21
Aug
07

Not Good Enough

If, as many Americans believe, we are the best nation in the world and no American would ever want to leave to live in another country, wouldn’t it stand to reason that we would be ranked in the Top Ten in every area that matters, such as per capita wealth, envrionmental concerns (we’re #28), life expectancy (we’re #42), health care (we’re #37), infant mortality (we’re #36), and education (we were #18 as of 2002)?  I would think so, but it’s just not true.  We are in the Top Ten for per capita wealth (we’re number 6), but I’ve taught a lot of people who’s families are way below the $43,600 mark.  This is because the distribution of wealth stays within 1% of the American people, which is one of the reasons we’re slipping in so many different areas. 

What is it about Americans that makes us settle for good enough?  Many people make the argument that we’re better than ___________ (insert name of country here), but why are we comparing ourselves to the worst instead of to the best?  One of the advantages of being a “melting pot” is that we’re supposed to be able to take the best ideas from a variety of nations and incorporate them into our own system.  So why do Americans believe that if it’s not an American idea, it’s not worth trying?  Everyone likes to point out the problems with other systems, but rather than doing that, why not take the best of those systems and improve upon them?  If we took the environmental initiatives from New Zealand, the education stystem from South Korea, the maternity care from Singapore, and the health care system from France, we might actually be able to mean it when we call ourselves the best country in the world.

 3,707 US soldiers killed in Iraq.  27,409 US soldiers wounded in Iraq

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51 Responses to “Not Good Enough”


  1. 1 Iranian Ajax
    August 21, 2007 at 11:38 am

    I think that you are correct on some points. But fact of the matter is that America is the best place to live. I say this for a number of reasons, which are largely personal.

    In no other country could my father have achieved what he has other than in America. We are an Iranian family living in NY.

    This country is built on self sufficiency. In other words, other countries like Germany and Canada provide for their people (i.e. health care, housing, etc.), but here in America the motto is, “Thanks for coming, you can have anything you want but you better not take it from me. See you on the battlefield and good luck to ya. Again, welcome to America.” In other countries, they have a socialized model of just about everything.

    We’re built on self sufficiency; and this is what Americans have largely forgotten about.

    When government has the power to easily give things out, it can easily take it away.

  2. 2 unitedwelay1
    August 21, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Iranian Ajax,
    Thanks for commenting. I agree that the America has been built on self-sufficiency and that it works in some cases, however, it doesn’t work in all cases. There are large numbers of people working 2 or 3 jobs just to survive and they still don’t have health care. The amount Americans pay for education is astronomical. We are a good country, but we are not the best. There is nothing wrong with socialism. Many people think it’s a dirty word, but there are many countries tha are doing well on socialized medicine and education. America is better than Iran in many respects, but it is not better than many other countries, and it should be. Self sufficiency should not be the motto at the cost of the health and education of the people.

  3. August 21, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Hey there UWL… I just wanted to come over and show some appreciation for your comments over @ club lefty. It’s always sort of a shock to look at my obscure little pipsqueak of a blog and see a comment.

    So thank you, and keep up the good fight!

  4. August 21, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    We’re suffering from American myth-perceptions. Apparently, things arent rude enough yet to wake most of us.

  5. 5 unitedwelay1
    August 21, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    And yet there are people who don’t believe this is what’s going on. They thnk that the systems in other countries are working through some form of treachery rather than because they’re actually better. Sure, the people are taxed more, but I woul dpay higher taxes if I didn’t have to pay for education or health care, and I’m willing to bet most people would.

  6. August 21, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    When government has the power to easily give things out, it can easily take it away.

    You’d be surprised how hard that is for most people to understand that very succinct principle, Ajax.

    UWL,

    Statistics are easily manipulated to prove points. U.S. life expectancy? Well, we have a very liberal society when it comes to people’s health choices. People like to live decadently, eating lots, smoking lots, is it better to live in a society where people are told what they should or shouldn’t do just to prop up the life expectancy stats?

    As far as health care, just today I came across this article that says the US is number one in cancer survival rates.

    Same goes for the infant mortality rates. If you look by race you’ll see that most American’s are well above the World average except for blacks. Why is that? And before you go blaming income realize Hispanics, who on average make similar to blacks, have a infant mortality rate similar to whites.

  7. August 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    when the government has the power to easily give things out, it can easily take them away.

    Oh good grief! When the government has no inclination to give anything out, it can still easily take things away. Observe our own government and the crumbling of our own civil rights. Habeas corpus? Pish! Warrents? Feh! Oversight of “Authority” figures? Not any more.
    Hey, I got an idea, lets create a few more pithy sayings:

    – When the government has the power to keep secrets, it has the power to tell you lies.
    – When the government has the power to declare morality, it has the power to act without it.
    – When the party has the power to declare talking points, its faithful have the power to speak without thinking.
    – When the army has the power to enter a country quickly, it has the power to leave quickly.
    – When the Boss has the power to pay himself whatever he wants, he has the power to pay you whatever he wants.
    – When the press has the power to report that it has a “liberal bias”, it has the power to not report that it has a liberal bias.

    Hey this is fun!

    – When pithy little sayings have the power to persuade without question, then pithy little sayings shall be the sum of your philosophy.

  8. August 22, 2007 at 7:28 am

    For me, the king of all reasons for why America is still number one in my eyes, are our freedoms. Yes, King George has stripped us of a lot of them but we still have more than any other country and that means a lot. Especially when we still have the freedom to get those other freedoms that George took back with our votes in the next election.

  9. August 22, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Hey Dave, you’re right, it does work that way too which is why I’d prefer to eliminate the State all together.

    Except for the boss paying himself whatever he wants. He’s at least limited to the profits he makes. The State just gets to print however much money they want. If my boss did that they’d call it counterfeiting which is bad, but when the State does it they call it liquidating or something which is good.

    I never could figure that one out.

  10. 10 unitedwelay1
    August 22, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Scott,
    That is a uniquely American argument – statistics can be manipulated. These are not statistics. These are FACTS based on extensive studies that even our government seems to give creedence to. We DO NOT have a liberal society when it comes to people’s health care choices, which is one of the reasons our life expecancy is low. People are not forced to give up cigarettes or anything else in the countries that trump us, but YES, I would like to live in a society in which the government allows me to visit a nutritionist to tell me how my eating habits could be improved. I would LOVE to live in a society that gives me alternatives to prescription drugs rather than just pumping chemicals into my body for any ailment I might have. I’m really surprised that you’re not on the Health Care bandwagon given your daughter’s illness. And are you really saying that the infant mortality rate in America (though there are blacks in all of the other countryies who are ahead of us) is acceptable because it’s only BLACK children dying?

  11. 11 unitedwelay1
    August 22, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Ed,
    What freedoms do we have that France doesn’t? Or Canada? Or the UK? And DO we have the freedom to get those things back? Everything that Georgie took away will take years in the court systems to get back, though that will be next to impossible because King George stacked the courts with Republicans and theocratic judges. And let’s not forget about election fraud.

    Dave,
    Very well said!

  12. August 22, 2007 at 10:14 am

    “That is a uniquely American argument – statistics can be manipulated.”

    Really? Hmm, I fear then for the rest of the World’s skepticism.

    “but YES, I would like to live in a society in which the government allows me to visit a nutritionist to tell me how my eating habits could be improved.”

    You don’t already? Which government is preventing you from going to see a nutritionist? According to your study, America has the most responsive health care system in the World. My guess is you could get an appointment today if you tried.

    “I would LOVE to live in a society that gives me alternatives to prescription drugs rather than just pumping chemicals into my body for any ailment I might have.”

    Hmmm, well I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but my guess would be America has the largest alternative health care market in the World. Reason being we have the freest medical market in the industrialized World and people are allowed to decide for themselves what kind of medical treatment to choose. In countries where the State pays the bills, the State decides what treatment is acceptable. If the State doesn’t deem your alternative health care plan as worthy, not only does it doesn’t pay for it. And since the State pays the bills, there’s no incentive for anyone to practice alternative medicine if they’re not likely to get paid. Not to mention the schools where the State decides which research to do. Studies not sanctioned by the State, not funded. Period.

    You want a society that offers alternatives, you’re living in it. You don’t want a society where your chemical treatments are decided for you? That’s Socialism, baby.

    I’m really surprised that you’re not on the Health Care bandwagon given your daughter’s illness.

    Well, my daughter has cancer, and I live in the country that has the best cancer survival rate in the World. Your bandwagon wants to bring the rate down to where the rest of the World is. Why would I be riding that one?

    And are you really saying that the infant mortality rate in America (though there are blacks in all of the other countries who are ahead of us) is acceptable because it’s only BLACK children dying?

    Of course not. What I’m suggesting is it’s not enough to simply say that America is ranked this high in infant mortality. It doesn’t prove anything because there are dozens of factors that go into that statistic, many of which may or may not have been taken into account when the supposed “fact” was determined.

  13. 13 unitedwelay1
    August 22, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Scott,
    I could get an appointment, but my insurance wouldn’t cover it. If I lived in Canada, I could get an appointment AND it would be covered. Having a market and having people be able to afford that market and USE it is something else entirely. Most alternative medications and treatment s ARE NOT COVERED by health insurance and are very expensive, they ARE covered in Canada and France, along with other socialized health systems (where, by the way, the treatment IS NOT DECIDED FOR YOU, but you and your doctor CHOOSE which treatment is best for you rather than having to rely on which treatment is available through your insurance). All factors, incluing race, we’re taken into account in the infant mortality study. Calling is a “supposed fact” doesn’t work. Something is either a fact ot ir’s not. There’s no guess work there. That’s something else tha’s uniquely American – denying that something is a fact just because you don’t agree with it.

    If your health insurance covers all of your bills for your daughter’s illness, that’s great, but millions of Americans are struggling to keep up with costs even if they have insurance. Also, any idea what caused the cancer? Americans also have the highest rate of GETTING cancer. God forbid your daughter needs a bone marrow transplant. Under most insurance plans, that’s considered “experimental” and not covered.

  14. August 22, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I honestly think you have an inflated Utopian view of how the State run health systems work and how the rationing of treatment is necessarily limited. You don’t get to choose your treatment anymore than you do in the U.S. The State determines which treatments are permissible, here the HMO’s decide which treatments are.

    Also, don’t assume just because I don’t agree with bureaucrats determining my health care that I think our system is the way to go. I prefer a system in which neither the State OR the HMO’s are involved.

  15. August 22, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Interesting discussion. Scott, I wondered about your statistics, and where they came from, so I did a quick google search using the following: Cancer survival rates by country
    I soon found a study by the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, which agreed with you:

    The United States had the highest breast cancer survival rate, the highest cervical cancer screening rate and the lowest smoking rate. For breast cancer survival rates, the United States (86 percent) was 11 percentage points better than the worst country, which was the United Kingdom. For cervical cancer screening, the United States (93 percent) was 26 percentage points better than the United Kingdom, the worst country. The United States tied with Canada for having the lowest smoking rate.

    Cool. I’m glad about that. But in the next paragraph:
    The United States performed more poorly on indicators including asthma mortality rates and survival after kidney and liver transplants. The United States is the only country where asthma mortality rates have been increasing over time; they are now higher than in the United Kingdom and Australia. The survival rate after kidney transplant in the United States (83 percent) was 11 percentage points lower than in Canada, the country with the highest rate.

    Hmm. So if you get cancer, you get better treatment here. But in areas that you might think are more easily treated, we suck.

    To be fair, the study only looked at five countries: the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. I guess no one wanted to spend time translating charts from Spanish, French or Italian.

    You can read the release yourself, here: http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/PR_2004/Hussey_healthcare.html

    Interstingly, the title of the study was: ‘Americans Spend More on Health Care But Are Not Healthier.”

    Now, that’s just ONE of the SEVERAL points UWL was making. I’m guessing we would find ourselves in the middle of the pack in just about every other study we find too.

    We’re not #1. But then again, should this be a competition?

    My own theory about all this is that complacency crept in to all areas of our lives, and we began to buy into the myth that we’re the best at everything, because, for a time, we were. But we as a society invested so much into this myth that we found ourselves doing things that eventually hurt our standings.

    We needed to protect our freedoms here, so we began to support dictatorial regimes elsewhere that held their populaces in thrall, as long as they weren’t Soft on Communism.

    We knew that capitalism was one of the engines that drove a democratic society–‘The business of America is business,” “What’s good for General Motors is good for America,” et c–so we slowly but efficiently dismantled anything that might possibly impede the progress of business in our countries, so much so that things like environmental concerns, mine safety, and retirement funds were given short shrift. Additionally, we welcomed new ‘revenue streams,’ finding money where ever we can. That’s why all our sporting events get plastered with product names–What do Tostitos have to do with football? What does Minute Maid orange juice have to do with baseball?–until everything we se and do is brought to you by some company or other.

    In sports, it’s not a big deal, really. But when Henry Kaiser decided he could make a buck off of health care–it started to go sour.

    And at every point, whenever someone might raise a question about this, we were told that we were living in The Greatest Country Ever, and these things that, when looked at with a dispassionate, disinterested eye, might seem to be, at best, destroying our way of life, and at worst, actively kiliing ourselves and the whole of life on earth as we know it, are actually good things, and then we get distracted by things like Zero percent interest rates on McMansions that you thought you could never afford…well, now you can!

    Until the percentage rate inflates faster than a Baptist Minister’s dick in the alley behind a gay bar.

    We’ve been deluded for a long time. We can continue to be deluded, or we can take steps to make this world–not this country, but the whole fuckin’ world–a better place for everyone. If we, as a country, decided to use our brains, our expertise, and our energy for something like that, then it would, indeed be the best country in the world.

    yeharr

  16. August 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    Yeah look, check out my blog and you’ll see my position is not one of America is superior. I’ve got a lot of problems with the country. I’m not defending America here as much as I’m being skeptical of these rankings. I think they’re silly.

    I know we’re not number one, which is why I cringe when I hear these “America is the richest country in the World so we should have health care for everyone” arguments. What’s that national debt again?

    As far as taking steps to make the country/World better, well of course we should. But don’t assume everyone is going to agree on what those steps should be, ya know.

  17. August 22, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Say you wanted to deny the existence of crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany. In the United States you can with impunity. In France, you get five years imprisonment and a 45,000 fine. See the Gayssot Act.

    Say you wanted to view a program deemed by the French Government as violent in nature. In the United States you can with impunity. In France you can’t. See Article 1 of Act 86-1067.

    Say as an employer, you wanted to terminate an employment relationship because it just isn’t working out. In the United States you can without notice and without legal consequences. You can’t in Canada.

    Say you are a film maker who worked hard to produce a film. In the United States, it is illegal to operate any recording devices capable of making bootlegged movies and in Canada it is perfectly legal.

    These are just a few differences I can find in five minutes with Google but I’m sure there is a whole bunch more where they came from. France and Canada are not the United States and if they are supposedly better, more people would be flocking to them.

  18. August 22, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Ed: With all due respect: what the hell are you prattling about?

    Yes, rules and regulations are different in different countries. I can imagine that France, which was ravaged by Nazi Germany, might be a little bit more sensitive to the whitewashing of one of the worst atrocities of the past centuries. That you would bring this up as your first point in a misguided defense of the United States’ mythical standing as the Best Country Ever is a bit confusing.

    We could turn this around, you know

    Let’s say you’re an intelligent, ambitious young person who wants to go to college, but your mom and dad live paycheck to paycheck. In the United States, you will have to scramble for several years, jumping through numerous hoops. amassing as many differnt scholarships as you can so that you won’t be dozens of thousands of dollars in debt the minute you graduate from the college of your choice–or, be forced to choose between the outstanding school of your dream, or a lesser school that will not put you so deep into debt.

    In France, you apply to the college you want, and if you’re good enough, you get in.

    Wow. I did THAT one with ZERO time googling.

    Point is, Ed, that rather than getting your undies in a bundle because someone said that perhaps the US is not living up to its potential, maybe you should think about what’s been said, and perhaps wonder if we, as a society, could in fact do a better job, and decide what role you might play in making the world around you a better place.

    yeharr

  19. August 23, 2007 at 12:59 am

    I’m making picky little points here, I know, but…

    Ed, say, as an employer, you wanted to terminate an employment relationship just because you dont like his/her face/attitude/car in the parking lot. In Texas, you can do so with impunity. It is ironically called “the Right To Work” act, and it’s part of a union buster. Does that seem fair?
    Sure, maybe France has gone to far one way, but I think we’ve gone to far the other. Unions may be a bad answer, but relying on the market system or the kindness of your boss is no better.

    * * *

    “except for the boss paying himself whatever he wants. He’s at least limited to the profits he makes.”

    Scott, do you not read the news? Okay, granted, this may apply to small business, but not necessarily. That’s what the Enron scandal was all about. With a nice line of credit, you can fund your own pay well after your company has ceased to be viable. But that’s neither here nor there.

  20. August 23, 2007 at 1:04 am

    Did I see a comment by grumpy old Uncle Logician, now disappeared? Do you think he’ll figure out that the chances of his comments sticking around would be better if he stuck to arguing the point and left off the more personal commentary? Sometimes I kind of miss him. Soemtimes.

  21. August 23, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Yes, and where is Enron now?

  22. 22 unitedwelay1
    August 23, 2007 at 9:25 am

    Dave,
    You did, and personal attacks are not acceptable. Until he learns to play nice, he’ll be deleted. I don’t need to take that crap on my down time. My real life is difficult enough.

  23. August 23, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Balloon Pirate

    Where in the Constitution does is say our government was created to provide welfare to those who can’t afford college?

    I think the government staying out of our college education is a good thing and a benefit for living here instead of in France. I only wish it were across the board.

  24. August 23, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Ed: Where in the Constitution does it say we should have Federal Highways? Where does it say we should protect our Endangered Species? Show me where, in the Constitution, it specifically says that the United States Government should have any interest at all in whether or not companies are dumping toxic chemicals into our water?

    Where does it say that people who actually point these things out–whistleblowers–have job protection so that companies can’t just fire them to get them to keep their mouths shut?

    While you’re at it–Where’s the Article that says work weeks are set at forty hours? What about that? And I’ve looked, Ed, but I can’t find anything in the Constitution of the United States that specifically states my nine-year-old daughter is prohibited from working alongside me.

    Oh, wait. Here it is: The Child Labor Amendment of 1924. Waitaminnit–it was never ratified! I better go get my kid. I’ll bet there’s a floor somewhere she could be washing. Because there’s no place in the Constitution that says she has to go to school, either.

    Keep pitching them in there high and fat, Ed, and I’ll go Barry Bonds on your ass every time.

    And, may I add, this adds nothing to the point of the post.

    If I was to boil down your argument so far, Ed, I would come to this point: Other Countries Suck More Than We Suck.

    Is that what you’re trying to say? And are you OK with that? You seem to be OK with that, Ed. Do you have a bumper sticker on your car that reads: AMERICA: Not as shitty as some other countries?

    I don’t like a lot of things that go on in this country. I dissent when these things happen. I try to change them. That’s about as American as you can get, seeing as how this attitude is what formed this country in the first place.

    But not only do I have to fight against the corporations who have a vested interest in keeping the Status Quo (why not Google a cost analysis comparing treating waste water vs. dumping the sludge into Lake Erie sometime, Ed?), but also folks like you who want to put the blinders on because–gasp–we’re saying this country could be doing better! And also–horrors!–there might be something we could learn from other countries about solving our problems! How un-John Wayne of us to act that way.

    It’s all crap, Ed. We could be doing better. We should be doing better.

    yeharr

  25. August 23, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    My point was and still is that the United States still has lots of freedoms despite all the things that you mention that “suck”. Sure we can always do better but we must be doing something right if people are coming in (legally) faster than they are leaving.

    As to all the things that you point out that the government regulates and aren’t listed in the Constitution, I say exactly. So why is the government regulating them and why do we allow the government to regulate them?

  26. August 23, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Oh, my God. Gimme the pine tar.

    Yes, the US has lots of freedoms. That has nothing to do with the topic.
    thwak

    People aren’t coming here for freedoms. They’re coming here for money. In fact, we tend to put people who want to come here for freedom through the wringer. Consider: Sweden has allowed forty to fifty thousand Iraqi refugees–folks who are seeking the most basic of freedoms, the freedom to live–since 2003. The US? 700. Seven hundred. From a country that’s hemorrhaging people at a rate of fifty thousand a month. But that’s ok. Sweden’s a much bigger country. (I got these facts from Nir Rosen, a journalist who’s been in, and reporting on, Iraq since 2003. You’ll probably discredit him because he’s independent, and has the audacity to report without being in-bedded with the US military, so therefore must have some sort of ulterior Anti-American agenda)

    thwak

    And for the last softball: Because, believe it or not, that’s what government is supposed to do. Regulate.

    thwak

    Jeebus Christmas, ed, my hands are starting to hurt. If you’re gonna be a chauvinist, at least be a more interesting one, mmmkay?

    yeharr

  27. August 23, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Why does the government over step the constitution?

    Because written constitution has no force behind it. It is, after all, nothing but a piece of paper. Real political force flows out of the barrel of a gun and the consent of the governed.

    So it is those in power do what they can to convince us we need them. They manufacture fear and convince subjects that they are the only solution to the perceived problems, be they global Islamic extremism or global warming. They perpetuate myths of past problems they solved like the threat of Soviet communism or child labor. (Come on Pirate, you really think the only reason people don’t send their kids to work is because of a law? Really?)

    There will be no change in this country for the better until we look to ourselves, rather than politicians for answers.

  28. August 23, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    Wow, Scott comes in as a relief pitcher. Deep thoughts, man. Political force flows out of the barrel of a gun. Manufacture Fear. Perpetuating myths.

    This is your defense of the Best Country Ever?

    thwak

    Do I really think that the only reason people don’t send their kids to work is because of a law?

    No, scott, I don’t.

    Do you really think that if it wasn’t for laws, companies would still be hiring kids? Yes.

    thwak

    Do you really think that if it wasn’t for laws, some people would be compelled to send their kids to work, because they wouldn’t have enough money to live otherwise? Yes.

    thwak

    If it wasn’t for the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other unconstitutional laws that supported shorter work weeks and workplace safety, and such wingnut boogeymen such as minimum wage, do you really think corporations would willingly change their bottom line, just so that us peons might be able to have a decent quality of life?

    Do you?

    thwak

    yeharr

  29. August 23, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    There are a lot of great comments on this post. Over the past hundred years, America is moving more and more towards European style socialism. If things are in fact getting worse, than perhaps we should look at the direction we are moving.

    I am the same age as Medicare and Medicaid. When I was a child, healthcare was inexpensive and available to everyone, either from private sources or charity services. 40 something years latter, healthcare is prohibitively expensive. We have introduced Medicare, Medicaid, the HMO act and now healthcare is worse, not better ~ this in spite of billions and billions of dollars being thrown at the problem.

    All this while the rest of the world relies largely on America for innovation. With treatments becoming ever more dependent on pharmaceuticals, the cost controls imposed on this industry by other developed nation means that these countries benefit from our advances, while they bare none of the costs. What will happen to the forward mach of science and medicine if all of its budget is controlled and regulated by the same good people who brought us the response to hurricane Katrina?

    Maybe if we want to know where we are going, we should look at where we have been.

  30. August 23, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Yes, yes, yes, I know this story. Civilization was going on well without any problems and a high standard of living for all until the greedy capitalists started setting up shops and enslaving men (and even women and children who NEVER worked before the Industrial Revolution) to work for sub-standard wages against their will or they’re forced to starve to death.

    Luckily for all of us though the State stepped in a forced the greedy capitalists (robber barons, right?) to pay fair wages and give them nice air-conditioned factories to work in.

    I went to State funded public school too, matey.

    I’d delve more into it but you insist on telling me over an over that I think US is the greatest.

    yeharr indeed

  31. August 23, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    “and for the last softball: Because, believe it or not, that’s what government is supposed to do. Regulate”

    The role of the government according to the founding fathers was not to “regulate” but to defend three unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Madison, Jefferson, Henry and other founding fathers wanted to construct a constitution that would minimize the role of government in society, not to maximize it as a regulating government would.

    In 1801 Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, said: “With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens – a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it had earned.”

    thwak

  32. August 23, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Wow, scott. Keep pitching at that straw man. You might knock it over yet.

    Just don’t think what you’re writing captures the essence of my point. Cuz it don’t. I never mentioned anything about the history of the worker in my comments, either way. I didn’t mention anything about the decades-long struggle for decent pay. I didn’t mention Henry Ford’s union-busting activities. I thought about it when I read your ‘political power at the barrel of a gun’ comment, though.

    I didn’t even mention the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire. I wondered about those poor women burned to death when I read your sarcastic comments about ‘air-conditioned factories’ and wondered why you think taking care of workers is something that’s worth mocking.

    Nor did I bring up the opposing viewpoint that many feel the Fair Labor Standards Act was in fact unnecessary, since the depression had all but eliminated child labor in and of itself. You see, the shortsightedness of the American business class in the beginning of the twentieth century which precipitated the collapse of the US economy in the 1930’s forced grown men to work for wages that were once only given to children. Why pay for a scrawny little kid, when you can get a grown man to do the work for the same money?

    But no, scott, I didn’t mention any of that. Should I have mentioned that?

    Nor did I mention the orphan trains of the 1850’s, or the laws that cities like Philadelphia had on their books that in fact forced children to work. I also didn’t mention the fact that high infant mortality and a shortage of labor were the predominant reasons farming families regularly had families of seven, eight, or more children. Also, the labor was long and hard, and often times the kids would die in farming accidents. I also didn’t mention that our school calendar is still based on the agrarian model, and having the summers off was not because kids should have ten weeks of vacation, but because they needed to go back to the farms and get to work.

    The reason I didn’t mention any of that is because it has not one damned thing to do with the point of the original post.

    thwak

    So why mention it? Did you think that sitting there and acting all erudite n’ shit would somehow make me overlook that you keep missing the point?

    Here’s the point: We’re not The Best Country Ever. Maybe once we could have made that claim, but not any more. We can do better. We should do better.

    And while you may not agree with the first part of the point, you certainly seem to disagree with the second.

    In your first post, you point out that we have the best cancer survival rate in the world, which is good, because we probably dump more cancer-causing agents into our food stream than any other country in the developed world. You also point out that we’d kick ass in infant mortality rates if it weren’t for The Blacks.

    Darn those negroes! Who brought them over here, anyway?

    The rest of your posts seem to say that the solution to this problem, as well as every other social ill, is to take away the only thing that has ever consistently tried to take into account the welfare of the average person–the government.

    You seem to think that less regulation of organizations that have repeatedly shown that they value money for the owners over the lives of their workers will somehow transform these companies into Model Corporate Citizens, who will happily provide wages high enough that their workers will be able to afford health care, save for retirement, and still have enough money to send their kids to college?

    You keep bringing up history. Where in our history has this ever happened without government intervention?

    Is that what they’re teaching in State schools these days?

    I wouldn’t know. I went to a private, liberal-arts school myself.

    I got there on a baseball scholarship.

    thwak!

    yeharr

  33. August 23, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    ed: from whom or what is government supposed to defend these rights? If my local factory is dumping large amounts of toxins into the groundwater and all the kids around the neighborhood are dying of cancer, isn’t that company taking away their right to life?

    thwak

    And once again, what the fuck does this have to do with the point of the post, which, once again, is: This is not The Best Country Ever, we could do more, and we should do more?

    sheesh.

    yeharr

  34. August 24, 2007 at 1:28 am

    How about a compromise? Let’s say that America is the best country in the world. Let’s also say that it could use some work. It’s not perfect. Is anyone suggesting that we should just leave things as they are? Or do we want to live in the best possible country, regardless of what the other countries are like? I know I do.

    Ed, nowhere does the Constitution say that the government should create welfare for those who cannot afford college. But how about “the common good”; isnt that the government’s job? An educated citizenry is a more productive citizenry. The more education the people get, the more likely that they will be able to produce the innovations and ideas that run the engines of progress. You need only look at nations with low rates of education to see that. Oil, diamonds and timber are not the only raw materials that can propel a nation to riches. But like any resource, the more refined those resources are, the more valuable they are.

    If you dont like the idea of the government regulating business, how about the idea of people regulating business? In the United States, that is what the government is supposed to represent, that’s why the U.S. Constitution and our nation was such a radical idea at the end of the 18th century. Government which represent the rich and powerful is nothing new, it’s a very old-fashioned concept. So if the government makes laws (let’s call them laws instead of the oh-so-careful “regulations”), it’s because it feels those laws to be in the interest of the people. In theory.

    “Real political force flows out of the barrel of a gun and the consent of the governed.”

    Scott, another gem of a pithy saying, memorable and yet totally meaningless. One must wonder if you make your living writing horoscopes (sorry, that was uncalled for, but irresistable). Are those consenting ones also the ones holding the barrel of the gun, and if not, how can you reconcile the gun and the consent? How about this: Real political force flows out of the barrel of a gun and/or the consent of the governed. That’s more realistic. It can go either way. In America, there havent been a whole lot of gun barrels involved (I wont say “none”, though), and despite the seeming sheep-like quality of Americans these days, I suspect there wont be much of it in the near future, either.

    And yes, “greedy capitalists” made America great. It’s true. Also, beer tastes really good (especially a freshly drawn pint of Fuller’s ESB, mmmm-mmm). But, like anything, too much of it is a bad thing. Moderation, always moderation. And really, how hard is moderation? Why are so many people now so all-or-nothing?

    “When I was a child healthcare was inexpensive and available to everyone, either from private sources or charity services.”

    Godwhacker, I hear ya. I think I’ve even written on this one (I blamed part of the cost on the legion of insurance bureaucrats that all doctors now employ). But, there’s also the simple fact that doctoring is a whole lot better than it was 40 years ago. Better partially by using more fancy machines that cost thousands of dollars. Then there’s medical school (which works back into the arguement about state sponsorship of higher education), which is far from free. Then there’s the simple idea that good old Doc’ So-and-so, is now Doctor So-and so, thank you very much (I’m a professional, you know) Doctors became “respectable”, which equals “money”. Imagine the trouble if teaching ever becomes “respectable”.
    Personally, my vote goes towards putting anyone who is able to through medical, nursing or technical school, for free, with the proviso that they must then work for “X” number of years at government-run clinics, hospitals, and labs. People who then needed medical care would go there for free. Since all doctoring and labwork would be done in-house (no payments, no contractors, no fraudulent billing), the opportunity for corruption would be reduced to old-fashioned laziness. We could start pilot programs in rural areas, those places where our for-pay system has been abandonning of late.
    Screw insurance, that’s a mug’s game. Look at how much they take in (gross), look at how much they pay out (gross). The “in” will always be bigger than the “out”, or the company dies. Seen an insurance company die lately?

    Have I rambled long enough?

    Oh yeah, one more thing: Scott, Enron is in the shitter, now, along with billions of dollars entrusted by little people like you and me (not literally “you and me”), along with millions in electrical costs artificially jacked up. Yes, Enron took a dive, but before it did, the Bosses rode that kite mighty high. Plus, I’ll guarantee you that not one of those who thusly profitted are living in a smallish ranch-house, driving a second-hand car, or are henceforth trusted with no more money than contained in the night-drawer of a 7-11. Those crooks are still living better than 90% of America (or will be when they get out of jail).

    Okay, I’m done now.

  35. August 24, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Dave – You are absolutely correct. All powers not given to the government under the constitution were given to the states and then the people. So it is not the governments responsibility to regulate but the people as you stated.

    BP – I know we have strayed from the subject of hand but you go off on these long winded tangents which amuse me greatly. You asked what freedoms we had that France didn’t have and I answered. You then posed a hypothetical situation supposed to make me feel that the United States is wrong for not paying for everyone’s college. I think that is a plus for the United States. You then said that the purpose of the Constitution and our government is to regulate and I pointed out that the founding fathers had the exact opposite thoughts when creating our government. You sir are the one off on tangents. I’m merely answering your tangents.

  36. August 24, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Ed: Glad to hear you’re a masochist. It relieves me of some of the guilt I’ve been feeling about smacking you down so hard. But, if it makes you chuckle when your tired old, mindless rhetoric gets blown away, let’s continue then, shall we?

    It’s the people’s responsibility to regulate, and not the government? Does this mean that I can go up to General Motors and make them manufacture cars that get a minimum of 30mpg? Cool.

    Waitaminnit. Of course it doesn’t. I’m just one person. What I need to do is get a whole bunch of people to do that. But how are we gonna find the time to do this? I know…what if we picked a smaller group of people from all of us to let our voice be heard at GM? Each of these people would represent a small area of the country. Wait…I have some other issues with other organizations that I’d like to have hear my voice. Plus, I have some thoughts about the way this country is being run. What if this same person took on the responsibility to deal with these issues as well?

    Hey! Why don’t we get these people together in one city, and have them work on the problems…

    Oh. Wait. We already have that. It’s called the government.

    And ed: I’ve heard each of your facile arguments and I’ve rebutted all of them. To wit: You think that it’s a good thing that a person’s education is limited by the income of their parents. You think it’s a bad thing when companies are penalized when they value their company’s bottom line over the lives of American citizens.

    You think the Constitution was set up to be the be-all and end-all, with no other powers other than the ones specifically prescribed into it, effectively rendering the government into a bunch of people who study, Talmud-like over the words, and little else.

    Have I missed anything?

    I’m not going off on tangents. They may seem like tangents to a person such as you, with your posse comitatus pamphlets stuck in your bedside table, but they aren’t. They’re simply responses to the crap you’re spewing.

    And, ed, I’ve noticed you have yet to answer the question I’ve asked you every freakin’ time, and have yet to hear the response:

    What does any of this have to do with the original post, which said we’re not the Best Country Ever, we could do more, and we should do more?

    thwak
    you can go ahead and laugh as I round the bases on ya yet again.

    yeharr

  37. August 24, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    BP – To answer your GM question which has nothing to do with the original response, the laws of supply and demand take care of GM. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, cars were tanks with huge engines that used lots of gas and oil was cheap. Then oil became scarce in the 70’s and we had a gas shortage. The government did not lift a finger towards GM and all of a sudden they were producing small cars that got upwards of 50 mpg. Why? Because we the people regulated them by not buying large cars with poor gas milage. Only once gas got cheap have we gone back to buying larger gas guzzling cars.

    thwak

    P.S. I didn’t read anymore past that statement. I figure it is probably way off tangent as all the rest. Your tirades have grown old. I won’t be back to check so have at it. Give me all the thwaks you so desire.

  38. August 24, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    Ooooh, I don’t think that one has the distance, ed.

    Lots of things you’re leaving out, like how the market is manipulated by greed enhanced by advertising so that the market was ‘regulated’ by people who somehow wanted exactly what the company wanted them to want.

    But I don’t want you to think I’m going off on a tangent.

    I sorta felt like I was doing card tricks for a dog, anyhow. No matter how well I did, it was always over your head.

    thwak

    yeharr

  39. August 25, 2007 at 8:06 am

    The pirate needs ritalin.

    Dave,

    You can add the “or”, sure, whatever you need. The point is government’s power is based on the force, or threat of force they can legally use. Be it fining people, or if that doesn’t work imprisoning them, or if that doesn’t work shooting them.

    There are ethical purposes for government, but they lie in protecting the rights of individuals.

  40. August 25, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Wait a minute, I’m having a revelation! The government is very much like a union (at least the U.S. government is), i.e., a banding together of the people in order to maintain order and keep the strong from taking advantage of the weak (that gun barrel aformentioned). That’s why Republicans hate the government so much!

    And please, all you Libertarians, will you just declare yourselves as Anarchists and get it over with, please.

  41. August 26, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    New Zealand is easy for environmental policies because they do not have an overpopulation problem yet (wait until they decide to open up the borders to everybody and NZ will suck just like everywhere else).

  42. August 26, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    “There are ethical purposes for government, but they lie in protecting the rights of individuals.”

    So, are you saying that the government has no business in promoting the common welfare? That it is every man for himself? That in effect, “I’ve got mine and fuck you”? As if every person in a society acts completely alone, and that they owe nothing to those in the society who may have helped them get where they are, past or present?

  43. August 27, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Wow.

    I need ritalin. Going for the ad hominem attacks now, are we scotty?

    Can’t pitch one past me–can’t eve knock down the straw man, so you try to throw one at my head.

    Might as well do that, since your arguments are all over the place.

    Did you actually read what you wrote? Did you even try to think about what you were saying when you wrote it, or did you just grab two lines from some Libertarian talking points website, copy/paste them together, and then hope they make sense?

    Give it a rest, scott. Your idea that the way to combat the abuses of power in society is to remove what few constraints of that power that are in place is ludicrous.

    Your arguments are facile and irrelevant.

    yeharr

  44. 44 unitedwelay1
    August 27, 2007 at 3:06 pm

    Scott,
    Personal attacks are not acceptable.

  45. August 28, 2007 at 3:08 am

    I might point out that “protecting the rights of individuals” also involves the use of force. Until we become a society completely made up of pacifistic do-gooders (surrounded by a very tightly sealed wall), somebody is going to need to use force at some point in order to protect those rights from those who are not so high-minded. The gun barrel is just a tool, it’s the hands that wield it that are generally the problem.

  46. 47 unitedwelay1
    August 28, 2007 at 7:16 am

    I’m a pacifist and I don’t have a problem with living in a country that has a military. A military force is necessary for a country that has resources someone else might want, since obvioulsy Switzerland has done fine largely without a military for a while, but I don’t know how much longer they’ll be able to get away with that. Men and women in the military defend their nation, and that is incredibly noble. What is NOT noble is standing quietly by, even if you’re in the military, while your country illegally and immorally invades another country.

  47. August 28, 2007 at 9:07 am

    “So, are you saying that the government has no business in promoting the common welfare?”

    Sure, if it is in fact common, and not limited to the just a small segment of society.

    “As if every person in a society acts completely alone, and that they owe nothing to those in the society who may have helped them get where they are, past or present?”

    Owe “them”? Owe who?

    “And please, all you Libertarians, will you just declare yourselves as Anarchists and get it over with, please.”

    Already have, brother.

  48. August 28, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Actually, I think that people should be able to declare themselves as Anarchists. They would be subject to no laws, and given no protections.

  49. August 28, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Well that’s all we’re after for the most part. Problem is along with that we’d like to opt out of paying taxes as well, which obviously no one in power is gonna go for.

  50. August 28, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    No, no, I’ll go for that personally, at least as an option. But as I said, subject to no laws, and given no protections. No taxes either, but fees will be charged for things such as use of roads, water systems, parks, whatever. Anything which has been created by the collective (I hate to use that communist-era word, but it’s all I can come up with at this time), you will have to pay to use, including public hospitals. Those caught pretending to be non-Anarchists will be charged with the full tax load of the ordinary citizen (adjusted for your income), plus a heavy fine, unless some irate citizen kills you first (without penalty, I might add, though if you kill them first, you incur no penalty).


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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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