07-15-20 9:31  •  A Generous Society

ArvadaMom: One of the fundamental issues with a welfare state is that some people become state dependents.

There are always lots of state dependents. Every society has lots of children, elderly, and disabled that have to be cared for. Since you have large numbers of dependents anyway, having a few deadbeats in the mix, who maybe don't really qualify as dependents, doesn't make much difference. They are not a big drag on society. We have enormous surpluses, and we are taking care of lots of people anyway. Deadbeats are a very small percentage of the dependent group.

ArvadaMom: But how can we support deadbeats? They are not there because they have no other choice, but because that is their choice.

People do make all kinds of stupid choices. However casting them adrift with no resources doesn't help solve that. If people are too confused or stupid or ignorant to make a better choice, what good would it do to starve them? A better approach is to keep "deadbeats" from starving while we heal, educate, motivate, train, empower, and enfranchise them. Many people will make better choices when they have better choices and know how to manage them.

Yet, there will always be a very few who can't seem to get it together to become self-supporting. We can only keep trying to teach them. Cutting them off doesn't help. It doesn't make them change into hard workers. It doesn't remove their barriers. And it doesn't make them go away either. It just makes them hungry and desparate and even more confused and perhaps ready to turn to crime.

Maybe, for a very few people, this would mean a lifetime of trying to teach someone who never really gets it. That doesn't mean we should ever quit trying.

ArvadaMom: How could "the state" enable people to be responsible for themselves and for their own actions?

By showing them how to do it. By removing all barriers and equipping them with everything they need to succeed. By giving them lots and lots of chances to try. By being compassionate to all, even - especially - those who fail.

Are we really worried about giving "too much" help? An enlightened state would not be worried about that. In a generous society we would help everybody and everybody would help us.

Kind of like now. Only, a lot more so. :-)

ArvadaMom: I am not sure how you even go about instituting generousity as public policy.

By doing it. By being, as a group, generous with our help and having generous, helpful public policies.

ArvadaMom: Would this go above and beyond taxes?

I'm not sure what you mean, but it would not be a lot more expensive in taxes than what we have now. We could be doing very different things with the same money.

ArvadaMom: I heartily agree that social programs should work to empower people but I just don't see how this would work on a large scale being run by the government.

First of all, who is the "the government"? It's not a bunch of "other" people who are not as good at things as we are. The government is just us. That's what we call our efforts to figure things out and work things out together. It's as good as we make it. If we don't like how it works we need to change it.

Secondly, ninety-five percent of everybody in the United States learned to read, write, and do 'rithmatic in a government program. Kids all over the world learn a lot of great stuff in their government-run public schools. It can be done.

ArvadaMom: Have you looked around the country lately? I am having trouble envisioning a government-run program that has much success.

I know it seems that way now, during the the pandemic, but the United States has a decent track record of successful government programs, from the National Highway System to the National Parks System. Many other countries have successful programs also. Working government is possible - if we work for it.

ArvadaMom: I am wondering if individuals feel more personally responsible for the people around them they would be more willing to care for them more.

Human beings are extremely willing to care for others, within limits. Usually, humans are very generous and like to care for others who belong to their in-group. Usually, humans are not generous and do not like to care for members of their out-group.

I think what we need to realize is that every human is in our in-group. Then our generosity will extend to everyone as much as it does to those who we choose to help.

The important thing to remember about good social systems is they do not just help "the poor" or "the elderly," etc. They help everyone, including us. We really are in it together.

07-13-20 10:58  •  Families Matter

Blem: Did you see, they painted a great big "Black Lives Matter" sign along 5th avenue in front of Trump Tower. That's it - racism solved!

Or at least acknowledged.

Blem: Have you seen the wacko BLM demands? Check this:

"We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable."

They are trying to destroy the nuclear family!

There is nothing special about the "nuclear family." Extended families are actually far more traditional and more functional.

Blem: Oh yes, the black nuclear family went the way of the dodo bird with the implementation of welfare. Women can't collect welfare and all that other assistance if there's a husband in the picture!

Actually the Absent Black Father is a myth.

Blem: In case you don't think that's bad, here are ten adverse outcomes that may result from the absence of a father in a child’s life: (1) Perceived abandonment, (2) attachment issues, (3) child abuse, (4) childhood obesity, (5) criminal justice involvement, (6) gang involvement, (7) mental health issues, (8) poor school performance, (9) poverty and homelessness; and (10) substance use."

As for extended families, in the modern world, most people don't live anywhere near them.

Yes, that is the problem. Until very recently, with the advent of suburbanization, most people grew up in large extended clans with many different kinds of relations all around. Fathers were among those who interacted least with children, but there were plenty of others so people always had family guidance.

Our modern practice of breaking families into nuclear units makes them much more vulnerable to economic instabilities, which create all those problems and more.

Jarrie: Fathers didn’t interact less with their children before the normalization of suburbia.

They interacted with them more because their life and work and home was usually intertwined and the sons would take over once the father could no longer do it.

I agree that fathers interacted a lot with sons, but not much as children, only as they became able to work, and mainly in relation to work. Also, this would have included daughters not at all. However the point is that there were plenty of adults in the extended family, and it was not important for everyone to get personal loving attention from Dad. It flowed from many sources.

07-12-20 11:07  •  Still a Thing in 2020?

Sharon: I’ve been accused of being homophobic more times than I count by liberals who think that only their views and ideas are acceptable and everything else is “obsolete”, “fanatical”, “irrational” or “hateful”. Ironic, since they’re supposed to be the open minded to all ideas- except when they’re religiously inspired.

Yes, by my personal beliefs, homosexual acts are wrong.

How can there be wrong without harm?

Sharon: As I said, I disapprove of homosexual acts, but that doesn’t mean I’m judging someone as a person for doing it. They may be doing one thing I think is wrong, but they’re still wonderful, good, caring people that deserve to be treated with respect.

What I mean is, how can you tell that the wonderful, caring people you know are doing something wrong when it is not causing any harm? If they are wonderful and caring what is the bad part?

Sharon: Because making mistakes doesn’t make one a bad person. None of us is perfect. People are still wonderful even if not perfect and even with making mistakes.

Yes, but what is the indication that what they are doing is a mistake? What is the actual bad part of what they are doing?

Sharon: I believe in the Torah (the OT) as the word of G-d, as the “guidelines” for what’s right and wrong. It does say that homosexual acts are wrong.

What is supposed to be the bad thing about homosexuality? Like, if you were a wonderful and caring person but you stole, that would make you literally less wonderful and caring, because you caused harm. How does homosexuality detract from the wonderfulness and care?

Are you positive it really, actually is bad?

Loraine: Well after all these years of being alive I can't for the life of me understand what detriment comes of two people of the same sex wishing to love each other. They won't be fruitful and multiply, I suppose.

There are very good biological reasons for homosexuality and other variations. In many animal populations, only some adults form mating pairs and many other adults support their offspring rather than "fruitfully multiplying" themselves. It's actually better for the group if not every adult is reproducing.

Sharon: Sometimes we may not fully understand the reason because we’re limited in our perceptions. We all have different beliefs of what’s good and what’s bad. And that’s OK. We should all be entitled to our beliefs and just let others have theirs.

I really can't agree that we should determine good and bad independently of things that actually happen.

07-11-20 11:07  •  Freedom Now

Nikley: People are claiming that choosing to go without a mask is about personal freedom. How do you interpret "Freedom"?

What do you think "Freedom" means to the USA? Does it mean that we can have an "anything goes" society?, Or, anything goes as long as we don't inflict harm or danger on another person? Do you think we can have restrictions and limits to what people can do in the name of "freedom"?

This may seem like a question with a 'no brainer' answer...but, when looking at the mask controversy, it seems some people interpret freedom differently.

BlowJo: I will never wear a mask mandated by any level of the government. NEVER! I have freedom!

Everyone should get as much freedom as they can handle.

BlowJo: Are you implying that some people don't deserve freedom?

I am sure you agree that some people deserve to have their freedom restricted.

BlowJo: If you mean criminals, of course they deserve to lose their freedom.

Most people agree on some level.

Now, I personally do not think anyone deserves to be imprisoned. It is a terrible affront, and a real violation of personal freedom. However, if someone is actually dangerous, we can't let them walk the streets. They can't handle that much freedom. We have no choice but to violate their freedom to the extent that is required to protect our safety.

That is actually a very small number compared to the people who are languishing in prison in America. We have no justification for restricting freedom for most of them.

Nikley: I see what you are saying, but how do we determine who is dangerous? Of course those who inflict harm on others, be it abuse, murder, rape, child molesting, etc, but do you not believe that those who commit fraud, let's say, are dangerous and can not handle too much freedom?

I draw the line at physically dangerous.

That's not to say we shouldn't have laws or penalties for anything else. But the penalites can be all kinds of important and meaningful things besides imprisonment.

Nikley: You said physically dangerous, but sometimes breaking into a house doesn't get physical or dangerous. Sometimes stealing a car doesn't neither. Let's say this is the 2nd or third time it has happend. What then?

If someone is on their second or third arrest for car theft, I would say something has gone seriously wrong with them. I think it would be a good time to find out what. Are they crazy and need mental health treatment? Are they poor and unskilled and disenfranchised and they need social services? Are they stupid and need remedial education? Are they mean and unethical and need anger management counseling and life management skills training? Answering that question would tell you a lot about how to proceed.

As for the penalites, there are fines, community service programs and other ways a violator could productively pay his debt to society. A violator would also be responsible for reparations to the victim.

BlowJo: Freedoms are inalienable rights, they are not doled out, especially not by "what you can handle."

Right now we already dole out a lot of freedom by what we think people can handle. We don't feel that people can handle the freedom to drive until they are sixteen. We don't think they can handle the freedom to vote or enter business contracts until they are eighteen. We don't think people can handle the freedom to drink until they are twenty-one. We don't think people can handle the freedom to drive anymore if they get caught in too much drinking and driving. This is the kind of evaluation I am proposing.

BlowJo: If someone breaks the law, they do not have freedom anymore. THEY create their destiny.

We choose their destiny. We can create it to be whatever we want.

BlowJo: No one can ever MAKE you do something. There is always a choice. So I can not choose someone elses destiny.

When someone gets caught committing a crime, we choose their destiny. We use courts and a jury to do it. Sometimes we choose prison as their destiny. Sometimes we choose fines or community service as their destiny. If their brother-in-law is the DA, we may choose just probation as their destiny and leave it at that.

That choice doesn't just fall out of the sky - it is a choice made by humans. We could be choosing to support freedom but instead we are choosing to deny it. This is causing problems at all levels of society.

Not a great look for the "Land of the Free."

BlowJo: You are claiming to be for Freedom. But you want the state to make everyone wear a mask. The state cannot make us wear anything.

Except seat belts. Requiring that we wear something to protect our lives and others is necessary and routine.

07-09-20 6:20  •  Police Lives

ThirdEye: "Black Lives Matter" *mentions* race, but for some reason "All Lives Matter" is racist??

Beez: So you’re racist if you think police lives are important as well?

It is not honoring black lives or police lives to co-opt a protest slogan. Be original - support police lives without paraphrasing.

TyDye: While I support the non-violent BLM campaign, I also support law enforcement. I have been called racist for it. As police forces are desperately trying to keep up with crime and unprecedented 911 calls, we want to get rid of them? There are bad apples in every barrel, but police officers are generally people of very good character.

It can be true that most cops are good people, and yet we still need to massively reform the role of police in society. We provide inadequate mental health services, inadequate addiction services, poor education and healthcare and minimal social support, and then expect cops to intervene when these become crises.

"Defunding the police" is about changing our society's priorities so that we have adequate resources to support earlier interventions by more appropriate authorities.

That would only be good for cops.

07-08-2020 2:12  •  Heaven for Who

Raymond: Of course being a good person is important, but the verse says we have to BELIEVE in Jesus. We have to trust in Him as our savior, that's what salvation means. That is the only way to Heaven.

Won't it be nice? You'll never have to talk to another Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh or Wiccan, ever! They'll all be getting exactly what they deserve Somewhere Else.

Raymond: I don't think that will be nice.

Then stop doing it.

Raymond: Excuse me? Doing what?

Stop promulgating a cruel and exclusionary afterlife story.

If you don't think your religion is nice, then at the very least, you should change it. The UUs did it. So can anyone.

Raymond: Why do you bring this up? This is just what we believe. If you do not believe this is true you should stop worrying about it.

Oh? I should just sit here watch you devalue others, your fellow human beings, your own brothers and sisters, and say nothing?

I should stand by and do nothing while I watch my society devolve into a new Dark Age? I should just "stop worrying about it" when people throw out all the gains humanity has made since the Age of Reason out the window, in favor of a bronze-age myth? I should just ignore it when people allow tribalism and superstition to extinguish the light of evidence-based truth? I should just stand by and do nothing while people who are obviously wrong grind my entire civilization to dust under the crushing weight of ignorance and unreason?

Do you really think that is what I should be doing? Why?

I think the only thing you really want me to do is stop calling attention to how ugly your beliefs are. And of that there is no chance.

Raymond: If you think I am trying to devalue others you are wrong.

I don't think you are trying to. But this is what is happening. Devaluing others is the inevitable result of claiming that Muslims, Hindus, etc. are not going to get a good afterlife, but you are, or that you can somehow just tell what God really wants, but they can't.

You freely admit that what your religion says about non-believers is not nice. You don't even want me to mention it.

If your religion is saying things you are not proud of, you should change it. If the UUs can do it, anyone can.

Raymond: You are the only one getting angry over something you believe is a myth.

Wrong, on both counts. For one, I have expressed only concern.

For two, my concern is not that myths exist. I am concerned with ugly, cruel and exclusionary myths being presented as truth with no substantation. I am concerned that ugly myths are being promulgated against my society, used to devalue people of other societies, and devaluing evidence-based reason to the extent that half of my society will not wear a mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

That should be a cause for concern for any thinking person.

Raymond: I won't change what I know is truth...

There is no evidence that your claim that you get Heaven and they don't is "true." None. Zero. There is no evidence that you have some magical ability to "know" things about the afterlife that Muslims and Hindus don't have. Claiming to "know" that you love God right but they love God wrong, with no evidence, is nothing but ingroup / outgroup division-mongering.

I am suggesting change because 1) your claims cannot be shown to correspond accurately to reality, disqualifying them from terms like "know" and "truth," and 2) because it is cruel to claim that you will somehow be able to enjoy eternal bliss while watching your fellow human beings face the worst possible fate in the "bad" afterlife. I don't mean cruel to them, though it is; I mean cruel to you.

I'm saying, if you stop doing this to them, you would stop doing this to yourself.

Raymond: Are you a UU? Why are you promoting that organization?.

I am not a UU, but I mention them because the UUs have demonstrated that Christians can officially change cruel and exclusionary beliefs, if they want to. You don't even have to stop being Christian.

Raymond: So what are you doing about all your concerns besides debating people online?

I am an activist. I march, participate in protests, help produce events, give speeches, attend state legislative sessions, write letters. Discuss. Agitate. My specialty is protest art.

Raymond: I have my beliefs and you don't agree.

It's not enough to not agree. My conscience requires that I speak out against injustice when I see it.

Raymond: You have no evidence that what I believe is the truth or not.

You are the one making the claim. The burden of proof is on you. But the fact that it cannot be verified, any more than the beliefs of others you claim are wrong, demonstrates that it is not different from those other beliefs.

Raymond:I believe it to be true.

This method is known to produce wrong answers. You certainly think this method is producing wrong answers for Hinuds, for Muslims, for Jews, for Sikhs, for Shinto, for Wiccans, etc. But, somehow, in no way that you can demonstrate, it works for you? This makes no sense. If it works, it should produce the same answer for anyone who tries it. Methods that cannot produce a modicum of consistency are faulty.

Only the method of evidence-based reason has been demonstrated, irrefutably, to produce accurate descriptions of reality. If you doubt it, look at the machine you are reading these words on. Think about your house, your car, your town, your food, your medical care, and every other real, tangible and indespensible artifact that evidence-based reason has made possible. All are products of the system that works.

Raymond:I won't be changing what I believe.

I know. But I have an obligation to the other people here, and to humanity, to object to cruelty and bigotry when I see it.

Raymond: I believe in God and prayer.

So do they. But you believe it only works for you, not them.

Raymond: That is all on you if you think it is cruel.

Not at all. You are the one who thinks it is not nice, but chooses to promulgate it anyway. That is all on you.

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