06-25-19 9:45  •  Capitalism "vs" Socialism

Lawrence: The problem in this country is socialism versus capitalism.

The problem is that people do not understand either. Capitalism and socialism are not opposites. They are not mutually exclusive. Capitalism is only half of a system. Socialism is the other half. They can only work together.

A wise society would utilize both to the fullest.

Lawrence: Socialism is an economic theory or idea that states that the government or the state should be in charge of economic planning, production and distribution of goods.

I know that this is the prevailing understanding. However I would consider that "Sovetism," or control by planning council.

And I think most can agree it would not work.

I am proposing something different.

I have studied this, and I would say that socialism is not an economic system and is not trying to be. Socialism is a system of providing for social needs with social services.

Capitalism should manage planning, production and distribution of goods, exactly like it does right now.

Socialism is what you then implement as a system to care for your society by providing services to everyone like healthcare and education. This is very similar to what we do now also.

Our country uses both right now. Canada uses both right now. They happen to be balancing their capitalism with their socialism a bit better than we are. It is working for them. "Mixed Economies," part-captialist-part-socialist, are working in all the richest economies of the West.

Capitalism without socialism is a winner-take-all system which leaves nothing for the losers. Socialism without capitalism has no way to pay for itself. They must be used together. Neither will work alone.

06-21-19 4:28  •  Getting It

Esmay: I really don't know if this can get through to a disbeliever. You just don't have what it takes to understand. If you did, you would believe like I do.

What, exactly, is meant by "disbeliever" here? Do you mean anybody who doesn't believe in God? Anybody who doesn't believe in Christianity? Anybody who doesn't believe in some Christian or Abrahamic tenets which you believe? Or, anybody who doesn't believe everything you believe?

Terry: Way to prove Esmay's point. Those who don't believe want to "nit-pick" these little things rather than seeing the bigger picture.

Who she is talking about here is not a "little thing."

Who is Esmay saying "doesn't get it"? Atheists? Or all non-theists? Including Buddhists?

Esmay: I just know disbelievers cannot experience God the way I experience Him.

This is the Colorblind Proposal.

You are suggesting that I lack a faculty or sense awareness that you possess. However, there is no evidence of this.

Esmay: No, I'm not! I mean, I didn't mean YOU. You chose to think I meant you.

You are talking to me. Who was I supposed to think you meant?

In any case, even if this had nothing to do with me, I don't think you are correct to apply this to the disbelievers you are "actually" referrring to, whoever they are, by saying that they have chosen to be spiritually colorblind. Even the atheists I know can feel all the same things you do.

There is no reason to accuse any normal person of having a spiritual deficiency - particularly not based on whether you think they are a "disbeliever."

06-18-19 4:28  •  Partying in College

René Gade: Do you think kids should be able to test out of high school to move up to college? I think, only if they have perfect grades should they be allowed to. They have to prove they can do well in college.

All throughout grade school and high school I had terrible grades. I could pass the tests, but I never did homework or assignments. It was boring, it was stupid, no one ever explained to me any reason why I should participate. I learned way more just by reading than by listening to any of the lectures. I dropped out of high school.

I got my GED, and when I got to college it all turned around. I excelled, I had a 3.98 gpa, I was in Honors and graduated with Highest Distinction.

High school grades are a very poor measure of actual intelligence and ability. Kids should take the test if they think they can pass. Taking the test and passing it would be a good enough indicator of what has actually been learned.

I should point out that tests aren't always accurate either, however. Some very intelligent people don't test well. People should have the opportunity to show competence in other ways too, like with recommendations from educators, well-accomplished projects, etc.

René Gade: I have always been goal-oriented, and it was still very hard for me to keep on track in college, and not turn into a complete partier who flunked out.

Well, it's interesting how that worked out. I think the main reason my folks agreed to let me leave high school to try college is because in HS I was cutting class and hanging out in the smoking area with all the flunkies and stoners. I think my folks thought I would get a better class of friends in college who would stay away from drugs and not be losers.

When I got to college I did start hanging around with a better class of friends, and I learned a very interesting thing about them - the winners were all stoners too. The Phi Beta Kappas, the president of the Student Association, the lead tech in the computer lab, the Dean's List kids, the Valedictorian...all total potheads.

One of the great things I learned in college from these folks is how to party without jeopardizing my studies. There is room in life for both.

06-15-19 4:28  •  Is Belief Like Love?

Lydia: I am not smart enough to come up with a reason why I believe in God and Jesus. I believe because I want to, lol.

That seems like a reason to me.

But of course, this reason can be examined like any other. It is interesting to consider the reasons why you *want* to believe this particular interlocking set. If you had been born and raised in the Hindu culture, what you wanted to believe would almost certainly include names like Krishna and Ganesh instead of God and Jesus. If you had been born in Greece around 400 BC, what you wanted to believe in might involve Zeus and Apollo, Hera and Aphrodite. Rather than praying and going to church, what you wanted to do might involve worshipping at a shrine. It's important to keep in mind that practically ALL the specifics are only culture-deep.

Lydia: It's like trying to come up with a scientific reason why I love my husband.

Science has come up with a lot of scientific reasons why you love your husband. It's not a huge mystery. But just because it involves hormones and pheromones and evolutionary biology doesn't make it any less magnificent. How could it?

I'm sure understanding the reality of the divine would not take away the slightest from its magnificence.

Lydia: You have faith in the role of scientific inquiry, rational inquiry. You have faith in that process. You are as much a man of faith as I am.

Ugh, this is another conceit of religious debate that I find completely unwarranted.

There is a huge difference between thinking something is true because there is evidence of it and having faith that something is true in the absence of evidence.

Scientific inquiry has demonstrated that it works because it produces results that work. You don't need faith to think that. It is readily observable.

There is nothing observable to confirm articles of faith like "Jesus was the Son of God."

They are not equivalent.

Lydia: Maybe I've missed out on being completely informed on the other side, but so what?

Misinformation creates error. It's not always very significant on a personal level. But when large portions of the society are misinformed it produces a lot of error for the society.

Lydia: There will always be error, no matter which side it is coming from.

Yes. But error can be greatly reduced with accuracy.

No understanding is perfect, but some understandings can be shown to be far more accurate than others. They produce error, but much less.

Lydia: I'd have to conclude that everyone's choice regarding beliefs can be a detriment to society.

To what degree? Buddhism can hardly be argued to be a detriment to society. If a 2,500 year history almost entirely lacking in violence is any indication, some choices are clearly far, far less detrimental than others.

Not all belief choices are equivalent.

Lydia: One side will always claim the other side is misinformed.

Sometimes this claim can be supported with evidence.

Lydia: There is never going to be peace in religion or the belief systems as a whole so...

So let's just give up.

Lydia: ...since error is just part of life, and since this life isn't perfect this isn't even a debate. Error will always exist.


I guess your response to this depends on whether you want your society to flounder along, causing great harm with great error, with no way to determine where the error is occurring or how to fix it...or, if you want your society to utilize a system that provides for error correction and improvement, allowing for a gradual reduction in error and the corresponding suffering.

Yes, error will always exist, but that is hardly an excuse to ignore it. You can work for less error.

Lydia: Regarding religion/belief, I don't think one side is informed and the other is misinformed.

I'm not even sure who you are referring to as the "sides" here. Atheist vs. Theist? Christian vs. Hindu? Protestant vs. Cathlolic? Science vs. Religion?

"Sides," like people, are usually informed about some things and misinformed about other things.

However there is such a thing as being well-informed. Some people and some positions seem to be better informed than others, as demonstrated by verification.

Lydia: To be quite honest, I have to wonder if all these "different gods" over time, since human history began, aren't really just different cultural expression of the same Divine.

They probably are. I think that would include even entirely non-theistic spiritual concepts, like Nirvana.

I would certainly not debate the existence of an observable spiritual reality. It seems obvious. However the specifics become debatable fast as they diverge from the observable.

Lydia: As for loving my husband - I don't think it's so simple.

I don't recall saying it was simple. It is amazingly complex.

Lydia: The chemistry can be duplicated, but the essence of the person cannot.

Whoa, I never implied it was reducible to chemistry. It seems to be the product of emergent systems.

Lydia: Science still hasn't come up with what makes a person a unique, individual personality. Even identical twins have different personalities.

Science cannot explain everything about human attraction but it doesn't mean there is some part of it that is magic, or fundamentally incomprehensible to humans. It seems to be naturally occurring. As it is studied, more can be learned about it. I would hardly consider it beyond possible understanding.

There are reasons why you love your husband. Maybe you should have as good of reasons to believe what you believe about God.

06-14-19 4:28  •  Swagger

MAGA-KAG: Trump in 2020! Trump is Keeping America Great. He is focused on America, and how the country can regain its swagger on the world stage.

ConservaMom: I agree! What did Obama ever do to for us internationally? I mean, he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but what for?

Libby: I think Obama won the Nobel Prize because he ended waterboarding.

MAGA-KAG: That's what I mean! Trump was right, we need waterboarding. Are you saying you *wouldn't* use it? Not even to save a million lives in a ticking-time-bomb scenario? That's on you!

And anyway, waterboarding is NOT TORTURE!

So you are okay with having it done to your family, then.

MAGA-KAG: In all fairness, members of MY family aren't the enemy!

Are you sure every single person who has been waterboarded by the United States was "the enemy"?

ConservaMom: Of course! I mean, there were news stories about what happened at Abu Ghraib...I am sure that anger and frustration gets the best of our military men and women and the individuals may not act appropriate...

That is why water boarding and other cruel treatment should be against policy. Making an exception in a "ticking timebomb scenario," understanding the legal consequences, is one thing, but when torture is allowed by policy, it is invariably misused and applied extrajudicially. As a result, many innocent people suffer horribly. That is wrong.

MAGA-KAG: Our own Navy Seals undergo waterboarding! Why don't you mention that part?

Because it is meaningless. The fact that Seals agreed to be tortured doesn't make it not torture.

The Seals are waterboarded in a torture-resistence training program called SERE - Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape.

Malcome Nance is a counter-terrorism expert who oversaw this training program and personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of Seals. Nance has this to say about waterboarding:


1. Waterboarding is a torture technique. Period. There is no way to gloss over it or sugarcoat it. It has no justification outside of its limited role as a training demonstrator. Our service members have to learn that the will to survive requires them accept and understand that they may be subjected to torture, but that America is better than its enemies and it is one’s duty to trust in your nation and God, endure the hardships and return home with honor.

2. Waterboarding is not a simulation. Unless you have been strapped down to the board, have endured the agonizing feeling of the water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs, you will not know the meaning of the word.

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. How much the victim is to drown depends on the desired result (in the form of answers to questions shouted into the victim’s face) and the obstinacy of the subject. A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience, to horrific suffocating punishment to the final death spiral.

Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.

Call it “Chinese Water Torture,” “the Barrel,” or “the Waterfall,” it is all the same. Whether the victim is allowed to comply or not is usually left up to the interrogator. Many waterboard team members, even in training, enjoy the sadistic power of making the victim suffer and often ask questions as an after thought. These people are dangerous and predictable and when left unshackled, unsupervised or undetected they bring us the murderous abuses seen at Abu Ghraieb, Baghram and Guantanamo.


MAGA-KAG: ....if it's that bad, do you really think we would do it to our own?

So you'd be willing to be waterboarded then?

MAGA-KAG: If I was a war criminal or apart of the military, I would expect this.

Are you absolutely certain that every single person who we tortured with waterboarding was a war criminal or part of the military?

And what about the naked human pyramids, sleep deprivation, rape and sodomy, threatening with dogs, etc? Are you sure every single person we tortured deserved it?

ConservaMom: Well...people can slip through the cracks.

That is why we should not torture. Torture as policy results in the widespread torture of innocents.

ConservaMom: But we weren't slicing their throats, we weren't killing prisoners.

At least 28 people died in American custody in Abu Ghraib.

ConservaMom: If you're so caught up in something that you're mistaken for a terrorist, or will not cooperate in a war scenario, then if you are water boarded while being innocent you are a casualty of war.

So you would be okay with you or your husband or your brother being mistaken for a terrorist, tortured, killed, and becoming an innocent casualty of war?

ConservaMom: This is ridiculous! I am so over this debate!!

The idea that torture is okay is ridiculous.

Even worse is the idea that it's okay to function extrajudicially, and that innocent people can be tortured and killed in custody, dismissed as casualties of war.

The innocent people we have tortured and killed were individuals, husbands and sons and brothers and daughters and sisters. If you don't think a policy it okay when it is applied to you and your family, then how can you claim it's okay when it affects other families?

Equally ridiculous is the idea that torture works. It has never been shown to be a reliable means of extracting information.

You know what really works for getting information? Very large bribes, and offers of amnesty. Perhaps we should be offering very large bribes and offers of amnesty to all of the "enemies" we take into custody. Now that is a policy I might not mind seeing applied to my family. :-)

ConservaMom: Being a prisoner is not great anywhere! Would you want your family to live in a cell? To be fed prison food? To go without sleep? Just because we wouldn't want to go through it, doesn't mean we shouldn't do it.

So would you be okay with your family being detained, put in a cell and sleep deprived if they were innocent of any wrongdoing?

ConservaMom: No, but even if they were guilty, I wouldn't want them subjected to those things.

It's not a matter of what you personally "want." It is a matter of what you would accept. If your family member was in fact guilty of a serious crime, and had been proven so through due process in a court of law, you would probably accept their imprisonment, like it or not, the way most families of convicts do.

However if you knew that your family member had been rounded up in some kind of sweep, disappeared into a mysterious custody of legal limbo, and was being tortured for information even though there was no evidence that they knew anything, or had done anything, would you accept that?

If not, then why should anyone else?

ConservaMom: ...but that doesn't mean that prisoners should be afforded luxury.

Well, they should at least be afforded the luxury of not being waterboarded.

ConservaMom: But asking if you would want your family subjected to what prisoners of war are subjected to, whether it is torture or sleeplessness, is a pretty silly question.

Those people are somebody's family. Why don't they deserve the consideration you feel for your family?

The litmus test for any moral system is, can you live inside it? Would you accept it if it was happening to you and your family, or just someone else and their family? If it would be unfair if it happened to you, it is unfair if it happens to others.

MAGA-KAG: "very large bribes and offers of amnesty?" NOW you want to give terrorists amnesty? wtf? your not serious, right?

Are you saying that you would not offer a terrorist amnesty to get information out of him, even if it would work, but you would torture him, even though it doesn't?

Do you really want the information? Why torture a guy to get something we could get more easily some other way? Or are you for torturing him just because he is a "terrorist"?

MAGA-KAG: I would absolutley would NOT EVER want to give these people amnesty.

Not even to save a million lives in a ticking time-bomb scenario?

That's on you.

06-10-19 5:20  •  Bad Things

Marylin: If there is a God, why do bad things happen to good people? In fact, why do bad things happen, period?

It can't be generalized. Each thing happens because of its own specific confluence of circumstance.

Marylin: But why?

Is there a why?

Marylin: That's what I am trying to work through. Is there?

What does it seem like?

Marylin: I mean, specifically, according to your beliefs.

I would rather not have a belief about it. I'd rather just see how it is.

06-08-19 11:21  •  Dying of Growth

PopMom: I don't like Trump, but the economy is growing under his watch.

Why does it always have to be about "growth"? Isn't anything ever big enough?

PopMom: The free market needs to grow to thrive.

Screw the "free" market. The planet is dying of growth.

PopMom: I disagree with the idea that it is entirely the free market's fault that we are in this environmental situation. Don't you think we need the free market?

I guess that depends on what you mean by "free market." Entirely unregulated?

PopMom: I guess it depends on what you mean by regulations. Economic regulations?

After a moment's thought, I would say that things like anti-trust laws, fraud prevention, anti-usury lending laws are types of necessary economic regulation. I would also consider industry regulation like health and safety laws and environmental protection laws to be necessary economic regulation. Is this what you mean?

PopMom: I am against compulsory regulations on business. For example I don't beleive in making businesses pay a minimum wage.

I think I would institute a minimum wage that would be a living wage. I really feel that paying a person who puts in 40 hours of their time per week enough to live on should be considered a natural part of the cost of doing business.

Do you feel this would be going too far?

PopMom: My fear with a minimum wage is that it actually may end up hurting the lower class by making everything more expensive.

If the prices are being kept artificially low, by exploiting the workers, maybe things should be priced in a way that reflects the true costs of their production.

PopMom: I would rather see workers come together to gain ownership in their companies.

Workers of the world, unite? :-)

Again, I'm not disagreeing, but I'm wondering how do you expect this could occur?

PopMom: It is occurring all the time. I hear of more and more companies going to "employee owned" as a status symbol.

I heard of this happening during an economic slump in the 1980's...in Brazil. I wasn't aware that it was actually a movement in the U.S. I found a list of about 150 "employee owned" companies in the U.S., but they aren't companies I had heard of previously. Do you forsee this becoming a trend for large companies?

PopMom: Again, the free market is the best way.

Are you saying that the free market will eventually cause all or most companies to be employee owned? How long do you think that will take? Do you think the capitalists will voluntarily give up ownership?

PopMom: I do fear the government because problems with them can become intractable and irreversible...think income tax...think slavery.

Do you think that big business is less intractable than government? I mean, they tried to break up AT&T in the 1980s, and it became dozens of smaller companies, who bought each other up, and by 2006 it was back to just AT&T again. Now look what they are up to:

It seems like growth, merger and consolodation of power are naturally occuring. How would this be prevented?

PopMom: The market, if left with few regulations, will seek to correct the kinds of consolidation that are bad for it.

Are there any examples of places where this has happened?

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