Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. –Barack Obama.



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This is what happens

When those charged with enforcing the law have a monetary incentive to see the law broken. Same thing happens in the U.S. Can’t we ever get a sane political structure to handle these things? One would think that there would be an incentive to ensure that the law is followed, not the other way around.

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I read this snippet on Google News:

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday night that it had missed repeated opportunities to discover what may be the largest financial fraud in history, a Ponzi scheme whose losses could run as high as…

and the first thing that came to mind was Social Security. (The actual article is here.)

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Absolutely Stunning…

that anyone would be the least bit surprised when politicians begin distancing themselves from their campaign promises.

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A Modest Proposal

“One person, one vote” is a basic principle of American democracy. Everyone has an equal say in the electoral process, and no one’s vote counts for more than anyone else’s. It is frequently viewed as a fundamental, perhaps the fundamental, egalitarian political principle.

But what if it weren’t? “One person, one vote” seems reasonable because of our contemporary notion that everyone has an equal stake in the political process. This in turn depends on the idea that government should be equally at the service of all; that is, the government’s equal due to each citizen corresponds to the equal influence that each exerts in the electoral process. But if this is so, how is the service due to minors represented in the political arena? In the present system, no such representation exists; yet, legislative policies frequently affect children almost as much as they do adults—the issues of education and health care provide two obvious examples. In view of this fact, it seems only a matter of justice that children should be represented in a fair democratic system.

On the other hand, we do not give children the vote because they lack the judgment and experience necessary to make an informed political decision. We are thus in a dilemma insofar as children are in many cases subject to and affected by legislative policy, yet cannot participate in the election of their legislative representatives because of a certain lack of judgment.

How might this dilemma be resolved? Our current position takes the latter horn of the dilemma as decisive and simply ignores the representation due to minors. In effect, this position takes the representation of the young and divides it equally among the of-age electorate. But rather than ignoring the other side of the dilemma, why not resolve the difficulty in the same way we resolve related difficulties pertaining to children? For instance, children need food and shelter and clothing and other basic necessities, but most are too young to earn these things by holding a job. Of course, we do not conclude from this that children should not be fed or clothed; rather, we judge it to be the duty of a responsible adult to provide these things for his children until they are of sufficient age to do so for themselves—not the duty of all adults equally, but of those who have care of the children. The logical conclusion is that heads of households, just as we oblige them to care for their children, ought similarly to exercise the care of their children’s political representation until they are of age. In this way both horns of the dilemma can be satisfied.

I propose, then, that each household be given an additional number of votes equal to the number of children residing in that household. The justice of this proposal can be manifested in other ways as well. As a father, I have care not only of myself but also of my family, and thus have a greater stake in the common good than does my childless friend. If it is not obvious that this constitutes a greater stake, consider who will, in the future, be paying the taxes that allow the government to function—for instance, to fund my friend’s social security check! This proposal holds the key to a more just future for civil representation in democratic republics.

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Comment: As somebody on Slashdot said, the deck chairs on the Titanic have been thoroughly, and decisively, rearranged.

Explanation: As Aristotle said,

To judge from the lives that men lead, most men, and men of the most vulgar type, seem (not without some reason) to identify the good, or happiness, with pleasure; which is the reason why they love the life of enjoyment. For there are, we may say, three prominent types of life—that just mentioned, the political, and thirdly the contemplative life. Now the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts. (Nicomachean Ethics, 1095b13-20)

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We get the elected officials we deserve.

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I read something recently, though I’m too lazy to find the link, about certain liberal commentators calling certain conservative Christians hypocrites for refusing to criticize Bristol Palin for being pregnant out of wedlock. My first thought regarding this was “What exactly is wrong with being pregnant out of wedlock?” On further reflection, I came up with the following hypothesis.

My impression of radical leftists is that they tend to be moral consequentialists (if they have a moral system at all). For a consequentialist, the moral character of an action is determined solely by its result. On this view, premarital sex can only be morally wrong if it has bad results. Since pregnancy is the most obvious (potential) result, the natural conclusion is that premarital sex is wrong because it is bad to be pregnant/bear children outside of wedlock (not a necessary conclusion, since the bad consequence might conceivably be something other than pregnancy–but easy to draw nonetheless).

In reality, unfortunately, the source of this and similar criticisms is likely much more emotive and much less rational.

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The notion of intellectual property seems to be a contradiction of sorts, since the intellect deals with what is universal. The very possibility of private property, I believe, arises from the fact of matter which individuates physical things such that they cannot be common to all. Because of the material nature of things, my possession of them ipso facto excludes someone else’s possession of them, rendering private property a necessary feature of society. If my car were a universal, such that other people could possess and benefit from it without in any way detracting from my use of it, would it be legimate for me to assert that these others had no right to benefit from it? I think not.

If this is right, it has important implications for the question of the justice of the present IP regime which has been codified into U.S. law largely through the influence of corporate interests. The entertainment industry is currently waging a war against online file-sharing of music, movies, etc. On the one hand, it seems clear, for example, that it is unjust to acquire a music collection by illegal file-sharing. On the other hand, it is not at first evident why this is so.

The recording industry generally refers to sharing music as stealing. This is inaccurate, since it does not involve depriving anyone of their property. At one time, the industry was running an advertisement that stated something like this–you wouldn’t steal a car, why would you steal music? In response to the phrase, “you wouldn’t steal a car,” some pundit retorted, “I would if I could download one!” There is a certain point to this riposte inasmuch as it points to a clear disanalogy between the two cases. Copyright infringement, the technical name of the offense, does not constitute theft, that is, “usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner” (CCC 2408), both because the matter is not property in any real sense, and because there is no usurpation, since the copyright holder loses nothing (and no, the fact that the copyright holder could have been paid and was not, does not constitute a loss, except perhaps in the world of MSM journalism in which a decrease in the rate of increase of funding constitutes a funding “cut”).

Perhaps it would be better to describe the action as a violation of the principle that the laborer deserves his wage. A person who downloads music illegally treats the musician (and the musician’s agent, etc.) as though the musician had performed labor for the downloader, but refuses to pay his wage.

This perspective is also helpful inasmuch as it makes clear why the American Founders were correct regarding the limitations to the right of Congress to establish exclusive copyright:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; [my emphasis, obviously]

Copyright must be limited in time because there is not an unlimited recompense due to authors (composers, etc.) for their contributions to the common good. Further, it seems to me that the recompense is due precisely insofar as they have contributed to the common good. Copyright produces an incentive to create. Beyond a certain point, however, it actually diminishes the incentive, since with sufficient copyright length a copyright holder may no longer have any need to create. In other words, the proper function of copyright is not to benefit authors per se, but to increase the public domain, which is done by benefiting authors temporarily.

More on this later.

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