Why I Oppose Free College Tuition

It’s weird to hear that out of a millennial and possibly hypocritical to hear it from someone with a college degree but here we go: I oppose free college tuition. Here’s why.

The first and perhaps most important reason I don’t want free college tuition is because I do not want to invite the taxpayer into my education decisions. I think something most people forget when it comes to subsidization programs is that when you subsidize something like health care, you’ve invited the taxpayer into your life. Let’s consider an example: birth control. There’s a funding of birth control argument going on in the United States right now. Some people want the government to fund birth control to those that wish to claim it. That’s fine, you’re allowed to want whatever you want to want. When you want something subsidized by the government though, that’s when things get hairy. Now it’s not you paying for it, it’s not you spending your money on something that you want but rather you spending my money, and my neighbor’s money, and so on for something that you want. And now that you’re spending our money on something that you want, we get to have a little say in how we’d like our money to be spent.

Now let’s apply this to education. Secondary schools have a curriculum set by the state and partially by the feds. Some schools offer electives, but by and large they conform to an education standard that you have no control over and the student has no control over. We already see this in part for higher education in the general education courses. But those usually take 1-2 years to complete, after which you are free to select courses that suit your major and your liking. If we were to subsidize education, those options could be largely restricted, in fact even the degrees you may obtain could be severely restricted. Now that the taxpayer is funding your education, the taxpayer gets to decide what gets taught and what doesn’t get taught. They get to decide what degrees get handed out.

What you’ve also done is invited the taxpayer to set minimum requirements on entry into college. I may be wrong, but at this time I think pretty much anyone willing to pay for college may go to college. There’s a joke which says colleges would offer underwater basket-weaving as a major if it were profitable to do so. Which I personally find great. If you want to go to school for underwater basket-weaving and you can afford it, good on you! That’s the American dream! But if the taxpayer gets involved and says that they think that it’s a waste of time to send students with a high school GPA less than 3.0 to college, suddenly colleges get a lot emptier.

You’ve also invited the taxpayer to set the requirements to maintain that funding. Let’s say you have to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher throughout all of your years in college. Seems reasonable enough, right? Well let’s take that bright student and suppose something happens in their lives halfway through their education which causes their grades to drop. Let’s not use romance… let’s say there’s a death in the family. The student’s uncle dies. The student gets depressed, their grades drop below the 3.0 GPA minimum and now they can’t get funding for the year because of something entirely beyond their control. The student, no matter how bright they may be has lost their chance because their funding got handed to someone else who fit the requirements through no fault of their own.

Let’s revisit the restriction of majors thing. Now I don’t suspect majors will no longer be offered, rather that the student that wants to major in whatever may not be eligible for free tuition. Let’s take a relatively useless degree like Gender Studies. A Gender Studies degree isn’t good for a lot of jobs. Taxpayers don’t want their money to be handed out to degrees which don’t enrich the country. They don’t want their money going to degrees that don’t result in good jobs. What this means is that STEM degrees will likely be the only degrees in which a student may be eligible for free tuition. A possible benefit to this sort of system is that it will encourage people to go to higher education for STEM degrees, but it’s not like those programs aren’t in place right now. If you’re a black woman that wants a STEM degree, the government and various charities will THROW MONEY AT YOU to get it (for the sake of ‘diversity’).

People also tend to note that we’ve run into an issue of ‘escalation’ in which a college degree today is the high school degree of 30 years ago. While true, you don’t solve the problem by making college tuition free. We actually have the exact experiment to prove the results already – high school (depending on location) is already subsidized mostly by the government. It has been that way for quite some time. Pretty much everyone is getting a high school degree. Imagine now that you subsidize college and everyone gets a Bachelor’s degree. You’ve raised the floor to where a Bachelor’s degree is no longer useful and now employers will want a Master’s degree. And then you’ll inevitably turn around and say ‘Now we gotta subsidize graduate school’ to the point where all education is subsidized. You’ve turned an investment towards getting higher income potential into the floor. College will no longer increase income potential like it (arguably) does today. Instead it will become the minimum requirement, and people who fail to excel in high school, or people who fail out of high school will be left to the wolves. The dropout rate in the United States is about 6.5%. Do you think that 6.5% is struggling today to get jobs because of high school diploma requirements? Imagine a world in which the high school diploma is no longer the floor. They’re going to struggle even harder. To put that into perspective – the current unemployment rate is around 5% (I know about the workforce participation business, let’s just set that aside). If the high school diploma is the floor right now, and the unemployment rate is 5%, do you imagine that if we raise the floor to college degree that the unemployment rate will increase or decrease? Do you think that 6.5% will be able to get a job or not? Those inter-city students that Teach for America focuses on? They are probably screwed.

In summary, I don’t see free tuition as a benefit. I only see it as a way of restricting options and harming the lower class. I do see the benefits that it may yield in the way of providing a path for more STEM degrees, but I don’t see the trade-off as worth it. I already complain about public education as being a way of putting all students into boxes by manufacture date, with a curriculum designed to make them all equal. Do not bring this to higher education. The only outcome I see for free tuition is a fleet of drones produced every year, and that’s not the America that I want to live in. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Why I Oppose Free College Tuition

#BernieMustDisavow

Oooh boy. I want to ride the clickbait train because you know all 3 of WordPress readers are going to be paying attention to the Democratic Convention that begins on July 25th, 2016. However, I often take about a day to write blog posts (more precisely, it takes me about 3-4 hours) and I want to to get a quickie in for Philadelphia Predictions! So here it is.

First, DWS has to resign. She’s confirmed her resignation already so there isn’t much more to it. This likely hands her post over to her opponent, Tim Canova. An individual that Sanders himself has endorsed. Can we talk about endorsements while we’re here? Sure. Let’s talk about endorsements. Sanders has officially endorsed Democratic Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton (let me just pad my word count by using her full name and this aside). He has justified such a decision with a promise he made at the start of this entire cycle, in which he said that he will pretty much give up being an independent. Perhaps it’s better to say politically unaffiliated despite Sanders describing himself as a socialist… hmm. Anyway, he’s typically sided with the democrats in Congress, he’s caucused democrat, and probably voted democrat. Granted, democrats don’t own the right to ideals like gay marriage, as libertarians tend to have a similar view on it but with a different implementation. Sanders has promised to remain a democrat after this cycle which is pretty huge considering he switched his party to democratic so he could run for office under the democratic banner. Which to me smacks of using the party to suit his own needs but whatever, it’s not important and I’ve lost track of the original point.

So let me begin anew. Sanders endorsed Clinton saying (paraphrased) “Clinton on her worst day will be better than any republican candidate on their best day”. Which to me sounds like a pretty extreme claim. There’s a ton of dirt on Clinton throughout her political history. I find it difficult to believe that at her worst of times that she will always be better than any republican candidate. Of course, that depends on the candidate the republicans put forth but the blanket statement is what I take issue with. I really only see two viable ways of interpreting the statement. Either Clinton’s worst days aren’t that bad or the republicans are just universally worse. I’d like to believe Sanders meant the former but I truly believe that he actually meant the latter. He seems to take special interest against republicans. It’s like Sanders imagines republicans as British folk with a top hat and a french moustache wearing fingerless gloves. Let’s make the British bad guy eat an apple so he looks like even more of an asshole. Oy vey.

So now we get to the title of this post: #BernieMustDisavow. It’s a trending tag on Twitter (or at least until Twitter takes it down again and makes it no longer autofill again). The premise is that in light of the recent DNC email link showing that the DNC was somewhat conspiring against Sanders, that Sanders must take back his endorsement of Clinton. And it’s here that I make my predictions. The way I see it, there are X outcomes that seem likely.

The first and what I think is the most probable outcome is that Sanders does not disavow. He’ll take the emails like a man and just continue to smile and wave, smile and wave. If anything, he’ll do his damndest to avoid talking to anyone about the emails. Ironically one of his iconic quotes from this cycle is “Everyone’s tired of hearing about your damn emails!” and now it has come back to emails once again. It’s the circle of strife! Why do I believe this. I believe Sanders at this point will do everything in his power to make sure that Donald Trump does not get elected. That’s right, it’s not about getting Clinton elected, but making sure Trump doesn’t get elected. Sanders has voiced his concerns about Trump many times, even taking time to ask whether or not Trump is running for president or dictator during Trump’s speech at RNC Cleveland. Sanders has made it clear that he believes that the Trump campaign has been built on hate and fearmongering. Sanders has made it clear that he believes Trump would be devastating to the country. So disavowing Clinton would probably make Trump more likely to win. I saw an article suggesting that 50% of Sanders voters will not vote Clinton and that’s a sizeable chunk of Sanders voters. That’s around 6 million voters, which is the margin by which Obama won in 2012. (Of course, this is the United States where the parties run everything and the popular vote doesn’t matter).

And I actually find it really sad, because there is no winning situation for Sanders in this case. If he doesn’t disavow, he will be seen as cooperating with a corrupt system. If he does disavow, he makes that which he desires least that much more of a reality. He’s already receiving some backlash about endorsing Clinton in the first place, but if he remains relatively silent on this issue, it will only feed into the minds of the voters that much more. But realistically? This is probably his best move. Sanders has crafted his image quite well and even with the stains that he’ll pick up, he did manage to get some of his agenda put onto the Democratic party platform. So he can take the moral victory (if we’re going to call it that) of helping Clinton win and push the country towards his ideals.

What I see as the second most likely outcome is Sanders doesn’t disavow, for all of the reason stated earlier, but does take the opportunity to talk about a corrupt system within the Democratic party. But he has to word it very carefully. He cannot risk losing voters to third parties, or worse… Trump.

What I see as a third outcome but unlikely is that Sanders does disavow and tries to move towards the protesters that are already congregating in Philly for this convention. He has shut up about it for a while but he has been notorious for using national polls to say that he can beat Trump. He does this to gather the support of superdelegates (despite initially criticizing their involvement in the process). If he could gather enough superdelegates, he could override the pledged delegate totals (and as an extension, the popular vote totals) to get the nomination.

However, this is likely another lose-lose situation. In doing so, he will be overriding ‘the will of the people’ which he seemed rather keen on. Remember, he lost popular vote totals. He lost the pledged delegate totals. On top of that, he criticized superdelegates because he felt that they overrode the will of the people. If he were to convince these superdelegates to his side, he would be complicit in such an action. It would make him a very easy target for the republican party. Granted, Trump is also a bit of an “easy target” so that may not matter much. Still, Sanders would have the nomination and if those polls he cited came to fruition, it would give the Democrats another four years in the white house. With the upsurge of “progressive” candidates, Sanders and his “progressive” party would be off to a good footing to changing the nation.

Fourth, and this is the outcome that I personally want: my perfect storm – the superdelegates actually do it. The party does nominate Bernie Sanders. I honestly think that this is the DNC’s best move. I think that the party can hide behind all of the Clinton scandals and claim that she’s unelectable. Claim that for the interest of the party, that they had no choice but to override the will of the people and select Sanders. The party gets away with washing their hands of Clinton, Sanders doesn’t have to take too much of the fall from the decision, and the party gets the candidate that polls have predicted to win. I think that this is the best move for the party (and the best move to keep H. A. Goodman off suicide watch) because it may reinforce an idea that they’re willing to throw away corrupt candidates in the electorate. On top of that, we wind up getting that fabled Sanders vs. Trump debate that was all the rage earlier (I really wanted to see that). In fact, if you go through my posts, I actually wanted that debate long before it may have been a possibility.

Whatever happens, I’m sure there will be a great shitstorm inside and outside of the convention for me to laugh at. My main concern about the convention is whether or not violence occurs. I’ve criticized the Sanders supporters for this before but they’ve made Sanders out to be a christ figure. There is a cult of personality about Sanders. Whether he dies on the cross or is reborn in three days at this convention, the Sanders supporters outside need to remain calm and not hurt anyone. A violent outbreak at this convention will only hurt your cause no matter which candidate you support. The police in Philly are already requesting backup and taking preventative measures. Please, if you attend this convention, don’t hurt anyone and keep yourself safe. Perhaps buy a gun. Protect yourselves. That’ll be it from me though, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

#BernieMustDisavow

Political Compass Test – Comments

Well, the political climate is hot, thanks to Clinton vs. Sanders and the political anomaly that is Donald Trump. So I decided, maybe I’ll take a take a political spectrum test, to see who might align with my views. And I did it. You can take the test that I took for yourself here.

Now, I don’t want to make myself out to be someone that sits on the sidelines and just snarkily remarks on the status of the world. I’m part of the system as much as any of you are. So I’ll put my results at the end. Really, I’d just like to go through the statements, what they are saying, and maybe some comment on my interpretations. So without further ado, let’s get started.

S1: If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.

This is a difficult statement to talk about; the conditional aspect of this is very important. It requires a bit of definition shuffling. I believe the very concept of full globalization implies a one society. To go back to my favourite example – that in which President Nixon refers to the citizens of… Earth as Earthicans in Futurama. Since we’re all one nation, the idea of trans-national corporations has to be shifted to corporations based on one region of the Earth to another, let’s say Americas to Europe.

Now we get to the crux of what I believe the statement is suggesting. Living in different regions of the world implies different needs. As good suppliers, it is your responsibility to make sure that the people that need your goods receive them, rather than to make sure that your profits are maximized. This means you can’t locally hike prices based on needs in a specific region (higher demand – higher prices). Who makes sure that businesses can’t gouge consumers? Why, the government of course. Essentially, the statement is “Government should be permitted to make corporations serve the needs of the people”. So I imagine if a person is starving and cannot afford food, they will be provided food. This isn’t a new concept, it’s practically the foundation of welfare. The question that I would personally ask myself is who decides what ‘the needs of the people’ are. Or to put it back into the phrasing of the original statement, who decides what ‘serves humanity’?

The film I, Robot (which, as an Asimov reader, I am truly offended) includes this theme as the core of the film. It’s a great film though, 5 stars out of 5 if you ask me.

S2: I’d always support my country, whether it was right or wrong.

I feel like this statement is a test for dangerous nationalism. And this includes the ‘good’ dangerous nationalism and not just the ‘bad’ dangerous nationalism!

It seems ridiculous in concept but then again, people have been known to demonize people (perhaps in a joking manner) based on the outcome of a coin flip. So it’s definitely within our nature and it’s an easy trap to fall into. I’m running into my issue of moral relativity here (a topic for another day!) so I’ll stop myself here before I tangent. I hate to use this example because it’s so simple but if you’re a German in 1943 and you disagree with what the Nazis are doing, do you fight for the Nazi cause or do you defect?

S3: No one chooses his or her country of birth, so it’s foolish to be proud of it.

This is the ‘lite’ version of the prior statement. The core statement is whether or not it’s foolish to be proud of this you do not choose. Things like nationality, parents, sex, talents, species, all of it. Should you be proud of being a white male? Should you be proud of being a black gay female? I believe that this runs into the religious line of reasoning. If it brings meaning to your life, even if it’s effectively meaningless, is it okay to be proud of it?

S4: Our race has many superior qualities, compared with other races.

At the core this sounds like a racist statement, but I don’t think so. Some traits are more prevalent in other races than others. Black people have naturally slanted foreheads. If one is taking, say blunt trauma to the head from the front, black people have a natural advantage compared to other races. There are likely other examples of this.

S5: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Depending on your definition of friend, this statement changes meaning. I prefer ‘The enemy of my enemy is my ally’ because it only implies like goals, rather than camaraderie. Of course this can get hairy fast because you can have two enemies that are enemies themselves (like the nations in Orwell’s 1984)!

S6: Military action that defies international law is sometimes justified.

One might normally think of this as “do the ends justify the means”, which can seem radical. I feel like this sort of statement is used as an attack on morality. “You were willing to cheat to win, therefore your victory means nothing”. I prefer to ask the question, “does there come a point when the ends justify the means, and where is that line drawn?” The statement specifically is probably addressing a case example of would it ever be justified for a country to nuke another country.

S7: There is now a worrying fusion of information and entertainment.

On its own, information and entertainment being combined seems like a great idea. The more entertaining something is, the more likely you are to retain the information it contained. I still remember Mitch Hedberg (bless his soul) jokes but I have no idea what my Uncle told me about women when I was young. The problem arises when the entertainment value detracts from the information being disseminated. Perhaps some of the entertainment aspects get mistaken for informational aspects by the audience leading to a horrible conclusion. Who knows. Is this happening?

S8: People are ultimately divided more by class than by nationality.

Two groups of people meet, they split, and recombine. Will they naturally tend towards those that share their culture or their class? The problem I see with this question is what’s high class in say… Siberia is not really what’s high class in the United States. Will high class Siberians naturally get along with high class United States citizens?

S9: Controlling inflation is more important than controlling unemployment.

This is a hairy question. Inflation is the devaluing of currency. Unemployment is… well, not being employed. On one hand you want to make sure what money you have is worth something. On the other hand, you want to make sure your country’s inhabitants are getting money. Which is more important? Is it better to have a lot of people working for nothing or to have a few people working for something?

S10: Because corporations cannot be trusted to voluntarily protect the environment, they require regulation.

Two assumptions must be made here. The first is that the environment is something that we are obligated to protect (what defines protecting the environment?). The second is that there are factors in business which do not incentivize protecting the environment. Is it cheaper to disregard the environment? Can you produce more product if you protect the environment? If businesses are efficiency games, then these factors count against protecting the government. The question then becomes, which is more important – the right of individuals to run their businesses however they like, or the environment?

S11: “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a fundamentally good idea.

Everyone has their niche and everyone should be provided what they require to fill it. I feel like this is meant to be a more positive expression of communism. Hold on a sec, let me see if I can quickly find the source in a Google search. […] Looks like I was right. Though I attributed it to communism, seems it’s a general socialist concept. Okay.

S12: It’s a sad reflection on our society that something as basic as drinking water is now a bottled, branded consumer product.

This is kind of a snarky remark about society. What’s next, air? (Maybe) I guess the lament is that people are paying for the same stuff that comes out of their faucets. Of course this is justified if you live in certain areas of the United States (or planet I suppose) which do not have access to reliably clean water and you can only be reasonably sure of the safety of bottled water.

S13: Land shouldn’t be a commodity to be bought and sold.

I believe the basic idea is that no one can own the land because who decides who owns the land? Well, to be frank, the person with the bigger guns and the bigger army decides. But this is a general concept question, so let’s just ignore bigger army diplomacy for now. It’s really an interesting statement because it forces you to think about what does it mean to ‘own’ land and whether or not we are justified in our claiming, buying, and selling of land. What right do we have to say that we ‘own’ land?

S14: It is regrettable that many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.

Is it a shame that people can essentially gamble with existing money and make a fortune? The first thing I think of is moving stocks around. Is it a shame that people can see market trends and where they are headed and move their money to profit of it? Or should I say… prophet off it? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

I believe at the core of the question is a belief that if you’re not providing a service to humanity via growing food, pulling material from the ground, teaching the youth, etc., you should not be able to accrue wealth. But I guess we then have to ask whether or not moving stocks is a type of service? Hmmm…

S15: Protectionism is sometimes necessary in trade.

Is it sometimes necessary to tax incoming goods to make sure local markets can compete? I suppose the better question is why can’t local markets naturally compete? Local resources aren’t easily accessible leading to less product? Other countries are just better at producing cheaper product because of wages or technology?

S16: The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders.

Do you damn all but the investors? If that involves gouging the consumer or hurting the workers, is it acceptable as long as it returns a profit?

S17: The rich are too highly taxed.

I feel like there’s actually an objective way to analyze this statement. If a person generated 1% of the nation’s wealth, do they pay 1% of the overall taxes collected by the nation?  In the United States, I believe the answer to the question that I POSED is no.

S18: Those with the ability to pay should have the right to higher standards of medical care.

If you can afford to pay for better medical services, do you have the right to access these medical services? Should the amount of money you have play into what quality of medical care you receive?

S19: Governments should penalise businesses that mislead the public.

I get a little personal over this one because of the anti-vax movement.

If a business claims to provide a service that they do not provide or if their product does not do as it was advertised, should the business be penalized?

Lord, I wish. There have been so many times I’ve walked into McDonald’s and seen like the most delicious burger on their menu. I order it, and I get like… plastic looking stuff. What’s that all about?

S20: A genuine free market requires restrictions on the ability of predator multinationals to create monopolies.

So I have a problem interpreting this one myself. I split the statement half and half. The ‘predator multinationals to create monopolies’ is all one thing. So the statement is saying free markets require government restriction to stop monopolies from forming? I’m not sure if that’s what the statement is really saying so I won’t go further into it. If someone fully understands the statement, please, feel free to comment, email, something. Tell me what’s up.

S21: The freer the market, the freer the people.

The less the government inserts itself into the process of getting goods to consumer, the more free the people are. The question I had to ask myself is whether or not freedom as an individual had a causal relationship to the government influence on the market.

S22: Abortion, when the woman’s life is not threatened, should always be illegal.

My next blog post will likely be about this topic. The conditional of non-threatening pregnancies is probably added to make this purely a question of whether or not the parents have responsibility to see that which they’ve created (whether intentional or not) to term. It seems, however, that rape pregnancies would still be illegal in this conditional.

S23: All authority should be questioned.

This is a weird statement. I’m not sure what to make of it. My primary interpretation is if Uncle Sam tells you that he’s doing something, you should always know why. There should never be a ‘for your own good’ answer that doesn’t include HOW it’s for your own good.

S24: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Again, odd statement. I’m not sure if it’s advocating Hammurabi’s Code but I can only assume that it is. So, do you agree with Hammurabi’s Code?

S25: Taxpayers should not be expected to prop up any theatres or museums that cannot survive on a commercial basis.

I believe this statement is more of a concern about HOW taxpayer money is being spent. If it’s being spent in the name of the arts, and it’s not making returns, should it be spent on the arts regardless? The question you need to ask yourself here is what’s more valuable – the experience provided by these establishments or your money. Should you protect your bottom line more than the cultural arts?

S26: Schools should not make classroom attendance compulsory.

This is a question that I actually like. You cannot teach someone that will not be taught (look no further than internet arguments for that) but does that extend into the schools? Is it not the job of the teacher to make the students want to learn the material?

I have a lot of ‘beef’ with the United States public education system, so I’m biased here. If attendance were not compulsory, classrooms would (hopefully) be filled with people that actually want to learn the material. Classes would then be able to move a bit more smoothly. The rubrics used for teaching evaluation would then be a bit more applicable in the way of learned material. I wonder if it would also promote a more positive classroom experience in the way of convincing outliers to want to learn. If the teacher is regarded as the gaoler, then all of the students band together in suffering. But if the teacher is not the gaoler, and students that don’t want to learn arrive, THEY become the outlier. This presents social pressure for them to either learn the material or leave. I personally believe this pressure will push them towards wanting to learn more than quitting. Maybe I’ll do a post on this one.

The follow-up question I would ask is – if children are not in school, where are they? What are they doing? Who’s watching them?

S27: All people have their rights, but it is better for all of us that different sorts of people should keep to their own kind.

This is ‘soft racism’ by my interpretation. We’re all equal but it’s best if we stay with our own. White should stick with the whites. Blacks stick with the blacks. It’s for the best.

S28: Good parents sometimes have to spank their children.

I recognize that many readers were probably spanked as a child (myself included) but the question you should probably ask is why. Did this promote a healthy learning environment? Let’s say you got caught playing with matches. Your parents spanked you. Do you avoid playing with matches again because you understand why playing with matches is a bad idea? Or do you avoid playing with matches again because you understand the dangers associated with it. Do you understand why your parents did not want you to play with matches? Did the spanking provide anything of value to the lesson or was it just a tool?

S29: It’s natural for children to keep some secrets from their parents.

Really? How does this play any part in where you lie on the political spectrum? Whatever, doesn’t need explanation or inspection.

S30: Possessing marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offence.

Needs no explanation. Though I would like the reader to consider the natural extension to other goods. If the argument is marijuana should be illegal despite it not being used to harm others, does it then extend to… say… ramen? (I swear I’ve lost like 2 years of my life for eating that stuff)

S31: The prime function of schooling should be to equip the future generation to find jobs.

I love these education questions. Okay, so the premise is straightforward, but I have a question. What would the prime function of schooling be if not to equip the future generation to finding jobs? And should this other thing really be a prime function or a side function? Or will it come naturally if the prime function of school is to equip the future generation to finding jobs?

S32: People with serious inheritable disabilities should not be allowed to reproduce.

Any Nazis in the audience? This is a social argument. We always want to make society better. Better people, better pizza, Papa John’s. If people have disabilities, are they less useful to society? And if they are less useful to society, should they be culled to make way for people that are more useful to society? I feel at the core is the recognition of a ‘carrying capacity’ of the environment. The most efficient use of the resources is the optimal strategy for maintaining a healthy society. Let’s say you have to choose between two people to let into your survival compound in the zombie apocalypse. If Person A requires more resources than Person B and Person A does not benefit the compound more than Person B, which do you take?

S33: The most important thing for children to learn is to accept discipline.

Seems to me that the idea is that children are supposed to learn that some things cannot be changed. Know your place, and do what you must. If you are disciplined, it is because you are in the wrong, regardless of reason.

S34: There are no savage and civilised peoples; there are only different cultures.

Ahhh, this statement. So the basis is a concept of cultural relativity. What’s acceptable in another culture might not be acceptable in your culture, and that’s perfectly okay. You’re not permitted to call a culture savage or civilised because you don’t have the proper perspective of the other culture. Cultures cannot be put down or raised up. They’re just… different.

S35: Those who are able to work, and refuse the opportunity, should not expect society’s support.

Go back to zombie apocalypse example: If you can produce resources and choose not to, are you entitled to consume resources provided by others?

S36: When you are troubled, it’s better not to think about it, but to keep busy with more cheerful things.

Escapism. If something is bothering you, do you address it or do you distract yourself with fantasy or something.

S37: First-generation immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country.

What does it mean to integrate fully? I feel like with all standard definitions of integration, the answer should be fairly obvious to logical thinkers.

S38: What’s good for the most successful corporations is always, ultimately, good for all of us.

Is this the trickle-down economics question? For anyone unfamiliar, trickle-down economics in its simplest form is this. If businesses have more money, they’ll employ more people and make more product. Selling this product will give them more money which they can use to pay their employees more or hire more employees. I believe this runs into the same issues as communism in its assumptions of the people at the head of such businesses.

If the businesses are doing well, does everyone eventually benefit? On what time-scales does the ‘all of us’ benefit? How are we all receiving these benefits? What are these benefits?

S39: No broadcasting institution, however independent its content, should receive public funding.

I feel like this goes back to that arts question. If an institution is providing a service to the people, should it be provided public funding? I suppose the issues arise in who ‘wants’ the service. If I have a left leaning radio show, why should taxpayers on the right that vehemently disagree with my views be funding my show? If I’m a true independent, why should the left and right be paying for my show? It’s an argument over what public goods are useful to you.

S40: Our civil liberties are being excessively curbed in the name of counter-terrorism.

This calls for a quote of the Benjamin Franklin variety.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

Do you think we are moving in the direction in which the acts being taken to stop terrorism is an act against personal liberty? Just an example – suppose you’re flying in the United States via commercial airliners. You will come across a TSA agent. They’ll scan your stuff, and they’ll scan you. They’ll even make you take off your shoes. All of these measures are designed to stop security threats from entering the planes. Are these measures excessive? At what point do they become excessive?

S41: A significant advantage of a one-party state is that it avoids all the arguments that delay progress in a democratic political system.

I actually addressed this one in another post… somewhere. Probably one of the ones where I’m quoted as saying “If Donald Trump gets elected President of the United States, it’ll only prove that democracy is working as intended”. Anyway, it’s quite obvious that a one-party state can make progress quite quickly. It can also backtrack progress quickly. The question is whether or not this is an advantage or a disadvantage.

S42: Although the electronic age makes official surveillance easier, only wrongdoers need to be worried.

The higher the technology, the easier it is to track things like location and money. If you’re a good little citizen, this shouldn’t affect you. If you’re up to shady business, we can track you from where you’ve been. Do you believe that only wrongdoers should be worried as surveillance gets better? I suppose it comes down to how much you trust your government to judge what determines ‘wrongdoing’.

S43: The death penalty should be an option for the most serious crimes.

No explanation needed.

S44: In a civilised society, one must always have people above to be obeyed and people below to be commanded.

Odd statement. A naturally thing is to think of it like a ladder. This introduces the logical consequence is that there must be a bottom rung and a top rung, so the statement could hold true for N-2 individuals. But there’s no requirement that there be a ladder structure, so it can hold true for all N individuals. The problem I see with this is accountability. When someone screws up, whose fault is it? Well if it’s not their fault, it’ll wind up being everybody’s fault through chains of command.

At the core though, I think it’s a promotion of class structure.

S45: Abstract art that doesn’t represent anything shouldn’t be considered art at all.

Personal opinion – no explanation needed.

S46: In criminal justice, punishment should be more important than rehabilitation.

So the criminal justice serves two purposes. To rehabilitate those that have broken the law (if possible) and later release them into society after they have learned their lesson (and their crime wasn’t too… terrible?). The other purpose is to remove dangerous entities from society. Of course the easiest way to remove these dangerous entities is to kill them but that would be inhumane. So they live out their lives in concrete boxes.

Your answer to this question probably lies within how you view lawbreakers. If you see them as people that have disrupted the order and need to be punished, then you probably want the focus to be on punishment. If your focus is more on what causes people to commit crime, you probably want rehabilitation.

S47: It is a waste of time to try to rehabilitate some criminals.

Natural follow-up? Are some criminals so depraved they cannot be successfully integrated into society?

S48: The businessperson and the manufacturer are more important than the writer and the artist.

Not much to say here. The question is how do you perceive the humanities. Do they provide a lesser service than that of the person putting widgets in your pocket?

S49: Mothers may have careers, but their first duty is to be homemakers.

Gender role statement it seems. Should the mother damn all else if it’s necessary for the child? Does the father get no say in this? Is there no way to delegate (get a babysitter) or is that not acceptable?

S50: Multinational companies are unethically exploiting the plant genetic resources of developing countries.

I have no idea what this question is asking so I’m skipping it. My guess isn’t educated enough to place it here.

S51: Making peace with the establishment is an important aspect of maturity.

So this statement REEKS of Presidential Primaries so I checked the last updated date of the survey: January 27, 2016. I don’t know if the Sanders/Trump phenomenon caused this question to be added to the list, but it seems highly suspect.

The idea is accepting that the party heads know best is ‘an important aspect of maturity’. I don’t like this statement’s inclusion.

S52: Astrology accurately explains many things.

Listen, I went to graduate school for physics. I… I’m not going to touch this one.

S53: You cannot be moral without being religious.

No explanation needed – and mine is probably biased.

S54: Charity is better than social security as a means of helping the genuinely disadvantaged.

Is it better to rely on goodwill or is it better to rely on the taxpayer? The problem with goodwill is that it’s not a reliable source of income. Blood donations are a great example of this. They explode after disasters but they’re needed all year-round (RED CROSS PLUG: IF YOU CAN GIVE BLOOD, PLEASE DO SO REGULARLY!) People that need blood can’t always get it. But imagine if everyone had to give some small amount of blood every two weeks. Would people that need blood always be able to get it?

S55: Some people are naturally unlucky.

What is this, the astrology thing again?

S56: It is important that my child’s school instills religious values.

I believe the important thing to ask is what kind of religious values do you want that school to instill in your child. If it’s religious adherence to the scientific method or to… something else?

S57: Sex outside marriage is usually immoral.

No explanation needed.

S58: A same sex couple in a stable, loving relationship should not be excluded from the possibility of child adoption.

No explanation needed.

S59: Pornography, depicting consenting adults, should be legal for the adult population.

What are these questions? Where are they coming from? Did they run out of authoritarian questions?

S60: What goes on in a private bedroom between consenting adults is no business of the state.

No explanation needed.

S61: No one can feel naturally homosexual.

No explanation needed.

S62: These days openness about sex has gone too far.

This seems like an opinion on desensitization. Have we become too used to sex being everywhere?


That’s everything folks. 62 statements. As promised, here are my results.

chart

My personal opinion is that it’s about right. I might be a little further right than that but not by much. According to the same website’s charts of the current potential presidential candidates – I would guess that Sanders is closest to my position. I personally think that their chart places everyone a little further right than they really are. Of course, political stances can be complicated. But we have the broad strokes.

This post didn’t really have much of a lesson. It’s just a for-funsie. Hope you enjoyed it.

Artemis Hunt

Political Compass Test – Comments

Debate or Debait?

I guess I better publish this one because I’m running out of time. The debate is tomorrow and the East Coasters I expect to read this are probably going to bed like… now. I’m wary of the upcoming democratic debate in New York. I believe that both Sanders and Clinton should be as well. Ultimately, I feel that the debate will be inconsequential. Why? Let me explain.

Let’s examine Clinton first. Clinton has been hit very hard in these debates and town halls with questions that have no “good” answer. One striking example that I remember is a death penalty question she received a while back (source). For those that do not wish to watch the video, I’ll paraphrase the question. The person asks, “How do you still hold your stance on the death penalty, knowing that there have been many cases of innocent people getting killed for crimes that they did not commit”. She makes it clear in her response that she only approves of it at the federal level for a very select subset of crimes. But she justified her answer. She justified her support of the death penalty,and props to her for standing for her position instead of taking the weasel way out and saying that she’s changed her mind. People seem to get especially touchy at the thought of a death penalty, which makes this a loaded question. You know, that might be a topic for another death. The death penalty debate is rather… interesting. A primary criticism is that you can unjail a person but you can’t undead a person. While true (at this point in time *fingers crossed*) it seems irrelevant because you can’t give the time in prison back either. The individual asking the question had spent 39 years in prison. They missed the prime of their life. I can only hope that whatever compensation they received (if any) made up for their lost time. You can’t undo the psychological damage that they may have sustained either. But we’re getting off topic. The /r/Politics subreddit and their Sanders bias loves to come up with questions which put Clinton into a very difficult moral position (but Sanders can do no wrong). I would not be surprised if some of them get aired. It’s not like Clinton hasn’t given them plenty to work with.

However, none of this is my problem with the debates. Or perhaps they are, but only tangentially. My problem is that these questions seem designed to elucidate some aspect of Clinton’s characters, some aspect of their moral standing. It’s airing dirty laundry. Maybe the public cares about dirty laundry, and that’s why they want these questions asked? Personally, I don’t. If people listen to her policy responses, most of them sound fair, if not moderate. But since debates turn into Benghazi 2: Electric Boogaloo, we don’t get to see that. At least, not as much as we’d like.

Now let’s talk Sanders. Sanders has had a low impact on me since debate 3 or so. Why? Understand that I watch debates online because Alaskan time zone not always conducive to watching these debates and town halls. Sometimes when it comes to Sanders, I can’t remember if I’ve seen this one before. Maybe it’s intentional to get the message across, but Sanders has said the same stump sound bites in every debate. He could walk on, say “We need to get the big money out of politics,” walk off, and the same net work would be done for a much lower cost. With very few exceptions, he will always return to this. Two hour debates (airtime), one hour per candidate, and he can’t get his mind off of big businesses. What I want from Sanders is for him to make this a new debate. Give me, and the other undecided voters a reason to pick you over Clinton that doesn’t go back to banks and big corporations.

If this debate is ultimately another regular debate, it will be a waste of time. Clinton will have to defend herself from a barrage of attacks (none of which center on policy), while Sanders will sit pretty. If this is another repeat debate, it’s no wonder Clinton would object to having it. All of these debates are just attacks on her and Sanders gets no kind of interrogation. If the eye is supposed to be on both candidates, why does only one get scrutinized? It’s just a bait to get Clinton out in the open to attack her once more. It’s unfair. And I think that it’s weird how an “issues based campaign” isn’t objecting to attacks on character rather than attacks on policy. Who cares about the transcripts? The transcripts don’t tell me anything about how you plan to address the Middle East. Okay, the fracking might have some issues, but why must you attack so many jobs at once in the name of the environment? Why is nuclear energy off the table? This is just my take on the possible debate, and I hope it exceeds expectations.

Artemis Hunt

Debate or Debait?

Where’s the Media Bias?

A common complaint I see among Sanders supporters is this ‘media bias’. As if the media is out to get Sanders and shut down their bid for the presidency. I do not believe this to be true (at least, not in the way these people mean it) and in this little blog post, I’m going to tell you exactly why I feel that way.

So first of all, I’m going to begin with the statement that all of this is an opinion. In my opinion, none of the candidates have truly been treated fairly in the media. At least, not in the bulk of the media. There are some media in which I beleive some candidates are being treated more fairly than others but, again, opinion. As far as television networks go, I believe Clinton has been treated fairly if not the nearest so. They are the one that has been consistently and reasonably critiqued by the news networks. The only one. If we regard Sanders, he has gotten plenty of coverage for a runner-up. Some may say more than enough. You can complain about the analysis, but you can’t complain that no networks talk about Sanders. Especially when you spout socialism left and right. That was the first thing they touched upon. I’m not sure, but I suggest that when the Sanders supporters claim that Sanders gets no (television) media coverage, what they’re really saying is that no one in the media agrees with them in that Sanders is going to go all the way. But even if it were true, even if the (television) media bias wanted to shut Sanders down, I have to ask the question: does it really matter?

The government, at the advent of public broadcasting, incentivized stations to broadcast news as a means of maintaining a well-informed populus. They did this by funding the stations under the requirement that these stations broadcast specific programming. These programs include educational programs, local news, supporting the arts, the sorts of things that make our culture, well, our culture. And maybe you disagree as to whether or not they’re fulfilling these needs. Well, I’ve got some news for you. I’ve done a little bit of research on television broadcasting. I didn’t read the entire thing. Most of it seems to apply to permits to construct, maintenance standards, and broadcasting (the waves being broadcast, that is) standards. I focused on the issues regarding what you broadcast. It turns out, that these stations can be fined if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. They have to renew a license every eight years or so. They do this by proving that their station held up its end of the deal (the whole broadcasting for public interest thing). But nowhere did I see that the broadcasting has to be unbiased (please correct me if I’m wrong and I’ll retract my statements). And that’s actually pretty good news because I don’t think that I’ve yet to see a program that is fully unbiased.

Now let’s remember that running a station costs money. To make money, you need people to be watching your channel. This incentivizes stations to broadcast popular programs. As an unintentional side-effect of this, stations need to broadcast bias. Because the fact of the matter is that people like to be told that they’re right. They like to be justified in their views. Unfortunately, this means that if stations want to reach the most people, they need to broadcast to their audience. They can’t afford to cast open a wide net and hope some people gravitate towards them. Or at least, that would be inefficient. It’s much safer and easier to just form your echo chamber and rail against the gods and have your viewers come with you. Do I like this? No. Not in the least. I agree with the sentiment that these stations should broadcast unbiased news. It SHOULD be fair. It SHOULD be balanced. When it isn’t, it just turns me off from stations. But I am in the minority, I’m an idealist. The fact of the matter is enough people want these echo chambers that the stations aren’t changing their programs.

And to be completely honest, I don’t blame them. This is their business. They’re in this to make money. I would never presume to tell others how to run their business, especially since I have no stock in this business. If you want to make changes in a business, buy stock in them. Perhaps some of you are members of a website or another. Do you realize that every time you log in, every time you enter that space, that you can be removed from it at any time? You have the right to voice any opinion you want on any website. But you need to remember that you are a guest there, and the owner has every right to remove you should they so desire. So when I see people complaining that Sanders isn’t covered enough, I can’t help but wonder if Sanders might have some agenda that is against their self-interest. Broadcasting Sanders in a favourable light can only hurt their business. Why would you demand that someone hurt their own business? So no, even if the stations are Anti-Sanders, even if that claim is substantiated, I’m not sure that it matters. The stations are under no obligation to cover Sanders in the way that you desire. They are under no obligation to broadcast unbiased programs. Hell, every educational program aimed at kids that I can think of eventually has the ‘drugs’ episode and the ‘guns’ episode. And these are topics which are covered in a VERY biased way.

Hold up though. I live in a first-world society. Maybe you do too. We have something called the Internet. Personally, I think that the Internet is a much more efficient, if not also more dangerous information highway. Ideas can spread faster than ever before, even across oceans. The Internet is here, and I fully support our new Google Overlords. And speaking of Google Overlords… maybe you’ve heard of YouTube? It’s a wonderful website full of user-generated content. And people across the world can reach other people across the world with their opinions on this YouTube. And you can hear these opinions at any time, not just at 6PM on Channel 5. Even better! You can pause and rewind broadcasts! You can carefully pull apart something that someone has said, which is a feature not everyone with a TV can abuse. What do we find on YouTube? What sorts of opinions? All sorts. If you want Pro-Sanders media, look no further. The only problem is that you have to slog through so many masses of stuff that it can be hard to find the actual “good” stuff. But like I said at the start, the internet is very messy.

Also, can we briefly mention online pubs? If ever you wanted to find Pro-Sanders media (remember, this is part of the media as well!) you better bring a raincoat because the tsunami comes. Salon.com, Huffington Post, Washington Post, LA Times, all of these pubs feature a fairly heavy Sanders bias. Why, today Salon.com published an article saying that Wisconsin was a total blowout for Sanders. He won in 99% of counties! Wow! Only they neglected to mention that Sanders only won close to 57% of the popular vote! It’s a total misrepresentation of the race! And this is the same bullshit I see coming from the Pro-Sanders camp daily. They note how Sanders wins states but not delegates. They note how Sanders wins counties and not delegates. The popular vote is the important thing when distributing delegates. Sanders got +9 from Wisconsin, barely denting the lead Clinton has over them (still well over 200+ delegates). God damn, I can’t scroll down their article list without seeing tremendously left-leaning articles. The titles make me sick to my stomach. And it gets even better! Notice how all of the TV stations favor Clinton? Many pubs favor Sanders over Clinton! Why is bias on one media acceptable while bias on the other is unacceptable? Tell me that Sanders supporters. Where is the line drawn for the hypocrisy? It’s sickening. Completely and utterly disgusting.

If we want to talk real anti-candidate bias, we should be talking about Trump. I have yet to find an outlet without bias regarding Trump. Either they’re Hitler (by the way, let’s forget that Sanders is Lenin) they’re racist, they’re some kind of extremist that breeds violence. But such claims are just propaganda. Trump has never directly told his supporters to go out and cause trouble. Granted, some violence is coming from Trump supporters, but that’s not Trump. Trump isn’t inciting this violence. Trump isn’t sending their supporters to disrupt rallies. Trump isn’t sending supporters to disrupt private, peaceful events. I recently came across a video of an experiment (in a very loose sense of the word) of a guy pretending to support Sanders and the same guy pretending to support Trump. As a Sanders supporter, it was all thumbs up, peace, and smiles. No one aggressed him. As a Trump supporter? Lots of violence, and one person even admitted that they were supporting Sanders before attacking this host. Why is Trump met with violence, while Sanders is not? Why does the media seem so intent to destroy Trump? Bias

While Clinton ‘may’ have television under wraps, Sanders has the Internet. One is vastly more powerful than the other. And it seems like the entire left is out to paint Trump a Nazi, a nationalist, a racist, and any other kind of non-white bigot. The left is scared of Trump, the right is scared of Trump. If I were Trump, I would be seriously scared of assassination right now. And I’d like to note, when I make these posts about Trump, I’m not trying to support them. I’m trying to support being fair to them. I’m trying to support being fair to every candidate. Which I don’t see happening at all. So to bring us back to where we started, is there a media bias? Most definitely. But I think if we’re going to begin the discussion about media bias, perhaps we should start with Trump.

Artemis Hunt

Where’s the Media Bias?

Make Sanders President

I am sure that many of my readers regularly use social media sites. (How else did you find this blog?) And I strongly suspect based on the tags I used and the title that many of my readers are somewhat up to date on the current primary process. With these two combined, I now present to you the title: Make Sanders President.

Maybe it’s because I went to a liberal arts college that I wound up with several friends that would likely call themselves liberal or progressive. With the attitude of ‘loud’ individuals on the progressive left giving the progressive left the nickname ‘the regressive left’, I hesitate to identify as progressive though as a libertarian I do share their ideals somewhat. Senator Sanders however, seems to have roped these guys in hook, line, and sinker. And that’s not a bad thing! It’s perfectly acceptable for you to support a candidate for whatever reason you like. Even if it’s not one most people agree with. If you support Clinton because you want to help put the first woman in the White House, that’s perfectly valid. I don’t agree with the rationale, but it’s your choice. If you want to support Trump because you support the building of a wall (a beautiful wall, and Mexico will pay for it!) then that’s valid too. You could support Cruz because you did a ritual sacrifice when you were four years old (or witnessed one) and Cruz resonates with you because of it somehow and that too, would be perfectly valid. Whether or not someone agrees with your reasons for supporting a candidate does not make your reasons any less valid. It is the burden of the candidates to convince you to make them your vote. Votes must be earned. The fact that the criterion to get the vote of a particular individual vary wildly and some might be easier to reach than others does not make their vote any less important… (unless you happen to look at the way the United States presidential voting system REALLY works and then you realize that some votes actually do matter more. But that’s a rant for another day).

So why am I going through all this? What’s the point of this preamble? Well if you’ve got a Facebook feed that’s anything like mine, you’ve probably got a bunch of meme images of either Trump or Sanders. I’d like to focus on Sanders because of the mentality that seems to be prevalent within the Sanders supporters. The core idea seems to be some sort of rage against the machine or something. Granted, Sanders is calling for a ‘political revolution’, and those that support him would probably support this political revolution. But it seems a bit crazy with how far these individuals will go to defend Sanders’s victory, or rather, they seem to be convinced that Sanders is the inevitable winner. So my title comes from my sarcastic remark:

Why don’t we just make Sanders President already?

Because it really seems like according to these supporters that it’s inevitable, we’re just wasting our time with the primaries. They’re so quick to whine about ‘superdelegates’ and how they promote a false image of the race. The argument is there for that, I can understand why they would believe that superdelegate counts are misrepresentative and they can change their votes at any time. So I agree that they shouldn’t really have much weight placed on them. But when you look at pledged delegates, you can’t deny the numbers. Clinton has 766 pledged delegates. Sanders has 551 pledged delegates. Let’s do some math here, and Clinton has 40% more delegates than Sanders. The largest comeback in history was from about 80 pledged delegates. A Sanders upset would literally triple that. I’m not saying that it can’t happen, I’m say it’s unlikely.

Another thing these Sanders supporters seem to forget, along with common sense, is how delegates are won. With proportional delegate awarding, Clinton can literally tie Sanders in every state remaining and win. In fact, she could LOSE every remaining state and still win the nomination because of proportional delegate awarding. To reiterate the core point here, you win DELEGATES, not STATES. So what if Sanders beats Clinton by a hair in Michigan? He got stomped in Mississippi and gets a net loss of about 20 delegates from that exchange. I am not neglecting the… impact of Sanders winning Michigan. He was expected to lose. He didn’t. But if you want to make that the ‘rallying cry’ then I’ll remind you that by the same logic, Clinton supporters could ‘beat the prediction’ on the states that Sanders is expected to win. If you want to follow predictions and use them as tools, that’s fine. That’s what predictions are for. However, do not try to use predictions as justification for your cause. At the end of the day, they’re speculation and all that matters are the results.

I get that people support Sanders, that’s fine. What’s NOT fine is ignoring reality and thinking if ‘we all believe hard enough in the heart of the cards’ that Sanders will pull an upset. And I’m tired of having this argument. Yes, your candidate won this state, I’m happy for you. But it’s not enough. He may have won your heart, but he’s nowhere near winning his race. What you need to do if you want Sanders to win is to reach out to those that aren’t already on Sanders side. You need the votes. Faith won’t do it all for you. And the worst part is, even if Sanders somehow goes all the way, do you honestly expect his revolution to happen? He’s going to get blocked every step of the way, potentially worse than Obama was. This is why Sanders is calling for a revolution. Because he can’t do it all by himself. Because he needs the votes in congress to help him. But I don’t suspect that the young voters supporting Sanders who really want to help him out in that way are going to vote for these other candidates that would help Sanders. I suspect that they don’t even know who they are!

So that was just my rant. This one is just a sarcastic response to the blindness of Sanders supporters. But you are my friends, and I still love you and that you can be so passionate about something. I just wish that I didn’t get into so many arguments with you that boil down to me stating facts and numbers and you stating hopes and dreams. You can pray for success all you want, real success is achieved by those who listen to truth and use reason.

Artemis Hunt

Make Sanders President