What is a “Fair Share”?

This topic has been brewing for quite a while ever since the days of the primaries where Bernie Sanders campaigned on making the wealthy pay “their fair share” and then proceeded to spout “speculation tax” nonsense (that had been tried and failed in Sweden before) and a carbon tax while at the same time saying that we should expand health services. In the Sanders vs. Cruz Heatlchare Debate, Senator Cruz said this

Let me put it in perspective. All of the federal income taxes we pay today are about $1.5 trillion a year. $2.5 trillion means every one of us paying income taxes would have to about triple what you pay in income taxes to get an additional $2.5 trillion.

Now, Bernie no doubt is going to come back and say, no, no, no, none of you are going to pay. Just the rich. Well, how about if we took every person that makes over $1 million a year and confiscated 100 percent of their income, took every penny that they make. That would raise only enough money to fund Bernie’s plan for five months. – [Source Transcript]

Cursory Argument

I don’t know where Cruz is getting his numbers for this claim and frankly I don’t care. I bring it up because it seems that the implication is that Sanders believes the poor are paying either their “fair share” or more than their “fair share”. Granted, the quote doesn’t mention the poor at all (outside of the phrase “you”, possibly) so how do I reason this implication? Based on context at the time of writing (that line is for the future historians reading this blog after I become President of the galaxy) the implication is that the wealthy pay too little. And you can reason this out as well even without context. Why would someone complain that the wealthy pay too much and then advocate for higher taxes on them? It doesn’t make sense. In addition, I feel that if everyone else were not paying their fair share, the argument would be “get everyone to pay their fair share” rather than “make the wealthy pay their fair share”. And I don’t believe Senator Cruz is incorrect in his assumption because I followed the Sanders Presidential campaign and Sanders was all about taxing the wealthy and expanding benefits for the poor.

The Numbers

First, let’s look at some sources. The first is some Pew Research data and the other is the wikipedia page on U.S. Income Tax. I use the income tax example because that’s what the Pew Research data focuses on, while mentioning the increase in payroll taxes over time.

On the surface, I’d probably say that the wealthy pay more than their “fair share”. Why? Because the United States (income) tax system is progressive in nature. The more you make, the more you get taxed on that extra you make. I’ll demonstrate this with an example with easy numbers. You are taxed 10% on income up to $100 and then at 20% for amounts over that. If you make $100, you pay $10, a tax rate of 10%. If you make $200, you pay $30, $10 from $0-$100 and then 20 from $101-$200. So your tax rate for making double goes from 10% to 15%. You might be tempted to say that the percentage increase isn’t much considering you now make double, but you’re forgetting the raw numbers. You make double the money, but you pay triple the money.

And look, while I am a bit of a free market libertarian, I’m not saying that there’s anything excessively wrong with such a tax system. And yeah, the example was vastly simplified, but it has the core tenets of a progressive tax system in place. The more you make, the more you get taxed on that money over these breakpoints.

So what we get – is that as you make more money, your tax rate will go up. It always goes up because there is no bracket with a lower tax rate than one above it. You will never see 10%, 20%, 15%, 30%. It will always be 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%. So no matter how wealthy the top 1% is, they will always have a higher income tax than you because they have more taxable income than you.

But sure, let’s just plod along and see what we get in the way of an income tax argument with actual numbers.

“All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II.” – Pew Research

According to the Pew Data, the people making $100k and above pay are estimated to pay for about 75% of our taxes, despite making up about 20% of our households (in 2007) (source). I would be highly skeptical of this number jumping to 75% in 10 years but you can try to prove me wrong.

Why Do We Care?

So what’s this all about? Why do we even care whether or not the wealthy are “paying their fair share”? While there are probably some talking points by the left that I could quote, I’m going to propose what I think this is all about – social programs and the deficit. United States Federal Debt seems to be around 20 trillion dollars. Let me just put down all of the zeroes for you so you can get an idea of how deep in the red we are.

$20,000,000,000,000

The largest problem with the debt is (I would guess) the deficit. Which all of us should understand as the money that you’ve agreed to pay but do not have. You can have debt without a deficit and you can have a deficit without debt. I think the simple way to think of debt is as the accumulation of deficit. So what are we looking at in terms of deficit? By the same source, the estimated deficit for FY 2017 is $504 billion dollars.

We care because it’s difficult to justify spending more money without generating more revenue. And it’s difficult to expand current programs without either cutting other programs or collecting more revenue.

I’ve taken the liberty of generating a graph of deficit as a percentage of GDP. It makes more sense to have a higher deficit with a lower GDP.

Untitled

And as we see, my prediction was correct. When President Obama took office, we were coming out of a recession and the GDP was some 4 trillion dollars lower than it was in 2016. But in having these deficits, our national debt has skyrocketed, nearly doubling over Obama’s two terms.

I feel it would be remiss of me to neglect mentioning that President Obama may have ‘almost’ doubled the national debt, but so did President Bush II. President Reagan tripled it. In fact, the trend among the past few presidents seems to be that the republican presidents contribute more to the debt (percentage-wise) than the democratic ones, but that’s just me playing politics I guess.

 Even the deficit for President Trump’s first year in office is estimated to be higher than the lowest deficit during the Obama years. But as a side note… if we have the same GDP that we had in 2016, (it will probably go up) then we STILL see a lower deficit as a percentage of GDP over every single Obama year, coming in at 2.1% compared to Obama’s lowest at 2.8% (it’s still higher than the last Bush year of around 1.1%). It’s unfair to give President Trump any credit for that though, as his first fiscal year will be in 2018, not 2017. So we’re still under Obama as far as budget is concerned.

This analysis means nothing by itself, really. Because it’s one thing to point fingers and say President Obama’s spending money that we don’t have, and another thing to question what he’s spending it on. The stimulus package, unemployment benefits, more military spending, etc. are all nice things to have. So I guess the question at the end of the day is if you could take away the spending and the benefits, would you do so?

Deficit Source
GDP Source

$200k Tax

But let’s take that estimated deficit for this year and say it’s about 500 billion dollars. Let’s look at the number of tax returns in the 33%+ tax bracket (dollar total varies based on status, but it’s around $200k). If we tax all of these individuals for $200k regardless of total income, how much money do we get?

Using the chart for taxable income (why would we calculate based on non-taxable income?) from the IRS for 2014, we see that we get around 1 trillion dollars. Which would pay for double the deficit, at the cost of 3 million returns, 2.4 million of which are married couples (so, 2.4 million families) lying at the border of $200k.

Let’s dig a bit deeper though. We’re most concerned about the people lying at the border, right? How much tax do they really pay? Well, if you take the revenue generated by taxing the 33% and higher brackets, you get about $400 million, of which the 33% bracket pays about 25% of ($111 million). The 39.6% bracket pays the bulk of that, at around 60%.

My guess is that if you’re wealthy enough to be in the 39.6% bracket, you’re so obscenely wealthy that you wind up paying more tax. Who knows. 

Most of that money comes from couples filing jointly, about 90%. I’m not quite sure where I’d like to go with this analysis, it’s just something I wanted to point out. It’s possible, but it’s not going to pay the debt any time soon (it would take 40 years with current spending).

50/50 Analysis

I’d like to go one step further before I come to my conclusion. I’d like to evaluate what I’m going to call a 50-50 analysis since I don’t know if it has an official name. I’m going to evaluate the number of tax returns such that the revenue generated by these returns (by bracket) equals that of the other bracket. I will neglect capital gains for this analysis (as I did the one before) because of what (my understanding of) capital gains taxes are.

So let’s take the poorest and compare them to the wealthiest. The 10% bracket generated $75,927,732 compared to the 39.6% bracket which generated $227,474,052. The 10% bracket is heavily outweighed by the 39.6% bracket, so let’s tack on the 15% bracket, generating $229,998,073, which outweighs the 39.6% bracket… [math ensues]

And what we end up with is this (and I’m actually quite surprised by this result). The brackets necessary to balance each other out are the 10%, 15%, and 25% brackets compared to the 28%, 33%, 35%, and 39.6% brackets. The totals are $490,067,188 to $412,524,138. Much closer to a 50/50 split than I thought, coming out to 54.29/45.71

“Now just hold the phone, Artemis! From what I see, the poor pay more than the wealthy!” Ehh, technically yes, But there are also a lot more poor people than grossly wealthy people. The number of returns for people in the lower-half is substantially higher than that of the higher half, with around 101 million returns for the lower have compared to around 9 million for that of the higher half. So the higher half pays 10x as much on a per return basis than that of the lower half. And all of this is ignoring capital gains taxes which are likely heavily slanted against the wealthy compared to the poor.

I’m self-employed, I make around $16,000 a year. You take take ten of me and you get well past the 25% bracket, you actually get squarely within the 28% bracket for a single person. And I know that anecdote isn’t really an argument, so let’s use the federal minimum wage. A full-time federal minimum wage worker makes $15,000 a year, and 10 of them is also squarely within the 28% bracket (for singles). So no matter how I cut it, it seems fair. 10 of me would make 10x as much money and I would flip from my side of the ratio to the other. Ironically enough, you only really need about 6 of me to flip sides of the ratio, which means that the wealth are actually overpaying (through this analysis).

Conclusion:

No matter how I cut it, I can’t help but get to the result that the wealthy are not only paying their fair share, they’re paying more than their fair share. So I don’t see the need to start increasing the taxes on the wealthy. I think if anyone wants to take a good stab at the deficit, the first place you hit is the military (Amdahl’s Law). But we live in the United States so I don’t think that’s likely to happen any time soon despite spending double that of China and totaling that of the four countries that follow us in terms of total spending. Despite China spending only 1.9% of their GDP on the military, we spend 3.3% (source). I dunno, shoot me.

Of course, you’re more than welcome to poke at my analysis. I’m not tax expert, I’m just a robot in a cave looking at numbers. If I’ve made any mistakes in my analysis, or if you just think it’s terrible, please let me know in the comments or by email. As always, I welcome criticism. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

What is a “Fair Share”?

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

Your ‘Right’ to (Government Funded) Healthcare

EDIT: I had to rename the title to more accurately reflect the argument. I’m not saying that you have no right to seek health care as much as I am saying you are not entitled to services provided by another (beyond the government).

So there’s this idea that’s been spreading about for a while and it has really picked up steam since Senator Sanders started pushing for it in their “progressive” platform. That idea is the ‘right’ to healthcare and the ‘right’ to education. Today, I’d like to rain on some parades and explain to you why these are not rights. I’ll focus on healthcare but the same argument will apply to education as well.

Before we explain why something is not a ‘right’, let’s figure out what a ‘right’ is to begin with. The definition of right is this:

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory – Wikipedia

I actually find this definition quite acceptable. Rights are important because they act as a guiding principle to the way you want your society to be run.

But where do we get our rights? I’d like to say we get our rights from the government because in one sense we do,but I don’t feel that’s entirely proper. Saying you get your rights from the government sort of distances you from how you obtained your rights in the first place. You could replace government with God and essentially have the same sentence. Are you familiar with the idea of the “Social Contract“? The philosophy is that people define their government, voluntarily giving up their power in exchange for protection of their rights. So put simply: we define our rights. Our rights are defined when we create this contract in which we give the government its legitimacy. In the United States, this contract is the Constitution.

What are some rights that we in the United States have that you may be familiar with. We have the right to assembly, the right to petition the government, the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of the press. At present, we have the right to bear arms but I’m skeptical of how much longer that will remain as Clinton moves towards the office and the ‘progressive party’ starts to get more involved with government. But that’s a complaint for another day. We have the right to an attorney. In fact, I’ll just list the Bill of Rights here because that’s really what it is. I’ll try to limit each right to a sentence if possible.

  1. The right to assemble, petition the government, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
  2. The right to bear arms.
  3. A fairly antiquated amendment, I’d describe it as the right to your own home. Specifically, this amendment prevents the government from forcing you to put up soldiers in your home.
  4. Unreasonable search and seizure, you can’t be searched without a warrant.
  5. The right to a fair trial, and the right to not be forced to testify against oneself.
  6. Right to a speedy trial (you can’t have your trial delayed arbitrarily).
  7. Right to a trial by jury.
  8. Right to fair punishment (no ‘cruel or unusual sentences’).
  9. You have rights not listed in the Constitution.
  10. Powers not given to the government belong to the states or the people.

So if you live in the United States, you are guaranteed all of these rights. The 9th amendment is a ‘catch-all’ which is pretty much the founding fathers saying “We can’t list all of your rights, use common sense for the rest” or at least, that’s my interpretation. Do note that I am not a law in constitutional law, so my opinion is just that, my opinion. But do you notice any special about the amendments? They all seem to be focused on an individual. The main trend among these rights is that they don’t require unwilling parties (with the exception of the seventh). All of these rights focus on an individual’s place in the government.

The most important thing about rights is that they don’t trample one another. You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you. However, you do not have the right to silence others from offending you, because such a ‘right’ would trample another right. Then you run into an issue of ‘which right is right’? Law seems to be a tricky business that I’m quite glad that I stayed out of. So every right is distinct.Do you pay for your rights? Through jury duty, draft (if you’re male), and taxes, essentially yes.

Now let’s talk about what a ‘right to healthcare’ would entail. A right to healthcare suggests that doctors would be required to operate on you regardless of how much you are willing to pay. A right to healthcare suggests that pharmacies would be required to provide you with drugs regardless of what you are willing to pay. You would be entitled to this service because of your place within the country. This, I don’t like. It infringes on the rights of the individuals providing that service. I have the right to charge what I want to charge for my product or service. You have the right to purchase my product or service, or to refuse to purchase my product or service. I have the right to my body and everything that entails. I own my lungs, my heart, my liver, my spleen, my everything. I also own my labor. I cannot be forced to provide labor if I am unwilling to. You can’t force Wal-Mart to hire me any more than you can force me to work for Wal-Mart.

If healthcare were a right, you would be infringing on the rights of the doctors to provide their labour in the manner that they see fit for the price that they see fit. You would be infringing on the right of the pharmaceutical company to charge the prices that they want for their drugs. Essentially, what I’m saying is if you want to make healthcare a right, you’d either have to trample the rights of doctors, or find a way to provide healthcare through the government through volunteers.

See, it’s a weird issue because it’s always framed in the way of costs. Do I mind taking a healthcare tax to provide healthcare to everyone? Personally? Not in the least. But do I mind requiring that healthcare providers provide healthcare regardless of their whether or not they want to for the prices stated? Absolutely.

The problem we are running into this election cycle, and by extension this generation, is the idea of entitlement. The millennial generation is a bunch of entitled children. Am I saying that they’re dumb? Absolutely not. I know several very hardworking millennials that I respect very highly. Do I think that millennials want free stuff or think that the Sanders plan would’ve given them free stuff? Absolutely not. I believe most millennials recognize that the money had to come from somewhere, and it would have likely come from them. However, what I do think is that millennials have a problem discerning their freedoms and whether or not they are necessary. Each year, as more and more students go through the college system which brainwashes the liberal bias into them, they become a little more authoritarian. When students are attempting to sign away free speech (I believe most Americans agree that the first amendment is the most important one) citing that they have the right to not be offended by others. They’ve also been a major push-back against the second amendment. Honestly I wish they’d care as much about the fourth amendment as they do about revoking the first because the fourth one is the one in trouble. Sure, the Supreme Court made the correct ruling that time, but the fact that police are breaking it is a sign of bad times to come.

The worst part is that I can see the good intentions behind the movement, right? Why would you oppose universal health care? Are you so greedy as to not want to help other people pay for their doctor visits and medication? It’s this idea of altruism that guides this hand. If you oppose this altruism, you get branded a bigot. “What? You don’t care that people are dying because they can’t afford healthcare? You must hate poor people”. Then you become a social outcast and who wants to become an outcast? But the problem comes in the way of ‘forced altruism’. If I want to give to charity, it should be on my terms, not someone else’s. Because it’s my money, my services, my property going into this act of charity. I recognize that it very may well be for ‘the greater good’ but that doesn’t mean that I give up my rights to satisfy it.

Wouldn’t a universal living wage be for the greater good? Like getting paid just to live (which I foresee as an inevitable outcome as automation becomes more and more widespread). How about homes? We have a ton of unused homes and a ton of space in the used homes. Wouldn’t it be for the greater good if every home in the United States took on a homeless person (or people, proportional to the size of the home) and gave them a place to stay? We would reduce homelessness! Unfortunately in doing so, you’ve forfeited the right to your property. And the worst part is – once rights are gone, once rights are surrendered to the government, they aren’t easily reclaimed. That’s why we must hold out against these oppressive movements as long as we can, and educate their proponents on the consequences that would arise if they were successful.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I recognize the goodwill, but reject the premise on the grounds that I enjoy my freedoms and rights. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Your ‘Right’ to (Government Funded) Healthcare

Abortion

I promised that I would do this topic soon, I may as well do it now. Especially since I’m in the mood after my raging debate on Facebook about it. Allow me to set the stage. My friend posted this image:
815086

 

After which her friends chat about their side of the issue. And I’m reading this Tumblrism and I notice something… the Tumblr post, the “Fun fact” never addresses the original question. It never addresses whether or not it’s one body or two. In fact, it skips that step altogether, and calls it one body on an assumption that the fetus, embryo, child, whatever you want to call it (I shall henceforth call it ‘the entity’) isn’t a human life. So because I’m an instigator, I have to get my hooks in and make some people mad. Over the course of some 20 or so messages, I could not get a straight answer out of the other individual as to why the being inside was not human and was not alive. So here’s my take on the issue. And before I start I’m just going to point out that I’m not a doctor, I have no medical background, I’m just a random blogger here.

Human:

First – is it human? Don’t be ridiculous, of course it’s human. On what grounds? It’s the offspring of two humans, it can only BE a human. If you mate a horse and a donkey you get a mule. A mule isn’t a horse, and it isn’t a donkey, and it can’t mate with either one. Or other mules for that matter, it’s completely sterile. If two horses generate offspring, that offspring will reliably grow up to a horse that could (in theory) mate with one of its parents. Chickens mate with their species, generate another chicken. So what you’re telling me when you say that this fetus isn’t a human is either that one of its parents isn’t human (unlikely) or what I think you’re really saying is that it’s not a human yet.

If you want to say that the entity isn’t a human yet, then that means you have the define a point in the development cycle in which the entity does become a human. How do you set that point? Obviously when the big bulge is on the mother, the entity is about to make its exit, it’s probably ‘human’ by that point. In fact, I think ‘abortion’ at that point may take the name ‘birth’ (sarcasm). But what about… say 2nd trimester? Hmmm… Maybe not then. The child’s hair has developed and we come from apes so… probably a bit too far in the cycle. The sex of the child can be determined. Probably safe to call it a human at that point. So how about we go further back. How about middle of the first trimester? The second month, the neural tube is distinguishable from the rest of the body. The fingers and toes are forming, the bones are forming. Is that human yet? Why?

I’ve asked this question several times and the discussion suddenly shifts from what makes the entity a human and turns into the rights of the mother. But we’re not worried about the rights of the mother just yet. We’re worried about whether or not the entity is a human and whether or not it should be afforded human rights. So how far back can we go?

I would argue that the entity becomes human at fertilization, or perhaps shortly after. The reason being eggs and sperm separately aren’t necessarily human. Why? Well, if they are, it presents a great problem because if eggs by themselves are humans, killing a woman is like a forty-thousand homocide or something. Women would be, by natural design, killing one human a month or so. Sounds like a dangerous path to go down for philosophy and law. On the flip-side if sperm were humans, we’d have to take a lot of guys downtown for killing humans regularly. Really, the main reason I argue that egg and sperm aren’t human by themselves because what happens if the host abstains? (Let’s just ignore Mary) In the female host, she will continue to have her period until menopause and no life will spring forth from her. In the male host, sperm will get reabsorbed by the body and the male will continue to produce sperm until he dies. No new life will spring forth from the male host either. Nothing you could count in the United States Census would be brought into this world. Let’s take the case of the newly pregnant female. If she maintains her healthy lifestyle, the entity will be born in 9 months-ish. The entity will be human assuming human parents.

I’m sure someone has noticed the problem with my definition of human. Evolution. If a human is the offspring of human parents, and I’m a human then my parents have to be human, and so on, until we get to our great ape ancestors which were not human by any definition of the word. So how do we resolve this issue? We run into the same issue of when is the entity a human versus when it is not a human. Hmm… How about this. Humans and chimps have a common ancestor. We stop there. So we can pick me, and go up through my parents and their parents and so on. When we meet a parent that can mate with me and chimps, we’ve gone too far.

Life:

So there’s my human definition and since the entity has two human parents, it’s a human. Now how about whether or not it’s alive? Well now we need to define life. There’s no good way to answer the question “what is life?” According to wikipedia, this is life:

“the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.” – Wikipedia

I tend to use an input-output definition of life. If an autonomous being requires sustenance from outside its being to survive, grow, and reproduce, it’s alive. If it can die, it was alive. This might get me into trouble when it comes to the robot revolution, and the question as to whether or not true AI self-replicating robots are alive, but that’s a problem for another day. And I’m not entirely sure I could argue that these robots wouldn’t be alive. I mean, think about it. If your issue with robots is that they can just chop-shop fix themselves, WE ARE GETTING TO THAT POINT TOO. How long before you can just go into the store and pick up a new arm? Holy smokes.

By my definition, the entity has to be alive, because it’s a parasite on its host. It eats the host’s resources to grow.You can’t use an autonomous self-providing definition because let’s be real here – babies are really useless for like two years. They can’t feed themselves, they can’t walk, they can’t do jack. So if you require mobility and the ability to provide for oneself for something to be alive, newborn babes are just as alive as the entity within. Which, if abortion is legal, would make the… neutralization of newborns also legal. It’s a natural extension.

Doctors have several types of life and death. When your heart stops being, you’re not really dead. We could bring you back through CPR, or the use of defibrillation. I guess most people go by brain death, where you can still have blood pumping through you, but you cannot be brought back… yet. If you go by the beating of the heart, you have 3 weeks to discover that you’re pregnant and then get your abortion. If you wait for the brain to partially develop, same deal, the beginning of the nervous system forms in the timespan it takes to form a heart. End of the first trimester the entity will have a functioning circulatory system. If you’re waiting for the brain to form, that would be in the second trimester. So if you require a fully developed brain, to call something alive, the entity is alive in the second trimester. But I don’t like the requirement of a brain for life. Single-celled organisms don’t have a brain, but they’re ‘alive’.

When are most abortions performed? CDC stats say about two-thirds in the first 8 weeks (first two months) and let’s just round about the last third done between 8 and 13 weeks (the third month). Because I was given a range of time, I’ll assume a Gaussian distribution of when the abortion was performed (though strictly speaking, I should probably assume a Laplacian distribution). That means most of the abortions were performed in the 3 week to 5 week range. But wait, that’s when the baby’s heart was formed. That’s when the neural tube, what would become the nervous system was formed. That’s when bones are forming. If we accept my definition of life and human, the entity will be a human and it will be alive. the removal of it would then be murder.

How about this, how do you determine what is the host’s body compared to the entity’s body? You can’t, if you accept the entire system as the host’s body. So how do you know how much host to remove? You have to accept that there is knowledge of the entity and its scope, so you remove the entity alone and not the host. But that assumption itself implies that the entity has a body, in which case, it is no longer just the host’s body.

Now understand, my issue with abortion is pretty much entirely the murder part. And not because I have some preconceived notion of the value of human life. My problem is with the consistency of law. A legal abortion would be legal murder by the logic presented. What you’re proposing is a condition under which murder would be legal. Which makes it a target for setting precedent. Precedence is a very dangerous thing when applied to topics which you might find rather invasive. I’m not entirely sure that I would argue that slippery slope doesn’t apply. I can just imagine the future in which doctors shrink themselves to operate inside a patient. A patient could, while the doctor is inside have the doctor removed and killed on the premise that it was the patient’s body. How much of the entity must the host contain for the removal of the entity to be fair. I hate to get gross here, but what if a couple is having sex and the female suddenly decides to chop of the male’s penis. It was inside her, was it ‘her body’? Bear in mind this example is arguing from the ‘is is not alive and it is inside my body’ point of view.

Conclusion:

 So you see, I’m at a bit of a pinch. Because I don’t think the government should pass two contradicting laws. And I don’t very much like the idea of setting a precedence like this on something which in its best case is mutilation and in its worst case is murder. The safest option is to outlaw it altogether and file it under murder. And it’s not like non-human things don’t get rights. You can’t up and kill your dog, that’s animal cruelty. The murder of threatened species like Bald Eagles will net you fines and jail-time. And I wonder if this does anything to the rights of people in vegetative states. I don’t know. Legal abortion could open up it’s own can of worms. Until we agree on what’s human and what’s alive, we should avoid permitting abortions. That’s just my take on it.

Artemis Hunt

Abortion

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?