Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Gambit

Suppose you find yourself debating a Progressive over the moral (in)validity of welfare legislation — because you're a masochist or you just have a penchant for wasting your time. Try the following gambit. (It won't work, but the results will be instructive, or at least amusing.)

You: "So, you think that it's justifiable to mandate paying taxes to support [the elderly/the poor/the sick/the (insert your favorite 'downtrodden' or 'powerless' group here)]?"

Progressive: "Yes. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, 'Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.'"

You: "And it's moral to force [derivatives traders/doctors/health insurance companies/[pick your favorite 'selfish, evil rich bastard'] to supply the money or the good or service in question."

Progressive: "Yes, of course. We are our brother's keeper, after all."

You: "Fine. Tell you what. Since quality sex is as vital to human well being as money or medical care, let's establish a National Bureau of Prostitution, with a branch in every town in America."

Progressive: "What? That's ridiculous. Get serious."

You: "I am serious. There are a lot of lonely, ugly, poor guys (and gals — let's not be sexist) out there who aren't getting any. Or, what they do get is below acceptable quality. [If pressed on the standard of 'acceptable' be very vague.] We need to improve their 'access' to quality quim.

"So, I propose we establish a tax to pay for prostitutes for them. Better still, since there aren't enough good looking hookers to go around, let's require some Hollywood babes to participate. 'Voluntarily', of course, unless they want to pay a fine or go to jail.

"Now, this being a government program, the time required will be minimal when the bill is passed, say only once per month. It will rise in a few years to once per week, then once per day. Sooner or later, half their time will be spent in the brothel. But that's only fair, after all. They happen to be blessed with gifts that nature hasn't granted everyone. So, they should do this, and if they won't they should be legally forced."

Progressive: "But, but, that would be pretty much the same as kidnapping and rape." [Granted, I'm really exaggerating here, because no Progressive would ever make the connection. If government does it, on his/her view, it can't be equivalent to the crime performed by a private individual. Thus, for example, taxation can never be theft.]

What do you suppose would be the response?

Now, this may seem like a fantasy debate, but I actually tried this once with a dyed-in-the-wool 'liberal' female, an extremely smart mathematician. (She also happened to be very unattractive and would never have been required personally to contribute her services.) She was, not surprisingly, outraged. She was, however, unable to find a single flaw in the argument.

Naturally, I'm a little worried about giving Rahm Emmanuel any ideas here. But, hey, if we're going to have a government program, it might at least be one I could, so to speak, get behind.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Health Care Bill: Fraud At Its Finest

You have to give the Democrats in Congress credit. They're nothing if not risk takers. According to a recent IBD editorial discussing the projected bill for the proposed Health Care bill:
The $848 billion figure is based on a 10-year run beginning in 2010 when there will be little, if any, spending — even though the taxes that fund the new welfare state program will begin the next year. In fact, only 1% of the spending will come in the first four years of the 10 years the Democrats are counting, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Now, that's criminal masterminding at its finest.

I'm sure the Dems are betting the American electorate won't notice the sleight of hand, or if they do they won't pressure Congress enough to kill the scam (or pressure any future one to repeal it). And the Dems might well be right.

What IDB doesn't add is that if the Feds spent only a few thousand dollars it would still be a moral crime. If, by some impossible miracle the Feds' health care plan actually did lower costs and improve quality, they would still have imposed it by force. In the process they'll have violated the rights to life, property, and voluntary trade, making it an actual crime according to the now-defunct U.S. Constitution.

If the Progressives had any courage — yes, I know, don't laugh — they would agree to the following deal...

Want to bitch about the cost of national defense (a Constitutional activity), and argue that it justifies massive welfare spending (an unconstitutional one)? Fine. Make you a deal, Lefties. Let's make contributing to both completely voluntary. Then, after three years, let's sum up how much funding has been provided to each category.

Betcha a trillion dollars the highly trusted military* gets a million times more money from voluntary donations than Social Security and Medicare combined. So, going by the progressives' Rousseauian "its the will of the people" justification for all coercive social legislation, we should pretty much end welfare.

That's a gamble I'm betting the thugs in Washington will never take.

[*Note: According to several Gallup polls, the military is trusted "a great deal" more than organized religion by about 45% to 29%, with Congress down at 6%.]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, and A Word of Thanks to Producers Everywhere

My sincere and deep gratitude to all the productive people in the world, and to those who protect their efforts.

I thank you for making the effort to stir a brain cell and a muscle fiber to create all the goods and services I use and enjoy.

I regret that I can do so little to keep the parasites from your wallet, your body, and your soul, as well as those you cherish. But, for what it's worth, I'm extremely grateful and vow to continue doing what I can for as long as possible.

Once again, thanks.

Jeff Perren

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Progressive's Handbook of Argument

[Here's a little something I've been toying with in my spare time, a not entirely satirical review of my experiences in debating Progressives the past year. Feel free to add to the list.]

1. Lie. All the time.
[One morning, for example, I commented on Powerline about the health care issue, advocating deregulation. Not long after, one came back with:

"Sure, more deregulation, that always works, worked well with Wall Street and the banking industry.... United Healthcare reports record profits and revenue, based on charging more in premiums and delivering less care. Great system, need more like UH to squeeze more out of the middle class....."

The usual lies. I linked to Reisman's Myth that Laissez-Faire is to Blame... but I doubt the creature read it.]
2. Make broad claims and make no effort to substantiate them. That forces the opponent to argue against a case that has not been made, tying up his time and resources.
Case in point: [name redacted] who frequently comments on Pajamas Media articles and HotAir posts, the very prototype of a Progressive.

"AGW deniers generally share a common financial interest in promoting their views. That’s why I was not surprised that the first “reference” in the article is to a commercial outlet for Plimer’s book. Ian Plimer is a Professor of Mining Geology with a background in the mining industry. His expertise in climate science is questionable, to be generous – his financial and career interests are transparent.

Although his book has proven popular with a certain segment of the public, it has been widely panned in the scientific community, simply because the “science” content is nothing but a series of cherry-picked primary sources, selected without regard for accuracy or veracity.

The “technological revolution” that is needed to halt global warming is not “unimaginable” except to those whose imaginations have ceased to function. Without engaging in the work to bring about this revolution, we are doomed to a future of dwindling fossil fuel resources, ongoing climate disruption, and eventually a very nasty and rapid rise in sea level worldwide due to continued carbon emissions.

There is no downside in moving to a sustainable, carbon-neutral economy – it is in the end a cleaner and more cost effective way to power an economy once the investment in infrastructure is in place. Wholesale rejection of mainstream scientific thought (”I will never believe the British Medical Journal again, and I have real doubts about the Lancet. The journals Nature and Science have become shockingly corrupt and dishonest on global warming.”) is one of the sure signs of late-stage global warming denial.

If the GOP continues to ignore the overwhelming evidence of AGW, and relies on the pseudo-scientists of the world for support, it truly is one of the worst times for science. Peer-review and broad consensus are the basis of scientific knowledge, and AGW deniers fail miserably on both counts. There is no peer-reviewed evidence that refutes the well-documented long-term warming that has been observed since the beginning of scientific measurements, and the broad consensus supports theories that recognize the impact of human activity on the global environment.

It is the best of times, in the sense that science can identify and propose remedies for the damage that humans do to their environment, and technology provides the tools to made these changes. It is only the political mechanism that is paralyzed by oligarchy. But even the biggest players in the fossil fuel game can see the their future will be very different. It is not possible to deny the science forever, as the consequences of warming are becoming more obvious every year."

[Note the sly character assassination in the form of insinuating that all "AGW deniers" are motivated by commercial gain, unlike Progressives who are "pure." The usual slander. Notice, too, the number of points made with no supporting links. Take particular note of the casual dismissal of any scientist who disagrees, characterized here as a pseudo scientist. Viz. Dr. Tim Ball, Dr. Fred Singer, Dr. Sallie Baliunus, Dr. William Gray, Dr. Patrick Michaels, and many more.]
3. When the opposition makes an unassailable point, simply ignore it, and switch the argument to another point.

4. When your arguments are shown several ways from Sunday to be flawed, wait a little while, then repeat the argument as if nothing had ever been said to demonstrate its flaws.

5. When an argument is made with six different supporting facts or sub-arguments, pick the weakest and focus exclusively on this.

[I call this technique "crawling through the cracks," a specialty of Progressives, but widely used today.]

6. NEVER acknowledge any fact or argument that in the least weakens your case, much less admit you were wrong. Winning, truth be damned, is the goal no matter the costs.

[The sure sign not only of a dogmatist, but one of the Pragmatist variety, which encompasses most Progressives.]

7. When you cite statistics, it doesn't matter if the source never supports your case, even when the numbers are from a Progressive-friendly site.

[The stats either bear another plausible explanation or are simply a non sequitur. (Popular in discussions of both economics and climate.)]

8. When caught advocating something blatantly injurious to freedom, the pocketbook, or an individual's well-being, affect a wide-eyed "Who me?" tone and pretend that the plain meaning of your words wasn't what you meant.

9. As needed, assert that "Republicans/conservatives/Mr. X" did evil, therefore, Y is good. In short, use the fallacy of false alternative liberally (pun intended).

10. To sound authoritative, generally display a completely unearned nose-in-the-air attitude that suggests anyone who disagrees is a flyover-country moron.

11. When cornered, play the victim card and whenever possible whine about ad hominem, while issuing plenty of them at the same time.

12. When needed, pull the sympathy card. Cry about how allowing freedom in this or that issue will lead to old women dying in the streets as capitalists look on and laugh. Ignore that this is historically untrue and morally irrelevant.

13. When someone makes a statement such as "Rand was insightful at times" with which you disagree, spend no time whatever considering whether it's true and what might show it or contradict it. Instead, seek out instances where it was not so and then act as if these constitute proof of a universal premise.

14. Substitute snark for argument and evidence. This is something of a restatement of the above, but bears repeating in this different form.

15. [Added 1/30/2010] When all else fails, whenever discussing science or economics, devolve the discussion as quickly as possible into technical minutiae. Ignore any ethical or political implications of any facts, unless they support your case.

16. Like the old-time Communists from whom you evolved (to become new-style Fascists), always promote government power at the expense of individual freedom. Trot out any facts that might be useful for your purpose, as needed, regardless of their relevance.

17. Like Fascists everywhere, pretend to be in favor of freedom, while assiduously working to undermine it at all times.

[Take the view, for example, that you don't want to nationalize industry, just regulate it... until there's nothing but the smallest difference of degree between the two. Ditto every aspect of individual freedom of action. Never tolerate the idea that anyone could be allowed to make a free choice that isn't in line with your pusillanimous ethical posturing.]

[It's particularly this last that makes Progressives so disgusting. They know they can't win openly by touting their beliefs in undisguised form. In this respect, the Soviets and Italian Fascists of the 1920s were more honest.]

Progressives, like Puritans, simply can not tolerate individuals living as they please, without these noble saints directing them. They invent all sorts of rationalizations, pretending bad things inevitably follow from freedom, in order to justify their fear and hatred of choice. No amount of evidence showing how unfounded are their beliefs will dissuade them, as it never does for the truly zealous.

I'm compelled to conclude that it's time for a Reformation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Veronique de Rugy Discusses 2nd Stimulus Talk

The insanity to which I alluded in the previous post is nowhere more evident than in recent talk in Congress to foist a second 'stimulus' on the American people. Ms. de Rugy is well worth reading on this subject because she's one of the few prominent voices that not only knows the 'stimulus' didn't work, but that none ever could. She writes:
Everyday Brings a New Bad Idea
[by Veronique de Rugy at NRO]

And sometimes it even brings several terrible ones. Today is one of these days.

First, the Democrats are once again talking about a second stimulus, except this time they won't call it a stimulus (because the first one gave the word stimulus a bad name) but a "jobs legislation." I doubt it would make any difference to remind them that government spending can't create jobs; that with government spending comes waste, fraud, and abuse; and that most of the money from the first stimulus still hasn't been spent.

Also, the Democrats want to use $200 billion of unused Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, not to reduce the deficit, but to spend on job creation. Interestingly, because the brilliant lawmakers behind the idea don't read newspapers, and haven't kept up with the broken promises made by the administration in February about how the $789 billion would create 3.5 million jobs, they are claiming that this move would create 6 million jobs.

House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson (D-Conn.) said momentum is building among his party to take unused Troubled Asset Relief Program money and put it toward job creation, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he’s trying to figure out a way to get a jobs bill on the House calendar before the chamber adjourns in mid December. The Larson bill, called the Transparent Markets Act, could create six million jobs, Larson said.

The silver lining: Americans understand that this administration and Congress have no clue what they are talking about. According to a CBS News Poll, "While the White House insists about a million jobs have been created by the stimulus package, Americans simply don't believe it. A mere 7% say the stimulus has already created jobs, 46% say jobs will be created eventually, 42% say it will never create jobs."
Sadly, I can't entirely share Ms. de Rugy's optimism here, much as — believe it or not — I would like to. The American people may not believe it has worked, but they're not yet convinced it couldn't, and I dare say that's true even of most in that 42%. If 42% of the electorate believed that Keynesian economics was inherently impractical — not to say immoral — there would be a peaceful revolution that would cast all but a sliver of the Federal Government out of work.

After all, nearly all of their vicious activity is related in one way or another to 'improving on' or 'compensating for' the alleged ill-effects of freedom and capitalism (which is the idea underlying Keynesianism). That threadbare excuse has been working since the Sherman Antitrust Act, long before Keynes ever published a word, and it's still working today.

When 42% of American adults believe that freedom is both moral and practical, the major problems we currently face — not just economic or political, but cultural and social — will have been long solved. Let's continue to strive for that golden day.

Barrias' Nature Unveiling Before Science

Amid the daily waves of pointless and unnecessary insanity that characterize life in America today, it's good to remind oneself there are still enormous values in existence. This sculpture by Barrias, Nature Unveiling Herself Before Science (in the Musee d'Orsay), is one such.

[Image from Musee d'Orsay]

As the museum's website describes it:
The statue was commissioned in 1889 decorate the new medical school in Bordeaux. A young woman, the allegory of nature, is slowly lifting the veils she is wrapped in. When he had finished the first version in white marble for the school, Barrias designed a second statue in polychrome, for the ceremonial staircase of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, in Paris. He used marble and onyx from the newly reopened quarries in Algeria.

Carefully carved to enhance the decorative qualities of the materials, the various parts of the statue play on the veins in the ribboned onyx for the veil, the mottled effect of the red marble for the robe, the preciousness of lapis lazuli for the eyes and malachite for the scarab and coral for the mouth and lips.
Refresh your soul and remember, living well and being happy is the best way to drive Progressives insane. Better them than you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Random Thoughts on Vampires Old and Young

Is it just me, or is the following some sort of cosmic alignment?

On the same weekend when a silly teenage vampire flick pulls in $72 million, the bloodsuckers in the Senate are moving forward to drain the life out of every taxpayer in America... and make us pay for the transfusion.

Think I'm exaggerating? Here are a few of the taxes proposed to pay for the so-called health care reform bill about to enter debate.
[This list includes taxes in the bill passed by the House of Representatives, the bill the Senate is currently debating, and other taxes mentioned as a possible way to pay for health care reform.]

    An income surtax on taxpayers earning more than $500,000 a year,[1]

    An excise tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health insurance plans that cost more than $8,500 a year for individuals or $21,000 for families,[2]

    An excise tax on medical devices such as wheelchairs, breast pumps, and syringes used by diabetics for insulin injections,[3]

    A cap on the exclusion of employer-provided health insurance without offsetting tax cuts,[4]

    A limit on itemized deductions for taxpayers with a top income tax rate greater than 28 percent,[5]

    A windfall profits tax on health insurance companies,[6]

    A value-added tax, which would tax the value added to a product at each stage of production,[7]

    An increase in the Medicare portion of the payroll tax to 3.4 percent for incomes great than $200,000 a year ($250,000 for married filers),[8]

    An excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages including non-diet soda and sports drinks,[9]

    Higher taxes on alcoholic beverages including beer, wine, and spirits,[10]

    A tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage of up to 2.5 percent of their adjusted gross income,[11]

    A limit on contributions to health savings accounts,[12]

    An 8 percent tax on all wages paid by employers that do not provide their employees health insurance that satisfies the requirements defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services,[13]

    A limit on contributions to flexible spending arrangements,[14]

    Elimination of the deduction for expenses associated with Medicare Part D subsidies,[15]

    An increase in taxes on international businesses,[16]

    Elimination of the tax credits paper companies take for biofuels they create in their production process–the so-called “Black Liquor credit,”[17]

    Fees on insured and self-insured health plans,[18]

    A limit or repeal of the itemized deduction for medical expenses,[19]

    A limit on the Qualified Medical Expense definition,[20]

    An increase in the payroll taxes on students,[21]

    An extension of the Medicare payroll tax to all state and local government employees,[22]

    An increase in taxes on hospitals,[23]

    An increase in the estate tax,[24]

    Increased efforts to close the mythical “tax gap,”[25]

    A 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery and similar procedures such as Botox treatments, tummy tucks, and face lifts,[26]

    A tax on drug companies,[27]

    An increase in the corporate tax on providers of health insurance,[28] and

    A $500,000 deduction limitation for the compensation paid by health insurance companies to their officers, employees, and directors.[29]

James Madison would simply not recognize his country now. But, then, given that there's more fantasy in Congress than Twilight today, who could blame him?

Wait 'til the fools in D.C. find out what kind of demons they're about to unleash. They'll be subsidizing garlic farmers to the tune of an ethanol-sized bill.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Barnes & Noble nook, Kindle Killer

Barnes and Noble has brought out a new eReader just in time for the holidays. They're already sold out. No wonder, once you see the specs on this unit.

About the size and weight of a trade paperback, it stores hundreds of books, and has a Micro-SD slot so you can store thousands. The battery is user-replaceable and rated to last 2-3 years. And, oh, it has an MP3 player built in. Love it.

I love gadgets to begin with, but I'm especially interested in the growth of the eBook market because the odds of my getting a novel published by a mainstream publisher are now between epsilon and delta. (For non-geeks, that's a calculus joke. It means my chances are zilch.)

I'm hoping an exploding eBook market will help compensate for the slump that has taken over the industry since the number of distributors collapsed some years back.

(It doesn't help that Progressives dominate all the mainstream houses, but they must go to sleep from time to time. That, or they get temporarily overcome by useful greed, since non post-modern novels do get published from time to time. Some of them do very well; in fact, they're practically the only ones that do, a Hollywood-film box-office bomb lesson that neither group has been willing to live by, to date.)

Anyway, check out this cool device.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Capitalism More Popular In Russia Than America

When Russian and East German young people favor capitalism more than their American counterparts, you know your culture is in trouble.

[Image: American Enterprise Institute]

Of course, anyone over 30 living there has direct experience with the practical effects of those ideologies - which this American generation is only beginning to see. (Even those under 30 can still understand the effects via their their parents.) And, while it may not be the official ideology, Russia isn't far from communism even today. The fascist system that currently dominates that country isn't much different in practice.

Will the rising generation here open their eyes in time?

Quote of the Day: Thomas Paine on Freedom

After the recent disastrous vote in the House on HR 3962, it's good to remind ourselves...
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." --Thomas Paine, The Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Sunday, November 8, 2009

House Votes for Dictatorship

Following are the names of 220 Congressional traitors who voted to make the United States a de jure dictatorship.


Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Brown, Corrine

Carson (IN)
Castor (FL)
Connolly (VA)

Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
Donnelly (IN)

Edwards (MD)

Frank (MA)

Green, Al
Green, Gene

Hall (NY)
Hastings (FL)

Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson (GA)
Johnson, E. B.

Kilpatrick (MI)
Kirkpatrick (AZ)
Klein (FL)

Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lee (CA)
Lewis (GA)
Lofgren, Zoe

Markey (MA)
McCarthy (NY)
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy, Patrick

Nadler (NY)
Neal (MA)

Pastor (AZ)
Pingree (ME)
Polis (CO)
Price (NC)


Rothman (NJ)
Ryan (OH)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Smith (WA)

Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)

Van Hollen

Wasserman Schultz
Wilson (OH)

Once the totalitarian principle is established that you can be forced on pain of fine or imprisonment to buy a service — contradicting the Constitution in at least three places — your life is no longer your own by law. It won't be long before a de jure dictatorship becomes one de facto. If the Senate approves the monstrosity of HR 3962 passed yesterday in the House, it's goodbye freedom in America unless a revolution reverses the country's course. Good luck getting a large enough number of your fellow citizens to go along with that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

11:59 On the Dictatorship Clock, HR 3962

The Wall Street Journal outlines just a few of the horrendous aspects of the House bill on so-called health care reform.
• Sec. 202 (p. 91-92) of the bill requires you to enroll in a "qualified plan." If you get your insurance at work, your employer will have a "grace period" to switch you to a "qualified plan," meaning a plan designed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If you buy your own insurance, there's no grace period. You'll have to enroll in a qualified plan as soon as any term in your contract changes, such as the co-pay, deductible or benefit.

• Sec. 224 (p. 118) provides that 18 months after the bill becomes law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will decide what a "qualified plan" covers and how much you'll be legally required to pay for it. That's like a banker telling you to sign the loan agreement now, then filling in the interest rate and repayment terms 18 months later.

On Nov. 2, the Congressional Budget Office estimated what the plans will likely cost. An individual earning $44,000 before taxes who purchases his own insurance will have to pay a $5,300 premium and an estimated $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, for a total of $7,300 a year, which is 17% of his pre-tax income. A family earning $102,100 a year before taxes will have to pay a $15,000 premium plus an estimated $5,300 out-of-pocket, for a $20,300 total, or 20% of its pre-tax income. Individuals and families earning less than these amounts will be eligible for subsidies paid directly to their insurer.


• Sec. 59b (pp. 297-299) says that when you file your taxes, you must include proof that you are in a qualified plan. If not, you will be fined thousands of dollars. Illegal immigrants are exempt from this requirement. [emphasis added]
Unconstitutional, immoral, and impractical. This isn't just a takeover of the health care insurance businesses; this is a takeover of you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Speculation on Fort Hood Shooting

This musing could be completely off the wall, but the news media appear to have forgotten, or never learned, the concept of "sleeper agent."

Hope I'm wrong. 'Cause, if I'm right, the shooter is unlikely to be the only one.


Apparently my admittedly wild speculation was not so wild after all. How depressing.
• Navy Signalman Hassan Abujihaad last year was convicted of tipping off al-Qaida to battle group movements in the Persian Gulf, including disclosing classified documents detailing the group's vulnerability to terror attack.

• Army Spec. Ryan Anderson in 2004 was convicted of leaking military intelligence to al-Qaida terrorists, including sensitive information about the vulnerabilities of armored Humvees.

• Army reservist Jeffrey Battle in 2003 pleaded guilty to conspiring to wage war against the U.S., confessing he enlisted "to receive military training to use against America."

• Army reservist Semi Osman in 2002 was arrested for providing material support to al-Qaida and pleaded guilty to weapons charges after agreeing to testify against other terror suspects.
So, even if this latest Islamist lunatic isn't a sleeper, others are. Great.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Random Thought About the NY-23 Election Contest

So, now that conservatives have chased Republican-lookalike Dede Scozzafava out of the race, how does that square with Barack Obama's recent statement that:
Democrats are an opinionated bunch. You know the other side, they just kind of do what they’re told.
But then, keeping track of the times Obama has been wrong has long since become impossible.