Tax the rich, and feed the poor.
If it's too easy to get by (minimum wage, unions, social security, unemployment insurance) working people won't work hard enough. We can't coddle them or they'll be de-incentivized.
If it's too hard to get richer (taxes, regulation), rich people won't work hard enough. We must
coddle them or they'll be de-incentivized.
And of course it's all nonsense, the opposite of true. Whatever floor you give the poor, most are going to try to achieve more and get ahead because that's what most people want to do.
And the rich don't stop being greedy when we tax them more. In fact they work harder because they still want to be richer than they already are, and richer than everyone else.
Problem solved: tax the rich, and feed the poor.
More: If it's too easy to get rich fleecing large populations with shared monopolies (banks, oil companies, insurance companies, etc.), the rich won't want to do anything else.
Science vs. Religion
Science is a way to organize your thinking/believing. A very powerful way. It is attractive to a lot of smart people in great part because they like stuff to make sense, not on the authority of a preacher or an old book, but on logical grounds.
Religions are also ways to organize your thinking/believing.
To some who are scientifically oriented, science and religion are exclusive of each other: Everything can be explained scientifically, given time, and religion represents an outmoded, illogical, repressive method of organizing your thinking/believing.
And that's kind of compelling.
But not everything can be explained scientifically. (Why is there something instead of nothing? Where's the disproveable hypothesis that'll settle that issue?)
More importantly, for many the thought that there is no long run justice (heaven and hell, karma, whatever) is very much an unthinkable one. I for one absolutely refuse to accept that idea. Not out of fear, but out of repugnance.
Finally, as an organizing principle science doesn't tell us why we should help a little old lady cross the street. Religion does. Sure, an atheist would help a little old lady cross the street, but coming up with a "scientific" reason for it would require a whole heap of unscientific crap like utilitarianism or facile evo-psych dressed up as science.
Both ways of organizing your thinking/believing have their merits. Ultimately science should stay out of the god question, sticking to observable, measurable phenomena. And religion should stay out of the evolution question, sticking to the unknowable and matters of virtue.
Little known quote
"Capitalism is like rain. Too little and nothing grows. Too much and the harvest is ruined, the town is under water, and there's a whole lot of misery." --Will Rogers
What Kevin Drum doesn't understand
Piracy is a "snarl" word, meant to inflame emotions and derail reasoned argumentation, and not at all an accurate description of file sharing or even for fraudulent representation (selling unauthorized imitations as real) for that matter, neither of which are what pirates did or were famous for, anyway.
There's profiting illegally from someone else's work, and there's sharing what you have. Giant Corporations, the IP rentiers, would like you to think of them as the same, but they are not. People who share or have been shared with are not pirates. You can call people who make unauthorized copies of CDs or DVDs and sell them pirates, though it's a stretch-- they're actually committing fraud, they are effectively forgers, selling unauthorized imitations. But people sharing things they paid for, or sharing what others have shared with them is not piracy by any reasonable definition. Sharing should not be illegal even if sharing is less complicated with digital files than with physical objects. The fact that you can share a copy, while keeping your original, makes the activity more attractive to the people sharing, but it doesn't change the nature of the act from sharing to stealing.
(It is only because Microsoft and others got us used to their income model, enforceable at all only because they are a great big giant monopoly who can stay one step ahead of hackers, and intimidate other institutions, that has us taking seriously at all the idea that sharing digital files should be outlawed.)
There should be no laws against possessing or sharing digital files. There are already laws against fraudulent sales of knock-offs of commercial products.
Copyright laws were never intended to stop people from sharing (hello, libraries!), and they are not able to stop people from sharing (hello, cassette tapes and photocopiers!), they are there to stop people from stealing other people's potential revenue streams through fraud and forgery (selling your copies as originals).
A different state of technology requires a different profit-making model. CD and DVD manufacturers should make products so good that people want the commercial CD or DVD with all the trimmings/guarantees/support/extras/whatever.
The fat cats will just have to deal with it.
Artists' compensation is not the issue. Seriously, unless they're established superstars, they don't make much in the way of mechanical royalties. That all goes to guys in suits. Artists have to play for live audiences to make a living, and file sharing grows their potential audience. It's possible to imagine scenarios where someone might have made some money but file sharing kept it from happening, but it's not common, if it happens at all.
Just sayin'...The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right
Labels: The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right
Fear, Loathing, and a Contest
After the Republican presidential candidates quit arguing about who among them is the most anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-social safety net, anti-environment and so on, their many super PACs will be unleashed on Obama.
The unlimited spending combined with plausible deniability brought to us by the Citizens United
decision will bring us a barrage of deceitful and incendiary ads the likes of which has never before been seen.
Think we're polarized now?
By November, low information "conservatives" (scare quotes because they don't want to conserve anything that came about after 1929) will be foaming at the mouth. Obama is already a socialist Muslim granny-killing foreigner to them. I shudder to think what kind of monster those super PAC ads will paint him to be.
It won't mean Obama won't be re-elected. He will, because the totals won't be close enough for the Republican voting machine hackers to alter. Probably he will win in a landslide.
But the people who went batshit insane last time he was elected will be madder, much madder, when he's been re-elected. They will have spent months absorbing vicious attack ads with little relation to reality.
I don't want to sound like a doomer, but I find this more than a little worrisome.
That said, I suggest a contest: what new outrageous claims about Obama will be made next summer and fall by super PAC ads? Winners will receive a free copy of Critique of Capitalism for Kids
(the deluxe! print edition).
I'll start things off:
*Obama is secretly an abortion doctor, with a clinic in the White House basement
*Obama is building re-education camps for NASCAR fans
*Obama will implement forced sterilization of Christians