Pharyngula

Daniel Hauser might live now

Daniel Hauser, the 13 year old Minnesota boy with the dual affliction of Hodgkin lymphoma and idiots for parents, has been told that he can’t refuse effective medical treatments.

In a 58-page ruling Friday, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg found that Daniel Hauser has been “medically neglected” and is in need of child protection services.

Rodenberg said Daniel will stay in the custody of his parents, but Colleen and Anthony Hauser have until May 19 to get an updated chest X-ray for their son and select an oncologist.

The judge wrote that Daniel has only a “rudimentary understanding at best of the risks and benefits of chemotherapy. … he does not believe he is ill currently. The fact is that he is very ill currently.”

I might feel differently about this if the kid had been well informed and was consciously making a decision to die, but he wants to live and has been lied to by the deluded pseudo-Indian religious kooks he has for parents, and by the quacks who have been giving him medical advice.

Comments

  1. #1 Ahnald Brownshwagga the Monkey
    May 15, 2009

    If only oncology was as easy to understand as religion, people would make better decisions.

  2. #2 DGKnipfer
    May 15, 2009

    I always hate when these ignorant idiots cling to their stupidity. Go Judge Rodenberg. It’s good to know there’s some reason and mental capability in our courts.

  3. #3 Jedemy
    May 15, 2009

    This doesn’t happens here in México.
    How does this happens in the world’s most powerful country?

  4. #4 littlejohn
    May 15, 2009

    I hate to see coercion on what is partly a religious matter, but the judge did the right thing. But five bucks sez the whackjob parents defy the order. They’ll say they’re obeying a “higher authority,” or some similar claptrap.

  5. #5 Jadehawk
    May 15, 2009

    that’s great news!

    and on a side-note… the parents’ claim that their son is an “elder” in their made-up tribe is painful. does that word not mean anything anymore?! I wish there was some way of protecting innocent words from the abuse they suffer by supporters of woo

  6. #6 MScott
    May 15, 2009

    Could still turn out to be an ugly situation. From all I’ve read, the kid has been saying that he will physically resist any attempt to treat him, and the doctors have been talking about having to strap him down, forcibly anesthetize him, the ethics of doing so, etc.

    If the kid actually carries through on those threats, it won’t be pleasant, and they’ll probably be a lot of nastiness and accusations directed at the people trying to help him if he aggressively resists being treated.

  7. #7 NoAstronomer
    May 15, 2009

    One wonders how they’re going to administer the treatment if Daniel goes through with his threat to bite the next doctor who tries to inject him.

  8. #8 Jody
    May 15, 2009

    I only hope the decision has been made in time. I lost a friend to the same illness because treatment was delayed, tho in his case it was a misdiagnosis because the doctors didn’t want to perform the more expensive test.

  9. #9 Glen Davidson
    May 15, 2009

    He has to be kept alive long enough to know what an informed decision is. Of course, he’ll have to get away from his current religion to do so.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  10. #10 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Good thing religious beliefs are harmless and atheists are just cranky assholes, or this might be happening in real life.

  11. #11 PsychedCT
    May 15, 2009

    I just disagree with one statement you made in this article — No, not even a well informed 13 year old is competent to make life-or-death decisions for himself or herself. No matter how intelligent the kid may be, at 13, the reasoning and planning areas of the brain are not fully developed (this doesn’t occur until the early 20’s in females, an as late as 25 in males).

    I’m concerned that the courts have left this child in the custody of his negligent and delusional parents. An important part of the efficacy of any medical treatment is the patient’s compliance with the treatment protocol. It is unlikely that these parents will do that.

    (I apologize for not being logged in via TypeKey — even though I can successfully log into TypeKey using OpenID, when I get back here, I find myself not recognized! This is quite frustrating, as it worked perfectly the last time I logged in.)

  12. #12 jrock
    May 15, 2009

    Government agencies have been taking kids from neglectful or abusive parents for years. Hell, even kids whose sole problem is being “extremely obese”. At least this kid gets to stay with his family if he goes to treatment. As far as the kid being a “medicine man” and “eldar” in some religious nonsense…a crock of shit dressed up in religious terms shouldn’t influence the courts. Good job to the judge.

    One question though, does anybody else think that if this family said they were Christian Scientists that they wouldn’t have even been a story, much less gone to court?

  13. #13 Cat's Staff
    May 15, 2009

    It sounds like they wanted to treat him with naturopathy… As Dr. Crislip said in his Naturopathy podcast… “naturopathy comes from the latin for ‘natural’ meaning ‘early painful death’ and ‘path’ meaning ‘the road to'”.

  14. #14 stompsfrogs
    May 15, 2009

    “Court filings also indicated Daniel has a learning disability and can’t read.”

    :’-(

  15. #15 strangebrew
    May 15, 2009

    Whats the betting if this kid does survive this terrible disease…his parents will claim that their therapy was key to his survival?

    Some folks are so stupid above and beyond…but they are the ones that rarely suffer the consequences…it is always someone else…and they swan on with not an ounce of contrition…and society allows it!

  16. #16 Benjamin Franklin
    May 15, 2009

    You too can become an elder and medicine man in the Nehenhah Band

    Simply fill out this convenient application:

    http://www.nemenhah.org/internal/spiitual_adoption.html

    Through this application I declare that (1) Natural Healing comprises part of my Spiritual Orientation; (2) I will First Do No Harm; (3) I will diligently study the Sahaptan Healing Way and strive to become a Sahaptan Guide, Carrier and Shirt in due course, understanding that I shall receive my training from Chief Cloudpiler, or by whomever he assigns to assist for purposes of my training as a Medicine Man or Woman of the Nemenhah Band; (4) in accordance with the Constitution of the Band, which I have read and to which I subscribe, I covenant to generously donate out of my surplus so that my gift may help to support my Mentor and my Band, beginning with the suggested donation of $250.00 which accompanies this application and going forward each month thereafter as the Spirit dictates.

    Oh, and don’t forget to send your $250.

  17. #17 t3knomanser
    May 15, 2009

    On one hand, I always cringe when the government steps in to tell people how to raise their children.

    There is very little sympathy in that hand, because on the other hand is a big pile of hate for people that willfully neglect their child. There should be no controversy here: refusing your child the necessities of life, be it food, clothing, or medical care is neglect. Neglect is a form of abuse.

    Period.

  18. #18 James Cook
    May 15, 2009

    To be honest guys, whats the big deal? If the kid die we have a better future to look forward to, if he lives he can indoctrinate and destroy His or Others children as well.

    Religious people are like a virus, it needs to be stomped out. The death of religious people is something good, and the death of this kid would make the world a better place as he can not infect others with his defective genes.

    A better world if he dies, thats all. Thats just my logical view atleast. I Want to live in a good world, not a violent self-centered one. This is an american kid, right? Then its even more obvious whats good for the world.

  19. #19 Ryan F Stello
    May 15, 2009

    Jedemy (#3) asks,

    This doesn’t happens here in México.
    How does this happens in the world’s most powerful country?

    The only thing I can think of is that America has a really high number of these religious splinter groups that all fight to protect their interpretations of reality.

    That is, other countries might not face as many issues with “Religious Freedom” questions since there aren’t many groups that challenge common protections (assuming protections exist, obviously).

    It tends to make a joke of secularism by catering to the diverse rather than the inclusive.
    In this case, however, the inclusive won only because there was entirely non-religious reasons involved (concern for the boy’s safety).

    This is entirely speculative, mind you.
    I’d be interested in learning about a few rising cults abroad and if they challenge the paradigm like this.

  20. #20 stompsfrogs
    May 15, 2009

    What would obviously be the absolute best thing for the world would be for there to be less James Cook in it.

    Please tell me you’re a Poe.

  21. #21 strangebrew
    May 15, 2009

    ‘beginning with the suggested donation of $250.00 which accompanies this application and going forward each month thereafter as the Spirit dictates.’

    In other words…250 bucks now the rest later and on demand…Usually donated on how guilty you feel and how much we can screw outta you!

  22. #22 jenl
    May 15, 2009

    But five bucks sez the whackjob parents defy the order.

    In the article I read, mom already said she would.

    and on a side-note… the parents’ claim that their son is an “elder” in their made-up tribe is painful. does that word not mean anything anymore?!

    The article also said that the judge found that the kid didn’t know what “elder” and “medicine man” meant.

  23. #23 raven
    May 15, 2009

    This kid could may well be able to refuse treatment. Cycles of chemo over months, assessed for efficacy with radiology and NMR , with supportive care in a violent, non cooperative patient might be all but impossible.

    It’s one thing to sedate a panicked kid for an acute traumatic injury, another thing to provide long term care for a tricky disease like cancer.

    He also has the option of disappearing out of state into the Nemenhah wingnut underground. If the judge was local, his jurisdiction only includes the state he is in.

    The 13 year old Nemenhah medicine man might well change his mind in the future. Dying of cancer is no fun and can be quite painful.

  24. #24 Anonymous
    May 15, 2009

    @James Cook

    That has to be one of the nastiest sentiments I’ve read here. And that takes some doing given the trolls that sometimes happen by.

    You’re talking about a kid with cancer. Have a heart.

  25. #25 The Tim Channel
    May 15, 2009

    God took a very direct approach to selective breeding and eugenics when he told the Jews to kill the men, women, and children of the enemies of belief.

    And here we have the enemies of belief (doctors) turning the other cheek and actually trying to save a child that could one day grow up to kill doctors in the name of God.

    Enjoy.

  26. #26 Phillycook
    May 15, 2009

    Sometimes the law is not an ass. This is one of those times.

  27. #27 Charles
    May 15, 2009

    Yes, they are religious kooks, self-deluded and dangerous with the poison they spread to others, but at what point do we acknowledge the right to be stupid, even to the point of death? Why should we impose our will upon a (yes, stupid) family and child when at the same time we argue for a woman’s right to abort a fetus?

    While I agree with the morality of the decision, I think it sets a dangerous legal precedent that ultimately supports anti-choice action with regard to abortion.

    Is ideological abuse the subject of action by the state? Such action would be a clear violation of the Establishment Clause.

    I can’t say what I would do if I were closer to the situation, but I can’t shake the idea that the child should be an unfortunate and tragic casualty of religious idiocy.

  28. #28 violet
    May 15, 2009

    Regarding ?the deluded pseudo-Indian religious kooks he has for parents,? I’ve occasionally wondered (typically when some friends are going on about the wonkier diet-focused bits of Ayurvedic or Traditional Chinese Medicine) what sort of bullshit I, as a brown person, could spew, and still have sorta-newage-hippyish white people believe it.

    (It’s also immensely irritating and more than a little racist that view of traditional Indian medicine that’s popularized in the west just so happens to be the bits that align with a sort of vague nom-these-herbs-and-align-these-chakras new-ageyness. As opposed to, for example, traditional Ayurveic surgery.)

  29. #29 t3knomanser
    May 15, 2009

    @Charles: If you don’t feed your child, the state does step in to remove the child from your home.

  30. #30 stompsfrogs
    May 15, 2009

    The state protecting a living child from his parents and himself is somewhat different from the state protecting a clump of cells. The establishment clause of the second amendment is trumped by the child abuse that is happening here. You can’t say that you are a priest in “the church of killing dudes for fun” and get away with murder.

  31. #31 amphiox
    May 15, 2009

    There are no winners in this sad and sordid tale, and no good solutions.

    Forcing medical treatment as involved as chemotherapy on a 13 year old who is unwilling to comply is going to be a messy and ugly affair, and will in all likelihood significantly reduce the efficacy of the treatment regimens offered. And the time delayed already with these legal wranglings (and if the parents appeal?) may have already reduced the likelihood of success.

    And if he should require to be physically or chemically restrained, and something adverse happens to him as a result (which is certainly possible), well, it’s not going to be pretty when the crap hits the fan on that one.

    And what if he should survive, and comes back 5 years later and sues for suffering/reduction in quality of life, saying he although he now recognizes that he would have died without treatment, the trauma of the forced treatment was so terrible that his quality of life is now so poor that he wishes he had died? Depending on circumstances, he may even have a legitimate argument.

  32. #32 Noadi
    May 15, 2009

    Charles: So by your logic the court that removed my mother from her family when she was 3 for being neglected and given liquor in her bottle to shut up her crying was wrong? Foster care was rough but she’s now a great special education teacher and did a good job raising he and my brother. Compared to the 3 siblings of hers who were left in her biological parent’s care who are all alcoholics and one is spending a good long stretch in prison for molesting his daughters.

    Sorry, I don’t see much difference between a parent neglecting and abusing their child because God tells them to and the parent who does it because they’re an uncaring bastard. Both harm the child and should have repercussions.

  33. #33 Anonymous
    May 15, 2009

    Founder and elected Medicine Chief of the Nemenhah Band and Native American Traditional Organization (NAC), Cloudpiler has organized an expansive network of Native American Wildcrafters from various Tribes and Bands. At the age of twenty, he received the Medicine Shirt from Five Eagles of the Seven Lodges (Drums) Ceremony. He served four years as a full-time missionary for the L.D.S. Church, and his educational background includes a Doctorate of Naturopathy from the Herbal Healer Academy in 1999 and certifiication by the American Naturopathic Medical Association, District of Columbia, in that same year.

    So what’s everybody’s problem? This guy has a doctorate and everything!

  34. #34 amphiox
    May 15, 2009

    Raven #23:
    Sadly, by the time his cancer gets so advanced and painful as to compel him to change his mind, it will most likely be too late to do anything about it.

  35. #35 stompsfrogs
    May 15, 2009

    ~agree with amphiox~

    sounds like a good case against the parents though. maybe they’ll go to jail. that would be sweet.

  36. #36 Jadehawk
    May 15, 2009

    charles, religious adults can off themselves in droves; it’s their right. however, children do not have the ability to discern these things for themselves yet, especially when those controlling their lives won’t let them form an opinion; neither are children property, to be discarded at will. nobody has the right to kill another individual; the same goes for parents and their children: they. too, do not have the right to murder.

    abortion is a completely different animal, if only because the fetus cannot be “taken away”; if it can’t physically survive without its host, it’s not an individual.

  37. #37 Sarah P
    May 15, 2009

    Charles – bad analogy.

    If a woman gets pregnant and can’t have an abortion when she wants one, the outcome is a baby she doesn’t want.

    If this child receives unwanted medical care, the outcome is (if all goes well) that he lives, which he does want.

  38. #38 Matt
    May 15, 2009

    A better world if he dies, thats all. Thats just my logical view atleast. I Want to live in a good world, not a violent self-centered one.

    You’re an asshole. You say you don’t want to live in a self-centered world, but you advocate the death of a 13-year-old as a means of improving your own life? How does that work?

    (Is it just kind of assumed that James Cook is an Xtian who spouts horrible things here in an attempt to get atheists to agree with him so he can feel morally superior? Seems that way. Or he actually believes this stuff and should be pushed down a flight of stairs.)

    I can’t say what I would do if I were closer to the situation, but I can’t shake the idea that the child should be an unfortunate and tragic casualty of religious idiocy.

    So, Charles, you’re volunteering a cancer-stricken 13-year-old kid to be a martyr to your own cause? Sweet of you.

  39. #39 strangebrew
    May 15, 2009

    From what little background research I have been able to do…it seems that these wackos are piggy backing Native American tradition….but twisted it into a semi religious church with emphasis on the one true creator…and minimal lip service to the other Native American traditions associated with that spirituality…

    They seem to have forged tentative and vague links with other genuine Tribal councils…but it seems they are of no one particular tribal heritage!

    I smell wafting BS…and an eye on the main chance mainly the money!

    It all looks quite impressive on the web pages…but summat strikes as not quite right.

    Mind you I am a Brit and have very little knowledge of Native American tribes or beliefs…or indeed present day spiritual guidance!
    I played cowboys ‘n’Injuns when a kid…I was always the Injun…I was always the one that got shot for some reason I never really fathomed!
    I might well be reading summat into it not there…but that is the point..I do not see what is there!

    Does any of the American contributors know anything about this group?

    ahh! but methinks they can indulge in peyote cos of some exemption clause for a Native American perspective on spirituality!…so maybe they are kosher…..to beg a metaphor!

  40. #40 Shoggoth
    May 15, 2009

    “One question though, does anybody else think that if this family said they were Christian Scientists that they wouldn’t have even been a story, much less gone to court? (jrock)”

    That worries me, too. How much did the “pseudo-Indian” nature of the parents’ kookery contribute to this decision? Were they ‘authentic’ Indians or a more established religious type (like Christian Scientists) would the judge have found differently even though their kid was in just as much danger?

  41. #41 Shoggoth
    May 15, 2009

    “Is it just kind of assumed that James Cook is an Xtian who spouts horrible things here in an attempt to get atheists to agree with him so he can feel morally superior? Seems that way. Or he actually believes this stuff and should be pushed down a flight of stairs. (matt)”

    Pak. Chooie. Unf.

  42. #42 raven
    May 15, 2009

    It said in the article that this kid has a “learning disability and can’t read.” WTF!!!

    Kids with learning disabilities learn to read all the time. It may take them longer and they may always have a bit of trouble but most do so.

    Can’t tell from the article but he might be “mentally slow” (I’m being polite) or just as likely, his parents “home schooled” him which might be “no schooled” him.

    Hmmmm, looks llike another case of Xian morality in nonaction. This happens a lot.

    PS And yes, the longer he waits for treatment, the lower the success rate. Hard to say where the point of no return is. We may find that out.

  43. #43 Jud
    May 15, 2009

    Charles writes: While I agree with the morality of the decision, I think it sets a dangerous legal precedent

    Nah, the precedent for these sorts of cases was set long ago. It doesn’t affect abortion law because in order for child abuse/neglect law to apply to abortions you’d have to consider fetuses to have the legal status of children, and at that stage the legal battle would be over anyhow.

  44. #44 Epinephrine
    May 15, 2009

    So, my bet is that James Cook is another one of these religious folk who impersonate atheists to discredit them. Like that pastor a while back?

    On the off chance that he’s serious:
    James Cook ludicrously opined:

    To be honest guys, whats the big deal? If the kid die we have a better future to look forward to, if he lives he can indoctrinate and destroy His or Others children as well.

    Dead children don’t make a better future. You have no reason to assume that he’ll indoctrinate others; while that’s a possibility, it’s a possibility for anyone. Even if religion were correlated with shooting people randomly, we don’t live in a society in which one can opt to punish people for crimes they might someday be predisposed to commiting.

    Religious people are like a virus, it needs to be stomped out. The death of religious people is something good, and the death of this kid would make the world a better place…

    There is some accuracy in viewing religion as a virus (of the mind), but the people are simply carriers. The death of people isn’t a good thing. I’d like to see the virus itself disappear, though.

    as he can not infect others with his defective genes.

    Religion is decidedly non-genetic, moron. And you don’t “infect” people with your genes. “Ack! Stay back, you have blue eyes, and I like mine hazel!” Idiot.

    A better world if he dies, thats all. Thats just my logical view atleast.

    Define logical. I see no trace of logic in your babble.

    I Want to live in a good world, not a violent self-centered one. This is an american kid, right? Then its even more obvious whats good for the world.

    Umm, what now? I fail to grasp what you are saying here. You want the death of others, but want a good, non-violent world? And are you suggesting that Americans are particularly deserving of the fate you would wish on others?

    I call reverse-Poe. Nice try, cretin.

  45. #45 rtp10
    May 15, 2009

    What the hell is wrong with these dumbass parents?
    http://twoandahater.blogspot.com/

  46. #46 Jud
    May 15, 2009

    Were they ‘authentic’ Indians or a more established religious type (like Christian Scientists) would the judge have found differently even though their kid was in just as much danger?

    Nope. In fact, testimony regarding the authenticity of the child’s religious belief was offered and the judge refused to hear it. Smart judge. The precedents are clear and he is on solid ground with his ruling. Inquiries into the authenticity of belief would just have got him into entirely unnecessary trouble.

  47. #47 3balhorangi
    May 15, 2009

    I have no use for religion or new-age woo, but lots of experience with our good ole USA system of medical care. How much is this chemotherapy the judge ordered going to cost? (Anybody out there have any idea?) Who’s going to pay for it? The judge? The state? Do the parents have health insurance? The boy is one of six kids, remember. A large percentage of personal bankruptcies in this country are due to medical bills. Maybe the parents are not such complete nitwits as would first appear. Maybe it makes a kind of sense to take a chance on the woo, when the alternative is taking on crushing financial debt that will cripple the other kids’ chances for an education and a decent life. Maybe there’s more to life than what appears in peer-reviewed academic journals.

  48. #48 Adam
    May 15, 2009

    If they find a doc to administer the chemo, I hope he has his insurance paid up. Live or die, these kooks will find a reason to bury him in lawsuits. What a horrible situation all around.

  49. #49 dean
    May 15, 2009

    ” Maybe it makes a kind of sense to take a chance on the woo, when the alternative is taking on crushing financial debt that will cripple the other kids’ chances for an education and a decent life. Maybe there’s more to life than what appears in peer-reviewed academic journals.”

    So saving money by letting a child die (the “woo” part would kill him) is more important than the child’s life? First James Cook, then Charles, now 3balhorangi: where are these assholes coming from?

  50. #50 Matt
    May 15, 2009

    @ Benjamin Franklin #16
    I’m a little confused…

    [Colleen Hauser] also testified that Daniel is a medicine man and elder in the Nemenhah Band.

    Okay, so you can fill out the form and become a medicine man/woman… but how does a child receive elder status?

  51. #51 kamaka
    May 15, 2009

    Mind you I am a Brit and have very little knowledge of Native American tribes or beliefs…

    strangebrew

    None of these Wannabes (that’s the tribal name) know much if anything of Native American spiritual practices.

    First off, they don’t have what it takes, a lot of it is very heavy-duty stuff with physical demands they’re just not up to.

    Second, there is no “Native American spiritual practice”. There is wide cultural diversity between tribes. Even groups that lived side by side (the Sauk and Fox, for example) had very different cultures.

    The short version: it’s a bunch of made-up shit. The real medicine people just shake their heads.

  52. #52 Emmet, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Just a note to express agreement with those who think James Cook’s #18 is beneath contempt.

    That is all.

  53. #53 Charles
    May 15, 2009

    My abortion analogy was toward the pregnant girl/woman, being an issue of choice in medicine. The mother should have the choice to abort, the child should have the choice to refuse. The fetus’s legal status is a different fight entirely.

    Granted, the parents have neglected the boy. I can accept mandating diagnostics, and the boy must be properly informed (without his parents in the room). Then if he wants it and his parents refuse, he should be made a ward of the state. But ultimately right to refuse treatment. All we can do is keep trying to pound the truth into him until the day he recovers or dies.

  54. #54 Shoggoth
    May 15, 2009

    “Maybe there’s more to life than what appears in peer-reviewed academic journals.”

    If you have proof for the efficacy of an alternative treatment, I’m keen to see it – as, in fact, are the medical scholars and scientists who publish those journals.

  55. #55 Anna
    May 15, 2009

    Wow, this site is a whack job. So many people think that the body needs the medical profession to live? Amazing how blind the human being has become. Cancer is a fungus that invades the body and mutates – clings on to the DNA – it is fed with white sugar, white potatoes, and white flour. You are what you eat. Look at your self seriously – truthfully – how do you look? The truth doesn’t change no matter what anyone believes. Kill the fungus in the body just by eating foods like dark leafy greens(bitter ones), pure olive oil, olive leaf extract, real coconut oil or real cow butter, high quality fish oil, garlic, the list of natural foods for healing goes on. Science and religion has become so bizarre the truth has missed them both. Common sense tells us all what really is designed for the human machine yet so few partake of this. Isn’t the first thing that is taught in the Medical professional the patient has rights to choose or refuse. What’s up with this place – the kid is the smarter than any one of you for choosing to heal his OWN body – it’s not yours – take care of yourself. Chose to use or refuse~! Life is good for those who really want it – the parents have every right to refuse Chemo – Therapy – it is poison. Nobody in history has ever died of Cancer – they’ve all died of the treatment… so much for parastroika.

  56. #56 kamaka
    May 15, 2009

    Wow, this site is a whack job.

    3…2…1…

  57. #57 Epinephrine
    May 15, 2009

    Quoth Anna:

    Wow, this site is a whack job.

    *SPOING!*

    Great, there goes another irony meter…

  58. #58 stompsfrogs
    May 15, 2009

    Charles.

    He’s a kid. He can’t chose to smoke. He can’t chose to drink. He’s not allowed to enter into any legally binding contracts. He’s just hit the age where he’s allowed to have a MySpace page. His well-being is entrusted to his parents. If they don’t do a good job, the state steps in.

    If you swallow a gallon of bleach and someone calls an ambulance, they’ll pump your stomach even if you carve a suicide note onto your chest. We don’t even let adults commit suicide, and children are allowed to do less than adults because we have agreed that they don’t know any damn better. It’s pretty black and white: chance of survival with chemo = 95%. chance of survival with naturopathy = 5%. When asked, the child expressed a desire to survive. So he’s not so good at math and he got the equation wrong – he should die for it?

    A fetus is not a child. It doesn’t get a social security number until birth. Upon birth, it is a child until it is recognized as an adult at age 18 or 21. There are different laws that apply to individuals in these three distinct stages of life. line. sand.

  59. #59 Carlie
    May 15, 2009

    Anna, on behalf of all of the people who have died of cancer, fuck off.

  60. #60 Epinephrine
    May 15, 2009

    Carlie, she capitalized it – she clearly means that a gigantic crab made of stars hasn’t ever killed anyone. Or perhaps that astrology never killed anyone. After all, nobody is THAT stupid.

    Please tell me that nobody is that stupid.

  61. #61 Anonymous
    May 15, 2009

    How much is this chemotherapy the judge ordered going to cost? (Anybody out there have any idea?)

    Not much. Old drugs. The supportive care is going to cost an arm, a leg, and part of a pancreas, though.

    Who’s going to pay for it? The judge? The state?

    The state. As it does for any child who is not otherwise insured. It’s called SCHIP.

  62. #62 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    As someone who works in cancer surveillance, I’ll rejoin with a resounding go fuck yourself, Anna, you vile piece of filth.

    There’s a type of extremely common cancer known as non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). Incidence rates of this cancer are so high and mortality rates are so low that it’s generally not included in reports of ‘all cancer’ rates. Yet, people do die from it, almost exclusively as a result of their not seeking treatment (most instances of this cancer can be surgically excised by a dermatologist with local anesthetic). Unfortunately, many of these cases occur among the homeless and others without the means to procure (or the tendency to seek out, in Canada) basic health services.

    This is just one example of why you’re a dangerously deluded idiot.

    I call reverse-Poe. Nice try, cretin.

    I named this Brownian’s Corollary to Poe’s Law sometime back: “A fundamentalist theist is generally incapable of producing a convincing parody of an atheist.”

  63. #63 WRMartin
    May 15, 2009

    Anna, meet everyone. Everyone, meet the moron, Anna.

    Less ‘white’ stuff and more oil. Right, so that your insides are all greased up and the food will slide right on through? Is that moronowoo therapy? Did your doctorate cost more or less than $250.00?

  64. #64 JJR
    May 15, 2009

    “…when the alternative is taking on crushing financial debt that will cripple the other kids’ chances for an education and a decent life. Maybe there’s more to life than what appears in peer-reviewed academic journals.”

    The other kids’ chances for an education and decent life are *already* fairly crippled, considering the belief system being imparted by the parents. Yes, crushing debt sucks but you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, there aren’t debtor’s prisons anymore (thank goodness), and there is still bankruptcy protection(s) available, as well as gov’t aid programs, not to mention religious charities & food pantries, etc. The American social safety net isn’t great, but it’s not non-existent.

    The remaining kids could all join the Armed Forces at 18 if they were desperate enough.

    “Sorry, kids, we had to let your brother die so that we could afford to send at least some of you to State U. (or more likely, Bible College X.)”

    I just don’t buy the economic argument for alternative woo, not even in our ruthlessly for-profit medical care system.

  65. #65 Epinephrine
    May 15, 2009

    Brownian, OM:

    Cool on two fronts: Brownian’s corollary it is then! And neat to see that you work in cancer surveillance (in Canada, to boot!). You at PHAC? I’m at HC :)

  66. #66 notam
    May 15, 2009

    @55 & @56 …

    …Cancer is a fungus that invades the body and mutates – clings on to the DNA – it is fed with white sugar, white potatoes, and white flour…

    WTF?

  67. #67 Azkyroth
    May 15, 2009

    Why should we impose our will upon a (yes, stupid) family and child when at the same time we argue for a woman’s right to abort a fetus?

    Because a child is a “person” in the social and cognitive senses of the term and is capable of suffering; a fetus is none of these things.

  68. #68 Dianne
    May 15, 2009

    I just don’t buy the economic argument for alternative woo, not even in our ruthlessly for-profit medical care system.

    I agree. For one thing, woo’s not free: it’s a strictly for profit institution and woo providers are far less likely to offer financial aid to customers than drug companies. (Who, even if they are evil money-grubbing corporations, have to put up with implicit blackmail from doctors: “Ok, I won’t prescribe your drug for my patient who can’t afford it…I’ll prescribe drug X instead. Of course, then I’ll get familiar with how to use that drug, its side effect, etc. Which means I’ll probably prescribe it for my insured patients as well…”)

    Second, any college worth its accreditation is going to have financial aid for kids who can’t pay or whose parents can’t pay.

    Finally, all children who are not insured and whose parents make less than a certain amount are covered by SCHIP. So I seriously doubt that finances really enter into the equation.

  69. #69 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Besides, Anna is wrong about white stuff and sugar. Cancer is cured by coffee and Castor oil enemas. See Gerson therapy.

    Funny how even those fighting Big Pharma and the military-industrial cancer complex can’t seem to agree whether the body survives cancer better through a ‘natural’ diet or a shot of espresso up the poopchute.

  70. #70 stompsfrogs
    May 15, 2009

    “cow butter?”

    “parastroika?” what is that, Russian? Or is it teh stupid?

    Does she really think that cancer isn’t fatal? Really really? My grandfather received no treatment for his lung cancer. His lungs filled with fluid and he died of apnea. I would really call that dying of cancer. Can we kill her? Is that allowed?

  71. #71 KillerChihuahua
    May 15, 2009

    POLL ALERT: On MSNBC: Should parents be allowed to refuse cancer treatments for their sick children?

    http://www.newsvine.com/_question/2009/05/15/2822182-should-parents-be-allowed-to-refuse-cancer-treatments-for-their-sick-children

  72. #72 NoAstronomer
    May 15, 2009

    “parastroika”

    A Troika of Parrots?! Even if you hadn’t mistyped it, it would make no sense.

  73. #73 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Cool on two fronts: Brownian’s corollary it is then! And neat to see that you work in cancer surveillance (in Canada, to boot!). You at PHAC? I’m at HC :)

    No, but PHAC occasionally pays to send me places. I’m with Alberta Health Services: Cancer, Epidemiology and Prevention (formerly the Alberta Cancer Board).

    The disclaimer so I don’t get fired: my views (on this or any other subject) do not necessarily represent the views of any agency I may or may not work for.

  74. #74 JustaTech
    May 15, 2009

    I think Orac had a pretty good read on these people when he suggested that what really happened is that the first round of chemo scared the crap out of them, and *that* was when they decided to use the “New age psuedo-religion” excuse to not treat.

    Right now he’s not visibly *as* sick, so his parents feel like they’re helping. They’re wrong, and chances are good that he will die, but I think this is a case of using religion as a CYA in court, rather than being the defining reason to not treat.

    That doesn’t make it any more acceptable, but it does change the dynamics slightly.

    What they all really need is some very heavy-duty counseling so that they finally understand why they should have treated him in the first place.

  75. #75 KillerChihuahua
    May 15, 2009

    notam: perhaps Tinactin will cure it.

  76. #76 Hypocee
    May 15, 2009

    Don’t worry, I know better than to reply in substance to an entity that can’t pass the Turing Test – but I can’t resist entirely.

    “Perestroika”? “Perestroika“?!

  77. #77 raven
    May 15, 2009

    “…when the alternative is taking on crushing financial debt that will cripple the other kids’ chances for an education and a decent life.

    I’d say that has already happened. There are 8 kids in this family. The parents believe in a fake religion promoting fake medicine from fake Indians and run by a fake 2 time felon. The 13 year doesn’t know how to read for reasons that are not explained.

    How many of the other kids have any education and what will happen to them if they get sick and need medical care?

  78. #78 Rob
    May 15, 2009

    I’m not a big fan of letting kids die, but natural selection is screaming for this kids head.

  79. #79 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Can we kill her? Is that allowed?

    No, she’s already dead. Brainwise, at least.

    Speaking of ‘Parastroika’ (whatever that is), see how the media is not in fact, giving Big Pharma (the people who pay me to suppress the truth, enabling me to live in a shitty four-story walk-up with a mouldy shower) a pass:

    Google “Gershon diet”

    The first link or so will read “Small Percentage of ‘Terminal’ Lung Cancer Patients Inexplicably Cured” and will cite a study in Cancer by Michael Mac Manus et al. out of Melbourne that claims,

    Doctors have found statistical evidence that alternative treatments such as special diets, herbal potions and faith healing can cure apparently terminal illness, but they remain unsure about the reasons.

    Now, read Orac’s archived take on the same article by The Independent, including a comment by the study’s first author, Dr. Mac Manus himself, who goes on to state that his study had been ‘grossly misrepresented’ and that he’d gone so far as to request a retraction or correction.

    Apparently, Big Woo-woo is the real quasher of truth, isn’t it?

  80. #80 GP
    May 15, 2009

    It doesn’t matter who’s right. It should be the families right to make decisions for their own family no matter what other opinions are. I have no idea what alternative methods they are following. But I have seen alternative healing such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and such be far more effective over time than Chemo. Chemo definitely kills cancer in the short term but typically in the end it weakens the patients immune system even further. This leaves the cancer with good odds of coming back even more violent than the original on-set. If we have gotten to the point where government can force certain medical treatments on people that is very scary.

  81. #81 BlueIndependent
    May 15, 2009

    “Maybe there’s more to life than what appears in peer-reviewed academic journals.”

    Well, when the kid dies, we’ll remind you you said that, because there won’t be any “more to life” for him left.

  82. #82 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    In case it’s not clear, the blockquoted batshittery was from The Independent‘s article, not the peer-reviewed journal article in Cancer by Dr. Mac Manus and his colleagues.

  83. #83 Sastra
    May 15, 2009

    I’ve been following this case on Orac’s blog, and the ‘religious’ issue is complicated, and not quite what it seems. The child already went through one round of chemotherapy before the religious objections were raised: they appear to be a red herring, a handy excuse the parents are using so that they may avoid more chemo and substitute “natural” remedies — which they mistakenly believe, are actual remedies.

    They’re not. This isn’t about religion per se: it’s about people believing in frauds (some of whom are con artists, and some of whom are self-deluded themselves.)

    The rationale behind alternative medicine, however, is religious in nature, in that it’s faith-based, and eventually falls into the same sorts of apologetics and tactics you see used again and again, against atheism.

  84. #84 BlueIndependent
    May 15, 2009

    “To be honest guys, whats the big deal? If the kid die we have a better future to look forward to, if he lives he can indoctrinate and destroy His or Others children as well.

    Religious people are like a virus, it needs to be stomped out. The death of religious people is something good, and the death of this kid would make the world a better place as he can not infect others with his defective genes.

    A better world if he dies, thats all. Thats just my logical view atleast. I Want to live in a good world, not a violent self-centered one. This is an american kid, right? Then its even more obvious whats good for the world.”

    While we vehemently disagree with religion on this site, we do not advocate for a “better world” by hoping the children of idiot parents are allowed to die just so we can get our rocks off. I too think you are a Poe posing as an atheist in a transparent attempt to get us to agree with you, so you can bring your theist buddies in here and splash us all over Glenn Beck’s or Hannity’s show. If you’re not a Poe, atheist or not your immoral comment isn’t welcome here, as you can see from the replies you are getting.

  85. #85 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    GP, cite the literature citations backing up your claims. That separates real evidence from anecdotes.

  86. #86 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    It doesn’t matter who’s right

    …is always the preamble by those without evidence on their side.

    “Please! Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let’s not bicker and argue about who killed who.”

    But I have seen alternative healing such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and such be far more effective over time than Chemo.

    No, you haven’t. If you had, it would be written up in peer-reviewed articles.

  87. #87 dean
    May 15, 2009

    GP: what don’t you understand about protecting children from abuse, which is what leaving the “treatment” to the parents’ choices amounts to? If either the mother or father were doing this were self-inflicting this crap – fine, there is no real (I believe) for government intervention. but a 13-year-old child? Sorry – their right to be foolish ends when it comes to killing an innocent kid.

    “But I have seen alternative healing such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and such be far more effective over time than Chemo.”
    Bullshit.

  88. #88 Sastra
    May 15, 2009

    GP #80 wrote:

    But I have seen alternative healing such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and such be far more effective over time than Chemo.

    You “have seen” this? Really? You? Seen it? For yourself?

    Well, then, screw science. To hell with rigorous and rational methods, peer-review, experiment, and replication. Fuck consistency and caution. We’ve got an eye-witness, folks, and, as we skeptics know, eye-witness testimony is the STRONGEST evidence there can ever be!!!11!eleventy-one!!1!

    GP, people cannot make responsible decisions for themselves unless they are well-informed. The parents and child have been lied to, and misunderstand their situation. Choice involves having two viable options.

  89. #89 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Further, any review of the literature will show that cancer rates in China, both incidence and mortality, are increasing substantially as the country becomes more industrialised.

    If there’s anywhere in the world where the use of TCM should be curing cancer left, right, and centre, it’s there.

  90. #90 3balhorangi
    May 15, 2009

    RE: #54
    I don’t question the efficacy of modern scientific medicine, and I don’t for a minute believe the new-age malarkey. I believe you when you say only modern scientific medicine will save the boy’s life.

    Getting and paying for modern scientific medicine, however, is another question. There are people in the USA at this moment who have to decide whether they can afford the miracles of modern medicine or can take a chance and do without(I’m one of them, having been laid-off in January). That is not an academic question. Working people with families have to make this kind of cost/benefit calculation. I personally would never choose crack-pot alternative medicine over scientific medicine, but I would have to think long and hard about what to do if I needed seven or eight hundred thousand dollars’ worth of treatment to save my life. The reason for my original posting was annoyance with the “ivory tower” outlook I found here. Yeah, as scientists you guys are absolutely right. Now, are any of you going to chip in to pay the bills for Daniel’s court-ordered chemotherapy?

  91. #91 Hypocee
    May 15, 2009

    Brownian: FYI, Perestroika is Russian for ‘restructuring'; for English speakers, it refers to the Soviet/Russian reforms instituted by or under Mikhail Gorbachev, which he lumped under that name.

    You heard it here first, folks. Increased private capitalism cures cancer.

  92. #92 Marcus Ranum
    May 15, 2009

    If he dies, then he’s less likely to carry on his parents’ genetic legacy. Win.

  93. #93 Dr.Woody
    May 15, 2009

    Kinda the obverse of the Terri Chiavvo case, innit?

    Strange days…

  94. #94 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Now, are any of you going to chip in to pay the bills for Daniel’s court-ordered chemotherapy?

    Don’t look at me; I live in Canada, where we’ve had socialised medicine for quite some time. If Daniel were living here, then yes, I’d have already been chipping in with the chunk they take off my paycheck, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Nonetheless, you make a valid point, or at least, one that would be valid were the parents have claimed inability to pay as the reason for refusing care. Besides, Anonymous at #61 pointed out that treatment would be paid for by SCHIP.

    Sorry to hear about your job loss, however. All the best in getting back on your feet.

  95. #95 Watchman
    May 15, 2009

    Anna:

    Cancer is a fungus […] Nobody in history has ever died of Cancer – they’ve all died of the treatment

    Anna… let me put this to you as gently as I can.

    You’re eye-gougingly, paint-peelingly, catbox-clumpingly, space-warpingly, batshit-flingingly, huge-manatee-fuckingly wrong.

  96. #96 Dead Guy Kai
    May 15, 2009

    So, if the kid dies can the parents be tried for Voluntary Manslaughter, or does Minnesota have one of those disgusting “Religious get out of jail free” laws?

    As usual, “religion poisons everything.”

  97. #97 Dr.Woody
    May 15, 2009

    Posted by: Marcus Ranum | May 15, 2009 5:23 PM
    If he dies, then he’s less likely to carry on his parents’ genetic legacy. Win.

    that’s like “real-Biologie”?

  98. #98 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Oh, I know what Perestroika is/was. (I am old enough to remember the fall of the Berlin wall.)

    What I don’t know (and I suspect Anna doesn’t either, given her use of the term), is what the hell ‘parastroika’ is, and why we’re in such violation of it.

  99. #99 Soulless
    May 15, 2009

    Why can’t his parents just take him to the doctor, let science help him, and mis-attribute every ounce of credit to their god like every other ungrateful religious wacko?

  100. #100 brian
    May 15, 2009

    Brownian,
    You wouldn’t change your socialized medicine for the world? Even with all the long lines, terrible waiting periods, and poor care that we are constantly being told exist by xenophobes who have only ever left the US to have sex with underaged prostitutes?

  101. #101 Dianne
    May 15, 2009

    But I have seen alternative healing such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and such be far more effective over time than Chemo.

    Overall, I second, third, or nth the call for PG to provide documentation of his/her claim. However, I would like to point out that there is at least one case in which TCM has been tested and has proven useful: There is a TCM that is a mixture of arsenic, snake venom, and something else (mercury or something equally unhealthy sounding.) Sounds lovely, right? But traditional. Anyway, it was tried against a whole lot of tumors and failed to help all but one: acute promyelocytic leukemia. It dramatically improved the situation for a number of people with resistant APL. Futher studies showed that the efficacy was basically all due to arsenic, so the other components were dropped. So, now at least one TCM is routinely used in the treatment of at least one tumor. Of course, a drug company produces it and it is given by allopathic doctors. This is what happens when a traditional, herbal or other “non-standard” treatment is shown to work: it gets incorporated into standard practice. And Big Pharma didn’t do a thing to stop it.

  102. #102 Jeanette
    May 15, 2009

    Hodgkins Lymphoma is almost always fatal without medical treatment. And the development of effective treatment for it is very recent, and should be appreciated. I had Hodgkins back in 1993, and the doctors told me that if I had gotten it ten years earlier, it would have been an almost certain death sentence.

    That kid not only needs parents (or legal guardians) who recognize that he needs real medical treatment, but he needs ones who can be extremely supportive for him throughout his treatment. Hodgkins requires very aggressive treatment, much tougher courses of chemotherapy than for many other cancers, and there’s no way for me to convey what he’s about to go through in the next few months.

  103. #103 Emmet, OM
    May 15, 2009

    If he dies, then he’s less likely to carry on his parents’ genetic legacy. Win.

    I fail to see how the avoidable death of a child can be termed ?win?.

  104. #104 strangebrew
    May 15, 2009

    51#

    Thanks kamaka …You confirmed my feeling about this nonsense…
    I know little about the spirituality of American Indians…I do know that they had a damn sight more morality and depth then is ever shown by an xian cult…although that is not hard.
    I looked at the lodges page and was struck by the fact that all the names appeared as Caucasian or variations thereof…at odds with the rest of the text!
    Not a smoking gun for sure but odd considering they liked the metaphysical and symbolism of ‘principle stone carriers’ etc

    But it seemed a white man’s version and not totally convincing.
    In fact is reminded me of a Christian cult gone native!
    For affect or because Christianity gets boring I know not…But the one ‘Creator’…surely not a Native term…!

    Being for the most part Polytheism incarnate.

    But they mentioned WAKAN TANKA which as far as I can suss is the nearest to a single deity…certainly the nearest to an xian deity anyway.
    There might well be other single deities…this was difficult to quantify seeing as beliefs even diversified between the same tribe…!

    “In Dakota mythology, Wakan Tanka was a creator. He existed alone in the void before existence where he was lonely, so he decided to make company for himself by dividing into four. He made earth, and mated with her to create the sky, then he mated with earth and sky to make the sun. Afterwards creation continued to grow as the leaves and twigs grow on a tree.”

    Bit incestuous…and in the very best of Christian character.

    I bet the genuine tribal council are not best pleased!

    Read their forum if anybody gets bored…they are being right royally spanked over this nonsense.

    http://www.nemenhahforum.info/

  105. #105 Marcus Ranum
    May 15, 2009

    I just don’t buy the economic argument for alternative woo, not even in our ruthlessly for-profit medical care system.

    I don’t even see what “for profit” has to do with any of it. The woo-woos consistently ignore the fact that “complimentary and alternative medicine” is also “for profit.” They’re not giving those coffee enemas away, people – the special enema coffee costs more than Jamaican Blue Mountain, acupuncturists are damn expensive placebos, etc, etc. The woo-woos make a hell of a lot of money because their profit margins are ridiculously high. I’m not saying “big pharma” doesn’t – but when you’re selling $7/lb coffee for $50/lb AND charging them $150/session to pump it up their butt, your profit margins would make Starbucks look hard at branching into that market. Or be a homeopath and sell them water and charge them $40/bottle for shaking it. I’ve got a former friend (she’s not talking to me after I told her what an idiot she is) who just spent something like $8,000 on acupuncture because her “toxin levels were too high” – I suspect a lot of the huge financial flow into woo-woo is off the tax books so it’s not being measured anywhere close to accurately.

  106. #106 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    You wouldn’t change your socialized medicine for the world? Even with all the long lines, terrible waiting periods, and poor care that we are constantly being told exist by xenophobes who have only ever left the US to have sex with underaged prostitutes?

    I stand by my statement, though it’s of course made under duress as I’m monitored by jack-booted communist thugs who ensure I never say anything against the motherland.

    But a long wait for service is better than no service at all, and fucktons of peer-reviewed evidence shows that privatisation of health care decreases health outcomes and increases per capita costs overall.

    We have the same fuckwads make the same arguments here. (I do live in Alberta, after all, home of the high school drop-out politician.) Funny thing is, everytime they try to privatise, everyone freaks out. Now, why would we do that if we’re all actually self-interested rational actors who want what’s best for us, as the Libbys like to say?

    Further, everytime some MD comes out in favour of privatisation, it’s inevitably because they’ve just secured the final investor for their for-profit hospital.

  107. #107 Anders
    May 15, 2009

    This pisses me off. Sometimes I wish there were a hell for these people. A sane hell that shows and tell aboute how wrong they are, a hell that makes them see their error and then send them back to make it right… Fat chance…

  108. #108 Marcus Ranum
    May 15, 2009

    Emmet writes:
    I fail to see how the avoidable death of a child can be termed ?win?.

    Who gives a shit, really? You don’t know the kid and neither do I. There are loads and loads of unwanted kids on the planet and – apparently – his parents don’t want him all that much. Life sucks and sometimes you die early.

  109. #109 Merkin Muffley
    May 15, 2009

    GP #80 “It doesn’t matter who’s right. It should be the families right to make decisions for their own family no matter what other opinions are. I have no idea what alternative methods they are following. But I have seen alternative healing such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and such be far more effective over time than Chemo. Chemo definitely kills cancer in the short term but typically in the end it weakens the patients immune system even further. This leaves the cancer with good odds of coming back even more violent than the original on-set. If we have gotten to the point where government can force certain medical treatments on people that is very scary.

    We have actually been at this point for quite a while when it concerns children. The judge in this case is not making it up as he goes along, he is interpreting an existing law to decide if it applies to this case. If you don’t like these laws, which allow a judge, under well defined conditions, to substitute the judgment of modern medicine practitioners for those of the parents, then you have to work to change the law. If you can convince a big part of society that we should allow parents to do with their children as they please without answering to society in case of, say the avoidable death of the child, then you can be successful. I, for one, will be betting against you.

    Please note that if you truly believe your first two sentences, that families should have the right to decide for their own no matter what, your further discussion concerning alternative healing has no meaning. If a family has the absolute power to decide the kind of treatment they will allow, the treatment’s efficacy doesn’t matter. If the parents believe spreading raspberry jam on their child will cure him of cancer you must accept it by your own reasoning.

  110. #110 Michael W Simpson
    May 15, 2009

    Traditional Chinese Medicine is neither traditional or medicine. There’s even an argument that it’s not even Chinese. Why do we think that there’s some lost medical practices somewhere amongst ancient civilizations that no longer exist. I’d argue if these wacko pseudoscientific medical cures actually existed, so would the civilizations.

    Back on topic. I’m worried that it might be too late for Daniel, and even if it isn’t, he’s been brainwashed, and he may refuse treatment. I don’t think many doctors would be comfortable with forcing it on him, though I argue that once he’s a ward of the state, the state becomes the parents, and the physician must respect the wishes of the legal guardians.

    The parents should be arrested and imprisoned for life for attempted murder. I have no proof, but I’ll bet if Daniel were a dog, they would be. That pisses me off.

  111. #111 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    I don’t even see what “for profit” has to do with any of it. The woo-woos consistently ignore the fact that “complimentary and alternative medicine” is also “for profit.” They’re not giving those coffee enemas away, people – the special enema coffee costs more than Jamaican Blue Mountain, acupuncturists are damn expensive placebos, etc, etc. The woo-woos make a hell of a lot of money because their profit margins are ridiculously high. I’m not saying “big pharma” doesn’t – but when you’re selling $7/lb coffee for $50/lb AND charging them $150/session to pump it up their butt, your profit margins would make Starbucks look hard at branching into that market. Or be a homeopath and sell them water and charge them $40/bottle for shaking it. I’ve got a former friend (she’s not talking to me after I told her what an idiot she is) who just spent something like $8,000 on acupuncture because her “toxin levels were too high” – I suspect a lot of the huge financial flow into woo-woo is off the tax books so it’s not being measured anywhere close to accurately.

    I have a short segment on a weekly skeptical radio show, and a couple of weeks ago we had Gerson’s grandson as an interview. After his ballyhoo about ‘toxins’, he went on to talk about how all the cancer researchers are of course in the pocket of Big Pharma suppressing the results of alternative therapy, leading one to conclude that his grandfather was the only person ever to go into oncology for the pure thrill of healing the sick (news to the oncologists I work with on a regular basis, I’m sure.)

    How odd it was that no-one suggested Grandpa Gerson was in the pocket of Big Coffee, but I guess too few know about the history of coffee in Latin America and the hacienda system. Now there’s an industry with skeletons.

  112. #112 kamaka
    May 15, 2009

    Some of the shit I have read on this thread is just unbelievable.

    To all of you who think this kid dying just might be OK…fuck off, like go away and just fucking die yourselves. That you would say such things about a sick, scared kid is reprehensible, even if you think you’re only proving some kind of point.

    Anna, you go fuck off, too.

    Dammit, I just puked on my keyboard.

  113. #113 Michael W Simpson
    May 15, 2009

    Now, are any of you going to chip in to pay the bills for Daniel’s court-ordered chemotherapy?

    Well, once he’s a ward of the state, Medicaid, Medicare and other social support mechanisms, paid for by my taxes, will cover his bills. That’s the least of our worries.

  114. #114 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Nice summary Merkin Muffley, including the freedom vs. efficacy bit.

    If you can convince a big part of society that we should allow parents to do with their children as they please without answering to society in case of, say the avoidable death of the child, then you can be successful. I, for one, will be betting against you.

    We had that. It was called the Industrial Revolution. Kids died in factories by the truckloads. Not everyone thinks their kids are little darlings. Some think they’re an excellent source of second or third incomes.

  115. #115 Emmet, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Who gives a shit, really? You don’t know the kid and neither do I.

    No, but I wasn’t the one who termed his death ?win?. I think the default position for a human being of average moral intelligence should be that ?unnecessary death of child? = ?fail? without any necessity to know them personally.

    The perverse irony in this case is the amount of money that’s going to be spent (in lawyer’s fees, court time, etc.) forcing one kid to take life-saving medication that half the kids on the planet, and their parents, would dearly love to have access to.

  116. #116 Anonymous
    May 15, 2009

    @ 108
    Sad how you fail to see how it matters. or maybe, and stop me if I´m wrong (how could you), defense. Who other would say it like that? I belive that alot of thinking people give someting.. if not shit…

    Asshole.

  117. #117 strangebrew
    May 15, 2009

    Found this analysis on the Nemenhah band…seems to be about right…by tyhe way thy are not allowed to dub themselves a ‘tribe’…telling I would think!

    http://www.powwows.com/gathering/native-issues/39411-paying-teach-play-indian.html?vbseourl=vbseo.php&vbseourl=native-issues/39411-paying-teach-play-indian.html

  118. #118 Strakh
    May 15, 2009

    @ Watchman at #95:

    No fair!
    Now I have to wash the coke off the computer screen! I haven’t laughed so hard in ages.
    That’s the best answer to morons like Anna I’ve read yet.
    Thanks for the laugh!

  119. #119 Jim B
    May 15, 2009

    This got me to thinking about the Terri Schiavo case. President Bush took an unplanned trip to DC, and congress held an emergency session to save Mrs. Schiavo’s “life.”

    I doubt they would have exerted themselves to save Daniel Hauser’s life.

  120. #120 Chrystal K.
    May 15, 2009

    This is actually a very difficult situation. Obviously, if he were a legal adult, he would be able to make his own decision, but since he is so young and may not have a complete understanding of each side it becomes hard to call.

    I don’t think the parents are purposely “neglecting” their child. In fact, they probably feel like they are protecting him from harmful chemicals and increasing his chances of a healthy recovery.

    I wonder if there are any statistics of how effective these natural remedies are on these types of illnesses. They may be effective and just unknown. Regardless, I hope Daniel is cured soon and I pray that he can be happy and healthy.

  121. #121 Mrs Tilton
    May 15, 2009

    Marcus @108,

    failure to give a shit about the avoidable death of a child one doesn’t know — now, I can understand that, actually. It is evidence of a shallow and impoverished personality, to be sure, but it does have a certain logic.

    But accounting that death a (to use your term @92) “win”? That’s evidence of shallow, impoverished personality stuck for ever at the level of a sixteen year old reading Atlas Shrugged and imagining it to be profound.

  122. #122 Walton
    May 15, 2009

    You wouldn’t change your socialized medicine for the world? Even with all the long lines, terrible waiting periods, and poor care that we are constantly being told exist by xenophobes who have only ever left the US to have sex with underaged prostitutes?

    Speaking as a UK resident, I can’t comment on Canada’s socialised healthcare, but ours is notoriously poor. (Thankfully I’ve had little occasion to use it myself.) It’s also financially unsustainable; many of the NHS trusts over here are on the verge of insolvency. Privatisation of some services is likely to be the only realistic option in the long run.

    Brownian: as I understand it (and I’ll defer to your knowledge on this, since I’ve never been to Canada), is it not the case that a large part of the problem in Canada is due to the fact that private insurers are banned from covering treatments which are covered by Medicare? Meaning that waiting lists are needlessly long, and some are forced to travel to the US to seek private treatment? That seems like an entirely insane policy to me. I’m not saying that government shouldn’t assist with healthcare costs – it does in all Western countries – but it is, IMO, immoral to deny people the right to buy private treatment, separate from anything provided by the state, if they have the money and the will to do so.

    All that said, I vehemently disagree with whoever described the prospect of this child’s death as “win”; and I think that, whatever one’s political leaning, basic human decency requires that we provide life-saving treatment to children, at least, regardless of their family circumstances. I realise that this child declined the treatment, but I don’t think that someone of his age, with the level of indoctrination he’s likely to have received from his parents, can really make an informed decision. As much as I hate to endorse government intrusion, the judge was, IMO, right in this case.

  123. #123 Walton
    May 15, 2009

    As I noted on the last thread, there is a Babylon 5 episode (from more than 10 years ago) which has a plot eerily similar to these events.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Believers_(Babylon_5)

    (I’m surprised no one else has noticed this – in a forum full of self-proclaimed nerds, I can’t be the only Babylon 5 fan here…)

  124. #124 D'oh!
    May 15, 2009

    Cancer is a fungus that … clings on to the DNA

    I’d have to say that almost as funny as Barb’s claim that that the heart beats for a lifetime without an energy source.

  125. #125 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    I’m surprised no one else has noticed this – in a forum full of self-proclaimed nerds, I can’t be the only Babylon 5 fan here….

    Check the Friday Cephalopod thread, Walton. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  126. #126 Kim
    May 15, 2009

    He, can we nominate him for a Darwin Award?

  127. #127 Helioprogenus
    May 15, 2009

    The true arch-nemesis behind all this inanity is the Sugar pill. Sure, she looks benevolent, sitting there mildly interesting, completely oblivious and worse of all, neutral. Maybe she comes with you and seems to cures you of all your problems, maybe she doesn’t. Sometimes, she’ll seemingly cure one problem out of all of them, other times, she won’t. She might not accompany you, but you won’t know that because she can send her sisters who are actually useful but only the blind will know. You are a credulous tetrapod, and you will continue to allow her to generate constantly evolving fantasies of efficacy. It is by your very nature to believe those apathetic musings, and your only salvation is to understand how she’s manipulating you. By her own apathetic neutrality, she does serve a useful purpose, but you can’t know the nature of her existence when you’re so deeply involved. If you do acknowledge her usefulness, you’ll know how much more important her sisters are.

  128. #128 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Brownian: as I understand it (and I’ll defer to your knowledge on this, since I’ve never been to Canada), is it not the case that a large part of the problem in Canada is due to the fact that private insurers are banned from covering treatments which are covered by Medicare? Meaning that waiting lists are needlessly long, and some are forced to travel to the US to seek private treatment? That seems like an entirely insane policy to me. I’m not saying that government shouldn’t assist with healthcare costs – it does in all Western countries – but it is, IMO, immoral to deny people the right to buy private treatment, separate from anything provided by the state, if they have the money and the will to do so.

    Since that inevitably leads to increased prices and the inability of the poor to pay for necessary treatments, wouldn’t that be even more immoral?

  129. #129 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    No matter how you slice it, Walton, the problem is a lack of services, no matter who pays for it. If we’ve got a shitload of rich just lying about with money and nothing better to spend it on, then nothing’s stopping them from contributing more to the system. What the laws do is prevent them from siphoning off doctors into the for-profit system, where they’re just golfing until Scrooge McDuck breaks a hip.

  130. #130 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    I can’t be the only Babylon 5 fan here…

    Yeah, from season one when they still getting their legs, before the multiyear story arch started. Had to do with surgery and the the body being opened up. Good Space Opera…

  131. #131 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Thankfully I’ve had little occasion to use it myself.

    So Walton, is it really that poor, or are you just hearing the pro-privatisation bullshit?

    Guiliani famously complained that he?d be dead under the socialised medicine of England. Unfortunately, he’s an idiot with a platform.

  132. #132 Emmet, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Speaking as a UK resident, I can’t comment on Canada’s socialised healthcare, but ours is notoriously poor.

    [citation needed]

    ?Notoriously poor? by what standard? To the best of my knowledge, every international comparison of metrics of public health places countries with ?socialised healthcare? way ahead of countries without, both in absolute terms and in terms of value-for-money.

  133. #133 MadScientist
    May 15, 2009

    Well, hopefully the kid lives. If the kid dies (and there’s still a very good chance of that), you can imagine the next load of crap we’ll be hearing. “Judge gave our kid a death sentence”, “our kid was doing well until they gave him poison”, etc.

  134. #134 brian
    May 15, 2009

    According to the yahoo news article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ap_on_he_me/us_med_forced_chemo;_ylt=AmGtxVF8CfbzHrJo_ocfoX8azJV4

    The guy who founded this “tribe” once served four months in prison in Idaho for fraud related to advocating natural remedies.

    Oh, and this family is apparently just catholic. I wonder if the “altrnative treatments” include cannibalism and vampirism.

  135. #135 Primewonk
    May 15, 2009

    Anna @ 55 stupidly said “Cancer is a fungus that invades the body and mutates”

    PW – WOW! My little brother was right! Mushrooms do give you cancer.

  136. #136 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    ?Notoriously poor? by what standard? To the best of my knowledge, every international comparison of metrics of public health places countries with ?socialised healthcare? way ahead of countries without, both in absolute terms and in terms of value-for-money.

    Oh, we keep hearing about how ‘notoriously poor’ our system is too, by the fucking illiterates in the Alberta legislature.

    Here’s pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez

    Type in ‘health outcomes privatization’ and read a few abstracts. Emmet’s right.

  137. #137 Patricia, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Watchman @95 – Thanks for making me need to change undies…

  138. #138 Qwerty
    May 15, 2009

    I was wondering the other day how the religious right (and especially James Dobson) can get so worked up over Teri Shiavo who was considered brain-dead, but not get worked up over this young child who has the potential for a much longer life.

    I guess it’s that conservative thinking in which a higher authority (god, zeus, jebus) overrules the state’s authority.

  139. #139 Brian
    May 15, 2009

    Qwerty,
    Dobson might have gotten worked up over this, but he has apparently given up: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/gloat_everyone.php

  140. #140 Brownian, OM
    May 15, 2009

    ‘Kay, gotta run, so I won’t be able to keep up the privatisation discussion for awhile.

  141. #141 neil
    May 15, 2009

    This is just awful it is a no win situation. The idea of having to force a child through their treatment is horrendous.
    Having been through chemotherapy I can tell you all it really is shitty, but it is doable and better than the alternatives. Of course I was lucky I was an adult (25) and had a supportive family. Thinking about this lad is heartbreaking, what chance does he have?

    To some of those who posted.

    James Cook, Fail you’ve been seen through.

    Anna, fuck off you nut job.

    Walton, the NHS ain’t that bad it did a bloody good job of curing me of bowel cancer.

  142. #142 mh
    May 15, 2009

    Walton, I live in the UK too and I have been lucky enough to use our healthcare system many times. Each time I received polite, friendly and knowledgable service. OK so it is not the most speedy system but it is fair for everyone. I am also comforted by the idea that should I be unwell, need surgery or otherwise rushed to the A&E, I and my family would not need to worry about insurance forms/costs/etc. Can you even imagine not being able to go to your GP because you could not afford to do so? I can’t. And I am proud of the NHS. You should be too.

  143. #143 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Watchman @95 – Thanks for making me need to change undies…

    And here I was going to complain about him holding back… (the !@@#$%$^&* computer at work hasn’t worked well on Pharyngula since the last *&&$#@@”update” at SB.)

  144. #144 T_U_T
    May 15, 2009

    I might feel differently about this if the kid had been well informed and was consciously making a decision to die

    Well. I would not. Letting suicidal teenagers die is as evil as letting anyone else die.

  145. #145 Epinephrine
    May 15, 2009

    Had to take a break to have dinner, put kids to bed, etc…

    Emmet and Brownian are spot on. Socialised health care has much better results than privatised care. Probably why the USA ranks pretty much the worst among G8 countries on general health measures like life expectancy and infant mortality. I’m glad I’ve been spared “the best health care in the world”. As a result I’ll live several years longer.

  146. #146 'Tis Himself
    May 15, 2009

    As has been pointed out many times, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy in the US. Folks like Walton apparently think this is a good thing.

  147. #147 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    This is interesting indeed. LIberals are shouting about this incident ( and it is bad) but they virtually allowed Terri Schiavo to die at the hands of her husband rather than get medical help that would indeed help her. He tried to kill her and failed. That’s why he never allowed her treatment. He didn’t want her to talk.

    Terri Schiavo still lives in our hearts and memeories and her brutal murder will always be in our thoughts.

    If you could let Terri’s husband murder her by starvation, then you should let this go too!

  148. #148 'Tis Himself
    May 15, 2009

    but they virtually allowed Terri Schiavo to die at the hands of her husband rather than get medical help that would indeed help her.

    Terri Schiavo was brain dead, as are you, you stupid fuck. There was nothing, that’s NOT A THING, that could bring her back to life. Sorry if reality doesn’t fit your ideology, but that’s too bad. Reality has a liberal bias.

  149. #149 Lotharloo
    May 15, 2009

    Very sad indeed. Reminds me of this:

    There was a small boy on crutches. I do not know his name, and I suspect I never will. But I will never forget his face, his smile, his sorrow. He is one of the millions robbed of hope and dignity by charlatans discussed in this book. Wherever and whoever he is, I apologize to him for not having been able to protect him from such an experience. I humbly dedicate this book to him and to the many others who have suffered because the rest of us began caring too late.

    Faith Healers, James Randi

  150. #150 Ichthyic
    May 15, 2009

    they virtually allowed Terri Schiavo to die at the hands of her husband rather than get medical help that would indeed help her.

    red herring.

    fuck off.

  151. #151 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    Terri Schiavo was NOT brain dead. She knew everything that was going on in that room. She attempted to speak when her evil murderous husband would occassionaly let her parents into the room. She moved her eyes and head when someone brought flowers and balloons. Is that brain-dead?

    It was all out state mandated murder. Nothing less. The president could have used the national guard to sieze the hospital and take Terri out of there and be carried to a military installation where she could be checked out. He was too chicken to do it though. I never forgave Bush for that. He was a good man, but he had the power to not only save Terri, but treat her and get her back to talking again.

    He done wrong.

    The judge done even more wrong. I wonder how much her husband paid that judge to make such a ruling. I wonder what was in it for him?

  152. #152 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    Terri Schiavo was not brain dead. Autopsy reports did show that her brain was damaged beyond repair. That is becuase she was denied treatment for so long that her brain kept deteriroating. Of course she could have evntually went into a coma and died anyway later. She could have been possibly okay if she would have recieved proper medical treatment when she first collapsed. Instead she was denied treatment.

    She was never brain dead! EVER!

    The only person brain dead in this case was Micheal Schiavo. It’s not too late for the family to file a crminal investigation into the relationship between Micheal Schiavo and the judge in this case.

    A court battle is still going on.

    What makes him so suspicious is the fact that he would not let her parents take care of Terri. Her own parents did not have a say in the whole thing. They agreed to take care of everything.

    If that’s the case, then if I were her parents I would surely let Mr. SChivao take care of ALL of the medical bills by himself.

    I wonder if one day he will ever be in the hopital. i wonder if his new bride will pull his plug and make him starve to death while he lays back and helplessly tries to communicate but can’t? I bet the media changes their tune then.

  153. #153 John Morales
    May 15, 2009

    @151, from Wikipedia:

    The official autopsy report[29] was released on June 15, 2005. In addition to studying Mrs. Schiavo’s remains, Thogmartin scoured court, medical and other records and interviewed her family members, doctors and other relevant parties. Examination of Schiavo?s nervous system by neuropathologist Stephen J. Nelson, M.D., revealed extensive injury. The brain itself weighed only 615 g, only half the weight expected for a female of her age, height, and weight, an effect caused by the loss of a massive amount of neurons. Microscopic examination revealed extensive damage to nearly all brain regions, including the cerebral cortex, the thalami, the basal ganglia, the hippocampus, the cerebellum, and the midbrain. The neuropathologic changes in her brain were precisely of the type seen in patients who enter a PVS following cardiac arrest. Throughout the cerebral cortex, the large pyramidal neurons that comprise some 70% of cortical cells ? critical to the functioning of the cortex ? were completely lost. The pattern of damage to the cortex, with injury tending to worsen from the front of the cortex to the back, is also typical. There was marked damage to important relay circuits deep in the brain (the thalami) ? another common pathologic finding in cases of PVS. The damage was, in the words of Thogmartin, “irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.”

  154. #154 Kseniya
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger

    You’re doing a spectacular job of living up to your name.

  155. #155 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger, you are full of shit and brain dead yourself, but then, being a godbot, that is explained…

  156. #156 BlueIndependent
    May 15, 2009

    “Terri Schiavo was NOT brain dead. She knew everything that was going on in that room. She attempted to speak when her evil murderous husband would occassionaly let her parents into the room. She moved her eyes and head when someone brought flowers and balloons. Is that brain-dead?…”

    You’re an idiot. And man do you have alow standard for determining the consciousness and brain capacity of individuals. Face facts: the brain scans are irrefutable. Schiavo was brain dead. That you refer to her husband as “murderous” is annihilated by the fact that Schiavo had been in her state for many many years. It was her parents, in their display of self-righteous religiosity, who kept an already gone woman alive, against her wishes.

    “…I wonder how much her husband paid that judge to make such a ruling. I wonder what was in it for him?”

    People like you who relied on the *video diagnosis* by a doctor senator unskilled in the particular disorder, who had never met nor treated Mrs. Schiavo once in her life, have no credibility on this issue. Maybe it was the husband’s need to not continue seeing his wife suffer needlessly, unknowingly, and expensively, ad infinitum for years and years and years. I think a better question is how much more pain you idiot conservatives caused by turning the choice of one married couple into a national issue. I thought you guys were for families and traditional marriage, BUT as usual, when it’s not exactly what you morons want, it’s time for government to intervene. You guys love the government when it means taking physical action against someone you don’t like.

  157. #157 Paula Helm Murray
    May 15, 2009

    It appears that this child is unable to read. This means his parents are probably not too worried about educating the rest of their offspring.

    If you keep ‘em ignorant, they can’t argue with you much about religion or just about anything else.

    And chemo is effective. Very effective. I have a number of friends and a partner for whom that is true. One who for sure would not be alive today (he had a very virulent form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, his sister died of the same thing a few years before he was diagnosed).

  158. #158 BlueIndependent
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger, it’s over. You lost, and for damn good reason: Because you’re so blinded by your own fealty to your political group that you are incapable of challenging anything you hear or see that doesn’t fall within their world frame, and are incapable of operating and understanding the world. Put succinctly, you need help to get through life. Good job abdicating your brain to the group.

    I guess conservatives are kinda right: Groupthink is dangerous. Too bad its your own groupthink that’s dragging you down.

  159. #159 John Morales
    May 15, 2009

    As Ichthyic and Himself have said, Schiavo is not relevant here.

    This is a case of treating a minor for a lethal (and painful) physical condition despite their (ill-informed) opposition, not of ceasing life support for someone who has been in a persistent vegetative state for a long time.

    Interesting to see Walton not endorsing the parents’ right to choose regarding treatment, whilst otherwise endorsing their right to inculcate their child in their (clearly harmful) beliefs (I refer here to earlier threads regarding education).

  160. #160 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    Anna,

    My mother died of cancer. You are right though. She was doing much better before thye chemo. Afterwards, she got worse.

    There are other alternatives to state funded medical treatments that people view as a joke. EDTA Chelation therapy is one of them. Don’t knoc it till you try it!

    I made up my mind already. If I have to undergo open heart surgery or chem, I’ll take my chnaces with alternatives. At least I’ll die quicker and with less suffering if the alternative fails. I have already seen what open heart surgery and chemo can do to a person. I refuse to go through that and if the state says I’ll have to, then they’ll have to fight me to the death. I hope they bring enough ammo when they come for me cause I have enough to fight a small war. I could last a two months in that house with my food/medical/ammo stock. No government has the right to force medicine on anyone. And if they do claim that right, then dammit they should pay every dime and pay me labor for missing work and pay for my suffering. Government, that will be $10,000,000 please. I’ll take mine in cash – tax free. Otherwise, stay the hell out of my business!

  161. #161 Blue Fielder
    May 15, 2009

    First off, Right Winger == Poe.

    Second:

    where they’re just golfing until Scrooge McDuck breaks a hip.

    HEY NOW. Let’s not be talking shit about Scrooge McDuck. Scrooge is awesome, and besides, you don’t fuck with McDuck.

  162. #162 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    “Maybe it was the husband’s need to not continue seeing his wife suffer needlessly, unknowingly, and expensively, ad infinitum for years and years and years”

    ———-

    HMMM! I bet’s that’s what Mr. Schiavo told his NEW WIFE!

    She was not brain dead – again!

    If she were, she would not have been able to look around at people when they spoke to her. Good grief people.

    ————–

    Similar cases to Terri Schiavo:

    Haleigh Poutre. An American child beaten into a coma by a foster parent whom the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is attempting to remove from life support.

    Jessie Ramirez. An American man who suffered severe head trauma during a car accident, and was diagnosed as being a “Persistent Vegetative State”. Based on this diagnosis, his wife requested that life support be removed only 1 week after the accident. His parents fought to keep him on life support despite his wife’s interference and an Arizona judge ordered his feeding tube replaced. He recovered 3 weeks after the accident.

  163. #163 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Right Wing, we don’t give a shit what you think. Your thought processes are dominated by godbotting and paranoia. Nothing more need to be said. You are a delusional fool, since you have presented no physical evidence for your imaginary god.

  164. #164 dean
    May 15, 2009

    “At least I’ll die quicker”

    That’s the only correct thing you’ve said.

    You may need to read this slowly, so your flapping lips don’t block your eyes: you are old enough to choose your own care, so if you are ever in a life/death situation, you can choose the quacks you seem to favor, and not worry about the big bad government stepping in.
    The case that is the subject of this set of posts isn’t about the state stopping adults from choosing their own treatment: it’s about the state protecting the weakest among us, a child, from people who are apparently hell-bent on keeping him from receiving the treatment he needs – abuse that could lead to his death. You can be as big an ass as you want to yourself (I’m guessing you are a pro at this), but you shouldn’t be able to extend that to a child.

  165. #165 larry
    May 15, 2009

    (NOCAEBO EFFECT)

  166. #166 skepsci
    May 15, 2009

    This seems like the best of all possible solutions. I hope that the kid lives, grows up, and rejects his parents delusions.

  167. #167 John Morales
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger:

    There are other alternatives to state funded medical treatments that people view as a joke. EDTA Chelation therapy is one of them. Don’t knoc it till you try it!

    There’s medicine, and there’re alternatives to it. If you really want to feel better (until reality catches up) than to get better, it’s your choice. OTOH, you’re not 13 years old.

    At least I’ll die quicker and with less suffering if the alternative fails.

    You reckon? Quicker, yeah, but less suffering?
    I suggest otherwise.

  168. #168 Kseniya
    May 15, 2009

    Similar cases to Terri Schiavo:

    Yes, because three weeks is “similar” to fifteen years.

    Why don’t you cut and paste your talking points all at once, so we can get this over with?

  169. #169 Helioprogenus
    May 15, 2009

    Anna and Rightwing, both trolls of epic stupidity. Cancer is caused by processed carbohydrates that entangle with the adipose crepuscles, spreading through the body by tetrageminical neural pathways, and Michael Schiavo bribed, threatened, and cajoled his way to making sure his wife died to cover his affair with a triple breasted whore from Eroticon Six. This all sounds readily plausible you stupid fuckwits.

    Trying to understand how your brains actually function enough to cobble a few sentences together that on the surface are grammatically correct, yet contain fallacies that even a 5 year old with Texas-based public education can refute is mind boggling. If you seriously believe the credulous and ignorant nonsense you assert, than may your deaths be painful and protracted. May whatever non-existent invisible deity that you believe in provide you cold comfort when your last breath is drawn and you find your empty life wasted on vacuous nonsense. To think that you have a sensory organ that has evolved for nearly half a billion years allowing for logic, reasoning, and the use of abstract thought to approach the universe with curious, yet rigorous tools for analysis, all eventually amounting to wasted entropy. The chance coincidence and accidents that have allowed you to be born are proof that there is no god. When stupid, credulous, fucking trolls like yourselves exist on this planet, a random chaotic universe is a welcome event. It’s good to know that although a catastrophic asteroid may wipe out human life on this planet, at least it will do Earth a favor by erasing your existence.

  170. #170 Marcus Ranum
    May 15, 2009

    Mrs Tilton writes:
    failure to give a shit about the avoidable death of a child one doesn’t know — now, I can understand that, actually. It is evidence of a shallow and impoverished personality, to be sure, but it does have a certain logic.

    Oh, excuse me for being honest. Perhaps you mistook that for shallow and impoverished. Whatever those are. The truth is that I don’t give a shit about the kid and neither does probably anyone here. Wringing your hands on a blog is about as effective as praying for him. Is making lip-service the opposite of “shallow and impoverished”? Then save me a seat on the insincerity bus next to you, OK?

    So some kids dumbass parents are trying to talk him into dying, and it (apparently) mostly worked. Until the state had to save his life – time probably better spent fixing a pothole in some road. Why protect the stupid from themselves?

    That’s evidence of shallow, impoverished personality stuck for ever at the level of a sixteen year old reading Atlas Shrugged and imagining it to be profound.

    It put me to sleep; I never finished it. Did you?

    I guess I needed to cloak my original comment in some nice-sounding social bullshit. But, seriously, this got me thinking what do we actually mean when we say we “care” about a complete stranger’s fate? Do we do anything? Generally, no. Are we just concerned with appearing to be polite? Are we afraid of being called “shallow” and “impoverished” so we say the right thing in order to live up to social expectations?? I wonder if what we’re doing is pretending to care in hopes that, you know, someday if we’re lying by the side of the road in need of help, someone will actually be socialized enough with the idea of “caring about strangers” to stop. If only to relieve us of our wallet.

  171. #171 Sastra
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger #160 wrote:

    There are other alternatives to state funded medical treatments that people view as a joke. EDTA Chelation therapy is one of them. Don’t knoc it till you try it!

    Chelation therapy for cancer? No, that’s quackery. It’s used for lead poisoning. Conspiracy-style thinking can persuade people to trust in some very poor and unreliable sources.

    I’m not sure where you got the idea that it’s somehow easy and pleasant to die of cancer. That was one of the signs that the child Daniel Hauser didn’t fully understand his situation, and choices: he had stated that, if he died of Hodgkin’s, at least he would “die healthy.”

  172. #172 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    “The case that is the subject of this set of posts isn’t about the state stopping adults from choosing their own treatment: it’s about the state protecting the weakest among us, a child”

    —-

    That’s not the tune you are singing when it comes to an unborn child now is it? Where is the protection from the weakest of all – the unborn?

  173. #173 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Right winger, there is no such thing as an unborn child. It’s a child or a fetus. Why do you always lie? Too much godbotting I guess.

  174. #174 Blue Fielder
    May 15, 2009

    Folks.

    Right Winger.

    Poe.

    Don’t be gullible.

    Also, Marcus? Lemme guess, you’re one of those guys who regularly gets rejected by other internet communities because you’re “not PC”, right? Yeah, do yourself and the rest of us a favor: grow the fuck up.

  175. #175 Kseniya
    May 15, 2009

    Where is the protection from the weakest of all – the unborn?

    I said ALL your talking points. Sheesh. Don’t you listen?

    Does this change of subject mean that you conceding the point on young master Hauser?

  176. #176 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    “Chelation therapy for cancer? No, that’s quackery?

    —–

    I did not state that Chelation was for cancer. it’s for clogged arteries and artery related problems – blood pressure, high cholsterol (eat some Cherios, oh yeah, the FDA says we can’t)etc.

  177. #177 Janine, OMnivore
    May 15, 2009

    That’s not the tune you are singing when it comes to an unborn child now is it? Where is the protection from the weakest of all – the unborn?

    Because, as all right thinking and believing people know, as soon as the sperm hits the egg, it becoming a fully formed (if rather tiny) christian baby.

    As for the case of Terri Schiavo, for the last fifteen years of her existence, she was the ideal christian.

  178. #178 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    As for the case of Terri Schiavo, for the last fifteen years of her existence, she was the ideal christian.

    Which still makes her twice as smart as Right Winger…

  179. #179 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    So a potato is not really a potato until it’s out of the ground?

    An onion until it is out of the ground?

    A fish is not really a fish until it’s out of the water right?

    Good comparison.

    Yes a child can be unborn. Science textbooks may call it a fetus. Normal people call it a baby?

    I have never heard a woman being asked if her FETUS was going to a boy or a girl. I always heard it called a baby. Get your head out of the stupid science books and learn something useful for a change. You may know darwinian evolution well, but you don’t know jack crap about everyday life.

    I cannnot wait until the next time I see a fetused (cannot call it pregnant if I cannot label it a baby) up woman. I’ll ask her if her fetus is a boy or girl and what color they are going to paint the fetus’s room.

  180. #181 Bachalon
    May 15, 2009

    Boy, I wish I was religious so I could get hired for a job I don’t have to do, then go home and kill my children.

  181. #182 C
    May 15, 2009

    There are no words for how enraged the alternative medicine frauds make me. I just saw a kindly old man die a horrible, nasty death because he bought into the crap lies he received in the mail: Chelation therapy, “What Your Dr. Isn’t Telling You”, why you should only eat beet sugar and not cane sugar if you are diabetic, drink herbal tea every day and you’ll never get sick. You name it, he bought it, hook line and sinker. He’d never had any formal education, grew up on a reservation (real Native American in his case), but although uneducated he wasn’t stupid. He’d learned to read and write both English and Spanish, he could tear a diesel engine apart and put it back together blindfolded – but he was without any education and had been prepared for the woo by his earlier indoctrination into the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nevertheless, he loved a beer, would give someone the shirt off his back, literally, and was in all ways an interesting and funny old guy who never once preached at me or attempted to sway me from my atheistic doom.

    But he developed penile cancer. Always a killer, the only cure is early and radical surgery (penectomy), unless it’s caught early enough to excise it. Well, long story short, he first treated the sore with aloe vera, then he moved on to some kind of fucking mushroom powder, mitake or something like that. Wouldn’t have surgery once he was diagnosed. It got worse and worse until, when he finally went to the hospital, the penis was completely gone and most of the testicles, and he had a gigantic gaping hole where all that used to be. Really, you could see intestines. Mushroom powder indeed.

    The doctors at the ER at U of Iowa hospitals were white-faced with shock when they saw it. Of course, by that time there was nothing for it but hospice. And a couple of months later, he died.

    Right up until the day he died, he was taking various herbal stuff along with the pain meds. No reason not to, as far as hospice is concerned, the guy was a goner anyway, and if it made him feel better, cool. He’d lie there, all 75 pounds of him, watching the birds at the feeder outside his window, and talk about how he was getting better, his meds were working, he was going to show us all.

    But as sad as this is, he was an adult. He put his son through hell, watching him die, but as he was an adult it was his own damned life and he had the right to do what he wanted with it. But it had a profound effect on me; I’d always sneered at the people who wanted to “pray it away”, and thought they were stupid, but had never really thought about just how evil the purveyors of quackery like this are. They prey on the credulous, the ignorant, and the poor old man had spent a fortune on their herbs and powders and “medical books” by the time he died. We’re still getting these ads and pamphlets in the mail. Something really needs to be done about this, via the law. This stuff should be regulated by the FDA. However, we seem to be going in the opposite direction as a country. Insurance actually covers chiropractic now. FFS. And I worked with intelligent, well-educated people who actually think the Chinese and Indian folk remedies are magical cures, and that vaccines cause autism. I don’t really know what can be done about it, but something needs to be done. It really does.

    Sorry so long. This subject hits close to home.

  182. #183 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    “As for the case of Terri Schiavo, for the last fifteen years of her existence, she was the ideal christian.”

    ——–

    If that’s the case then Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are the ideal liberals. Ugly and want more power.

  183. #184 Sastra
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger #176 wrote:

    I did not state that Chelation was for cancer. it’s for clogged arteries and artery related problems – blood pressure, high cholsterol (eat some Cherios, oh yeah, the FDA says we can’t)etc.

    No, that’s wrong.

    You might find this relevant, and interesting, because it goes into some of the details on why:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/08/your_friday_dose_of_woo_gonna_wash_those.php

    Conclusion:
    “To this day, no properly randomized, double-blind study has ever shown any benefit from chelation therapy for symptoms of cardiac disease or peripheral vascular disease.”

    (By the way, where does the FDA say we can’t eat Cheerios?? I must be misunderstanding you here.)

  184. #185 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    “As for the case of Terri Schiavo, for the last fifteen years of her existence, she was the ideal christian.”

    No she was twice as brain dead as you are now. Lights on, nobody home. This is true of all right wingers. Something about god and paranoia. Just no intelligence left to make a proper argument.

  185. #186 Right Winger
    May 15, 2009

    “(By the way, where does the FDA say we can’t eat Cheerios?? I must be misunderstanding you here.)”

    Earlier this week the FDA was getting onto Cherios becuase of their statements about lowering Cholesterol in television advertisements. The FDA told them that they could not advetise like this and that they aere advertising a “drug” since their product claimed to lower Cholesterol.

    I don;t know how Cherios responed, but it should have been something along the lines of “MIND YOU OWN DAMNED BUSINESS!”

    The government is trying to control ceral now. We need this government downsized tremendously. We need to take away about 75% of their powers and priviledges and money – and then make them eat Cherios

  186. #187 anonymouroboros
    May 15, 2009

    “So a potato is not really a potato until it’s out of the ground?
    An onion until it is out of the ground?
    A fish is not really a fish until it’s out of the water right?”
    An interestingly complete failure to think of parallels to the human fetus by analogy by Right Winger. A fertilized potato seed, a fertilized onion seed, and a fish egg would be the parallels you were looking for; the others you listed are simply the movement of organisms. You make yourself look extremely silly with your examples. Poe?

    As to the question of whether or not we actually “care” about a person we don’t know and will never meet dying, I would say we care, but not in the same way we would care about a parent dying (for most of us, at least). Most people believe that by living in a society, we have an obligation to protect the weakest among us. It is similar to having a police force, a fire department, etc. It is one of the things one benefits and loses from by belonging to a society.

    Hopefully that somewhat answers the question of why we should “care” as a society, or at least view it as an obligation if we ourselves want protection similarly by belonging to a society.

  187. #188 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 15, 2009

    Still nothing but paranoia Right winger. False advertising is a crime. Get a real argument or go home.

  188. #189 Janine, OMnivore
    May 15, 2009

    Posted by: Right Winger | May 15, 2009

    “As for the case of Terri Schiavo, for the last fifteen years of her existence, she was the ideal christian.”

    ——–

    If that’s the case then Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are the ideal liberals. Ugly and want more power.

    Dammit, Right Winger! Your relentless devotion to the facts and your impeccable use of analogy leaves me unable to counter your over whelming intelligence.

    As part of my concession to you, could you point me to the evidence that Micheal Schiavo bribed the judge so that he may murder Terri?

  189. #190 wistah
    May 15, 2009

    Okay, there’s a whole new crop of nutz, idiotz, and wackos posting on this site. PZ, you need an apocalyptic purge, stat.

    The State has an obligation, indeed, a vested interest, in rescuing this child from its nutbag parents as surely as it has a vested interest in protecting a child from abuse. The presumption is that a child has a right to a long and healthy life. If parents are unable to provide a setting in which such development can occur, the state can and will provide an alternative setting. It has ever been thus.

    Intervene, strap the freakin’ kid down, give him his goddamned chemo, save his life, and let him get on with his miserable fucking existence. And so it goes.

  190. #191 Sastra
    May 15, 2009

    C #182:

    Excellent post. I understand your frustration. It’s as if consumer protection goes out the window when people invoke the magical notion of “health freedom” and their “right to choose.” But you can’t make real choices when you’re working on bad information.

    How sad for your friend.

  191. #192 anonymouroboros
    May 15, 2009

    “Earlier this week the FDA was getting onto Cherios becuase of their statements about lowering Cholesterol in television advertisements. The FDA told them that they could not advetise like this and that they aere advertising a “drug” since their product claimed to lower Cholesterol.

    I don;t know how Cherios responed, but it should have been something along the lines of “MIND YOU OWN DAMNED BUSINESS!”
    The government is trying to control ceral now. We need this government downsized tremendously. We need to take away about 75% of their powers and priviledges and money – and then make them eat Cherios”

    Your conspiracy theory is a bit silly; the FDA isn’t trying to control cereal so much as it is trying to minimize potentially misleading advertising, as it has always done. The “lower cholesterol by half” claim was what they targeted because it had not been proven (to the FDA at least), not the cereal itself. Nonetheless, the company can still sell Cheerios, making your first claim false.

  192. #193 John Morales
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger @186, your condemnation of consumer protection is noted and judged paranoid and delusional.

    Oh, and it’s clear you’re trolling, in the classic sense. Just in case you doubt we’re aware of it.

  193. #194 C
    May 15, 2009

    Thanks, Sastra. It was, indeed, very sad.

    At least he had a long, full life. This poor kid is going to be very, very lucky to even get a shot at life. It makes me crazy!

  194. #195 John Morales
    May 15, 2009

    wistah,

    Okay, there’s a whole new crop of nutz, idiotz, and wackos posting on this site. PZ, you need an apocalyptic purge, stat.

    Nowhere near a need for Survivor(Pharyngula) II just yet. Not that I don’t look forward to it, when it’s due… :)

  195. #196 Sastra
    May 15, 2009

    Right Winger #186 wrote:

    Earlier this week the FDA was getting onto Cherios becuase of their statements about lowering Cholesterol in television advertisements. The FDA told them that they could not advetise like this and that they aere advertising a “drug” since their product claimed to lower Cholesterol.
    I don;t know how Cherios responed, but it should have been something along the lines of “MIND YOU OWN DAMNED BUSINESS!”

    Your explanation seems to be missing something here: anything that indicates that Cheerios really does lower cholesterol, as they claim.

    If they don’t have the studies and evidence to back up what they’re saying, then no, they shouldn’t be able to say it. There are some rather high criteria that have to be met if a product is making a specific medical claims. DSHEA ought to be repealed, because it allows supplements too much leeway.

    Are you trying to imply that no, any ad should be able to say whatever it wants, and let the buyer beware?

  196. #197 Dianne
    May 15, 2009

    Clarification on Terri Schiavo: She was not brain dead. A diagnosis of brain death can only be made in the absence of ANY brain activity including spontaneous breathing, sleep-wake cycles, and hypothalamic activity. She had clear brainstem activity including sleep-wake cycles. She was, however, in a permanent vegetative state: completely without cortical activity (confirmed by EEG and autopsy as well as clinically) and unaware of herself or her surrounding. That wasn’t going to change. (BTW: someone who has been in a vegetative state for one week can not be diagnosed as persistent or permanent vegetative state so right winger is either mistaken or lying about some detail of the story s/he told about the man in “PVS” for one week.) Her brain was mostly scar tissue and she had no cortical function at all. But she wasn’t actually brain dead.

  197. #198 Dr. Dredd
    May 15, 2009

    I’m glad that the judge came to the conclusion he did. I read the transcript of the in-chambers interview with the kid, and he really doesn’t seem to get what’s going on.

    http://www.courts.state.mn.us/Documents/0/Public/Other/Hauser/Hauser_Transcript.pdf

    Unfortunately, though, it’s still going to be a horrible situation for all concerned. Daniel basically said he’s going to punch and kick anyone who tries to treat him. I feel bad for the physicians, nurses, etc. who try to take this case on.

    I also feel bad for Daniel himself. How DO you force chemo on someone who doesn’t want it? Sedate him for months? Keep him restrained? Not pretty.

  198. #199 Russell Blackford
    May 15, 2009

    I need to find the time to read the whole judgment, but this sounds like the judge did a good job. In other contexts, I worry about the infantilisation of older children and teenagers, who are considered by many people (especially religious people) to be incapable of making any decisions of consequence. Recall the way the religious carried on in the Bill Henson debate last year.

    But where it’s literally a matter of life and death, you want to be sure, on each occasion, that the decision to refuse medical treatment … and consequently die … is being made by somebody with considerable understanding and maturity. It looks as if the judge operated on that basis and came to the correct conclusion. With luck, a young life may now be saved.

    Dammit, another case of “Judge gets things about right”. Will those goddamn judges never cease mucking up by doing this?

  199. #200 Krystalline Apostate
    May 15, 2009

    tight zinger @ 160:

    I made up my mind already. If I have to undergo open heart surgery or chem, I’ll take my chnaces with alternatives. At least I’ll die quicker and with less suffering if the alternative fails. I have already seen what open heart surgery and chemo can do to a person.

    OHS AND chemo? OHS people can live pretty full lives you know. That is, if they live in the 21st CE.

    I refuse to go through that and if the state says I’ll have to, then they’ll have to fight me to the death.

    Holy shit, what state do YOU live in? Who the hell sends the state troopers to force people into surgery?

    I hope they bring enough ammo when they come for me cause I have enough to fight a small war. I could last a two months in that house with my food/medical/ammo stock.

    Bingo, we got a dingo! Hang out w/insular militias much? Where you at, Montana?

    No government has the right to force medicine on anyone. And if they do claim that right, then dammit they should pay every dime and pay me labor for missing work and pay for my suffering.

    Yeah, I’m seriously really interested in your (general) location. ‘Cause I seriously want to avoidthat state @ all costs.
    Is there anyone out there who has an instance of surgical treatment @ gunpoint?

  200. #201 John Morales
    May 15, 2009

    Dr. Dredd,

    I also feel bad for Daniel himself. How DO you force chemo on someone who doesn’t want it? Sedate him for months? Keep him restrained? Not pretty.

    I presume child services have techniques for this sort of situation.

    My first thought is that convincing him of the reality and deadly serious nature of his circumstances before proceeding is the go, but then I’m no psychologist.

  201. #202 Laura
    May 15, 2009

    First off people that use explicatives to try and make a point appear ignorant to me. I dont think I need curse words to understand passion or zealous. I think I just see a small person with little to say, at least not in an intelligent way. Why would I listen to someone who tells me to F*** off?

    Secondly, I have cancer. Breast cancer. I use supplements, ALOT of supplements.

    I take Taxol, 9 months of Taxol.

    It wasnt until I started taking supplements and eating certain types of food that my cancer began to diminish. In fact I HAD a spot in my liver, HAD.

    For those of you that want to trash someone for their food beliefs, you probably need to step back. I watch a guy eat food from McDonalds every week. Would you like to guess what kind of cancer he has? (Give you a gastric guess)

    What we eat does affect how our bodies process and deal with illness. Anyone that has cancer should educate themselves on what they think is their best treatment. It may not be standard western medicine, it may be.

    When a person has cancer all they have are choices. The people looking on need to support that. Dieing is a choice, not one that is very popular, but it is a choice. Alternative therapies are choices. Choices can change as well.

    I love my oncologist, I think he has saved my life in many ways, but I also think that my food and supplement choices have done more for me and my health than any treatment offered to me so far. I am fortunate that I can continue with both, but at this juncture if I had to choose, I would choose the food and supplement path.

    What disturbs me most about this story is how the government wants to tell the parents’ and their child what to do. Although I feel that chemo in this case is a life saver (this cancer is understood) and combined with food could lead to an even better life, on principal it is wrong. Parents should have a right to parent in the way they feel is best for their child and nothing I have read indicates this family is SEEKING harm for their child.

    We may not agree, you may think that a diet of McDonalds and Taco Bell is A-OK. You may think the food pyramid is actually good for you. None of that is the point. The point is, a family has made a medical decision and an outside party has decided that it isnt the right decision and has played God externally. Yes, the family is playing God too, but they are internal. The judge is no more qualified than the parent(s). The doctor is probably the most qualified, but still does he get to pick the child’s path, JUST because he is a doctor?

    To me this is very frightening. As a positive recipient of chemo, I hate to think that someday I would be faced with an external person that told me that the only choice I had was to treat my illness their way and that if I balked I would be forced.

    Maybe though thats what we want. Sounds like a lot of folks want to believe that medicine and doctors know it all. That they are the only ones that can lead us to the path of healing and we should put our complete and total trust in the medical degree they have earned. Maybe so, but as long as I live and breathe, I am determined to pave my way and to kill every last cancer cell in my body. If I have to step over every medical professional in existence to do it, so be it.

    For those of you that would rather someone else handle it for you, by all means have lunch at McDonalds, I hear Dairy Queen is good too.

  202. #203 Monado
    May 15, 2009

    An adult can refuse medical treatment for herself. A child is supposedly under the protection and guidance of his parents. A very young fetus is not able to survive without using someone else’s body as a life support system. That’s why personal sovereignty trumps potential personhood.

    Incidentally, Canadian Omar Khadr was one year older, 14, when his father took him to Iraq and immersed him (further) into indoctrination as a fighter for religious freedom, the right of self-government, and territorial freedom against a U.S. invasion. [That isn’t necessarily how I see it; but I think it’s how Khadr’s family sees it.] He was 16 when he was pulled, unconscious and with two bullet holes in his back, from a house which U.S. forces had exchanged fire and had shelled, killing the eight adults inside. Do you think he was mature and independent enough to make an informed choice to go to war? I don’t. He has been in Guantanamo military prison ever since. He was there for two years before he saw a lawyer. The U.S. has rejected International Court rulings that child soldiers are dependent on their leaders and thus not wholly responsible for their deeds. American soldiers who never saw him conscious until he was captured have declared that they are sure he was the one who threw a grenade from the house and killed two American soldiers. (I guess it’s a matter of faith with them.) Our smug, smarmy, sanctimonious control freak of a Prime Minister will not speak up to have the legal standards for child soldiers applied. In fact, he is appealing the order of a Canadian court that Canada should request Khadr’s return to Canadian custody. It might have been possible to rehabilitate Khadr at 16 but after six or seven years locked up by Americans without the right to a speedy trial or the right of habeus corpus,* which the U.S. repudiated for for prisoners in Gitmo, and abandoned by Canada he probably has a deep and abiding bitterness toward both countries.

    #102 Jeanette, thanks for sharing your thoughts as a person who’s been through it.

  203. #204 Blue Fielder
    May 15, 2009

    Laura typed:

    Sounds like a lot of folks want to believe that medicine and doctors know it all.

    I saw:

    WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO WOO

    By the way, woohead, it’s “expletives”, not “explicatives”. I’d wager dollars to dogshit you’re an outright troll, probably a Poe, but you’ve earned the first wave of my endless ire.

  204. #205 Jadehawk
    May 15, 2009

    Speaking as a UK resident, I can’t comment on Canada’s socialised healthcare, but ours is notoriously poor. (Thankfully I’ve had little occasion to use it myself.)

    I used to think the same about the German system when I was your age. then I moved to the US. Now I’m gloriously uninsurable, so the only way I’m NOT someday going to get into massive, deadly, expensive trouble is if I manage to get back to Europe before getting anything nasty.

    As I noted on the last thread, there is a Babylon 5 episode (from more than 10 years ago) which has a plot eerily similar to these events.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Believers_(Babylon_5)
    (I’m surprised no one else has noticed this – in a forum full of self-proclaimed nerds, I can’t be the only Babylon 5 fan here…)

    you’re not. But the similarity is hardly surprising or note-worthy, since I’m fairly certain that particular episode was on purpose a social commentary of the likes of Christian Scientists…

  205. #206 Russell Blackford
    May 15, 2009

    Yes, Laura, the point is that this kid is a minor. That doesn’t automatically mean he can’t make any decisions of consequence. If he has a good understanding of what he’s doing and is capable of rational reflection on it, then he has the same rights as an adult to refuse medical treatment. That’s the “mature minor” doctrine. But do we really think that the courts should just presume that he has that kind of maturity when he’s only 13 and it’s a matter of life and death? No.

    And why should parents have the right to decide such questions of life and death for their children? Sure, as a society we delegate to parents the responsibility to bring up children and to make a lot of decisions about shaping their values, etc. But why should the parents’ wishes prevail in a case like this where yielding to the parents’ wishes means that the child will die? Parents don’t have a right from some transcendental source to make any decision whatsoever on behalf of a child. Their rights are circumscribed. They are there to make decisions that could reasonably be thought to be in the child’s interests, admittedly with quite a lot of discretion given to them, but not the discretion to make any decision whatsoever on behalf of the child, no matter how irrational or destructive to the child’s interests. A point comes when society as a whole must step in, through the courts.

    Where the decision being made is to refuse life-saving medical treatment, only the individual concerned should have the right to make that choice. And state paternalism is justified unless the individual is either an actual adult or a minor who, as an individual, is sufficiently mature to make an informed choice about something so momentous. That’s what the law says, and I don’t see why we’d want to change it.

    I sometimes get into trouble with fellow atheists when I insist that some minors really are mature enough to make that decision. But we always need to be cautious about that, when a young life is at stake. It looks to me as if this was a judge who understood all this and acted wisely.

  206. #207 Die Anyway
    May 15, 2009

    In early 2000 my then 13 year old daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. We immediately consulted a local pediatric oncology group and began treatments at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. During the multiple rounds of chemo and radiation she was weak, sick and debilitated for nearly a year. She lost her hair, lost weight and spent a good deal of the time in a hospital bed and plenty of time with her head over a bucket… throwing up. It was tough going for my wife and I to watch this but I know it must have been worse on her. She stuck it out bravely and 9 years later has completed 4 years at the University of Florida and is headed off in two days for a summer (actually winter) in Australia. Real medicine (or science based medicine as Steven Novella calls it) is great. It’s not fun, it often hurts and sometimes it’s not as effective as we’d like but it beats the alternatives by a long shot. We used it. Our daughter is now 8 years cancer free.
    All that being said, I’m not thrilled about the government deciding what the appropriate treatment should be. How would any of us feel if the government decided that chemo and radiation were too expensive and a judge orders that we should try Reiki and acupuncture first? Medicare is running out of money. What if they decide to dispense homeopathic potions instead FDA approved drugs? Would you still want to abide by the government’s decisions for you? I doubt it. Watch out for that slippery slope. We only like this decision because it happened to go “our way”. In order to have the freedom to make the right decisions for yourself (and your family) you sometimes have to allow others to make what you consider the wrong decisions for themselves.

  207. #208 raven
    May 16, 2009

    Right Winger is simply lying. Terry S. had a severely and irreversibly damaged brain of 615 g. This is half human normal and not much bigger than a chimpanzee.

    But a chimpanzee is orders of magnitude more functional, a smart, self aware autonomous entitity. Even a cat would be more functional.

    The damage was severe in the cerebral cortex, the thinking part of the brain that makes us us.

    The usual, a combination of toxic religion, lack of education, mental illness and a low IQ. He says he will reject modern medicine for alternatives. People do this and many of them die each year because of it. Not smart but we already know that.

    wikipedia:

    Examination of Schiavo?s nervous system by neuropathologist Stephen J. Nelson, M.D., revealed extensive injury. The brain itself weighed only 615 g, only half the weight expected for a female of her age, height, and weight, an effect caused by the loss of a massive amount of neurons. Microscopic examination revealed extensive damage to nearly all brain regions, including the cerebral cortex, the thalami, the basal ganglia, the hippocampus, the cerebellum, and the midbrain. The neuropathologic changes in her brain were precisely of the type seen in patients who enter a PVS following cardiac arrest. Throughout the cerebral cortex, the large pyramidal neurons that comprise some 70% of cortical cells ? critical to the functioning of the cortex ? were completely lost. The pattern of damage to the cortex, with injury tending to worsen from the front of the cortex to the back, is also typical. There was marked damage to important relay circuits deep in the brain (the thalami) ? another common pathologic finding in cases of PVS. The damage was, in the words of Thogmartin, “irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.”[69]

  208. #209 Laura
    May 16, 2009

    I guess I am still mystified by

    “But why should the parents’ wishes prevail in a case like this where yielding to the parents’ wishes means that the child will die? Parents don’t have a right from some transcendental source to make any decision whatsoever on behalf of a child. ”

    So why have kids? Why have a family? Why even have a thought? or make any kind of decision? Maybe I should call into my elected official every night and make sure everything I discussed or led my child to do is ok with them and meets their standard. Or maybe they will just give me a check list or a manual for tomorrow. Heck I am off scott free because according to that train of thought, I dont have to think or care about anything my kid does, learns, or experiences. Whew, thats a relief I thought I was actually responsible for my child?

    I thought that is what parents did and in agreement with Die Anyways thoughts, some of you like the chemo path and see that as the right choice. I actually believe and have lived a different one, and continue to live because of it. So in my opinion, because you agree with the judge it makes it ok for you.

    I basically agree with the treatment but that doesnt make it ok for me to decide it for someone else, minor or otherwise.

    And I disagree that I dont have the right to make decisions for my child, whether some doctor likes it or not. God doesnt have anything to do with it or any other transendental force. (had to type something wrong for Blue Fielder)

    And yes, I agree that this case has facets that make the decision more palatable, but at the core, it was his parents’ and his decision and whether or not we like the decision it is not really societies to make.

    I think the basic problem I have is that I dont want to be told what to do, I dont want my child to be told what to do and I certainly dont want her forced to do something to her own body that she doesnt want done, regardless of the outcome.

    Although the paragraph above is a good example. I made her get a tetanus shot the other day. I actually had to MAKE her. So I did to her what I argued against in the above paragraph. So here is an example the parent deciding what was best for the child and making them do it. So I guess in this case, this young man is really at the mercy of the winning party and Russell Blackford’s point is well made, parent’s dont have any rights at all really.

    Still scary.

  209. #210 raven
    May 16, 2009

    I presume child services have techniques for this sort of situation.

    Guess again. They don’t. The number of cases where this happens runs around zero. If a 13 year old violently resists, it probably isn’t possible to treat him for this type of cancer. He needs months of chemo, and supportive care to withstand the side effects of same. He also could just flee beyond the state of Minnesota jurisdiction and/or disappear.

    The big problem in medicine isn’t people rejecting it. It is that demand is far greater than money to pay for it or infrastructure to provide it.

  210. #211 raven
    May 16, 2009

    right wing nutcase:

    I refuse to go through that and if the state says I’ll have to, then they’ll have to fight me to the death. I hope they bring enough ammo when they come for me cause I have enough to fight a small war. I could last a two months in that house with my food/medical/ammo stock. No government has the right to force medicine on anyone.

    Thanks for posting that. You’ve pointed out that you are very crazy and ignorant.

    Don’t worry. You accidently got one thing right. After age 18, anyone is free to reject any and all medicine. Few do. Thanks to modern medicine, lifespans have increased 30 years in the last century. Most people want those 3 decades.

  211. #212 raven
    May 16, 2009

    Laura:

    And I disagree that I dont have the right to make decisions for my child, whether some doctor likes it or not.

    So you are OK with medical neglect of kids leading to death?

    How about withholding food and water from your kids?

    Or making them sleep outside during the winter?

    Our society considers children human beings, not property. And there are a lot of lousy parents who never wanted kids and never should have had them. Child abuse is all too common and frequently horrendous and occasionally fatal for the kids. Happens constantly and we’ve all seen or heard of cases.

    BTW, I saw a woman diagnosed at 33 with stage 1, >90% curable breast cancer. She went alternative and died of metastatic breast cancer 18 months later. Basically she turned down a near certain cure for certain death. You do what many people do, mistake correlation with causation. ” I prayed and consumed massive amounts of supplements and oh yeah, was treated with state of the art chemo by an oncologist. God and vitacost saved me.”

    .

  212. #213 luna1580
    May 16, 2009

    if anyone still reading cares about the specifics of the “native american” “religion” involved in the case, here is a summary of what lynna, myself and others dredged up when PZ posted the first thread about daniel hauser, 13-year-old “nemenhah medicine man” (this title is given to all nemenhah members aged 13 or over -as long as they’ve paid all the “suggested” donations):

    the “nemenhah band” is not a true native group. rather, it is the creation of a white double felon (for fraud) naturopath named phillip r. landis, AKA cloudpiler.

    read about this here:

    http://www.startribune.com/local/44755337.html?elr=KArks:DCiUHc3E7_V_nDaycUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

    the other interesting thing here, is that landis-cloudpiler “discovered” the existence of the “nemenhah” in a controversial mormon text, the mentinah or “book of hagoth”, see a brief discussion here:

    http://provopulse.com/?q=node/1538

    landis himself is the “translator” of this “ancient text” supposedly found in an undisclosed american location engraved on plates in an unknown holy language (just like the book of mormon). the mainstream LDS church doesn’t officially recognize this “book.” it was after his “translations” that landis sought to have the nemenhah recognized as a legitimate native band. oh, that also happened after a real native tribe challenged his use of their name using “the ceremonial waving of the lawyers,” and they won.

    being a “native practitioner” conveniently allows landis protection from most persecution if his “native medicine” fails to give the promised results, thanks to his misuse of the Federal Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act of 1993 (NAFERA) as a legal shield.

    here’s another nice blog summary of the nemenhah/faux-mormon/faux-native situation:

    http://www.computernewbie.info/wheatdogg/2009/05/11/a-sad-curious-tale-of-rampant-duplicity-and-stupidity/

    so this case is about more than freedom of religion, native rights, the rights of minors and parents, medical ethics, and alternative medicine.

    it’s also about fraud, legal dodges, and multilevel marketing schemes.

    so, if the hausers were convinced by a fraudulent white mormon “native healer” that the “native herbs” and other “cures”, which the nemenhah conveniently sell in a MLM type scheme, really were cures for their son, then i see them as victims of a scam, at least in part. it remains unclear how much of their “religious” objection was caused by mrs. colleen hauser watching her sister die after suffering through horrendous chemo and then seeing daniel have a hard time with his first chemo course, as orac commented on.

    what seems beyond doubt is that this family understands very little about science and medicine in general (the mother thinks x-rays of her kid’s chest reveling a mass are somehow “wrong” for starters). and the fact that the 13-year-old can’t even read (revealed in the court case) makes me assume there’s a lot he doesn’t know/hasn’t been taught. the judge was absolutely right in this decision.
     

  213. #214 luna1580
    May 16, 2009

    wow, so i just checked back the comments at the last link i gave above, they are worth a read:

    http://www.computernewbie.info/wheatdogg/2009/05/11/a-sad-curious-tale-of-rampant-duplicity-and-stupidity/

    look what i found (i think it is legitimate):

    galigo:

    May 15th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    My mother died because she followed his healing advice instead of receiving medical treatment. Here is a copy of an email I sent the chief. cloudpiler@nemenhah.org

    Phil Landis (AKA Cloudpiler),

    Thanks to all the publicity you?re receiving from this Daniel Hauser case, I finally caught up to you. I?m sure you?ve wanted to know how things ended up with my mother, Richelle, your neighbor at Parks Place, Hideaway Valley, UT.

    If your memory needs refreshed, she had uterine cancer, which is 75% to 95% survivable with appropriate (medical) treatment.

    However, you advised her to use your alternative healing methods, which she did.
    As you were aware, she became sicker and sicker, as she continued to do what you advised her to do. When I came to visit her, you would disappear.

    When she became so sick that she needed 24 hour care, my wife and I brought her to our home in Idaho. Here, we cared for her and loved her until she died.
    Then, I saw your mugshot on the local TV news, convicted of fraud.
    Now, I see you?re using religion to cover your multi-level marketing scam to distribute the same healing methods that lead to my mother?s death.

    To top it off, I understand you claim to have discovered and translated some ancient plates which prove you?re the chief of some lost tribe of Native Americans!

    Do you have any idea how ridiculous that is? Sadly, there are people who innocently fall for your deceit. Like my mom did.

    I wonder how many other people have died because of what you do.
    Does it bother you?

    Here?s something you should know: My wife and my dad both had cancer at the same time as my mother. Weird, huh. The thing is, my wife and my dad are still here. Cured by surgery. Perfectly healthy now. I miss my mom, and every time I think of her slow, painful, rotting, stinking death my heart breaks all over again.

    You are not only a fraud, chief, you?re a killer.

    I?m going to post a copy of this letter to the blogs that come up on the first search page when your name is googled.

  214. #215 theinquisitor
    May 16, 2009

    Brownian: “fucktons of peer-reviewed evidence shows that privatisation of health care decreases health outcomes and increases per capita costs overall”

    This is a subject I’m quite interested in. Could you perhaps give me some references to some of these studies?

  215. #216 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    There is a really interesting article in this week’s New Scientist (I know, those creationism enablers) about the Nocebo effect. I wonder just how much effectiveness of chemo will be lost based on the boy’s negativity towards the treatment?

  216. #217 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, I live in the UK too and I have been lucky enough to use our healthcare system many times. Each time I received polite, friendly and knowledgable service. OK so it is not the most speedy system but it is fair for everyone.

    It’s good to hear that your experiences were positive; we are fortunate in that we have many highly skilled health professionals in this country (many of whom have migrated here from Commonwealth countries; just another reason why I’m strongly in favour of economic immigration).

    However, what do you mean by “it is fair for everyone?” Are you presupposing that everyone is morally entitled to the same standard of healthcare, regardless of wealth?

    One of the good things about the UK is that the private healthcare market is not restricted; if you want to opt out of NHS treatment, you are free to pay for private treatment. This benefits both the private patient and the NHS, as it takes some of the strain off state healthcare services. As a libertarian, I believe that voluntary transactions which are beneficial to both parties should not be coercively prevented by government. If A wants healthcare and can pay for it, and B is willing to provide it and needs the money, then who is harmed by their entering into a mutually beneficial transaction?

    I am also comforted by the idea that should I be unwell, need surgery or otherwise rushed to the A&E, I and my family would not need to worry about insurance forms/costs/etc. Can you even imagine not being able to go to your GP because you could not afford to do so? I can’t.

    Yes, I can… and it might cut down on the number of people wasting GPs’ time with minor ailments. (Ever seen the posters in doctors’ surgeries, showing a patient with a boil on his nose saying “Mirror, mirror, on the wall / Should I call the doc at all?” In any free healthcare system, wasting of doctors’ time is a serious problem. If a modest co-payment were instituted, it might cut down on this.)

    And I am proud of the NHS. You should be too.

    Why would I be proud of something which I had no hand in instituting? Unlike many people, I don’t believe that, simply by virtue of having been born in the UK, I am entitled to lay claim to the achievements of other British subjects past and present. For instance, I admire and respect many of the British men and women who gave their lives in WWII to save the world from Nazism; but it would be silly to say that I’m “proud” of their achievements, since I myself was not alive at the time and hence contributed nothing whatsoever. The people entitled to feel pride at an accomplishment are the people who actually accomplished it. (A digression, I know, but I feel this is an important point. Reflexive nationalism and collectivism in language is a step on the road to real nationalism and collectivism in politics.)

  217. #218 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Since that inevitably leads to increased prices and the inability of the poor to pay for necessary treatments, wouldn’t that be even more immoral?

    Absolutely not.

    As a libertarian, I believe that mutually-beneficial voluntary transactions are inherently superior to state coercion. If A wants healthcare and can pay for it, and B is willing to provide it and needs the money, then who is harmed by their entering into a mutually beneficial transaction? Furthermore, this benefits not only A and B, but also the general public, since it takes some of the strain off the state healthcare system.

    The only reason to oppose private healthcare is a dogged commitment to “equality at all costs”. But is it really worth sacrificing good healthcare in favour of equality?

    Note that I’m not saying that there should be no state healthcare. Some forms of healthcare are best provided by the state. For example, ambulance and emergency room care; since ambulances and ERs tend to treat anyone in need without regard to ability to pay (and, in most countries, are legally required to do so), it would be very hard to run them at a profit. (As I understand it, since the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, many US hospitals are losing money – and since many of them are run or funded by local governments, the taxpayer ends up absorbing the cost anyhow.) It seems more efficient, therefore, to have it provided directly by the state. I also think that, on moral grounds, it is right that we provide health treatment to children at public expense; after all, they didn’t choose the family to be born into, and shouldn’t suffer as a result of their parents’ choices. Similarly, the elderly, many of whom have worked all their lives (and would be uninsurable in a private market due to their higher susceptibility to health problems), ought to get state-funded medical care; as should war veterans. And, of course, vaccinations and epidemic control must also be provided by the state, since the spread of contagious diseases is bad for everyone. So I’m not opposing all state involvement in healthcare; I’m just saying that there should, at minimum, be a parallel private market.

  218. #219 Jadehawk
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, given the choice between people going to the doctor too often, and people going to the doctor too rarely (and ending up in the ER when it’s too late anyway), I’d ALWAYS take option one.

    and as for the economic aspect… DO keep in mind that while every unnecessary appointment costs some money, every untreated or undiagnosed broken bone/festering wound/abscessed tooth/pneumonia/diabetes/cancer/etc costs a HELL of a lot more in the late stages then in the early stages… but diseases are never discovered in the early stages when people try to minimise their visits to the doctor to an absolute minimum.

    and while you have “don’t call the doctor if you aren’t ill” signs, we got “don’t come in to work when you’re ill” signs everywhere; this impacts the economy negatively, as well, especially in the food industry (but of course everybody ignores it, since for one no one gets paid for being ill, and two you need to show a doctor’s note after several day’s absence, and who can afford that?)

  219. #220 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    and as for the economic aspect… DO keep in mind that while every unnecessary appointment costs some money, every untreated or undiagnosed broken bone/festering wound/abscessed tooth/pneumonia/diabetes/cancer/etc costs a HELL of a lot more in the late stages then in the early stages… but diseases are never discovered in the early stages when people try to minimise their visits to the doctor to an absolute minimum.

    I remember doing IT security at university, where the point that prevention is the most cost-effective solution was drilled into my head. Having people go too often when they are healthy is a much better solution than having them going only when it’s dire. The costs of maintenance in prevention are far lower in trying to fix a problem.

  220. #221 Jadehawk
    May 16, 2009

    oh, and one more thing about costs… did you know that the local hospital in town has three fully staffed accounting departments? that can’t be cheap… (consequence of a million different insurances with different rules, having to chase after people who aren’t paying their bills, regular bankrupcies of customers, and fuck knows what else)

  221. #222 Brownian, OM
    May 16, 2009

    As a libertarian, I believe that mutually-beneficial voluntary transactions are inherently superior to state coercion.

    Yes, we know what your default position is. We don’t need the state=FASCISM!!!!one!!!! argument. It’s hardly compelling, given the 180 or so non-fascist non-libertarian states around the world. Try to find an existent boogeyman to shit your pants about.

    If A wants healthcare and can pay for it, and B is willing to provide it and needs the money, then who is harmed by their entering into a mutually beneficial transaction?

    I told you. Pubmed will tell you. Costs go up, inefficiency often goes up (read the literature) and overall quality of care goes down. Fucking ditch every political theory text you’re wasting your time with and look at some empirical evidence.

    Furthermore, this benefits not only A and B, but also the general public, since it takes some of the strain off the state healthcare system.

    Except it doesn’t. Don’t fucking tell me A=B when I’ve already told you and pointed you to the literature that says A doesn’t equal B, but C.

    Yes, Some fees-for-services arrangements can take the strain off. Some outsourcing to private providers can be well-integrated within a public system. But these are all specific instances within specific systems. The only generalisable take-away message is that privatisation leads to worse care, not better.

    You think that’s unfair to rich people? I couldn’t care less if you paid me to. The alternative is way worse and way less fair for a much larger group. If those with money are so concerned about their health prospects, they’re free to hire personal trainers and chefs to ensure they eat healthily and exercise, which will have a vastly greater effect than any specialist’s care. (If you doubt that, you have no business even discussing health care.)

    So far all you’ve done is repeated rumours of ‘notoriously bad care’ and made some Pol Phil 201-level Intro to Libertarianism arguments. Read the lit. That’s the world we’re living in. You want some alternate reality? Too fucking bad. Take it up with whatever god you may or may not believe in.

  222. #223 windy
    May 16, 2009

    Monado:

    Incidentally, Canadian Omar Khadr was one year older, 14, when his father took him to Iraq and immersed him (further) into indoctrination as a fighter for religious freedom

    Wasn’t he in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Iraq? But that’s a good point about indoctrination. I wonder if he’s one of those detainees the US says it “cannot release and cannot try”. Blergh.

  223. #224 Mrs Tilton
    May 16, 2009

    Marcus @170,

    Perhaps you mistook that for shallow and impoverished. Whatever those are

    It would be impossible to come up with a better rejoinder than the one you yourself provide here.

    But really, you’re not fooling anybody with your “Oh nobody here cares about this kid, I am simply the only one being honest”. You do care about him. You care about him enough to account his death a “win”. That’s special.

  224. #225 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    For anyone who might suspect, after @ 217, that the National Health Service is some sort of national memorial unveiled by Nye Bevan in July 1948 which has stood there unchanged and wholly to be admired ever since – don’t you believe it! The truth, as ever, is more subtle and more interesting.

    The demand to provide an at-very-least adequate medical service for the entire population has been a driver of both medical progress and of constant improvement in how service is delivered. Not every promising development of medical technique has worked out. Not every method of managing hospitals has been brilliant. It is just that the demand from the people who feel as though they are entitled to better has been the single most important force in driving progress.

    The tension between what is medically possible and what can be afforded or provided today is a positive element in a dynamic system. It’s also why some of us find the social sciences infinitely more interesting than political theories out of books – but that’s an argument for another day.

    The change the people want and for which the evidence is sound – it has to meet both tests – doesn’t always happen instantly. There are vested interests, budgetary restraints and inertia in any system. But happen it does.

    In a profit-driven system which depends upon the ability to pay you get three results. The cost of treatment goes up. The medical professions are incentivised to concentrate on the diseases of the rich, a problem we still have on a global scale. Then, too, the reliance on a bare safety net for the poor means – as many a doctor here has graphically pointed out – that treatment on the ER model is always more expensive, usually less productive and very frequently too late.

    I’d worry about that waste and inefficiency long, long before I started fussing about someone going to their GP slightly more often that I might. I can’t give a citation – sorry, folks – but I suspect that the evidence would be that those who pay directly make high and not strictly necessary demands for treatment, too, and expect to have them met as in many cases they are.

    A couple of years ago I smashed up my right leg – triple fracture of tib and fib, massive distortion of the heel. An amputation below the knee in reasonably sterile conditions would certainly have saved my life, an external realignment and half a ton of plaster of paris might or might not. Either way I wouldn’t have been walking across the South Pennines a couple of days ago!

    But I live in the UK where the nearest town – pop 82,056 at 2001 census – has a world class team of orthopaedic surgeons. They were good and one of the reasons they were good is that they got to practice on a lot of people – something from which even the naysayers will one day benefit. So I have a leg full of plates and screws with my life-expectancy diminished by not one day. That way I’ll still be paying in the taxes when you, whoever you are, need the treatment!

    And did I feel “entitled” to that level of service? Of course I did. I paid for it – first National Insurance payment in 1958, if you want to check. And, of course, I have taken an interest in how the NHS actually works and, from time to time, campaigned to support and improve it.

  225. #226 Faithless
    May 16, 2009

    Parastroika:

    This (for the uninitiated) is a sled which soldiers of the British Parachute Regiment use for transport within the Arctic circle.

  226. #227 Faithless
    May 16, 2009

    @ Walton

    Are you aware of any country at this time which has a state health system and NO parallel private system? I am not. If there were such a country either a) the system changed after the ‘fall of Communism’ or b) the state system is so good, no-one cares to ‘go private’.

  227. #228 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    That way I’ll still be paying in the taxes when you, whoever you are, need the treatment!

    But, but, but… someone may be paying taxes who never needs treatment. Then they are screwed. Won’t you please think of the well off and healthy before bringing your socialist ideals to a population where a lot of events are governed by forces beyond our control! It’s not right for someone who is involved in an accident to expect a libertarian to help fund it. After all, it’s your leg, not theirs…

    Fuck you can be a heartless cunt Walton.

  228. #229 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    Kel,

    Brilliant!

  229. #230 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, your success as an individual is almost wholly contingent on the society you are in. Taxes are a means to ensure prosperity. Sure, some people pay more than their fair share and others get more than they deserve, but that’s how life is. Would you really be so heartless as to give medical care as an afterthought to someone who doesn’t have the ability to pay for treatment?

    Humans are social creatures and no one individual can function completely without the help of others. Healthcare, alongside education and welfare are basics that any society needs in order to flourish. Yes, there are some scenarios where resources are wasted, where money is going towards paying for unnecessary treatments. But that’s how it goes, you aren’t going to get 100% efficiency no matter what you do. And when it comes to what are considered fundamental aspects of society, then surely you can appreciate that paying to maintain another’s health is mutually beneficial. If you were incapacitated, who would pay for your medication? Should they just let you die, or keep you at a quality of life that meets the bare minimum of human needs because it is more cost effective? Are you so withdrawn from human contact that you have lost all empathy for the suffering of your fellow man?

  230. #231 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Fuck you can be a heartless cunt Walton.

    In my defence: I regularly give money to homeless people. And, as I noted on another thread, I have also been campaigning against my college’s plan to make some of the housekeeping staff redundant in order to cut costs. I care about other human beings.

    I just have moral qualms about being generous with other people’s money. I don’t currently pay income tax, as I have never earned enough to take me above the tax threshold. Do I, then, have a moral right to say that those who do earn money and pay taxes should be forced to pay for my healthcare? I am perfectly willing to pay for other people’s care. If and when I start earning a substantial salary, I fully intend to donate regular sums to charity. But I don’t think that I have the right to, through my vote, forcibly confiscate wealth from those who produce it. That’s the primary moral reason why I’m a libertarian. I believe in non-coercion.

    (I don’t just believe in state non-coercion, but also in social non-coercion. I believe that children have a right to disobey their parents’ wishes, for instance, and that this right ought to be guaranteed and protected by courts of law; and that institutions such as schools and workplaces, which people have no effective choice but to be part of, impose an unacceptable number of rules and regulations on their subjects. The problem with our society is that it’s so rule-driven; we’re constantly expected to comply with other people’s beliefs and expectations, rather than pursuing our own personal desires. But I digress.)

  231. #232 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    In my defence: I regularly give money to homeless people. And, as I noted on another thread, I have also been campaigning against my college’s plan to make some of the housekeeping staff redundant in order to cut costs. I care about other human beings.

    I just have moral qualms about being generous with other people’s money.

    This is why we have a democratically-elected government. It’s the will of the people. If I had a choice, all the software costs for government would be greatly reduced by moving towards open source. Right now the department I work for is paying ~$10000 per development software which is nothing more than a bloated version of open source software – it’s so shit that we use the free version to develop on instead.

    Yet despite all this, I’m more than happy to pay for taxes because in doing so it provides vital services regardless of gender, nationality or religion. It means that everyone in society has the possibility to get a good education, the possibility to have access to food and medical care, and to share in the prosperity of our neighbours. If I were distributing an equal percentage of my pay that I currently pay in tax, there is no way I could do as much good as what the government does with it. I give to homeless people too, but a few dollars here and there to the absolute dregs won’t solve the problem of homelessness. But paying taxes to the government can help the homeless problem.

  232. #233 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    You still don’t get it, Walton, do you?

    I happily contribute to the cost of your medical care as part of a perfectly good bargain between individuals which also ensures mine.

  233. #234 windy
    May 16, 2009

    Nobody in history has ever died of Cancer – they’ve all died of the treatment…

    Courageous Man Refuses To Believe He Has Cancer

  234. #235 'Tis Himself
    May 16, 2009

    Fucking ditch every political theory text you’re wasting your time with and look at some empirical evidence.

    I’ve told Walton this many times. He hasn’t paid the least attention. If the real world and his ideology don’t match, he prefers to go with ideology.

  235. #236 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Yet despite all this, I’m more than happy to pay for taxes because in doing so it provides vital services regardless of gender, nationality or religion.

    I’m sure you are. But your neighbour might not be. And by voting, you don’t just vote to spend your own money – you vote to spend your neighbour’s money, without giving him a choice in the matter.

    I happily contribute to the cost of your medical care as part of a perfectly good bargain between individuals which also ensures mine.

    But it isn’t a bargain. It’s a coercive imposition. If someone wants to opt out of it, he or she can’t. Yes, in theory you can leave the country and go elsewhere; but immigration restrictions limit that, and all countries impose some form of taxation on their citizens.

    The fact is that the “social contract” is complete bunk. A person simply does not have the chance to opt out of state control. If every person were completely entitled to opt out of his home nation and establish his or her own micro-state – creating, essentially, a competitive market in government – then there would be some justification for the notion of a social bargain. As it is, that isn’t the case.

    Democracy does nothing whatsoever to address this problem – because it still means that other people can forcibly prevent me from following my own desires.

    That said, I personally don’t object to paying for other people’s healthcare. I do, however – to provide a better example – strongly object to paying the television licence fee. As it is, I would quite like to have a TV and could easily afford to buy one; but I choose not to, because I don’t want to pay the licence fee. The licence fee is a particularly iniquitous form of state coercion, forcing citizens to fund a (fairly worthless and politically skewed) media outlet against their will. (It’s also a regressive tax, hurting the poor more than the rich, which begs the question of why socialists nevertheless seem to be so keen on it. But I digress.)

    Now, this problem could, on its face, be solved by privatising the BBC and abolishing the licence fee (which will probably be done after 2012 anyway, when everything goes digital). But it doesn’t solve the fundamental problem – the state forces people to give over a proportion of their hard-earned wealth to fund things which they may not personally support.

  236. #237 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    to share in the prosperity of our neighbours.

    And why do we have any right to “share in the prosperity of our neighbours”? That prosperity was generated by our neighbours’ efforts, not by ours. Yes, they should pay tax to fund the infrastructure on which they relied in creating wealth. But the mere fact that they have created wealth does not mean that they automatically owe any duty to share that wealth with us.

  237. #238 'Tis Himself
    May 16, 2009

    Goodness gracious, Walton, you mean that you might actually have to pay money that might help other people? What a self-centered, egotistical, selfish arsehole you are!

    Grow up, boy (notice that’s “boy” with a small “b”). You need to do some maturing.

  238. #239 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    I’m sure you are. But your neighbour might not be. And by voting, you don’t just vote to spend your own money – you vote to spend your neighbour’s money, without giving him a choice in the matter.

    To be fair, my neighbour votes to spend my money too… as for no choice. Well of course there isn’t choice, it’s part of the social contract you are born into. You are part of society and thus you are forced to play your part in maintaining social order. Though I think paying taxes is a far better way than coercion though the threat of death or through enslavement.

    Humans are social creatures, we survive and thrive from society. For individuals we cannot manage to do this on our own and this is why we have government. The government has the ability to protect the environment on a national level, individuals do not. The government has the ability to shelter, feed and educate the poor, individuals do not. We can help out in our local communities, but we cannot maintain social function for people across the country.

    It comes down to this, we benefit from having a society. Money is nothing more than a mediator between parties for the exchange of goods and / or services. To lose a small portion of that value in order to ensure the good health of the population, to ensure education, to ensure welfare, to ensure security – seems like a no-brainer. We sacrifice a little and get a lot in return because we pool a little bit from the group in order to provide services that only a select few could afford to pay for individually. And if my neighbour doesn’t like that he has to pay for the privledge, he has every right to stand for office and stop this process altogether. I think the problem for libertarians is that when it comes down to it, most people are willing to sacrifice for the services that are provided. That’s democracy, you have the power to affect change in society, just like everyone else.

  239. #240 Tom
    May 16, 2009

    “Sorry, I don’t see much difference between a parent neglecting and abusing their child because God tells them to and the parent who does it because they’re an uncaring bastard. Both harm the child and should have repercussions.”

    I rather feel that a properly secular state should draw no such distinction either. A state that refuses to directly follow the instructions of a religion but actively attempts to avoid offending it is still ultimately under almost the same degree of religious control – all the religious have to do is define the opposite of what they want as offensive and it will have much the same effect as asking a compliant state to directly enforce it, if only they make indignant noises loudly enough. Secularism shouldn’t actively oppose a religion, but it shouldn’t “respect” it in any way either; it should make its decisions entirely rationally and enact them without any regard at all for whether they conflict with religion or not. It should, basically, act as if religion did not exist at all – in this case, this would mean it would perceive no difference between a religiously motivated demand to refuse medical treatment without any rational justification, and an equally irrational demand motivated by something other than religion.

  240. #241 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    And why do we have any right to “share in the prosperity of our neighbours”? That prosperity was generated by our neighbours’ efforts, not by ours.

    For fucks sake!

    Humans are social creatures and we benefit from the society around us. The propserity of our neighbours is contingent on there being a society to prosper in. The neighbour maintains society because it is in his vested interest. The last thing you want is to push people into a state of desperation because that will mean a complete upheaveal of society. We maintain order not by the rule of fist but by steering society away from a state of desperation. Keep people happy and safe and they are no threat. Push them into a state of desperation and you are putting yourself at risk.

    Again, prevention is the most cost-effective strategy.

  241. #242 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Well of course there isn’t choice, it’s part of the social contract you are born into.

    You can’t be “born into” a contract. I repeat what I said above:

    But it isn’t a bargain. It’s a coercive imposition. If someone wants to opt out of it, he or she can’t. Yes, in theory you can leave the country and go elsewhere; but immigration restrictions limit that, and all countries impose some form of taxation on their citizens.

    The fact is that the “social contract” is complete bunk. A person simply does not have the chance to opt out of state control. If every person were completely entitled to opt out of his home nation and establish his or her own micro-state – creating, essentially, a competitive market in government – then there would be some justification for the notion of a social bargain. As it is, that isn’t the case.

    The fact is that so many people in our society are all too willing to accept the notion that we have to be bound by society’s rules, and to subjugate our own desires to the will of the majority. We’re all coerced every day of our lives – not just by the state through penal sanctions, but by social pressure, by our peers, employers and family. I dream of a society in which each individual is free to fulfil his or her own wishes and desires, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it – subject only to the rider that one must not interfere with the autonomy of another.

  242. #243 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    For the merits or otherwise of democracy, I refer you to Winston Churchill on the subject.

    For the time being, though, we both do live in a democracy. It has had good points and bad but then we’ve been working on it since the thirteenth century and humans – of whom you are one whether you chose to be or not – sometimes have bad ideas and sometimes better ones.

    As for the NHS, there have been 16 General Elections since July 1948, during none of which was the abolition of the NHS an issue. There will be another one within a year. While we do still live in a democracy what you have to do is stand and persuade others to stand on a platform of abolishing the whole thing. If you can persuade a plurality to vote for your platform and if you end up with a significant majority in the Commons – there is not a 1:1 correlation – then you can push through the legislation.

    After that, if you wish, you can abolish democracy on exactly the same terms. I am putting no money at all on your chances of success and I somehow doubt you have the people skills to manage a military coup.

  243. #244 Rorschach
    May 16, 2009

    Fuck you can be a heartless cunt Walton.

    I think he sometimes doesnt compute the consequences his lofty ideals would have for real people in hard cold reality.I dont think he does try to be a heartless …..person(Kel,that there c word is taboo….) intentionally.

  244. #245 Kitty
    May 16, 2009

    Well said Maureen and Kel.
    I paid National Insurance for more than 40 years. Whoever thinks that we have ‘free’ health care is delusional. It is free at the point of need and the fact that I now am retired and no longer pay NI is the icing on the cake of a wonderful idea which we should be very thankful for.
    Every time I pass the statue of Nye Bevan in Cardiff I tip my figurative hat to the memory of the man who was the author of this great idea.
    I too have just benefited from the expertise of the fine orthopaedic surgeons we have (because of arthritis) and once again can walk and take an active part in life. Because of the NHS I will have a pain free and more productive retirement – and I won’t be in a wheelchair costing a fortune to care for or be a burden on my family.

    Walton – grow up. You’ve lived, and are living, a life of privilege and have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to care or community values. Giving a few pounds to the homeless and signing a petition or two (in order to keep hold of the people who clean your rooms in college) does not constitute caring for your fellow humans. That seems to be beyond your comprehension. No wonder you are so depressed and alone if this is how you express your view of the world in your relationships with the people around you. Why should anyone care for you if you are so obviously selfish?
    I do not resent contributing to your care – even though you’re an odious little prig – it goes without saying that this makes my world a better place and I look forward to the day in the future when your contributions help to pay for my hips to be done.
    Oh and I’m so glad as a poor student you could easily afford a TV but choose not to have one because of some ideological crap about the license fee. Perhaps if you watched a bit more TV you might actually learn something about the rest of the world – the one the rest of us live in – rather than sitting pontificating from your ivory tower in Oxford’s hallowed halls.

  245. #246 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    If you don’t like that you are born into society, you can always leave. But like it or not, your very existence and propserity is because of the society you are born into. If you don’t like it, leave. That’s it, if you think society is such a bad influence to be forced into social contract, then cease to be in society. This isn’t a love it or leave option, if you don’t want to be part of a social contract then you have no other choice.

    Humans are social creatures, I can’t stress this enough. Our success has come from working together and affording the ability for specialisation. Farmers work long hours so you don’t have to grow your own food, truck drivers transport it to you so you don’t have to live rurally. Scientists and engineers develop technology and infrastructure to make this process easier. Builders make the house you reside in, electricians wire it up for you. Thanks to companies on the other side of the world you have the ability to store food for long periods of time, provided those working at the power plants keep it up and running.

    You benefit from having a working society, your rich neighbour benefits from having a working society, and individuals at all levels benefit from having a working society. There are many animals who live in collectives, and while they only work to feed their own child, being in a collective is the very mechanism for survival. Because the group can delegate responsibilities that mean the individual doesn’t have to do everything.

  246. #247 'Tis Himself
    May 16, 2009

    Before this becomes another libertarian wankfest, I’m withdrawing. Besides, it’s probably better for my blood pressure.

    An hour or two of Civ IV is appealing right now.

  247. #248 Carlie
    May 16, 2009

    Why is it that every fucking thread that has even a whiff of social commentary eventually devolves into a discussion of libertarianism?

  248. #249 Pikemann Urge
    May 16, 2009

    amphiox #31, I am with you here. I think PZ is seeing this too simplistically. Yeah the kid is young and has bad parents.

    But if he doesn’t want the meds, why should he have to take them? Isn’t it a sacred right to refuse treatment? Casanova did it, but he was an adult and he was acutely sensitive to certain medical issues.

    Yeah, it’s not a simple issue.

    Is it a badge of the ‘rational’ that complicated, dangerous medicines are not to be rejected? After all, if you aren’t suffering you aren’t justifiying your existence in society – no, wait, that’s Puritanism.

  249. #250 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    I think he sometimes doesnt compute the consequences his lofty ideals would have for real people in hard cold reality.I dont think he does try to be a heartless …..person(Kel,that there c word is taboo….) intentionally.

    Of course he doesn’t, but the consequences of his ideology is going to lead more people to suffer. Individualism completely neglects human nature and rejects the notion that society is responsible for propserity.

  250. #251 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Why should anyone care for you if you are so obviously selfish?

    This raises an interesting point, which I think is worth discussing, though I don’t have a firm opinion on it.

    Why do most people – here, and throughout Western society – implicitly assume, without ever examining the assumption, that altruism is inherently more moral than egoism? Our society, almost universally, heaps praise upon those who sacrifice themselves for others, while disdaining those who look out for themselves.

    I would submit that the position of ethical altruism, as distinct from ethical egoism, is not a human universal; not all human cultures have prized altruism to the extent that we do. Rather, ethical altruism is a specific position in moral philosophy, and it has to be rationally justified. Some highly-regarded moral philosophers (notably Ayn Rand) have abandoned it entirely.

    I suspect that the reason most people simply accept ethical altruism without questioning it is due to our society’s religious heritage. The Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions all teach that self-sacrifice and self-denial are noble things (sometimes to ridiculous lengths, like the deranged acts of pointless asceticism engaged in by St Benedict and many of his monastic followers), while selfless service to others is an inherently good thing. But since virtually all of us here reject organised religion, I think someone needs to come up with a rational, practical explanation for why Rand was wrong, and why altruism is morally preferable to rational self-interest.

  251. #252 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Before this becomes another libertarian wankfest, I’m withdrawing. Besides, it’s probably better for my blood pressure.

    That’s a good idea. I’ll go make myself a rusty nail and watch Kill Bill start to finish. Should have done that an hour ago really, but SIWOTI got to me again. Screw you guys, I’m going home (well I am already home, but yeah, going to the other room to watch TV)

  252. #253 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    You benefit from having a working society, your rich neighbour benefits from having a working society, and individuals at all levels benefit from having a working society. There are many animals who live in collectives, and while they only work to feed their own child, being in a collective is the very mechanism for survival. Because the group can delegate responsibilities that mean the individual doesn’t have to do everything.

    I agree – but does having a working society, and delegation of responsibilities, require state coercion? In capitalist societies, it is also true that “the individual doesn’t have to do everything”. Rather, individuals do what they are best at, and, by entering into voluntary contracts, they exchange their goods or services for other goods and services which they need. Social co-ordination does not require central control.

  253. #254 Rorschach
    May 16, 2009

    @ 249,

    Isn’t it a sacred right to refuse treatment?

    As has been ponted out on the first “Hauser” thread a million times,its not sacred right for a scared 13yo teen,who would also refuse to have his head stitched,a bone straightened etc,coz all these things would freak him out and he’d rather mum take him home.
    Just not an option.
    Had a 77yo JW bleeding to death at work today,I said after advising transfusion could save her life and she,her family and her “advisor” refused,ok,go right ahead….Not the same as a 13yo.
    But I agree,by now the boy has been so traumatized and misinformed that it will be a nightmare to get him to comply.

  254. #255 DJ
    May 16, 2009

    I dream of a society in which each individual is free to fulfil his or her own wishes and desires, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it – subject only to the rider that one must not interfere with the autonomy of another.

    Sounds exactly like life in the United States of America.

    That prosperity was generated by our neighbours’ efforts, not by ours. Yes, they should pay tax to fund the infrastructure on which they relied in creating wealth. But the mere fact that they have created wealth does not mean that they automatically owe any duty to share that wealth with us.

    If you are pissing and moaning that you have to pay taxes which fund social programs that help the less fortunate, you don’t have any pity from me. In our society there is not room for everyone to be equally rich, just because you are successful does not mean that others are. So, in effect you are doing well at their expense. You can only get to the top of the heap by stepping on the backs of others, and you want to spit on them while your climbing… You sir, are an ass.

  255. #256 Carlie
    May 16, 2009

    I suspect that the reason most people simply accept ethical altruism without questioning it is due to our society’s religious heritage

    No, the general consensus is that religion co-opted the altruism that had already evolved. Well-functioning collectives outcompete individualistic groups. In an inbred, fairly small group, kin selection = group altruism, providing benefit for both the individual and the group. It’s pretty simple selection.

  256. #257 Wowbagger, OM
    May 16, 2009

    Why is it that every fucking thread that has even a whiff of social commentary eventually devolves into a discussion of libertarianism?

    Because no-one in their real lives wants to be bored by them babbling on about their fantasy world either; with us, at least, they have a somewhat captive audience.

    As for tonight’s entertainment: I’m watching, with no small amount of horror, the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. If you haven’t seen this before, I don’t know if there’s any way I can describe it to you. Think of the worst, most vacuous, soulless pop music you can think of, and make it ten times worse. And then have some of it sung in a language you don’t understand.

    But I can’t look away. It really is a theatre of the grotesque.

  257. #258 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    No, the general consensus is that religion co-opted the altruism that had already evolved. Well-functioning collectives outcompete individualistic groups. In an inbred, fairly small group, kin selection = group altruism, providing benefit for both the individual and the group. It’s pretty simple selection.

    So you’re suggesting that Randian Objectivism and ethical egoism are fundamentally inconsistent with evolved human nature, and that this is why ethical altruism has never been seriously challenged? I think that’s a bit of a stretch. I would suggest that the reason Rand’s moral philosophy has not really caught on in the mainstream of society is because the educational establishment, being left-leaning and set in its ways, has largely ignored it (most philosophy faculties don’t teach Rand, and I personally know philosophy students who’ve never even heard of her), and so her work has never been adequately publicised.

    Addendum: I’m not a Randian myself. But I think that, by challenging some of Western society’s unexamined assumptions, she did a great service to philosophy as a whole.

  258. #259 Rorschach
    May 16, 2009

    As for tonight’s entertainment: I’m watching, with no small amount of horror, the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest

    Kel’s off to watching “Kill Bill”,you the Euro Grand Prix(which,may i say,is really god-awful),Im watching Man U vs Arsenal until the german soccer starts at 1130.
    :-)

  259. #260 DJ
    May 16, 2009

    Think of the worst, most vacuous, soulless pop music you can think of, and make it ten times worse. And then have some of it sung in a language you don’t understand.

    But I can’t look away. It really is a theatre of the grotesque.

    eww, and I thought American Idol was horrible. Good luck with that show, hope your brain doesn’t melt.

  260. #261 Kitty
    May 16, 2009

    Walton
    I’m with Kel @ 246 – leave.
    Go live on an island, grow your own food, grind your own corn, make your own clothes, be totally self-sufficient. (But you can’t take your housekeeper with you).
    If you’ve got a spare £2 million or so I understand Sully Island in S. Wales is up for grabs.
    I’ll wave when I go to the Captain’s Wife for a drink with my friends but don’t expect us to drop in with supplies – that wouldn’t fit in with your ideology and we wouldn’t want to compromise your beliefs.
    As for Rand – try reading another book. I suggest you start with The Famous Five and work up from there – learn about friendship.

    I’m off to do something useful, enjoy your isolation.

  261. #262 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Humans are social creatures, I can’t stress this enough. Our success has come from working together and affording the ability for specialisation. Farmers work long hours so you don’t have to grow your own food, truck drivers transport it to you so you don’t have to live rurally. Scientists and engineers develop technology and infrastructure to make this process easier. Builders make the house you reside in, electricians wire it up for you. Thanks to companies on the other side of the world you have the ability to store food for long periods of time, provided those working at the power plants keep it up and running.

    Exactly – and they do this not because the state forces them to, but because they benefit from it through mutually beneficial transactions. They engage in their economic activities, providing goods and services to others, and others provide money or other goods and services in exchange. We are all interdependent through global trade – and this is a good thing. But the last thing it requires is state control.

  262. #263 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    I, too am off to do something both useful and social but not before giving a thumbs up to Kitty!

  263. #264 JeffreyD
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, you give to the homeless and hope to have a good job in the future so you can give more to charity. In the US we call that type of person a limousine liberal – “Stop the cah, Chaarles, I wish to distribute pennies to the poor.”

    Have you ever been hungry, truly hungry Walton? Ever had the choice of paying rent or eating or seeking treatment? Yeah, I know, this rolls off your back. Forget it.

  264. #265 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    I’m sorry for driving everyone away from the thread.

    I wish I had better social skills. :-(

  265. #266 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, the libertarian philosophy is morally bankrupt because it doesn’t take into account the common good. It is so tied up in “freedom” for the individual, it forgets that the individual lives in a very interconnected society, and that individual must pay their fair share of the common good, as decided by the people. Small things like roads, schools, medical care, welfare/unemployment, or student stipends. Things we all use or might use. By sharing the costs, we make sure these things are there when needed by an individual. You keep acting like you have control over everything. You don’t. I’ve worked at my place for twenty years, but I could be out of a job if, say my company was sold and the new owners do a housecleaning of old farts. These days, everybody can be made redundant.

    Walton, you show signs of getting the bigger picture, but you need to take a hard look at the libertarian philosophy, and why it can’t work to form a stable society. Look at history, from say 1850-1920, and the lot of the common worker. And compare that to the present day.

  266. #267 JeffreyD
    May 16, 2009

    Walton at #265, for what I hope is the final time, it is not your social skills that are the problem, it is your (for want of a better term) political views. I am still holding out the offer of a drink and I will be glad to tell you if your social skills are lacking. Trust me, I am not that nice of of a person and can be brutally honest, but willing to give you a chance to see that you are probably not a social leper, you just have political herpes.

    Last time on this by the way, done trying to encourage and help you to grow as a person. I have seen signs you can grow, many of us have and tried to encourage you. However, the basket is running empty of empathy for you, and probably not just from me. Engage the freaking world out there beyond the boundaries of your insular little college of privilege and comfort.

    Damn, I let you make me angry. Not at you, for you. I wonder if you can understand that?

  267. #268 Rorschach
    May 16, 2009

    Walton manages to argumentatively wipe the floor with stupid religionists these days,but this libertard BS,its just not going away….

    Walton,
    more JeffreyD,less Viscount Monckton man

  268. #269 SC, OM
    May 16, 2009

    As for tonight’s entertainment: I’m watching, with no small amount of horror, the semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest. If you haven’t seen this before, I don’t know if there’s any way I can describe it to you. Think of the worst, most vacuous, soulless pop music you can think of, and make it ten times worse. And then have some of it sung in a language you don’t understand.

    I’m jealous! I love that competition – It’s hilarious.

  269. #270 Tassie Devil
    May 16, 2009

    Walton – say we live in the ideal ‘free’ society you describe. And you are still earning the same wage you make now.

    In June you will be diagnosed with leukaemia.

    Clearly you couldn’t afford treatment. Is your death OK as a consequence of your ‘free’ society? Especially when compared to that of the son of a wealthy landowner – his father pays without blinking and still has enough leftover to buy him a flat overlooking Hyde Park.

    You die, he doesn’t. Is your society still ‘free’?

  270. #271 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    I am still holding out the offer of a drink and I will be glad to tell you if your social skills are lacking.

    I apologise for having ignored this offer in the past, and I do appreciate it. I would be glad to meet for a drink next time you’re in my part of the UK.

    As to my political views:

    While I realise I may come over as quite an extreme libertarian, I do accept the validity of what many of you are saying, and I do realise that individual freedom has to be tempered by other considerations. I am in favour of providing a basic level of welfare support to the poor, unemployed and incapacitated. I am in favour of foreign aid. I am in favour of providing free (though not compulsory) primary and secondary education to children, and providing opportunities and scholarships so that the brightest can realise their full potential. I am in favour of providing healthcare assistance to those who, due to poverty or long-term uninsurability, can’t get healthcare for themselves. I am in favour of government funding of medical research. So I’m really not an extremist.

    I am against some things, though. I’m against state-controlled media, and against the television “licence fee” that we have to pay over here. I’m against capping tuition fees. I’m against forcing poor children to go to their local failing high school; I’d prefer to provide them with education vouchers so that they have a chance to get private education, because the best educational opportunities shouldn’t be just for the rich. And I’m against the suspension of free expression and other civil liberties by governments, whether for the sake of “racial/religious harmony” or for the sake of “national security”.

    I don’t think, all in all, that I’m so far off from some of the regular commenters here, politically. I just approach things from a different angle.

  271. #272 amhovgaard
    May 16, 2009

    Reading about this case has made me wonder about how good doctors are at explaining the (side)effects of chemotherapy
    – and what happens when you don’t get proper treatment – to people who are, to put it politely, not quite as bright as they are.

  272. #273 Carlie
    May 16, 2009

    Ooo, I’ve seen some of the previous Eurovision finalists on youtube. I’m jealous.

    We are all interdependent through global trade – and this is a good thing. But the last thing it requires is state control.

    Walton, I know this has been gone over before, but what the hell do you think the state is? It’s soylent green, Walton – the state is people. In democracies and republics, those people are voted in by other people. Then if they do a really shitty job and the system works, they don’t get to do it any more and get replaced by other people. “The state” is not some bizarre non-human entity that exists in separation from everyone else.

  273. #274 Laurel
    May 16, 2009

    I’m glad this case–horrible as it is–has brought attention to the fake shamans and Native American wannabes infesting the internet and RL.

    For Strangebrew and others who might be interested, the New Age Frauds and Plastic Shamans forum is a great place to check out this sort of thing.

    http://www.newagefraud.org/smf/index.php

    If you don’t see the person you’re looking for, you can request s/he be investigated in the “Research Needed” section.

    Fake Native Americans/”shamans” seem very often to be guru types–controlling personalities, some with a criminal record, who don’t care who they hurt or kill as long as they get to play Big Chief Snow Job for money instead of getting an actual job.

    Another site on the New Age-yet-supposedly “oldest and once-universal religion of ‘shamanism'” and why Native Americans don’t like it here:

    http://www.geocities.com/ourredearth/index.html

  274. #275 Carlie
    May 16, 2009

    I’m against state-controlled media, and against the television “licence fee” that we have to pay over here.

    Against state control, of course. We have that over here. You have some of that there, too – not every single bit of media you have access to is state controlled, is it?

    I’m against capping tuition fees.

    In what way?

    I’m against forcing poor children to go to their local failing high school; I’d prefer to provide them with education vouchers so that they have a chance to get private education, because the best educational opportunities shouldn’t be just for the rich.

    I’m against giving private schools public money so that they can discriminate against students with special needs who might eat into their profit margin or lower their test score averages a bit. You do know this is what happens, right? Private schools are not bound to take everyone, so they skim off the top and leave the learning and physically disabled kids behind. Then the public tuition money that should have gone to the public school gets diverted to that private school, so the public school is so starved it can’t serve the primarily high-needs students it’s left with. It makes much more sense to fund the public schools properly so that they provide a good education for everyone.

    And I’m against the suspension of free expression and other civil liberties by governments, whether for the sake of “racial/religious harmony” or for the sake of “national security”.

    Again, a feature of most types of democratic/republic societies, nothing special to libertarianism.

  275. #276 John Scanlon, FCD
    May 16, 2009

    The worst trolls have been given a swift kicking, but PsychedCT doesn’t seem to have got responses to:

    No, not even a well informed 13 year old is competent to make life-or-death decisions for himself or herself. No matter how intelligent the kid may be, at 13, the reasoning and planning areas of the brain are not fully developed (this doesn’t occur until the early 20’s in females, an as late as 25 in males).

    A 13-year-old would be fully competent to tell you to get off yourself, and he/she doesn’t need your permission to save a life even before being old enough to vote. “Full development” of the brain refers to some kind of plateau (not asymptote) in a measure of performance in some test, or more or less arbitrary morphological criterion. Not relevant here.
    Of course, a 13-year-old is not legally competent to refuse medical care. Duh. Even in America? – that’s a bonus.

  276. #277 blueelm
    May 16, 2009

    I’m against forcing poor children to go to their local failing high school; I’d prefer to provide them with education vouchers so that they have a chance to get private education, because the best educational opportunities shouldn’t be just for the rich.

    Having experienced the best and worst of both worlds with this I think you are being very idealistic about poor kids and why schools fail. So if you “relieve” the poor students of their failing school guess what happens? The private school starts to suck and the remaining public school students end up in a sort-of detention center. Private schools stay nice and superior specifically because they weed out the sort of problems that public schools cant, abused kids, starving kids, drug addicted kids, emotionally challenged kids whose parents have no resources for treatment, kids without parents who bounce from foster home to foster home, kids with limited language skills, etc. These kids are a big reason that public schools “fail” if you like. What exactly do you propose to do with these people besides pretend they don’t exist? Not all poor kids are Obama, and that is a sad reality, yet I would argue that they do all deserve a chance at becoming better educated.

    I’ve been gifted into private school, bussed to a “good” public school from my “bad” neighborhood, and gone to the big faceless public school that everyone fears. It’s hard to say what is better but one thing is certain and that is that there are no easy solutions to that one. No amount of vouchers will lift the problem that lead to some of the issues public schools face.

  277. #278 JeffreyD
    May 16, 2009

    Walton at #271, I live in Birmingham part of the year and have the typical American’s view that the UK is quite small. If you seriously wish to meet, you tell me when. My weekends and quite a few weeknights are usually free and trains are cheap. From Birmingham to Oxford takes a little over an hour by train so I have no qualms about popping over for a drink or two and then returning. My wife will be here end of May, first two weeks of June, but free before and after that. Ball in your court.

    Ciao

  278. #279 Dr. Dredd
    May 16, 2009

    Reading about this case has made me wonder about how good doctors are at explaining the (side)effects of chemotherapy – and what happens when you don’t get proper treatment – to people who are, to put it politely, not quite as bright as they are.

    To put it politely, we’re piss-poor at it. I had a patient in my clinic yesterday who was recently found to have a large lung mass. Unfortunately, he’s got bad heart disease and is also somewhat demented. He came with a sister who is a very sweet person, but doesn’t seem to be that well educated.

    I had to explain to them (mostly her) about the available options. It was very frustrating. I KNEW I wasn’t really getting through to them, but wasn’t quite sure how to change that. Fortunately, I work with an excellent social worker, and we’re going to try to tag-team this.

  279. #280 shonny
    May 16, 2009

    For more cases like this, check out: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/baby-suffered-third-world-malnutrition-20090515-b5h6.html

    Fortunately no images, but it is very grim reading.

    If religion and other woo stopped being a shield from prosecution for the loonies when they mistreat those in their cair, maybe they would smarten up somewhat. And no lenient sentencing either!

  280. #281 shonny
    May 16, 2009

    Ugh, normally it is spelled ‘care’ and not ‘cair’ *blush*

  281. #282 shonny
    May 16, 2009

    Posted by: Matt Author Profile Page | May 15, 2009 3:50 PM
    @ Benjamin Franklin #16
    I’m a little confused…
    [Colleen Hauser] also testified that Daniel is a medicine man and elder in the Nemenhah Band.

    Okay, so you can fill out the form and become a medicine man/woman… but how does a child receive elder status?

    Maybe it has something to do with mental age, as most of these people are just past the embryo stage in mental development, and anyone beyond that is an elder in this tribe.
    I.e. he is marginally less dim than his parents.

  282. #283 Phoenix Woman
    May 16, 2009

    Notice how Walton avoids honestly responding to the portions of those comments that feature actual cites debunking his statements? Instead, he vastly prefers to go after people who call him Baaaad Woooorrds.

  283. #284 Kseniya
    May 16, 2009

    Laura:

    So why have kids? Why have a family? Why even have a thought? or make any kind of decision?

    Oh, please. That is SO dishonest. You equate mundane decisions with life-or-death decisions? Do you think that parents should be allowed to starve their children to death because they believe food is evil? Should they be allowed to thrash their children to within an inch of their lives because they believe that’s the only effective form of discipline? Do you believe parents should be able to deny their children any kind of formal, systematic education?

    I’m guessing you’d say “No” to one or more of those, and yet you’re advocating that parents have the right to withhold effective medical treatments from their children in favor of quackery that will almost certainly lead them directly to their premature and unnecessary deaths?

  284. #285 Matt Penfold
    May 16, 2009

    One thing the likes of Walton forget is that in the UK the private healthcare system is effectivly subsidised by the NHS. No actual money gets transferred, but staff get trained in NHS hospitals before moving to the private sector, and should a patient suffer severe complications following surgury they are likely to be transferred to an NHS hospital that has the equipement and expertise to deal with them.

  285. #286 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Kel’s off to watching “Kill Bill”This is about the 4th time I’ve seen the film, and my opinion is that it still kicks arse. I haven’t sat down to watch the film in about 3 years (last time I made my brother watch it with me, both films back to back) and now I remember why I loved that film so much. It’s the great dialogue, the plot-driven story, the action so beautifully stylised and engaging. I’m not one who has seen any of the films Tarantino has so shamefully ripped off, but damn does that man know how to write an engaging story.

    Also, a rusty nail with a single malt scotch is pure sex. Only ever tried it with a blended scotch before.

  286. #287 Kseniya
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, speaking as your peer, I second JeffreyD at #267. I don’t find your social skills to be a problem. You’re well-spoken and polite, almost to a fault. The flack you get here is mostly from ideological differences. I realize that you have social issue IRL, and I am sympathetic, but in this forum, it’s possible that focusing on your self-assessed, alleged failures here are really a subconscious attempt to play the pity card. I’m not saying it is, I’m saying that you should examine your motive, particularly in light of how you seem to be reasonably well-accepted here on personal terms.

    I hope I said that right.

    Ok, enough waltonmetatalk for one morning. Got to run.

  287. #288 Kitty
    May 16, 2009

    Sorry Kel but the single malt deserves better.
    Try it with just a teaspoon of water, at room temperature – no ice. The water takes away the ‘burn’, enhances the flavour and makes the scotch sing in your mouth.

    Oh but I agree about Kill Bill!

  288. #289 dean
    May 16, 2009

    “I’m against forcing poor children to go to their local failing high school; I’d prefer to provide them with education vouchers so that they have a chance to get private education, because the best educational opportunities shouldn’t be just for the rich.”

    Except when this was tried in Milwaukee, guess which kids the private schools wouldn’t accept? handicapped, special needs, etc – they cherry picked the best students and were allowed to turn down those that weren’t.

    The foolish notion is that private schools are automatically better (if they are) than public schools merely because they are private: that simplistic idea overlooks several confounding variables.

    Of course, there is also the “I don’t like my money being used for things, but I’m more than happy to demand that your money be used to fund things that I want” hypocrisy aspect of backing school vouchers.

  289. #290 Hamster
    May 16, 2009

    I am divided in this . One side says that forcing medical treatment when its clear the kid doesnt understand the issues is the correct thing to do , the other says why bother saving a 13 kid who cant read because of some “learning disability”. Is he ever going to be able to lead a life without constant support. He has expressed his wishes in the matter , let him have them . I really dont know which will give the better outcome. I do wonder if the parents are thinking the same .

  290. #291 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Why do most people – here, and throughout Western society – implicitly assume, without ever examining the assumption, that altruism is inherently more moral than egoism?

    I know I said I wouldn’t come back but fuck it, I’m pretty wasted. Where have I ever been arguing that altruism is inherently more moral than egoism? Every time I’ve made a case around my argument to you has been around the benefits for the individual – that I truly feel the evidence supports the notion that humanity and the prosperity of the individual comes down to the drive of the group.

    Maybe I’ve watched one too many Attenborough documentaries, but when I see the unguided drive towards group behaviours, inside it just clicks that humans too thrive on group interactivity. That us as individuals in caring for our needs would firstly negate society, and secondly go against our nature. I say we are social creatures time and time again because it seems to me a fundamental to the human condition. I’m a computer programmer FFS! I don’t have to grow my own food, build my own shelter, make my own furniture or even entertain myself. My speciality is wholly contingent on there being a need for such a superflous requirement where by my skillset is useful. Take away computers and the decade or so of training I’ve had to specialise in this area is lost.

    I wonder if you could find anywhere where I’ve advocated altrusim over egoism. Maybe it has creeped in subconsciously, but my will is that I don’t advocate any position over the other, but focus on consequentialism from an indvidualist and utilitarian perspective.

  291. #292 mh
    May 16, 2009

    Thank you Brownian/Kel/Maureen Brian for replying to Walton with more finesse and knowledge than I have.

    And yes, Walton. The NHS is fair. It is fair for my nextdoor neighbours who struggle by on one wage and can just about clothe their kids; and it is fair to me, whose parents could afford to provide me with private healthcare if they wanted to. Material wealth should not equal better healthcare.

  292. #293 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Sorry Kel but the single malt deserves better.

    It was only a 12 year old single malt, not like I went top shelf.

  293. #294 BlueIndependent
    May 16, 2009

    I think we found the universal epicenter of worthless strawman arguments in Laura.

    “…So why have kids? Why have a family? Why even have a thought? or make any kind of decision? Maybe I should call into my elected official every night and make sure everything I discussed or led my child to do is ok with them and meets their standard. Or maybe they will just give me a check list or a manual for tomorrow. Heck I am off scott free because according to that train of thought, I dont have to think or care about anything my kid does, learns, or experiences. Whew, thats a relief I thought I was actually responsible for my child?…”

    Total strawman, and a typical right-wing obfuscation of what we are saying. Nobody implied at all that the government should be the parent. You are making a meaningless and foolish abstraction.

    But put another way, what if a parent is neglecting their child? Beating them? Would you seriously argue the CPS shouldn’t come and take the child away? Is that too much government for you? I used to date someone who worked for CPS, and they have a very heavy and nasty plate of so-called “parent” to deal with, all of whom at the very least are summarily neglecting their children. So unfortunately yes, government has to step in where there is a vacuum of parenting or extended family to take the child in.

    The parents in young Hauser’s case, religion or not, are displaying criminal neglect vis a vis their child. If I was part of a religion that said that my young son, at 7 years old, must go out into the wilderness alone for a week as a right of passage and return with some divined special knowledge that allows him to be considered a man, I should be carted off for some jail time at the very least. I don’t care if there’s a history of it with the sub-group, allowing something like that would be stupid beyond comprehension. And I don’t give a shit if these peoples’ religion tells them that chemo is evil; the fact is they’re wrong, and will be personally responsible for their child’s death. Oh but in this country we give more of a shit about peoples’ little superstitions, so it’s unlikely the parents will get the punishment they deserve for not listening to trained experts.

    My wife is a nurse and deals on a daily basis with patients of all ages 18 to 118 that come in thinking every little thing they find on the internet that’s different from what their doctor said is the right treatment to go with. They think some food will cure their hepatitis, cancer, or whatever else they have. And you know what happens? The hospital doesn’t listen to them, and they end up getting sent home in better shape than when they came in (after taking their hocus pocus remedies). Gee Laura, there’s a perfectly provable example of a private industry telling patients what’s good for them. How is that *not* similar to the government telling them what to do? And I do think that is the point you are missing altogether: This whole thing started with a *private doctor* – one of the things conservatives hold dear with regard to health care – giving sound advice to parents that are rejecting it because of religious crap. The government only got involved when the proper treatment was rejected, thus endangering the child’s life. So Hauser’s parents brought this on themselves. Here we have a perfect example of private AND public expertise telling the parents to move the hell aside and let sane, qualified people help them.

    “…For those of you that would rather someone else handle it for you, by all means have lunch at McDonald’s, I hear Dairy Queen is good too.”

    Again, another total and complete strawman. Just because people tell you it’s not your diet that saved you means they eat McDonald’s every day? WTF? Yes diet is important when you have cancer, but it is NOT the only thing, and to assume it is what’s saving you is absurd. Personally, I’d take the example of people like Lance Armstrong, who did about as much as any person can to beat his cancer. He didn’t just focus on diet; he also took and dealt with the medical treatments necessary to win his battle.

    Taxol is a chemotherapy drug. Obviously in your case it, along with chemotherapy, worked. But you seem to attribute the disappearance of the cancer to your supplements. Congratulations on being “smarter” than your doctor, who likely has a very advanced degree and years of experience with hundreds of patients. You would be sorely mistaken, since chemotherapy is used expressly to kill the cancer. As for the spot on your liver, which you seem to again be attributing to the power of your supplements, means nothing. There are people that have spots that appear and disappear all the time, and whose to say your liver “spot” would’ve developed into malignant cancer anyway? There are people out there that have had large benign tumors removed from their bodies; having a spot doesn’t mean anything until it’s deemed – by doctors’ expertise – to be malignant an spreading. This is not to say a patient is always wrong about what they are doing or what they feel. But in the information age far too many patients think they can go online and diagnose themselves better than a trained professional can. Oddly enough, I thought this was what a major part of the argument about keeping privatized health care was all about.

    But that gets to the other problem with those discussing the healthcare system in Canada and the UK, among other places. Getting away from Laura’s craziness for a bit, people here need to keep in mind that the only proposal being offered was to give American citizens a government run health care PLAN, not government-run doctors and hospitals. In fact, the UK is the only country in the world left with truly “socialized” elements of their health system. All other countries that many ignorant Americans label as having a “socialized health system” actually don’t have one in the classic sense of the term at all, and simply have a government-run health insurance plan. But this is *on top of the fact* that Obama’s plan doesn’t force you onto the government plans. Why people can’t understand or grasp this I don’t know. Perhaps they’re so caught up in their right-wing fantasy world armageddon scenario that they have no time to really think about what’s been proposed.

    I also hasten to point out that while Canadians, for example, may come to the US for specific surgical procedures, we “Amurkans” go to Canada and Mexico for drugs that are intentionally kept highly priced here. My wife knows people that go to Mexico to get cheap drugs (and I’m not talking recreational). How odd that the “free marketers” out there will talk out of one side of their mouth when it comes to keeping the current system, and then try to take advantage of other countries’ “socialized” systems when it suits them.

    The US’s health care system is not going to be government-run. This is a red herring charge made by people who are intentionally not listening to the plans that have been proposed. It is government-run insurance, not government-run doctors, hospitals, and specialist facilities. It’s also worth truly reflecting and considering why we, the richest country in the world (well, up until recently perhaps) refuses to make sure everyone can remain as healthy as possible. Denying children health care because you want to keep things highly priced and private? Not a good enough answer IMO. Not letting tax paying adults, some of whom have fragile states of health due to some bad genetics (but otherwise can be performing members of society), have health care? How is this logical? the truth is, it isn’t.

  294. #295 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    I also hasten to point out that while Canadians, for example, may come to the US for specific surgical procedures, we “Amurkans” go to Canada and Mexico for drugs that are intentionally kept highly priced here. My wife knows people that go to Mexico to get cheap drugs (and I’m not talking recreational).

    Yes – but because Americans pay much higher prices for their drugs than other nations, it’s currently the American market which essentially pays the drug companies’ R&D costs. If prices are driven down in the US market, pharmaceutical companies will simply stop putting money into medical innovation – meaning fewer lifesaving new drugs in the future. And, of course, no one will even notice, because it’s impossible to produce statistics on drugs which would have been developed if history had taken a different path.

  295. #296 mh
    May 16, 2009

    No Walton, what would happen is that drug companies would more likely look at developing drugs for the majority of people on the planet – the poor. Instead of developing expensive drugs that few rich can afford, they will make drugs that cost less that more can afford.

  296. #297 Kitty
    May 16, 2009

    Sorry Kel, didn’t mean to sound OTT but I’m a bit of a single malt nerd! Currently into a rather fine Strathisla I bought on a recent visit to Speyside. Yum! All those whiskies and not enough time – or money!
    Still try it my way some time – it’s worth it even for a 12 year old!

  297. #298 Watchman
    May 16, 2009

    Walton:

    If prices are driven down in the US market, pharmaceutical companies will simply stop putting money into medical innovation

    I disagree. Pharma companies will do whatever they think will give them an edge in the marketplace. You, of all people, should recognize and acknowledge this, even if it fails to support your government-is-the-problem point of the moment.

    On a personal note, I concur with JeffreyD and Kseniya. FWIW.

    Cheers.

  298. #299 BlueIndependent
    May 16, 2009

    “Yes – but because Americans pay much higher prices for their drugs than other nations, it’s currently the American market which essentially pays the drug companies’ R&D costs. If prices are driven down in the US market, pharmaceutical companies will simply stop putting money into medical innovation – meaning fewer lifesaving new drugs in the future. And, of course, no one will even notice, because it’s impossible to produce statistics on drugs which would have been developed if history had taken a different path.”

    Um, huh? First off, I don’t know if you know this, but your first sentence is actually agreeing with what I said about our prices. Second, are you saying competition *wouldn’t* make the drug companies produce more and better drugs? You’re saying they’d spend it all on marketing? What are you saying? You seem to be implying that if costs are down, drug companies will just stop innovating and keep marketing whatever’s out already.

    I think that’s bullcrap because the drive for profit would still circumvent that scenario. A company isn’t going to want to stop producing lines of profit. And, drug companies are already spending more on marketing as a means of driving up profits than they are on research and development. Your scenario is betrayed by what’s already happening. Drug development in other countries hasn’t stopped because the government negotiates for lower prices. And this is on top of the fact that a lot of medical innovations start in universities and colleges, not exclusively in privately-funded labs.

  299. #300 Brownian, OM
    May 16, 2009

    Yes – but because Americans pay much higher prices for their drugs than other nations, it’s currently the American market which essentially pays the drug companies’ R&D costs. If prices are driven down in the US market, pharmaceutical companies will simply stop putting money into medical innovation – meaning fewer lifesaving new drugs in the future. And, of course, no one will even notice, because it’s impossible to produce statistics on drugs which would have been developed if history had taken a different path.

    That’s such a bad slippery slope argument. What about all the research that doesn’t get done because Richie Rich doesn’t find it profitable to build his own lab for abstract mathematics and staff it with Nobel Laureates? What about all the future Nobel Laureates that don’t grow up to be Laureates because their parents’ income levels don’t provide for adequate college or life-saving medicine under a privatised system? What about, what about?

    Do you really want to play that stupid thought experiment about everything?

    As you said, we wouldn’t even notice. We do notice the deleterious effects of huge income inequity in the really-existing world in which you refuse to acknowledge for your wrong-headed utopianism.

    And if you think you’ll ever have enough money to pay the security and police forces to keep the poor from overrunning your private property when their livelihoods are threatened, I invite you to move to Nairobi, where the rich are far richer than you can even imagine, and the poor are far poorer than you can even imagine, and the prospect of meeting a panga in your sleep if you’re the former are very real.

    As I said before, drop the political theories. All you’re left with are whines of “it’s not fair to me“, because libertarianism–particularly the economic aspect–has absolutely lousy predictive value.

    And with that, I’m off to hit the links. (I know; so bourgeoisie!)

  300. #301 Svetogorsk
    May 16, 2009

    Returning to the subject of the BBC, let us never forget that this is the organisation that nurtured David Attenborough and made it possible for him to… well, do pretty much everything he’s ever done, since he’s been a BBC man for nearly sixty years (he was even controller of BBC2 in the 1960s).

    And I am absolutely convinced that a significant reason that the British are much more instinctively sceptical of creationism is because everyone under the age of about fifty will have grown up with Attenborough’s work being aired regularly on television throughout their lives.

    And for that alone I am delighted to pay my licence fee – which in any case is a piddling amount when set against what I get in return. (Hell, I’d pay it just for BBC4, one of the last bastions of genuinely intelligent programming across an increasingly arid television landscape).

  301. #302 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    No Walton, what would happen is that drug companies would more likely look at developing drugs for the majority of people on the planet – the poor. Instead of developing expensive drugs that few rich can afford, they will make drugs that cost less that more can afford.

    And they will afford to do this how? If you cut down their profit margins by making them charge lower prices, then they will have less money to put into R&D. It’s simple common sense.

    As I understand it, generic drugs are very cheap. Most of the cost of proprietary drugs doesn’t come from manufacture, but from the fact that the developing company has to recoup its R&D costs before its proprietary rights expire. If you stop them from doing that, then how will they be able to afford to channel money into research?

  302. #303 Jadehawk
    May 16, 2009

    I dream of a society in which each individual is free to fulfil his or her own wishes and desires, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it – subject only to the rider that one must not interfere with the autonomy of another.

    this is about as realistic as the “people suddenly disappear, but infrastructure remains intact” daydream I mentioned in another thread. I’m starting to think this odd resentment of societal cooperation (or lack of feeling of social cohesion, depending on your perspective) is a form of mental illness… I’m gonna call it “Dr House Syndrome” :-p

    anyway: there’s no such thing as a free society in which somebody’s right to do something isn’t tampered by government. and while I can agree that representative democracies tend to have governments that sometimes take on a life of their own, that’s an argument against representative democracy, not democracy. Democracy (either Direct Democracy, or a Participatory Society) is the way in which free people exercise their rights. and guess what? nowhere in the world did people ever want libertarianism. Free Market-ism is usually introduced at gunpoint (either literally, or through financial pressure from those “foreign aid” agencies), AGAINST the will of the people, usually sparking mass protests that either succeed in stopping the excesses of the Free Marketeers, or are bloodily and violently squashed.

    And you can’t even say that this is a form of “bad tasting medicine” because every time such “reforms” have been introduced, the result was a handful of people who got super-rich, and an entire society that was suddenly poorer and worse off than before. In some cases, FAR worse off.

  303. #304 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Free Market-ism is usually introduced at gunpoint (either literally, or through financial pressure from those “foreign aid” agencies), AGAINST the will of the people, usually sparking mass protests that either succeed in stopping the excesses of the Free Marketeers, or are bloodily and violently squashed.

    Not true. Thatcher was voted in several times with overwhelming parliamentary majorities. It was after she was forced out (by traitors in the party ranks) that the Conservative Party started falling apart. There was, and still is, a strong popular support in Britain for individual responsibility, low taxes and minimal government interference.

    And you can’t even say that this is a form of “bad tasting medicine” because every time such “reforms” have been introduced, the result was a handful of people who got super-rich, and an entire society that was suddenly poorer and worse off than before. In some cases, FAR worse off.

    I would dispute this. Modern Chile is one of the most economically stable and prosperous countries in Latin America. Under Allende, by contrast, inflation was running in the thousands of percent, foreign trade was diminishing and people were getting poorer. The economic changes introduced by the Pinochet regime – at the point of a gun, certainly, and I would be the first to condemn his despicable methods – did, in the long run, improve the Chilean economy.

    What you’re saying is strongly reminiscent of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine – a notoriously inaccurate book by a notorious leftist wingnut.

    (That said, I would say that Thatcher and Reagan were entirely wrong to give the support that they gave to Pinochet. He was a brutal dictator, and despite the fact that some of his reforms were hugely beneficial in the long run, the ends do not justify the means. But that’s irrelevant here.)

  304. #305 DJ
    May 16, 2009

    Don’t call it “Dr. House Syndrome”, even though the character House is seemingly antisocial, the team dynamic is a necessary part of his capacity and he knows and acknowledges this in many episodes…. LOL, ok, I’ll stop splitting hairs about a fictional tv Doc now!

  305. #306 Tulse
    May 16, 2009

    If you cut down their profit margins by making them charge lower prices, then they will have less money to put into R&D. It’s simple common sense.

    Pharmaceutical companies spend less than 1 dollar in five of their revenue on R&D. According to the Congressional Budget Office, pharmaceutical companies are higher than the average for corporations. Last year Pfizer’s profit margin was 37%.

    Yeah, clearly if they didn’t make all that money we wouldn’t get lifesaving drugs.

  306. #307 dean
    May 16, 2009

    “If prices are driven down in the US market, pharmaceutical companies will simply stop putting money into medical innovation – meaning fewer lifesaving new drugs in the future”

    Except that for many years Pfizer (where my wife was a statistician working with doctors and scientists) was, and is, reducing their fundamental research funds already. They obtain almost as many new drugs by purchasing other companies as by in-house development.

    Walton, perhaps you should start taking advantage of education instead of simply living near it.

  307. #308 Hypocee
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, you have a couple fingers’ more grasp on things than the typical libertarianarchist and you spell in complete sentences and paragraphs so thanks for that. for you. However, this – from a college student! With housekeeping staff!

    Democracy does nothing whatsoever to address this problem – because it still means that other people can forcibly prevent me from following my own desires.

    Waaaambulance, stat.

  308. #309 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, I’ll reply here to http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/what_are_you_doing_alberta.php#comment-1620851 since the thread has become healthcare and your libertarianism. I was afraid my reply would be a week late, but sadly, it’s all too topical.

    This question – and a few of the things you’ve said previously – seem to reflect a presupposition that inaction, on the part of government, is as much an interference with citizens’ lives as positive action. For example, I believe you said earlier (I can’t find where) that by making small businesses exempt from employment law, government prioritises business interests above those of employees.

    You can’t find it because I didn’t say it.

    What I said is that the US government promotes business interests in general over non-business interests in general, by providing business with copyright law, patent law, trademark law, limited liability, and other legal fictions which by their very nature cannot be similarly utilized by non-business interests. And whether or not that’s the kind of society we want to have, let’s not pretend that it’s a level playing field.

    However, positive action to redistribute funds or privileges from A to B does mean that government considers B more deserving than A. … So, for me, the starting point is always laissez-faire; but this can be rebutted by exceptional evidence that government intervention is needed. Thus I am happy for a minimal level of welfare to be provided, since it has a public good dimension;

    You are drowning in ideology, and the loss of oxygen is causing brain damage. You’re so accustomed to doublethink that you didn’t even notice when you contradicted yourself right there.

    You favor positive action to redistribute funding from the rich to the poor, to provide what you define as a minimal level of welfare. Does that mean you believe the poor are more deserving? Or does it mean you recognize that the consequences of not doing so are worse than the consequences of doing so, despite any judgment of who “deserves” what?

    If when you do it, you don’t mean that the poor are more deserving, then you can’t point at anyone else and claim that their motivations are fundamentally and necessarily different from your own. You’re acting like just another self-righteous conservative now. It’s the Fundamental Attribution Error at its ugliest.

    But there’s a pretty major difference between this and healthcare. The provision of contraception or abortion, or, indeed, blood transfusions, is an individual good. I don’t benefit from my neighbour being supplied with these things; my neighbour, alone, is the one who benefits.

    Had this statement come from anyone else who claims to be interested in economics, I would have laughed at the clever tongue-in-cheek. Coming from you, Walton, it’s an even funnier joke, hilariously unintentional.

    Do you have any idea what it’s like to live in a place where your neighbors don’t have health care? Well, no, you don’t, and you should count that among your blessings. You may be familiar with the economic effects of a workforce moving away from an area. Well, what do you think happens when they die? What do you think happens when they can’t work for an extended period of time?

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2007/pr64/en/index.html

    12 DECEMBER 2007 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new World Bank research report finds that 22 countries with the world?s highest numbers of TB cases could earn significantly more than they spend on TB diagnosis and treatment if they signed onto a global plan to sharply reduce the numbers of TB-related deaths. Highly affected African countries could gain up to nine times their investments in TB control. The study also warns about the need to step up TB control worldwide with the growing emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) in southern Africa, eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    The report says that despite recent gains in fighting TB, there were still 8.8 million new cases and 1.6 million deaths from the disease in 2005. Without treatment, two thirds of smear-positive cases die within five to eight years, with most dying within 18 months of being infected. …

    The study says that the economic cost of TB-related deaths (including HIV co-infection) in Sub-Saharan Africa from 2006 to 2015 is US$ 519 billion when there is no effective TB treatment as prescribed by WHO’s Stop TB Strategy. However, if these same countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were to offer such treatment to TB patients, in keeping with a global plan to halve the prevalence and death rates by 2015 relative to 1990 figures, countries could see their economic benefits exceed their costs by about nine times over. The Global Plan to Stop TB, devised by the Stop TB Partnership, would cost US$2 billion a year for TB diagnosis and treatment until 2015 in Africa, and US$5-6 billion worldwide. …

    The new study says that by sickening or killing working-age adults, TB imposes a heavy cost on people?s incomes as well as national economies. For example, in Zambia, adult deaths among small maize and cotton farmers caused crop yields to fall by roughly 15%. Children are vulnerable to TB as well, and the disease may force them out of school, limiting their future job prospects.

    who.int/trade/glossary/story051/en/index.html

    Between 1960 and 1990, life expectancy in Africa increased by a very substantial nine years. The impact was to add between 1.7% and 2.7% a year to the growth rate of per capita gross domestic product (GDP). The HIV/AIDS epidemic, however, is reversing these gains. According to a World Bank report, HIV/AIDS may subtract an additional 1% a year from GDP economic growth in some sub-Saharan African countries, owing to the continuing loss of skilled and unskilled workers in the prime of life. In South Africa HIV/AIDS may depress GDP by as much as 17% over the next decade.

    http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/26/3/917

    Attributable indirect expenditures resulting from lost workdays, restricted activity days, mortality, and permanent disability due to diabetes totaled $39.8 billion [in the US in 2002].

    Lower GDP affects you, Walton. Your own opportunities are what’s at stake here. Your neighbor’s health is your own quality of life. How did you manage to overlook this?

    Leaving people alone to do as they wish is the default. Inaction does not signify that government thinks the wealthy are more deserving than the poor.

    Let’s examine this premise that inaction cannot be a value judgment.

    Denying police protection to black people has been the primary tactic of institutional white supremacy in the Southern US since the end of the Jim Crow era, and was the secondary tactic during that era. This inaction is no accident.

    You may object that such selective inaction differs in effect from general inaction, such as denying police protection to everyone. It does not. In the absence of universal police protection, those who have power form their own gangs. Those who are well connected experience little difference. Take away the government-run police in the Southern US, and the Ku Klux Klan and Posse Comitatus would quickly take their place. Guess who would not be receiving their protection.

    So it would be quite effective to enforce white supremacy through inaction. And your argument, that “inaction does not signify” anything, would be an effective defense against charges of racist intent, if taken at face value.

    In fact it’s trivial to see that wherever there is already an imbalance of power, it’s possible to deliberately side with those who have more power by failing to provide general assistance to everyone.

    Here’s a contemporary example. Rabbi Aryeh Spero hates gay people. Yet he is able to your logic to claim that “opposition to gay marriage is not discrimination.” For Human Events he writes, “no one in America would deny an avowed gay man to get married, like all other men, to a woman.” See, my state government does not recognize the marriage of any man, straight or gay, to another man. And they would grant the same legal recognition to me that they grant to any other man, if only I would choose to marry a woman. Superficially, Rabbi Spero is correct; the government is simply failing to grant me a right that they equally fail to grant to any other citizen. Yet could you honestly say that this policy is not the product of homophobia, that this “inaction does not signify that government thinks [straight people] are more deserving than [gay people]”?

    So, since inaction is all that’s necessary to deliberately reinforce and perpetuate a power imbalance, look at the example of wealth again. Do the wealthy have more power than the poor? This question is appropriate to capacity for nuance, so I’ll let you work it out.

    When you get around to the unsubtle answer, you may respond that it’s still difficult to discern deliberate privileging of wealth from accidents of history. This is not really true, and it’s simple to find countless examples of “he who has the gold” making the rules. But even before that I would respond that it doesn’t matter. The rich don’t have to care whether they are privileged by plan or by accident. And you’ll be just as hungry whether you’re underpaid because of indifference or bigotry.

    Inaction, for whatever reason, is assent. And there is no a priori reason why we should assent to any institutional privileging of any particular power structure. Poverty, patriarchy, racism, there are no neutral answers. There are no sidelines. If you don’t take action then your inaction reinforces the status quo. You are always taking a side, whether you admit it to yourself or not.

  309. #310 Pygmy Loris
    May 16, 2009

    @ Anna #55

    As someone who recently watched a loved one die from cancer I want to say: I hope you die a long, agonizing death while your body slowly shuts down. It’s not a pretty sentiment and I’ll admit I’m not living up to my own ideals here, but you disgust me.

    Also, you’re an idiot.

  310. #311 bastion of sass
    May 16, 2009

    Walton @65 wrote:

    I wish I had better social skills. :-(

    You often comment about your lack of social skills. What, if anything are you doing to acquire better ones, other than wishing?

    Social skills can be learned.

    Don’t know about England, but here in the US, there are social skills classes that are taught in schools as part of the educational plans for children who have autism, asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, nonverbal learning disabilities, and other disorders which often impair social skills.

    Nonprofits and individuals in the US also may offer social skills training to those with social skills difficulties.

    Previously, I and other commenters have urged you to get counseling. Have you?

    And have you ever had a complete neuropsychological evaluation?

    Because it may very well be that you are not just a young, unempathetic, sheltered, privileged student whose views of how and why people interact with each other is at odds with reality, but that the reason you act the way you do, both in real life and here, is that because you have some type of disorder that can be addressed.

    I am not qualified to make a diagnosis, even in real life, let alone on the Net, but you often set off my “brain based disorder” detector.

  311. #312 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    I just have moral qualms about being generous with other people’s money. I don’t currently pay income tax, as I have never earned enough to take me above the tax threshold. Do I, then, have a moral right to say that those who do earn money and pay taxes should be forced to pay for my healthcare?

    Yes. Yes, you do. Again, the relevant question is not whether people should have to “fund things which they may not personally support.” The only question is whether their objections to those things are correct or not. We still have evaluate to all these moral claims through public critique.

    Last time I asked this, you gave the simple and incorrect answer that police protection, for instance, is non-excludable. That’s false. It’s perfectly possible to ensure that homophobes do not have to pay for police that protect gay people, either by denying protection to gay people and not taxing them, or by denying protection to homophobes and not taxing them.

    You haven’t come up with a valid answer yet. Here’s one: the homophobes are wrong, so their so-called moral objections can rightfully be ignored.

  312. #313 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    Walton,

    I’m having some difficulty in reconciling your constant promotion of individual freedom – as the answer to absolutely everything – with your active promotion of state terrorism.

    I think I’ll go off to get a Chinese takeaway and see whether I can take my mind off that.

    In the meantime, even Wikipedia gives a more coherent account of the overthrow of Salvador Allende Gossens than your Tory pamphlets. Why don’t you read it while I’m gone?

  313. #314 bastion of sass
    May 16, 2009

    Kel @ 286 wrote:

    Kel’s off to watching “Kill Bill”This is about the 4th time I’ve seen the film, and my opinion is that it still kicks arse. I haven’t sat down to watch the film in about 3 years (last time I made my brother watch it with me, both films back to back) and now I remember why I loved that film so much. It’s the great dialogue, the plot-driven story, the action so beautifully stylised and engaging.

    It’s just a shame there’s not more blood.

  314. #315 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    I’m having some difficulty in reconciling your constant promotion of individual freedom – as the answer to absolutely everything – with your active promotion of state terrorism.

    I repeat what I clearly and unequivocally said earlier:

    (That said, I would say that Thatcher and Reagan were entirely wrong to give the support that they gave to Pinochet. He was a brutal dictator, and despite the fact that some of his reforms were hugely beneficial in the long run, the ends do not justify the means. But that’s irrelevant here.)

    To make it even clearer: I do not think the Pinochet regime was a good one, and I think those Western countries which supported and aided it were wrong to do so. No political or economic philosophy can provide a justification for the use of death squads. The ends do not justify the means.

    How is that “active promotion of state terrorism?”

    All I have said is that Pinochet happened to be right on economics. Evil people are occasionally right on individual issues. It happens. But it doesn’t make them any less evil, nor does an acknowledgment of their correctness on one issue constitute an endorsement of them.

  315. #316 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    So you’re suggesting that Randian Objectivism and ethical egoism are fundamentally inconsistent with evolved human nature, and that this is why ethical altruism has never been seriously challenged? I think that’s a bit of a stretch. I would suggest that the reason Rand’s moral philosophy has not really caught on in the mainstream of society is because the educational establishment, being left-leaning and set in its ways, has largely ignored it (most philosophy faculties don’t teach Rand, and I personally know philosophy students who’ve never even heard of her), and so her work has never been adequately publicised.

    Everything Kel said at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/daniel_hauser_might_live_now.php#comment-1637107

    But also, yes, Rand is contra human nature. You are the one arguing in ignorance of biological fact. Kin selection is real. Kin selection is one of the biological sources of altruism.

    You might plausibly argue that this effect is not powerful enough to account for people tending to praise altruism over self-centeredness. But you can’t throw out the biological fact; you have to factor it in. Yelling “damn leftists!” is not enough.

    Anyway, haven’t you ever wondered why Nietzsche is taught and Rand is not, even though Nietzsche also comes to some conclusions that chafe leftists?

    It’s because Nietzsche was a real philosopher.

    Pity you can’t tell the difference.

  316. #317 Svetogorsk
    May 16, 2009

    Thatcher was voted in several times with overwhelming parliamentary majorities.

    …thanks to a notorious quirk of the British electoral system, since on every occasion she received only about 40-41% of the actual vote. Which means that nearly two-thirds of the British population didn’t vote for her.

    And her first parliamentary majority wasn’t remotely “overwhelming” – so your “several” should actually read “two”.

    Mind you, the present situation is even worse, with the current government awarded a majority bigger than Thatcher’s in 1979 on the back of 35% of the vote. Which, given the notoriously low turnout, represented just 22% of the actual voting-age population.

  317. #318 Kevin
    May 16, 2009

    Ok first off, if you haven’t experienced Hodgkins lymphoma, or at least cancer, personally…. then you need to stop shut up and read this. 2nd, if you have cancer and are feeling lost and scared by your doctor, and haven’t done any realistic and practical research into “alternative” treatment, then you ,REALLY need to read this.

    Now, for those still reading:

    First of all, Daniel’s parents may not be making all the “right” decisions, but they are truly making the BEST decisions when it comes to the HEALTH of their child. The irony, sadly, is that they will be condemned for it. Now why am I saying this… because I’ve invested hundreds and hundreds of hours into researching Hodgkins lymphoma clinically and alternatively. Why? Because my wife HAD it. Long story short, we refused chemo and radiation (at the time our reasons were for the fact that chemo often results in infertility) and ended up finding ourselves on a nonstop journey of education towards other methods, techniques and information. What we found, was MIND-BLOWING, shocking, challenging to the core, angering, scary, but ultimately exciting. Thanks to what we have learned, we are now healthier than ever, and expecting our first child in November. Oh, and did I mention, the cancer is G-O-N-E (we have 2 oncologists). To really begin, let me just say this: It is a FACT that cancer can be EASILY cured with “alternative” means — i.e. without the use of toxic poison. As a matter of fact, you cannot HEAL any-thing with poison! (Why is that common sense in the real world, but in the doctor’s office it’s common practice???) Some interesting facts (from my own research, not copy and pasted):

    More people are now employed to treat cancer than there are people who are diagnosed with cancer each year (that’s over 500,000!).

    Each cancer patient generates ~$1.2 million for the cancer INDUSTRY.

    Out of the ~$300 BILLION cancer profit, ~$64 billion goes back out for marketing and conventional R&D (more drugs). Only $10 million is spent annually to research alternative treatments, and that’s b/c the AMA was embarassed into admitting they actually work thanks to irrefutable evidence.

    Every American doctor only receives 0-3hrs. of nutritional education during their ENTIRE medical education!! On the flip side, they are extremely educated in drugs and other toxic chemicals. HOWEVER, NO ONE knows the negative synergy of these drugs and chemicals. You are the guinea pig.

    When it comes to bacteria, a doctor will collect a sample, develop it in a lab, and then administer the appropriate antibiotic. This is STANDARD procedure; EVERY doc does this for bacteria infections! There are only 2 places that do this in the US. Rational Therapeutics in CA, and Impath in NY. WHY IS THIS NOT DONE WITH CHEMOTHERAPY?! (think about it.)

    One thing I’ve noticed, CT/PET scans are the main resource used for determing cancer growth and progression. There are 3 HUGE problems with this. 1) Cancer is fed by glucose. Modern medicine knows this. That’s why CT/PET scans work. Yet, when you drink they’re radioactive glucose, you have just given the cancer a steroid shot of the food it needs to grow! 2) Each CT/PET scan emits a TON of radiation into the patient. Radiation is cumulative throughtout your lifetime. Your body doesn’t excrete it. One CT/PET scan is the rough equivalent of 16yrs. of mammograms or 400 chest xrays. The public is just starting to become aware of this. Did anyone see the April ’09 cover of Reader’s Digest (http://www.zinio.com/browse/issues/index.jsp;jsessionid=202D2570AD6965BC9D34B92B71862949.ns101a?skuId=395943526) It’s a reality that radiation from CT/PET scans can CAUSE CANCER! 3) Aside from actually feeding the cancer and giving you extreme amounts of carcinogenic radiation, the main problem with the CT/PET scans is the tool used to view the cancer…… THE NAKED EYE!!!! Now, we all know that cancer operates at the cellular level.. That’s just common sense… right? Sooo,… when is the last time anyone was ever able to see a cell with the naked eye????….. Yet this is the tool the radiologist and oncologist uses to proudly declare “You’re cancer free!” — Reeeaalllyy…. — HOWEVER, other tests, infinitely more accurate than a CT/PET scan do exist. How are they more accurate? Because they provide data at the CELLULAR LEVEL. Yet they are not given or even recognized in the U.S. Why? Hmm… did I mention the average CT/PET scan costs the patient $8000+ dollars. My wife and I are still paying for ours. Quick, what’s 500,000 cancer patients x $8,000 x multiple scans annually?… I’ll let you do the math. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (Each chemo treatment bag alone is average $30,000! Wonder what it looks like if you spill it on your hand… http://www.polymvasurvivors.com/images/chemo_spill.jpg) — Wanna know how much the other tests are? One is a blood test (the blood AMAS test) at $160, and one is a urine test at $50 (the urine HCG test). And of the 2, the urine test is more accurate! I would explain how they all work, but this is getting pretty darn long as it is. I’ll just say this, the urine test works b/c it indicates the amount of rapidly replicating cells in your body by measuring the amount of a certain hormone in your body. The test is so accurate, it can tell you if you have cancer up to 2yrs. before a CT/PET scan could ever see it!! That’s b/c by the time the naked eye can actually “see” a tumor, it’s already made up of over 5 billion cancer cells (about the size of the tip of a pencil eraser). You can read all about it in Bill Henderson’s book, Cancer-Free. I hate saying that b/c it looks like I’m selling something, but it’s the truth. Read the book if you wanna know more (or just type in “hcg cancer test” in google and read the first link — Bill Henderson will give you explicit instructions on how to do the test, google will provide some background info).

    Let’s talk about statistics for a moment. You know, the kind the judge used to reach his “oh-so-smart” verdict. If you have HIV, AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, or any other major health challenge, you would only be considered cured when the virus/ disease is permanently gone, never to return. With cancer, you are considered “cured” if you SURVIVE 5 years from the date of your DIAGNOSIS, NOT from the date of your last chemotherapy treatment… That means, the sec. a doc says “You have cancer.” the clock starts ticking and if you are breathing 5 yrs. to the day after that point, you are a STATISTICAL CANCER SURVIVOR. How disgusting and disingenuous is that?! Oh, AND, if you die BEFORE the 5 yr. mark of pneumonia, b/c the chemo scorched your immune system (1 of its many side effects), then you didn’t die from chemotherapy, you died of pneumonia! Thus, you are left out of the statistics. Additionally, people who supplement with alternative care and actually do well, are lumped in with the rest so as to make chemo/ radiation look even more effective. Lastly, if you die before treatment concludes and you are over something like 65 or 70, then you are excluded from statistics b/c you are considered to have died naturally, of old age (I forget the b.s. term given to this justification). Here’s an interesting article on another way statistics are manipulated: http://www.naturalnews.com/019368.html

    Today’s youth is the first generation in history to be SICKER THAN THEIR PARENTS!!!! WHAT?!?! Movies and documentaries like The Beautiful Truth, Food Inc., We are What We Eat, Healing Cancer from the Inside Out, Crazy-Sexy Cancer, and many others are coming out more and more. There’s a reason for that! People are waking up! A health revolution is coming. Heck, there’s already a book called The Self-Health Revolution. It’s incredible. I recommend it.

    — Thousands of people know this stuff. And if you don’t “know” it, chances are you can sense it. You know, like when you can tell someone isn’t telling you the whole truth.. instinctively. Yet no one who has actually done it is given the respected attention they deserve, and no major media network is allowed to truly and unbiasedly cover it (who do you think are the networks’ biggest sponsors?… have you noticed ~1 in every 3-4 commercials is a DRUG COMMERCIAL?! Same with magazine ads). Try to create a business around helping people eliminate cancer without poison and you go to JAIL (see Jason Vale). If a doctor even MENTIONS that you should seek alternative means PRIOR to chemo and/ or radiation and surgery, they risk losing their license, their job, their reputation, they’re fined, AND they may also go to prison! OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE! It’s not rocket-science. Something is WRONG. These are published, corroborated facts. Stop swallowing the lie that “modern medicine” is shoving down your throat that your own instinct is telling you is “off.” Do your own research, talk to people who have been there, outside the conventional box, and GET EDUCATED!

    A great place to start, and possibly the best summation on the topic I’ve seen, is from a guy who cured himself of stage III non-hodgkins lymphoma – Jerry Brunetti. Watch both videos.

    http://www.nuganics.com.au/2007/07/06/jerry-brunetti-food-as-medicine/

    _Kevin
    Atlanta, GA

  318. #319 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Strange gods before me @309:

    OK, I retract the statement I made a week ago on the Alberta thread, as I realise I wasn’t drawing coherent distinctions.

    The reality is, I don’t have a really coherent, well-thought-out justification for drawing the line where I draw it. It just seems morally right that there should be some provision of basic welfare so that the poor and unfortunate don’t starve to death.

    Yes. Yes, you do. Again, the relevant question is not whether people should have to “fund things which they may not personally support.” The only question is whether their objections to those things are correct or not. We still have evaluate to all these moral claims through public critique.

    Last time I asked this, you gave the simple and incorrect answer that police protection, for instance, is non-excludable. That’s false. It’s perfectly possible to ensure that homophobes do not have to pay for police that protect gay people, either by denying protection to gay people and not taxing them, or by denying protection to homophobes and not taxing them.

    You haven’t come up with a valid answer yet. Here’s one: the homophobes are wrong, so their so-called moral objections can rightfully be ignored.

    OK, I was wrong to describe it as non-excludable, and I didn’t explain myself properly.

    But the fact is that my ideology rests fundamentally on the notion that a person has the right to individual autonomy, and to the security of their person and property. It is impossible to guarantee these things without providing police protection to everyone (regardless of race, sexuality, etc.); a legal system which guaranteed individual freedom, but did not have the means to enforce it, would be useless. Therefore, providing police protection to everyone is a precondition of individual freedom. Libertarianism makes no sense without it.

    By contrast, providing a person with medical treatment is not a pre-requisite of individual freedom. That doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t do it; but it means that, if we are to do it, we are derogating from the principle of individual freedom, and we need to justify that derogation.

    The difficulty is this: would it not be rather arrogant for me (or you) to state, in absolute terms, that I am (for instance) right about contraception and that all the Catholics are wrong, and that I, accordingly, have the right to force them, through state coercion, to pay for contraception? Conversely, how would you react if, in a majority Catholic society, they forced you to subsidise institutions of the Catholic Church?

    The way I see it, there’s a big difference between saying “in my opinion, X is right” and saying “I have the right to force everyone to fund X”. (Just as there is between saying “in my opinion, Y is wrong” and saying “I have the right to ban Y”.) In my personal view (and that of most people on this site), contraception is a good thing. Catholics disagree. But just as Catholics do not have the moral right to ban everyone else from using contraception, I do not have the moral right to force them to pay for other people’s contraception. Isn’t that fairly obvious?

  319. #320 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    By contrast, providing a person with medical treatment is not a pre-requisite of individual freedom.

    Death is a tyrant. Even a slave can kill his master. But the dead are remarkably unfree.

    The difficulty is this: would it not be rather arrogant for me (or you) to state, in absolute terms, that I am (for instance) right about contraception and that all the Catholics are wrong,

    Empirical fact is arrogant now? What are you, a New Ager?

    But just as Catholics do not have the moral right to ban everyone else from using contraception, I do not have the moral right to force them to pay for other people’s contraception. Isn’t that fairly obvious?

    Are the Catholics’ claims in accordant with reality? Are mine? Is it more wrong for me to be forced to live in a fantasy world, or more wrong for the Catholics to be forced to live in reality?

    Your dilemmas are not nearly so insoluble as you think.

  320. #321 Alex Deam
    May 16, 2009

    If and when I start earning a substantial salary, I fully intend to donate regular sums to charity. But I don’t think that I have the right to, through my vote, forcibly confiscate wealth from those who produce it. That’s the primary moral reason why I’m a libertarian. I believe in non-coercion.

    Firstly Walton, a number of times in this thread you claim to be in favour of some state funded things (e.g. foreign aid). How exactly do you suppose that is paid for, without having “the right to, through my vote, forcibly confiscate wealth from those who produce it”?

    Secondly, how would a nation run in a libertarian fashion work? You believe in non-coercion, but would you force people to not vote for more statist parties? Would you make such parties illegal? Because from reading your comments it seems to me that a form of government where I can vote for a party that would increase taxes, or nationalize some industry, wouldn’t be possible under your libertarian ideal state. Is your form of libertarianism opposed to democracy?

    In my defence: I regularly give money to homeless people. And, as I noted on another thread, I have also been campaigning against my college’s plan to make some of the housekeeping staff redundant in order to cut costs. I care about other human beings.

    I just have moral qualms about being generous with other people’s money.

    You are aware that two sources of funding for Oxford University and its colleges comes from government grants (funded by the taxpayer), and by students living in such accommodation. So to claim you have “moral qualms about being generous with other people’s money” is ridiculous when you clearly think other people should be made to pay more money to fund more scouts. Why is that a legitimate form of coercion, but other forms aren’t?

    The licence fee is a particularly iniquitous form of state coercion, forcing citizens to fund a (fairly worthless and politically skewed) media outlet against their will. (It’s also a regressive tax, hurting the poor more than the rich, which begs the question of why socialists nevertheless seem to be so keen on it. But I digress.)

    Stop reading the right wing rags, and open your eyes. The BBC isn’t biased in any meaningful way.

    The license fee also isn’t a tax. It isn’t against anyone’s “will”.

    It actually makes sense that you should have to pay to watch tv. You have to pay to watch films or DVDs. Why should television be any different?

    Then there’s the matter of the money going to this one organization, the BBC. The whole point of it is to guarantee quality programming that wouldn’t find a place on another channel because it wouldn’t be profitable. Would you really want the BBC to turn into ITV? Notice also that any channel that tries to do similar things to the BBC (e.g. educational programs by the Discovery Channel) are only available through subscription.

  321. #322 Carlie
    May 16, 2009

    Don’t know about England, but here in the US, there are social skills classes that are taught in schools as part of the educational plans for children who have autism, asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, nonverbal learning disabilities, and other disorders which often impair social skills.

    Very interesting example, because I’m still thinking about the school vouchers (which is a total derail, but like we don’t do that all the time here). Walton still hasn’t addressed the issue brought up there about how private schools skim off the best and cheapest students, and I was thinking about it in terms of my son. If a private school were to look at his grades, they’d be salivating over him. Kid is almost entirely self-directed and gets everything right the first time. Everything. He’d thrive in a private school environment, right? All that good learnin’ going on? But then they’d look a little closer and see that he only achieves that when he’s in a class of fewer than 10 students that also has an aide for him, and that he needs anger management and social skills sessions along with constant access to a psychologist/social worker in case of a frustration meltdown along with a multi-year behavior plan geared towards weaning him towards self-control and positive societal interactions. His application would go right into the reject pile. Too expensive. The big bad state, however, is obligated to provide that support for him. And it does. For which, I have to say, I am amazingly thankful, because I’m solidly middle-class and there is no way in hell I could afford to pay for it all on my own.
    And what’s the benefit to all the poor childless people who have to pay extra taxes for it? Well, they get a next-door neighbor who will end up being a successful, functioning member of society rather than someone who is prone to violent outbursts, treats people strangely, and can’t hold down a job. Sounds like a win-win to me.

  322. #323 Anonymous
    May 16, 2009

    Modern Chile is one of the most economically stable and prosperous countries in Latin America. Under Allende, by contrast, inflation was running in the thousands of percent, foreign trade was diminishing and people were getting poorer. The economic changes introduced by the Pinochet regime – at the point of a gun, certainly, and I would be the first to condemn his despicable methods – did, in the long run, improve the Chilean economy.

    I don’t even know where to start. There’s an error in every sentence after the first.

    Walton’s hero, Milton Friedman claimed that Pinochet “has supported a fully free-market economy as a matter of principle. Chile is an economic miracle.” Pinochet was the leader of a military coup in 1973 against the democratically elected left wing government. The forces of “law and order” were conservatively estimated to have killed over 11,000 people in Pinochet’s first year in power.”

    But I’ll ignore the dead (I’m sure Walton doesn’t worry about them, they were mainly poor leftists, not worthy of notice). Nor will I discuss why it almost always takes authoritarian/fascist states to introduce “economic liberty,” and concentrate on the economic facts of the free-market capitalism imposed on the Chilean people.

    Working on a belief in the efficiency and fairness of the free market, Pinochet desired to put the laws of supply and demand to work, so set out to reduce the role of the state and also cut back inflation. He and “the Chicago Boys,” a group of free-market economists, thought what had restricted Chile’s growth was government intervention in the economy. They believed this intervention reduced competition, artificially increased wages, and led to inflation.

    The actual results of the free market policies introduced by the dictatorship were far less than the “miracle” claimed by Friedman and a host of other libertarians. The initial effects of introducing free market policies in 1975 was a shock-induced depression which resulted in national output falling buy 15 percent, wages sliding to one-third below their 1970 level and unemployment rising to 20 percent. This meant that, in per capita terms, Chile’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) only increased by 1.5% per year between 1974-80. This was considerably less than the 2.3% achieved in the 1960s. The average growth in GDP was 1.5% per year between 1974 and 1982, which was lower than the average Latin American growth rate of 4.3% and lower than the 4.5% of Chile in the 1960s. Between 1970 and 1980, per capita GDP grew by only 8%, while for Latin America as a whole, it increased by 40%. Between the years 1980 and 1982 during which all of Latin America was adversely affected by recession, Chile’s per capita GDP fell by 12.9 percent, compared to a fall of 4.3 percent for Latin America as a whole.

    In 1982, after seven years of free market capitalism, Chile faced yet another economic crisis which, in terms of unemployment and falling GDP was even greater than that experienced during the terrible shock treatment of 1975. Real wages dropped sharply, falling in 1983 to 14 percent below what they had been in 1970. Bankruptcies skyrocketed, as did foreign debt. By the end of 1986 GDP per capita barely equaled that of 1970.

    The Pinochet regime did reduce inflation from around 500% at the time of the coup to 10% by 1982. From 1983 to ’87, it fluctuated between 20 and 31%. The advent of the free market led to reduced barriers to imports “on the ground the quotas and tariffs protected inefficient industries and kept prices artificially high. The result was that many local firms lost out to multinational corporations. The Chilean business community, which strongly supported the coup in 1973, was badly affected.

    However, by far the hardest group hit was the working class, particularly the urban working class. By 1976, the third year of junta rule, real wages had fallen to 35% below their 1970 level. It was only by 1981 that they has risen to 97.3% of the 1970 level, only to fall again to 86.7% by 1983. Unemployment was 14.8% in 1976, falling to 11.8% by 1980 (this is still double the average 1960’s level), only to rise to 20.3% by 1982.

    Unemployment had risen to a third of the labor force by mid-1983. By 1986, per capita consumption was actually 11% lower than the 1970 level. Between 1980 and 1988, the real value of wages grew only 1.2 percent while the real value of the minimum wage declined by 28.5 percent. During this period, urban unemployment averaged 15.3 percent per year. In other words, after nearly 15 years of free market capitalism, real wages had still not exceeded their 1970 levels.

    One consequence of Pinochet’s economic policies was a contraction of demand, since workers and their families could afford to purchase fewer goods. The reduction in the market further threatened the business community, which started producing more goods for export and less for local consumption. This posed yet another obstacle to economic growth and led to increased concentration of income and wealth in the hands of a small elite.

    It is the increased wealth of the elite that we see the true “miracle” of Chile. The wealth created by the relatively high economic growth Chile experienced in the mid to late 1980s did not “trickle down” to the working class (as claimed would happen by free market dogma) but instead accumulated in the hands of the rich.

    For example, in the last years of Pinochet’s dictatorship, the richest 10 percent of the rural population saw their income rise by 90 per cent between 1987 and 1990. The share of the poorest 25 per cent fell from 11 per cent to 7 per cent. The legacy of Pinochet’s social inequality could still be found in 1993, with a two-tier health care system within which infant mortality is 7 per 1000 births for the richest fifth of the population and 40 per 1000 for the poorest 20 per cent.

    Chile is a prime example of why I, as an economist, reject free market/laissez faire capitalism.

    Sources:
    Silvia Bortzutzky, The Chicago Boys in Chile. New York, Facts on File, 1999.
    Elton Rayack, Not so Free to Choose. New York, Praeger, 1987.
    Thomas Skidmore & Peter Smith, “The Pinochet Regime”, pp. 137-138, Modern Latin America. New York, Oxford University Press, 1989.

  323. #324 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    The reality is, I don’t have a really coherent, well-thought-out justification for drawing the line where I draw it. It just seems morally right that there should be some provision of basic welfare so that the poor and unfortunate don’t starve to death.

    And that much is morally right, because freedom means nothing without opportunities to make use of that freedom. There’s a coherent justification for you. Keep it, no charge.

    All I’ve ever been trying to tell you is that the opportunities you’d offer are not sufficient to meaningful freedom. Most of progressivism is a pragmatic response to the empirical facts on the ground.

  324. #325 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Empirical fact is arrogant now? What are you, a New Ager?

    OK – again, I phrased that badly.

    Rather, what I was really trying to point out is this. Suppose a well-meaning liberal, secular, democratically-elected government in Country X introduces a state health service, which includes free contraception and abortion at taxpayer expense. (Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Country X, like the UK, is a democracy without an entrenched Bill of Rights, so there are no substantive constraints on the power of a majority government.) So far, so good, as far as you’re concerned…

    …but then there’s a major political shift in Country X, and a reactionary religious party comes to power. They immediately alter the state health service, banning contraception and abortion, and instead providing religious chaplaincy services and “faith healing” to all patients at taxpayer expense. They insert political and religious interference into medical resourcing at all levels, funding only those medical procedures which match their religious beliefs, and forcing everyone – regardless of personal convictions – to pay for it through their taxes.

    The point I’m trying to make is that just as government power can be used for good, it can also be used for harm. And if you believe in the legitimising effect of democracy, then you cannot say that the second government in Country X was acting outside its legitimate powers any more than the first was; both purported to implement the will of the people.

    Which is why the only fair and consistent solution is to keep government power and interference to a minimum – meaning that no one can inflict their values on anyone else. I can’t inflict my values on the Catholics or the JWs or the Mormons, and, in exchange, they can’t inflict their values on me. That’s what libertarianism is all about.

  325. #326 bastion of sass
    May 16, 2009

    Die Anyway @207 wrote:

    I’m not thrilled about the government deciding what the appropriate treatment should be. How would any of us feel if the government decided that chemo and radiation were too expensive and a judge orders that we should try Reiki and acupuncture first?

    A judge is legally required to base any decision on relevant evidence presented in court.

    In cases involving scientific or medical knowledge such as this one, one type of important evidence would be expert witness testimony.

    In Daniel’s case, were I the judge, I’d want to hear from witnesses with expertise in treating Hodgkin lymphoma in children.

    Only persons who can show to the court that they have sufficient education, training, knowledge, and skill can testify as an expert witness and offer an expert opinion to the court.

    Even then, the expert must provide the court with the basis for his/her opinion. Although the rules of evidence vary by jurisdiction in the US, generally, an expert witness must show his/her opinion is scientifically valid, and that his/her opinion is both relevant and reliable.

    I really doubt that any qualified expert would recommend to the court that the first choice of treatment for a child with Hodgkin lymphoma would be with Reiki or acupuncture.

    Medicare is running out of money.

    Several commenters here have suggested that Medicare would pay for Daniel’s treatments.

    It is highly unlikely that Daniel meets the eligibility requirements for Medicare: he’s not 65; it’s highly unlikely that he’s worked long enough to qualify for social security disability benefits and that he’s been getting those benefits for two years; or that he has end-stage renal disease.

    Depending on his family’s income and resources, he might qualify for medical assistance under Medicaid or Minnesota’s SCHIP.

    Would you still want to abide by the government’s decisions for you? I doubt it. Watch out for that slippery slope.

    Um, you do realize that this part of your argument is fallacious, and that the particular fallacy, is, coincidentally called the “slippery slope fallacy?”

  326. #327 Alex Deam
    May 16, 2009
    And you can’t even say that this is a form of “bad tasting medicine” because every time such “reforms” have been introduced, the result was a handful of people who got super-rich, and an entire society that was suddenly poorer and worse off than before. In some cases, FAR worse off.

    I would dispute this. Modern Chile is one of the most economically stable and prosperous countries in Latin America. Under Allende, by contrast, inflation was running in the thousands of percent, foreign trade was diminishing and people were getting poorer. The economic changes introduced by the Pinochet regime – at the point of a gun, certainly, and I would be the first to condemn his despicable methods – did, in the long run, improve the Chilean economy.

    Hold up. You dispute the idea that every time neo-liberal economic reforms have been introduced, “the result was a handful of people who got super-rich, and an entire society that was suddenly poorer and worse off than before. In some cases, FAR worse off”, by appealing to Pinochet? How exactly does this help your case?

    Your reply shows that whenever such reforms are introduced, either the result was that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, or lots of people died!

    Either way, such reforms are, ipso facto, very bad.

  327. #328 Alex Deam
    May 16, 2009

    Rather, what I was really trying to point out is this. Suppose a well-meaning liberal, secular, democratically-elected government in Country X introduces a state health service, which includes free contraception and abortion at taxpayer expense. (Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Country X, like the UK, is a democracy without an entrenched Bill of Rights, so there are no substantive constraints on the power of a majority government.) So far, so good, as far as you’re concerned…

    …but then there’s a major political shift in Country X, and a reactionary religious party comes to power. They immediately alter the state health service, banning contraception and abortion, and instead providing religious chaplaincy services and “faith healing” to all patients at taxpayer expense. They insert political and religious interference into medical resourcing at all levels, funding only those medical procedures which match their religious beliefs, and forcing everyone – regardless of personal convictions – to pay for it through their taxes.

    The point I’m trying to make is that just as government power can be used for good, it can also be used for harm. And if you believe in the legitimising effect of democracy, then you cannot say that the second government in Country X was acting outside its legitimate powers any more than the first was; both purported to implement the will of the people.

    Which is why the only fair and consistent solution is to keep government power and interference to a minimum – meaning that no one can inflict their values on anyone else. I can’t inflict my values on the Catholics or the JWs or the Mormons, and, in exchange, they can’t inflict their values on me. That’s what libertarianism is all about.

    Or, you could still reject libertarianism, and campaign for an entrenched constitution!

    I’m from the UK. I reject the religious interference in the state we have from the C of E. I believe in separation of church and state. This can be “guaranteed” via an entrenched constitution. It doesn’t require libertarianism to stop your hypothetical reactionary religious party.

    As far as I can tell, this is what liberalism and progressivism is all about.

  328. #329 'Tis Himself
    May 16, 2009

    In case anyone hadn’t figured it out, #322 is me.

  329. #330 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    Look, Walton, I don’t think that you are a horrible person. You clearly find much which happened under Pinochet distasteful and unpardonable, as do I, and I applaud you for that.

    I do urge you, though, if you plan to be any sort of political thinker to develop the ability to see the whole picture and to see that in this case the installation of someone with little regard for individual freedom was part of the plan – possibly from day one. It was not Pinochet’s plan – by all accounts he was not very bright – but probably Henry Kissinger’s.

    At the risk of repeating myself – economics is not the whole of life. Far too many people suffered far too much to bring about some benefit in that sphere. It is hardly surprising that some of the economic plans worked. They were being written for him in Chicago and though I tend to disagree with the denizens of that city on this topic I would not suggest that they were stupid.

    I am still puzzled that at one moment you can be promoting a central government trimmed down to the bare minimum and at the next accepting – coming close to praising – the massive investment of one country in the destabilisation of another country and the installation of a brutal military dictatorship – a dictatorship which managed just a few benefits and from which the people of Chile escaped promptly the moment they were given the chance to say a word on their own future.

    The fact that Thatcher appears to have fancied the old demon is not an excuse. It should be a cause of shame.

  330. #331 maureen Brian
    May 16, 2009

    Boy, ‘Tis Himself, you’re good! I had contemplated trying to explain all that but would not have done it anywhere near as well.

  331. #332 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    …but then there’s a major political shift in Country X, and a reactionary religious party comes to power. They immediately alter the state health service, banning contraception and abortion, and instead providing religious chaplaincy services and “faith healing” to all patients at taxpayer expense. They insert political and religious interference into medical resourcing at all levels, funding only those medical procedures which match their religious beliefs, and forcing everyone – regardless of personal convictions – to pay for it through their taxes.

    The point I’m trying to make is that just as government power can be used for good, it can also be used for harm.

    If you’re going to turn on the record player, I’m just going to cut and paste:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/what_are_you_doing_alberta.php#comment-1616486

    the libertarian critique of strong governments as being uniquely vulnerable to manipulation is unrealistic. There is no government that cannot be made violently powerful under manipulation of [some group]. …

    You would have us give up all the accumulated work that was done to create a government that can protect freedom, for some experiment to see what happens when the government is as weak as possible. We already know what happens. Feudalism happens. And it takes hundreds of years to get back from there to a system that protects freedom.

    And if you believe in the legitimising effect of democracy, then you cannot say that the second government in Country X was acting outside its legitimate powers any more than the first was; both purported to implement the will of the people.

    And if you believe in the legitimizing effect of a Constitution, then you have the same problem.

    There is no transcendent truth that can come down to humanity and tell us what should be legitimizing and what should not. Even this question is discernible only through public debate. We don’t have any other options than to argue about this; from argument and persuasion is civil society made.

    You do not have an inherently better answer than I do.

    Which is why the only fair and consistent solution is to keep government power and interference to a minimum – meaning that no one can inflict their values on anyone else. I can’t inflict my values on the Catholics or the JWs or the Mormons, and, in exchange, they can’t inflict their values on me. That’s what libertarianism is all about.

    Then libertarianism is a denial of reality. Empirically, publicly subsidized contraception results in more economic freedom and opportunity for more people. If concern for Catholics’ bankrupt morality prevents me from maximizing freedom and opportunity, then the Catholics are already inflicting their values upon me.

    If libertarianism tells you there are sidelines, then libertarianism is false. There are no sidelines.

  332. #333 'Tis Himself
    May 16, 2009

    Thanks, Maureen. It does help that I do that sort of thing for a living.

  333. #334 Benjamin Franklin
    May 16, 2009

    While Walton was merrily driving this train wreck of a thread directly to RandLand, I read Judge Rodenberg’s decision, his interview with Daniel Hauser, and more information about Stage IIB Hodgkins lymphoma, the Nemenhah Band, and “Cloudpiler (of shit) Landis than I ought to have in my brain.

    I have come to the following conclusions and observations-

    – The judge ruled correctly in law and in fact.

    – The concern here was for the safety and best interest of the child, which is mandated by Minnesota law. Not religion, and not money or economic issues. (How the fuck did this thread become about Pinochet?)

    – Daniel Hauser is a moron. Apparently there were complications before his birth, but the result is that at the age of 13 he can’t read or write, and he thinks he isn’t sick, and he wrongly thinks the chemo would kill him, not save his life, which obviously was indoctrination by his mom.. He doesn’t know the name of the Catholic church he attends every other week, nor the name of his priest. He doesn’t know what “elder” means, nor does he have a clue what Nemenhah is about. He was told a bunch of crap by his mom, and he believes it. He is not capable of making proper medical decisions for himself.

    – Ma Hauser is an ignorant idiot, and if she keeps going, she will be a criminal as well. She really lost the case when on May 7th, she refused to let her son have an x-ray taken, as recommended by her doctor to see the status of the mass in Daniel’s lung.

    She refused to let her son, diagnosed with cancer have an xray taken!

    This is the point where the state child agency really nailed her. This is where her neglect really shows. She’s living in her La La land, a combination of Catholicism and internet con-man crap, while her son will almost definitely die within 5 years if she doesn’t follow the advice of every one of the 5 doctors she has taken her son to, as well as every one of the alternative health doctors at the trial, all of whom said that Daniels’ best course is the chemo.

    She is just one more stupid Catholic, with her 8 kids, at least one of which is retarded, and at least one of which is home-schooled (probably all), who, along with her two eldest daughters (aged 14 & 16) milk the 100 cows and take care of the farm, while the other kids babysat the youngest ones (down to 16 months old), while praying their rosary every night.

    – The Nemenhah band is complete bullshit, set up as a religion to avoid persecution for their peddling of bullshit remedies that they claim will cure aids and cancer, and gullible idiots such as Ma Hauser buy into afementioned bullshit. They have been reamed not only by legitimate practitioners of medicine, by also by alternative practitioners, as well as real Native Americans. In fact, the organizer, “Cloudpiler” Landis has been found guilty of fraud in 2 states already.

    What is the first thing the court has ordered? That Daniel have an xray taken, so the status of his cancer can be re-determined.

    I personally don’t give a rat’s ass whether the moron kid lives or dies, (or his woo-flated mom, for that matter), but the legal implications intrigue me.

  334. #335 Anton Mates
    May 16, 2009

    Walton,

    And why do we have any right to “share in the prosperity of our neighbours”? That prosperity was generated by our neighbours’ efforts, not by ours.

    Unless your neighbours made their fortune by telekinetically assembling diamonds from air molecules and then selling them to elves, this cannot possibly be true.

    If your neighbours provide some sort of material goods, say, then those had to be manufactured, marketed, and transported to their final destination. Their raw materials had to be procured. They had to be bought, by people willing to pay enough to account for your neighbours’ prosperity, and this had to occur in a society that was stable and prosperous enough that there were people who could afford to pay, and who were somehow prevented from just stealing the goods.

    Nobody becomes prosperous purely through their own efforts. Being social animals isn’t optional for us humans.

  335. #336 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    (How the fuck did this thread become about Pinochet?)

    strange gods’ law wins: As a blog discussion with libertarians grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Pinochet approaches 1.

  336. #337 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 16, 2009

    As a blog discussion with libertarians grows longer,

    I wish I could throw water balloons through the internet.

  337. #338 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    There is no transcendent truth that can come down to humanity and tell us what should be legitimizing and what should not.

    Exactly – which is why each individual should decide for himself, or herself, how to live, without undue interference from others. If X wants to spend all his time and money on beer, prostitutes and cigarettes; Y wants to donate all his time and money to the Catholic Church; and Z wants to devote all his time and money to the advancement of the biological sciences, then let them all do so. We might think that Z has taken the better path in life. But, as you say, there is no transcendental truth – and Z cannot dictate his path to X or Y, just as they cannot dictate their paths to him.

  338. #339 Carlie
    May 16, 2009

    Goddammit, Walton, you keep ignoring the central issue: Each of them is not an island unto themselves. If X lives next door to me, and his kid goes to school with mine, I have a damned serious interest in making sure that at least some of X’s time is spent in getting his kids immunized so they don’t pass measles along to mine. I have a definite interest in what Y does with his monetary donations if said church donates a hell of a lot of money to defeat an equal-rights proposition. Other people’s actions and decisions affect you. This is what living in a society MEANS, Walton.

  339. #340 strange gods before me
    May 16, 2009

    Exactly – which is why each individual should decide for himself, or herself, how to live, without undue interference from others.

    Yet there is no transcendent truth which comes down and says that even this is so. What gives you the right to insist that another libertarian should have to pay taxes for a child’s basic welfare? It’s undue influence according to them, and all you have to back you up is empirical argument backed by the power of democracy.

    But, as you say, there is no transcendental truth – and Z cannot dictate his path to X or Y, just as they cannot dictate their paths to him.

    I’ve already answered this, so don’t ignore my answers:

    “Are the Catholics’ claims in accordance with reality? Are mine? Is it more wrong for me to be forced to live in a fantasy world, or more wrong for the Catholics to be forced to live in reality?

    Empirically, publicly subsidized contraception results in more economic freedom and opportunity for more people. If concern for Catholics’ bankrupt morality prevents me from maximizing freedom and opportunity, then the Catholics are already inflicting their values upon me.”

    And in the current stalemate, I am inflicting my values upon Catholics. (Aside, it’s unfair to rhetorically target Catholics like this; statistically they’re no more in favor of abortion and contraception restrictions than the average American. http://www.thedemocraticstrategist.org/strategist/2009/05/notre_dame_and_the_intracathol.php )

    These ultra-conservative Catholics who are against contraception, they are not moral relativists. They do not merely believe that contraception is wrong for themselves. They believe it is wrong for everyone. By preventing them from outlawing contraception, or outlawing abortion, or firebombing abortion clinics in “just war” or “defense” of fetuses, I am inflicting my values upon them. And I am using state force to do so.

    Someone is going to have their values stepped on. What’s relevant is that my views are empirically defensible, and theirs are not. I am advocating maximizing opportunity for more people. You are advocating limiting women’s opportunities, for the sake of a few ultra-conservative Catholics’ cruel and false beliefs.

    There is nothing fundamentally different between you forcing other libertarians to pay for a poor child’s meal, and me forcing an ultra-conservative Catholic to pay for a poor woman’s pills. Nothing. We’re both trying to maximize opportunity for people who would otherwise be functionally less free.

    Blink twice if you can hear me.

  340. #341 Anton Mates
    May 16, 2009

    Walton,

    Exactly – which is why each individual should decide for himself, or herself, how to live, without undue interference from others. If X wants to spend all his time and money on beer, prostitutes and cigarettes; Y wants to donate all his time and money to the Catholic Church; and Z wants to devote all his time and money to the advancement of the biological sciences, then let them all do so.

    And if X’s cigarette use interferes with the air quality near Y and Z? If Y’s church is morally bound to fight against the prostitution X enjoys, and the stem cell research Z performs, and uses Y’s time and money accordingly? If Z’s research produces medicines that might help X and Y, or bioweapons that might hurt them?

    Who decides what level of interference is “undue” here, other than the person making up this scenario?

  341. #342 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Sorry Kel, didn’t mean to sound OTT but I’m a bit of a single malt nerd! Currently into a rather fine Strathisla I bought on a recent visit to Speyside. Yum! All those whiskies and not enough time – or money!
    Still try it my way some time – it’s worth it even for a 12 year old!

    Will try it for sure, though I fail to see how mixing it with drambuie is wasting it.

  342. #343 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, are you an only child?

  343. #344 Jadehawk
    May 16, 2009

    Walton,

    I’m not gonna bother responding to the Naomi Klein is a lying propagandist BS in detail, since ‘Tis Himself took care of that, but I will say that you can’t just label something inaccurate just because it disagrees with you. show data that contradicts her, and then maybe you’ll have a point.

    anyway: have you ever heard the phase “like herding cats”? do you know what it means, and WHY it means that? What you’re suggesting is for humans to live like cats, which are individualist to the core and only create “societies” temporarily and inefficiently. Human societies couldn’t survive as the loose associations that cat-society forms, since they’re far more interdependent than that, to the point where a single human, unlike a single cat, cannot provide for itself anything resembling a decent standard of living. society IS a compromise, and you ARE born into it, if only because we’ve effectively run out of space to send the individualists off to. incidentally, this also means that the more crowded this planet becomes, the more freedoms people will have to compromise, or see their society collapse into bloody mayhem. libertarian society might be possible on Asimov’s Solaria, but it’s not on Earth

    also, on your claim that governments can be used for good and for bad… how exacly does that make governments any more different than anything else? Corporations, religious organizations etc. ALL tend to grow to absorb all available power when left unchecked. the libertarian POW however only sees danger in government power, but none of the others. without a strong government to counteract the other two (in our current society) most powerful entities, you lave too much power in too few hands. in order to prevent power accumulation, power needs to be 1)spread among as many people/entities as possible 2)prevented from accumulating (which is the natural instinct of people with some power: combine it with the power of others, to become more powerful) 3)play any and all concentrations of power against each other.

    this is why we have religious freedom; anti-monopoly laws; “one person one vote” laws; anti-discrimination laws; laws that forbid private entities to extort people in need; etc.

    we can actually already see what would happen if we scaled down on government. just look at the international scale, where the obnly governmental agency is the UN, which is pretty much toothless. at this level, corporations rule supreme: they can blackmail whole nations into subserviency (well, if YOU don’t let us abuse your workers, then we’ll take our factory somewhere else, and then there won’t be any jobs at all!); they can pollute, poison and destroy wherever the governments aren’t powerful or rich enough to stop them; etc.

    and when you’re not allowing people to band together for decisions of mutual benefit, but letting people band together for profit, then the profiteers will soon rule the rest. you’re creating an imbalance

  344. #345 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    There is nothing fundamentally different between you forcing other libertarians to pay for a poor child’s meal, and me forcing an ultra-conservative Catholic to pay for a poor woman’s pills. Nothing.

    Fair enough. That’s true. I can’t rationally justify it.

    But for all the cold, hard rationality in the world, I can’t advocate letting poor children starve. However compelling the ideological justification. On a visceral level, I know and you know that giving a child a meal – whether his parents have earned it or not – is the right thing to do.

    Maybe, as you suggested earlier, this is a human instinct born of centuries of evolutionary development.

  345. #346 Walton
    May 16, 2009

    Walton, are you an only child?

    No. I have a younger brother. Why?

  346. #347 Kel
    May 16, 2009

    Just curious

  347. #348 Anton Mates
    May 17, 2009

    But for all the cold, hard rationality in the world, I can’t advocate letting poor children starve. However compelling the ideological justification.

    Not really sure why there’s a conflict with rationality here.

    PREMISE #1: I don’t like to see children suffer.
    PREMISE #2: Starvation is a form of suffering, and the starvation of my country’s children can be prevented by a government expenditure of X million dollars.
    PREMISE #3: Depriving my fellow citizens of X million dollars bothers me less than having children starve.

    CONCLUSION: Tax away!

    Quod erat demonstrandum, post hoc ergo propter hoc, semper ubi sub ubi, malo malo malo malo, et cetera.

  348. #349 nothing's sacred
    May 17, 2009

    to share in the prosperity of our neighbours.

    And why do we have any right to “share in the prosperity of our neighbours”? That prosperity was generated by our neighbours’ efforts, not by ours.

    Walton, by quotemining Kel, you’ve attacked a strawman, and deleted the answer he already gave to your question. Here is what Kel actually wrote:

    Yet despite all this, I‘m more than happy to pay for taxes because in doing so it provides vital services regardless of gender, nationality or religion.
    It means that everyone in society has the possibility to get a good education, the possibility to have access to food and medical care, and to share in the prosperity of our neighbours.

    Notice the first person and group pronouns. Our neighbors aren’t someone else from whom we’re taking something, they are us — we are each others’ neighbors. Kel’s comment is about a society and its members, who are us, working together to achieve something that cannot be achieved by individuals working alone. If the world worked the way that you seem to envision it, then I should have had you sign a contract promising to pay me for my time in responding to you and the value of my analysis. Left on your own without any cooperation from your fellow humans, you would not prosper, and neither would they if they did the same. But society is not a zero sum game; humans gain mutual benefit from the many ways they interact.

  349. #350 nothing's sacred
    May 17, 2009

    But for all the cold, hard rationality in the world, I can’t advocate letting poor children starve. However compelling the ideological justification.

    Ahem. Ideologies are not rational. Ideological justifications are not rational justifications, they are the opposite. Rationally, it’s a bad idea to let children starve. There are many reasons why it is bad but, specifically for you, it makes you feel bad, and if there’s one thing above all else that is irrational, it is self harm.

  350. #351 Kel
    May 17, 2009

    I didn’t notice the quotemine last night, think I was just blinded with rage by Walton not getting it again.

  351. #352 Alan Kellogg
    May 17, 2009

    Brownian,

    Out here in California the state consistently underpays for medical care. The Medi-Cal program for example has set fees it pays, which do not cover the cost of the treatment. So private insurance and private individuals have to cover the rest. Now add in the cost of keeping up with all the mandatory paperwork.

    It comes down to this; you’re not only paying through your taxes, you’re paying through increased private medical fees and higher insurance premiums.

    In addition, when you insist on letting insurance handle all health care payments, you’re divorcing yourself from the costs. It becomes somebody else’s money, not yours, and that makes it easier to spend it. It’s not real money, so why fret about it?

    And that leads to the big problem with free things; free things are worthless. We put a greater value on things we earned than on things we didn’t.

    But when you get right down to it, the worth of medical care lies not in how it is paid for, but in the doctor who provides it. Bad doctors are not exclusive to private clinics, nor good doctors to public. Both types can be found in both fields, and the patient had best beware lest he be hurt.

  352. #353 T_U_T
    May 17, 2009

    There are many reasons why it is bad but, specifically for you, it makes you feel bad, and if there’s one thing above all else that is irrational, it is self harm.

    you are assuming that he is not a psychopath. Such assumption is imho unwarranted

  353. #354 Isabel
    May 17, 2009

    “Thanks to modern medicine, lifespans have increased 30 years in the last century. ”

    this is bullshit.

    citation, Raven?

    Actually, when you look at the lifespans of people who reached adulthood (and don’t average in all the infant and early childhood deaths) it’s more like 18 months.

    If you include infant and early childhood mortality, and ignore improvements in housing and sanitation and then credit modern medicine, you have the makings of a great, self-serving myth…my great and great-great and great-great-great grandparents did not keel over at 40, or even 50 (many lived very active lives into their 80’s and 90’s) and most of yours probably didn’t either, unless they lived in a crowded slum or had other problems that had nothing to do with modern medicine.
    Time to put that myth to rest.

  354. #355 maureen Brian
    May 17, 2009

    Isabel,

    No, you don’t get to do that! You don’t get to change the definition, which has always been life expectancy at birth for serious discussion.

    Now you want to pull out of the air an entirely new definition because it better suits your untested thesis. Of course, it means than none of your work can be usefully compared with other studies over the past hundred and more years. It will therefore be ignored.

    One of our team who is closer to current action in this area may feel sufficiently benevolent to explain it all to you. Then again, they may feel that there are better uses for a Sunday morning.

  355. #356 windy
    May 17, 2009

    Oh, and did I mention, the cancer is G-O-N-E (we have 2 oncologists). To really begin, let me just say this: It is a FACT that cancer can be EASILY cured with “alternative” means — i.e. without the use of toxic poison. As a matter of fact, you cannot HEAL any-thing with poison!

    It’s great that your wife’s cancer is gone, but actually you can heal a lot of things with poison. Foxglove is a very toxic plant and it can be used to treat heart failure. Scorpion venom can be used to treat cancer. And most medicines are toxic in sufficiently large quantities, like aspirin.

    When it comes to bacteria, a doctor will collect a sample, develop it in a lab, and then administer the appropriate antibiotic. This is STANDARD procedure; EVERY doc does this for bacteria infections! There are only 2 places that do this in the US. Rational Therapeutics in CA, and Impath in NY. WHY IS THIS NOT DONE WITH CHEMOTHERAPY?! (think about it.)

    Because cancer consists of the body’s own cells, it’s not an infection by bacteria or other parasites, so it can’t be treated the same way.

    And I seriously doubt that US doctors always do a culture before prescribing antibiotics…

  356. #357 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    And that leads to the big problem with free things; free things are worthless. We put a greater value on things we earned than on things we didn’t.

    What the hell are you talking about? What does this even mean? What does this have to do with anything?

    How much did you pay for your family? Your friends? Your life? Are all these things worthless?

    I don’t understand the point you’re making, and moreover, I don’t see the relevance of a glib (and not necessarily generalisable) observation to this discussion.

  357. #358 Rorschach
    May 17, 2009

    When it comes to bacteria, a doctor will collect a sample, develop it in a lab, and then administer the appropriate antibiotic.This is STANDARD procedure; EVERY doc does this for bacteria infections!

    Wrong.Most of the time we know which bacteria cause what illness and treat accordingly without culturing the organism first.Takes 1-4 days,and a lot of patients dont have that much time to wait for treatment to commence.

    WHY IS THIS NOT DONE WITH CHEMOTHERAPY?! (think about it.)

    If I think about that line too much,I might get dizzy,its so…reveiling.
    Actually,we have started doing this for some cancers in some centers,say,for certain kinds of melanomas,where we try to determine the cell properties and then either try to “vaccinate” the body against those properties,or tailor our treatment to certain properties of the cancer cells.
    Its called science,we learn,and improve our treatments,all the time.

  358. #359 Bachalon
    May 17, 2009

    Walton, a few things.

    1) You’ve admitted that you were wrong or that your language was vague a few times in this thread. Have you considered the possibility that it’s not the details that need to be worked out but a problem with your ideology itself?

    2) You said

    …no one can inflict their values on anyone else.

    But where is the line drawn and why? Say someone breaks into my house and intends to kill me for being gay. That’s one of my assailants values. Do I have the option of defending myself, thereby “inflicting” my value that I have a right to life, on him? Say it’s someone’s value that recreational drug users should be punished, so takes up drug dealing and laces his product with carcinogens. Can I take him to court and prevent him from harming me, thus “inflicting” my value that what I do in my own home is private, on him?

    Again, where is the line drawn and why there?

    3) When we first talked a while ago, you had mentioned that you were going to be attending some sort of conference in the near future. I urged you to ask some hard questions of the American conservatives you had no experience actually being with. Did you attend that conference, and if so, did you ask those questions?

  359. #360 Anonymous
    May 17, 2009

    I’ve thought long and hard before posting this. Whether he’ll take any notice remains to be seen.

    Posted by: Walton | May 16, 2009 7:59 AM [kill]?[hide comment]

    I’m sorry for driving everyone away from the thread.

    I wish I had better social skills. :-(

    So if you’re so sorry why do you keep coming back and doing it again and again? You declare “as a libertarian” at every opportunity. You hijack the thread with ideology irrelevant to the topic. You repeat yourself ad nauseam. You don’t address the considered replies you receive. You ignore advice. You reject proffered help.

    In order to acquire social skills you actually have to go out and start socialising. You’re a university student go out to the bar, join a club, do voluntary work, hell you’re in Oxford hold a sherry party for your tutorial group – I’m sure you can afford it!
    But here you are on Saturday night churning out the same old stuff when you should be out with your mates.

    You constantly tell us you are physically unattractive, as if this explains everything, yet you don’t seem to take on board that your real problem might lie in your superior attitude and dogmatic adherence to an odious ideology which compounds any physical problems you may have. An attractive mind is far superior, and more durable, than mere physical beauty.

    I have a friend who is really physically unattractive – more than half of his face is taken up with a crusty, raised, livid birth mark. He’d been bullied in school, spent most of his time alone, took refuge in books and attained high academic qualifications. In university he blossomed, people were not so cruel, he learned to express himself, his mind was attractive, his conversation became witty and informed. Within a short time his disfigurement became irrelevant. He became popular. He married, had two lovely daughters and a successful career. He is a beautiful human being. He could have stayed a lonely recluse – it’s easy in academe – but worked at being sociable and reaped the rewards.

    I repeat “grow up” Walton. You have a lively mind, use it to improve your lot. Make the effort to get some friends, join in their conversations, embrace their criticism and their praise, laugh with them, cry with them, share with them, care for them, learn about real life and put the ideology of Rand in the bin where it belongs with the rest of the trash. You’ll be happier for it.

  360. #361 Kitty
    May 17, 2009

    Sorry, #360 was me.

  361. #362 Walton
    May 17, 2009

    Kitty: I think you’ve formed a slightly skewed impression (which is my fault entirely, not yours) of what I’m like in RL; when I’m in the grip of a bad mood I tend to exaggerate how bad things actually are.

    I do go out and socialise (though, admittedly, not as often as the average student), and I do have plenty of friends. I’m a cadet in the OTC (Officers Training Corps) and meet people through that, and I’m also active in my university’s Conservative Association. So don’t get the impression that I’m some sort of social recluse who spends all his time in his room arguing with people on the internet. I do spend a lot of time doing that, but I do other things as well.

    yet you don’t seem to take on board that your real problem might lie in your superior attitude and dogmatic adherence to an odious ideology which compounds any physical problems you may have.

    I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who share my ideology entirely – to an even more extreme degree, in some cases – and have normal, happy social lives. So it’s nothing to do with that whatsoever.

    I appreciate that you’re trying to help, but as I said, I think my comments have somewhat exaggerated how bad my problems are, and as a result of this you’ve misunderstood the nature of those problems.

  362. #363 Walton
    May 17, 2009

    When we first talked a while ago, you had mentioned that you were going to be attending some sort of conference in the near future. I urged you to ask some hard questions of the American conservatives you had no experience actually being with. Did you attend that conference, and if so, did you ask those questions?

    I did attend the conference, but I had no need to ask the questions, since the answers were made fairly apparent. THe majority of the American conservatives there were devoutly and overtly religious, strongly anti-abortion and strongly anti-gay. Most of the British students present – who were, for the most part, of a more libertarian leaning – were somewhat uncomfortable with this environment. For this and a variety of other reasons, I certainly wouldn’t go back again.

  363. #364 Bachalon
    May 17, 2009

    Walton,

    Didn’t I try and tell you that they’re not your allies?

    Did you say anything to them?

  364. #365 'Tis Himself
    May 17, 2009

    Anton Mates #348

    Quod erat demonstrandum, post hoc ergo propter hoc, semper ubi sub ubi, malo malo malo malo, et cetera.

    I took Latin in school as well.

    Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres. In hoc signo vinces. Senatus Populusque Romanus. Illegitimi non carborundum. Cartago delenda est. Argumentum ad hominem. Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? O tempora o mores!

  365. #366 strange gods before me
    May 17, 2009

    Fair enough. That’s true. I can’t rationally justify it.

    But for all the cold, hard rationality in the world, I can’t advocate letting poor children starve. However compelling the ideological justification. On a visceral level, I know and you know that giving a child a meal – whether his parents have earned it or not – is the right thing to do.

    What do you mean you can’t rationally justify it? What’s wrong with the justification I gave you? Really, it’s free of charge, you don’t even have to thank me: freedom means nothing without opportunities to make use of that freedom; starvation is profoundly limiting of opportunity. At least give this justification a test drive before you dismiss it, or tell me what you find lacking.

    And who told you rationality must be cold and hard? That’s a platitude reminiscent of “this hurts me more than it hurts you.” A phrase most often administered just before a beating, or some other abuse that undoubtedly hurts you far more than the speaker. “Cold, hard rationality” is a post hoc rationalization, that you may more placidly assent to a dominator’s morality which was pressed upon you. If it shocks your conscience, then cast that rationalization away. And keep your conscience for yourself; it is one of those precious few things that can guide you to freedom from behind enemy lines.

    I reiterate that there are good reasons why reason and conscience are not to be understood as opposing one another: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/right_wing_inanity.php#comment-1590484 And nothing’s sacred has offered you a worthy answer in this thread as well, though if you are still suffering from depression, you will probably (wrongly) believe that you don’t deserve to feel good.

  366. #367 strange gods before me
    May 17, 2009

    Anyway, you’ve been treading uncomfortably close to nihilism lately, if I’m any good at sensing these things. You’re probably looking for a more solid reason why even freedom and opportunity are to be preferred.

    If we’re going to have inequality of outcome, as we currently do, then for this to be even in principle defensible, we must be striving for equality of opportunity. That much at least is necessary for any semblance of fairness. And you may take fairness as an axiom, or you may simply accept that without at least the appearance of fairness, a violent revolution is inevitable, in which a great many innocents will suffer and die horribly.

    Then how to approach fairness and equality of opportunity? As Kel says, we cannot avoid being born into a society. We can only try to make our societies worth being born into. Here John Rawls has something to offer: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/original-position/

  367. #368 Walton
    May 17, 2009

    As Kel says, we cannot avoid being born into a society. We can only try to make our societies worth being born into. Here John Rawls has something to offer

    As I’m studying jurisprudence/legal philosophy this term, I’ll be reading Rawls anyway in a couple of weeks (A Theory of Justice is considered one of the seminal works).

    If we’re going to have inequality of outcome, as we currently do, then for this to be even in principle defensible, we must be striving for equality of opportunity. That much at least is necessary for any semblance of fairness.

    Is it? A person may inherit two categories of advantages from his or her parents: genetic advantages (such as intelligence, physical health, good looks) and environmental/social advantages (money, property, family connections, a stable upbringing, a good education). Societies based on “equality of opportunity” and a “level playing field” accept that the first category of advantages will generate inequality, while attempting to account and compensate for the second category of advantages.

    But why is the first category of advantage more “deserved” than the other? Why does the person who inherits intelligence or good looks from his parents “deserve” those advantages any more than the person who inherits money or family connections from his parents?

    This isn’t to say that the distinction has no force; it has a profound importance when it comes to efficiency, since a society which had no social mobility whatsoever, and thereby wasted the talent of those who happened to be born into more straitened socio-economic circumstances, would inevitably be profoundly inefficient and economically weak. But I see it as a practical, not a moral, imperative to facilitate social mobility.

    freedom means nothing without opportunities to make use of that freedom; starvation is profoundly limiting of opportunity. At least give this justification a test drive before you dismiss it, or tell me what you find lacking.

    I think we’re relying on different definitions of “freedom”. The libertarian concept of “freedom” essentially boils down to self-ownership. The idea is that you own your body and your mind and all fruits thereof, and that no one else has any right to use these things without your consent. Thus, if you starve to death, your “freedom” has not been infringed, because no one has interfered with your sovereignty over your body; just as your car running out of fuel, or breaking down, does not mean that anyone has interfered with your ownership of your car. By contrast, if some or all of the fruits of your labour are confiscated for the benefit of others, then your “freedom” -that is, your ownership of your body and mind and everything which proceeds from the use thereof – has been violated. Just as, if you own an apple tree and someone else takes the apples from it, your property rights have been violated.

    I put “freedom” in scare quotes here because I realise that this is a heavily contestable definition of freedom; and it would be better described as “self-ownership” than as “freedom”. I’m not saying that this is the right definition of freedom; I’m just trying to isolate the core philosophical reasons for our disagreement.

  368. #369 annie may
    May 17, 2009

    Posted by: Dianne | May 15, 2009 5:32 PM
    “…However, I would like to point out that there is at least one case in which TCM has been tested and has proven useful…

    Of course, a drug company produces it and it is given by allopathic doctors. This is what happens when a traditional, herbal or other “non-standard” treatment is shown to work: it gets incorporated into standard practice. And Big Pharma didn’t do a thing…”

    Read that statement again….A DRUG COMPANY PRODUCES IT…that means it they have patented it and now own it. Likely this also means it is not the original substance in its originally used form, as most ‘natural’ medicines cannot BE patented and become the next “blockbuster drug” for some overweight pharmaceutical company. That is the REAL reason that natural medicines are mostly shunned…because the public has been duped over years and years into believing that the only way to health is through man’s PATENTED drugs – as if they are somehow preferable to non patentable natural substances such as garlic, honey, lemon juice, tea tree oil…the list goes on.

    An interesting case you may want to look up is the one of XYREM – a drug being manufactured for the sole purpose of treating narcolepsy – and may have many other uses – but is in fact, a substance called GHB which was banned some years back as a “date rape” drug (because it promotes rapid and deep sleep). The reasons given for banning it, moreover, are dodgy at best: the case revolved around a girl who supposedly died of it – yet it was not determined to have actually killed her. At the time, the substance was freely available in health food and supplement stores such as gnc and the like. Afterwards, it cropped up as a ‘patented’ drug “made” by a pharma company looking for its first big blockbuster…

    Also look into the banning, and subsequent unbanning, of ephedra. There is far more going on under the surface of the medical/pharma industry than most people realize.

    Garlic for example is one of the most potent antibiotic substances known…yet it is hardly ever used as such. Why would your doctor not recommend it? Because as a readily available food, it cannot BE patented and sold by a drug company as a ‘drug’. The FDA is complicit in all of this too…sellers of everyday substances we take for granted that improve our health and prevent/treat diseases in so many ways are actually *prohibited* from telling you about the possible benefits of what you are buying from them.

    Cherry growers for example, cannot tell you that the flavonoids and other antioxidants in cherries may have disease preventing or treating properties – even though they do. The makers of Cheerios cereal are currently being targeted by the FDA because they make a claim on their box that cheerios are good for heart health – a perfectly true fact, yet since it is not sold AS A DRUG, the FDA states they cannot say it. Will the citizens next be prohibited from saying that oranges and grapefruits can prevent scurvy? It is madness any way you look at it, and entirely fueled by greed.

  369. #370 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Annie, you miss the point frequently. For example, on the FDA and Cheerios for example, the FDA rules are clear. Food makers cannot claim specific health improvements, like saying eating BrandX will reduce your serum gobbletygook by 10 units (versus non-specific claims like better health with varied diet) in advertising and labeling without doing the proper controlled testing and submitting those tests for prior approval, just like they were a drug. General Mills just went over the line.

  370. #371 Isabel
    May 17, 2009

    “No, you don’t get to do that! You don’t get to change the definition, which has always been life expectancy at birth for serious discussion.”

    HaHa Maureen that’s funny!

    Raven, like many others before him, took life EXPECTENCY at birth, and equated it with life SPAN. Can you justify this?

    Now most people thanks to simple-minded, and/or modern medicine-promoting journalists, think that modern medicine has brought us the git of old age, which is a LIE.

  371. #372 Isabel
    May 17, 2009

    Sorry, that was “gift” of old age. :)

    Anyway, enjoy your Sunday, Maureen, and your team members too!

  372. #373 Dr. Dredd
    May 17, 2009

    Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres. In hoc signo vinces. Senatus Populusque Romanus. Illegitimi non carborundum. Cartago delenda est. Argumentum ad hominem. Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? O tempora o mores!

    ‘Tis Himself:
    I don’t think “Illigitimi non carborundum” is actually Latin. It’s funny, though. :-)

  373. #374 Jadehawk
    May 17, 2009

    I think we’re relying on different definitions of “freedom”. The libertarian concept of “freedom” essentially boils down to self-ownership. The idea is that you own your body and your mind and all fruits thereof, and that no one else has any right to use these things without your consent. Thus, if you starve to death, your “freedom” has not been infringed, because no one has interfered with your sovereignty over your body; just as your car running out of fuel, or breaking down, does not mean that anyone has interfered with your ownership of your car. By contrast, if some or all of the fruits of your labour are confiscated for the benefit of others, then your “freedom” -that is, your ownership of your body and mind and everything which proceeds from the use thereof – has been violated. Just as, if you own an apple tree and someone else takes the apples from it, your property rights have been violated.

    that’s the most useless definition of freedom I’ve ever seen (And I’m certainly glad you realize it isn’t optimal). Not only is it begging the question, it has completely removed itself from freedom as it is understood generally (i.e. the ability to do what you want, when you want it, however you want it, with whomever you want) and thus is actually often diametrically opposed to actual freedom (as you’ve said, a starving person might be “free” but he or she is certainly not free; on the other hand, a person in a social democracy is quite free [as compared to the rest of the world], but never “free”). The only time a person is neither free nor “free” is in actual slavery.

  374. #375 Knockgoats
    May 17, 2009

    “If he dies, then he’s less likely to carry on his parents’ genetic legacy. Win.” – Marcus Ranum

    Marcus Ranum, proving that those who self-identify as nihilists really are likely to be evil shitbags.

  375. #376 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    If you include infant and early childhood mortality, and ignore improvements in housing and sanitation and then credit modern medicine, you have the makings of a great, self-serving myth…my great and great-great and great-great-great grandparents did not keel over at 40, or even 50 (many lived very active lives into their 80’s and 90’s) and most of yours probably didn’t either, unless they lived in a crowded slum or had other problems that had nothing to do with modern medicine.
    Time to put that myth to rest.

    There’s something to this claim, although I don’t think it supports Isabel’s apparently anti-modern medicine position as strongly as she thinks.

    As a measure of general population health, life expectancy tends to be highly sensitive to high infant mortality rates. For this reason, cross-cultural or cross-historical comparisons are often made using life expectancy at age 5 as it provides a better indicator of the bulk of the population’s overall life span. (In a similar way, the use of the mode rather than the mean of a population’s income gives a better indicator of the bulk of the population’s income–means can be heavily influenced by extreme outliers like the income of people like Bill Gates.)

    While I don’t see support for the claim that modern medicine hasn’t increased our life spans (though less than life expectancy measures would suggest due to the decrease in infant mortality), it does seem to be the case that reports of life expectancy, especially of past societies, erroneously imply that we used to ‘keel over’ at some bizarrely young age, which wasn’t necessarily the case.

    However, those who study public and population health are indeed aware of the difficulties with this measure (so no, it’s not a Big Pharma conspiracy), which is why a whole slew of measures have been developed to more accurately gauge population health, including measuring population morbidity and mortality (‘morbidity’ indicates non-fatal injury and illness; ‘mortality’ the fatality rate), or morbidity-free life expectancy (MFLE) (the number of years one would expect to live without chronic illness or injury).

    As always though, the significance and differences between these measures are often left by journalists reporting health trends to a largely statistically innumerate population. And, to be fair, some researchers will sometimes select less appropriate measures in their study designs, usually due to data limitations, ignorance of the existence or application of more appropriate measures, and occasionally to bolster support for their hypotheses.

  376. #377 Alex Deam
    May 17, 2009

    A person may inherit two categories of advantages from his or her parents: genetic advantages (such as intelligence, physical health, good looks) and environmental/social advantages (money, property, family connections, a stable upbringing, a good education). Societies based on “equality of opportunity” and a “level playing field” accept that the first category of advantages will generate inequality, while attempting to account and compensate for the second category of advantages.

    Not quite. Intelligence and physical health also have massive non-genetic qualities too. In fact, such societies based on level playing fields attempt “to account and compensate for” all three of those first advantages you list. If people have a genetic predisposition to be less intelligent, then that shouldn’t matter, because of state education. If people have a genetic predisposition to be unhealthy, then that shouldn’t matter, because of state health care. The only times those might matter, is in regards to the mentally or physically handicapped, but then such societies would have a welfare system to provide the care and support they need. And if people have a genetic predisposition to be unattractive, then that shouldn’t matter, because of laws making it illegal to hire someone based on looks, for instance (unless the job is for modeling or something, when good looks is part of the job description usually).

  377. #378 Walton
    May 17, 2009

    On the general topic of state healthcare and freedom, a good article by Steven Landsburg:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2133518/

  378. #379 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    that’s the most useless definition of freedom I’ve ever seen (And I’m certainly glad you realize it isn’t optimal). Not only is it begging the question

    I agree Jadehawk, particularly with the point that it’s question-begging.

    Essentially, their definition boils down to ‘Liberty equals not being forced to or prevented by TEH EVIL FASCIST GOVERNMENT!1!!11! to do something.

    It’s for this reason that Libertarian discussions are so tedious. Yes, we know you don’t like the government (except when it’s restricting the freedom of others to take your stuff, of course.) We don’t need to hear you retell it for the millionth time. Do you have anything else to add? No? The STFU and let the adults talk.

  379. #380 Alex Deam
    May 17, 2009

    “Thanks to modern medicine, lifespans have increased 30 years in the last century. ”

    this is bullshit.

    citation, Raven?

    I’m not Raven, but here’s one from the WHO:

    http://www.who.int/global_health_histories/seminars/presentation07.pdf

    Actually, when you look at the lifespans of people who reached adulthood (and don’t average in all the infant and early childhood deaths) it’s more like 18 months.

    If you include infant and early childhood mortality, and ignore improvements in housing and sanitation and then credit modern medicine, you have the makings of a great, self-serving myth…my great and great-great and great-great-great grandparents did not keel over at 40, or even 50 (many lived very active lives into their 80’s and 90’s) and most of yours probably didn’t either, unless they lived in a crowded slum or had other problems that had nothing to do with modern medicine.
    Time to put that myth to rest.

    Well of course your hypothesis is right if you chuck out of all the evidence against it. You can’t just ignore all the people that died before they reached adulthood. They were people too!

    And sure your “great-great-great grandparents” may not have died at 40/50, but so what? You’re not really getting the concept of an average, are you? While they might have lived into their 80s, others didn’t make it past 10.

    Raven, like many others before him, took life EXPECTENCY at birth, and equated it with life SPAN. Can you justify this?

    Yes, from Wikipedia (there are plenty of other, better, sources out there that give the same results):

    *Life expectancy is the average number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is the average expected lifespan of an individual.
    *Life span refers to the typical length of time that any particular organism can be expected to live.

    I really don’t see what’s so different about those two definitions.

  380. #381 'Tis Himself
    May 17, 2009

    The libertarian concept of “freedom” essentially boils down to self-ownership. The idea is that you own your body and your mind and all fruits thereof, and that no one else has any right to use these things without your consent.

    And when I’m all grown up I’m going to eat pizza for dinner every day and never eat spinach and I’m going to go stay up as long as I want and I won’t ever wash my hair so soap won’t get in my eyes. And nobody can stop me. So there, nyah!

  381. #382 Bachalon
    May 17, 2009

    Alex Deam,

    The difference is this: the life expectancy of a 70 year old, even in good health is going to be far shorter than that of a five year old, whereas, barring unforeseen events like disease or accident, they both may have a similar life span.

  382. #383 maureen Brian
    May 17, 2009

    Logic, Bachalon, logic!

    If you rule out both disease and accident, which account for approaching 100% of all deaths, then the 5 year old, the 70 year old and all the rest of us are going to have a life span and a life expectancy approaching infinity.

    (I have not yet worked out how to do an infinity symbol on my computer – may I live long enough to do so.)

  383. #384 Alex Deam
    May 17, 2009

    On the general topic of state healthcare and freedom, a good article by Steven Landsburg:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2133518/

    I’ve just read the article, and it’s actually a poor piece of journalism.

    Let’s examine what he says:

    Here, for the edification of bloggers everywhere, is an example of an economic consideration: If you ask people?and especially poor people?what their most dire needs are, you’ll find that “guaranteed ventilator support” ranks pretty low on the list. OK, I haven’t actually done a survey, but I’m going out on a limb here and predicting that something like, say, milk, is going to rank a lot higher up the priority list than ventilator insurance.

    Well he hasn’t done a survey, so why should I bother listening to his point of view? He hasn’t done any science, just thought about his own opinion, and yet Walton posts a link to this article calling it “good”. Walton, this is a science blog, so while we lambaste your usual libertarian philosophical basis for your views, we’re likely to find articles that are so blase about empirical evidence even less gratifying.

    So far, so hand-waving.

    In fact, I’ll go further. The back of my envelope says that a lifetime’s worth of ventilator insurance costs somewhere around $75. I’m going to hazard a guess that if, on her 21st birthday, you’d asked Tirhas Habtegiris to select her own $75 present, she wouldn’t have asked for ventilator insurance. She might have picked $75 worth of groceries; she might have picked a new pair of shoes; she might have picked a few CDs, but not ventilator insurance.

    Where did the 21st birthday come from? This woman was removed from her ventilator when she was 27! Of course if you asked her what she would do with $75 on her 21st birthday she wasn’t going to answer “ventilator insurance”. Most people wouldn’t. I reckon if you asked her what she would do with that $75 a few days ago when the prospect of running out of money to keep herself alive was very very real, she would’ve gone for ventilator insurance every time.

    She might even have picked something health-care related?a thorough physical exam, or, if there were better markets for this sort of thing, $75 worth of health or disability insurance. I doubt very much, though, that with $75 to spend, she’d have chosen to insure against needing a ventilator as opposed to any of the other minor and major catastrophes to which we mortals are susceptible.

    That’s the point though. $75 doesn’t go very far at all. As the writer says, that amount is just enough to pay for the ventilator insurance. Having that $75 wouldn’t have suddenly made Tirhas Habtegiris not poor anymore. If she was earning the amount of say Joe the Plumber, then she could afford plenty of CDs, milk and the ventilator insurance. Buying a CD means little to Joe the Plumber, because he can buy lots and lots, whereas to her, it’s probably a rare event, so given $75 on her 21st birthday, she’d be off down the nearest shop to buy some music or whatever. Joe the Plumber will still have money left over for ventilator insurance after he’s bought his CDs. She won’t.

    Now let me remind you what “compassion” means. According to Merriam-Webster Online (which, by virtue of being online, really ought to be easily accessible to bloggers), compassion is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” By that definition, there is nothing particularly compassionate about giving ventilator insurance to a person who really feels a more urgent need for milk or eggs. One might even say that choosing to ignore the major sources of others’ distress is precisely the opposite of sympathetic consciousness.

    No, because their “distress” for milk was when they were 21, not when they were 27. These bloggers weren’t arguing about this woman 6 years ago. Their compassion comes when the distress comes. The major source of this woman’s distress in the last few weeks(?) has been the ventilator insurance. So they aren’t ignoring the major source of her distress. That is the major source of her distress!

    I think Steven E. Landsburg should go look up the Merriam-Webster definition of “time”.

    There is room for a great deal of disagreement about how much assistance rich people should give to poor people, either voluntarily or through the tax system. But surely whatever we do spend should be spent in the ways that are most helpful.

    Therefore there’s no use arguing that the real tradeoff should not be ventilators versus milk but ventilators versus tax cuts, or ventilators versus foreign wars. It’s one thing to say we should spend more to help the poor, but quite another to say that what we’re currently spending should be spent ineffectively.

    Of course money shouldn’t be spent ineffectively, that’s why it makes a lot more sense to not give all poor people $75 to do with what they want, but use all that money to guarantee ventilator insurance for everyone. You can’t just throw money out and expect it to do good things automatically. It has to be targeted. You can have some sort of benefits system like we do in the UK, but don’t expect it to guarantee health care or education unless those things are decided upon by society as a whole (i.e. state health care and schools). It’s the same reason that Gordon Brown’s Keynesian stimulus which is 70+% tax cut isn’t that wonderful because it’s not targeted. Better to have spent the majority of that money on green technology and housing.

    You can’t do that with every government service. You can’t offer people a choice between police protection and its cash value, because police patrols tend to protect entire neighborhoods at once, not just specific individuals. You might not want to offer people a choice between a flu vaccine and its cash value, because you’d really prefer to have vaccinated neighbors. But critical life support isn’t like that; the benefits are targeted to specific individuals. There’s no reason those individuals shouldn’t be allowed to choose different benefits if they want them.

    Actually it’s exactly like that. A public health service that’s free at the point of use is exactly like that. It doesn’t benefit individuals any more than the police benefit individuals because they might stop individual people becoming victims of crime. A health service is there for everyone to use, it’s then up to the gods of fate who will actually use it. It protects entire neighbourhoods, just like the police, but then specific individuals use the service, just like those who call the police.

    And it’s a stupid false dichotomy he’s presenting anyway. So the poor can either have health care or benefits? Why not both? We do here.

    A policy of helping everyone who needs a ventilator is a policy of spending less to help the same class of people in other ways.

    If they don’t have the ventilator insurance, then they die, just like this woman. If they’re dead, then you can’t buy them milk.

    Seriously Walton, you’re backing up your views with an article that answers no to the question, “Do the Poor Deserve Life Support?” Sounds pretty 19th Century to me.

  384. #385 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Alex Deam, the difference lies in what exactly you’re trying to say about some population.

    In the case of lifespan vs. life expectancy, the term ‘lifespan’ might more accurately answer the question “How old, in general, are the oldest members of a population?”, although ‘maximum lifespan’ is more accurate.

    For instance, consider two populations: one with high infant mortality and a relatively stable mortality rate throughout life after the age of 5, and one with a low infant mortality rate and a relatively stable mortality rate throughout life after the age of 5. At birth, a member of the first population will have a relatively lower life expectancy than a member of the second population. However, their life expectancies after the age of 5 will be the same.

    What most people think when they hear the term ‘life expectancy’ is the age at which the average member of the population can expect to die of age-related causes (ie, ‘dying of old age’, or to use the biological term, senescence), but that idea is more accurately represented by maximum lifespan. In the case of the two populations I described above, the life expectancy at birth is very different, whereas the longevity (which is what most people are interested in) is exactly the same.

    If you rule out both disease and accident, which account for approaching 100% of all deaths, then the 5 year old, the 70 year old and all the rest of us are going to have a life span and a life expectancy approaching infinity.

    That’s not true maureen. All species (except perhaps some tortoises) experience senescence, a period after which an organism’s repair mechanisms stop functioning as well. How this works in different species, and why tortoises may not experience it is still an ongoing area of research. This is not the same as disease, and it’s not useful to equate the two.

  385. #386 Alex Deam
    May 17, 2009

    Bachalon, we’re talking about life expectancy from birth, or at least that’s what Isabel said.

    Plus what maureen said.

  386. #387 Alex Deam
    May 17, 2009

    Brownian, to reiterate my #386, we’re talking about life expectancy at birth, and lifespan. That’s what Isabel said were different, and that’s what I’m arguing against.

  387. #388 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Plus what maureen said.

    As I noted, that’s not correct. If it were, then the age-specific mortality rates for all species would remain constant or slightly decrease throughout life (as susceptibility to injury would reduce as an organism gains experience, and susceptibility to disease would reduce as an organism’s immune system gains antibodies through exposure.)

    This is not the case.

    Both of you might be interested in reading up on age-specific mortality rates, life tables, and the general fields of population biology and population health (the former dealing with non-human species, the latter with humans.)

  388. #389 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Yes Alex, but I’m trying to demonstrate why Isabel’s point has some merit, that life expectancy is just one of many indicators of population health, that it’s an oversimplification of a complex process, and that’s it’s poorly-understood and generally misleading, especially for the lay public.

  389. #390 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Unfortunately, I’ve got to head out for the day and so won’t be able to continue this discussion for awhile.

    Have a good one, everybody!

  390. #391 Walton
    May 17, 2009

    Of course money shouldn’t be spent ineffectively, that’s why it makes a lot more sense to not give all poor people $75 to do with what they want, but use all that money to guarantee ventilator insurance for everyone. You can’t just throw money out and expect it to do good things automatically. It has to be targeted. You can have some sort of benefits system like we do in the UK, but don’t expect it to guarantee health care or education unless those things are decided upon by society as a whole (i.e. state health care and schools). It’s the same reason that Gordon Brown’s Keynesian stimulus which is 70+% tax cut isn’t that wonderful because it’s not targeted. Better to have spent the majority of that money on green technology and housing.

    So… you’re basically saying that individuals can’t be trusted to spend their own money on beneficial things, and that it’s better for the Nanny State (which always knows best) to spend it for them?

    No thanks. I’d rather trust individuals than government.

    If the federal government suddenly gave every low-income person in America a large pile of cash, some of them would be sensible and spend it on health insurance. Others would be foolish and squander it on alcohol and fripperies. (Let’s call them A and B.) Then let’s say that A and B, a few months later, both become chronically ill and need urgent surgery. A, because he’s been sensible and spent his cash handout on health insurance, will be treated. B, on the other hand, will not be treated and will die. This, in a nutshell, is justice – wise choices are rewarded, and foolish ones punished. And it all happens without any government control.

  391. #392 SC, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Enjoy your day, Brownian!

  392. #393 Brownian, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Thanks, SC. Wedding season is upon us, and I’ve been conscripted as a date.

  393. #394 Knockgoats
    May 17, 2009

    Then let’s say that A and B, a few months later, both become chronically ill and need urgent surgery. A, because he’s been sensible and spent his cash handout on health insurance, will be treated. B, on the other hand, will not be treated and will die. This, in a nutshell, is justice – wise choices are rewarded, and foolish ones punished. And it all happens without any government control. – Walton

    Walton, you’re a fucking scumbag when you follow your loathsome ideology, you really are. The death penalty for making foolish choices.

  394. #395 maureen Brian
    May 17, 2009

    I’m with you, Brownian. That’s why I said “approaching 100%.” I’m well aware of senescence but you will know far more than I about the interplay between senescence and a whole range of chronic but non-fatal conditions.

    Very few of us are going to reach the age of, say, 90 without having a little personal checklist of things which have gone wrong earlier / become less efficient over time. Have you time to tell us more about how and whether these interact with the body’s general loss of the ability to repair itself?

    Has any work been done on how attitude – assuming reasonable mental health – affects all this? I think of my late husband – determined to the point of bloody-minded, no religious belief – with a cancer and metastases all over the place who said to me with perfect lucidity, “I’ve decided to stop fighting this.” and died within a couple of hours. Yes, he was very ill but nothing about the disease caused him to die at that moment. In fact, the specialist staff around him had him scheduled for chemo in 48 hours and were visibly surprised.

    If there are any journal articles on this, might I beg you for a link?

  395. #396 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 17, 2009

    You are right Knockgoats, the libertardians are their own worst enemy when they open their mouths and spout their morally bankrupt philosophy. What they see as the virtue in their philosophy, we see as criminal action.

  396. #397 Isabel
    May 17, 2009

    ” “Thanks to modern medicine, lifespans have increased 30 years in the last century. ”

    this is bullshit.

    citation, Raven?

    I’m not Raven, but here’s one from the WHO:”

    Raven said nothing about averages.

    And when a person hears a statement like Raven’s, it is usually in a context that implies that most people died in their 40s before Modern Medicine came along to save the day. I must have heard hundreds of times that old age, and even menopause(!!!!) are modern inventions. This is ridiculous, but serves to glorify MM.

    As Brownian pointed out, a better measure would start at age 5 (yes there were tons of infant and early childhood deaths in my genealogy also, which would indeed bring the average down to 40ish), though he doesn’t give us a resulting figure to counter Raven’s 30 years assertion, and apparently there are other periods that skew the numbers(war deaths and death during childbirth of very young females?-not sure), but if a person had the fitness and luck to reach full adulthood, yes they generally lived to a ripe old age, even without the help of “modern medicine”. I don’t have the numbers at my fingertips at the moment, and don’t see them in the WHO document, but I have seen them, and the difference is more accurately measured in months than years.

    The WHO document continues the pattern, with sensationalist, crisis-implying titles like “The Graying World” again implying that people did not live to old age in the past. And yes, we are prolonging life a bit now, but the BIG difference is that many more people are surviving childhood. I am really not sure of the best way to express that, but I don’t think it’s through average life expectancy. And Brownian, I am not anti-MM, as you suggest – just against self-serving myth-making.

  397. #398 Carlie
    May 17, 2009

    If the federal government suddenly gave every low-income person in America a large pile of cash, some of them would be sensible and spend it on health insurance. Others would be foolish and squander it on alcohol and fripperies

    the debt they accumulated the last time their car had to be fixed or they’d lose their job due to not having transportation, or to pay for their kid’s braces that they should have gotten a year ago, or to buy their kids clothes that actually fit, or to fix the hole in the wall that has been there since they fell into it two years ago, etc., etc.
    Seriously Walton, you have NO IDEA what it means to be poor, or what the needs and pressures of the poor are.

  398. #399 Knockgoats
    May 17, 2009

    Isabel,

    “I don’t have the numbers at my fingertips at the moment, and don’t see them in the WHO document, but I have seen them, and the difference is more accurately measured in months than years.”

    Wrong.

    From:
    The evolution of death rates and life expectancy in Denmark
    Authors: Soslashren Fiig Jarner; Esben Masotti Kryger; Chresten Dengsoslashe
    Scandinavian Actuarial Journal, Volume 2008, Issue 2 & 3 2008 , pages 147 – 173
    “From 1835 to date Denmark has experienced an increase in life expectancy at birth of about 40 years for both sexes. Over the course of the last 170 years, life expectancy at birth has increased from 40 to 80 years for women and from 36 to 76 years for men, and it continues to rise. Using a new methodology, we show that about half of the total historic increase can be attributed to the sharp decline in infant and young age death rates up to 1950. However, life expectancy gains from 1950 to date can be primarily attributed to improvements in the age-specific death rates for the age group from 50 to 80, although there is also a noticeable contribution from the further decline in infant mortality over this period.”

    Your comment is an interesting example of what I call the “second-level factoid”.
    First-level factoid: almost everyone used to die young, and modern medicine means we now all live many years longer.
    Second-level factoid (waved about whenever the corresponding first-level factoid is seen): almost all the difference in life expectancy is down to reduced infant mortality; once past 5, people lived pretty much as long as they do now.
    Fact: both factoids are false, and not just marginally false either.

  399. #400 Isabel
    May 17, 2009

    Knockgoats, you only show the results for one region, I saw a different study. Also,even your example supports a less than 20 year increase, though it is difficult to interpret. Furthermore, there is no indication of how much “modern medicine” had to do with it. As I’ve pointed out there are many other factors involved.

    The rest of your comment makes little sense to me – I did not assert any of those factoids.

    My main point was conflating life span and average life expectancy is misleading, and gives lay people the impression, thanks mainly to poor journalism, that old age is some kind of modern phenomenon.

  400. #401 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 17, 2009

    Seriously Walton, you have NO IDEA what it means to be poor, or what the needs and pressures of the poor are.

    Walton is operating in never-never land, where everybody has an upper class job, an upper class salary, and upper class perks. And nobody is made redundant and requires a year or so to find even a lesser job.

  401. #402 Alex Deam
    May 17, 2009

    So… you’re basically saying that individuals can’t be trusted to spend their own money on beneficial things, and that it’s better for the Nanny State (which always knows best) to spend it for them?

    Strawman time.

    It’s not “their own money”, it’s richer people’s money this “$75″ the writer was talking about.

    And if you want universal access to health care, you can’t just give anyone who can’t afford health care money, and expect that result. For starters, people who can’t afford health care can’t afford other things, as Carlie points out. So some of that money won’t go towards health care. Also, health care is generally something you don’t think about when you’re perfectly healthy. You’re more likely to spend money on decent housing than health care, because housing is a immediate need, whereas health care is a potential future need. A rich person though, as I already pointed out by pointing to Joe “OH NOES, my taxes are going up on my $250,000″ the Plumber, doesn’t have all these things to worry about. He can afford decent housing, clothing, education (not that that helped him) etc, and yet still have enough to pay for his health care. A poor person doesn’t have that “luxury”. It has nothing to do with “alcohol and fripperies” (and if they do waste benefits on that, they’ll regret it in the future), and suspect that that remark shines a blazing light on your libertarian philosophy. It probably all stems from a belief that the poor are all drug addicts or something.

    Similarly, if the goal is universal access to education, then you don’t just give everyone money and hope that’s what happens. You can’t expect millions of people to all act in the same way. If the money is meant to guarantee one social goal (like universal education) but (as you freely admit) is likely to be used for other things, then surely that goes against the whole idea of at least some of that money being spent? You’re the person who’s always going on about taxes being other people’s money, so what about my money? If I voted for a politician who wants universal access to health care, then that’s because I want the money that this politician puts towards universal health care to actually be used for that. If I want money to be spent on poor people so they can buy clothes (and I do, as it happens, agree with benefits systems in a general sense), then I will vote for that. If the money’s is only supposed to be used for health care because the politician never said anything about clothing or whatever, then why should it be used for anything else? And if this money is only supposed to be used for health care, then surely the most efficient way of providing health care is the best way to spend the tax money? And as I’ve outlined, state health care is more efficient at providing access to all, than hoping that millions of people all spend their benefits on the same one thing, especially when they probably won’t need that thing now, but some time in the distant future. The “Nanny” State may not always know best, but there are some things it’s best at providing.

    Seriously Walton, how hard is this to understand? I even gave it in terms you could understand. If the goal is universal health care, then that has to be guaranteed by the government. Homo economicus has been dead for a long time.

  402. #403 Knockgoats
    May 17, 2009

    Isabel,
    “Knockgoats, you only show the results for one region, I saw a different study.”

    Well, when you can actually find it, we can see if it says what you think you remember it says.

    “Also,even your example supports a less than 20 year increase, though it is difficult to interpret.”

    That’s not really “months rather than years”, is it?

    “Furthermore, there is no indication of how much “modern medicine” had to do with it. As I’ve pointed out there are many other factors involved.”

    Sure there are other factors. But when you add up vaccinations, antibiotics, aseptic surgery, anaesthetics, insulin (that one happened to give my father an extra 35 years), anti-hypertensives, statins, hip and knee replacement and cataract surgery (immobility shortens your life, quite apart from the quality of what you get), just to name a few of the more obvious achievements of modern medicine, it’s absurd to pretend this accounts for an average in months.

    “The rest of your comment makes little sense to me – I did not assert any of those factoids.”

    You said “we are prolonging life a bit now, but the BIG difference is that many more people are surviving childhood.” That pretty much is my “second-level factoid”.

    The 2001 UK census showed 1.1 million people over 85 – around a fivefold increase over 1951. Any rich country will show a similar pattern. It is simple fact that a lot more of those people who reach adulthood live into old age than used to; and that modern medicine has a great deal to do with this.

  403. #404 Isabel
    May 17, 2009

    “It is simple fact that a lot more of those people who reach adulthood live into old age than used to; and that modern medicine has a great deal to do with this.”

    Your comment above is vague. What are the figures? That is the whole point.

    Your factoids were wrong – why paraphrase and distort – just quote please when needed.

    The study I read was based on life expectancy at age 21, not 5, and ended a decade ago, comparing the beginning and end of the 20th century and the figure was 18 months. Also, the Denmark study was based on a much longer period than others have mentioned – “100 yrs” and “the 20th century” .

    Factors not considered; modern sanitation and less crowding in the cities, people are better educated and have better nutrition. Vaccinations and antibiotics have probably had the biggest impact as far as modern medicine. I’m not against advances, I support them. I am just against the exaggerated claims of the medical establishment.

  404. #405 strange gods before me
    May 17, 2009

    Walton,

    Is it? A person may inherit two categories of advantages from his or her parents: genetic advantages (such as intelligence, physical health, good looks) and environmental/social advantages (money, property, family connections, a stable upbringing, a good education). Societies based on “equality of opportunity” and a “level playing field” accept that the first category of advantages will generate inequality, while attempting to account and compensate for the second category of advantages.

    But why is the first category of advantage more “deserved” than the other? Why does the person who inherits intelligence or good looks from his parents “deserve” those advantages any more than the person who inherits money or family connections from his parents?

    Notice my emphasis on “If we’re going to have inequality of outcome”. I’m not convinced that equality of opportunity can be a stable arrangement, though it’s certainly a preferable goal over embracing inequality of opportunity, which would reproduce feudalism much more quickly. I would argue instead for equality of outcome, though I might settle for equality of opportunity if it can be stabilized.

    Onward with if. Feminists in particular have been trying to raise consciousness about lookism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lookism It may seem an unscalable obstacle, but so did other forms of discrimination that we now at least have a grip on. Physical health is no longer seen as an acceptable advantage; buildings and services are designed to accommodate disabled people, and every Western nation provides health care for all its citizens, except for the United States which just elected a President largely upon that promise.

    Now, intelligence does have a genetic component, and it’s true that this genetic component is not usually seen as unfair. Then again, we do make special accommodations for mentally retarded people, whether their conditions are due to genetic or environmental factors. I guess it’s more accurate to say that among those who are seen as neurotypical, relative genetic advantage is not seen as unfair. However, it’s also true that at the current time, the genetic component is dwarfed by the socioeconomic and educational opportunities of childhood (Nisbett, R.; Intelligence and How to Get It). And we do see those inequalities as unfair. When childhood socioeconomic status and education is made more equitable, genetic intelligence will finally emerge as the dominant variable. It’s hard for me to imagine attitudes about this advantage changing in my lifetime, but perhaps it is not perceived as very important because IQ accounts for no more than 1/6 of income differences. http://www.cogsci.ucsd.edu/~deak/classes/EDS115/Neisser_Intell_AmPsych_96.pdf

    Again, I am not of the opinion that any of these advantages are necessarily deserved or undeserved. Rather, I don’t see that distinction as useful. Since widening income inequality leads to violence, what’s “deserved” is less important than planning for peace. I shouldn’t have to repeat this, but since you’ve recently been reaching for a certain standby libertarian insult: “You favor positive action to redistribute funding from the rich to the poor, to provide what you define as a minimal level of welfare. If when you do it, you don’t mean that the poor are more deserving, then you can’t point at anyone else and claim that their motivations are fundamentally and necessarily different from your own.”

    But I see it as a practical, not a moral, imperative to facilitate social mobility.

    Are you sure that’s what you really think? In this very thread you said it was a moral imperative to feed poor children. Is that only because their suffering would be terrible? Isn’t it also because they can’t have a chance to succeed if their brains don’t get adequate nutrition?

    I think we’re relying on different definitions of “freedom”. The libertarian concept of “freedom” essentially boils down to self-ownership. The idea is that you own your body and your mind and all fruits thereof, and that no one else has any right to use these things without your consent. Thus, if you starve to death, your “freedom” has not been infringed, because no one has interfered with your sovereignty over your body; just as your car running out of fuel, or breaking down, does not mean that anyone has interfered with your ownership of your car. By contrast, if some or all of the fruits of your labour are confiscated for the benefit of others, then your “freedom” -that is, your ownership of your body and mind and everything which proceeds from the use thereof – has been violated. Just as, if you own an apple tree and someone else takes the apples from it, your property rights have been violated.

    I’m sure it’s just coincidence that right-wing libertarians’ definition of freedom happens to allow rich people to ignore their own power, or claim that power to be politically irrelevant.

    Are you up to the challenge of having this discussion without an ideological crutch? Put down the definition, and speak to me sincerely of what you yourself can feel accurate. Are you free to walk down the street? Presumably so. Are you free to flap your arms and fly like a bird? No, and so here’s a meaningful distinction: freedom must include ability. You cannot be said to be free to do something if you are not able to do it. We call these distinctions degrees of freedom.

    So we come to a truth that polite society sometimes finds embarrassing. Power and freedom are synonyms. Freedom is the more polite word, but power is what you can do, and freedom is what you can do. No? Maybe? Well, it seems you agreed with me last week, when a medieval single woman who lost her access to the guilds — power — was suddenly less free, even if no one was robbing her of her goods.

    And wealth generally confers power, certainly, so greater wealth generally confers more freedom. But here’s where the right-wing libertarian definition turns out to be internally inconsistent, as lies so often do. The rich man is said to not be more free than the poor man. Yet when I start to take the rich man’s wealth, what a cry goes up! I’m infringing upon his freedom! Oh, I agree, his wealth is a consolidation of his freedom, but that means the poorer man cannot be said to be equally free.

    Wealth tends to confer power/freedom because to accumulate wealth opens up opportunities. Well, we can ensure opportunities in many ways; personal wealth is not the only means. Education, food, healthcare, contraception, shelter, if we’re going to talk about equal freedom, these are some of the ways we can make it happen.

    Unless you hate freedom. :)

  405. #406 strange gods before me
    May 17, 2009

    the debt they accumulated the last time their car had to be fixed or they’d lose their job due to not having transportation, or to pay for their kid’s braces that they should have gotten a year ago, or to buy their kids clothes that actually fit, or to fix the hole in the wall that has been there since they fell into it two years ago, etc., etc. Seriously Walton, you have NO IDEA what it means to be poor, or what the needs and pressures of the poor are.

    Carlie, you mustn’t make our dear Walton feel uncomfortable. Look at how he speaks again and again of the “deserving” and “undeserving.” It’s important that the poor be explicable as morally flawed. Why, it just wouldn’t be fair if there were poor people out there doing everything they’re supposed to be doing, still unable to afford bootstraps.

    But this isn’t a nineteenth century morality play about how the rich are morally superior, nope.

  406. #407 strange gods before me
    May 17, 2009

    Walton, I have a homework assignment for you. You’ve said you’re lacking in empathy. Good on you for noticing. But this means something morally significant; it means you’re making judgments that affect other peoples lives — as we all are — while you are unable to sufficiently accurately predict what those subjective effects will be.

    In order for you to be able to hope that you’re being fair, you’re going to have to cultivate more empathy. I can’t insist that you have to care what happens to other people. But you have to be able to vicariously feel it. That’s the minimum of what empathy entails. And without that much, you’re condemned to make unjust decisions, forever unable to predict your effects on others.

    You’re evidently at least able to empathize with a starving child. Start from there if necessary. I’ve got some decent advice if you want it.

  407. #408 BlueIndependent
    May 18, 2009

    Since nobody has yet addressed Kevin at 318, I will.

    Kevin, not sure if you are a passerby to this blog, or someone who watches but never posts until feeling compelled to on this thread, but there are a lot of serious logic holes in what you post, and you are taking a very subjective tack with your opinion.

    Starting with this one:

    “…More people are now employed to treat cancer than there are people who are diagnosed with cancer each year (that’s over 500,000!)…”

    …that’s rather easy to explain. I hate to break it to you, but the medical profession is rather flooded with students and people trying to become doctors. Why? Because in part, it’s guaranteed work (unless you REALLY screw up and lose your license) for life, and it pays pretty damn well. That there are more people capable of treating cancers than have cancer I would think would be a good thing. It means on some level the system is working and services are available for an epidemic that affects everyone on some level. But you figure only says “people are now employed to treat cancer”, which could mean a lot of things. Do you mean people actually treating it, or people researching, studying, treating, etc.? Either way, how is it any skin off your back if there’s more than the population? If there were less you’d probably be here complaining that some other event was causing a shortage of services.

    As for the profit of drug companies, I do not necessarily disagree. BUT, there are some very good drugs available for treating different cancers. Labeling them all as “toxic” and “poison”, especially using all caps (which really betrays whatever point you were trying to make), is simply ludicrous and unfair, and ignores the fact that people get better through these methods on a daily basis. You make it sound as if anyone that uses drug company cancer treatments is a sell-out signing their death warrant to a shadowy system built on nothing but myths. My wife is a nurse who deals with cancer patients of all ages and stripes weekly; she would quickly and handily disabuse you of your claims, and for every “alternative remedy” you use she has a story about how a patient who thought the same things as you on the way to their deaths. And might I add, both her family and mine have and continue to deal with cancer in our families using treatments you deride as hopeless and inhumane without the negative results you are so sure will happen.

    The drug companies are certainly trying to conduct their experiments on many unsuspecting people in society, but that is in part a deterioration of regulations and a simultaneous increase in the marketing ingenuity of such companies in order to get their products out. We see some of the same problems you do, but we come to different conclusions. And nobody here will argue that America is less healthy that it used to be. Making pleas toward diet and exercise fall on deaf ears here because everyone already gets it. You are not saying anything novel, just as Laura further up the reply line here thought she was breaking ground by telling us eating McDonald’s was bad for our health. Your argument treats your audience like children.

  408. #409 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Isabel:

    “It is simple fact that a lot more of those people who reach adulthood live into old age than used to; and that modern medicine has a great deal to do with this.”

    Your comment above is vague. What are the figures? That is the whole point.

    Well, your quotemining missed some. Knockgoats said:

    The 2001 UK census showed 1.1 million people over 85 – around a fivefold increase over 1951. Any rich country will show a similar pattern. It is simple fact that a lot more of those people who reach adulthood live into old age than used to; and that modern medicine has a great deal to do with this.

    And there are other figures in Knockgoats’ previous comment too.

    The study I read was based on life expectancy at age 21, not 5, and ended a decade ago, comparing the beginning and end of the 20th century and the figure was 18 months.

    Forgive me if I’ve got this wrong, but isn’t your argument basically, “Modern medicine hasn’t given us the massive improvements in our lives that we like to think it has”. I don’t see why. Your evidence for this statement is that life expectancy at the age of 21 has only gone up by 18 months over the course of the 20th Century. But why are you ignoring the people who die before the age of 21? Surely if you want to objectively as possible evaluate the good done by modern medicine, you shouldn’t cherry pick a specific group of people, but consider all people? “The Graying World” may well be false, but surely “The Lower Infant Mortality World” isn’t?

  409. #410 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    Feminists in particular have been trying to raise consciousness about lookism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lookism It may seem an unscalable obstacle, but so did other forms of discrimination that we now at least have a grip on.

    Hang on. “Lookism” isn’t necessarily a form of discrimination that can be, or should be, eliminated – and I say this as an admittedly ugly person myself.

    Certainly, if I were being discriminated against in economic, professional or academic life because of my looks, then that would be unacceptable. But I’m not.

    Rather, the major handicap conferred by my looks is that I’m unable to have a romantic relationship. In a sense, that might be “discrimination”, but it’s a legitimate form of discrimination; everyone discriminates between people to whom they are attracted and people to whom they are not.

    It’s just as absurd, therefore, as complaining about “intelligencism” and pointing out that stupid people are significantly less likely than intelligent people to be employed in a number of professions. This is true; but the reason for this disparity is that their intelligence actually impacts on their ability to do the job.

    Discrimination, itself, is not inherently bad. It’s only bad when the factors on which one is discriminating are irrelevant to the task in hand. So discriminating against a potential employee because of his or her race, hair colour or sexual orientation is bad; but discriminating against him or her because of intelligence and competence is clearly not bad. (I presume even you wouldn’t advocate that employers should be forced to take a certain number of incompetent employees?)

    Similarly, with disabilities, these can be relevant to employment and, therefore, a legitimate reason for discrimination. If you run a small business with minimal cashflow, the cost of installing wheelchair access in all facilities may be prohibitive; and there are some (physical) jobs which simply require an able-bodied person. That said, I’m all in favour of fighting against disability discrimination in situations where it isn’t defensible; universities, for instance, really need to do more to facilitate access for the disabled. (Oxford colleges, with their old buildings, are notoriously bad in that regard.)

    The point I’m trying to make is that not every natural disadvantage can be, or should be, eliminated – because some of them are actually relevant to one’s ability to perform in society. An intelligent person will succeed, and should succeed, in professional life more easily than one lacking in intelligence. Similarly, an attractive person will find it easier to have a fulfilling sex life than an unattractive person will (being unattractive myself, I speak from personal experience). Neither of these disparities is simply a social contruct which can be eliminated; they’re natural advantages in one’s ability to function in society.

  410. #411 Kitty
    May 18, 2009

    Walton
    I’m glad you replied to me and that you have friends, though they are somewhat limited in their ability to engage you in anything other than your chosen views.

    I’m a cadet in the OTC (Officers Training Corps) and meet people through that, and I’m also active in my university’s Conservative Association.

    I too would suggest some homework in order to improve your empathic sense and broaden your horizons.
    One of my suggestions was voluntary work. What about a homeless shelter, Help the Aged, or a PHAB club? I don’t mean giving or raising money I mean get your hands dirty and get involved – give your time, you seem to have lots to spare.
    You’re a law student? Offer your research expertise to the charities who help people who are in debt. Meet these feckless poor, learn about who they really are. It will help your career if you need libertarian motivation – or will you only be interested in law for the rich? (Dog forbid you have your eyes on a political career!)
    Perhaps then you’ll see that this ideology is derelict. But somehow I doubt it. Your arrogance and determination to return us to feudalism is ingrained, your social scene chosen to reinforce your prejudice and your mind is closed to alternatives to your narrow philosophy.
    A word of advice. You might want to tone down the fascism – your lords and masters in the Tory party get twitchy around election time when their minions become too (openly) right wing – it loses them votes. And they aren’t unknown for slapping down the uppity youth when their rantings threaten to upset the apple cart.

  411. #412 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    I would argue instead for equality of outcome, though I might settle for equality of opportunity if it can be stabilized.

    So, in a society with equality of outcome, how would you get around the inherent problem with socialism? That is, how would you ensure that wealth creation and productivity are incentivised?

    Like it or not, consumer capitalism – for all its flaws – has a vast, and proven, capacity for wealth generation, innovation, and producing consumer goods and services. That’s why all Western nations have, to some degree or another, market economies with private ownership and disparities of wealth. I assume that you will concede this fact. I, in turn, will concede that consumer capitalism, in itself, also creates huge disparities between rich and poor, and that such disparities are (rightly or wrongly) usually seen as unacceptable; hence why all Western nations have, to some degree or another, a social safety net.

    Hence most people agree that a combination of a generally capitalist economy with a social safety net and provision for public education – that is to say, a mixed economy – is a desirable compromise, because it allows us to combine wealth creation with provision for the poorest and some equalisation of opportunities. What we haggle over is, fundamentally, the balance between the two. I would like to see the UK, at least, swing somewhat away from socialism and towards capitalism; but, that said, I would not abolish welfare, nor public funding of education, nor would I privatise all remaining public infrastructure. And as regards the US, I wouldn’t necessarily have less government assistance than at present; I just think it could be spent more effectively, since your social safety net is, as far as I can see, a hodgepodge of inefficient systems and bureaucracy.

    So while I have a tendency to use over-the-top rhetoric for dramatic effect – “taxation is theft”, “government is coercion”, etc – I don’t think we’re poles apart, really. We just approach things from different angles and describe them in different language.

  412. #413 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Kitty, don’t tell Walton that. I want the Tories to lose votes.

    And Walton, you’re essentially attacking a strawman. Nowhere in strange gods’ comment did he even suggest that he disagreed with, “Rather, the major handicap conferred by my looks is that I’m unable to have a romantic relationship. In a sense, that might be “discrimination”, but it’s a legitimate form of discrimination; everyone discriminates between people to whom they are attracted and people to whom they are not” or, “Discrimination, itself, is not inherently bad. It’s only bad when the factors on which one is discriminating are irrelevant to the task in hand.”

    The fact that you’re not willing to just take his comment as a generalization, and not a “law”, means you’re either stupidly pedantic, or you’re ideological enough to want to draw attention to the idea that some discriminations have limits, and therefore make some pathetic slippery slope argument in your head.

    Similarly, with disabilities, these can be relevant to employment and, therefore, a legitimate reason for discrimination. If you run a small business with minimal cashflow, the cost of installing wheelchair access in all facilities may be prohibitive

    That to me is not a legitimate reason to discriminate. If you can’t provide access to disabled people, then your business can fuck off.

  413. #414 Anonymous
    May 18, 2009

    Sorry Alex! Got carried away – damn!
    So Walton Lookism is all about why you don’t get laid? Did you actually understand anything I said upthread about inner beauty?
    Apart from that Lookism is a real threat to excellence in many fields.
    A simple example – I won’t name names as it would embarrass those concerned.
    Singing student A has a fine, successful career. She’s beautiful, has a great figure and is world renowned. Her voice is very good but not exceptional. I’m thrilled for her.
    Her contemporary, singing student B consistently outshone her in college, received two prestigious awards, and scored higher than any previous student in the performance part of her degree. She is struggling to get work. She is short, has a dumpy figure, and ‘quirky’ looks.
    Their sex lives are of no interest whatsoever – the point is that we are all suffering the loss of B’s wonderful voice because she doesn’t look like a model.
    Simple enough for you now?

  414. #415 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    So, in a society with equality of outcome, how would you get around the inherent problem with socialism? That is, how would you ensure that wealth creation and productivity are incentivised?

    A policy of “equality of outcome” does not mean socialism, Walton. If everyone was forced to have equality of outcome, then you would get some sort of socialist/communist-type state, but forcing equality of outcome is very different from aiming for equality of outcome. Besides, isn’t the incentive problem more a problem of communism than socialism?

    Like it or not, consumer capitalism – for all its flaws – has a vast, and proven, capacity for wealth generation, innovation, and producing consumer goods and services. That’s why all Western nations have, to some degree or another, market economies with private ownership and disparities of wealth.

    700 years ago, they probably said the same thing about feudalism. Capitalism has many benefits, but to say that:

    1. That means that capitalism is the best economic system
    2. That’s why Western nations have it

    is not a good argument IMO. Capitalism (with caveats) is the best system precisely because of the failures of the other systems.

    I would like to see the UK, at least, swing somewhat away from socialism and towards capitalism

    WTF? What are you on, Walton? How in any way shape or form is the UK close to socialism, or far away from capitalism?

    Do you watch the news? Do you know the government’s trying to part-privatize the Royal fucking Mail? Do you know about this economic recession we’re in, caused by effectively “too much capitalism”?

  415. #416 Kitty
    May 18, 2009

    That was me at #414! I’m sticking to signing in, consigning typekey to the trash.

  416. #417 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Anonymous (who I assume is Kitty):

    Isn’t your example basically what happened to a girl who was going to sing during the Beijing Olympics?

  417. #418 Bachalon
    May 18, 2009

    Walton, at that conference (sorry to bring that up again, but I’m very interested in your experiences there especially since you said you don’t want to go back), did you attempt to engage anyone about homosexuality?

    Also, what else happened that turned you off of the whole idea? Did you come away with the sense that these were people you would want to work with?

  418. #419 John Morales
    May 18, 2009

    Walton,

    Rather, the major handicap conferred by my looks is that I’m unable to have a romantic relationship.

    I disbelieve this – you sure this isn’t self-pity speaking?
    At the very least, the most you could truthfully say is that you think that it makes it difficult to begin such a relationship.

    Walton, consider this: If you would not eschew a potential romantic partner because of her looks, why are you assuming she will shun you for such a reason?

  419. #420 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    One of my suggestions was voluntary work. What about a homeless shelter, Help the Aged, or a PHAB club? I don’t mean giving or raising money I mean get your hands dirty and get involved – give your time, you seem to have lots to spare.
    You’re a law student? Offer your research expertise to the charities who help people who are in debt. Meet these feckless poor, learn about who they really are. It will help your career if you need libertarian motivation – or will you only be interested in law for the rich? (Dog forbid you have your eyes on a political career!)

    One of my best friends on my course – who’s a bit of a leftie by inclination – used to work for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. She told me I’d hate it (knowing well that I tend to have a fairly unsympathetic attitude towards the general public and their legal mistakes).

    As to only being interested in law for the rich: I have no desire to work in City commercial law (and opportunities in that field are somewhat diminished at present, in any case). And I don’t have the confidence or advocacy skills to be a barrister. So no, I’m no more interested in “law for the rich” than in “law for the poor”.

    As to a political career; having barely survived a term as an officeholder in the Conservative Association here, the words “hell no” come to mind. I can’t handle the abuse that high-profile public figures have to deal with. I’m also not charismatic enough, and don’t have good enough people skills, to get to the top in modern-day politics.

    What I’d really like to do is carry on studying and eventually progress to a doctorate, but I’m unlikely to be able to afford to fund myself unless I do a few years of work first. At the moment I’m hoping to go into the civil service; I’ve been advised by several people that I’d be good at that line of work. (Though I’m slightly worried that in the vetting process – which is notoriously stringent for UK civil service positions – they might follow the Internet paper trail, read my comments on this site – where I’ve been much more candid about myself than I ever am in real life – and reject me on the grounds of my mental instability and radical political outlook.)

  420. #421 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    Walton, consider this: If you would not eschew a potential romantic partner because of her looks, why are you assuming she will shun you for such a reason?

    When did I say that I wouldn’t eschew a potential romantic partner because of her looks? I’m certainly not excessively picky, but, even so, I can’t help the fact that I’m more attracted to some people than to others. That’s a biological and chemical reaction, not an intellectual judgment. Likewise, I accept the fact that most women are not attracted to me on a physical level, however much they might like me as a person. It’s not a matter of choice or of intellect, but of biological hardwiring.

  421. #422 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    Ugly people get into relationships all the time. Unless you are the elephant man, you really can’t use that one as an excuse.

  422. #423 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    It’s not a matter of choice or of intellect, but of biological hardwiring.

    So you don’t think cultural conditioning plays any part?

  423. #424 Kitty
    May 18, 2009

    Alex – exactly the same as the Olympics but this may end a career before it’s begun. She gets the auditions on the strength of her CV and Demo but as soon as they see her it’s “thanks but no thanks” – apart from radio work. Hah!

    Of course Walton doesn’t watch the news! He won’t pay his TV license because the left wing have taken over the BBC and tell us all lies about his precious capitalist system. He only reads the news when it agrees with him.

    One of my best friends on my course – who’s a bit of a leftie by inclination – used to work for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. She told me I’d hate it (knowing well that I tend to have a fairly unsympathetic attitude towards the general public and their legal mistakes).

    All the more reason to do it!

    Anyway I’m off to peace and tranquillity for a few days away from the insanity that is Walton.
    You haven’t driven me away Walton, but I’ll think twice before engaging with you in the future. I’ve never liked Tory supremacists and it looks like you’re growing up to be a prime example of the type.

  424. #425 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    That to me is not a legitimate reason to discriminate. If you can’t provide access to disabled people, then your business can fuck off.

    So you’re happy for businesses to become insolvent, creating more unemployment and harming the economy, just for the sake of enforcing disability access laws?

    Let’s be realistic. Multinational corporations can afford to adapt to provide full disabled access, and, IMO, should do so; I have no problem with Tesco or KPMG being required to comply with equality legislation. But local family-run businesses with a handful of employees simply can’t – and, on your preferred policy, you’d put them out of work, increasing the number of welfare claimants and reducing the number of viable businesses, simply to assuage your own conscience.

  425. #426 John Morales
    May 18, 2009

    Walton,

    When did I say that I wouldn’t eschew a potential romantic partner because of her looks.

    If you ever do, shame on you, and it would be your loss, as well. Never mind.

  426. #427 maureen Brian
    May 18, 2009

    Walton @ 421,

    Nonsense! You’ve been sold a bill of goods about this looks thing. You clearly have the intelligence to see this for the rubbish it is and to reject it.

    Now, to be purely practical – apart from the activities which you’ve mentioned and which are clearly not helping, where do you go to meet strong, stroppy, anti-authoritarian women and men who don’t give a toss about how their sexual partners look as long as they are worth having a conversation with over breakfast?

    That was always my test and I have managed a very interesting sex life – despite being totally bored by what, this week, I am “supposed” to look like. And having a nose which would be about right on a very evil Roman emporer!

  427. #428 John Morales
    May 18, 2009

    Walton @425,

    So you’re happy for businesses to become insolvent, creating more unemployment and harming the economy, just for the sake of enforcing disability access laws?

    Citation needed.

  428. #429 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    Now, to be purely practical – apart from the activities which you’ve mentioned and which are clearly not helping, where do you go to meet strong, stroppy, anti-authoritarian women and men who don’t give a toss about how their sexual partners look as long as they are worth having a conversation with over breakfast?

    If I knew the answer to that, I’d be there right now instead of arguing on the internet. It sounds like paradise.

  429. #430 Bachalon
    May 18, 2009

    Walton wrote:

    So you’re happy for businesses to become insolvent, creating more unemployment and harming the economy, just for the sake of enforcing disability access laws?

    But it’s fine if the disabled can’t get jobs and thus have to rely on taxpyers for money for food and other necessities?

    You know, the government is usually happy to provide funding for that sort of thing. They’d rather you not break the law.

  430. #431 maureen Brian
    May 18, 2009

    Warning! Another fact-based thought coming up!

    In the UK small and medium-sized businesses get grants to pay for the necessary adjustments which would allow an able person with a disability to do that job – as long as s/he can get into the building, see the computer screen or whatever. Why? ‘Cos it’s cheaper to have ‘em in work and paying taxes.

    Getting over the heebie-jeebies, though, is something employers are expected to do for themselves.

  431. #432 John Morales
    May 18, 2009

    I bet that Daniel Hauser would love to live long enough to have your problems, Walton.

    Thanks to the coercive power of the State, it seems he might yet do so.

    Arguments from consequences have validity in policy considerations.

  432. #433 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    So you’re happy for businesses to become insolvent, creating more unemployment and harming the economy, just for the sake of enforcing disability access laws?

    And what about those laws paying minimum wage, as well as OH&S restrictions? These regulations may be fine for multinational corporations (so good that they pay minimum wage in countries where it is really cheap) but for small mom & pop businesses they are disadvantaged by having to comply with regulation. Having safeguards that comply with societal requirements? The bastards!

  433. #434 maureen Brian
    May 18, 2009

    I wish you luck, Walton, and I bet that such people are within 500 metres of you right this minute.

    They are fairly numerous in the general population but at a university my experience says there is almost a surfeit of them.

  434. #435 Kel
    May 18, 2009

    But it’s fine if the disabled can’t get jobs and thus have to rely on taxpyers for money for food and other necessities?

    It’s okay, all disabled people have rich relatives to care for them, and those who don’t… well Walton will give them his spare change while he passes them on the street.

  435. #436 Stephen Wells
    May 18, 2009

    @430: remember that in Waltonworld, the disabled and the unemployed don’t get any public benefits; they get private charity or they starve.

    Walton, here’s a hint: it’s not your looks that are stopping you getting laid. It’s the words that come out of your mouth.

  436. #437 Knockgoats
    May 18, 2009

    I think Walton’s being realistic in saying that looks make a difference; to most people, quite a big difference. Whether it’s “biological hardwiring” or cultural conditioning is neither here nor there in this context; sexual attraction or the lack of it is not something that is at all easy to change by an act of will. However, there is, fortunately, a lot of variation in what people find attractive; and there are ways to make the best of what you’ve got.

  437. #438 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    ‘Tis Himself (if you’re still reading this thread), you seem to know a lot of Latin phrases. Is this down to knowledge of Latin, a liking for Roam history, or epic googling skills?

  438. #439 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    ^That’s Roman history, not Roam history, lol!

  439. #440 Anonymous
    May 18, 2009

    Certainly, if I were being discriminated against in economic, professional or academic life because of my looks, then that would be unacceptable. But I’m not.

    Sorry to break this to you, but if you really are as ugly as you say you are, you almost certainly will experience workplace discrimination in hiring and promotion.

    You won’t find many ugly people in upper management. On the other hand, most of the ugly people I know are in fulfilling long term relationships. I’m afraid you’ve got the whole thing backwards.

    So, in a society with equality of outcome, how would you get around the inherent problem with socialism? That is, how would you ensure that wealth creation and productivity are incentivised?

    Like Alex Deam said, this isn’t an issue of socialism; you need to make finer distinctions to be meaningful. But as far as you’re right about monetary compensation being an incentive toward productivity, it’s not the only incentive. Something else must exist that accounts for your unpaid work at Wikipedia, for example. Pride of craftsmanship is well understood. And scientists have motivation in raw curiosity.

    I’m just not convinced that the profit motive is worth the accompanying violence. But I mentioned this not because I’m interested in evangelizing equality of outcome — discussions where we find no common ground are actually quite boring to me — instead only to explain why I might not be the best advocate for equality of opportunity.

    So while I have a tendency to use over-the-top rhetoric for dramatic effect – “taxation is theft”, “government is coercion”, etc – I don’t think we’re poles apart, really. We just approach things from different angles and describe them in different language.

    Leave it at the picket line. Inflammatory slogans that you don’t wholly believe are insulting to your audience’s intelligence. That’s why I keep asking you to say what you mean, as specifically as necessary to be understood. It’s not merely because I disagree with you that your sloganeering drives me bonkers.

  440. #441 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    That was me, obviously.

    How about “freedom and power are synonyms?” Any sincere disagreement?

  441. #442 Hypocee
    May 18, 2009

    I wish people would lay off Joe the Plumber in their rhetoric – he’s a strawman, and I consider that quip one of Obama’s mistakes. Hoping to buy and manage a business worth $250K does not mean you have $250K lying around, let alone that you earn it in a year. It’s letting the side down, like quoting without extreme caution from a Moore piece.

  442. #443 G
    May 18, 2009

    I am following up on my comments from #80. First of all what I meant to say is that I Have seen and personally talked with people who have had great success treating cancer AND keeping it from coming back with “combination” of chemo and TCM rather than just chemo alone (also reducing side effects symptoms). I happen to be lucky enough to know a few highly skilled TCM doctors who claim to have great results in cancer control and treatment. In TCM the doctor is very important – Stay away from TCM doctors who have not had 8+ years of training from a well respected schools! You may want to check out this book to learn more http://www.amazon.com/Treatment-Cancer-Chinese-Way-Wenwei/dp/7800053342/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1242657019&sr=8-1 If you only speak English, I also recommend reading books by Daniel Reid or Henry Lu to learn more about TCM in general. If it was me or a member of my family who was diagnosed with cancer I would definitely choose a combination method (of Western medicine, tcm, immune-boosting supplements (immunoglobins and such), good diet, and exercise) and recommend others to do the same.

    But all of that is completely off topic anyways. I don?t want to get into medical arguments. I’m sure many people have good/neutral/horror stories on both sides of the fence.

    My real point from above was if as a society we think this family is wrong we should definitely require them to learn about the other options out there. We should also make sure they are completely aware of the risks / benefits of each treatment. Knowledge is extremely important. But in the end can we Force them to choose what we want?? Of course it would be extremely sad if this boy passed away. But I can’t agree that government should force families to follow certain medical beliefs. I already think our government has gone too far in telling families how they have to raise their families.

    However, if people disagree with me that’s no problem. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I pray each family when faced with any conflict will do as much research as possible to make the best educated decision for their family. But I personally hope that the final decision is their own. Best wishes to all.

  443. #444 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    How about “freedom and power are synonyms?” Any sincere disagreement?

    Yes, I have a sincere point of disagreement.

    One of the principles often advocated both by the left and by libertarians, for instance, is that consenting adults should have the freedom to engage in whatever sexual activities they wish. In our model free society – both yours and mine – therefore, a person will not face any adverse legal consequences from having whatever kind of sex, gay or straight, s/he sees fit.

    Yet this self-evidently does not mean that every free person has the ability to engage in any kind of sex they desire. Some people are unable to do so because no one else wants to have sex with them. Others are unable to do so for medical reasons. Do either of these things make them any less free?

    The same applies to freedom of speech. In our model free society, a person has, broadly speaking, the right to express whatever views he wishes. Yet this doesn’t imply that he has the practical ability to do so. Clearly, not everyone is equally eloquent, and equally able to get across their ideas; and not everyone has equal access to high-profile platforms, or equal popularity with the public, or an equal number of endorsements and references from others. But the fact that I am less eloquent than, say, Professor Myers, and that my blog has fewer readers and a lot less coverage and attention than his does, does not mean that I am less free than he is.

    We can see, then, that if this is true of sex and speech, there is no reason why it should not also be true of economics. For example: should I wish to, I am perfectly free to work as a gardener. It isn’t a controlled-entry profession, like medicine or law; anyone can, to the best of my knowledge, proclaim themselves to be a gardener and advertise themselves as such. Yet this doesn’t mean that anyone is going to hire me to work on their garden (and since I know nothing about gardening, they’d be stupid to do so). And it’s clearly silly to claim that freedom would be enhanced if people were somehow forced to employ me as a gardener.

    So no, freedom does not equal power. Freedom is negative. It means that people can’t stop you from doing what you want. It does not mean that people can be forced to give you practical opportunities to do what you want.

  444. #445 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    Yes, I have a sincere point of disagreement.

    And you have my sincere thanks for the reply. You’re much more interesting than Mr “hey look at me I don’t care about anyone’s feelings aren’t I edgy.”

    So no, freedom does not equal power. Freedom is negative. It means that people can’t stop you from doing what you want. It does not mean that people can be forced to give you practical opportunities to do what you want.

    Seems a non sequitur. Even if people should not be forced to give you opportunities, that doesn’t mean that your freedom isn’t limited by the lack of those opportunities. It’s entirely possible to hold that rich people are more free than poor people and that this is an acceptable end result.

    Yet this self-evidently does not mean that every free person has the ability to engage in any kind of sex they desire. Some people are unable to do so because no one else wants to have sex with them. Others are unable to do so for medical reasons. Do either of these things make them any less free?

    Yes, in the same way that a bird has a degree of freedom that you do not have. Having a plurality of sexual partners is even commonly referred to as being sexually liberated.

    Being restrained in power, in practice, is different from being restrained in statute. Say I’m kidnapped and chained in someone’s basement. I’m still in the United States, still a citizen, still entitled to the full protection of the law. In every respect, I am legally free. But I am still not free, because I am lacking the power to leave.

    Okay, you’ll agree with that, but you’ll respond that taking away someone’s power is fundamentally different from not giving them extra power.

    Well, now imagine I live without police protection. Maybe in prehistoric times, or some remote locale of a third world nation. Am I not less free there, precisely because there are fewer incentives for someone to kill and rob me? Police protection is something that must be given, some extra power that must be added to the state of nature for me to be said to be more free. I may or may not be paying for that extra freedom, maybe someone else is paying for it, but that only supports the claim that more wealth grants more freedom.

    I think you have not successfully argued that power is not freedom. At best you are saying that there’s a minimum amount of power/freedom that need be granted, this minimum including police protection but not necessarily more.

    For if power is not freedom, then how shall you say taxation infringes upon freedom? I say that it does, only that spreading the power/freedom around is preferable to letting it accumulate asymmetrically.

  445. #446 Walton
    May 18, 2009

    strange gods:

    The natural conclusion of your view – that freedom is the practical ability to achieve one’s desired course of action – is that freedom is a limited commodity, and that one person’s freedoms directly and inevitably conflict with another’s.

    So, for instance, on your view, I am not “free” to become a gardener – despite the fact that no one will prevent me from advertising myself as a gardener – because of the fact that no one is willing to hire me in that capacity. Thus, in order to make me “free” to be a gardener, the law would have to force someone (A) to employ me as a gardener. Yet if the law did so, it would clearly be impinging upon the freedom of A to choose his or her own employees at will. Thus the law cannot simultaneously guarantee my freedom and that of A; it must choose between the two.

    (Or – to take a less palatable example – if X wants to have sex but is unable to find a sexual partner, then he is not “free” to have sex, and the law can guarantee such freedom to X only if it forces Y to have sex with him. Clearly the latter course, aside from being morally repugnant, also impinges on Y’s freedom. So, again, X’s freedom and Y’s are directly opposed.)

    If you’re right, then the natural conclusion is that there is really no such thing as a “free society”, and no society is more “free” than any other; rather, society and the law inevitably have to make policy choices about how freedom, a limited commodity, should be apportioned among the individuals in society. So a libertarian society, on this view, is no more “free” than any other society; it simply makes a policy decision to grant more freedom to those who have wealth and property, at the expense of those who do not.

    (Similarly, a society which we might characterise as “unfree”, such as Iran, is, on the above view, in fact no less “free” than any other; in the case of Iran, it simply decides to allocate more freedom to the country’s Islamic religious leaders (giving them the “freedom”, i.e. practical ability, to impose their beliefs on everyone) and less to everyone else.)

    I don’t agree with this definition of “freedom”, of course; I’m just trying to understand and work through the ramifications of your view.

  446. #447 Jadehawk
    May 18, 2009

    If I knew the answer to that, I’d be there right now instead of arguing on the internet. It sounds like paradise.

    I’d suggest Glastonbury Festival, but the woo and leftism might fry Walton’s brain before he even gets to the “evening part of the festivities” :-p

  447. #448 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Walton @446:

    Congratulations! You’ve just outlined something that a great many philosophers before you have thought about. It’s called the state of nature.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_nature

    Without a government, we have the freedom to do almost anything. Most people see this as a bad thing, for the very reason you outlined (but then decided to reject): people’s “rights” and “freedoms” invariably come into conflict, and therefore society has entered into some sort of “social contract” to adjudicate whose rights and freedoms are more important.

    For instance, without a government, there is no law and order. So hypothetical person X has the freedom to have sex with you, but you also have the freedom to reject his/her advances. Maybe s/he doesn’t listen to your pleas, and decides to rape you. Surely that’s a conflict of freedoms? As a society we’ve “allowed” the government the power to prosecute rapists. So we’ve come down in your favour i.e. we favour the right/freedom to not consent to sex more important than the right/freedom to have sex with someone against their will.

    In this way, all (legitimate?) government action is as an adjudicator between conflicting “rights” and “freedoms”

  448. #449 Hypocee
    May 18, 2009

    If you’re right, then the natural conclusion is that there is really no such thing as a “free society”, and no society is more “free” than any other; rather, society and the law inevitably have to make policy choices about how freedom, a limited commodity, should be apportioned among the individuals in society. So a libertarian society, on this view, is no more “free” than any other society; it simply makes a policy decision to grant more freedom to those who have wealth and property, at the expense of those who do not.

    A very concise and precise summary, although I might object to the word “commodity”. Now, what are you going to do about it? What is your objection to equating power with freedom?

  449. #450 'Tis Himself
    May 18, 2009

    Alex Deam #438

    ‘Tis Himself (if you’re still reading this thread), you seem to know a lot of Latin phrases. Is this down to knowledge of Latin, a liking for Roam history, or epic googling skills?

    I went to a Catholic high school in the early to mid 1960s where I had four years of Latin. I’ve forgotten most of the Latin I learned, but some of the more famous quotes are still stuck in my mind.

    • Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres. – “All of Gaul is divided into three parts.” The opening sentence in Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.
    • In hoc signo vinces. – “In this sign you will conquer.” Constantine I adopted this phrase as a motto after his vision of a Christian symbol in the sky before a battle in 312.
    • Senatus Populusque Romanus – “The Senate and People of Rome” Used as an official signature of the Roman government.
    • Illegitimi non carborundum. – Bad Latin for “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
    • Cartago delenda est. – “Carthage must be destroyed.” Senator Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder would always end his speeches with some variation of this expression even if he had not been discussing Carthage in the speech.[
    • Argumentum ad hominem. – “Argument to the man.” A well known logical fallacy.
    • Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? – “How long, Catilina, will you abuse our patience?” The opening sentence of Marcus Tullius Cicero’s speech denouncing Lucius Sergius Catilina’s plot to overthrow the Roman government.
    • O tempora o mores. – “Oh the times oh the customs.” Another line from Cicero’s speech against Catilina.
  450. #451 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    I went to a Catholic high school in the early to mid 1960s where I had four years of Latin. I’ve forgotten most of the Latin I learned, but some of the more famous quotes are still stuck in my mind.

    Yeah, I looked up most of those phrases (I knew two). I asked you how you knew them because I was hoping you’d say you have an interest in Roman history (as you say, some of the phrases are famous historical ones). I myself have an interest in that period of history, but know very little, mainly because I don’t know which lay books would be best to read, so I was hoping I might have found someone who might have some recommendations. Sadly this seems not the case. :^(

  451. #452 Jadehawk
    May 18, 2009

    alex, my mom once gave me a book full of graffiti from Pompeii. It was… interesting, and a definite antidote to the view of Rom as some sort of super-dignified society, based on reading the official writings of Romans.

    most of the graffiti involved rumors of who fucked whom how often and for how much.

  452. #453 Jadehawk
    May 18, 2009

    “Rome”, even…

  453. #454 Anonymous
    May 18, 2009

    If you’re right, then the natural conclusion is that there is really no such thing as a “free society”, and no society is more “free” than any other; rather, society and the law inevitably have to make policy choices about how freedom, a limited commodity, should be apportioned among the individuals in society. So a libertarian society, on this view, is no more “free” than any other society; it simply makes a policy decision to grant more freedom to those who have wealth and property, at the expense of those who do not.

    Well, it looks like Walton finally figured out why nobody else can stand his unflinching Libertarian ideology. Will he side with evidence or ideology this time around? Stay tuned!

  454. #455 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    The natural conclusion of your view – that freedom is the practical ability to achieve one’s desired course of action – is that freedom is a limited commodity, and that one person’s freedoms directly and inevitably conflict with another’s.

    That’s right. That explains why, to deal with these conflicts, we use a space-filling metaphor, understanding space as finite: “Your freedom to swing your arm ends where my nose begins.” That’s why I handed you the “state of nature” hint which Alex Deam made more explicit.

    So a libertarian society, on this view, is no more “free” than any other society; it simply makes a policy decision to grant more freedom to those who have wealth and property, at the expense of those who do not.

    And ought to admit as much. My objection is that right-wing libertarians use an arbitrary definition to conveniently cover up this truth. And that definition is incoherent.

    (Similarly, a society which we might characterise as “unfree”, such as Iran, is, on the above view, in fact no less “free” than any other; in the case of Iran, it simply decides to allocate more freedom to the country’s Islamic religious leaders (giving them the “freedom”, i.e. practical ability, to impose their beliefs on everyone) and less to everyone else.)

    Societies’ relative freedom can still be meaningfully compared, though. Take the mode average freedom of an Iranian citizen, and it will be lower than the mode average of a British citizen.

    I’m arguing for raising the mode average as high as possible.

    I don’t agree with this definition of “freedom”, of course; I’m just trying to understand and work through the ramifications of your view.

    Whether or not you want to agree, it doesn’t appear your disagreements are tenable.

    First, the right-wing libertarian view is incoherent because it works like an ideological ratchet. If I give you wealth, this is not admitted to increase your freedom, but if I take away some of your wealth, this is objected to as a decrease in freedom.

    Second, the inadmission of giving power as increasing freedom leaves unexplained how I can have more freedom when I have police protection on my life.

    Third — and here I think I identify the root of the problem — your reasoning begs the question. To begin you say that there are some freedoms which should be protected by law, and so far your logic is fine. But then you turn around and say that only those worth protecting by law should be defined as freedoms. And that’s circular logic. But, unexamined, it’s circular logic that functions conveniently well for defending a status quo where the rich rule the rest.

  455. #456 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Societies’ relative freedom can still be meaningfully compared, though. Take the mode average freedom of an Iranian citizen, and it will be lower than the mode average of a British citizen.

    I’m arguing for raising the mode average as high as possible.

    This might be a really dense question, but why the mode and not the mean?

  456. #457 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Jade, I’m not sure what to make of your mum. She gave you what is effectively a pornographic book on the Romans?

    Wow.

  457. #458 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    So, for instance, on your view, I am not “free” to become a gardener – despite the fact that no one will prevent me from advertising myself as a gardener – because of the fact that no one is willing to hire me in that capacity. Thus, in order to make me “free” to be a gardener, the law would have to force someone (A) to employ me as a gardener. Yet if the law did so, it would clearly be impinging upon the freedom of A to choose his or her own employees at will. Thus the law cannot simultaneously guarantee my freedom and that of A; it must choose between the two.

    Yes, and this is not a problematic formulation, because there are degrees of freedom instead of absolute freedom and absolute un-freedom.

    So you are less free to become a gardener than someone with experience who knows what they’re doing, but you are more free than you would be in a society where gardening apprenticeship was exclusive to secretive guilds. You have a lot of time and opportunity to get the necessary experience, so in the long run you are fairly free to become a gardener, less free to become an astronaut.

  458. #459 'Tis Himself
    May 18, 2009

    There’s one point about freedom that is often overlooked. More people get “do this” orders from their boss than from police officers. It’s been several years since I last had dealings with a police officer, it was earlier today that I got an order from my boss. If you ignore or disobey an order from a police officer there’s a long, involved process before punishment is exacted, and quite often the punishment is minor or not even inflicted. If you ignore or disobey an order from your boss you can easily find yourself unemployed and with little recourse for appeal. So for most people there are fewer governmental constraints on freedom than constraints from one’s employer. Libertarians usually claim it’s the other way around.

  459. #460 strange gods before me
    May 18, 2009

    This might be a really dense question, but why the mode and not the mean?

    I could be stumbling here, but I think you can make someone a tyrant and make everyone else slaves without altering the mean.

    The mean is not a useless measurement, though; I think mean freedom today is higher than in the past because of increases in quality of life.

  460. #461 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Ignore #456, I get why now. It was a fairly dense question.

    However, a social goal of “raising the mode average as high as possible” is too simplistic. We should be trying to raise all the averages (mean, mode and median) as high as possible, though mode is probably the most important.

  461. #462 Alex Deam
    May 18, 2009

    Damn, you beat me to it. :^)

    You’re not stumbling!

  462. #463 Jadehawk
    May 18, 2009

    Jade, I’m not sure what to make of your mum. She gave you what is effectively a pornographic book on the Romans?
    Wow.

    it was text graffiti, not pictures (well ok, there was the occasional immature scribble of a penis i think); besides, it was in Latin, so it was for educational purposes. lastly, we never had problems with talking about sex in our family, so until now it wouldn’t have even occurred to me that this harmless little book could be called pornographic, or be something of an awkward gift.

  463. #464 Walton
    May 19, 2009
    The natural conclusion of your view – that freedom is the practical ability to achieve one’s desired course of action – is that freedom is a limited commodity, and that one person’s freedoms directly and inevitably conflict with another’s.

    That’s right. That explains why, to deal with these conflicts, we use a space-filling metaphor, understanding space as finite: “Your freedom to swing your arm ends where my nose begins.” That’s why I handed you the “state of nature” hint which Alex Deam made more explicit.

    So a libertarian society, on this view, is no more “free” than any other society; it simply makes a policy decision to grant more freedom to those who have wealth and property, at the expense of those who do not.

    And ought to admit as much. My objection is that right-wing libertarians use an arbitrary definition to conveniently cover up this truth. And that definition is incoherent.

    OK, now that I am sure I’ve correctly understood and characterised your view, here is why I disagree with it.

    In a capitalist society, when a person creates wealth, he does so by providing some good or service for which other people are willing to exchange money. This is a voluntary exchange, which, by definition, is beneficial to both parties (otherwise they wouldn’t enter into it). It is non-coercive in character.

    And, if you think about it, A and B have each entered into this commercial relationship in order to gain some advantage for themselves. If they were to be prevented from entering into that relationship, they would each be deprived of the advantage which they stand to secure from it.

    Let’s say, then, that A is a factory owner and B is a sweatshop worker in the Third World. B’s side of the bargain is pretty miserable, in objective terms. But we need to remember that B would not have entered into the bargain if it were not better than the next best alternative. (For most such people, the “next best alternative” is either prostitution or starvation.)

    So if a well-meaning left-wing government introduces restrictions on wages and working conditions, hoping to force A to treat B better, then A may well leave the country and go somewhere without such restrictions; or, if he can’t do this, he may well go out of business. This means that B is denied the chance to enter into the above voluntary exchange – meaning that he is stuck with the “next best” option, which, as noted, may well be starvation.

    So where is the “power” in this situation? A has “power” in the sense of leverage; he has something that B needs, and is able to set his own terms to the bargain. Yet this kind of “power” is transient. A’s power over B is limited by temporary market conditions. B isn’t a slave; if another factory owner, C, sets up a new factory and offers higher wages, there’s nothing to stop B going to work for C.

    Yet the above kind of “power”, in the sense of leverage possessed by the economically stronger party over the economically weaker party, is certainly a very real kind of power. As ‘Tis Himself notes above, the average person is coerced far more frequently by his employer than by the State.

    So why, then, should this kind of power be allowed to exist? Simply, for the practical reasons that I indicated above. If you introduce restrictions preventing A from employing B on low wages and in poor conditions, then certainly you reduce A’s power over B – but if you go too far in this direction, you also increase the chance that B will have no opportunities to work at all and will live in poverty. Likewise, you can tax A and redistribute part of his wealth to B, which certainly increases B’s power relative to A. But if you go too far in this direction, you milk the cow dry, since it will no longer be profitable for A to run his business and create wealth; he will either go overseas or go out of business, and, either way, will no longer be paying taxes or employing B.

    I can recognise that this isn’t an argument for libertarian absolutism. Rather, it’s an argument for a mostly capitalist society. If you leave A and B’s relationship untouched, but tax A to a moderate, manageable extent in order to provide income support and public services to B, then you partially redress the balance of power without destroying the voluntary employment relationship.

  464. #465 Walton
    May 19, 2009

    I typed out a really good reply, which, of course, the browser ate. I’ll try it again.

    strange gods, now that I know I’ve correctly understood your position, I’ll explain why I don’t agree with it.

    In a capitalist society, wealth is acquired by exchanging goods or services with others in exchange for money. This exchange is, by definition, a voluntary one; and it is for the benefit of both parties – that is, both parties will be better off than they would have been without the transaction – otherwise they would not enter into it in the first place. Ex hypothesi, therefore, the option of entering into the exchange is better for both parties than the next best option – meaning that, if the exchange is stopped from taking place, both parties will be worse off than they otherwise would have been.

    But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that A is a factory owner and B a sweatshop worker in the Third World. A has a great deal of “power” over B, in the sense of leverage; he has what B desperately needs, and so can set his own terms to the bargain. B’s only alternative is likely to be poverty and starvation; and so he’s likely to agree to whatever terms A chooses to set.

    So let’s imagine that a well-meaning left-wing government introduces minimum wages and working conditions, forcing A to treat B better. At first, the unequal balance of power between A and B might appear to be redressed. But what will happen? A will move his operations to another jurisdiction with less regulation, or, if he isn’t able to do this, may be forced to cut down his workforce or even go out of business. Meaning that his relationship with B will be terminated – and B will have to take the “next best” option, which may well be either poverty or starvation.

    Now let’s say that A and other factory owners are suddenly taxed very highly, so that their wealth can be redistributed to B and other poor people. What will happen? Again, all the factory owners will find it unprofitable to continue business – meaning that they’ll either move overseas, or go out of business. Which means not only that B and his peers will find themselves out of work, but also that the government will face a declining tax base and a weaker economy.

    Thus, the problem with your analysis is that “freedom”, on your definition, is not merely a finite resource; it’s also a resource which is dependent on the amount of wealth being produced in the country, because wealth is generally one of the necessary preconditions for having the practical ability to do what one wishes to do. And if you redistribute “freedom” from the productive to the unproductive, you prevent the productive from creating more wealth; and, by reducing the overall amount of wealth being produced in the society, you reduce the overall amount of freedom. So, by coercively interfering with voluntary transactions and preventing them from taking place, you reduce the overall production of wealth and, therefore, the overall freedom of people in your society to achieve what they wish to achieve.

    This isn’t, of course, an argument for libertarian absolutism. Rather, it’s an argument for a mostly capitalist society. If you tax A a little bit, and spend the money on providing public services for B and his family, then you redress the balance of power between A and B to a limited extent, without destroying the voluntary relationship between them.

  465. #466 Walton
    May 19, 2009

    OK – contrary to what I had believed, the browser did in fact publish both my responses. The second one is better, so please ignore the first.

  466. #467 Jadehawk
    May 19, 2009

    nice scenario walton, but history teaches us otherwise. child labor, the 40 hour week, worker safety regulations etc. all would have negative effects in your scenario, but in reality, when the Gilded Age ended in mass riots because workers WANTED these things, they got what they wanted, and in the end we ALL ended up with better conditions

  467. #468 Jadehawk
    May 19, 2009

    er… outlawing child labor, that is…

  468. #469 Alex Deam
    May 19, 2009

    This is a voluntary exchange, which, by definition, is beneficial to both parties (otherwise they wouldn’t enter into it).

    If you completely exclude externalities, then yes.

    Let’s say, then, that A is a factory owner and B is a sweatshop worker in the Third World. B’s side of the bargain is pretty miserable, in objective terms. But we need to remember that B would not have entered into the bargain if it were not better than the next best alternative. (For most such people, the “next best alternative” is either prostitution or starvation.)

    Homo economicus is dead.

    So if a well-meaning left-wing government introduces restrictions on wages and working conditions, hoping to force A to treat B better, then A may well leave the country and go somewhere without such restrictions; or, if he can’t do this, he may well go out of business. This means that B is denied the chance to enter into the above voluntary exchange – meaning that he is stuck with the “next best” option, which, as noted, may well be starvation.

    Such a well-meaning left-wing government would likely have a system of benefits, no?

    Besides, why should A go out of business? If A doesn’t “leave the country” (which is likely, since A is trying to make money in that very area), it either has to pay B the minimum wage, or not employ B at all. There’s no need for A to go out of business. By definition, a minimum wage is meant to be fair. And that means fair for both parties. It would not be fair to set the minimum wage higher than a basic company could afford to pay. I mean, we didn’t see loads of companies suddenly go out of business when New Labour brought in the minimum wage, did we Walton?

    No, what may happen is that unemployment will rise. With a minimum wage (above a certain level), you can’t have full employment, as far as my lay knowledge tells me. So someone like B may end up without a job. But as I said: benefits.

    And even if A does leave the country, so what? Why is it that libertarians and similar folk always carp on about not regulating capitalism too much lest you crush the entrepreneurial spirit of people, yet they forget that very idea when they warn of companies leaving due to high taxes or minimum wages? Is it so hard to understand that if A leaves the country, C might now be able to form his own company, and so employ B? Do you not realize that a lot of the problems in the Third World are actually caused by Western companies’ imperialistic attitudes?

    So why, then, should this kind of power be allowed to exist? Simply, for the practical reasons that I indicated above. If you introduce restrictions preventing A from employing B on low wages and in poor conditions, then certainly you reduce A’s power over B – but if you go too far in this direction, you also increase the chance that B will have no opportunities to work at all and will live in poverty. Likewise, you can tax A and redistribute part of his wealth to B, which certainly increases B’s power relative to A. But if you go too far in this direction, you milk the cow dry, since it will no longer be profitable for A to run his business and create wealth; he will either go overseas or go out of business, and, either way, will no longer be paying taxes or employing B.

    As I’ve said, who cares if A fucks off? What’s important is to weaken the “leverage possessed by the economically stronger party over the economically weaker party”. This can be done by empowering B. We provide him with an education. We make sure he has benefits if he needs them. We encourage the formation of unions to protect people like B from being exploited. Et cetera. Now if A fucks off, B through Z can shrug their shoulders and use their entrepreneurial skills to better their future. Seriously I’m surprised that thought came from me and not the libertarian.

  469. #470 Alex Deam
    May 19, 2009

    Okay. Epic blockquote fail.

  470. #471 Alex Deam
    May 19, 2009

    And if you redistribute “freedom” from the productive to the unproductive, you prevent the productive from creating more wealth; and, by reducing the overall amount of wealth being produced in the society, you reduce the overall amount of freedom.

    No no no no no no no.

    You forget why it is that we want redistribution in the first place. It’s to turn those who you deem “unproductive” (actually they can be productive, but just not treated fairly by the private sector) into productive people. Taking wealth away from the rich does hamper their abilities to create wealth, you’re right, but giving it to the poor empowers them, giving them the ability to create wealth.

    In fact, with the super-rich, they’re hardly wealth creators at all. Trickle down is pseudoscience.

  471. #472 Walton
    May 19, 2009

    Such a well-meaning left-wing government would likely have a system of benefits, no?

    Besides, why should A go out of business? If A doesn’t “leave the country” (which is likely, since A is trying to make money in that very area), it either has to pay B the minimum wage, or not employ B at all. There’s no need for A to go out of business. By definition, a minimum wage is meant to be fair. And that means fair for both parties. It would not be fair to set the minimum wage higher than a basic company could afford to pay. I mean, we didn’t see loads of companies suddenly go out of business when New Labour brought in the minimum wage, did we Walton?

    No, what may happen is that unemployment will rise. With a minimum wage (above a certain level), you can’t have full employment, as far as my lay knowledge tells me. So someone like B may end up without a job. But as I said: benefits.

    And as I expressly noted, the provision of benefits to B and other unemployed persons requires taxation – meaning that businesses like A’s will be squeezed even harder, increasing the probability that they will either leave the country or go out of business. And once this happens to more and more businesses, you have a higher and higher number of unemployed people to support on a smaller and smaller tax base, leading, eventually, to economic collapse. It isn’t rocket science. The cow you’re milking will eventually dry up.

    This can be done by empowering B. We provide him with an education. We make sure he has benefits if he needs them. We encourage the formation of unions to protect people like B from being exploited. Et cetera. Now if A fucks off, B through Z can shrug their shoulders and use their entrepreneurial skills to better their future.

    And how will B through Z manage that, when they have to compete with producers in other countries who aren’t constrained by minimum wage laws, high taxes or labour market restrictions?

    Of course, you can avoid that by introducing protectionist tariffs and trade barriers. But not only will this raise the prices of consumer goods – reducing the standard of living in your own country – it will also impoverish people in foreign countries, as they can no longer trade on an equal footing with people in your country.

    As I clearly said, I’m not arguing for some sort of “libertopia” with no taxes or state services. Rather, I’m arguing for a mostly capitalist society. Because practical freedom – defined as the ability to actually do what you want to do – depends on the creation of wealth; and if you remove the mechanisms of the market and squeeze businesses harder and harder, you prevent the creation of wealth. So the practical answer is to have some taxes, public services and state protections, in order to redress the grossest inequalities in bargaining power; but to maintain an essentially market-based economy.

  472. #473 Alex Deam
    May 19, 2009

    And as I expressly noted, the provision of benefits to B and other unemployed persons requires taxation – meaning that businesses like A’s will be squeezed even harder, increasing the probability that they will either leave the country or go out of business. And once this happens to more and more businesses, you have a higher and higher number of unemployed people to support on a smaller and smaller tax base, leading, eventually, to economic collapse. It isn’t rocket science. The cow you’re milking will eventually dry up.

    So why then, has this effect not been seen in the UK, with its system of benefits and the minimum wage?

    And how will B through Z manage that, when they have to compete with producers in other countries who aren’t constrained by minimum wage laws, high taxes or labour market restrictions?

    Again, how is that the equivalent people to B though Z in the UK manage to “compete with producers in other countries who aren’t constrained by minimum wage laws, high taxes or labour market restrictions”? Sure, we’ve had outsourcing here, but it hasn’t dented our economic fortunes.

    I should also point out I’m not disagreeing with your conclusion of a “mostly capitalist” society. Just how you get there. You talk in very general terms about raising taxes or imposing regulations and saying how much bad they would do, then at the end you conclude we need some taxes and some regulation. I agree with that, but then don’t talk in such general terms when starting your argument. I find that saying, “the practical answer is to have some taxes” is disingenuous when your argument starts out saying, “requires taxation …. leading, eventually, to economic collapse”.

  473. #474 strange gods before me
    May 19, 2009

    This is a voluntary exchange, which, by definition, is beneficial to both parties (otherwise they wouldn’t enter into it). It is non-coercive in character.

    Wrong already. You can “define” it all you want, but your definitions won’t make it non-coercive in fact. If I need some particular medical care to live, the providers can charge as much as they want for it, and I will have to pay. In any arrangement where my alternative is death, or homelessness, then I am being coerced. At this point, having had this conversation many times, I no longer hope for any libertarian to admit this fact; it seems the best I can hope for is that the blatant distortion of reality will serve as a warning to others that your ideology is neurotoxic.

    So where is the “power” in this situation? A has “power” in the sense of leverage; he has something that B needs, and is able to set his own terms to the bargain. Yet this kind of “power” is transient. A’s power over B is limited by temporary market conditions.

    And when A finds his situation unprofitable, he can liquidate his assets, pick up his accumulated wealth and its attendant power, and move on, because his power is the freedom to do so.

    Did I claim power couldn’t be transient? No, Walton, my claim that power is freedom, and wealth generally confers power/freedom, is patently a claim that power/freedom shifts in response to market conditions, because asset values shift in response to market conditions.

    B isn’t a slave; if another factory owner, C, sets up a new factory and offers higher wages, there’s nothing to stop B going to work for C.

    What world do you live in? What do you know about sweatshops?

    http://hrc.berkeley.edu/pdfs/trafficking-RS-HRQ.pdf

    “In another case study, the individuals trafficked by Kil-Soo Lee also suffered from psychological injury. Lee, a Korean businessman, recruited over 200 Chinese and Vietnamese men and women to work in his garment factory, Daewoosa Samoa, on the island of American Samoa from 1998 until the factory closed in late 2000. Lee kept the workers locked in the factory compound, withheld food as punishment, withheld regular pay, and authorized violent retaliation and deportation for those who resisted.
    In one violent incident, Samoan security guards under Lee?s orders assaulted several of the Vietnamese workers. One Vietnamese worker was struck in the face with a PVC pipe and lost her vision.”

    Again, all the factory owners will find it unprofitable to continue business – meaning that they’ll either move overseas, or go out of business. Which means not only that B and his peers will find themselves out of work, but also that the government will face a declining tax base and a weaker economy.

    Against the presumption that factories need owners: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8149373547373833649

    So why, then, should this kind of power be allowed to exist? Simply, for the practical reasons that I indicated above. If you introduce restrictions preventing quack quack quack quack quack…
    I can recognise that this isn’t an argument for libertarian absolutism.

    Do you also recognize that you changed the subject?

    You started off saying that “no, freedom does not equal power.” But you ended by reiterating my characterization of right-wing libertarianism that “it’s entirely possible to hold that rich people are more free than poor people and that this is an acceptable end result.”

    You gave up arguing that power is not freedom.

  474. #475 Hypocee
    May 19, 2009

    We also started off with you arguing like a little angel that as an upstanding, honest person (studying law with housekeeping staff at Oxford) you feel that voting to take other people’s money is eeeevil purely on principle. Through retreat after retreat we seem to have shifted smoothly to – gasp! – pragmatic outcome-based arguments. Imagine that.

  475. #476 maureen Brian
    May 19, 2009

    As someone who actually makes things, Walton, I’d like to bring this back down from the heights of economic and political theory and back into reality.

    Mostly I make things for fun but should I choose to make a king-size quilt for direct sale to a customer I could ask for a thousand pounds or so.

    Should I be obliged for whatever reason to sell the quilt through a shop we’d have to do a bit of negotiation so that the shop could still sell it and I wouldn’t have to be out of pocket. In fact, I’d make very little that way.

    If the structure of society was such that I could only do the work within a factory system I’d get a little over the minimum wage! The factory owner would become rich from employing, say, 20 of me.

    In each case I would be the one who added value – who turned a few metres of fabric and some thread into someting worth a four-figure sum – with the same amount of effort, the same amount of skill.

    So why cling with such passion to a system which in many, many cases prevents the skilled worker from realising a fair share of the value which she or he has produced?

    I know there is a limit to have far you can extend this example – it would not work for steel making, for instance. But if you look at work from the point of view of the individual worker then whole new vistas open up. Or they should do!

  476. #477 strange gods before me
    May 19, 2009

    Thus, the problem with your analysis is that “freedom”, on your definition, is not merely a finite resource; it’s also a resource which is dependent on the amount of wealth being produced in the country, because wealth is generally one of the necessary preconditions for having the practical ability to do what one wishes to do.

    Is this where you think you refuted me? I owe you an apology, then, because your misunderstanding is my fault. You said,

    If you’re right, then the natural conclusion is that there is really no such thing as a “free society”, and no society is more “free” than any other; rather, society and the law inevitably have to make policy choices about how freedom, a limited commodity, should be apportioned among the individuals in society. So a libertarian society, on this view, is no more “free” than any other society; it simply makes a policy decision to grant more freedom to those who have wealth and property, at the expense of those who do not.

    and I thought you meant “no nation is inherently more free on the basis of its laws.”

    But my response to Alex Deam,

    The mean is not a useless measurement, though; I think mean freedom today is higher than in the past because of increases in quality of life.

    indicates my view that GDP raises freedom (though again the mode average is what’s relevant to the bulk of the citizenry). Of course it must follow from my argument that if wealth confers power/freedom, a nation with higher GDP is on a different level than another nation.

    Tangential to the question of whether power is freedom, but still worth mentioning, is that those nations with the highest GDP happen to be nations which redistribute wealth for the goal of spreading opportunity.

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