Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Picking My Brain 06-10-24

Look what fell out of my brain today.


"In another age she might have been considered beautiful, but not after the Pleistocene Epoch." - Woody Allen


So I'm driving around yesterday and I accidentally hear on the radio an update on the World Series. Well, I no longer care about the World Series. The Mets are out of it, and as far as I'm concerned, there will be no World Series winner this year. There have only been two winners of the World Series. One was in 1969 and the other in 1986. Both times it was the New York Mets. I do not consider any other "supposed" winners to be valid. I'm sorry but that's just the way I am.


I'm getting tired of hearing Republicans (and conservatives in general) claiming that "Regulation kills business." Bullshit! A corporation does not exist in nature. A business exists because of regulations, and the US Constitution grants Congress the authority to regulate commerce among the several states. What these people want is a world of commerce ruled by caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). It would be nice if the world were a liberal paradise where no one needs to lie about anything, but we're a long way from there. The only way to protect consumers from unscrupulous businessmen is through regulation. The only way to stop businesses from polluting our environment is through regulation. ("Voluntary standards" are no standards at all.) The only way to stop utilities from ripping you off when you buy vital services (like electricity) is through regulation. It is an absolute lie that "The Market" will bring about the best solutions. That all depends on what you define "the best" to mean. If it means strictly profitability, then a lot fewer solutions to problems are going to be found. We're just going to have to face the fact that sometimes it costs more to do what you have to do. Just because there's no opportunity to make a huge profit off it is a piss poor reason to not bother to try.

Suppose a hypothetical, taking place fifteen or twenty years in the future. The Earth's population has grown to about 7.5 billion people (7,500,000,000). A brilliant young scientist working on unlocking the secrets of the genetic code manages to unlock a big one. She has found a way to trigger the necessary genetic code within each one of us to cure any disease we may have without any further treatment. It is one hundred percent safe, and one hundred percent guaranteed. Once treated, your body would heal itself of anything that the genetic code found flawed. Anything. Cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, all these diseases and more would be vanquished from the Earth. The treatment would be the same for each person, but the healing time would vary according to ailments. But they would eventually heal, and the more life-threatening flaws would automatically be dealt with first (your genetic code is that smart.) But the treatment is expensive. It would cost in current dollars around $20,000 for each individual's treatment, regardless of age or medical condition. To treat every person on the planet would cost around one hundred and fifty trillion dollars ($150,000,000,000,000). Do you want to say it's not worth it? Do you want to say that the opportunity to end all disease on the planet is just too expensive to do, and that there is no way that a business could see a profit in trying to do that, and so it shouldn't be attempted? Why does everything have to be profitable to be worth doing?


George Lakoff, of The Rockridge Institute, has helped us see what has been happening in the political debate, and helped us see why one side seems to dominate all the time. It's because of something called "Framing the Debate", and it's the reason the Democratic Party seems to be without plan or vision. Neither is true, and there are plenty of ideas in the Democratic National Committee (ACLU), despite what you hear from the Republican National Conference (NAMBLA). The thing is, the way the issues are being talked about has a large part to do with how you envision solutions to that problem. For example. There are a large number of illegal immigrants in this country. That much is pretty much not in dispute. (The 11-12 million figure is.) But what's to be done about it is largely being decided by how the problem is being defined. Is the problem that we have an ill-defended border and too many illegals easily slip in and take the jobs Americans won't take? Or is the problem that we have too many employers willing to violate the law and illegally hire undocumented workers because they work for less than minimum wage? In the first instance, we talk about building fences and clamping down on people who overstay visas, but in the second instance the talk is about clamping down on employers who hire illegally and such. So how you see the problem tends to limit how you define the solutions. In this (admittedly simplified) example, no proposed solution is given for both problems, and there's no reason both sets of solutions can't be done, yet few people talk about doing both. They tend to talk about doing one or the other, and it's because of what they perceive the problem to be. This determines what they will accept as viable solutions. I mean, if what you're proposing doesn't fix the problem as I see it, why would I support your proposal? Or vice versa? If you see the problem as one of illegal immigration and I see the problem as one of illegal employment, how are we going to come to an agreement on what to do?

I have often said that the problem isn't that health care costs so much in this country, it's that they charge so much. They seem to be making nice profits in the pharmaceutical industry, so why can't our government negotiate for lower drug prices? They can repeal the asinine part of Billy Tauzin's boondoggle to Pharma (his future employers, like, immediately after it passed) that prohibited the government from doing that. If they can pass a laws stopping themselves, doesn't it stand to reason that repealing that law would open the door to negotiations? Why don't they talk about that, instead of just how much it costs?

And for fun, think about the alleged prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and GTMO, and try to remember how the issue was being discussed. Did you notice that it tended to be about what should be allowed at Abu Ghraib or GTMO? But how often did you ever hear being discussed in the media, "Should we even have an Abu Ghraib or a GTMO, where these kinds of things could happen?" You might have heard it once or twice here or there, but not on the major political talk shows, and certainly not from the conservative side. What they wanted to talk about was how much they should be allowed to do there. What we tried to talk at them about was how little should be allowed. And if you tried to question the wisdom of having such places, you were branded a terrorist-sympathizer. For having morals and a sense of human decency toward another human being.


A guy walks into a bar. He orders a drink and the bartender gives it to him. He pays for the drink and then quietly drinks it. He orders another drink, pays for it, and quietly drinks it. He orders another, and then another. This scene is repeated two or three more times until he decides he's had enough. Or somebody does. Maybe it was the bartender. Sufficiently inebriated, he gets up and staggers home.

Happens every day.

Oh, and then three guys yank him into an alley, rob him, and beat the shit out of him leaving him for dead.

That part doesn't happen as often. But it could if you let the Democrats take control of Congress.

Wouldn't you rather be able to stagger home drunk in safety?

Vote as if your life depended on it, because it does.

Vote Republican.

This message paid for by Republicans for an Orwellian Future.


Well, that's what fell out this time. I should have something a little later today on The Terrorists Among Us.

'Til next time, beware of government warnings! (This message brought to you by the Department of Homeland Security.)

If you enjoyed stopping by, please tell your friends, and thanks again for visiting.

I'm outta here. We're off the air? Is this thing off? What a godda...

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