Thursday, December 05, 2013

Destructive Interference

Health care reform is complicated enough without getting confused about the reasons we need to change things:

1.     We ought to care about ensuring adequate health care for everybody because we’re decent human beings.  
2.     We ought to lower the cost of health care to everyone because it’s in our self interest to do so and we’re not damned fools.

Either motive should be sufficient in itself to motivate reform, but appealing to both of them at the same time in the usual muddled way weakens what should be an irresistible case.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

He Who Wills the End

Since even the CNN talking heads are coming around to the realization that the current level of inequality is politically and socially intolerable, it's kinda odd that so many people still get upset about "redistribution" as if it were a dirty word. If you think we should do something about inequality, you've already opted for redistribution of some kind, though I'm not denying it makes a big difference how it is accomplished.* Changing the tax laws in incremental ways, raising the minimum wage, and actually enforcing existing labor laws are better than a frontal assault on the gated communities, though, admittedly, they don’t make for exciting television. The central fact is that however you do it, you are going to have make certain people less rich and they are going to object to that. So will the talking heads, for that matter, when they finally realize the implications of the new meme for entertainers with seven figure incomes. That may take a while, since for these folks, it’s a long, long way from premises to conclusion. They will end up objecting to each and every concrete step towards improving the distribution of wealth while at the same time repeating that something must be done.

* I'm reminded of the punch line of an old joke: "We've already settled that. Now we're haggling about the price."

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Two More Limericks for Very Select Audiences

An ingenious shrink named Elise
Trained a troop of medicinal fleas.
Their bites were quite itchy,

But the gloomy and twitchy
Found scratching a welcome release.

There once was a maid of Iraq
Who had a magnificent rack,
But unlike the ass
Of the maid of Madras,
Her boobs were a literal fact.*

* Explaining jokes has some of the same futility as attempting to recall a fart, but I have discovered that there actually are people who don't know the following limerick.

There once was a maid of Madras
Who had a magnificent ass,
Not rounded and pink
As you probably think.
It was brown, had long ears, and ate grass. 

Knowledge of the classics is at an all-time low.

Composition Class

There are intelligent conservatives who know better, but most of ‘em seem to be unaware that it's a logical fallacy to argue from what's good for an individual to what's good for everyone. If I stand on a footstool, I'll be able to see the parade better; but that doesn't mean if everybody stands on a footstool, they'll all see the parade better. 

Give a man a fish and he won't be hungry for a day. Teach him to fish and he won't ever have to be hungry. Yep, and teach everybody to fish and there won't be any goddamn fish left. 

The Walmart version of the same thing: it's OK that a giant outfit doesn't pay its workers a living wage because, after all, any one of them may become a manager and make oodles. Look at every right-winger's favorite token negro: he shows what they all ought to do. Succeed and become the owner of 168 pizza restaurants. Why can't they all be like that?