Friday, November 23, 2007

Holy Jebus

Megan posted 10 times today between, roughly, 10:45 and 1:15. I hope she had most of these posts already written, because if she really is methed-up I don't think we'll be able to keep up with her. Plus, meth hurts your looks, which means I'll lose interest in this twisted attempt to win her heart. So, let's see what we've got to work with.

Let us give thanks: That we live in a free market and that we don't have people with guns at our borders, like they do in the country of Africa.
An African farmer can, through the same kind of hard work, diligence, and excellent planning that you exercised, become a perhaps slightly less hungry African farmer. He is not free to do the only thing which could possibly bring him anywhere close to your level of prosperity, which is move. If he tries to do the sensible, foresighted thing in order to assure himself and his family a better tomorrow, men with guns will meet him at the border to push him back into poverty. If he succeeds in evading the men with guns, he will be labeled an illegal immigrant, forced into the gray economy by his lack of papers, and routinely excoriated by talk show hosts.
... talk show hosts? Did Megan forget she said African and not Mexican? Also, if the entire country of Africania is composed of poor farmers whose land isn't productive, where are they supposed to move?
At any rate, clearly, the way to express concern for the less fortunate is to stereotype an entire continent based on South Park's Starvin Marvin and gripe about entitlement when you're an idiot who only has her job thanks to who she knows and how she makes rich people feel about themselves. This was a weird post by Megan on many levels.

Public service announcement: Fuck trains.

Presumed innocent:
I agree 100% that this should be a coequal goal with convicting the guilty; but it doesn't surprise me that it isn't. Human beings are such irrepressible optimists, so naturally aversive to meditating upon their own failures, that psychologists have a technical term for the rare people who are predisposed to clearly and accurately assess their achievements: "depressives". When we fail, the natural urge is to cover it up--to others, in order to preserve our status, and to ourselves, in order to preserve our peace of mind. Undoubtedly, the folks at the FBI who decided not to notify people that they'd been convicted on faulty evidence reasoned that those people were all probably guilty anyway, and no real harm had been done, so why rock the boat?
On the other hand, anyone who finds fault with Megan hates women.
The more important question, I think, is why the rest of us don't spend more time worrying about false convinctions [sic]. What I've read about the Jeffrey MacDonald case, for example, makes it clear that at the very least, prosecutorial misconduct and dubious forensic testimony played some role in his conviction. This should bother us whether or not he's guilty, since presumably the kind of games the prosecutors played with the evidence have been inflicted on other, less notorious, defendants who may have been innocent. Yet there's been little interest from any quarter.
Aside from those working on the case and reporting it so Megan could read about it. Or the good, good people at the Innocence Project, or, one might assume, Lisl Auman, or.....
Oh, and there's "about 2,010,000" results for Jeffery MacDonald on Google.

The real problem: M. noted the appearance of Clive Crook just below, and he's already given Megan a doozy to work with.
the real problem with the Social Security system: not that it is bankrupt, but that it encourages people to make extremely bad decisions about providing for their future.
Oh, christ....
It starts with childbearing: social security systems seem to exert downward pressure on birthrates, in effect undermining their own actuarial base. Social security socializes the benefits of childbearing in providing for retirement, but no one has yet figured out how to socialize the main cost, which is turning your life choices over to a screaming pre-verbal dictator. People are thus tempted to free ride on the childbearing of others, and the more generous benefits are, the more they seem to free ride. This is one reason that Social Security, which used to have more than 30 workers for each retiree, now has only three, headed towards two.
(Link not reinserted) Megan is, hopefully, never to reproduce, but she's no free-rider. Why? Cuz.
Social Security also encourages people to leave the workforce earlier than they otherwise would. People are healthier than ever at 65, but while in 1950, almost half of all men over the age of 65 worked, that number is now less than 20%. This appears to be highly correlated with the spread of defined benefit pensions such as social security, which offer no advantage to delaying retirement. Indeed, Social Security perversely penalizes anyone who takes early benefit but continues to work, docking a third of their earnings.
People are getting the chance to enjoy a longer retirement. This is evil on a scale not seen since..... the pre-Clinton welfare system.
Finally, Social Security discourages private savings. This is terrible for two reasons. If future fiscal problems force the government to reduce benefits, the people who didn't save enough because they relied on those promises will be made much worse off than they would otherwise have been.

The other problem is that Social Security is not a productive investment. Privately saved money is mostly lent to corporations that mostly use the money to do things that make the economy more productive, such as R&D and capital equipment upgrades. Social security "contributions" are lent to the government, where they are mostly spent on things that could not be remotely described as improving our economy's productive capacity, such as farm subsidies.
Or $100 million bridges to nowhere in Alaska, or providing medical care for poor children, or maintaining the national infrastructure, or funding that military Megan gets so swishy for.
This transaction would actually be neutral (except for deadweight loss on the "contributions") if Congress used the Social Security money to reduce other debt; in effect, they would be doing our national saving for us. But in practice, though it is difficult to tease out cause and effect, the best evidence is that Congress simply spends the extra money as if it were tax revenue. Social security thus reduces national savings.
So, since Gore didn't win and create his "lockbox" for the then surplus, we have to scrap SS. You'd think Megan would be glad Congress has been comparatively reckless since it helps her argue against maintaining SS, but that'd require intellectual honesty. And an intellect.
The demographic transition we are currently undergoing to an older society means that we need policies to increase the workforce and productivity as much as possible. What we have, in Social Security, is a program which actively works against these aims.
We've gotta close the beaches!!!!!1!!

Speaking of Paul Krugman:
I wonder what happens to his career on January 21st, 2008? I presume we will have a Democratic candidate inaugurated; and so much of his current fame lies in his vocal opposition to a much disliked Republican president. I don't think it's crazy to speculate that, had Al Gore taken office in 2000, Paul Krugman would still be fairly obscure--better read by people like me, who loved his Slate columns, but not much noticed by the ordinary run of New York Times readers. What on earth will he write about when "Bush is evil" no longer suffices to fill column inches?
Yeah, it must suck to have been pretty much right all along. Once Bush is gone, what will he have to be right about? It's not as if the knowledge and ability which made him right once would be applicable to any other circumstances, or there's a Bush legacy, which isn't even done forming, that will likely take decades to work to undo.
A question for Megan, if Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine (read it, read it, read it, it's terrifying and essential) succeeds in discrediting Friedman and Hayek, and the general public becomes more aware of the basic brutality underlying the ideas Megan claims fealty to, what's she gonna do?
There's a difference between being an ideologue and being right.

Defining Torture:
My definition is fairly simple. If you saw someone doing something to a soldier in a movie, and that act alone was enough to tell you that the perpetrator was the bad guy, then that's probably something American soldiers shouldn't be doing to anyone else.
I don't think I need to add anything to this.

Speed demons: To reiterate, fuck trains. (As an aside, Megan is half-right. The Acela, and Amtrak in general, has major issues. What she conveniently doesn't mention is that these problems basically stem from Amtrak being an essential public service that is privately owned. The gubbermint can't let the company collapse, so the private owners essentially do nothing to improve, or in some cases maintain, their service and let the state come in and rescue them. All while charging 3 or 4 times what the public rail systems do for a less reliable service. She'd never admit it, but Megan is basically bitching about Amtrak being a private enterprise.)

Oof. That was long, and I skipped a few. Megan, speed kills. Just say no to meth, please.


Alberto Gonzales said...

Speaking of Paul Krugman: I wonder what happens to his career on January 21st, 2008?


Didn't think anybody knew less about the Constitution than me!

brad said...

Geez. I'd be surprised I missed that, but the sheer volume of fecal matter overwhelmed me a bit.