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How have your political beliefs changed in the last 10 years?

 
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Feb, 2016 09:55 am
@Robert Gentel,
Not much overall in the past ten years, however my thinking changed on several subjects which I would say was an alignment of my thoughts on those subjects with my core philosophy.

I went from opposing same-sex marriage to supporting it. I should add that I was never adamantly against it. I had been persuaded by the conservative argument that an institution that has been crucial to the development of human society for thousands of years should not be fundamentally altered.

After giving it much more thought I realized that the importance of the institution involves more than procreation and benefits society regardless of the sexual orientation of the parties or whether they have children. (I tried very hard not to be influenced at any time by the emotional pull of two people in love).

The converse is that I went from luke-warm support of a woman's right to an abortion to opposition.

My initial support was predicated on all of the arguments that have been made about a woman's right to control her own body, and I still think they represent a powerful argument up to a crucial point in time, when they impose upon the unborn baby's right to life.

I think the argument that a fetus is not a human, but merely a lump of tissue is an obscene construct developed to assuage the conscience of those who support abortion. I don't think I would like to meet any mother or father who at the time of their abortion actually believes this rubbish, as I'm afraid I would be in the company of sociopaths and in real physical danger.

I get that an unwanted pregnancy can be very problematic and in some cases devastating, but there are similar difficult situations in life that might be solved by the murder of an adult, and yet no one suggests we should consider legalizing murder. In reality, the unwanted pregnancy is not the potential disaster it was roughly 75 years or more ago. An unmarried woman with a child is no longer "ruined" for the rest of her life. I add this only to dilute one aspect of the argument for legal abortion because, regardless, it is still a violation of another human's right to life.

Society should do all that it can to assist women who have unwanted pregnancies so that they can easily and as comfortably as possible afford to bear the child and then give it up for adoption. That in a world where abortion is illegal some women would resort to back alley butchers is not , in my mind, a legitimate argument for legalization. Of course I sympathize with such women, but again, once you accept that the unborn child is a human with a right to life, you can't let those sympathies excuse the deprivation of that right.

I'm sure there are other issues for which I've honed my position over time. I've said on more that one occasion that participating in this forum is a great help in doing so.

I did experience what may have seemed to those who knew me at the time a major political transformation 15 years ago, after 9/11. In reality the event accelerated (to warp speed) a transformation that had been going on for years, but during the prior process I found it difficult to come to terms with my changing views and did not exactly put them out on display.

0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Feb, 2016 10:18 am
It is going down the hill faster then I thought. I mean political power been less and less of a power at all.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Feb, 2016 10:37 am
@McGentrix,
McGentrix wrote:

Not pro-abortion, but if that's what people want to do then why should it matter to me?


Is anyone other than a ghoul "pro-abortion?" I appreciate the question was rhetorical, but it should matter to you if you are not "pro-abortion" because you believe it involves the taking of a human life. I was precisely where it seems you are on this but I came to realize I was allowing my libertarian and feminist sentiments to prevent me from examining the core issue.

I'm not trying to convert you to my way of thinking. Merely offering food for thought as the position you hold may not be intellectually satisfying.

You wrote:
I wish banks had more regulations but small businesses have too many. am torn about pharmaceutical companies making such huge profits. One hand they are in business to make money, but not at the sacrifice of people's lives. This a hard one for to come to terms with.


In reality banks are subject to a massive amount of regulations. The large ones can afford to comply or circumvent them as best suits their interests, but the small ones cannot and are going out of business. The same can be said about regulations imposed on any industry. Your inherent opposition to government regulations on business is on point. What is needed are not more regulations that are constructed with the participation of lobbyists so that politicians get to appear like they are addressing a problem without killing the golden goose that donates large sums to their election campaigns. The companies get regulations that they can live with and which preserve their market position by suppressing competition from start-ups. What's needed are fewer and less burdensome regulations which address structural reform and have real teeth. It's stupid to think that the solution to preventing commercial malpractice is to make commerce more expense, more difficult and less competitive.

It's not capitalism at work, it's crony-capitalism and it is a huge problem for this country. The Republicans and Democrats are both up to their necks in it.

Would it make you feel better to know that Pharma's profit margin is only 12%? That's not bad, but it's not profiteering. There simply is no money to be made developing and producing drugs that are not going to have moderately wide usage. ALS is a hideous disease and we all wish there was a drug that could cure it, but considering the very small number of people who contract this disease, any effective drug, conventionally, prices would likely financially ruin the patient with only one dose.

It makes no sense to force Pharma to lose their shirts by developing drugs for each and every ailment known to man. It also makes no sense for the government to attempt to do so and nationalizing Pharma would be a disaster.

I don't know why it hasn't been done (probably no politician wants to be seen giving large amounts of money to Pharma), but I feel sure that an arrangement can be made whereby the government compensates Pharma (through tax rebates) for the development and production of drugs needed for the more obscure diseases. The costs are very large, but the American people need to decide if they're willing to pay those costs. Demanding that Pharma "eat" these costs is intellectually childish, and would be the perfect example of foot shooting.

Unfortunately there is no shortage of populist demagogues in our government who contribute nothing to society beyond stirring up the **** and convincing people they can get something for nothing...as long as they put the politician in power. Their goddamned parasites and this is a belief I've held on to for decades.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Wed 2 Mar, 2016 02:14 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Is anyone other than a ghoul "pro-abortion?"


I think that birth control, of which that is a part, is the single greatest sociological advancement of modern man.

I don't like the concept of abortion and grew up vehemently against it, but the science is undeniable at this point that this dramatically improves the quality of life for all and as someone with a strong utilitarian bent I think that laws proscribing abortion are a far greater moral wrong than abortion is.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Mar, 2016 02:15 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
In reality banks are subject to a massive amount of regulations.


But don't you think core fundamental ones like capital requirements got too loose? And that the many new complex financial instruments are not as well regulated as they should be?
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Wed 2 Mar, 2016 02:39 pm
@Robert Gentel,
My political evolutions over the last 10 years:

- the biggest is that I'm generally less emotionally invested in all of politics, mainly just from becoming much more busy and cynical, I guess. My own life is not largely affected by it and I have a lot more pressing concerns like businesses to run and a new family etc. I have a lot less time, energy and emotion to care about the things I cared much more about in the past.

- I've tilted slightly toward gun control, as a teenager I thought gun control was a no-brainer and then came to take a rather neutral position on it as I studied it more (that it would really not make nearly as much of a difference as I thought) and just thought it wasn't worth the political capital it would need in the US. I still don't think that it will make nearly the difference that gun control advocates think, but that it is clear now that the political capital requirements are changing (the US is gradually shifting on this issue) and this makes the political calculus different. I do think gun control is political viable and as a net benefit toward preservation of life (though not as much as gun control proponents imagine, not by a mile) it is going to be a viable political platform in an election cycle or two (obviously the mass shootings influence this and the more there are the more America will shift).

- I've become very slightly more militaristic and slightly less pacifist. Not so much on the strategic level but on the tactical level, where I am more forgiving of people for crimes because of what I attribute to a better balance of attribution to their situational factors (less fundamental attribution errors). And the rise of wars I thought are needed (Syria, if we hadn't blown all our hard power resources on our last wars) and the continued rise of China and Russia has made me want to cut the US military budget by less than I previously wanted (still think there is huge amounts of waste to cull here though). My views on this have slightly tempered. A big part to this is that warfare has modernized rapidly in the last few years with military doctrine moving toward very agile engagements and a lot of reliance on drones. While I have deep reservations on some legal aspects (and outright negligence that costs thousands of lives) I am glad to see such a rapid shift toward much less destructive forms of warfare.

- I have become even stronger a supporter of the Democratic party (which was always the only party I could support but that I had a LOT of qualms with), and this really is on Republicans for putting out a complete **** show for a while now. I was never a person who the Republican party had much in common with (except some financial and business areas) but they are in serious risk of doing generational harm to their party with their populist idiocy they are peddling right now.

- I have changed my mind to thinking that affirmative action and other race-based attempts to address discrimination and diversity have more merit, but still find class-based solutions significantly preferable. But my position has changed from finding the race-based solutions morally wrong to merely not as efficient, practical and comprehensive a solution. So it's a significant shift from considering the race-based solutions to be itself a morally wrong discrimination to a legitimate but deeply flawed potential solution to righting historic (and not-so-historic) wrongs.

- I have come to accept climate science consensus completely. Don't get me wrong, I was never a climate science denier. I went from reading about it at around 8 and being convinced (and getting in trouble for mouthing off about my stupid green house that could destroy the world) to a more fundamentally skeptical young person who had simply not been able to see enough convincing science on this matter. I've seen more in the mean time but more than anything else I've become more aware of the limitations of my intellect and willing to accept that I might not just have the time and the aptitude to be able to parse the science on any subject like I previously believed, I hit my wall where there are limits to my time and information I can store. In my youth with much more time I could devote more time to seeing the actual science (vs the shitty news articles) but it was still one of the things whose data was just a bit too broad for me to consume efficiently and become any sort of expert in. So I've accepted that I am not going to become a climate scientist and will have to go with scientific consensus without myself understanding and agreeing with the complex models that are driving it. I still don't know how much we can fix this and have my doubts but am encouraged that the world at least seems ready to tackle this. Might be largely out of our control anyway, but as long as we don't hurt too many people doing it I completely support the effort now while in the past I suspected it was right but was more hung up on not being able to grok the science myself.
woiyo
 
  2  
Reply Wed 2 Mar, 2016 02:44 pm
@Robert Gentel,
My beliefs have not changed in the past 10 years. I have changed my opinion of the political process however.

We have evolved into a system whereby NO ONE is willing to negotiate. Each party is dug into whatever their beliefs are and the people are not part of their concerns. Only the concentration of power.

To illustrate this, imagine a party going through the Primary Process whereby the party places candidates before the people and the people judge who is best to run for President on the party ticket. A beautiful thing, right?

Then when the "wrong guy" wins the majority of the vote by the people, the party leaders say, IF HE WINS I WILL LEAVE THE PARTY !!!!

So how must the people feel about the party when that happens?

I give you today's Republican Party. (PS I did not vote for Trump !)
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Wed 2 Mar, 2016 02:54 pm
@woiyo,
I think this is the inevitable outcome of the US political system, but that view hasn't changed. I've been excoriating the electoral college, the first past the post system and the whole shitty mess ever since I first understood how it worked.

The single biggest things the US can do to improve its politics cesspool is to make proportional representation instead of regional in congress and eliminate the first past the post system and the electoral college for the presidential elections etc.

Here is a basic video explanation I like that illustrates some of the problems we have that result in this binary deadlock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Wed 2 Mar, 2016 05:33 pm
mark
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 05:26 am
@Robert Gentel,
This is very short-sighted. Eliminate the Senate (which is effectively what you're calling for) and the electoral college and you just hand the country over to people like the Koch brothers. California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois would become just about the only important states in national electoral politics, with Pennsylvania and Massachusetts hanging on their coat tails. The nation's electoral politics are already poised precariously because of media domination, and you just want to make it easier for the people who treat public opinion like a focus group which can be manipulated to their own advantage. I would not care to see Sacramento, Austin and Albany choosing supreme court justices and all the other judicial appointments. I would not want to see a condition in which the political wishes of farmers and residents of small towns can be dismissed. Your position sounds tome as though it were completely thoughtless.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 06:49 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Is anyone other than a ghoul "pro-abortion?"


I think that birth control, of which that is a part, is the single greatest sociological advancement of modern man.

I don't like the concept of abortion and grew up vehemently against it, but the science is undeniable at this point that this dramatically improves the quality of life for all and as someone with a strong utilitarian bent I think that laws proscribing abortion are a far greater moral wrong than abortion is.


What science? Soft social science?

I recognize that there are a large number of people who believe what we commonly refer to as "birth control" is morally unacceptable, but despite attempts to scare women voters there is zero chance of any group whether it be the GOP, The Southern Baptist Council or the Roman Catholic Church, rendering the use of "birth control" by adult women, illegal.

Policy arguments relative to birth control based on pregnancy prevention (The Pill, IUDs, condoms etc) exist only on the edges of the matter: Public financing of birth control, distribution to minors, suppression of religious rights as respects employee benefits. No one is seriously entertaining any notion of putting an end to pregnancy prevention methods in this country, and before the usual suspects go hunt down an article quoting some congressional idiot who has made the topic part of his or her re-election campaign, that's not a serious effort because it has absolutely no chance of going anywhere. The candidate may actually be serious about wanting to ban birth control, but it's far more likely he or she, in whatever speech the proof is found was pandering to a small bloc of voters. It's not a winning issue among Republicans, Baptists or Catholics. Democrats have been consistent, if nothing else, in attempting to convert any policy argument that veers in even a slight way from "All birth control methods, all the time, to all the people, including children, and all for free!" into an attempt to deprive women of the right and/or means to use pregnancy prevention birth control.

I have no problem distinguishing birth control that is based on pregnancy prevention from that based on pregnancy termination (which, because too many euphemisms are used in discussions of this topic, let's all be clear, means snuffing the fetus), and neither do most people who are pro-life. I'm not certain though that you are making the distinction when you declare birth control to be the single greatest sociological advancement in the Modern Age.

I would have to give the matter more thought before I agreed that pregnancy prevention based birth control ("PPBC") topped the list but such a claim would be easy to argue for. It certainly has had a very significant sociological impact and if one is able to get past the moral argument against sex without at least the chance for pregnancy (no problem what-so-ever for me) then certainly on the face of it, it has been a positive advancement for humans, and female humans in particular.

I would have to see a lot of the "science" (including counter-arguments) before I could entertain the notion that abortion can be considered, overall, a positive advancement for modern man.

Then of course there is the matter of degree and measure when taking the utilitarian approach to a question. I would think that you agree that even though something made the majority very happy it might still be fundamentally immoral or, if you prefer, wrong. I would think, but I don't know...how do you feel about this, and to what extent is the margin of majority significant?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 08:29 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
In reality banks are subject to a massive amount of regulations.


But don't you think core fundamental ones like capital requirements got too loose? And that the many new complex financial instruments are not as well regulated as they should be?


I didn't say that banks should not be regulated, I was responding to the very common misconception that banks are not regulated or are subject to minimal regulation.

The gist of my argument is that the banking industry is poorly regulated. which causes problems regardless of the number of actual acts and regulations.

Dodd Frank was the Democrat's grand answer to all the problems supposedly revealed by the 2008 economic meltdown and Great Recession. As I noted previously, rather than addressing the issue of financial institutions being too big to fail, it stacked the deck for the largest of them.

It should be perfectly clear to even wild-eyed, hammer and sickle wielding socialists that if regulations, in effect, protect large, long-standing companies from the innate reforms driven by competition, and particularly competition from small new start-ups or small family or regional operations (the operative word is "small") then they are poor regulations indeed.

It should also be clear that they are a disaster if at the same time they are driving small players out of the marketplace, they are allowing the big ones to create the illusion of compliance by spending large sums of money on armies of lawyers and accountants.

One might be able to look on the bright side and see that Dodd Frank and similar grand reforms have created jobs in the Legal and Accounting professions, but that view would quickly darken upon realizing that there were other beneficiaries of these bold and innovative reforms: The politicians who crafted them with the help, largely hidden no doubt, of the very targets of their efforts and who just happened to be major donors for their re-election campaigns (in other words, the cronies in Crony Capitalism) AND the large companies themselves who have been able to restrict competition in their marketplace to an extent only illegal, unfair trade practices would have managed to otherwise accomplish. It's cost them a pretty penny to mock up a compliant facade, but probably no more than pursuing an illegal, predatory scheme to crush competition; besides, this way they get to pass the costs on to the consumers. After all it's the consumers who are really benefiting from these reforms, right? It's only fair that they pay for their own protection.

I do not have direct experience with the games being played with Dodd Frank, but I have witnessed first hand the massive efforts large companies have financed and undertaken to comply with Sarbanes Oxley. Here again we have reform that created a mini-gilded age for large accounting firms. Companies who wished to be in compliance, found it necessary to hire a minimum of two large firms and often three. The first one would assist the company's accounting departments in assisting the company's operational executives in creating the pages and pages of "controls" which were intended to mitigate the company's numerous areas of risk (ranging from "minimal" to "existentially catastrophic") and prevent companies from either shooting themselves in the foot through incompetence or suffering betrayal and financial ruin at the hands of dishonest brigands, posing as employees.

Interestingly enough, no one of them actually knew what compliance precisely looked like and the government was loathe to tell anyone for fear that it would lose opportunities to find non-compliance down the road and thereby top of it's coffers with fines. With regulations the government always reserves the right to change the rules at any time during the game.

This was the stage during which an executive and his or her staff's knowledge of Alchemy was crucial because in crafting the most effective "controls" with the best chances of proving compliant, it was necessary to wield the powerful and mysterious forces of that arcane science and turn bull-**** into gold, or at least iron pyrite.

Once the controls were in place the first accounting firm or a second one, settled into offices throughout the country to spend weeks and months "testing" them. In our case, the second firm had permanent work space in our offices. The testing consisted of the accounting firm reminding the division execs that we needed to have someone(s) on our staff "test" the controls. Our designated compliance officers would then ask the Alchemist who developed them (often themselves) if they were working. Our company was especially successful with this process as we regularly had test scores of 95% compliant or higher (lucky for us too because anything below 95% and an executive might have suffered a haircut of his or her bonus).

The final accounting firm entered the picture when it was necessary to actually conduct the testing for real. Up to that point the hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent had been on dry runs. The real deal tests differed from the dry-run tests only in the fact that it was a different firm reminding us to tell our designated compliance officers to "test" their controls.

These tests were done every quarter. I don't recall if the company was required to attest to the Feds that it had all controls in place; tested and operational, on a quarterly or annual basis. I do know that over the years, we were never audited by the Feds, and if there was any response from them to our attestations, it was always of no significance as it was never spoken of at any board meeting.

Now I assure you that everyone involved in this process took it very seriously and that, at least for us, the controls were always effective and our customers and shareholders fully protected. It was government regulation at its finest.
engineer
 
  6  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 09:11 am
@Robert Gentel,
I'll expand your question to fifteen years. Fifteen years ago, I was a disgruntled Republican. Despite the prosperity of the Clinton years, I wasn't really happy with his presidency. I didn't approve of the Serbian/Kosovo war, I saw a lot of dysfunction in the federal government, I never saw the Clinton vision, I liked G.H.Bush and thought I'd give G.W.'s "compassionate conservatism" a try. Right off the bat, G.W.Bush disappointed me. Instead of using growing government surpluses to pay down the debt, he started giving out massive tax cuts. Then 911 came. I approved the slow build-up to the war in Afganistan, collecting allies, pushing the Taliban to give up Al Qaeda, etc. Then came the Iraq War, a war that was clearly a war of choice. Then on top of that came more tax cuts. Instead of asking the people to step up and give more to support the effort, the message was you can have everything for free. Right after the Iraq war started, I changed my party affiliation to independent.

I think the big change in the last ten years has been the Internet and the ability to research and test hypotheses. As my handle implies, I am an engineer and I thrive on data and research. Without data, it was easy to have illusions about economics and politics, easy to believe what the loudest voices were saying. Now I don't have to. I research topics I'm interested in all the time. The end result is that I have re-evaluated a lot of my previously held beliefs. The Carter administration was completely different than my understanding of it. Reagan was not all that great although I give him lots more props than others here. Clinton was actually pretty decent. Affirmative action has been tremendously effective in breaking down barriers to women in the marketplace, but minorities have a long way to go. My public high school was not co-ed because of racial concerns. We spend billions in flood rebuilding every year because we are too cheap to build decent levies. Sampras was actually not all that great in the tennis Parthenon (as much as that hurts to say.) I tend to go in lots of directions, wherever my curiosity takes me. That is the power of the Internet. I come to A2K for hypotheses. Whenever someone tosses out an interesting (to me) idea, I research it. If the data supports it, I warm up to in, integrate it into my belief system. If the data refutes it, I usually will post my rebuttal. My family has noticed that I have drifted leftward over the last decade. I don't have any concerns over that since that is where the data takes me.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 02:28 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
I approved the slow build-up to the war in Afganistan, collecting allies, pushing the Taliban to give up Al Qaeda, etc. Then came the Iraq War, a war that was clearly a war of choice.


I agree with your overall characterisation of the Afghanistan war being a legitimate reaction to an act of war and the Iraq war being an illegitimate war of choice but have a nit to pick about calling it a "slow build-up". We really did not spend any time waiting on consensus or the Taliban to even contemplate a reaction. The war in Afghanistan was launched less than 1 month after 9/11. It definitely was not slow, it proceeded as fast as was humanly possible.

The invasion was underway no matter what allies or the Taliban did (they could have simply capitulated to it more readily) and the logistics sprung into action immediately.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 02:30 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
In general most regulation has a lot of poorly done parts to it, and I'm certainly not very left when it comes to business and economics.

That being said, I think the financial crash was largely due to the relaxation of regulation of banks, specifically in regards to capital requirements. There is a clear path to relaxing those key regulations and the increased risk that culminated in the recession.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 02:58 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
What science? Soft social science?


No, overwhelmingly-accepted-for-decades science. And it is also just common sense. Birth control methods are largely responsible for the decreasing number of births per woman. People aren't going to just stop having sex so that is what is driving this. And it doesn't take any kind of science to understand the math behind diving resources between fewer children and what having women in a working marketplace can do for an economy.

Even the developing world understands this and is doing very well at catching up with the developed world, and birth control is part of government policy nearly everywhere.

Obviously pre-pregnancy birth control is a lot less controversial than post-pregnancy birth control and is just plain obviously a good social thing (if we all had 8 kids we would have a more poor society and less robust economy) but even abortion itself has shown to be scientifically linked to lower crime rates (decades later as these unborn, unwanted babies do not join the pool of adult criminals).

Quote:
I recognize that there are a large number of people who believe what we commonly refer to as "birth control" is morally unacceptable, but despite attempts to scare women voters there is zero chance of any group whether it be the GOP, The Southern Baptist Council or the Roman Catholic Church, rendering the use of "birth control" by adult women, illegal.


Sure, but I grew up with idiots like that and held that belief as a kid. Then it became plainly obvious to me (even as a child, as I watched my mom have too many kids) that birth control was an obviously good thing.

I remained against abortion until I moved back to Brazil and noticed the stark difference of seeing abandoned children fending for themselves on the streets. I had just been homeless in the US (why I went back to Brazil, I could work as a minor there more easily) but that was the exception rather than the rule there and seeing groups of kids half my age running the streets in gangs to survive in Brazil made me wonder if abortion were really worse than some of the lives they had to lead. Studying it more cinched it for me. There is plenty of science (though this is naturally very controversial of a subject and you'll find plenty of people who disagree with it) that even abortion has positive sociological impacts on things like crime, economy etc.

Quote:
No one is seriously entertaining any notion of putting an end to pregnancy prevention methods in this country...


I have no fear whatsoever of America (or any developed nation) outlawing abortion either. This is just not going to happen, it is part and parcel of being a developed nation. There is not a single developed nation that outlaws abortion.

It is not possible to be a developed nation without prevalent use of birth control, abortion is not a pretty part of this but it's not going anywhere.

Quote:
I'm not certain though that you are making the distinction when you declare birth control to be the single greatest sociological advancement in the Modern Age.


I definitely think pregnancy prevention is a bigger part of it than is abortion. However often the kind of people least capable of being responsible for preventing pregnancy are the people least capable of raising a future rugrat in our communities. There are always going to be accidental pregnancies and the less there are the better society is.

Quote:
I would have to give the matter more thought before I agreed that pregnancy prevention based birth control ("PPBC") topped the list but such a claim would be easy to argue for. It certainly has had a very significant sociological impact and if one is able to get past the moral argument against sex without at least the chance for pregnancy (no problem what-so-ever for me) then certainly on the face of it, it has been a positive advancement for humans, and female humans in particular.


Yes, it unlocks nearly half the population. Countries with women with 8 children on each tit are just never gonna compete with modern countries and modern women who choose when and if to have kids.

Quote:
I would have to see a lot of the "science" (including counter-arguments) before I could entertain the notion that abortion can be considered, overall, a positive advancement for modern man.


Here is a wikipedia article that covers the back and forth on just the subject of crime reduction as a result of legalised abortion:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legalized_abortion_and_crime_effect

There is plenty more, but like all very polemic subjects you'll find plenty of people on both sides and you'll have to parse the science and see which you agree with.

Quote:
Then of course there is the matter of degree and measure when taking the utilitarian approach to a question. I would think that you agree that even though something made the majority very happy it might still be fundamentally immoral or, if you prefer, wrong. I would think, but I don't know...how do you feel about this, and to what extent is the margin of majority significant?


I personally am not conflicted by this because I do not see the early-stage foetus as a viable human being to be given rights to or much moral consideration. And even if you give it moral consideration I think condemning it to a life starting from being an unwanted child is more cruel than preventing it from even beginning to form a conscious existence.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2016 03:59 pm
Yes. I don't waste my time voting anymore. It's of no concern to me. I'm on the precipice of eternity. Wake up chochems (wise Rabbinic sages; often used sarcastically).
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 03:23 am
@Setanta,
We've discussed this before over the years and won't reach any agreement on this. I disagree with the conclusions you draw and am ultimately less conservative about the changes in the US political system than your more traditionalist position.

And I think that you have dismissed the proposals that you call thoughtless without much thought. Or are at the very least giving my position very short shrift and not acknowledging that there is a tradeoff in either system and significant upsides, not just downsides.

Eliminating first-past-the-post voting, which is the more significant change by far of the two I mentioned, will dramatically improve politics and diminish the effect of big money that you mention. Alternative vote (or instant-runoff-voting or whatever you want to call it of its various names) eliminates the spoiler effect that is so pernicious in American politics, leaving voters to vote strategically between two increasingly unsatisfactory parties.

And the current system of the electoral college does not really address the power of the metropolis vs the rural areas, it just makes few swing states kingmakers while everyone else's votes are much more meaningless.

I think about this a lot and of course acknowledge that there are tradeoffs and legitimate downsides, of course. For one the very feature I want is what some would call a bug. I want the balance of power to be more easy to shake, and this represents political instability and some systems manifest in their own form of dysfunctional volatility. I pay attention to what happens in countries where more similar systems to what I advocate are in place and they aren't perfect either.

I just think the downsides are dramatically outweighed by the upsides and that it is high time to fix the antiquated and frankly broken American political system. It's not working if we are all completely unhappy with our political leaders but can't vote our way into.

Here are two videos that clearly illustrate the basic political science problems and solutions:

Here is an explanation of the spoiler effect problem inherent in our first-past-the-post system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

Here is an explanation of alternative voting (instant-runoff, ranked voting etc):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y3jE3B8HsE

It is a very straightforward tweak to the voting process that dramatically improves the political system. It is objectively so by the metric of producing political results that a greater share of the population will be happy with.

Loosing the increasingly tenuous basis for the archaic electoral college is really not a significant downside compared to the dramatic improvement in the political landscape this system provides. It does not negatively interact with the dynamic of media domination because it inherently levels the playing field for political candidates, making the barrier to entry smaller. Smaller candidates have a greater, not lesser chance of opposing the established ones with bigger money.

As for proportional representation I think that a federal body of lawmakers makes a lot more sense to be representative of the political positions of the population, not merely geographic ones. This eliminates gerrymandering (a very significant political problem) and geographical political interests can still be represented (after all a party political platform can be local or it can be a national issue).

There is a downside for sparsely populated regions, of course. The upside is that each citizen has more equal political power. We vote in the lawmakers we want, and if we are single issue that's fine, if we are regional that's fine and no matter what our view is it is represented proportionally to the same degree that is any other citizen. Obviously those that are over-represented now will no longer be so and that's not great for them but I view this as a net positive. It is essentially fixing what I see as a bug (and yes others as a feature) where rural state voters are disproportionately represented. They will still have state legislatures, and local government, but there is really no case I can point to where the electoral college system protected a rural state from the tyranny of the majority and there is a case (bush/gore) where the system screwed over the majority and gave us a catastrophic administration that has deeply harmed us all financially (the financial cost of the military adventurism for each household is something close to $100,000). I can't imagine some farming issue that is relevant on the national presidential stage that is being protected here and if so that is worth the overriding of the popular will.

There will always need to be checks and balances to avoid legitimate political science problems like the tyranny of the majority, but the electoral college and such archaic systems are really not doing much of a job of doing that anyway. Other than a few swing states and a few key special interests a year (like the recurring Cuban exile issue in FL) nobody is getting anything good out of this deal regionally that is not vastly outweighed by the disaffected average national voter whose vote is largely symbolic as a result.

This is part of why we are getting a crazier field of candidates. And it's only going to get worse. There is a rising tide in politics today and it is dissatisfaction with the status quo. A system that more accurately represents the general public, and that objectively leads to more of them being satisfied with the political results is, at least in this respect, objectively better (not that this will inevitably lead to greater quality of life, or better governance results, just more accurate political representation.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 05:39 am
I tend to agree with dumping the electoral college.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2016 05:42 am
@edgarblythe,
I didn't before, but I do now. And "superdelegates?" It this nobles and serfs?
 

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