Cometgreen

Male
from Manhattan, NY

    • Cometgreen

      Should I vote?

      in Forums > Should I vote? | Follow this topic

      For those unawares, the next American elections are held tomorrow. Against my instinct, I used a whole stamp to mail in my change of address confirmation a couple weeks ago so that I'm registered to vote in my new district. But should I bother? There's quite a bit of investment: other than the sunk cost of the form, I have to find my polling place, wait in line and then cast the vote (those levers are hard to pull). So that's a fair amount of tangible costs, but what are the benefits to be had?

      My personal situation: I seem to be in NY's 9th congressional district. The representative race looks noncompetitive, with the R challenger not even having a website. I can't find any information about what else might be on the ballot after a few minutes on google. My vote for president, assuming none of the above and/or a write-in are not available, would almost certainly be for Gary Johnson. If my choice had greater impact, I could be persuaded to cast a strategic vote for Romney. Obama is right out.

      So is there any reason for me to bother? I don't think I can be persuaded to vote for its own sake; I see political democracy as philosophically bankrupt, so I consider there to be a stronger moral argument against voting than for it. But I'm a practical man, so I won't act on abstract principle if there are benefits at risk. Are there any prudential reasons for me to vote that I'm not considering? Once you get past your personal feeling about voting, is there reason to do it? Particularly in the American system, and particularly in a state like NY?

      Will you vote tomorrow (or when you can in your country)? What are your personal reasons for voting or not voting? What are the circumstances under which you would choose to abstain if you normally vote, or vote if you normally abstain?

      21 replies

    • Cometgreen

      Backwashed Thoughts

      5 years ago

      Mongo:

      You failed to to see how your comments would be taken, and instead of trying to rephrase or clarify, you start going after people for opinions they do not have.

      Incorrect. It is indeed the opinions they must have if they do not wish to be considered wrong. This is simply the reality of the situation. I do not believe they view slavery as a not-so-bad thing, but in all this confusion they are indeed saying either that or are arguing something that is factually incorrect (that slaves did not receive anything from their masters). I presented them three options in post 5222. Option 1, that slaves received nothing from their masters, is clearly wrong. Slaves did have shelter, food, clothing and other goods and services provided either by their master or through their own labor that was not appropriated by the master. I subscribe to Option 2, that slaves did receive goods from their masters (which is correct), and that being a slave still sucked (my value judgment, which I imagine everyone here shares).

      Chi, DoNothing and others may choose Option 1, 2 or 3. If they choose 1, they are wrong. If they choose 3, they believe slavery was not-so-bad. If they choose 2, we are in agreement and there does not need to be any discussion. I imagine they would all choose 2, despite their repeated suggestions that by arguing a slave received goods, his lot in life must not have been so bad.

      It is also precisely my concern that my comments have been taken in such a gross way. If people here cannot read a simple, declarative statement like, "A slave in America got shelter, food, clothing, medical care and other benefits," and address the accuracy of the statement instead of reacting to what the statement may imply given other facts or values, how can there ever be any substantive discussion?

      Imagine we're discussing the American Civil War. I write, "In the battle at Fredericksburg, 12,653 men in the Union army died." A person then responds, "So the Civil War wasn't worth it? We should have just let slavery continue!?" How valuable do you anticipate this discussion to be? Do you expect it go anywhere worthwhile?

      And how was I to rephrase and clarify that which I never said? I did say several times, in very clear language, that I never judged the slaves' condition as being not-so-bad. Am I to say it in French or Japanese to lay the matter to rest?

      To DoNothing and Chi_Mangetsu:

      Do you disagree that, by choosing to work, a slave believed he would continue to enjoy these goods and keep his family and his body safe from harm?

      Could either of you please tell me how the word enjoy can be read to mean anything other than "to have the use or benefit of"? Does it make any sense to interpret my statement as saying, "If slaves did not work, they would no longer gain any happiness from shelter, clothing, etc"? When you consider that little thing called context, it is all too clear that I am saying that, if a slave did not work, he would no longer have the use of the shelter, food and other goods provided by his master.

      It's certainly possible I wrote a non-sequitur and, in the midst of arguing that slaves worked to keep using the goods given to them, I wanted to argue that, should a slave not work, he would still have the use of shelter but would suddenly find that it grants him no happiness. But a person looking for an honest debate and not an easy diversion from answering the simple questions posed to him must presume that the opponent's arguments are coherent, unless there is simply no other way to take it.

      Regardless, I ask you two: Suppose I did argue that a slave gained happiness from having shelter and food and clothing. Do you contend that a slave, being a slave, was unable to enjoy anything in life, no matter how miserable his general condition may be relative to others? A slave simply was incapable of deriving any enjoyment from the use of clothing or shelter or food or a lashed-free back? He was always and forever unhappy?

      A simple yes or no would suffice. That requires fewer keystrokes than evading the question and calling me a fucking idiot.

      Back to Mongo:

      You categorically define government as coercion and the free market as purely voluntary action. It's not even a thought to you that the markets can be as (or as I believe, worse) coercive as government.

      You misunderstand. By definition, the market is indeed purely voluntary action.* The market is only catallactic action - that is, voluntary exchange conducted with money. Non-catallactic action, such as listening to your girlfriend in the hopes of getting busy or mugging a man on the street, is not part of 'the market,' despite the fact that both can loosely be called exchanges.

      Coercion, then, is necessarily excluded from the market. If a person enslaves another, it is not considered part of the market. If a person takes money from another, it is not part of the market. If something is done absent money or involuntarily, it is not being done in the market. This is not to say that, in a society absent the state, it is impossible for there to be slaves or thieves or frauds. We only say that such actions are not part of the market, as we say that a person flying a plane is not engaged in the act of sailing.

      That widespread social order cannot be effectively provided through the market process is an understandable objection. That people in a stateless society would run rampant, coercing one another into doing things they would rather not do, is a perfectly acceptable argument for you to make. I must clarify, however, that such behavior does not qualify as market activity, and that when I say that something should be done through the market, I do not mean it should be done by any means other than through the institution of the state. I necessarily mean it should be done with a respect to property and contract and with the benefit of monetary calculation.

    • Cometgreen

      Rational Racism

      5 years ago

      In writing this post concerning race, I (as I often do) began thinking ahead to the questions likely to be posed to me and how I might answer them. One of the answers to one of the questions would be that some racism of the modern day is rational, given statist intervention.

      But no, I thought. Racism isn't rational. Feelings of hatred or envy against those of another race is a logical outcome of the state's tortured system of redistribution and regulation, but it is not rational. No matter what obstacles the state places before us, cooperation is still the best means to achieve our ends. Even if my employer is forced to fire me and hire a person of another race, I should not refuse a good or service because the provider is of that race.

      But no! Some racism is rational - what might be called 'political racism.' Appealing to the state to abuse a race of people that you believe is using the state to abuse you is perfectly rational. I don't think it is right, just as I don't think any racism or any appealing to the state is right, but it is rational. Rational in the same way it is rational for the state to take from everyone to give to everyone. It is the logical outcome of the democratic state's need to gain the people's favor, just as envy and resentment is the logical outcome of overt political favors for one group at the expense of another. And just as the state's range of actions can appear irrational from far away (see: Code of Federal Regulations), class/race warfare in the political sphere can appear irrational and destructive to all parties. Yet, the individual actions in both instances are rational.

      And I'm not a big reader of Ayn Rand, but I did see this quote of hers that I quite like: "No political system can establish universal rationality by law (or by force). But capitalism is the only system that functions in a way which rewards rationality and penalizes all forms of irrationality, including racism."

      She really did say some things well.

    • Cometgreen

      I can't... I don't...

      5 years ago

      There are no words for this story. In brief:

      1) Brazil is mad that the US federal government subsidizes American cotton farmers, claiming it violates a trade agreement

      2) The WTO sides with Brazil, saying the federal government's subsidies distorts international trade

      3) The federal government makes things right by subsidizing Brazilian cotton farmers

      ...

      WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?

    • Cometgreen

      State's Rights are for Loons and Racists

      5 years ago

      All the People of this State, who are opposed to being made SLAVES or SLAVE-CATCHERS, and to having the Free Soil of Wisconsin made the hunting-ground for Human Kidnappers, and all who are willing to unite in a STATE LEAGUE, to defend our State Sovereignty, our State Courts, and our State and National Constitutions, against the flagrant usurpations of U.S. Judges, Commissioners, and Marshals, and their Attorneys; and to maintain inviolate those great Constitutional Safeguards of Freedom â€" the WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS and the RIGHT OF TRIAL BY JURY â€" as old and sacred as Constitutional Liberty itself; and all who are willing to sustain the cause of those who are prosecuted, and to be prosecuted in Wisconsin, by the agents and executors of the Kidnapping Act of 1850, for the alleged crime of rescuing a human being from the hands of kidnappers, and restoring him to himself and to Freedom, are invited to meet at YOUNGS’ HALL, IN THIS CITY, THURSDAY, APRIL 13TH, at 11 o’clock A.M., to counsel together, and take such action as the exigencies of the times, and the cause of imperiled Liberty demand.

      Beware those who champion "state's rights," nullification or secession.

    • Cometgreen

      Of Course!

      5 years ago

      I was wondering why I've been so unproductive in my writing tonight. I've been uncomfortable and thus unable to focus.

      Well just open the window and let the cool air in, ya dummy!

      For Your Health!

    • Cometgreen

      Musings on the Census

      5 years ago

      [I thought I had posted this last week; guess not!]

      Thinking about the Census, and what I should or should not do with it, makes really clear the absurdity of treating the government's edicts as "the law." If I refuse to write down my phone number or my ethnicity, I will be fined $100. Presumably, if I refuse to pay the fine, I will be further fined; if I refuse to pay those, I'll eventually be locked up. And, to go further, if I feel I've been wrongly imprisoned and try to leave the prison, I will be shot. All because the state has decreed that I answer 10 questions.

      Imagine if my credit card company sought similar information. They sent me a form with 10 questions. They could even demand that I return the form with accurate information, or else they will slap a fee on me. I apologize and say I'm uncomfortable answering those questions, and if that means losing my account with them, so be it.

      But this isn't good enough for them. They come to my house and take the money they feel they're owed in fees. I try to defend my property and am shot. I hope that most everyone would agree that this is wrong. But if the government does it, well shit, you just have to accept it. It needs to do that for the greater good. If it says something is the law, then it is the law, even if it's a bad law. And you can't disobey that bad law, because that only serves to undermine the good laws.

      [and, naturally, if you're convinced it's a bad law, you have to stick to the costly and lengthy procedure the government has approved; don't bring up such archaic tools as 'nullification,' be it by jury or your state, or threaten 'secession.' Abolitionists didn't go through with these procedures and waited patiently for the state to abolish slavery; surely your concern is less pressing!]

    • Cometgreen

      On that "Health Care" Vote

      5 years ago

      On Sunday night, I began writing a small post regarding the passing of the health care bill in the House. I abandoned it after the first draft, a decision I now regret. My comment was simple: the further politicization of health care provision will engender more resentment, divisiveness and hatred. I'm sure prices will rise and quality will fall, but as I haven't read the bill (and am not an economist anyway), it'd be far too presumptive of me to claim prices here will rise, inefficiency will increase there, providers will be encouraged to do such-and-such. But I can guarantee that violence will increase; that's the nature of politics. Whereas voluntary transactions are win-win, political (coercive) actions are win-lose. If you accept the government as a legitimate regulator and provider of medical care, your only recourse is to wrest control of the bureaucracy and legislature and force the policies you favor on the rest of the nation.

      And there are already threats and acts of vandalism. There's been a bigger reaction than I expected, though I haven't really kept up with what Tea Party and similar activists have been doing. Still, expect the range of political debate to expand, with more time and effort spent on lobbying the government and persuading politicians to do this or that. Instead of allowing the individual the choice to choose the systems or policies that they like, as we do with the provision of food and automobiles, we centralize the industry and enforce its application coercively.

      To use David Friedman's example of a politicized car industry - in which 10,000 people vote as to the make and model of the car that they will then drive - how do you expect people to act? Friedman focuses on the rationality of voting (why vote, if the choice of the majority will be forced upon you anyway?), but we could also expect that such a system would engender hatred. What happens if I prefer green cars, but you prefer red cars? In the market, I can choose a green car and you a red car. If no one produces green cars, I can offer to trade for a green car. If, however, the decision of color is political, you and I would invariably be at one another's throat. If you persuade the majority to choose red, I will resent the color being forced upon me and blame you and your allies. I might devote time and effort into changing the state policy, angering you. On and on it goes. Political action is violent, and violence encourages further violence.

      So there. Now you can see why I didn't go ahead and post it.

      ...But I did have two other comments:

      1) A well known and fundamental law of economic theory is that, ceteris paribus, greater supply leads to lower prices, while greater demand leads to higher prices. The government has so far done a bang-up job restricting supply: the AMA arbitrarily caps the number of physicians, the FDA restricts the drug market, IP legislation protects pharmaceutical companies from competition, regulations burden health care providers, etc. The government will now increase the demand for medical services. How are prices supposed to fall again?

      2) I keep hearing this argument that, by increasing the risk pool, individual insurance premiums fall in price. Accepting this as true (which means assuming demand for insurance remains fixed... which, come on), that's all fine and dandy, but what does this do for actual health care costs? OK, more people have insurance, and the individual premiums have fallen. Does a doctor still charge the same for his services? Does the hospital still charge X for a CT scan? I don't see how the real cost of providing health care falls; I only see it being paid differently. The total cost to society doesn't change; and if more medical care is paid through insurance, we can expect there to be greater consumption of medical care.

      Here it's important to remember that insurance is merely a way for the individual to lessen the burden of paying medical costs. If I am diagnosed with a condition that will requires $100,000 of treatment to combat, I could look to my savings, become more productive and sell future labor. Or I could have insured myself against this condition, so that my out-of-pocket expenses are only, say, $1000; the rest of the cost picked up by the insurance fund. The latter option means great savings for me. It does not, however, change the fact that the treatment costs $100,000. To treat my condition, $100,000 of society's wealth must be consumed, even if my own direct loss is only 1% of that. Perhaps I'll have more money on hand to invest or consume for my own satisfaction, there is still $99,000 taken from other people's investment or consumption.

    • Cometgreen

      This is your government, ladies n germs

      5 years ago

      I've received a letter from the Census Bureau informing me that, a week from now, I'm going to receive another letter.

      Thank God for that. Who knows what might happen if I wasn't forewarned?

      Though I have a sneaking suspicion that my Census form will be lost in the government's postal system.

  • Comments (24)

    • DoNothing69

      DoNothing69

      5 years ago

      Yeah, just call me stupid. That'll make you right. That is how you prove a point. Well done. Hope you feel like a big man.

    • Chi_Mangetsu

      Chi_Mangetsu

      5 years ago

      Seriously. Wasn't that table stolen from the set of That 70s Show?

    • Chi_Mangetsu
    • DoNothing69

      DoNothing69

      5 years ago

      I contend that a slave would rather be free and shelterless than be a slave with shelter. I contend that to prefer not being whipped is not to enjoy being a slave in any dictionary definition of the word "enjoy". I contend that nobody has used the "weaker sense" of that word for 100 years and I also contend that you are a dogmatic idiot. So far you have shown me nothing to believe that any of these contentions are false.

    • DiMono

      DiMono It's Back Baby!

      5 years ago

      Most of your posts over the past 9 days in the BAR have been about all the ways in which taxation is similar to slavery. You may not have said it outright, but certainly follows from the arguments you're presenting.

    • DoNothing69

      DoNothing69

      5 years ago

      Do you disagree that a slave got shelter, food, clothing, medical care and other goods? Do you disagree that, by choosing to work, a slave believed he would continue to enjoy these goods and keep his family and his body safe from harm?


      Yes I do. The fact that you use the word "enjoy" shows me you are completely distanced from reality. I've got nothing more to say on this matter because you are clearly not rational enough to even begin to think about what you are saying or to go off and do some research about the history of slavery in America. So as much fun as this little back and forth is (which is no fun at all) I really don't have any desire to try to persuade you that being a slave was a tough life.

      Post edited 7/08/10 8:07AM

    • DoNothing69

      DoNothing69

      5 years ago

      Why, sir, do you think a slave worked?


      If you don't know or can't work it out then you are beyond help.

    • BobLablaw

      BobLablaw

      5 years ago

      Seriously dude, look at your arguments, that's exactly how you sound.

      You've always talked about how because it benefits the private enterprise to not screw people over by creating a loyal, happy consumer base, they won't.

    • Chi_Mangetsu

      Chi_Mangetsu

      5 years ago

      May I suggest some Nagel? Read some Nagel.

    • Euronymous

      Euronymous

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the FR, dude. :D