are important. Of course they are. They overlap with economic issues and besides, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. But I observe, in my extremely middle class society, the needs of the poor and working class sidelined even within progressive politics. They deserve a voice, but it too often gets drowned out.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    AnonaMiss, you are no Left-Libertarian, just like Rand Paul is no
    libertarian. You are a libertarian-leaning leftist. The key to libertarianism is the non-aggression principle. All libertarians support the rights of life, liberty, and property (though they may justify them in different ways; Mises, for example, was a staunch opponent of Natural Rights theory and justified his libertarianism based on utilitarianism). The Left Libertarians are a group of anarchists who love right-libertarian policies but think they’ll have different results from what the
    right-libertarians think they will. The Left-Libertarians are to be found at
    http://leftlibertarian.org/

  • EllieMurasaki

    The key to libertarianism is the non-aggression principle.

    PLEASE don’t make me laugh out loud at work.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I don’t see anything funny about the statement you quoted.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So it’s not an act of aggression against the poor to insist that no regulation is necessary on predatory lenders? So it’s not an act of aggression against anyone who eats to insist that no regulation is necessary for food safety reasons? Because libertarians do so insist.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It’s not an act of aggression; it’s non-aggression against high-interest lenders and those who do not want their food production facilities regulated.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What the fuck.

  • cyllan

    We have always been at war with eastasia…

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Was that a question or an exclamation?

  • EllieMurasaki

    That was a ‘how would YOU like to have chicken shit in your chicken cordon bleu’. Because that is a thing that happens when the chicken industry is not subject to strict food safety regulations.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    This is partially why I do not count myself as a libertarian. In cases such as these, bureaucrats can do better than the free market.

    Maybe your statement that “is a thing that happens when the chicken industry is not subject to strict food safety regulations” is true, but intrusive searches of property without a search warrant and the penalizing of unsanitary food-processing conditions are still examples of aggression, by the libertarian definition of “aggression”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    And what, pray tell, is “the libertarian definition of ‘aggression'”, and why does it exclude ‘stealing money from the poor through incredibly high interest rates on short-term loans’?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    http://wiki.mises.org/wiki/Aggression
    If a poor person has agreed to pay high interest payments to a creditor, that creditor has the right to demand payments from the poor debtor. Otherwise, the poor debtor is guilty of fraud.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If only physical force counts, then why is it aggressive for the poor person to fail to make payments? Whatever aggression means, why is it not aggressive for the creditor to set the terms unpayably high?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wait wait wait. From that mises.org link:

    “Note that communication requires the initiation of force to gain access to another persons sensory organs.”

    Communication is inherently aggressive? What the FUCK.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I have learned a lesson from this: never link to wikis.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The most recent change on that wiki page was July 2012, so your point can’t possibly be that somebody maliciously snuck in false information and I saw it before you did. So what is your point?

  • P J Evans

    Why shouldn’t ‘unsanitary food procession conditions’ be subject to a penalty? It’s endangering the public health, which is EVERYONE who comes in contact with the contaminated food.
    If you really want people to respect your opinions, stop being a beckwit.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [Ahem].

    This is partially why I do not count myself as a libertarian. In cases such as these, bureaucrats can do better than the free market.

    Was the above not pretty clear I am in agreement with you on this issue?

  • AnonaMiss

    With respect, if “left-libertarian” is taken, I will take “left-leaning libertarian” rather than libertarian-leaning leftist. For example, the reason I prefer a 100% inheritance tax is because taxing the dead means taking money away from no one living, and also reduces the need for tax on the living.

    I consider that any informed political view will recognize that there need to be compromises and exceptions made in order to reasonably apply to the real world. From a libertarian perspective, the compromises and exceptions for the current state of the United States need to be towards regulating business. This is because right now, business is regulated much less strictly than labor, and because with the current state of the courts and the legislature, business is favored in the extreme. Once these facts are corrected – once regulation on unionization is relaxed, and laws are enforced on businesses the same way they are on private citizens – then we can look at relaxing regulation on businesses again. But it will do no one any good to free business further while labor remains in chains; and we must protect labor from business until it is able to protect itself.

    And of course, I think the most important thing is to take all moves with caution and after some consideration.

    …”Conservative left-leaning libertarian”. Heh.

    Also find it silly that you consider me “leftist with libertarian leanings” while Dave considers me “bog standard right wing”.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Who’s Dave? I suspect heirs are more competent to handle inherited wealth than the government (though this is only a suspicion, not a solid, evidence-based assertion).

  • AnonaMiss

    Oops, misremembered who it was somehow. I meant Sgt Pepper.

    Also, you’re demonstrating right there that you don’t believe what you said about libertarianism. If you really believed the important thing was financial non-aggression, the concern of who is more competent to handle the money would pale in comparison to “Oh man, that would be a way of funding the essential functions of government without taking anyone’s money away!” Or possibly an objection based on rightful ownership or harm or something.

    Instead, once the idea of the government having any money comes up, it’s “government is incompetent.” “Government is less competent than Paris Hilton,” even.

    You pretty much just owned yourself right there.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [Ahem.]

    All libertarians support the rights of life, liberty, and property (though they may justify them in different ways; Mises, for example, was a staunch opponent of Natural Rights theory and justified his libertarianism based on utilitarianism).

  • AnonaMiss

    What would you consider a better way of funding government than taking money from the dead, then? Since you’ve made noises towards the idea that taking money from the living is an aggression against them. From a utilitarian standpoint, then, it should do less harm to take money from the dead than to take it from the living.

    Assuming you really are a libertarian and do see the need for some amount of government, instead of being just an anarchist who sees and is totally OK with the power imbalances inherent in anarchy.

    Also, are you seriously claiming to be a utilitarian? A utilitarian who wants to gut medicare & social security? Pull the other one.

  • Carstonio

    Here’s my somewhat incoherent political philosophy applied to economics:

    Government exists not only to protect individual rights, but to enable communities to obtain things that individuals couldn’t obtain on their own. Left unchecked, a purely free-market economy turns into an oligopoly and from there into an oligarchy, where all the institutions of society become geared to propping up the small wealthy elite. One purpose of government is to counteract that tendency, to limit political, social and economic marginalization and achieve greater equality of opportunity. This means working toward making access to capital more democratic, and limiting the ability of people with economic power to misuse it to marginalize others. I favor membership corporations over investor-owned ones, and see a government role for promoting these in fields such as banking. Government operates more or less as a compulsory membership corporation anyway. Measures like minimum incomes and single-payer  health care not only help prevent suffering but also help equalize opportunity.

    Does all that fall more or less under liberalism or leftism or progressivism?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Fairly centrist, probably centre-right from the language, but moving from the abstract to the concrete may prove otherwise. But basically it sounds like you’d fit in the right wing faction of a mainstream social democratic party.

    Progressivism is a whole other thing. As I said, I don’t like to mix up the economic and social philosophies because they don’t necessarily go together. People tend to equate progressive with left and conservative with right, but I know plenty of right wing progressives and left wing social conservatives.

  • Carstonio

    I would have thought that my economic positions were more center-left, only because I don’t favor socialism. I’ve told opponents of health care reform that true socialist health care would involve government running all the hospitals and employing all the doctors. 

    If it helps, I want US taxation to be dramatically more progressive than it is now, with capital gains rates higher than ordinary income.

    Both my economic and social stances are based on a core philosophy of protecting the powerless from the powerful. Government is usually the benign factor in the economic realm and often the malign factor in the social realm, with the powerless side in the latter case being the individual. I don’t claim that all my positions are consistent with this philosophy. But I am confused as to a core philosophy for a right-wing progressive or a left-wing social conservative.

  • Carstonio

    Hypothetically, how would I change my economic positions to make these more lefty?