Pharyngula

i-7bba2b20b7b8b4842c3997e41a05bb95-zombies.jpg

I knew there was a creationist connection to Halloween. Glenn Branch figured it out:

When the distinguished philosopher Philip Kitcher recently addressed the creationist movement in his Living With Darwin, he judiciously assessed creationism in its latest incarnation as historically respectable but currently bankrupt, and proposed to describe it as “dead” science. “In light of its shambling tenacity,” I replied, “‘zombie science’ is perhaps a preferable label.”

Read the rest for the real horror story — the zombies have taken over the Texas educational system.

Comments

  1. #1 AH
    October 31, 2008

    I miss that WoW zombie plague! It was awesome.

    I feel a little guilty escaping from Texas and registering to vote in Minnesota, because now there’s little I can do to stop that, although I still get all the Texas Democrats emails. I feel ashamed reading the article…

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    October 31, 2008

    Still, they’ll take on brains, and try to reduce them to unthinking repetition and ancient superstition.

    So even though they’re repelled by brains, they do try to save us all from the burden of intelligence. Their bravery is a matter of facing their enemy, the brain, and turning it into a liquid which dissolves in cerebral fluid (Egnor, otoh, turns brain into “spirit,” which simply leaks through the skull into the nothingness of space).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  3. #3 braiiiiiiiiins
    October 31, 2008

    I think I would like to see the phrase “zombie science” stick to one or more of the non-science movements, mostly because it sounds so much cooler than just pseudoscience. Whether it would apply best to creationism, anti-vaccines, homeopaths, or anti-global warming, or a combination of those, is still up for debate.

  4. #4 E.V.
    October 31, 2008

    Ugh. I can’t read that shit without fantasizing about McLeroy and his cohorts getting ass-cancer and and having to resign.

  5. #5 Eric
    October 31, 2008

    The sad part is.. I recognize the room that the WoW picture was taken in. I remember fighting those very zombies in that room.

  6. #6 Shaden Freud
    October 31, 2008

    I guess that would make the Discovery Institute a less-powerful version of the Umbrella Corporation.

  7. #7 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    How can something be a zombie if it was never alive? I thought that creationism only came into being when there was enough scientific evidence to disprove it, and thus requiring desperate measures to sustain Biblical interpretation inconsistent with observable reality. If creationism was ever born, it was born morally and intellectually vacant. Anencephalic babies don’t survive very long in the wild.

    Creationism is closer to a virus or a virion than an actual macroscopic life. My guess would be rabies (and one consistent with the behavior it causes). The morally bankrupt are those that continue to unleash it upon others when (based on the inconsistency of their actions and beliefs) they don’t believe it themselves.

  8. #8 Richard Harris
    October 31, 2008

    …..assessed creationism in its latest incarnation as historically respectable but currently bankrupt, and proposed to describe it as “dead” science. “In light of its shambling tenacity,” I replied, “‘zombie science’ is perhaps a preferable label.”

    No it isn’t! Creationism is magic, it’s not any kind of real science. It misappropriates the terminology of science, & borrows some of the findings to make a spurious claim for scientific respectability, but that makes it pseudo-science at best, & pseudo-science is not science, & in this case it’s merely dressed-up magic.

  9. #9 blueelm
    October 31, 2008

    Shame doesn’t even cover it.

    My own science education in Texas public schools was shameful. Perpetuating these bad ideas is morally corrupt IMO.

    It doesn’t do anyone any good all to let the quality of education go in order to pander to popular belief.

  10. #10 Rick S.
    October 31, 2008

    Really PZ…this woman needs to have her ass handed to her…especially after she spews ignorant drivel about Richard Dawkins in her latest blog post.

    (The blog post is talking about Dawkins hurting our children:)

    “Dawkins is determined to challenge the myths of children’s literature; you know, that dangerous stuff about talking animals and girls who visit Emerald Cities to see the great Oz. In his new book, he will advise children on how to think about the world, using “science thinking contrasted with mythical thinking,” according to the Telegraph.” she goes on from there…

    I’ve left my hammer marks on her skull. I wish others here would do the same and keep it up.

  11. #11 jimellismusic
    October 31, 2008

    What would then happen to the perceived value of a Texas science student trying to get into a good pre-med or any other science college for that matter. I have worked in my lifetime on a reasonable definition of evil, meaning a consistently useful one, not an absolute, and it is “unnecessary harm”. My father was a Methodist minister and would probably give them the “road to hell is paved with good intentions” sermon, but I believe that these people are actually broken in some very real way.
    nothin’ but luv
    jim

  12. #12 Bronze Dog
    October 31, 2008

    The scary thing about being here in Texas: The zombies are more likely to be the ones wielding the shotguns.

  13. #13 Nerdette
    October 31, 2008

    Wait, wait, wait, WoW is the Texas Education System? Explains why the laws of physics and biological reasoning are skewed (It’s magic!), and why I have a growing love of shooting things…

  14. #14 Jello
    October 31, 2008

    “The scary thing about being here in Texas: The zombies are more likely to be the ones wielding the shotguns.”

    And the AK-47s and the MP-5s and whatever else they can get their hands on.

  15. #15 Scott D.
    October 31, 2008

    Glenn branch is a bit behind the times. The creationists are moving away from “teach both sides” to their new “academic freedom” approach.

    New clothing, same corpse.

  16. #17 uncle noel
    October 31, 2008

    “the zombies have taken over the Texas educational system”

    They haven’t eaten our brains yet; they’re just beating on the doors and peering in the windows.

  17. #18 amphiox
    October 31, 2008

    On whether or not creationism was ever historically a legitimate science, re #7 and #8, I think much depends on exactly what you mean by “creationism” as well as “science.”

    Creationism in broad terms was humanity’s first attempt to explain observed reality. I don’t think it is unfair to call that a “pre-science” or “proto-science”. Given our understanding of natural processes at that time, and our experience with and observation of our own creative abilities, deliberate assembly by an intelligent agency was not an unreasonable first hypothesis.

    When biology in a recognizably modern form first began in Europe in the 18th century, biblical creationism was in fact what the scientists of the day used as their working paradigm. And it did not take very long for the weight of contradictory evidence to accumulate sufficiently to kill creationism as a reasonable hypothesis. When this happened, the biologists of the day did what scientists still do when their hypotheses fail. The first tried to modify, then, ultimately, they discarded, their theory when a new and better theory was proposed.

    However, I do not think it can reasonably be argued that the modern form of creationism has anything to do with its historical predecessor, which died a legitimate death perhaps one or two decades before Charles Darwin was born. Modern creationism is a pack of deliberate lies stitched together by a dishonest cadre of schemers whose basic goal is the destruction of science itself.

    It isn’t so much a zombie as Frankenstein’s monster. (Except that Frankenstein’s monster started out good.)

  18. #19 newfie
    October 31, 2008

    Premise:
    Most of these fundie wackaloons aren’t. They are actually trying to undermine science and being paid handsomely by people who want to control others. Be it the churches, places like the Discovery Institute, book publishers, or other interests who seek to keep the population dumb, and keep the money rolling in.

    Action:
    In the spirit of Michele Bachman, the media (or other agency) should do an expose on these groups, and actually learn what their methods and intents are. If actual conversations and documents were exposed, to show those people who are actively pushing for Intelligent Design – Creationism for what they really are, and what they actually believe, it could open a lot of eyes, and minds.

    Possible positive outcome:

    Evolution is compatible with faith to many religious people, but when the people they trust are shown for the frauds that they are, people will start questioning and thinking for themselves.

    Now, who wants the job of infiltrating these places and getting the goods?

  19. #20 FastLane
    October 31, 2008

    Che, that octopus story is awesome!!

  20. #21 Darth Wader
    October 31, 2008

    Sweet Zombie Jesus! Do the the christians know about this?

    oh and John McCain wishes you a happy halloween;

    http://happysphere.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/im-not-clever-when-writing/

  21. #22 Ranxerox
    October 31, 2008

    Otto’pus is amazing.

    I’ll bet a Fundy that he has more intelligence than say… Certain Texas School Board Members.

  22. #23 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    #18: Sorry. I was thinking of the current version of creationism without thinking about its historical antecedent.

  23. #24 Rob Bos
    October 31, 2008

    Ah, Scholomance.

    Those zombies explode.

  24. #25 Johan Swart
    October 31, 2008

    Now I see the latest ad hominem attack on advocates of honest science. They are zombies!

    “Remember the big stir about Lenski’s 20 year experiment with E. coli where the bugs “evolved” the ability to digest lactose citrate and this was touted as overwhelming evidence of evolution? And remember our response that until the mechanism behind it was discovered that it might not be much “evolution” at all?

    As usual, we are vindicated. In a similar case where it’s lactose instead of citrate the bug was all set up, in fact one might say front loaded, with the capacity to switch over from glucose to lactose digestion. Essentially the bug constantly samples the level of lactose in its environment and when the level reaches a tipping point a single “throw of the dice” switches it over from glucose to lactose digestion. This is contrary to Lenski’s hypothesis that a series of dice throws, each making a small change towards ability to digest lactose citrate, accumulate until lactose citrate digestion is fully switched on. Darwinian gradualism is denied once again and we see a front loaded genome switch to a new mode of operation through a saltational event.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/lactose-digestion-in-e-coli/

    ….whoops

    I was waiting for this day, :) I knew there would be a natural explanation! Zombies can’t write this kind of things. :P

    “A favorite scenario for molecular evolution is that a gene gets duplicated and then gradually mutates to become something useful that did not exist before. Such a proposed scenario does not constitute evidence for evolution, it proves nothing, and indeed such a scenario itself requires proof. I do not, of course, mean to say that one has to prove that genes can be duplicated. That is well known. But gene duplication alone does not constitute an increase of information in the biocosm or even in the genome of the organism itself. Two copies of today’s newspaper contain no more information than one copy. Gene duplication, in any case, cannot play the role of the mutations that could produce the grand sweep of evolution.”

    Dr. Lee Spetner Ph.D
    http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp

    And for my favourite…

    “Late in my career, I did something which for a Cornell professor would seem unthinkable. I began to question the Primary Axiom. I did this with great fear and trepidation. By doing this, I knew I would be at odds with the most “sacred cow” of modern academia. Among other things, it might even result in my expulsion from the academic world.

    What should I do? It has become my conviction that the Primary Axiom is insidious on the highest level – having catastrophic impact on countless human lives. Furthermore, every form of objective analysis I have performed has convinced me that the Axiom is clearly false. So now, regardless of the consequences, I have to say it out loud: the Emperor has no clothes!”

    Dr John Sanford

    Respected Cornell Geneticist, John Sanford,
    Rejects Darwinism in His Recent Book:
    Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome

    People these are not zombies at work, they are honest scientist who strive for truth, not magical evo theories. The genomes cant arise by natural processes any more than duplicating and hammering small car parts can create a volkswagon.

    Cheers

  25. #26 James F
    October 31, 2008

    #25

    So do you support the global conspiracy theory to explain why no data supporting intelligent design or refuting evolution has been published in peer-reviewed scientific research papers?

  26. #27 Johan Swart
    October 31, 2008

    Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited Scientific Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated)
    http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

    “Over 5000 Scientists Proclaim their Doubts about Darwin’s Theory, Scientific Dissent from Darwinism Continues to Grow, Say Experts.” Available on http://www.dissentfromdarwin.com.
    Darwin Skeptics
    Compiled by Jerry Bergman PhD.
    http://www.rae.org/darwinskeptics.html

    What more do you want? Its hard to spread democracy through China, just as its hard to publish real science in an evo (magic) paradigm.

  27. #28 JJR
    October 31, 2008

    I’m glad I got my basic science education back in the 1980s, before Texas schools deteriorated to this; The worst I had was a biology teacher in summer school (Summer 1987) offering his unsolicited opinion that “abortion was murder”; I had half a mind to get up and walk out of that class, but I stayed in my seat and clenched my teeth. But my other science classes were all solid, evidence-based real science, no pandering to superstition. I just there had been more explicit integration and linkage between math and science in the curriculum. I loved science but hated math–a bad combo.

    I totally rocked High School chemistry, but was too chicken to try taking it on the collegiate level one year later.

    The overly religious kids were definitely a nerdy subculture nobody wanted to have anything to do with, that much I remember. One of my friends was a sincere Christian, and I scoffed that he took it seriously. He advised he did and to back off, so I dropped the matter. My other High School friends were either atheist/agnostic or fairly weak Christians who rarely if ever attended church anymore by that time. I had stopped going by the end of middle school, and had never really believed (had a Science teacher Dad who helped me develop a pretty good crap-detector early on in life).

    I feel bad for kids in Texas today.

  28. #29 Darth Wader
    October 31, 2008

    Johan, I am going to put your Volkswagen quote on the wikipedia article for a straw man arguement.

    There is nothing magical about evoloution, it is a natural, well documented process. A magic sky god farting the world into existence is not.

    There are historians who are holocaust deniers, their are physicans who don’t believe in germ theory. That doesn’t disprove the holocaust or germ theory.

  29. #30 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Shorter Johan Swart- It is a conspiracy!

  30. #31 Capital Dan
    October 31, 2008

    Here’s my Zombie McCain pic:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dpoem/2983111308/

    I do have a very special place in my heart (and brains! my tasty braaaaains) for zombies.

  31. #32 Newfie
    October 31, 2008

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/10/palin-fears-med.html

    Ok, the woman lives in a different plane of reality.. wow. just wow.

  32. #33 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    #25: Perhaps you should start with simpler questions for Mr. Swart. “What is your name?” “How old are you?” “Did you take your meds today, or did you sell them for Mad Dog 20-20 like last time?”

    Alternatively one might ask where exactly the honest creationist scientists are. Certainly not doing research, it seems, or publishing papers where people who might use their research would find it. When they show up in places where their evidence (well, if they had any) might do creationists’ goals some good, they don’t either show themselves to be honest scientists or provide effective evidence for their cause). Twenty million dollars a year should be able to fund some research, if you actually have a hypothesis, or any trace of data, yet the Dishonesty Institute, etc., keep spending money on PR. If you’ve got the data, why spend the money on PR? (Heck, you wouldn’t need to spend your money at all – the NIH, etc., would probably fund you.)

    Or perhaps one might ask where the honest creationist advocates are – if you actually find some, one can then ask where the scientists among them doing research on creationism are. Since the first appears to be an empty set, the answer to the second is unavoidable.

  33. #34 Johan Swart
    October 31, 2008

    lol! Wikipedia is as biased as conservapedia.

    Germ theory can be directly observed. evo magic can only be inferred from a sketchy fossil record whose depth has only been scratched (and patterns deduced from this?) and the idea that variation of a species can create novel features or increase genomic information. the genome is degrading, not building. Bacterial resistance is just variation. this isn’t hard!

    You have to swallow this bitter pill eventually ;)

  34. #35 jimellismusic
    October 31, 2008

    Head asplode.
    j

  35. #36 Johan Swart
    October 31, 2008

    “Alternatively one might ask where exactly the honest creationist scientists are. Certainly not doing research, it seems, or publishing papers where people who might use their research would find it.” -Hap

    lol!!! did you not read any of my posts?

  36. #37 Valis
    October 31, 2008

    @Johan Swart: Jy’s op die verkeerde plek hier. Vat jou kakstories en gaan smous dit op ‘n ander plek. Niemand hier glo jou fee-verhale nie.

  37. #38 The Bob
    October 31, 2008

    I suppose we should not be surprised at any “zombie” connection to creationist. The New Testament story of Jesus death and resurrection is one of the first wildly read “zombie” stories. I mean the story does fit the zombie ideal:
    1. get killed horribly
    2. rise form the dead a while later
    3. wander around and visit your “friends”

  38. #39 Johan Swart
    October 31, 2008

    @Valis: hoekom gee jy om …?

    english is easier to type in on computers, Afrikaans is much better to speak in.

    Cheers

  39. #40 Richard Harris
    October 31, 2008

    Johan Swart @ # 27

    When some people believe fervently in an ideology that, for psychological reasons, gives them succour, they quite often won’t drop it in favour of a contradictory, evidence-based worldview.

    There are bound to be a few clowns who believe in magic at all costs, because they can only conceive of life as having to have some purpose beyond its own self-generated purposes. Feel sorry for them; they’ve got a psychological flaw.

  40. #41 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    Read your posts. Missed the honest part, though.

  41. #42 Johan Swart
    October 31, 2008

    ahahaha!

    No one has answered my original posts yet. am i suprised??

    Cheers

  42. #43 CJO
    October 31, 2008

    As usual, we are vindicated. In a similar case where it’s lactose instead of citrate the bug was all set up, in fact one might say front loaded, with the capacity to switch over from glucose to lactose digestion.

    Ah, pants-loading! Undead science at its brainlessest.

    Answer me this, zombie:
    For front-loading to be viable, you have to posit a conserved portion of the genome that confers no selective advantage unless and until given the proper environmental conditions. What stops these putative sequences from undergoing drift?

    Of course, you can posit some as now unknown regulatory portion of the genome that regulates these sequences. But the regulatory sequences would likewise and perforce What stops these putative sequences from undergoing drift? Posit a double-secret, for Mike Gene’s-eyes-only regulatory sequence that confers no selective advantage unless and until given the proper environmental conditions?

    Creationism: an infinite regress of fail.

  43. #44 abb3w
    October 31, 2008

    Johan Swart: “Two copies of today’s newspaper contain no more information than one copy.”

    Actually, that’s a mistake under the formal mathematical definitions of “information”. There is one more bit of information required; you have to indicate there are two copies, rather than one.

    Johan Swart: What more do you want?

    Use of competitive testing of hypotheses under Minimum Description Length Induction, assuming only Logic, ZF, and Reality-Evidence relateability as a priori assumptions. AKA, “science”.

  44. #45 Darth Wader
    October 31, 2008

    Johan, what does wikipedia being biased have to with what I said?

    I said that your “Volkswagen argument” is a straw man.

    The funny thing is he is going to go tell all of his idiot friends how we ganged up on him.
    Don’t jump in the lion’s pit and whine when you get bit!

  45. #46 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Dr. Lee Spetner Ph.D – Nazi Johan Swart

    Whenever you see “Dr. So-and-so PhD”, you know you are being addressed by someone entirely ignorant of science.

  46. #47 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    And whenever you come across someone who puts “lol” in their comments when they think they’ve made a telling point, you know you’re dealing with a complete moron. In the case of Johan Swart, a Nazi moron.

  47. #48 Johan Swart
    October 31, 2008

    Whenever you see “Nazi *insert name*” you know you are confronted by ad-hominem attackers with no argument.

    Still, no one has explained to me the origin of genetic material from magic! lol! and where is your bishop, apostle of dawkins -PZ?

    Cheers

  48. #49 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Dr Wile E Coyote SuperGenius

    Just wait till you read his paper in which he describes how vision effects gravity.

    Nick, did you need to call Johan a nazi? What proof is there?

  49. #50 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Johan, just because one person called you a nazi does not mean that your ideas are validated.

  50. #51 Darth Wader
    October 31, 2008

    Fine I’ll respond to your “original post”, that you lifed from pro-ID wesites.

    Its called punctuated equilibrium. Gradual change punctuated by rapid change.

    Your bugs prove nothing.

    Also your idea of dice really show your complete ignorance of natural selection.

  51. #52 Jello
    October 31, 2008

    I have little working knowledge of biology so forgive my ignorance. What I think Johan is saying is that what Lenski observed was that the E-coli were activating suppressed genes that were already present. This as opposed to creating new ones, which would discredit the Lenski results if true. It does not dismiss the possibility of evolving new genes if you expose a life form to a condition it could never have encountered before and it adapts to survive it would have to create new genes thus proving evolution. How then does Johan explain diseases that become resistant to artificially created drugs, in other words, compounds it could never have encountered in nature because they can only be synthesized in a lab and thus would have to create new genes to survive. Now as I said I’m not a biologist so I have no ways to cite examples of this but someone here must.

  52. #53 woody
    October 31, 2008

    That explains it. The Gablers are UN-dead…

  53. #54 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    JIATLD: Comments #38 and 39 of the Afterlife post claim that JS is a Holocaust denier – it wouldn’t mean he’s a Nazi, but the correlation between the set of Holocaust deniers and the set of Nazis (or equivalents) is fairly high. Neither post has a reference, though there is a pointer by JS to a (his?) Facebook page in a later comment.

    It isn’t proof, though if it were accurate it would be corroborating evidence. Of course, once JS arrived the thread was over, so there’s no point in invoking Godwin.

  54. #55 Richard Harris
    October 31, 2008

    Johan Swart, all the evidence, from fossil distribution, geographical distribution of species, comparative DNA analyses, domestic breeding programs, is consistent with evolution by natural selection.

    Evolutionary theory will be falsified only when something inconsistent is discovered, such as a fossil rabbit in pre-Cambrian strata, for instance, or DNA that cannot be linked to other closely related species. Nothing like this has ever been found.

    Do yourself a favour & read Darwin’s ‘On the origin of species’. It should be a humbling experience for you, because it was written by a man who took nothing for granted, who tried to thoroughly appraise arguments against evolution by natural selection, who was thorough & open-minded in his research. Someone who didn’t accept what people told him because it fitted his preconceptions.

    It’s not too late for you to escape the mental straight jacket of religion. You will probably find the World a more beautiful place if you succeed.

  55. #56 Ka
    October 31, 2008

    And why am I a Holocaust denier? I never deny it, but it has been exaggerated. Gullible americans eat this up :O

    Johan Swart at #47 of the Afterlife post.

  56. #57 Emmet Caulfield
    October 31, 2008

    How then does Johan explain diseases that become resistant to artificially created drugs.

    Or the Flavobacterium and Pseudomonas strains that digest nylon waste products, which didn’t exist before 1950.

    Geneticists and microbiologists are trying to understand exactly how the genetic changes occurred between these and their respective cousins who lack the capability to produce the necessary enzymes.

    Doubtless, the blithering imbeciles at Disco Institute, including Humpty Dumbski, will again advance the “*bzzzt*, magic!” theory to explain it.

  57. #58 prof weird
    October 31, 2008

    J Swart :

    Now I see the latest ad hominem attack on advocates of honest science. They are zombies!

    “Remember the big stir about Lenski’s 20 year experiment with E. coli where the bugs “evolved” the ability to digest lactose citrate and this was touted as overwhelming evidence of evolution? And remember our response that until the mechanism behind it was discovered that it might not be much “evolution” at all?

    It was evolution, based on simple mutation/selection. But even THAT level tweaks the IDiots beyond belief.

    As usual, we are vindicated. In a similar case where it’s lactose instead of citrate the bug was all set up, in fact one might say front loaded, with the capacity to switch over from glucose to lactose digestion.

    Too bad the CITRATE utilizing mutation isn’t like the lactose mutation, given the OBSERVED FACT that the parental E coli COULD NOT UTILIZE CITRATE AS A CARBON SOURCE.

    The bacteria could ALWAYS digest glucose and lactose – what you are blithering about is a regulatory change when both glucose AND lactose are present. Not even close to what happened with the citrate+ mutants.

    Standard IDiot handwaving :

    Essentially the bug constantly samples the level of lactose in its environment and when the level reaches a tipping point a single “throw of the dice” switches it over from glucose to lactose digestion. This is contrary to Lenski’s hypothesis that a series of dice throws, each making a small change towards ability to digest lactose citrate, accumulate until lactose citrate digestion is fully switched on.

    Once again, simpleton : the parental E coli COULD NOT UTILIZE CITRATE. Thus claiming the mutations are essentially the same thing demonstrates your blithering ignorance.

    You DO know that citrate and lactose ARE TWO DIFFERENT CHEMICALS, right ? Or is such a simple FACT beyond your willfully limited comprehension ?

    Darwinian gradualism is denied once again and we see a front loaded genome switch to a new mode of operation through a saltational event.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/lactose-digestion-in-e-coli/

    Too bad the IDiot has confused CITRATE digestion (which the parental E coli COULD NOT USE) with LACTOSE digestion (which is a REGULATORY CHANGE in this case, given the FACT that the bacteria could always digest glucose and lactose before; the question was ‘HOW does it regulate the lac operon when both usable sugars are present ?’).

    ….whoops

    I was waiting for this day, :) I knew there would be a natural explanation! Zombies can’t write this kind of things. :P

    True – it takes a dedicated liar to misrepresent things as badly as the Uncommon Dissent folk like to do.

    “A favorite scenario for molecular evolution is that a gene gets duplicated and then gradually mutates to become something useful that did not exist before. Such a proposed scenario does not constitute evidence for evolution, it proves nothing, and indeed such a scenario itself requires proof. I do not, of course, mean to say that one has to prove that genes can be duplicated. That is well known. But gene duplication alone does not constitute an increase of information in the biocosm or even in the genome of the organism itself. Two copies of today’s newspaper contain no more information than one copy. Gene duplication, in any case, cannot play the role of the mutations that could produce the grand sweep of evolution.”

    That is, of course, INCORRECT. One mechanism of pesticide resistance is DUPLICATION of a gene. Insects with extra copies LIVE; those without it DIE – as long as the pesticide is present, those duplicate genes represent VITAL information.

    How, EXACTLY, did Spetner ‘determine’ that duplications CAN’T do the job again ? Fiat ? Wishful thinking ?

    “Evolution of anti-freeze glycoprotein gene from a trypsinogen gene in Antartic notothenioid fish”, Chen L, DeVries AL, Cheng CC, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 94: 3811-16, April 1997. These fish MODIFIED a trypsinogen into an antifreeze protein THEY DID NOT POSSESS BEFORE. The creotard ‘explanation’ is what again ?

    “Eosinophil cationic protein and eosinophil-derived neurotoxin : Evolution of NOVEL function in a primate ribonuclease family”, Rosenberg HF, KD Dyer, J Biol Chem 270(37): 21539-21544, Dec 1995

    “Origin of NEW GENES and source for N-terminal domain of the chimerical gene, jingwei, in Drosophila”, M Long, W Wang, J Zhang, Gene 238 : 135-141, Sept 1999. ONLY two closely related species of Drosophila have jingwei – it is a chimera of a DUPLICATION of one gene (yellow emperor) with alcohol dehydrogenase spliced into it. jingwei works on long chain alcohols, whereas Adh only works on short chain, and yellow emperor doesn’t. (see also “Evolutionary protein functional diversity in new genes of Drosophila”, Zhang J, Dean AM, Brunet F, Long M, PNAS 101(46): 16246-50, 16 Nov 2004)

    “Selective sweep of a newly evolved sperm-specific gene in Drosophila”, Nurminsky DI, et al, Nature 396: 572-575, Dec 1998

    “Evolution of novel genes”, Long M, Current Opinion n Genetics and Development 11: 673-680, 2001

    “A retrotransposon-mediated gene duplication underlies morphological variation in tomato fruit”, Xiao H, het al, Science 319: 1527-1530, 14 March 2008

    And these GAINS of DNA and function do not qualify as gains of relevant/useful information in the creotard lexicon WHY ?

  58. #59 Darth Wader
    October 31, 2008

    I guess Johan ran off to tell his buddies, how mean we were to him.

    “All I did was try *sniff* and show them that they…they were…. *sniff* wrong, and then they were mean to me. They called me a nazi, and then they said I didn’t know *sniff* what I was talking about *a-hooo*, but I’ve read the Bible and it didn’t say *sniff* anything about evolution *a-hooooo* *sniff-sniff*”

  59. #60 James F
    October 31, 2008

    Johan Swart @ #27

    These are two nonsensical and deceptive lists. The Discovery Institute list of publications includes independently-published books, some data-free hypothesis and review papers (including the Meyer paper that was disavowed by the society of the journal in which it appeared due to violation of editorial policies), and a couple papers that don’t address intelligent design. As for the “Darwin Doubters” list (full of YECs and OECs by the way), that doesn’t provide data either. If this is your argument, you’ve both demonstrated your ignorance of science and confirmed that no data in support of ID in peer-reviewed scientific research papers exists.

  60. #61 raven
    October 31, 2008

    Only 7% of the US population buys the “Obama is a Moslem terrorist Arab from Kenya” lie. One assumes this breaks down to 0% Dems. and 14% Theothuglicans.

    There is an outlier in this survey. 23% of Texans believe Obama is a Kenyan Arab. This is 3 times the national average.

    I hate to say it but maybe the stereotype is true. Texas is filled to the brim with fundie morons.

  61. #62 raven
    October 31, 2008

    Johan Swart troll:

    Now I see the latest ad hominem attack on advocates of honest science. They are zombies!

    Naw, calling them zombies is just for fun and because it is Halloween. Really, it insults zombies who are at least interesting in a gruesome sort of way.

    Christofascist morons who seeks to destroy the USA and head on back to the Dark Ages is much more accurate. Palin is one and, Cthulhu and Yg-Shoggoth willing, will be back freezing her feet off in Alaska next week.

  62. #63 raven
    October 31, 2008

    What happened to the War on Halloween? I’ve been busy but haven’t noticed any fundies throwing tantrums over Halloween as the Night of the Undead or whatever they froth about.

    It’s too bad, the War on Halloween was my favorite War on _____ holiday. Oh well, the War on the War on Xmas is coming up soon. So Happy Holidays to everyone.

  63. #64 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Janine@49, Hap@54,
    Can you name any holocaust deniers who are neither Nazis, nor from those Muslim-majority countries where holocaust denial appears frequently in the press? Since Swart is clearly a holocaust denier (his “denial” of this in the other thread was very much of the David Irving type), and is not one of the latter, I deduce him to be one of the former. Also worth bearing in mind that nazism is fairly common among Afrikaaners.

  64. #65 Blake Stacey
    October 31, 2008

    Orac has been at this longer than I have, and he says,

    Scratch a Holocaust denier, and you will always—I repeat, always—find an anti-Semite and very likely also either a fascist sympathizer or admirer of Hitler.

    It’s amazing how blithering ignorance of science and deep-seated bigotry against human beings can so easily go hand-in-hand.

  65. #66 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    the zombies have taken over the Texas educational system.

    Hmm, let’s see – they worship a being who, after being pronounced dead, got up and wandered around. That’s pretty much the definition of a zombie.

    And why wouldn’t zombie-worshippers have zombies pushing their anti-science?

    Johan Swart wrote:

    Now I see the latest ad hominem attack on advocates of honest science.

    You use the words – ‘honest’ and ‘science’ – I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

  66. #67 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Blake Stacey@65,
    The psychological mechanisms are, in part, exactly parallel: both creationism and holocaust denial (and other forms of anti-science denialism) rely on conspiracy theories: the evilutionists/Jews/medical establishment are hiding the truth, supressing “research” that contradicts their claims, etc. Holocaust denial involves an extra layer of evil, of course, in its attack on survivors and relatives of the Nazis’ victims – and vey often, the implicit or even explicit threat to repeat the very event that is denied.

  67. #68 James F
    October 31, 2008

    #65

    I guess this particular batch of cranks doesn’t link Darwin to Hitler, if they deny the Holocaust….

  68. #69 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    #64: I don’t know any. it’s possible that there might not be a connection, though few other groups other than those who either admire the Nazis for what they did or who wish that they could do the same (but who would like to avoid the social consequences of mass murder based on race) (or both) would have the incentive to pretend the Holocaust didn’t happen. There were not so long ago some incompetent Nazi-wannabes in S. Africa, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising.

    Holocaust denial, creationism, and I think either 9/11 truthism or antivaxism makes a wonderful trifecta for JS. It’s like a stronger version of the “Bush ’04″ sticker on lots of cars here – it says “Respect my stupidity” in an aggressive way that implies that either plastic suits or straitjackets (or, better yet, both) will be needed shortly.

  69. #70 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Nick Gotts,if what Ka at 56 is correct, you are right to call Johan a nazi. You will have no argument from me. If charges of nazism are used, I just want proof. Use of that word is just so cheap and tawdry.

  70. #71 Kel
    October 31, 2008

    People, people, people, you aren’t going to win with Johan – he’s grade A moron.

  71. #72 Katkinkate
    October 31, 2008

    Posted by: Johan Swart @ 42 “ahahaha! No one has answered my original posts yet. am i suprised?? Cheers”

    There is nothing there that have not been answered many times before. All you present is glibly-worded opinions in place of evidence. We want references to research, not ID propaganda articles.

  72. #73 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Kel, thank you. I did not follow into that thread.
    Nick, I am sorry.

    Together at the count of three.

    One!

    Two!

    Three!

    Johan Swart is a nazi!

  73. #74 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker,
    Absolutely no problem! You’re quite right to question casual use of “nazi”, “fascist” etc.

  74. #75 ndt
    October 31, 2008

    Posted by: Jello | October 31, 2008 3:55 PM

    I have little working knowledge of biology so forgive my ignorance. What I think Johan is saying is that what Lenski observed was that the E-coli were activating suppressed genes that were already present. This as opposed to creating new ones, which would discredit the Lenski results if true.

    It wouldn’t discredit Lenski at all, and in fact would be in line with the conclusions of the paper in question.

  75. #76 Alex
    October 31, 2008

    One valuable thing I’ve learned from this blog regarding debate: If the person you are debating has no intention of being convinced that their views may be incorrect, then there can be no debate.

    I know that’s pretty obvious and mundane. I just would have never bothered to appreciate the value of that thought, but thanks to this blog, I see it in action constantly.

    The difficulty in debating those with beliefs, is that they start with the belief, and then search and scheme to find or fabricate support for it. Certainly two scientists can argue over particular results of an experiment. But their arguments will succeed or fail based on the rational and factual analysis of the incremental evidence leading up to the conclusion. So, not only are religidiots not evaluating the incremental evidence correctly, they’re method is ass-backwards. It’s almost as if they think that they can will their a-priori conclusions as factual. Religion certainly does poison one’s rational faculties.

    Forgive me for stating the obvious and waxing philosophical.

  76. #77 Alex
    October 31, 2008

    “Johan Swart is a nazi!”

    Shouldn’t that be nazi-zombi?

  77. #78 Nerd of Redhead
    October 31, 2008

    Shouldn’t that be nazi-zombi?

    There’s a difference? Sounds like Department of Redundancy Department.

  78. #79 Eric Atkinson
    October 31, 2008

    “Only 7% of the US population buys the “Obama is a Moslem terrorist Arab from Kenya” lie. One assumes this breaks down to 0% Dems. and 14% Theothuglicans.”

    Bad assumption.

    I doubt Obama even gets 85% of the Democrat vote even if he wins.

    “Theothuglicans” How about “Dumbassocrats.”

    More entertainment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvc0tYG_YpA

  79. #80 Alex
    October 31, 2008

    “It wouldn’t discredit Lenski at all, and in fact would be in line with the conclusions of the paper in question.

    I’m not a biologist, but would agree with this.

    It seems to me that the goalposts keep moving. I remember a time about 25 years ago when the religious were challenging science to show any kind of adaptation. So now that there’s all kinds of experiments and research showing it, they’re arguing over the mechanism? The fact is the creature changed. Yes the change was a fairly small one, but it occurred in a very short period of time. So now they concur with micro-evo but not macro-evo. So wait, if a small change happens over a short period, wouldn’t one expect enormous changes over vast periods? I guess not, if you believe you were created by a deity. Pathetic.

  80. #81 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Hi Eric! Don’t forget to come back to be laughed at on November 5!

  81. #82 Nerd of Redhead
    October 31, 2008

    I wonder which will come first. EricA being banned for a Baba wannabee impression, or disappearing in shame for being an idiot if Obama wins Tuesday?

  82. #83 Adrian
    October 31, 2008

    Heh, the current artificial plague in WoW it’s a joke compared with the unintentional one that happened few years ago :). You know, the one the raiding players have brought from Zul’Gurub. That was a plague. Wait! What site is this?

    Back on topic, do they still take medicine in Texas or they just say a prayer?

  83. #84 windy
    October 31, 2008

    It wouldn’t discredit Lenski at all, and in fact would be in line with the conclusions of the paper in question.

    No, it would be completely at odds with the conclusions. UD is confusing gene regulation with evolution. See prof weird’s comment.

  84. #85 Alex
    October 31, 2008

    Thanx windy. That’s right. The paper’s conclusion was that it was a new ability, not the activation of a dormant one. That being said, it was an adaptation. One which caused the population to thrive.

  85. #86 Eric Atkinson
    October 31, 2008

    Hello Nick!
    I’ll be here and if Obama wins , I’ll take my licks like a man.

    But I may be the one with the last laff.

    If Obama loses I’m told the streets will un red with blood.

    Lets hope not.

    This blog might be a bit angry if Obama loses.

    Lets hope not.

  86. #87 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    #76: 1) You can’t have debate when no one is willing to listen (or when one of the debaters is unwilling to listen, anyway). You also can’t really debate when at least one side is unwilling to be honest – people have to believe that talking isn’t just a waste of their time, but that something (a better understanding of another POV, a changed mind, etc.) might come of the conversation. Creationists (and, IMO, the Bush Administration) have abused the public by the pretense of debate without the ability to be truthful or to listen to evidence that doesn’t fit their opinions or without the chance of changing any of their behaviors. Since the ability to reason together and determine policy is the basis of democracy, and the likely replacements suck, Bush et al. and creationists are destroying (or at least negating) two of the best things humanity has achieved, science and democracy (and, replacing them with brute force and massive ignorance, a strategy that has worked stunningly well in the past).

    2) I don’t think the differences between how religious and nonreligious people reason are so different, because I don’t think people come to their opinions from a blank slate, but from the things they learn and the opinions of others around them. People’s observations (their ability to even see contrary data, in some cases) depend on what they expect to see. The problem is simply the lack of ability to disprove the latter – if your argument hinges on a nonfalsifiable assumption (and one which you hold because you need to), then there isn’t any way to separate you from that assumption because no data exists to force you logically to do so. This style doesn’t require religion, but simply unfalsifiable assumptions and psychological need (Ex 1a – SfO).

    3) No – that’s derogatory to zombies. Zombies are more forthright and probably less neurotoxic than either Nazis or creationist advocates.

  87. #88 Eric Atkinson
    October 31, 2008

    “run red”
    sorry

  88. #89 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Posted by: Eric Atkinson | October 31, 2008

    If Obama loses I’m told the streets will un red with blood.

    Erik, you think so highly of people who disagree with you.
    Erik, you are an asshole.(That is three times now.)

  89. #90 James F
    October 31, 2008

    #78

    Shouldn’t that be nazi-zombi?

    There’s a difference? Sounds like Department of Redundancy Department.

    Well, there are also Nazi zombie werewolves….

    (Happy Halloween!)

  90. #91 shonny
    October 31, 2008

    “Katherine joined the Star Tribune as a metro columnist in March of 2005. In her column, she covers a broad range of topics reflecting her experiences and interests.”

    Can’t be much of a paper to work for when this cretin is all they could attract!
    Spelling and coherent sentences seem to be of little consequence to the scribbling critter and to the rag.

  91. #92 Nerd of Redhead
    October 31, 2008

    If we were Japanese, EricA would have to commit ritual suicide if Obama wins due to loss of face. I don’t think we need to go as far as suicide, but never posting here again sounds appropriate. Bye EricA.

  92. #93 Hap
    October 31, 2008

    1) I don’t think EA will kowtow – there could be plenty of excuses for failure (voter fraud, McCain’s campaign was incompetent (then how would he have run the country, exactly?), etc.) other than that the fruits of Republican labors have come a little earlier than they might have hoped.

    2) I don’t think there’ll be revolution if Obama loses, though I wonder how long it would be before Mugabe sends some more election observers to look after us. I figure that the trickle of people leaving will increase, and the world will probably look askance at us (other than China, who will probably be happy that we have seen the light and followed their ways, and Russia, who will be happy to see us in their position from a decade ago). The chance that we will self-destruct rapidly is probably small (larger if McCain dies in office), but not small enough. Unstable and stupid leaders with nukes at their fingertips makes for lots of dead people. There’s enough stupidity around to believe that people could vote evil incompetents into office thrice rather than that the elections are stolen.

  93. #94 Alex
    October 31, 2008

    Hap @87

    #1 – for sure.
    #2 – I disagree. IMO, cognitive dissonance seems to corrupt their ability to reason. There’s plenty of data not only for evolution, but for why there is no need to invoke mysterious untestable ideas (deities, angels, etc.) to explain how events occur. Throughout history, magical explanation has been cast aside by the findings and progress of the scientific method.
    #3 – I realized this after the post went through. Real zombies don’t need any of that extra baggage.

  94. #95 BobbyEarle
    October 31, 2008

    Eric @86…

    I’ll be here and if Obama wins , I’ll take my licks like a man.

    I will go way out on a limb here, and say that you will NOT be here on the 5th when the McCain fails. But, if you can suck it up and come by for a moment and tell us that, yes, the repugs were beat fair and square…well, I will give you kudos.

    Cripes, who am I kidding?

  95. #96 'Tis Himself
    October 31, 2008

    I doubt Obama even gets 85% of the Democrat vote even if he wins.

    Messrs Gallup and Zogby would disagree. But what do they know?

  96. #97 tim Rowledge
    October 31, 2008

    Sort of on-topic – today’s National Post (I know, I would never buy a copy but it was all I could find lying around in the cafe this afternoon. Damn rag doesn’t even have good cartoons) has this utterly ridiculous article in it
    http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=921477
    Some people really just don’t understand anything.

  97. #98 scooter
    October 31, 2008

    Homeland Security Zombie Apocalypse ALERT!!!!!
    http://acksisofevil.org/audio/zombie.mp3

  98. #99 'Tis Himself
    October 31, 2008

    Tim,

    I’m surprised the National Post is still being published. I can’t imagine that it’s started making a profit. Have they recovered from the “Iranian Jews to wear badges” scandal yet?

  99. #100 Stanton
    October 31, 2008

    If Obama loses I’m told the streets will un red with blood.

    So who told Erik this? The FBI undercover agents infiltrating the Black Panthers or Nation of Islam?

  100. #101 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    Eric, Once again you demonstrate what an asshole you are. You hope the streets will run red with blood, you want your little five minutes of glee. Do you think the streets will run red with blood if Nader looses? Jerk.

  101. #102 amphiox
    October 31, 2008

    The discovery of a true chimera would instantly falsify common descent and provide strong circumstantial evidence in favor of intelligent design, since chimerism (the re-utilization of useful components in new applications, and the assembly of novel entities from combinations of pre-existing off-the-shelf parts) is a hallmark of human engineering.

    A lack of observed chimeras is strong circumstantial evidence against intelligent design, since any five-year old with a lego set is capable of grasping the principle, utility and application of chimerism as a design tactic, and the presumptive Intelligent Designer should, one would think, be more capable than your average human toddler.

    As it happens, a true primate-bird chimera figures prominently in a number of monotheistic traditions.

    So Mr. Swart, show me your angel. I would accept any of the following:

    1. A physical specimen, dead or alive
    2. A reasonably complete fossil. Critically important here is that the chimeric parts need to be fossilized in an articulated position, or otherwise demonstrated to belong to the same individual.
    3. A DNA sequence demonstrating the chimeric genes

  102. #103 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Patricia, stop to think of this, Eric thought that the line about the streets running red with blood was so important, he corrected his typo so that we would understand what he meant.

    Perhaps he will come back, taunting with the claim that he tricked us.

  103. #104 Kel
    October 31, 2008

    I think Eric hasn’t been watching the news. Only one side is behaving like an angry mob, and it ain’t the democrats…

  104. #105 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    His remark burns me up, because to ME – maybe not the rest of you, he’s implying that if Obama looses the streets will run red with blood because Obama has a lot of black followers. That’s just plain racism. Or implying that Obama’s followers are violent, which is stupid. I’ve seen some of the video’s on YouTube, and it isn’t Obama’s supporters that are nasty, hate filled and hurling slurs.
    When Obama was here in Oregon, there were some black folks in the crowds, but mostly, on the local news, his followers were a sea of white folks. Eric is such a worm.

    It’s so sweet to see how the christians prove gawd is love.

  105. #106 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    I was thinking the same thing about the implied racism. But Eric provided his weasel words, he heard that this could happen.He can deny his implied racism. Slimy bastard.

  106. #107 Azkyroth
    October 31, 2008

    How can something be a zombie if it was never alive? I thought that creationism only came into being when there was enough scientific evidence to disprove it, and thus requiring desperate measures to sustain Biblical interpretation inconsistent with observable reality. If creationism was ever born, it was born morally and intellectually vacant. Anencephalic babies don’t survive very long in the wild.

    Creationism is closer to a virus or a virion than an actual macroscopic life. My guess would be rabies (and one consistent with the behavior it causes). The morally bankrupt are those that continue to unleash it upon others when (based on the inconsistency of their actions and beliefs) they don’t believe it themselves.

    Creationism is the Worldview Born Dead.

    The sad part is.. I recognize the room that the WoW picture was taken in. I remember fighting those very zombies in that room.

    Consider yourself outdorked, sir.

  107. #108 extatyzoma
    October 31, 2008

    #34 Johan

    “Germ theory can be directly observed. evo magic can only be inferred”

    if you accept the notion of an all powerful supernatural entity as creating life on this planet (and i’ll make an assumption that you do) then you cannot by definition say that germs cause illness, it could be the entity just making it look like they do, just for the fun of it. Of course nobody can say for sure that germs cause disease (for eg) as that entity could be there hiding, but we tend to get further if we assume they do. Oh, btw, germs making people ill is also technically inferred (if im not mistaken), i think thats how science sort of works.

  108. #109 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    amphiox @ 102 – I keep a chimera on my piano. He looks really cool, candle lit at night. But alas, he is made of resin faked stone.
    Apkarlu, from Ashurnasirpal’s Palace at Nimrod.
    http://www.goldenageproject.org.uk/812.html

  109. #110 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    Awwww, never be ashamed of being a dork, I shall ‘assume’ this is short for Dorcas, having the good christian value of meaning “full of good works”.

    Dork on!

  110. #111 Longtime Lurker
    October 31, 2008

    Do you think the streets will run red with blood if Nader loses?

    No, but they may run green with blood!

    The sick thing is that Eric is actually hoping his horror-scenario comes to pass. Forget “Red Dawn”, his internal movie is “Black Dawn”. RACIST WOLVERINES!!!

    My horror-fantasy is “The Texas Science Textbook Massacre”.

    Happy Halloween… here’s my favorite “ghost story”, to clear that Atkinsonian ugliness from my mind:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DMlxrGIi8U

  111. #112 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    Janine – You have something there. He can always fall back to just being godly, and rely on sweet baby jesus…

    The Acts 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

  112. #113 tim Rowledge
    November 1, 2008

    “Tim,
    I’m surprised the National Post is still being published”

    Well me too. But even up here in Soviet Canuckistan there are still some true-blue wingnuts. I mean good grief – Bush jr., uh, Harper, got enough votes to stay Prime Minister in the recent elections. The sad part of that is that he probably deserved to; none of the competition is really much less awful. Kinda like the dilemma down south. I really can’t imagine wanting to vote for any of the candidates. Where is the good Sister “Nun of the Above” when you actually need her?

  113. #114 Richard Simons
    November 1, 2008

    According to Johan Swart

    “Over 5000 Scientists Proclaim their Doubts about Darwin’s Theory, Scientific Dissent from Darwinism Continues to Grow, Say Experts.” Available on http://www.dissentfromdarwin.com.

    Never trust a creationist. If you go to that list, the famous ‘Dissent from Darwinism’ list, you will find not 5000 names but less than 800. Not only that, but many are specialists in computers, physics, philosophy, aviation, maths and electrical engineering, fields that confer no particular knowledge of evolution.

    What they signed was “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” This, of course, is something that any biologist would agree with.

  114. #115 Eric Atkinson
    November 1, 2008

    “The sick thing is that Eric is actually hoping his horror-scenario comes to pass.”

    Not true at all.

    But inner city dwellers have often found reasons to display their fustration by burning down their own homes.

    But no matter, I still hope Obama fades away soon.

    BTW if you are going to hate on me ,at least spell my name right.

    Nerd.. I hope to cause you heartburn for as long as Dr. Myers allows.

  115. #116 scooter
    November 1, 2008

    Blerbik ShitforBrainskinson

  116. #117 Patricia
    November 1, 2008

    Eric Atkinson – You, sonny boy are an ass of the first water.
    To call you a fool is to give you grace.

    PZ is close to being nominated for sainthood for putting up with idiots like you for so long.

    You lap yourself in stupidity.

  117. #118 scooter
    November 1, 2008

    Patricia

    I met that PZ guy and he ain’t no saint.

    He just snarfles up some beers and laughs at the christards, just like you and me

  118. #119 Stanton
    November 1, 2008

    So did Eric ever reveal his source who told him that Obama’s followers intend to raise a bloody insurrection should McCain win the election, or is he bloviating on about his fantasy world, again?

  119. #120 Patricia
    November 1, 2008

    It was probably jebus and his holy pricks.

  120. #121 scooter
    November 1, 2008

    Be Afraid, be very AFRAID
    Nightmare in Scooterville

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xjrztDkNmQ
    In Houston, they hear you scream, and open another lone star to remember you by.

  121. #122 scooter
    November 1, 2008

    Stanton @ 119: So did Eric ever reveal his source who told him that Obama’s followers intend to raise a bloody insurrection should McCain win the election,

    That would be me, actually, I’ve just been dialing in the laser sights on the bushmaster with the trick or treaters scuttling about the hood this very evening.

    They move pretty fast in their cute little witch costumes, you have to lead them a foot or two at 30 yards.

  122. #123 Patricia
    November 1, 2008

    Well Scooter he ought to be put up for sainthood, cause he sure suffers fools gladly (!) much longer than you or I would.
    Scott of Oregon, Eric Atkinson, Pete Rooke, Piltdown Man and Walton would get kicked into the campfire by me long ago.

  123. #124 Nibien
    November 1, 2008

    Scott of Oregon, Eric Atkinson, Pete Rooke, Piltdown Man and Walton would get kicked into the campfire by me long ago.

    That gets one hell of a second from me.

    Then again, having them around does raise my self-esteem, knowing how vastly superior I am to them, in any intellectual way. However, it’s a rather shallow victory, given the knowledge that them, and people like them, only drag society into the dregs.

  124. #125 maxamillion
    November 1, 2008

    Richard Simons #114
    Never trust a creationist. If you go to that list, the famous ‘Dissent from Darwinism’ list, you will find not 5000 names but less than 800. Not only that, but many are specialists in computers, physics, philosophy, aviation, maths and electrical engineering, fields that confer no particular knowledge of evolution.

    The facts are far worse, DonExodus2 has done some work on investigating the original DI list and found that only 2 reject evolution.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty1Bo6GmPqM

    The video makes for an interesting 5 mins.

  125. #126 baryogenesis
    November 1, 2008

    OK, just returned from touring the locals along my street, checking out Halloween costumes and having a few pints. This, after leaving PZed’s talk at the Macleod Auditorium at the U of Toronto, introduced by Larry Moran. Great presentation. An audience of 300-400. (BTW, the site of the auditorium is on the original location of the Macleod lab (shared Nobel, insulin with Banting).

  126. #127 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    November 1, 2008

    Posted by: scooter | November 1, 2008

    Patricia

    I met that PZ guy and he ain’t no saint.

    He just snarfles up some beers and laughs at the christards, just like you and me

    I would not be here if I though PZ and all the other people here were saints. They tend to be rather dull, unimaginative and have deformed emotions. Leave saints for people who think they deserve them. I want to live.

    Ans Eric, it does not matter how you spell it, you are an asshole. (That is four times.)

  127. #128 Leigh Williams
    November 1, 2008

    Eric A.: “I doubt Obama even gets 85% of the Democrat vote even if he wins.”

    WTF? Is it even possible to translate this word and number salad into English?

    Eric, you should back away from those Sarah Palin diction lessons. You’re unintelligible enough on your own, without coaching.

  128. #129 clinteas
    November 1, 2008

    OT

    Pat Condell seems to have felt that he had to justify the message he sends out in his videos,its a good one,worth seeing :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjZ-lSn0A3M

  129. #130 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Nithien: Scott of Oregon, Eric Atkinson, Pete Rooke, Piltdown Man and Walton would get kicked into the campfire by me long ago… Then again, having them around does raise my self-esteem, knowing how vastly superior I am to them, in any intellectual way. However, it’s a rather shallow victory, given the knowledge that them, and people like them, only drag society into the dregs.

    You know what? Fuck off. I don’t have to take that from some arrogant bastard on the Internet. (If I get banned for this post, so be it. I’ve spent months taking abuse and replying with civility. I’ve had enough.)

    I object to being placed in the same list as the likes of “Piltdown Man”. I am not a creationist nor even an active religious believer. I am a secularist who happens to be a libertarian rather than a left-winger.

    If you don’t want people on this forum disagreeing with or challenging the consensus, that’s fine – if you want 200 commenters to just pat each other on the back after every post and say “aren’t we superior to those stoopid christians/right-wingers/conservatives/libertarians [delete as appropriate]“. But there is no intellectual challenge in that; such mono-ideological environments produce narrow-mindedness. (Hence why I don’t choose to hang out on libertarian websites.)

    But you have no right to call me, or others, stupid. You don’t know any of us in real life. Speaking for myself alone, I’m studying law at Oxford University (Hertford College); see my Wikipedia user page (User:Walton One) if you really want to know any more details. I have no outstanding expertise in economics, biology or any other field that we discuss here (and have never claimed such expertise), nor do I hold any higher degrees (since I’m only 19); but I am not an idiot, and I will not sit here and be called such by some egotistical, self-important prat on the Internet.

    But I won’t stoop to your level. I don’t think you’re stupid; no one here is lacking in intellect as far as I can tell. I just think you’re a complete asshole. And it’s sad that anyone can be so closed-minded as to consider anyone who disagrees with them to be intellectually inferior.

    I know you and those like you would simply like me to leave, because you find it tiresome, no doubt, to have your entrenched ideas challenged. No such luck. I will continue commenting unless and until Professor Myers requests that I leave, in which case, out of respect for the fact that this is his blog, I will conform to his wishes (banning will not be necessary).

  130. #131 clinteas
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,

    chill out…..

    //I know you and those like you would simply like me to leave, because you find it tiresome, no doubt, to have your entrenched ideas challenged.//

    No entrenched ideas here,as far as I can tell.Just a bunch of clever people from all fields of science,elitists if you want,and a few others….
    Ive said stupid things here before and been grilled for it,you just have to be prepared to cop some flak mate,especially if you are being willfully obtuse,the clever ones will kick your ass.I think its rather refreshing,and a great self-education tool.

  131. #132 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Ive said stupid things here before and been grilled for it,you just have to be prepared to cop some flak mate,especially if you are being willfully obtuse,the clever ones will kick your ass.I think its rather refreshing,and a great self-education tool.

    Yes, I agree – that’s partly why I stay. I have no objection to people pointing out flaws in my argument; if I did, there would be no point in arguing. What I was objecting to was Nibien’s (which I accidentally misspelt Nithien) comment at #124 above, which asserted that I, and a number of other posters (none of whom have much in common with one another, incidentally), are his intellectual inferiors and are somehow harming society by our existence.

  132. #133 John Morales
    November 1, 2008

    Walton, relax, man. For what it’s worth, I understand and actually sympathise with your exasperation – especially with the dogpiling, but perhaps you should realise that kicking against the pricks is not very productive. Pharyngula being what it is, if you don’t somewhat adapt one way or the other you’re functionally being masochistic.

    But I won’t stoop to your level.

    You just about have in that comment.

  133. #134 clinteas
    November 1, 2008

    Nibien said

    Then again, having them around does raise my self-esteem, knowing how vastly superior I am to them, in any intellectual way. However, it’s a rather shallow victory, given the knowledge that them, and people like them, only drag society into the dregs.

    Sounds more than a bit arrogant to me,I hadnt noticed the post before.And I dont recognize the nick.

  134. #135 Kel
    November 1, 2008

    Personally I find libertarians annoying because of their unwavering belief in the ability of the free market. I agree with many libertarian ideals so when I read them mouth off on ideological rhetoric, I think to myself “Do I sound like that much of a douche too?”

  135. #136 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Personally I find libertarians annoying because of their unwavering belief in the ability of the free market.

    I can’t speak for anyone else here, but personally I don’t (and most libertarian economists don’t) have an “unwavering belief in the ability of the free market”. There are things which the free market cannot do well; the problems of negative externalities and depletion of public goods result in market failures, where people acting in their individual self-interest produce, collectively, results detrimental to everyone’s collective interest.

    But we also believe that government intervention is generally worse than the free market – because it suffers from identical problems. In a democracy, if we assume that people will vote according to their own self-interest, then we get the exact same problems as arise in a free market – only worse, because they can use the coercive power of the state to inflict it on everyone. A good example is farm subsidies. There is no valid objective justification for the US and EU systems of agricultural tariffs and subsidies. Yet they are still retained; because farmers are a small, well-organised lobby who have a strong vested interest in voting to keep subsidies. In contrast, farm subsidies in the UK cost the average tax payer only around £1 per year; so even if he is well-informed, he has no individual economic incentive to campaign or vote to remove farm subsidies, even though it would be in society’s interest to do so. So the problems of market failure apply as much to government decisions as they do to the free market.

    But more moderate libertarians like myself do countenance government intervention, in limited amounts, to correct some market failures. For instance, I’m in favour of some government participation in the health insurance (though not the health provider) market, on the grounds that, due to the negative externalities associated with it and the great degree of information asymmetry that stems from the nature of the health insurance industry, the free market simply can’t take care of it adequately. Likewise, I’m in favour of Pigovian taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, to reduce the social and economic costs of excessive consumption of these products. Many libertarians would ardently disagree with me on these points.

    There are two main types of libertarians: consequentialists and rights theorists. Rights theorists oppose government intervention on deep ideological grounds; they believe that there is a fundamental right to total liberty of the person and property, and that government does not have the right to deprive a person of this liberty via the use of coercive force unless it is necessary to protect some other person’s liberty. Consequentialists, in contrast, argue that a free society is good because it works; it allows prosperity and opportunity, and allows the most able people to rise to the top.

  136. #137 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    I have to agree that Walton is in no way equivalent to loathsome excrescences such as Piltdown Man or lunatics such as Pete Rooke, and is several cuts above Eric Atkinson and SfO. He’s young, earnest, seeking in libertarianism a replacement for his fading Christian faith, and in love (with Milton Friedman), so can be very tiresome; but he is bright and potentially salvageable. And he’s right that however annoying, it is healthy to have some challengers to the liberal/left majority here.

  137. #138 Kel
    November 1, 2008

    The main problem I have with the free market is how to deal with factors like the environment. Basically for centuries we’ve been turning the environment into economic capital – plundering it’s resources and destroying it. How do we protect things like the environment without regulation? Also, how do we protect those at the bottom of society without regulation?

  138. #139 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    I have to agree that Walton is in no way equivalent to loathsome excrescences such as Piltdown Man or lunatics such as Pete Rooke, and is several cuts above Eric Atkinson and SfO. He’s young, earnest, seeking in libertarianism a replacement for his fading Christian faith, and in love (with Milton Friedman), so can be very tiresome; but he is bright and potentially salvageable. And he’s right that however annoying, it is healthy to have some challengers to the liberal/left majority here.

    Thank you, Nick. In reply, I would have to say that I have come to have great respect for your intellect; while I don’t and can’t share any of your views, I respect the fact that you do support your claims with examples and statistics from economic history, a subject in which I suspect you’re better-read than I am (it isn’t the topic of my degree and I’m largely self-taught). Of all socialists I’ve encountered on the Internet, you’re one of the few that makes a convincing argument and causes me to think seriously about the alternatives to neo-liberal economic theories. And as we discussed on another thread, we agree that the more centrist ideas of Krugman and Stiglitz, while not necessarily correct, are worth taking seriously and are valuable, from a critical perspective, in evaluating both orthodox capitalist and orthodox socialist theory.

  139. #140 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    In a democracy, if we assume that people will vote according to their own self-interest – Walton

    An evidently false assumption, for at least three reasons:
    1) It depends on the Homo economicus model of people as exclusively selfish and rational, which is known to be quite false.
    2) Perceived self-interest is not the same as real self-interest. Politicians, advertisers and interest groups spend a great deal of time and money fooling people about what their self-interest is, and who threatens it.
    3) It ignores the differences between short-term and long-term self-interest.

    There is no valid objective justification for the US and EU systems of agricultural tariffs and subsidies. Yet they are still retained; because farmers are a small, well-organised lobby who have a strong vested interest in voting to keep subsidies. In contrast, farm subsidies in the UK cost the average tax payer only around £1 per year; so even if he is well-informed, he has no individual economic incentive to campaign or vote to remove farm subsidies, even though it would be in society’s interest to do so.

    Three problems with this (although I tend to agree with you about the US and EU agricultural subsidies on the whole):
    1) There may well be a long-term interest in keeping both farming as such, and small farms, in case of food shortages in the medium term (we saw this possiblity in the last year, with the Australian drought and US diversion of grain to biofuels, combined with speculation); and to maintain a rural population and treasured landscapes. Without subsidies, most British farming, for example, would simply have disappeared over the past few decades, because whatever efficiencies it made, it could not possibly compete with the vast economies of scale available in North America, Australasia, Argentina and Brazil.
    2) There’s an inconsistency, or at least a gap, in your contrast between the self-interest of the farmers and the rest. If it only costs us £1 p.a. each, why is it in society’s interest to cut the subsidies?
    3) You have suggested no way in which such special interests can be overcome. Even if it were the case (which it isn’t) that complete free trade worldwide would make everyone better off, you would have a classic social dilemma: every country and interest group would like everyone else to remove tariffs and subsidies, but keep its own. Even if all “agreed”, all would have a strong incentive to cheat with disguised subsidies.

  140. #141 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    The main problem I have with the free market is how to deal with factors like the environment. Basically for centuries we’ve been turning the environment into economic capital – plundering it’s resources and destroying it. How do we protect things like the environment without regulation?

    Good question. Environmental issues and natural resources are a good example of market failure, because commodities like, say, clean air or fish stocks are public goods, so they inevitably suffer from the “tragedy of the commons”. With fish stocks, for instance, it’s in the collective interest to preserve a breeding fish population for future exploitation; but it’s in the individual interest of each person to fish as much as he can in order to generate profit, and so fish stocks become depleted, to the long-term detriment of everyone. Similar considerations apply to air pollution and to deforestation.

    But there are ways of harnessing market forces, via a regulatory framework, so as to take account of this problem. For fish stocks, the best model is the ITQ (Individual Transferable Quota) system used in Iceland; this essentially allows people to buy and sell fishing quotas as proprietary rights. Thus, a free market is maintained, but depletion of fish stocks is prevented. Similar saleable “pollution quotas” have been suggested in some countries. Like I said, I’m not a doctrinaire free-marketeer; there are areas where some government intervention can be effective and desirable.

    Also, how do we protect those at the bottom of society without regulation?

    This depends on what you mean as “protect[ing] those at the bottom of society”. In a society governed by the rule of law, everyone has a basic right to liberty of the person and property, which is protected for all. No one has the right to interfere with another’s person, goods or land without that person’s consent. (Hence why I’m strongly against anarcho-capitalism; I don’t see how a meaningfully free society could be preserved without such protection.)

    But I suspect you’re not talking about this, but about “economic rights” and inequality of outcome. This is where we differ fundamentally from the Left. Some people are wealthier than others; this will always be the case in any free society, because people’s abilities and work ethic differ greatly from person to person. Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free; and government can only achieve equality of wealth and status between persons by treating people unequally and penalising those who are successful.

    Imagine, for instance, that A and B are both unskilled workers who can only earn a low wage. A finds a job and works hard. B chooses not to work. Is it right that B should be subsidised at the expense of society? Is it consonant with justice that B should receive, via welfare, the same income that A earns, when A is working and B is not? Not only does this provide an economic disincentive to work, it is fundamentally unjust to A.

    At the same time, I do believe in a safety net. B should not be allowed to starve to death; not only would that be morally dubious, but having a substantial destitute population has vast costs to society (in terms of crime, social disorder, etc.) So I believe in a basic minimal level of welfare, but not so much as to provide a disincentive to work.

  141. #142 Muzz
    November 1, 2008

    It’s somehow poetic that a discussion hingeing on zombies ends up discussing ‘The Market’.
    But don’t mind me I’m just hanging out until Johan rejoins the fray. It’ll probably be the usual dissapointing dodges from his ilk but I live in hope.

  142. #143 Emmet Caulfield
    November 1, 2008

    Thus spake Nick Gotts:

    I have to agree that Walton is in no way equivalent to loathsome excrescences such as Piltdown Man or lunatics such as Pete Rooke, and is several cuts above Eric Atkinson and SfO.

    In all fairness, I have to agree too. The worst that Walton can be accused of is being a naïve and narcissistic libertarian bore. He certainly doesn’t belong in a list of imbeciles and sickos.

  143. #144 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,
    As I’ve pointed out before, Iceland’s fisheries system depends on excluding non-Icelanders. Moreover, quota systems are, in the longer term, inadequate to protect fish stocks: there is constant pressure to increase quotas – similar to the pressure for farming subsidies. Basically, large-scale commercial fishing is not viable in the long term, and no system can make it so (small-scale fisheries controlled by customary norms have worked over quite long periods). If people are to continue eating fish, the best solution is fish farming – but not in anything like the way it is done at present in most places, which is immensely destructive. Tilapia, which is a fresh-water herbivorous fish with high conversion ratio, is the one to go for.

    More broadly, environmental and resource externalities are now so ubiquitous and so important that the claim that artificial markets (like Iceland’s fishery quotas) can deal with them takes a lot of believing. Again, these systems are prone to interest-group pressures, just like subsidies – take a look at the EU’s carbon trading system, which has ended up as a vast programme of subsidies for highly polluting industries.

    Your claim that “free societies” (by which I understand you mean economically highly unequal ones) work best is very dubious. The USA is in this sense undoubtedly “freer” than Canada, Australia or Western Europe – but has lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher murder rate, more drug addiction and much higher prison population. Also, as I’ve pointed out, both the crash of 1929 and the one we’re currently in follow preiods of increasing inequality, decreasing tax rates and regulation, and (in the current case at least, I don’t know about 1929), privatisation; while the longest period of strong growth both in the USa and in Western Europe followed WW2, with high tax rates, a strong welfare state, high levels of public ownership and regulation.

    So the consequentialist libertarian case is actually extremely weak.

    On the point of justice, your example of unskilled workers A and B has some validity – but what about their children? Is it just that the children of the lazy should be punished for their parents’ faults? That the children of the rich should have an enormous head start? Social mobility is lower in the USA than in western Europe, despite the “American dream”. Basically, if you’re born poor, you have to be clever andhard-working and lucky not to stay poor. (A recent survey showed that about 20% of Americans believe they are in the top 1% of income, and about the same number again that they soon would be. In other words, the “American dream” is just that, and the whole system depends on massive deception and/or self-deception. Now whose interest might that be in? The real top 1%, perhaps?

  144. #145 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Even if it were the case (which it isn’t) that complete free trade worldwide would make everyone better off, you would have a classic social dilemma: every country and interest group would like everyone else to remove tariffs and subsidies, but keep its own. Even if all “agreed”, all would have a strong incentive to cheat with disguised subsidies.

    I agree. That’s why government, ideally, needs to be so limited in its power that it can’t enact tariffs and subsidies, no matter how many special interests wish it to do so.

    But I realise this is functionally unachievable. The libertarian free-trade utopia cannot exist. Because as long as you have laws and taxes, you must have legislators and policymakers of some kind; and once you give anyone power to change the law or the tax system, you open the door to special interests and their influence. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work towards the goal of unrestricted worldwide free trade, albeit one step at a time.

  145. #146 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    On the point of justice, your example of unskilled workers A and B has some validity – but what about their children? Is it just that the children of the lazy should be punished for their parents’ faults? That the children of the rich should have an enormous head start?… Basically, if you’re born poor, you have to be clever andhard-working and lucky not to stay poor.

    The way to cope with this is an education system which provides the best education to those with the highest ability and merit, as demonstrated through tests. Of course, it isn’t perfect, since a child’s family background and home life all too often has a massive impact on his or her academic performance (and of course some wealthier parents can always pay for private tutoring). But I advocate a system in which children from low-income families who score highly on intelligence tests can receive state assistance to attend prestigious independent schools.

    Yes, if you are born poor, you have to work hard and have a great deal of natural talent in order to climb the social ladder – but people can, and do, achieve this. (Look at many of the immigrant groups in Britain, for example; there are so many examples of immigrants from the former colonies who came to Britain with nothing, worked hard, and made good.) And, in fact, in order to achieve greater social mobility, a freer market is essential: the easy availability of capital and credit is vital in order to allow would-be entrepreneurs to start their businesses, as is a system that facilitates business success. It’s no accident that many of Britain’s best-known self-made entrepreneurs made their living in the 1980s, after Mrs Thatcher’s government trimmed down taxation and promoted a more business-friendly climate.

    You have a point about the children of the rich; but while they may have a head start, this doesn’t mean they always get what they want. There are plenty of examples of spoiled heirs who’ve simply wasted their family fortunes, achieved nothing, and died in comparative poverty.

    Where undeserving people succeed because of their family background, the problem is usually not capitalism per se, but rather systems of rules that entrench existing class differences. For example, George W. Bush was aided in admission to Yale by his status as a legacy student, his father and grandfather being Yale graduates. In the UK, this could not happen, because universities do not award extra admission credit to “legacy students”. The “legacy student” system seems to me iniquitous and discriminatory. But that isn’t inherent in capitalism; indeed, it’s irrational and inefficient from the university’s own perspective, assuming their goal is to remain a respected centre of learning. I don’t know whether George Bush would have got into an Ivy League college without his status as a legacy student, nor whether he would have been admitted to a prestigious university over here had he been born in the UK. But I suspect not.

    What we need is, as far as possible, a level playing field – equality of opportunity, but not equality of outcome. Everyone merits a decent start in life and a chance to get an education. But if they throw it away, or if they simply don’t have the merit and competence to succeed, then society should not subsidise their failure; and, correspondingly, if someone takes advantage of their opportunity and works hard, they should not be deprived of the fruits of their success. (Ironically, two good examples of this, albeit totally different in their ideology and values, are Barack Obama and Justice Clarence Thomas. Both are racial minorities from, originally, low-income backgrounds; both worked hard and used their natural abilities, taking advantage of the educational opportunities offered to them, and both succeeded in their respective fields.)

  146. #147 'Tis Himself
    November 1, 2008

    First, I must admit to a prejudice. Because of some unpleasant experiences dealing with libertarians both on the internet* and in real life, I have a distinct animosity to libertarians. Also I object to the libertarian denial of society. Libertarianism, especially of the anarcho-capitalist type, is based on pure selfishness.

    However, it’s often difficult to argue effectively with libertarians. As Mike Huben explains:

    But the two major flavors are anarcho-capitalists (who want to eliminate political governments) and minarchists (who want to minimize government.) There are many more subtle flavorings, such as Austrian and Chicago economic schools, gold-bug, space cadets, Old-Right, paleo-libertarians, classical liberals, hard money, the Libertarian Party, influences from Ayn Rand, and others…This diversity of libertarian viewpoints can make it quite difficult to have a coherent discussion with them, because an argument that is valid for or against one type of libertarianism may not apply to other types. This is a cause of much argument in alt.politics.libertarian: non-libertarians may feel that they have rebutted some libertarian point, but some other flavor libertarian may feel that his “one true libertarianism” doesn’t have that flaw.

    *I used to post at the old NPR Your Turn website. There was a libertarian there who preferred that people think he was a liar rather than wrong about even the slightest detail. He once made a comment in passing that NATO headquarters was in Oslo. When it was pointed out that NATO headquarters is in Brussels, instead of admitting his mistake, he insisted, in spite of overwhelming evidence, that he was right and everyone else, including NATO, was wrong. This was just one of the more egregious examples of libertarians I’ve met on the interwebs.

  147. #148 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    What we need is, as far as possible, a level playing field – equality of opportunity, but not equality of outcome. – Walton

    Which is absolutely impossible. Starting off poor means you are disadvantaged in the womb – look it up! Your claim that “free markets” aid social mobility is falsified by the evidence – as I say, the USA has less social mobility than western Europe. Moreover social mobility has declined in rich countries over the past few decades, in line with the move to privatisation and deregulation. The stuff about rich kids not always getting what they want is disingenuous hooey – it is abundantly clear that if you’re born rich, you’ll stay rich unless you make extraordinary efforts not to. You’ll get a better education, better food, a better environment, better health care, higher self-esteem, a longer life… And the stuff about the obstacles to social mobility not being the fault of capitalism is also hooey: capitalism has never been about fair competition. You claim to base your views on recognising the power of human self-interest, yet you don’t see that the rich will, if they possibly can, ensure that their children get a head start? Wealth is power, Walton.

    Finally, you really can’t appeal to “justice” and yet accept, as significant inequality of outcome implies, that individuals start from highly unequal positions. It would be much more honest, Walton (honest to yourself I mean, I’m not accusing you in this case of deliberate lying) to say “Right, I’m lucky, I was born clever, in a stable middle-class (I’m guessing) family in a rich country. I want to keep the advantages that has given me, and a highly unequal society and world will help me do that.”

  148. #149 johannes
    November 1, 2008

    > The USA is in this sense undoubtedly “freer” than Canada,
    > Australia or Western Europe – but has lower life
    > expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher murder rate,
    > more drug addiction and much higher prison population.

    All the western, industrialized countries have mixed economies with huge statal sectors. A market needs rules, and an entity to enforce them, in other words, a state. A totally free market exists only as a pipe dream in the minds of randroids, or as a boogeyman in the minds of no globals. The differences between the US and the other industrialized western countries are probably not so much the result of the US being more “free” or more neoliberal, but rather the result of the fact that about one third of the US – the south, and probably parts of the west, too – has just emerged from a quasi-colonial, rent economy status during the last thirty or forty years.
    Louisiana can’t be compared with Luxemburg or Austria, it should be compared with Martinique, or Curacao. Crime rates are very similar – at least in rural areas – on both sides of the US-Canadian border.

    > Social mobility is lower in the USA than in western
    > Europe,

    This claim contradicts the general consensus among German sociologists about the “closed” or corporativist nature of at least German and French society, if not western European society in general. You have statistical prove for it?

  149. #150 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    That’s why government, ideally, needs to be so limited in its power that it can’t enact tariffs and subsidies, no matter how many special interests wish it to do so.

    That strikes me as absurd: if government is weak, it will be more in thrall to special interests. But supposing you are right, this would also make it impossible for the government to exercise its protective functions, internally or externally.

    Moreover, the virtue of unlimited free trade is dubious. To take farming again, the result would be a concentration of farming in those regions naturally best suited to it, and a collapse elsewhere. Then, you get an event like the recent Australian drought – and prices rocket, and the poor starve. Systems without “slack” (what you would call highly efficient systems), and without internal barriers to propagating effects, are highly unstable – the basic reason why excessive deregulation causes bubbles and crashes. Hence the Ricardian justification for complete free trade is not valid in a system vulnerable to external shocks (e.g. climatic events), or with powerful positive feedback loops (wealth generates wealth).

  150. #151 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Libertarianism, especially of the anarcho-capitalist type, is based on pure selfishness.

    I can’t speak for anarcho-capitalists, since I am not one. And if you were talking about Randian Objectivists, you’d be right. The followers of Rand expressly reject conventional morality and altruism in favour of hedonism and self-fulfilment.

    But those of us who are mere libertarians (or libertarian conservatives, as I personally identify myself) do not reject conventional ethics. We merely believe that, since ethical principles and their application are legitimate matters of debate, the state ought not to impose a particular set of ethical values via coercive force. I would also point out that there is no inherent moral virtue in doing something because the state compels you to do it; rather, morality is expressed through the way in which we exercise our choices.

    The differences are expressed in, perhaps, one’s reaction to a starving beggar on the street. A socialist will say “This man should not be suffering like this; the state ought to take from the rich and prosperous and give to him.” A Randian Objectivist will say “Why should any of us give him any help? We’re here for ourselves, not for others, and there is no moral imperative that compels us to help anyone else.” I, on the other hand, would probably choose to give him money – assuming I had any – and would encourage others to do the same; but I would fight tooth-and-nail against any proposal to force anyone to give him money. There is a crucial difference between “this is the right way to behave” and “this is the way that everyone should be forced to behave”.

    It’s no different from gay marriage, really. Some people believe that same-sex relationships are morally wrong; others do not, and it is a personal choice of each individual whether to enter into or condone a gay marriage. Yet even if the majority believe them to be morally wrong, they have no right to impose their personal moral views on others; hence why I, and most libertarians, support same-sex civil marriage.

  151. #152 Emmet Caulfield
    November 1, 2008

    The way to cope with this is an education system which provides the best education to those with the highest ability and merit, as demonstrated through tests.

    How would this be funded? Surely, it would have to be funded by taxation, which would be “confiscating” (to use your word) one person’s money to educate another person’s child. That doesn’t sound very libertarian.

    Under your proposal, we educate the rich and the smart, and let everyone else (the majority) have an inferior education. Don’t we then end up with an Idiocracy? The vast majority are neither rich nor smart and so, you maintain, deserve a lesser education. But they still vote (unless you intend that the poor and ignorant be disenfranchised). How do you avoid the kind of situation they currently suffer in some parts of the US, where an undereducated general population elect imbeciles to school boards?

    Having conceded the necessity of taxation to fund education, healthcare, and a social safety-net, and the necessity for government intervention to regulate markets, how can you really call yourself a libertarian? You seem to differ from a socialist only to a minor degree.

  152. #153 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    The USA is in this sense undoubtedly “freer” than Canada, Australia or Western Europe – but has lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher murder rate, more drug addiction and much higher prison population.

    I would question that the US is by my definition substantially freer. I think the US is a poor example of a capitalist society. Even if you discount defence spending, total public spending per capita in most US states (if federal, state and local spending are all taken into account) is not much lower than that in most European social democracies. And most of the European states are now cutting back on taxation and spending, whereas the US seems highly likely to increase spending over the next few years (whichever candidate wins).

    As to Australia, they actually rank higher than the United States in the World Index of Economic Freedom – as do New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore and Hong Kong.

    I haven’t made enough of a study to pronounce on why America seems to spend more to achieve less; but it can hardly be asserted that it’s the fault of the free market, because we’re talking about government spending here.

  153. #154 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Having conceded the necessity of taxation to fund education, healthcare, and a social safety-net, and the necessity for government intervention to regulate markets, how can you really call yourself a libertarian? You seem to differ from a socialist only to a minor degree.

    Not to a minor degree, no (and it depends what you define as a “socialist”). I oppose redistribution of wealth for its own sake; I oppose the idea that equality is a desirable goal. For this reason, I do not agree with progressive tax rates, and would contend that the only legitimate income tax is a flat tax.

    Furthermore, though I believe in public funding for education (as did the late Milton Friedman, incidentally) and for healthcare, I don’t believe in government monopoly provision of those things. Here in the UK, I would scrap the National Health Service, privatise hospitals and health providers, and instead have a comprehensive system of public funding without public provision, with the option for consumers to opt out and use private insurance instead. Hospital staff would no longer waste masses of effort and money jumping through hoops in order to meet arbitrary government targets; a free market, and patient choice in a competitive market framework, would ensure that hospital quality was maintained. Ditto for education; I support a school voucher system and (as I said) extra government funding for the intellectually able.

    To answer your question about US school boards: I would solve this problem by scrapping school boards and, instead, having a competitive market in education. Each school could teach whatever it wished; the check on its power would be the unlimited power of parents to withdraw their children and send them elsewhere. Since schools would then have to compete for the brightest pupils, they’d have to maintain high academic standards. Funding, of course, would still be provided by government, to ensure that education quality is based on merit and not on parental wealth.

    As to regulation, I think we need some, but less in many areas than we currently have.

  154. #155 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    November 1, 2008

    Walton. You really can bring a discussion to its knees. Strugglingly painfully to escape your repetitive monotonous rants about libertarian paradise.

  155. #156 Emmet Caulfield
    November 1, 2008
    Social mobility is lower in the USA than in western Europe

    This claim contradicts the general consensus among German sociologists about the “closed” or corporativist nature of at least German and French society, if not western European society in general. You have statistical prove for it?

    Really, Nick’s claim isn’t at all controversial. Social mobility in the UK and the US is much lower than in Europe. For example:

    In a comparison of eight European and North American countries, Britain and the United States have the lowest social mobility

    From http://cep.lse.ac.uk/about/news/IntergenerationalMobility.pdf

  156. #157 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    johannes@149,
    The best info I can find quickly is at:

    http://www.futureofchildren.org/information2826/information_show.htm?doc_id=389282.
    somehwat more complex than my summary: the USA occupies an intermediate position in cooupational mobility, but is low on income mobility, primarily at the top and bottom ends of the scale. Germany is not very mobile, but Sweden and Finland come at the top in both occupational and income mobility – which confirms my basic point.

    but I would fight tooth-and-nail against any proposal to force anyone to give him money. – Walton
    a) Do you include in this being forced (like everyone else) to pay taxes?
    b) Do you mean literally fight, as in use violence. Suppose it were democratically decided to impose very high taxes on the rich, or to compulsorily socialise most of industry and finance. Would you feel justified in using violence to prevent this?

    I haven’t made enough of a study to pronounce on why America seems to spend more to achieve less; but it can hardly be asserted that it’s the fault of the free market, because we’re talking about government spending here.
    I wasn’t – I was talking about GDP per capita.

    I’m not convinced by the “Index of Economic Freedom” – any such conglomeration of diffeent measures is inevitably dependent on the weighting given. In any case, the Heritage Foundation are a group of far-right nutters. Interesting, however, to note that two of their top “free” entities, Singapore and Hong Kong, are politically, and in the case of Singapore socially, highly authoritarian.

  157. #158 Nerd of Redhead
    November 1, 2008

    libertarian paradise
    Another addition to the classic oxymoron list.

  158. #159 Nick Gotts
    November 1, 2008

    Hospital staff would no longer waste masses of effort and money jumping through hoops in order to meet arbitrary government targets; a free market, and patient choice in a competitive market framework, would ensure that hospital quality was maintained.

    Instead, they’d waste masses of effort on creaming off potentially profitable patients even if somewhere else is in a better position to treat them, while refusing to take the less profitable; do lots of highly profitable procedures even when unnecessary (see the USA’s rates of elective caesareans); and cut costs by skimping on staff (as has happened in the UK since hospital cleaning was outsourced, hence in large part the outbreaks of MRSA and C. difficile. And of course, when you’re seriously ill, what you most want is to spend lots of time and effort comparing hospitals.

    Each school could teach whatever it wished; the check on its power would be the unlimited power of parents to withdraw their children and send them elsewhere.

    This of course makes the children of religious fundamentalists and wacko cultists, the feckless, the not-very-bright etc. extremely vulnerable. But what the hell eh, Walton, they should have chosen their parents more carefully, shouldn’t they?

    Right – must break off this argument for now and do some work; “revise and resubmit” paper to finish :-(

  159. #160 Nerd of Redhead
    November 1, 2008

    Blockquote fail in #158. DOH! *headdesk*

  160. #161 Emmet Caulfield
    November 1, 2008

    I oppose redistribution of wealth for its own sake;

    That’s a preposterous and unworthy straw-man. Nobody, except the lunatic fringe of paleocommunist, supports redistribution of wealth for its own sake.

    I oppose the idea that equality is a desirable goal.

    You earlier advocated equality of economic opportunity and equality of access to education. Are those now undesirable?

    I do not agree with progressive tax rates, and would contend that the only legitimate income tax is a flat tax.

    I presume this is a simple idealogical objection, rather than a pragmatic one. Are you a doctrinaire flat-taxer “to the last penny”? If the rate is, say, 25%, does someone earning £10,000 p/a pay £2,500 or his s/he exempt? At that level of income, £2,500 is a lot.

    Furthermore, though I believe in public funding for education … and for healthcare, I don’t believe in government monopoly provision of those things.

    In short, you would have US healthcare over Scandinavian healthcare, despite the evidence, and inflict a school free-for-all on children, despite the evidence that the best education systems in the world have a national curriculum and state provision.

  161. #162 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Are you a doctrinaire flat-taxer “to the last penny”? If the rate is, say, 25%, does someone earning £10,000 p/a pay £2,500 or his s/he exempt? At that level of income, £2,500 is a lot.

    No. I believe in a tax-free allowance (which most countries with a flat tax rate do have) up to a certain level. Otherwise people at the lowest level of income are effectively penalised for working (rather than collecting welfare) and it makes it unnecessarily difficult for people to escape poverty. But I would have, let’s say, no income tax up to US$12,000, and a flat tax rate above that.

    …despite the evidence that the best education systems in the world have a national curriculum and state provision.

    So do many bad education systems. In the Western world, centralised state control is so ubiquitous that there’s no systematic or widely-implemented alternative with which to compare it. But as far as I know (though I haven’t made a study of the subject), those US states that have implemented a voucher system have enjoyed considerable success and improvement in educational standards. Australia, another country with a particularly good education system, gives some state funding to the private educational sector; and even Sweden, beloved of social democrats everywhere, has a school voucher system. Vouchers work.

    In short, you would have US healthcare over Scandinavian healthcare…

    Wrong. US healthcare is not a “system” at all, it’s several different systems: (1) the private insurance market; (2) employer health plans; (3) Medicare, which is similar in concept to European “social insurance” plans but provides only for the elderly; (4) Medicaid, which provides medical funding (but not actual services) to the very poor; (5) the VHA and the Indian Health Service, which are fully socialised systems but only serve a small subset of the population. US federal government spending on healthcare per capita was $2,700 in 2004 – higher than Canada or most European countries. So the US system doesn’t suffer from a lack of public funding; it suffers from a lack of a coherent, joined-up system, due to the fact that it has been reformed piecemeal rather than according to a rational scheme.

    I, in contrast, would have a single-payer public funding system (although people would be entitled to opt out of it and use private insurance instead); it would be financed via payroll taxes, and would provide funding while leaving the consumer free to choose service providers.

  162. #163 tim Rowledge
    November 1, 2008

    Since money only has any actual utility when you spend it, I’d prefer to see all taxes based on spending rather than income. Basic needs – 0 tax. OSx based computers, 10%, Windows based 30%. Elitist Olives ;-) and swish champagne, caviar, 50% tax. High end cars, Sarah Palin style glasses, second homes, 100% tax. Donations to religious causes (including political, since political causes are merely religions with earthly prophets) 500%. And so on.

    Obviously it could never work since it would be a massive driving force for smuggling from less enlightened tax regimes. Sigh.

  163. #164 Emmet Caulfield
    November 1, 2008

    Vouchers work.

    The voucher system in Sweden is very heavily regulated. Non-state schools essentially have to accept any student, are prohibited from charging beyond the voucher value, and must adhere to the national curriculum. That’s very, very far from the insane “each school could teach whatever it wished” free-for-all you were advocating.

    And, incidentally, “it’s never been tried” is a pretty weak argument. Lobotomies haven’t been tried for treating migraine, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    No. I believe in a tax-free allowance.

    So, in essence, you acknowledge the fundamental rationale of a progressive taxation system, that the incremental value of income is a function of the total income, but refuse to extend the principle to levels higher than subsistence. You won’t tax a family into starvation, but you’ll happily tax them into other forms of deprivation: poor healthcare, education, or housing, for example.

    US healthcare is not a “system” at all

    Well, we agree on one thing :o)

    … the US [healthcare] system … suffers from a lack of a coherent, joined-up system…

    That is true, but it isn’t safe to conclude that this is the sole or dominant contributory factor to the atrocious value-for-money of US healthcare. I think it’s the rôle of government to put such a joined-up system in place. In any case, the US implements your ideal of separating state funding, albeit complex, from private provision, and is, in that sense, very much closer to your ideal than the relatively successful systems of Western and Northern Europe.

    With healthcare providers motivated by profit, how are the cherry-picking and over-treatment problems (see Nick’s #159) solved? Government regulation, provision, or subsidisation?

  164. #165 Muzz
    November 1, 2008

    All this stuff’s been tested in various privatisations of government services around the world. Under the auspices of removing services from the ‘inefficiencies’ of government, allowing private organisations to tender and compete for the same role largely didn’t result in greater efficiency at all. Instead new offices had to be created or old ones grew in order to provide oversight and maintain standards of services in the new industry after customer satisfaction plummeted and the standards of service went through the floor. Apparent saving in government expenditure come from the Enron school of accounting; spreading costs and debts around so either side of the new government-business relationship can disavow the whole and claim success for the principle.

    The idea of competitve schools at every level sounds like madness and anyone who’s had a look at how schools work woukld probably agree with me. It’s greatest hiccup is not what to do about all those that lose (but still presumably attract government funding?) but when a school wins and every parent ‘chooses’ to take their kids there. Do they have to accept them? It is a free market right? Or are there still districts? Up the fees? Expand?
    There’ too many questions for me to jump to conclusions, but libertarian ideas do always sound like they think we haven’t had any practice at [whatever topic they're trying to radicalise] over the last hundred to two hundred years. We restricted markets back in the day because we knew what they’d do, we created public education, health, fire departments etc because we need only look out the window to see what the unregulated version looked like.
    But I dunno. too late at night. probably should ignore me.

  165. #166 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    So, in essence, you acknowledge the fundamental rationale of a progressive taxation system, that the incremental value of income is a function of the total income, but refuse to extend the principle to levels higher than subsistence. You won’t tax a family into starvation, but you’ll happily tax them into other forms of deprivation: poor healthcare, education, or housing, for example.

    I think you’ve misunderstood my rationale: it’s one of economic incentives. Assume A is a single parent who is earning a bare subsistence wage – let’s say $12,000 pa, for the sake of argument. Let’s assume a flat tax rate of 20% with no exemptions, meaning that A pays $2,400 pa in tax – taking her actual income down to $9,600. And let’s assume that she can get $9,000 pa by stopping work and going on welfare. Clearly, when one takes into account the cost of childcare etc. for working mothers, A has a strong incentive to simply stop work and go on welfare. Thus, rather than getting $2,400 in tax revenues from A, the public treasury is paying out $9,000 for A’s support. Therefore, we can see that it’s a more economically efficient option – assuming that we’re not going to abolish welfare – to refrain from taxing A at all, therefore incentivising A to work and earn money.

    (Btw I plucked the above figures out of thin air as examples. I’m aware they’re probably all miles off the mark.)

    The economic reason I oppose a progressive tax, beyond the basic tax-free allowance, is simple. Assume B is a middle-class self-employed worker, whose business is earning just below the threshold for a higher tax rate. Let’s say he then has a chance to expand his business and his profits. If he does, it will take him into the higher tax bracket – meaning that, from his perspective, it isn’t worth the cost of working harder, earning more, and creating more wealth. He’s being punished for his success, so why succeed? And therefore he doesn’t earn more money, create more jobs and expand the economy, when he would otherwise have done so.

    The same problem holds true even for the very wealthy. President Reagan used to tell people about the fact that, when he was a Hollywood actor, many of the most successful actors would do no more than two movies a year, and spent the rest of the year not working – not because they were lazy, but because, with something like 80% marginal tax rates on the very highest income bracket, it simply wasn’t worth the effort of doing more movies and earning more money on top of their existing ample incomes, because the government would take most of it. The economic detriment of this is obvious; these people were being dissuaded from the creation of additional wealth – which would, if created, contribute to the economy and create jobs – by the burdensome tax rate.

  166. #167 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    It’s greatest hiccup is not what to do about all those that lose (but still presumably attract government funding?) but when a school wins and every parent ‘chooses’ to take their kids there. Do they have to accept them? It is a free market right? Or are there still districts? Up the fees? Expand?

    To clarify, I would require that those schools accepting voucher funding could not charge more than the amount of the voucher. So popular/oversubscribed schools would not be allowed to charge higher fees – as this would reserve an elite education to the children of the wealthy alone – but instead would be able to pick and choose students based on academic testing and demonstrated ability. Thus, the best schools would admit the best students (in the sense of intellectual merit) and provide them with the best education. In other words, a meritocracy.

    (Of course, existing independent schools would have every right to opt out of the voucher system and charge whatever fees they chose, but they would not be allowed to accept voucher funding.)

    With healthcare providers motivated by profit, how are the cherry-picking and over-treatment problems (see Nick’s #159) solved? Government regulation, provision, or subsidisation?

    This is a legitimate concern. But hopefully the market would take care of it; since patients would need enough information to choose their hospital wisely, I imagine that consumer groups and companies would spring up providing comparative “good hospital guides” or something of that nature.

    Instead new offices had to be created or old ones grew in order to provide oversight and maintain standards of services in the new industry after customer satisfaction plummeted and the standards of service went through the floor. Apparent saving in government expenditure come from the Enron school of accounting; spreading costs and debts around so either side of the new government-business relationship can disavow the whole and claim success for the principle.

    This is not always true. Look at water privatisation in the UK, for instance. In the early 90s our water infrastructure was privatised, with a government regulatory office (OFWAT) to maintain service standards. It was much criticised, since, of course, consumers have no choice of water suppliers. Yet according to OFWAT’s recent reports, consumer service, leakage rates and other performance factors have all consistently improved since privatisation in the early 90s.

  167. #168 Muzz
    November 1, 2008

    Far more civility than I probably deserve.
    Regardless I must ask are you advocating extensive assessments of children before education can even commence or are only higher forms subject to this meritocracy?

  168. #169 Eric Atkinson
    November 1, 2008

    “So did Eric ever reveal his source who told him that Obama’s followers intend to raise a bloody insurrection should McCain win the election, or is he bloviating on about his fantasy world, again”

    In case anyone wants to know: http://www.observer.com/2008/politics/erica-jong-tells-italians-obama-loss-will-spark-second-american-civil-war-blood-will-r

  169. #170 Eric Atkinson
    November 1, 2008

    “Eric A.: “I doubt Obama even gets 85% of the Democrat vote even if he wins.”

    WTF? Is it even possible to translate this word and number salad into English?”

    For those of you in the ESL class:
    IF Obama wins the election.

    Then it is my prediction that less than 85% of Democrat voters will have voted for Obama.

  170. #171 Emmet Caulfield
    November 1, 2008

    The economic reason I oppose a progressive tax

    … is yet another straw-man, since every progressive tax system offers marginal relief so that the situation you describe simply doesn’t happen. At the top level, where marginal relief cannot apply, the game is less about money for what it can buy than as a metric of success. Ronald Reagan’s story, even it it’s true, is a pretty poor example since Hollywood stardom as a microcosm of industrial economics seems a very dubious analogy, but doubtless the voluntary abstinence of a few super-stars created an opportunity for lesser stars, creating a number of stars for every “lost” super-star. That sounds like a good thing to me. That seems like it would create more competition, rather than less, which is something I would have expected you to be in favour of, rather than opposing.

    This is a legitimate concern. But hopefully the market would take care of it; since patients would need enough information to choose their hospital wisely, I imagine that consumer groups and companies would spring up providing comparative “good hospital guides” or something of that nature.

    That doesn’t address the question at all. The issue is that paring an old lady’s bunions is not profitable and the average old lady simply cannot afford to pay the market rate that would make it profitable, so we either need state provision or subsidy or we let the old lady suffer. It is not a “consumer choice” issue. Neither are unnecessary medical procedures since there is no correlation between “medically appropriate” and “profitable”. My profit-motivated dentist may fill teeth that don’t need filling, for example, but he is competent and friendly and the practice is widespread. Once the procedure is performed, there is no way of telling if it was necessary. The notion that the best dentists are going to get rave reviews in “What Dentist?” magazine and become fabulously wealthy through their adherence to ethical principles is laughably stupid.

  171. #172 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Regardless I must ask are you advocating extensive assessments of children before education can even commence or are only higher forms subject to this meritocracy?

    I’m not sure – I’m not an education expert – but I would think that meritocratic admissions would only apply to secondary schools and above.

  172. #173 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    Neither are unnecessary medical procedures since there is no correlation between “medically appropriate” and “profitable”.

    Interesting. I don’t know enough about medicine to evaluate how consistently true this assertion is, but if true, it would mean that a total market failure is virtually inevitable in any healthcare market – which I don’t find especially plausible.

    Let’s analyse it. I realise that it’s difficult for an average member of the public to know whether a particular medical operation or procedure is medically necessary. But surely a hospital or surgeon who charged a patient for a wholly unnecessary operation under the pretence of medical necessity, even if such operation was not harmful overall to the patient, would be open to legal action? And surely a surgeon or hospital with a record of performing unnecessary treatment to make money would quickly lose patients?

  173. #174 maureen
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,

    Let’s go back to Emmett’s example and make this as simple for you as possible.

    I am well into my sixties but fortunately, because my balance is good and I have no arthritis, I am still able to do all the work necessary to keep my feet in good working order. This is not true of everyone of my age.

    When my mother was the same age she needed a quarterly visit to a chiropidist – she had been a professional cook – hands in hot liquids, almost all work done standing – so both her hands and her feet had aged and far more rapidly than mine have.

    Initially, the service was provided by the NHS until some young number-cruncher decided that particular service could be cut. After all, very few actually die of having a bunion and a couple of corns, do they?

    So those who could afford it paid for the service which allowed them to keep exercising, maintain a social life, run for the House of Keys, that sort of thing. The ones who could not afford it were not only in pain but housebound and in increasingly poor health.

    I happen to think we must take into account not only the suffering of those who are denied the non-profitable services but also the eventual, usually higher, cost to society of treating someone who has not been able to perserve herself in good mental and physical health. Don’t you?

  174. #175 Emmet Caulfield
    November 1, 2008

    I don’t know enough about medicine to evaluate how consistently true this assertion is

    How could one possibly doubt it? “Profitable” and “medically appropriate” are so fundamentally different that it’s hard to see how there could ever be any correlation between them. What mechanism do you propose that could connect them? For a little reductio ad absurdum, the common cold is treated by symptomatic relief with OTC pharmaceuticals, which is highly medically appropriate, but not at all profitable. Treatment of the same condition by liver transplant may be very profitable but is certainly not medically appropriate. There’s simply no reason to suppose that the two could possibly be connected any more than my shoe-size and the number of mushrooms growing in China.

    Let’s analyse it.

    No, let’s deal with the actual examples, such as the rate of voluntary C-sections mentioned by Nick. Your wild “surely” speculation is surely true for extreme cases of malpractice, “You have an ingrown toenail, let’s do brain surgery”, but it surely fails for elective surgeries where the most profitable treatment may be recommended over a less profitable, but more appropriate, treatment or none at all, which is the case with recommending a C-section or a filling. Where the profitable treatment is medically justifiable, the unethical hospitals/doctors will go undetected. Long-running medical fuck-ups involving gross malpractice and incompetence come to light periodically under regimes of strict oversight (there have been a few recent examples in Ireland, if you challenge that statement), what possible basis is there to suppose that profit-motivated sub-optimally appropriate treatment might be caught by the consumer? It’s a daft notion.

    If I were you, I would be more inclined to argue the opposite case: that cash-strapped state-run hospitals may recommend a cheaper treatment over the most medically appropriate one. It’s at least superficially plausible, so I’d be interested in the evidence for/against it.

  175. #176 'Tis Himself
    November 1, 2008

    I realise that it’s difficult for an average member of the public to know whether a particular medical operation or procedure is medically necessary. But surely a hospital or surgeon who charged a patient for a wholly unnecessary operation under the pretence of medical necessity, even if such operation was not harmful overall to the patient, would be open to legal action?

    A couple of months ago I had my annual physical exam complete with electrocardiogram. The doctor looked at the EKG and said “you have impressive sounding medical jargon term, you should have a stress test.” So I had the stress test and the cardiologist said, “I agree with Dr. Oddaffection, you have impressive sounding medical jargon term and we should run further tests.” These tests cost me little (I pay $25 per visit with insurance covering the rest), I’m taking the further tests.

    Unless the insurance company objects, then there’s no thought about legal action. I’m not competent to tell if Dr. Oddaffection or the cardiologist (specifically recommended to me by Dr. Oddaffection) are doing what they’re supposed to do or just milking the insurance company and me for what they can. The insurance company is taking both doctors’ word that I’ve got impressive sounding medical jargon term, so the company don’t know either.

    And surely a surgeon or hospital with a record of performing unnecessary treatment to make money would quickly lose patients?

    Occasionally this happens. In the US it almost always happens because Medicare (the federal gummint’s health insurance scheme for the elderly and disabled) investigates. Insurance companies almost never investigate because they usually don’t have the database to tell if certain treatments are statistically skewed for a certain doctor or hospital.

  176. #177 Leigh Williams
    November 1, 2008

    Eric A: “IF Obama wins the election. Then it is my prediction that less than 85% of Democrat voters will have voted for Obama.”

    Okay, that’s comprehensible, I guess, though I’m not sure how you’re working the math. I see nothing in your post that sets up this conclusion, and since it’s an assertion plucked out of the aether, I don’t find it very compelling.

  177. #178 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    If I were you, I would be more inclined to argue the opposite case: that cash-strapped state-run hospitals may recommend a cheaper treatment over the most medically appropriate one. It’s at least superficially plausible, so I’d be interested in the evidence for/against it.

    Over here, a centralised government body, called NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) decides which treatments are and are not available on the NHS, having regard particularly to cost-effectiveness. (There was a major scandal a few years ago about the new breast cancer drug Herceptin being refused to NHS patients, for instance). But I’d imagine that in the US the same thing happens with HMOs and insurance companies. In the end, care is incredibly costly, and someone’s got to ration it, whether government or the private sector. So I don’t see that as a problem in itself.

    I haven’t heard any suggestion that individual doctors or hospitals in state-run systems ever seek to cut costs by prescribing cheaper treatments, though it could happen. So it seems to me that this line of argument is substantially a red herring.

  178. #180 Azkyroth
    November 1, 2008

    Not to a minor degree, no (and it depends what you define as a “socialist”). I oppose redistribution of wealth for its own sake; I oppose the idea that equality is a desirable goal. For this reason, I do not agree with progressive tax rates, and would contend that the only legitimate income tax is a flat tax.

    Given that the resources and infrastructure used both directly (roads, contract enforcement, police protection) and indirectly (social stability and the existence of a well-educated, healthy workforce) on which the ability to accumulate wealth is inextricably based are largely dependent on the scope, organizational resources, and authority of government, does it really seem unfair for those who have derived far more benefit from these resources to take on more of the burden of maintaining them?

  179. #181 Azkyroth
    November 1, 2008

    I believe in a tax-free allowance (which most countries with a flat tax rate do have) up to a certain level. Otherwise people at the lowest level of income are effectively penalised for working (rather than collecting welfare) and it makes it unnecessarily difficult for people to escape poverty. But I would have, let’s say, no income tax up to US$12,000, and a flat tax rate above that.

    If a person is making $11,500 a year, and the flat tax rate is more than about 4%, this still produces a disincentive to work. Having the tax kick in around that level at a very low rate and gradually increase would eliminate that.

  180. #182 Azkyroth
    November 1, 2008

    (Perhaps I should clarify: this produces a disincentive to seek more hours or higher wages unless such an increase can be obtained as to offset the chunk that the flat tax rate is suddenly taking off of it.)

    Additionally, it seems to me that the arguments for a flat tax being fair seem to implicitly assume either that all personal spending is discretionary, or that non-negotiable expenses (rent, bills, food, etc.) will increase in a linear fashion commensurate with income. Since they manifestly don’t, this means that a flat tax will in practice place a higher burden on the poor than the rich. A person making $200,000 a year might resent seeing 25% of that go to the IRS, but a person making $20,000 a year and paying $5000 a year in taxes is very likely to see their ability to pay rent or bills severely impacted. (I assume you wouldn’t contend that a roof over one’s head, food, heating, and electricity are luxuries…) Any response?

  181. #183 Azkyroth
    November 1, 2008

    The economic reason I oppose a progressive tax, beyond the basic tax-free allowance, is simple. Assume B is a middle-class self-employed worker, whose business is earning just below the threshold for a higher tax rate. Let’s say he then has a chance to expand his business and his profits. If he does, it will take him into the higher tax bracket – meaning that, from his perspective, it isn’t worth the cost of working harder, earning more, and creating more wealth. He’s being punished for his success, so why succeed? And therefore he doesn’t earn more money, create more jobs and expand the economy, when he would otherwise have done so.

    I agree that this is a problem, but it sounds to me like both this and the issues I and others have identified could be solved by basing taxes on a nonlinear algebraic function which would produce a continuous, progressive pattern of taxation, rather than using discrete brackets. Is there anything obvious I’m missing?

  182. #184 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    …but it sounds to me like both this and the issues I and others have identified could be solved by basing taxes on a nonlinear algebraic function which would produce a continuous, progressive pattern of taxation, rather than using discrete brackets. Is there anything obvious I’m missing?

    Yes, two things. One, it would be even more unnecessarily complicated than at present, requiring more administration and more civil servants.

    Two, it would still provide a disincentive to productivity, albeit a less clearly-visible one. If an entrepreneur always has at the back of his mind the concern that “if I make extra money, the government’s going to take an ever-increasing amount of it away from me”, then this disincentivises productivity.

    This kind of answers your point about basic necessities/disposable income as well. Yes, basic costs like food, shelter and heating take up a much greater proportion of a poorer person’s income, and therefore any given percentage tax rate impacts him more than his wealthier counterparts. But this isn’t a bad thing – because we’re not out to achieve some meaningless form of “economic justice”. It is a good thing that a successful person, actively producing wealth, is able to afford a better lifestyle than someone who is less successful, and that those lower down the income ladder have to tighten their belts. It is not for the more successful to subsidise the less successful (except insofar as necessary to prevent the less successful from actually starving to death or dying on the streets, since this would be morally unconscionable).

    Of course, there are exceptions – it is right that a severely disabled or elderly person, for instance, should receive substantial state support, due to the fact that they can’t reasonably be expected to work and support themselves. But if A and B are both able-bodied, A works hard and succeeds and B doesn’t, it is perfectly acceptable that B should have only just enough wealth to afford the most basic necessities whereas A should have far more.

  183. #185 Azkyroth
    November 1, 2008

    One, I actually don’t see this being more complicated if it were installed by a systematic reform of the tax system (it would probably have to be) rather than piecemeal.

    Two, despite diminishing returns, I see no reason such a system couldn’t be structured to ensure that there was always some benefit to making more money.

    Third, you’re still attacking a straw man by assuming that people who are able-bodied yet poor could only be that way because of laziness, by assuming that economic success correlates in some meaningful way with “hard work” or activities which are of net benefit to society (this is far from always the case), and by assuming that your opponents support either forced arithmetic equality of income or unlimited social support for people who are unwilling to work. Every libertarian I have ever debated, of whatever subschool, seems to have these blind spots, and this is something that should give the movement pause.

  184. #186 Kel
    November 1, 2008

    Third, you’re still attacking a straw man by assuming that people who are able-bodied yet poor could only be that way because of laziness, by assuming that economic success correlates in some meaningful way with “hard work” or activities which are of net benefit to society

    That’s just it, the hardest working people I’ve seen are those who slave away at jobs that pay a low amount – they need to slave away at those jobs because it is their livelihood that depends on it. What of people who get injured, or get a disability? Those who by no fault of their own are unable to work? What of those who simply don’t have the opportunities? The free market is really a silly system that promotes inequity.

    It’s not about economic justice to tax those who earn more at a higher rate, it’s because we have a society to maintain – hospitals, roads, schools, emergency services. And in the end when there is a financial collapse, is the free market going to take responsibility to maintain society? No. It’s the government who has a responsibility over the people. If because of bad business practices a company that is a vital cog in the economic system collapses, there’s no accountability there. There’s no way of keeping the system in tact. When a company fails so be it; regardless of the consequences of society. Government regulation ensures that we have a body that can oversee the practices and be an arbiter of the process. It’s a social necessity, and it’s funny watching rich people complain about how much tax they have to pay compared to people who work long hours just to put food on the table.

  185. #187 blueelm
    November 1, 2008

    @ #111

    Lurker! I’m sorry but I just have to thank you for posting that song. I’d never heard it or heard of the band, but it’s great! Thanks for sharing :D

    I’m sorry for the OT, I just really love music.

  186. #188 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    Walton claims to be a consequentialist libertarian – supporting libertarianism because it works – yet he has failed to establish any sphere in which moving nearer to his ideal actually helps: in health, education and social mobility Sweden (to take a clear example) is way ahead of the the USA. The “disincentive” argument against progressive taxation fails in light of the very high marginal tax rates through most of the OECD in the twenty years after WW2, which also saw the greatest economic boom in history. Environmental issues he has conceded, he’s admitted that the children of the poor suffer unfair disadvantage. I conclude that Walton is not a consequentialist libertarian – he just likes the idea, and ignores the evidence against it.

    Incidentally, OFWAT is infested with doctrinaire privatisers, and gives the private water companies a very easy ride (see for example
    http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/2008/08/spending-powe-1.html). It’s amusing to note that Walton chose an example of the benefits of privatisation where there isn’t actually any competition to attract consumers, the supposed great advantage – you can’t choose which water company supplies your water.

    Eric Atkinson@179,
    The NHS is indeed underfunded, but still produces better results than the far more expensive market-based system of the USA. Outsourcing of many non-medical functions because of market dogmahas meant skimping on staff costs to provide shareholder profits. Making sure patients are not thirsty should not be the responsibility of doctors, but of nurse auxiliaries – who are now private company employees.

    Incidentally, Eric “85% of Democrat voters” means what? Registered Democrats? Registered Democrats who actually vote in the election? People who vote Democrat in the congressional contests? I suppose since you just pulled the figure out of your arse, it doesn’t really matter.

  187. #189 Eric Atkinson
    November 2, 2008

    “Incidentally, Eric “85% of Democrat voters” means what?”

    Means “Registered Democrats who actually vote in the election”

  188. #190 Eric Atkinson
    November 2, 2008

    Like Kerry got 89% of the Democrat vote in 2004.
    I don’t think Obama will be able to match that, so I picked 85%.

    Less if he loses.

    He might get 5% of the Republican vote. If he wins.

  189. #191 Nerd of Redhead
    November 2, 2008

    EricA, people dislike you here because you insist on play the class clown/slimeball. Nothing wrong in keeping quiet if you really don’t have anything to say, or get called out on idiocy. Quiet is better. Almost makes you look like a statesman versus partisan weasel.

  190. #192 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    Eric Atkinson@190. You could be right, since there are undoubtedly significant numbers of registered Democrats who are white racists, stupid enough to be fooled by the Rethug smears, or both. But why would it be important? I had the idea that what matters is who wins the election – and secondarily, since it rightly affects perceived political legitimacy, the popular vote. Absent some extraordinary event, or large-scale cheating, Obama is clearly going to win both.

  191. #193 Eric Atkinson
    November 2, 2008

    Gee, Nick. How many “black” racists will vote for Obama?

    Hom many people will vote for McCain because they dislike Obamas policies?

    Nice fantasy you got going.

    But you are right about what matters, “who wins the election.”

    I can live with my dissapointment if Obama wins.
    Can you and your ilk carry on if Obama loses?

    I see I now.
    Obama blows the election.
    Cheaters!
    Do over!
    Chaos!

  192. #194 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    “Gee, Nick. How many “black” racists will vote for Obama?” – Eric Atkinson.
    You are so predictably stupid. Some, but:
    a) This is not relevant to the discussion – but I just knew you wouldn’t be able to help yourself.
    b) Because blacks are a much smaller proportion of the population than whites and most of the black racists would be voting Democrat (if at all) anyway, it will make much less difference to the result.

    You don’t know what “ilk” means (admittedly, like most people here).

    If Obama loses, given the message of the polls, the behaviour of the candidates (McSenile campaigning in states won by his party last time, Obama in states that have been Rethug for decades), of registrations, of fund-raising, and of number of volunteers; plus the Rethuglican record of 2000 and 2004, the extremely dirty Rethuglican campaign this time, and the fact that the CEO of Diebold is a prominent right-wing Rethuglican; there will inevitably be suspicions of cheating. It should, however, be fairly clear by the pattern of results whether it has happened on a large scale. If McCain wins honestly, I will most sincerely wish him the best of health for the succeeding 4 years. Even you might be able to work out why.

  193. #195 tim Rowledge
    November 2, 2008

    Walton @ #184 –

    Yes, two things. One, it would be even more unnecessarily complicated than at present, requiring more administration and more civil servants.

    Unlikely; a simple algorithm is not any harder to implement than a lookup table. Taxes are, after all, calculated on those modern computer things nowadays, even in the bowels of the Inland Revenue.

    Two, it would still provide a disincentive to productivity, albeit a less clearly-visible one. If an entrepreneur always has at the back of his mind the concern that “if I make extra money, the government’s going to take an ever-increasing amount of it away from me”, then this disincentivises productivity.

    You might be surprised by the proportion of people who don’t think in such a simple-minded way about money. People do things for many other reasons. Economics – and especially politically driven consideration of economics – tends to be far too simplistic about motivations, though there has been a little work on improving that in recent years.

  194. #196 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    Tim Rowledge,
    Walton’s training to be a lawyer. You can’t expect him to have any grasp of mathematics, or familiarity with computers, or the way the Civil Service uses them (and did, for that matter, even when I worked for the Inland Revenue in the early ’80s).

  195. #197 tim Rowledge
    November 2, 2008

    Nick, I hope the IR has improved how it uses computers since then; my wife was a tax inspector in Winchester in those days and still has nightmares about trying to thread the paper tape into the reader….

    As for Walton, well even lawyers have to understand enough mathematics to do their billing, so perhaps there is hope for him yet.

  196. #198 Nick Gotts
    November 3, 2008

    Tim,

    So do I! While I was there, they at last switched over from punched cards and paper tape to using VDUs, and at the same time from an ICL 1900 (“That’s when it was built”) to an ICL 2900 (“That’s when the software will work”)! I guess the choice of an ICL machine was part of a “Buy British” policy, but of course by 1980 it was far too late to revive the British computer hardware industry: the crucial opportunities were missed in the ’50s and ’60s.

  197. #199 Walton
    November 3, 2008

    Economics – and especially politically driven consideration of economics – tends to be far too simplistic about motivations, though there has been a little work on improving that in recent years.

    As I understand it, that’s more or less inevitable. Human beings are complex creatures, and each one is unique; there’s no way that any economic model can satisfactorily take into account all the arbitrary factors that influence a person’s decisions. So we have to work from certain basic assumptions, which are not always accurate, hence why economics and political science can never be exact sciences following deterministic laws and predictable patterns.

    But, in the end, I think it’s fair to assume that most people carry out productive economic activity primarily for the purpose of earning money, and that they won’t do it if they can’t earn money. Hence why disincentives to work are always so dangerous. Imagine that you were earning $X per year, and that, under your country’s tax system, you knew that you would be taxed at a high rate (say 70+%) on any extra money you earned above $X. If you then had an opportunity to work harder and earn more money, why would you bother, knowing that the government would deprive you of most of the benefit of the extra income? And so an opportunity for wealth creation is missed, and the economy is held back. It doesn’t make you a greedy or lazy person; rather, it just means that there are other things besides work that you might legitimately wish to do with your time and energy, and there’s no good reason to work harder in your job (particularly if you dislike your job) unless you’re going to get the benefit of higher pay.

    The “disincentive” argument against progressive taxation fails in light of the very high marginal tax rates through most of the OECD in the twenty years after WW2, which also saw the greatest economic boom in history. – That really is the most absurd distortion of figures. Yes, socialist policies may have temporarily been made to work – but in the 1970s they crashed spectacularly, as you well know. The post-WWII model – corporatism, extensive state ownership and regulation, over-mighty unions – held back the economies of both Britain and the US, discouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. When Mrs Thatcher cut back the scope of state economic control, there was a huge growth in entrepreneurship – the effects of which gave us a generally strong economy in the 90s and 00s (the early 90s currency disaster excepted, and that was caused by the disastrous decision to enter the Exchange Rate Mechanism). Britain today, despite vulnerability to the present worldwide downturn, is still an economically strong country in comparative terms. We may not have extensive manufacturing any more; but I’ve never understood the irrational socialist obsession with manufacturing. We simply can’t compete efficiently in the worldwide markets on manufacturing and heavy industry, because other countries have greater advantages; so trying to artificially “preserve” manufacturing jobs at state expense would have been ruinous in the long run, and good for no one except the unions. Service industries create wealth as well, as does the finance industry; those things are not inferior to manufacturing. And despite the Labour government’s efforts to ruin it, we still have a relatively flexible labour market.

    Nick, you seem to think (apologies if I’m misinterpreting you) that we should have artificially preserved and protected our inefficient and defunct manufacturing industries, kept major industries under state control, and retained the power of the unions and an inflexible labour market. In a globalised world, that would be a recipe for economic suicide. We have to be competitive.

  198. #200 Walton
    November 3, 2008

    …in health, education and social mobility Sweden (to take a clear example) is way ahead of the the USA.

    This is a vast simplification and distortion.

    (1) Yes, education in Sweden is very good – as we have discussed, they have a school voucher system, allowing private and state-run schools to compete with one another and receive state funding. This is, in case you hadn’t noticed, a conservative/libertarian policy. So it’s disingenuous to suggest that Sweden’s education is better because of its more socialist/collectivist political culture.

    (2) As to the Swedish healthcare system, from the 1980s onwards some local authorities, including Stockholm, experimented – very successfully – with privatising care services and contracting services out to the private sector. See:

    http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba369/

    (Yes, I know it’s from a conservative think tank – but look at the facts and figures, not the analysis.) Also, the Swedish health system is by no means perfect; there are long waiting lists for care, including for critical surgery.

    (3) I still question your assertion that Sweden is ahead of other countries in social mobility, which you have made several times now without backing it up with statistics. Citation please?

  199. #201 John Morales
    November 3, 2008

    tim Rowledge,

    You might be surprised by the proportion of people who don’t think in such a simple-minded way about money. People do things for many other reasons.

    Count me in – quitting a well-paid job with a multinational in the city and taking on a part-time low-level clerical job in the country was the best thing I ever did; now I work to live, rather than live to work.

    Tax rates and incentives had nothing to do with it.

  200. #202 Hap
    November 3, 2008

    #179: Well, damn, then the race to good healthcare should already be over. We only pay 16% of GDP/GNP (don’t know which), with roughly 16% of the population uninsured, and no public health system. If everyone were actually covered, and we had a public health care system, we’d be paying at least twice what the rest of the world pays (though our outcomes probably would be better than now). Or, we can pay the 50% premium we pay now, with limited coverage, and accept the fact that our higher prenatal death rates and lower lifespans are “what we pay for”.

    I think someone sane would say we were being ripped off.

  201. #203 Nick Gotts
    November 3, 2008

    Walton,
    On social mobility, I gave a link, and Emmet Caulfield gave another. Here they are again.

    http://cep.lse.ac.uk/about/news/IntergenerationalMobility.pdf http://www.futureofchildren.org/information2826/information_show.htm?doc_id=389282

    On health care in Sweden: I certainly wouldn’t trust the figures given by a conservative think tank, without a great deal more investigation, and without knowing what’s happened since 2001 – the privatization was not long before this, and companies often run “loss leaders” in such situations to get their hands on more lucrative business. your link itself makes clear the system is still largely state -run. What is certain is that Sweden (and the other Scandinavian countries) are far more “socialist” than any others in the rich world, and rank at or near the top in the world in all measures of health and education. Incidentally, I wouldn’t necessarily rule out the use of vouchers in education; but the Swedish system is a far cry from your “teach whatever the school wants and let parents decide” insanity you and fellow “libertarians” advocate, as has already been pointed out. Face it, Walton, the evidence just does not support your market-worship.

    socialist policies may have temporarily been made to work – but in the 1970s they crashed spectacularly, as you well know.

    You really do know bugger-all history, don’t you Walton? The west’s economic problems in the ’70s arose from the USA trying to fund the Vietnam War without raising taxes (sound familiar?) and the “oil shocks” of 1974 and 1979, which themselves arose out of a combination of OPEC managing to get their act together sufficiently to limit production (this in turn was possible only because the defeat in Vietnam weakened the USA), and the Arab producers’ anger at western support for Israel. These causes brought about “stagflation”, and it was this that led to the breakdown of the postwar welfarist consensus, and union/employer conflict, which was an effect, not a primary cause.

    We may not have extensive manufacturing any more; but I’ve never understood the irrational socialist obsession with manufacturing.

    We’ll see whether it’s irrational or not in the next few years. It’s not specifically “socialist” either, even in the broadest sense: French and Japanese right-wing governments are just as keen to retain manufacturing.

    Nick, you seem to think (apologies if I’m misinterpreting you) that we should have artificially preserved and protected our inefficient and defunct manufacturing industries, kept major industries under state control, and retained the power of the unions and an inflexible labour market. In a globalised world, that would be a recipe for economic suicide. We have to be competitive.

    First, there were certainly alternative national policies, as I’ve pointed out: other west European states faced similar problems to the UK, and kept their manufacturing industry by public investment and negotiated state/private-employer/union agreements. Certainly major industries should have been retained in public ownership – their privatisation served largely to increase inequality and this was, indeed, the whole point. Thatcher’s policies were disastrous for millions – but of course, these were (or in many case, became) poor people, not “entrepreneurs”, so I guess their pain doesn’t count.

    Second, you talk about “a globalised world”, “we have to remain competitive” and all the other right-wing cant, as if globalisation was a natural process, which no-one engineered and which could have happened in only one way. It is not: it is a highly successful programme of class war by the rich against the rest. I do not accept the right of capitalists to move their wealth where they want; it is this that has made the concentration of greater and greater wealth and power in the hands of the rich over the past three decades possible.

    Thirdly and more fundamentally, you seem entirely incapable of understanding that capitalism is a global system, and can only be understood as such. To talk about what “we” had to do is facile. My “we” is not the UK, but humanity. Thirty vital years to adapt to live within the limits of a finite planet have been lost through the greed, selfishness and short-term stupidity of people like you, Walton, and I’m fucking angry about it. If capitalism is not fundamentally changed, our civilisation is doomed through environmental disaster and resource shortage, probably culminating in nuclear war; the scrabbling for individual, corporate and national advantage you advocate is destroying the Earth’s ability to support us. Leave your stupid fantasies and learn something about the real, urgent problems we – humanity as a whole – face.

  202. #204 netlog
    January 24, 2009

    thanks you !!

  203. #205 kelebek
    January 26, 2009

    Thnks you

  204. #206 hery
    January 26, 2010

    Certainly two scientists can argue over particular results of an experiment