Monday, March 22, 2010


Yes. We. Can.


Pamela said...

There was so much I wanted to say on here and on my own blog, but I don't want to offend or alienate anyone. So...

Lolee said...

I was part of a facebook debate on healthcare..(I know, how junior hight, right?)

One guy said this in response to someone else's thought that Christians are supposed to bear one anothers burdens and selfless give..

First, regarding caring for those who can't care for themselves; the Christian practice requires choice on the part of the giver, otherwise we're reverting to Satan's plan. Most people agree that we should care for the poor, and an analysis of charitable giving around the world shows Americans to be the most ... More giving than any other country (I don't have a reference now, but have seen this cited multiple places). It's not that we don't want to help, it's that we don't want the government stealing from us and doing it through an expensive and ineffective beuraucracy.

Pamela said...

In response to Lolee:
We seem to be the most giving country to every other country but our own. Otherwise, there would be no debate here.

Danielle said...

Aahh. I wrote this long comment that I somehow deleted asking your thoughts on the feasibility of blending two economic systems - socialism and capitalism. I think we must go with one or the other completely, and you can guess which one I favor. Trying to do both, which we've arguably been doing for years now, seems to be bankrupting future generations, and that is my greatest worry. However, I am no economist.

I also commented to Pamela, with no snarkiness intended, that I can only go by my experience, but I think most of my American friends and neighbors are very giving to each other or try to be. I don't know how they measure and compare it for statistical purposes, but either way, I still think there would be a debate. How to get things done clogs things up, sometimes in my marriage, and in a nation full of strong minded people.

P.S. Chris, if you recommend some trendy economics book ,I won't read it, even if it has a conservative spin. God did not give me a math brain, and it will only lower my self esteem trying to follow it.

Chris said...

Danielle, I’m not an economist either, but I’m confident enough to say that we do not live in a socialist society, nor in a “blended” one. The critics who complain that this healthcare bill is socialist are either ignorant of what socialism and capitalism are, or they are liars who know better, but are exploiting those that don’t for their own personal gain. I tend to think that the mass of people who believe the socialism claim fall into the first category, but there are some in the second. One of my first rules of politics and social commentary is never, NEVER trust anyone who makes money or collects power by making you angry, I don’t care if they are liberal, conservative, Mormon or Atheist, if they make money by making people angry stay away, don’t listen to them, don’t trust them, don’t support them. People can be extremely opinionated and partisan and still be honest, but the vampires who live on the anger they stir up should never be trussed even (and maybe especially) when it appears that they are on “our” side.

Chris said...

PS try Freakonomics, great book no math.

Lolee said...

Wouldn't it be fair to say that both ends of the political spectrum (or just politicians in general) play upon our fears, worries, angers, etc to sway voters?

Also, sometimes I don't think that the media or politicians make money or collect power by MAKING people angry, but rather realizing that people ARE angry already and then capitilizing on that.

Danielle said...

So, you assume I listen to Rush, do ya? That makes me smile, but I don't know why. No, no - Clark Howard is my talk radio. All my political bias in the last few years has come from Dave Hinsdale. He only made me angry when I was a democrat, and either way, I know for a fact he hasn't any money or power. He does have some good life experience, though, and he seems to know everything about everything in the history of this country.

By the way, I always thought there were varying models and degrees of socialism. I do not believe that people who believe this Health Care Insurance reform and other programs are socialist are necessarily ignorant or exploited. Our definition is either different or broader. But, I am not sure, so I will check Wikipedia really quick.

Oh, I like to check many different sources for news. I have MSNBC on more than Fox. I am fascinated by the different spins different stations and websites will put on a single story. It is absolutely wild.

Chris said...

I’m going to threadjack my own post and go on a tangential rant (feel free to ignore.)

Of course there are people on both sides who exploit anger for personal power. I think Keith Oberman and Glenn Beck are both offensive. I just find Glenn Beck more offensive, and I’m sure that some of that is because I disagree with his politics and so the anger and vitriol he stirs up is directed at me. Not everyone who speaks on or has strong feelings about an issue is cultivating anger, but there are those such as Palin and Beck that make a point of saying ignorant and stupid things. Palin’s claim of death panels in the health care bill and Beck’s inability to tell the difference between social justice and Nazism are prime examples; if any of their followers actually took the time to look at facts, these claims would make as much sense as accusing the NAACP of being a front for the KKK. Either Beck and Palin are stupid, or they assume everyone else is (most likely both.) Either way they are contributing to a climate of fear and mistrust, both by being untrustworthy themselves and by discouraging trust in society. I’m okay with political debate grounded in facts. I’m not okay with vitriol disguised as a discussion.

Beck, Limbaugh, Savage and others make millions and they do it by being outrageous. We cannot undervalue the way that their extremist rhetoric shapes the thought of many people. It is true that in some cases there may already be anger but that doesn’t excuse stoking it, cultivating it, or growing it.

Lolee said...

"if any of their followers actually took the time to look at facts"

As unoffensive/ politically correct as we are all trying to be, the above sentence really says it all.

Chris, do you realize that you are saying that NONE of the people who follow Beck or Palin- who number in the millions- have ever taken time to look at the facts?

I think it is safe to say that at least ONE of those millions have "looked at the facts".

This is the reason I no longer argue politics with liberals.

I, personally, try SO hard to empathize with liberals. There is so much I like and admire about the liberal perspective.

I like that liberals are the first to advocate that everyone have a fair chance and equal opportunity.

I like that liberals focus on human suffering and being responsible with our natural resources.

I like that liberals want everyone to have health care.

I can understand the things that have happened in our American history that would drive someone to have that political perspective.

I rarely agree with their ideas on how to alliviate suffering or provide equal opportunity.

That's why I am conservative.

The reason I no longer argue politics with liberals is because I feel as though I do not get the same respect in return.

Almost every liberal person I have talked to cannot fathom in any way how I came to have a conservative perspective.

They find nothing positive in being conservative.

They have accused me of being: brainwashed, ignorant, intolerant, racist, homophobic, and heartless.

And now, you add to that list that, I, as someone who listens to Beck or Palin, have never been smart enough to look at "the facts".

Chris said...

Point 1:


–noun Rhetoric

1. obvious and intentional exaggeration.

2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Point 2:

Please note the difference between “to follow” and “to be on the same side of the issue as” or “listens to”. I’m on the same side of the political spectrum as filmmaker Michael Moore. I even agree with him sometimes and think that he can make good points, but I still think he’s an a** who does more harm than good. I’m sure there are lots of people that listen to Glenn Beck and are able to see the absurdity of Beck’s statements but agree with his conservatism. I am sure there are lots of conservatives that consider him an embarrassment. His followers are those that think he is right to say the things he does, that believe him, trust him, and who consider that he speaks for them – that he represents them.

I can think of no good reason why anyone would want to be represented by (or put their trust in) someone who is either so ignorant that they can’t tell the difference between Social Justice and Nazi Germany, or is so deliberately dishonest that they are willing to tell such absurd lies (and worse, makes the assumption that their followers are ignorant enough to believe them.) Why would any self respecting person be a follower of someone like that? Can you honestly say you want to be led by someone who treats you with such disrespect, who assumes that you’re an idiot?

People like Beck do so much damage to the Republican Party. If you want to know why liberals think that conservatives are “brainwashed, ignorant, intolerant, racist, homophobic, and heartless,” it is because of people like Beck, and Palin, Robertson and Falwell, and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any other conservative leaders that can (or is willing to) tell these people to sit down and shut up. As a result the assumption is made that the screaming crowds that these folks continue to draw are representative of the conservative movement as a whole and that their ignorant ideas are shared by all conservatives. Like it or not people like this are the public face of the conservative movement; if you don’t like being labeled with them either leave the movement or denounce them, hold them accountable and find better leaders.

I agree wholeheartedly that we need a good strong Republican Party for our country to function effectively, but that can’t happen while it is being co-opted by Beck and Co. Part of how we will know when a real conservative leader emerges is they will be able to effectively put the muzzle on these folks.

Danielle said...

I don't know what to think about any of this, except that crazy and dishonest seem dependent on which side you are on. I felt like there were a lot of crazy, dishonest, angry people out there during the Bush administration.

I do know from my obsession of following many media outlets that finding a reporter/commentator who tries to be one hundred percent objective and honest, with as little spin as possible, is a rare thing. It takes a great deal of self sacrifice and integrity.

That being said, I don't like to accuse anyone of being deliberately dishonest with the masses. It is too heavy a charge for me to be comfortable with. I don't like Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann or Anderson Cooper or any of the gang at MSNBC, but I do think they are convinced of their own spin (or lies), and genuinely believe they are sharing what is best for America.

Do you think there is anything to the notion that people like Beck and Palin are deliberately portrayed as crazy and extreme or stupid by liberal media so that they won't be taken seriously? Or if they are really dishonest, crazy idiots, do you think that the liberal media outlets work hard to keep them associated with all conservatives to discredit conservatives? You don't really have to answer these questions, but I think there is something to them.

I know this is a complete tangent from your original post, but media bias is seriously one of my favorite favorite topics. I mean this in a lit up, excited kind of way, not in a partisan angry way. I sometimes make Jack watch several different news stations with me in the evening when all he wants to watch is "Path to the Draft" (boring).

Danielle said...

Oh, wait. Anderson Cooper is part of the CNN gang.

Jack & Danielle Monroe said...

Chris, I hope you don't mind, but I wrote a blog post that I credit you for inspiring. I just love the back and forth you and Lori have been having on this tangent, and I wanted to throw some questions out to some of my other family and friends. If you do mind, I will take your name out it entirely.

Jeremy Johnson said...

Chris et al,

I'm coming late to the disucussion (which may in fact be dead), but I wanted to throw in just one thought: I do believe that the U.S. is a "mixed economy" and that certain political figures and individuals may be reasonably described as "social democrats." You might even consider yourself a social democrat, Chris.

A mixed economy is an economy with varying degrees of private and public control, what we more generally describe as degrees of capitalism and socialism. In a mixed economy you might find private control of manufacturing, agriculture, retail and many services, while having public control of things like police, mail, education, libraries, police, etc.

Social democrats are individuals who do not believe in true socialism (not many still believe in true socialism, imo), but who believe in the nationalization of some programs and a stronger welfare state. I have oversimplified a bit (I may have even defined democratic socialism in such a way that some people would call me a social democrat), but that is sort of a general description.

I just point this out to say that individuals who describe the health care bill as socialistic are not necessarily ignorant or dishonest. Well respected and careful economists on both sides would not hesitate to accept such terminology. I would also argue that we can live in a mixed economy and, even though I have a libertarian bent, I think mixed economies tend to be healthier -- they are closer to finding the balance between individual liberty and protection from externalities.

Dang, I'm really said I missed this discussion.

Chris said...

Thanks Jeremy,

I have no problems being a social democrat, there are times in fact that I would also consider myself a socialist, I’m certainly very skeptical of capitalism, I have a hard time trusting a system that relies on greed as a primary driver. It seems like there should be better ways for economies to function.

I will stand by my description of those describing the health care bill as socialist as dishonest or ignorant. I’ve lived in a country with socialized medicine and this bill doesn’t even come close. I concede that if pure unregulated private ownership capitalism is at one end of a continuum and socialism is at the other then this bill is closer to socialism than our system was prior to its passage (even though I’m not sure such a graph is entirely rational), but to call it socialism dilutes the definition of the word to the point where it becomes near meaningless. Not every step to the left is socialism. True socialism is more than just government regulation- it is ownership of the means of production by the citizens (all citizens not just shareholders) and control of those means through the government. Government ownership of the healthcare segment was not ever seriously considered. Even the unfortunately failed “public option” would only have been one insurance plan competing among many such plans, intended more to provide a floor in insurance coverage than to allow the people to have ownership control over a segment of the economy.

While the meaning of words will of necessity be hazy around the edges, we can’t redefine them at will in order to score political points, lest communication breakdown entirely.

Jeremy Johnson said...


Your parents came over to my parents' house for dinner the other day. It was nice to see them and it reminded me of this blog thread.

I disagree with you on some points, which probably does not come as a surprise. However, I would humbly and politely submit that I think even you would concede that you are mistaken on at least some of these points, if you investigated them further. For instance, your position that we do not live in a "blended" economy is something I strongly disagree with. A blended economy is typically referred to by economists as a "mixed economy," which I referenced previously. It is a fairly fundamental position that the United States is a mixed economy. Here is a simple article from an economics website that sets forth this position: There are countless other text books, articles etc. that refer to the United States having a mixed economy.

A typical definition for mixed economy is “an economic system that includes a variety of private and government control, or a mixture of capitalism and socialism.” This is not a definition that I changed – it is a well-established one which can even be found on Wikipedia and supported by several sources. Interestingly, that same Wikipedia article, if you scroll down to the “Modern U.S. economy” section, lists a number of examples of why the U.S. is considered a mixed economy as opposed to a market economy. One of the examples of why we are a mixed economy is that “All Americans over the age of 65 are eligible for Medicare, a public health option.” If you accept Wikipedia and several others’ definition of a mixed economy as a mixture of capitalism and socialism and wikipedia’s clear implication that the public health option of Medicare falls on the socialism side of our mixed economy, then it seems at least reasonably arguable, as opposed to ignorant or dishonest, that the new health care bill also falls on the socialist side of our mixed economy.

I would point out that I personally do not necessarily believe that the new health care bill is all that socialistic, though I would believe it was so if a public option had prevailed (that private options would be available does not change the fact that it would have been a government owned/operated service). My personal position is just that there is a spectrum, it makes sense to view things that way (and little sense not to) and that the bill falls closer along that spectrum to socialism than a market economy and therefore it seems like something of a false dilemma to maintain that anyone who describes the bill as socialistic is either ignorant or dishonest. Indeed, you seem to have provided a bit of a third option yourself – people working off of different definitions. I suspect that you would maintain that those who disagree with your definitions are ignorant, but I think that definitions of socialism, a concept that has dramatically evolved and branched since the 19th century, are actually very, very difficult to pinpoint. Most definitions concede that socialism refers to a variety of theories, not just one fixed program or doctrine.

I would agree with you, however, that I think there is a strong misunderstanding about the bill. Most people don’t realize that it is regulatory. They believe that there is a public option, probably because Obama wanted to include one. To the degree that people intend to describe the plan as socialistic based on the idea that there is some public option, they are mistaken. There are things to like about the bill. I think most people would like the idea that insurance companies cannot drop people after they get sick, for example. There are also really dumb things in the bill, like the 1099 nonsense that should be embarrassing to the Obama administration.