06-06-19 2:12Are they coming for the Birth Control?

LadyLibber: I read that the latest restrictions on abortion are just a start. There is already a push to tighten access to birth control. Companies will be able to opt out of having their health insurance cover it.

ConservaGal: Women are constantly saying, "Stay outta my uterus! You have no business in my reproductive rights!" But in the very next breath it's "Pay for my birth control!" Women want the government to pay for their sleeping around! It has become ridiculous.

Whoa, how did this ever get to be about women demanding free pills? What is ridiculous is how far this spin has diverged from what is actually occurring.

The original point of contention is a provision of Obamacare which stipulated that religious institutions could not impose a conscience clause to prohibit the insurance carrier who covers their employees from covering birth control.

So, first of all, women expecting their health insurance to cover birth control is not them asking for a handout from the government. It is expecting the high cost of a preventative prescription to be covered by their insurance company just like any other prescription. Having insurance covering your health needs isn't any kind of freebie, either. It's not given to you as a gift by your employer, it is part of the benefits that you earn in exchange for your work.

So the health care coverage of your insurance is earned, by you. Women expecting their insurance to cover women's health needs, even reproductive health needs, is not inappropriate, especially in light of the fact that the insurance companies routinely cover Viagra.

Second of all, the main contention is whether religious employers should get to operate under "different" rules than any other kind of employer, to which the short and obvious answer is no.

So this entire controversy was started over a tiny segment of the population - women who work for religious institutions which offer health insurance who want birth control. Turning this into a crusade against a nation of sluts demanding the government subsidize their constant fucking makes no sense.

Except that, only by painting this as an issue of 'real women vs. irresponsible sluts who want handouts,' can the Republicans expect their views on women to be supported by women on Election Day.

MuppetMom: The Fed sticks its nose into EVERY aspect of our lives. The federal government (here in the US) has grown too big.

The government is us. You might as well say the United States is too big. Perhaps it is. But "bigness" - or lack thereof - is not the determining factor of what works. What we need is systems that are the right size for the job.

The United States is a very big society. Some big systems are required to organize it all. And we have big problems. Big solutions are the only thing that can work for problems of this size which concern this many people.

MuppetMom: It's edged out other societal institutions that would be better suited to meeting the needs of society, including family.

I disagree that our current system could be run with the family unit as the main source of all sustenance. For one thing, even when it was the main source, it was not reliable - some people do not have family, or cannot maintain ties with them. Not everyone can turn to family for help. For another, in a complex post-industrial society the means of many families are barely able to support a single nuclear unit, and they do not have additional resources to support another nuclear unit. This is becoming more the case rather than less.

So what happens when governments don't provide social services, and leave only family to meet the needs of society? You only have to look one country south, at the four million people living in mud slums in Mexico City, to see how far relying on Grandma and Uncle goes in an industrial economy.

The United States is doing what works to prevent abject poverty. If we want to run a society of nuclear families competing in a corporate marketplace, we have to have systematic solutions for everyone to survive the process, even if they lose the competition.

MuppetMom: But the gov't...THAT'S who people think ought to come to the rescue every time.

The government is the system of our group. It is our job to rescue the people in our group using the system we have invented for doing this.

MuppetMom: It's nonsense if you ask me...and as you demonstrated, in conflict with what nature provided for us.

I completely disagree that helping other humans survive through formal means is in conflict with what nature provides. On the contrary, it is humans doing exactly what humans are created by nature to do, only doing it better, systematically, so that none are excluded, and so the burden is shared so widely that it rests as lightly as possible on everyone.

MuppetMom: Folks who believe the pill to be immoral are a little silly, if you ask me. Those who would insist that the pill be made available to any and all who need it, regardless of ability to pay, are equally silly.

There is nothing silly about better health outcomes for women and children.

What is silly is making "ability to pay" a criteria for who gets access to birth control. That is doing it exactly backwards. The less able people are to pay, the more they need birth control, and the better the outcomes are when their segment of the socioeconomic scale is saturated with effective birth control availability.

Why be chintzy with the birth control of all things? If we are concerned with the "bigness" of our system, we should utilize one of the most effective means for limiting its size.

MuppetMom: The gov't has taken over things that are better left to the family, to the church, to business. It's fair to expect adults to take care of the babies they make, or to prevent making them, all without the government's involvement.

Where does it work like that?


MuppetMom: I can't believe your sunshiny view of the American government. It's a bureacracy. The more people involved in reaching a compromise, the less effective the solutions become.

What country has more effective solutions than the U.S. by using less collective action?

MuppetMom: But since they tax me, my family, my neighbors and my community so highly...

"So highly?" Compared to who? People in the United States pay some of the lowest taxes in the developed world, by a lot. What country has a tax structure you think would be more fair to you?

MuppetMom: ....then I can only cross my fingers and hope they don't fuck it up too badly.

Well when has that ever been different? That is life for every human who has ever lived.

Compare the U.S. to the countries who leave the social bottom up to the family, the church, and business. Between the U.S. and those countries, who is fucking it up more badly?

MuppetMom: I'm so looking forward to a grand and glorious revolution.

By who, to achieve what?


MuppetMom: Okay, so this birth control pill thing...individual values vary as you travel across this land. While we each have our own ideas about what is realistic and/or reasonable based in part on our own values.

That is why it is so important to not simply act out of ideology, but instead look outside one's own ideas and examine the reality itself to find out what actually works.

A thorough examination of reality shows that the "traditional values"-based approach to human sexuality is an utter failure. Values-based education - such as "abstinence-only" programs - actually drive up teen pregnancy and STD rates. Birth control based on chastity has a notorious user-failure rate. It just doesn't work.

There is nothing at all to gain from continuing to pretend that there is somehow something "wrong" with birth control. It is a great advancement for humankind and it works to create tremendously better outcomes for individuals and for the entire society. It is an important tool of women's equality.

And it is vitally needed. Achieving effective birth control saturation across the globe should be one of humanity's highest priorities, especially now as population threatens to overwhelm the ecosystems that keep us alive.

There is just no excuse for continued Dark Age foot-dragging on this issue. And there is no more time for it either. People need to face the truth about what works.

MuppetMom:People are entitled to their own values.

Since when does that translate into choosing what their insurance company covers for everyone else, or where every cent of their tax dollars go? We can't have a fair society if people can pick and choose who not to help based on their personal prejudices.

MuppetMom: In a liberal community, whatever, right? But in a community where the majority feel birth control pills to be immoral it's fair for them to choose not to pay for them.

Are we still talking about the religious businesses trying to get around the birth control coverage clause in Obamacare?

Let me see...where were these moral protesters when their tax dollars were paying to lock up immigrant children in cages? Where are these great resisters of moral oppression by the state while they are funding the world's largest prison population? Where is their moral outrage when they are paying to kill people with drones in the Middle East?

Or is it their insurance premiums they are worried about? Where was this great moral protest when the insurance companies were denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions? Where was this great concern to make sure their contribution is not used for immorality when insurance companies make obscenely large profits by systematically denying as much care to sick people as possible - and by specultive Wall Street gambling?

If these same people are "allowing" most of their financial contribution to pay for atrocities beyond reckoning, there is no moral justification for drawing the line at birth control - the application of which helps them personally, by upgrading the quality of life in their community. They can't even see the moral high ground from where they are.

This entire controversy is a manufactured bit of phony moral outrage over something that is none of their business, like the sexual choices of others. If people really wanted to demand morality from their healthcare system, they should start by demanding a system which really produces better health outcomes for the entire society, like single-payer.


MuppetMom: It feels like we're both bringing the entirety of everything into this discussion...it's hard to remember exactly what we're discussing.

I am discussing your previous statement from the beginning of the thread: "It's fair to expect adults to take care of the babies they make, or to prevent making them, all without the government's involvement."

I am saying, no it isn't, and no, it isn't. It is not fair to expect people to raise kids with no help from society because humans have never done that, are not made to do that. It is not fair to expect humans to reliably prevent unintentional pregnancy without help from society because people have never done that, are not made to do that, in fact are made to do the exact opposite.

Expecting the impossible for your plan to work is not a reasonable plan. It is not "fair."

MuppetMom: My main point is that some folks would consider it a success if their community had no abortions and no people using birth control. To them, it would probably be defined as a community that doesn't kill babies.

Some folks would consider it a success if their community had no gay sex. To them, it would probably be defined as a community that doesn't have abominations before God, or some such thing.

Well, they would simply be wrong. For one thing, it is not reasonable to make "success" comprised of anti-behavioral goals that no human community has ever succeeded in achieving. For two, it is not reasonable to hang the entire weight of that success on the private sexual behavior of others. For three, trying to achieve this requires prohibition, and inquisition into the most private matters of people's life, like when and who they have sex with. For four, the practice in question would not be prevented, it would simply move into the shadows, with all the guilt and deception and pathology which comes from shameful secrets.

And for five, they would be factually incorrect. Birth control does not kill babies, homosexuality is not abomination, etc.

I don't care what these hypothetical people "think" their values are, the meaness of this proposition makes it not a value. The enforcement violates values that are far more important than when and who. And, it is all based around untruth. These kinds of things are not really values. They are just scapegoating.

Are we supposed to be crafting the laws to accomodate "values" which are cruelly wrong?

MuppetMom: I may not agree with people who feel that way, but my disagreement wouldn't invalidate their values.

Your disagreement doesn't. The fact that their values are discriminatory, invasive and incorrect is what invalidates them.

MuppetMom: Their behavior is reasonable based on their values.

Lynching behavior is reasonable based on a (at one time) very common set of American values. Does that make it actually reasonable? Are we supposed to therefore legally accomodate it somehow? Maybe by allowing some people to opt out of the no-lynching laws with a "conscience clause"?

The point is, just because someone claims this is their "values," that is no reason society at large has to act on it. "Values" like this cannot be a source for public policy, particularly when the policy derivatives of these "values" are known to be spectacular failures.

That is what I mean when I say, we have to do what works. Values that don't work have no actual value.

05-05-19 5:20One Less Yacht

ConservaGal: Just look at the way they tax us in this country! My parents help less people when it comes to giving $ to families to buy Christmas gifts and meals, donating to food banks and buying coats for kids etc. They used to have so much fun doing that, but now they are forced to hand over huge amounts to the government so they cant be as reckless in their charity drives.

This makes no sense. If your parents are American, they are paying less in taxes now than they used to. American taxes are at an all-time low. American federal taxes are among the lowest in the developed world.

Your parents must be spending the extra money on something else.

ConservaGal: No, they own a business, just as their buxiness taxes when down then their house taxes went way, way up. They get taxed on the business a lot, taxed on their income and then their house taxes are high. They still give to charity but they have to be pickier in their charities since they already give a lot thru taxes.

That is the cost of owning a business. I'm not seeing how this is unfair.

Also, property taxes don't go to the federal government, they go primarily to state and local governments to finance services for everyone, like education and emergency responders. Again, the cost of doing business, of having a decent society with a good standard of living.

If we weren't spending so much on the military, we could bring our social services up to Finnish standards, and then there would be far fewer poor children to worry about at Christmastime. What your parents have to give would be more than enough.

ConservaGal: Taxes hurt charities. When the weathly are forced to give more to government (no matter how it is used) they don't want to be as generous when it comes to charities.

If the wealthy want more money to give to charity they can have one less yacht.

4-20-19 5:22Vipassana and Non-Attachment

Hello there! As I mentioned in an earlier thread, the key to avoiding the traps which can be used to control you, as well as the natural hazards of life which can destroy your happiness, is non-attachment. What I'm wondering is, does anyone here practice non-attachment? If so, what form does it take in your life? If not, why not?

EllieFriend: What do you mean by non-attachment?

Non-attachment is a practice of Buddhism where you avoid being overly attached to getting what you want. You can learn to think of many of your wants and needs as mere preferences. Then, if they happen to be fulfilled, fine, but if not, it's not upsetting or destructive to your happiness.

EllieFriend: Sounds a lot like what the Christian practice is supposed to be.

Somewhat, but not in all respects. I think that attachment to "Heaven not Hell" is one of the biggest threats Christianity uses to attempt to coerce adherence.

EllieFriend: I do wonder how this works with setting goals for oneself? It seems like a good way to be a leaf blowing in the wind and not really taking responsibility for your direction.

I disagree. I don't find Buddhists or people who practice non-attachment to be any less adept at meeting goals than anyone else.

Non-attachment doesn't mean you don't think about the future or don't try to make things happen. It means that if, for some reason, your goal is not met, you don't let it destroy you emotionally.

EllieFriend: Cool, well then I guess I do this quite often. But my friends do it rarely. I know people with no chill. :-)

The one thing I've noticed that people seem very attached to is not waiting. For example, if I'm waiting to check out at the grocery store and the checker needs to call a manager for some reason, everybody in line just starts having a spaz. "What the hell is this? Don't they know I have places to BE! Why me!?"

I just try to throw a little non-attachment on the situation. I figure, I may as well be in line as anywhere else. I try not to let things like that get me upset.

This works in traffic too. It's easy to get impatient when people cut me off or drive like loons, which they do around here a lot. But I figured out that there is just no reason to EVER get upset while behind the wheel. It's just not safe. So, I try to not be attached to having traffic be the way I would like. I get to my destination in a much better mood. :-)

EllieFriend: It has always been my understanding that in Buddhism it is important to be aware of stimuli and the natural feelings that arise from them, acknowledge the feelings, and then move on. Am I right?

This is my understanding as well.

My husband used to write a kind of Zen advice column for Buddhists, and this reminded me of one of the letters he answered, so I thought I'd post it here:

Questioner: How can you say, "oh, don't worry!" ....we can't walk around all the time saying to ourselves, "oh, i'm not attached." what happens if, you know, someone you love gets hurt, or your dog runs out into the road...and you're supposed to be like, oh....i'm not attached....what about emotions?

DJ Swarm: Answer: There was a master whose son died. While he was burying him, he was weeping openly.

His disciples were very disturbed by this. They asked, why do you weep so when you have taught us not to be attached?

He said, I weep because I am sad.

Being unattached doesn't mean you are a rock. It's not the same as being detached where you have no feelings or try to deny them. Non-attachment means you let the feelings take their normal course without seeking them out, trying to hold them, trying to get rid of them, or trying to remake them.

When you are not sad, you are not sad.
When you are sad, you are sad.
When you are done being sad, you are done being sad.

Non-attachment is accepting life as it is without any extra effort on your part. It is trusting your ability to act as you should using your inborn nature.

I say don't worry, because worry is the start of attachment. If something happens you will handle it as you do and you will learn if you need to. All the parts are there and working if you can relax a bit and let them.

EllieFriend: Now, the one thing I can't do this with is my husband and kids.

I have considered this a lot myself.

I once attended a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat. No telephone, no reading, no talking, nothing but ten days of total silence, meditation and simple food.

I thought I was going to go nuts. It wasn't so much the silence, or the boredom, or even the separation from my family, but just the fact that I had to go for ten straight days without a single word from my husband to reassure me that my kids were okay.

I was haunted by terrible visions of everything that could possibly go wrong; I would get home and find that they had tumbled off the porch and broken their teeth, or stabbed themselves in the eye with a fork, or they had pulled boiling mac-n-cheese off the stove and were covered with permanent scars...you name it, no matter how crazy or impossible it was, I tortured myself with the thought of it, day in and day out.

I didn't think I was going to make it. Not everyone did...a couple of people from my group left after Day 3 and another bailed on Day 5. I was tempted to do the same. But, I had promised myself that I would stick with it, make it through, no matter what. So I continued to sit. Yet I felt like a real failure, because much of the time I wasn't actually meditating - I was just sitting there worrying. Here was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to gain enlightenement and I was blowing it!

Finally, around Day 6, I realized that there was just nothing that I could do, no way that I could find anything out, and so I had to stop inflicting these horrible visions on myself. I figured that if there was an actual emergency, someone would contact me, and unless that happened, I had to stop thinking about it. There was no other way I could survive.

It was on that day I realized that this is what all the damn meditation is for - to teach a brain to stop thinking on command. When I stopped thinking about my worries, stopped fueling them by providing them with my attention, they just went away. I had to be having thoughts about them for them to exist. Without my attention, those thoughts were gone.

Once I realized this, the last few days were a piece of cake.

Oh, I still spent time worrying about the kids. I came to feel that there is a real biological component to this, and that a little worry was perfectly natural, healthy, and pretty much unavoidable. But whenever I realized that's what I was thinking about, I was able to stop thinking about it and focus my attention elsewhere.

Most importantly, I stopped beating myself up over it. I realized that I was not wasting my enlightenment experience - I was having it. I had learned that when there is nothing to be done, and no possible action to contemplate, then spending time in worry is just a waste of energy and needless suffering. And if figuring this out wasn't enlightenment, then what is, and how could it matter?

There is no doubt that if ...something...were to happen to my hubby or kids, I would experience terrible grief, probably for the rest of my life. But I know now that I need not spend the rest of my life as a casualty myself. I can give the matter the thought and emotion it deserves, however much that is, and then...let it go.

In the meantime, I don't have to let worry and fear for what might happen diminish the happiness we are sharing together right now.

4-02-19 7:34Wonder Broom

Enty: Instead of resenting the rich, you should work harder to be like them. Anyone can become rich in this country. Even a janitor can make it big.

Marty Graw: Just how exactly are janitors able to make it big in this country?

Enty: My guess is that if the janitor were to come up with a new invention, improve on the broom - he wouldn't be a janitor anymore but most likely a multi-millionaire.

It really doesn't work like that. Even supposing there was some kind of innovation to sweeping, what could a janitor possibly do to mass produce and market a new kind of broom? It costs millions of dollars to manufacture a product. He doesn't have the money to create a new manufacturing production line, let alone buy advertising and pay salespeople and have a booth at trade shows and schmooze retailers and every other thing you have to do to launch a new product.

The only thing he could do is possibly approach the O'Cedar corporation and arrange a meeting with their new product development department. They might possibly pay him a one-time fee, maybe even several thousand dollars, to take his idea and develop it, but that wouldn't really change his social class, and he would lose all rights to it.

Conversely, he could just make a few of his Wonder Brooms and sell them at the swap meet or maybe on Ebay. If they were really amazing, and he ended up selling a few hundred of them, and there started to be some buzz about this amazing new broom, he might be approached by the O'Cedar company, and they would buy his idea and continue to develop it. But there is no way they would just let him found a rival broom company even if he had the means and the skill. Plus, inventing a broom and turning it into a marketable product and running a successful manufacturing company all require vastly different skill sets.

Just ask yourself, how many rags-to-riches invention stories have you heard lately? Zuckerberg and Bezos don't count, they started wealthy and didn't invent anything new anyway. Jobs and Wozniak are closer, but that was fifty years ago. In today's market, only corporations introduce new products.

Enty: New drugs to cure our health problems are coming from scientists, New medical procedures to make recovery quicker are come from Doctors. New studies to prove to us what we already know are coming from our professors, etc.

Actually, all those are coming from teams of scientists and engineers, which include fairly high income earners all the way down to interns. Practially nothing is the work of an individual inventor. And these teams of developers make a lot of money for the corporations they work for, but they aren't becoming millionaires themselves over it. Most scientists, engineers, doctors and professors are working people in the upper middle class at most, not multi-millionaires.

Enty: My guess is that those with the newest brightest idea are either in the mid-upper class or will soon be there.

The only story I can think of even close to this in recent years is the rise of YouTube, which was founded by three former PayPal employees with venture capital and purchased by Google for $1.65 billion. I would imagine that pushed them up into the actual upper class. But it sure doesn't happen that way very often. In almost every case, bright ideas make money for the people who own them, NOT the ones who think of them.

3-31-19 8:45Consulting Scripture

Mel: There are many ways to interpret scripture, obviously. When you want to find out the truth, how do you come to your interpretation? Is it based on what you have been taught? Based on research and drawing a conclusion based on context? Based on what feels like the right interpretation from your perspective?

I don't think scripture contains anything that we can't find out any other way.

Trying to figure out what they were saying can be interesting, but if you want to figure out how things are, I would say forget scripture and just look at how things are.

01-04-19 11:22Live and Don't Let Live

Rayanne: I have no use for any religion or faith. Religion is outdated and oppressive and we, as humans, should be able to have faith in the inherent good of each other rather than a mystical being.

Consider Buddhism. Its principles stand today as ever and it doesn't have a mystical being. It requires no faith.

Rayanne: My biggest beef with Christianity is them trying to push their beliefs onto the general public, and using the Bible as their reasoning to justify it.

My biggest beef with Christianity is that it does not seem to be true.

Rayanne: Well I agree. To me it is a big lie. But, to each their own, right?

What of the truth?

Rayanne: I just don't want it shoved into my life. Other than that I can ignore it.

It is inescapable.

This is why Christianity is such a bother. I am surrounded by this bizarre, gruesome story, which appears to be a cultural mythology like any other, yet one which almost every person I know buys into to a lesser or greater degree. Usually greater. I am expected to treat it as if it is true, or at least "might" be, even though there is no reason to think so. It is significantly affecting the politics and character of our nation - and not for the better.

If Christianity is not true - and it does not seem to be - then having this false story dominate our culture is a problem. It represents a major disconnect with reality. How can I ignore it?

Rayanne: Maybe you can't. But, it doesn't help for you to ask "What of the truth?" like some holier-than-thou. Now you sound exactly like the evangelical christians, they believe that their beliefs are the truth as well.

They have no evidence that their claims are the truth. In fact there is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Rayanne: Why not just live and let live?

There is no person that I have not "let live." However if you mean that I should not challenge an apparent lie, why not?

Rayanne: Why not teach by example of how you would want to be treated?

I treat people exactly as I would wish to be treated.

Rayanne: I agree with you on this part, but honestly, your approach is no different than those you disagree with. This doesn't feel like it is the best way.

"This" being what? Mentioning it?

12-21-18 5:22Happy Santa Time

A lot of religious people have told me that they can "just tell" that their religion is the correct one. They have looked deep inside, with prayer or meditation, and God has provided them with spiritual confirmation of their ideas.

How could this possibly work? I then ask. If God, or the Holy Spirit, or whatever, is telling you that your religious beliefs are correct, why isn't He telling people of other religions that they are wrong? Or worse, why do people of other religions also think that God is telling them they are correct, when their ideas are completely different?

Well, often comes the reply, they are just wrong. Those people aren't doing it right - they are not sincere enough, or not really trying, or have too much ego, etc. Or, those people are deceived - by unscrupulous preachers, or by Satan, or demons or whatever. But why would most of the people on some continents have these problems, when most of the people on other continents don't?

So how does this work? How come people in your religion can get the truth straight from God but people in other religions can't?

Stella: Everyone is right about their religion. It's right for that individual.

Sorry, you have misunderstood. I don't mean "right for you," I mean actually correct, as in, statements which correspond accurately to what they describe.

Some people claim they can "just tell" that their religion is an accurate description of reality. Except what they can "just tell" is accurate is different from what someone else can "just tell." So clearly, they cannot "just tell" that the statements of their religion are accurate descriptions of anything real.

Kathy: What you can use to measure what is real truth?

You can check the statements against reality to see if they are accurate.

Kathy: I use the bible to see if what somebody saying is the truth.

Unfortunately this does not work.

Stella: But what YOU are talking about is personal truth.

Not at all. People claim they can "just tell" their religion is true. If a religion was true the claims would be true for everyone.

Let me give you an example. A poster in this forum once wrote that she knows the Book of Mormon is true. She said she had prayed on it and the Holy Spirit had revealed it to her. But, I also know an ex-Mormon, now evangelical, who claims the Holy Spirit specifically revealed to her that the Book of Mormon is not true. That is why she is not Mormon any more.

Well, either the Book of Mormon is true, and the claims of Mormonism are true, or they aren't. It's not "personal." Either it is an accurate description of the state of reality, or it isn't.

So, one of them is simply wrong. Her ability to "just tell" is not working, and she's thinking the Holy Spirit is telling her something which is not the case.

I know a Hindu, former Christian, who can just feel in her heart that Hinduism is more accurate than Christianity. I know lots of Muslims who can "just tell" that Islam is correct about Jesus being just a prophet, so Christians are incorrect to claim Him a Son of God. I know Christians who can just tell that Christianity is right about Jesus being a Son of God. I know some who can just tell that the Bible is right about a literal woman-from-rib creation. Etc.

Clearly, at least some of them are not getting the right message from God, and on a pretty important topic - What God Wants. At least some of these people think they can just tell What God Wants, but what they think He is telling them is wrong - if what He tells others is correct.

Obviously, this ability to somehow "just tell" if your religion is the correct one doesn't work for the majority of people. At least. Perhaps it does not work for anyone.

So, if you want to know what is true, you have to actually find out. Just feeling it in your heart is not reliable.

Stella: The Christian God is real enough to Christians, because they believe and put enough energy into this to make it real.


Stella: A God becomes a God by the power that people give him/her/it, in a way.

That would make my husband a god.


Stella: In a way, I agree. Santa is real to children, when they grow out of their faith or are convinced otherwise he becomes a nice fairy tale. Same with any God, if you believe in them they have a power.

I'm glad you agree that gods are like Santa. However I hope you can see that having grownups and decision-makers who believe in Santa is very detrimental to society. Here's why:

1) Santa is obviously false. There is zero evidence to support any kind of supernatural being who gives presents, and all tales ascribed to this being are obviously impossible according to all that we can observe. Trying to keep the Santa story believed, with zero evidence and in contradiction of observable reality, drains a huge amount of effort and will to reason out of society.

2) Believing that there is a magical being who will give you what you want, in contradiction with all the laws of nature, shows a profound departure from understanding actual reality and real cause and effect. Not understanding what is really happening is a great source of error.

3) Believing that there is a magical being who will give you what you want changes people's approach to getting what they want. For example they feel they will get what they want if they write letters or beg for it, or that they will get what they want if they are very, very good. However this also represents a profound departure from understanding reality. And, is extremely difficult to continually rationalize.

4) Particularly troubling is when people make decisions based on what they think Santa wants, or what will get them on The Good List. Since there is, in fact, no observable Santa, every person attributes their own personal agenda to Santa and then says it's from Him. There is no reality check on what makes The Good List as decided by "Santa."

5) Believing different details about Santa is very devisive. Is Rudolf real too? Did he really save Christmas? Some people think you have to believe in Santa AND Rudolf, and some don't. Who is right? There is no way to check. Such conflicts are forever unresolvable and are a never-ending source of friction and violence.

6) Believing in "Santa" correlates very negatively in measures of societal health. Countries where belief in supernatural beings who give you what you want is low end up having higher measures of social success, such as better health and fewer social problems. The gains of understanding actual reality and understanding what works are measurable.

11-20-18 1:54Give a Fish

Merican: Giving out public assistance is like feeding strays. It just attracts more and then they breed!

We need to cut off the food supply. Don't give hand outs like PA. People just become dependent on it. Remove the PA and they will straighten up and get a job, or just starve. Either way, problem solved.

Countries without public assistance have lots and lots of beggars. They line the streets up and down in throngs everywhere you go. Obviously, a lack of PA didn't make these people straighten up and get a job, or just starve.

The problem is not with feeding people.

First of all, you feed them either way. People don't stop eating because you stop feeding. They don't go away and starve to death, neatly solving your problem. Neither do they automatically go get a job. Very often, they turn to desperate measures like crime and begging. So you feed them in jail, or with theft, and you pay for it by living in a place where there are large masses of desperate hungry people about and it is not safe to walk the streets. That is a lot more expensive than giving the food up front.

Second of all, a major problem is that we are not providing people on PA with any education or training. Chronic PA users consist overwhelmingly of people with almost no education. If people don't know how to be self-supporting or don't have the skills for a decent job, are we expecting them to figure it out from watching television?

Rationing education is resulting in far too many people who cannot get their shit together. Education should be freely available to all comers. People on PA should be provided with self-support classes, along with a lot of other basics, like a college curriculum.

After WWII we handed out a huge number of college educations to men on the G.I. Bill. This brain boom resulted in a massive expansion of the middle class and created the huge economic surge that made the U.S. a superpower.

We already acknowledge that we must provide our citizens an education. Every person grows up with schooling regardless of their means. That was even enough, a few generations ago. But now we need to step up and provide continuing education the same way we provide basic education. If people on PA were provided continuing education they would every means to become self-supporting.

I'm surprised no one mentions the old saw about teaching a man to fish. That is the least we could do.

Ben's Mom: Didn't Bill Clinton change the welfare laws so people have to work, or go to school? We already tried making them learn to fish!

I'm not saying that we demand an education from people. I am saying that we should provide it to them.

The poorest people have no way to provide for their own education. You can't just show up at a campus and enroll in classes as an adult the way you can as a kid. If you can't afford to pay, you have to apply for grants and scholarships, and not everyone qualifies. For every one who gets into school that way, there are many applicants who are turned down.

I am saying there should be public school, available to all, through college level. This is how it works in Finland. They have full public education, lifelong. They also have the best educated population in the world.

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