Tuesday, August 29, 2017

On Capital Punishment

As a truly independent thinker, I tend to come down on the side of liberalism more often than on the side of conservatism because the conservative side often seems rigid and uncompromising whereas the liberal side seems more flexible and tolerant.  For example, abortion: conservatives say no abortion from the moment of conception, not three months into a pregnancy, not a week, not a day, not ten minutes, but the exact moment of conception.  I recognize that if a soul is born in that instant then it must be protected from that instant.  Nevertheless, …   Another example, capital punishment.  Conservatives approve it while liberals do not (for the most part).  There is something pretty absolute and final about a death sentence.  I recognize that they believe in an-eye-for-an-eye justice but once again, it is pretty intolerant.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Tax Reform

As I am not running for office, I can tell the truth: we need to collect more tax revenue.  Why?  So that our National Debt doesn’t reach Mars before we do.  No politician ever won an election saying that he wants to raise your taxes, even though it is what we must do (and in your mind, if not your heart, you know I speak the truth).  But I am not running for office.  So, here goes nothing.

It is the case that in the last 15 years, the federal government has run deficits, not surpluses, in every year.  It is the case that in the last 47 years, the federal government has run deficits in all but 4 years (so, 91% of the time).  It is the case that since 1952, in the last 64 years, the federal government has run deficits in all but 7 of those years (so, 89% of the time).  We are addicted to deficits because we don’t want to pay for what we want to have, but we never elect anyone who wants to raise our taxes so that we could pay for what we want.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Planet of the Apes

I love the Planet of the Apes movies, especially the recent ones with Andy Serkis playing Caesar, the first of the “smart” (or chemically modified) apes.

We root for the apes against the humans, don’t we, not because they are different, or inferior, or stupider.  We root for them because the humans treat them unfairly, for whatever reason (“they are only apes”).  I think this is true for every movie where the “star” is non-human (Bambi, Flipper, King Kong, ET); and humans always treat them as expendable, worthless.  But we in the audience relate to them as though they are human, as though they are victims, and as though they are heroic and worthy of our respect, and our love.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

At a Loss

I just bought a box of 100 “caplets” of OTC drug xxx (none of your business!) from Target, their generic store brand Up&Up, for $5.99.  Right next to it was the same exact drug, same store brand, in “softgel” form, with a count of 24, for $7.39!  The shelf labels accurately displayed the “unit cost” (per 100), $5.99 for caplets and $30.76 for softgels!  Softgels were more than five times more expensive than caplets, the same damn thing, 5x as expensive.  The cost for a year: $21.86 for caplets and $112.27 for softgels.  $90 / year difference, for an inconsequential item!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Alt-Left

There was no Alt-Left until Trump invented it.  Actually, all our wordsmith president said was “There is blame on both sides” and some journalist made up “Alt-Left” as a counter to Alt-Right (an umbrella label for right-wing extremist groups).

So, who makes up the Alt-Left?  As the Alt-Right actually exists, it’s easier to define its membership.  So, the Alt-Right consists of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, white supremacists, some extreme NRA members, Hell’s Angels, Vigilante groups, Survivalist groups.  More than anyone else, they tend to be white and Christian and male and straight, even if most white Christian straight males are not Alt-Right themselves.  They believe that they alone are true Americans.  They are not just conservative, they are fringe conservative.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Stupid Libertarians

I entitled this essay “Stupid Libertarians” to get your attention, or maybe the attention of self-identifying Libertarians.

Some of the smartest friends I have ever had were Libertarians.  I never understood why they were Libertarians, and I think that we argued at cross-purposes, each of us not really understanding the other.

And I know that there are different flavors of Libertarianism.  But they have a common core.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Repeal and Replace

Republicans are in trouble.  Repeal and Replace is a great campaign slogan but it is fraught with land mines that are armed and dangerous.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Intro to Ben's Care

If you are young, reasonably healthy, have a decent job with employer-paid health insurance, you may well wonder: why is health care such an important political issue in the United States?  But you may know the answer anyway: 1) too many Americans have no access to health care because of poverty or bad health, and 2) over-all, health care costs our economy way too much (17.8% of the GDP on its way to 20% by 2024).

But before I begin my pitch, may I ask you about your last doctor visit.  Do you know how much your doctor billed your insurance?  Do you care how much he or she billed your insurance?  How much would you care if you had to pay for the visit yourself?  And knowing how much he or she charged, would you have made the appointment in the first place?  No, really, answer these questions honestly before reading on.