The sheer number of patents in the U.S. is fueling frivolous litigation and drastic action is needed to make patents more difficult to obtain and easier to invalidate, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit said Tuesday. > more ... (0 comments)
I can understand where Gherald and Megan McArdle are coming from because I was once a fellow hyper-Randian traveler:
In my chat today, a reader asked me to respond to Megan McArdle’s lengthy case against national health insurance. The problem is that, well, there’s not a lot to specifically respond to. In 1,600 words, she doesn’t muster a single link to a study or argument, nor a single number that she didn’t make up (what numbers do exist come in the form of thought experiments and assumptions). Megan’s argument against national health insurance boils down to a visceral hatred of the government. Which is fine. Megan is a libertarian. That’s, like, her journey, man. But her attack on national health insurance seems a lot more about libertarianism than it is about national health insurance.
Megan has two primary concerns. The first is that national health insurance would succeed in reducing health-care costs, and that would limit the rewards available for medical innovation (drugs, devices, etc), which would in turn reduce medical innovation and prevent future generations from enjoying wonder drugs. “If you worry about global warming,” she writes, “you should worry at least as hard about medical innovation.”
Second, national health care gives elites license “to wrap their claws around every aspect of everyone’s life.” Her primary example is obesity. Megan believes that national health insurance will give the government license to decide that we can never really want a second chocolate eclair. She also believes that the real reason most every epidemiologist in the country is worried about obesity is because they hate, and are disgusted by, poor people.
When it really comes down to it, Gherald and McArdle both express exactly the same predisposition I once had (i.e, “Government = bad; Most stuff that government does = bad”). For better or for worse, my faith in that doctrine is now nonexistent.
I recently reconnected with an old friend via Facebook and discovered that he has, in the years since I last saw him, become a born-again Jehovah’s Witness type. We’ve communicated a few times since then and, as expected, he’s made several none-too-subtle overtures to bring me over to the Promised Land. I typically don’t mind it when people do this, as it gives me an opportunity to dust off my well-developed antitheist catechism and see what holes need sprucing up.
Another added benefit of engaging with the religiously minded is that it gives me an opportunity to ponder what drives some people to seek out religion and the comfort it can sometimes bring.
I recently received a note from my friend, imploring me to consider the horrors of “Demon Death” waiting for me someday down the road. Here’s my reply:
One thing I think that defines people who fall into the easy comfort of religion is an indescribable fear of death. My theory is that this fear is generally implanted at a young age by parents who fear death and/or parents who are caught up in some silly notion of an afterlife.
As for me, I never grew up with any notion of a fear of death and was never exposed at a tender age to religious notions of a scary hellfire afterlife. Who knows whether this helped pave the way for me to be a comfortable antitheist in my later life but it certainly didn’t hurt!
You talk about death as if it’s something to be feared. I, however, have no such fear. Never have. As a result, I don’t even have a frame of reference through which I could even begin to relate to the fear you are trying to sway me with.
To me, death is what it is: a final ending to a period of life that started with birth. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing in my experience that has ever led me to any other conclusion and there likely never will be.
Gherald highlights an interesting graph illustrating the key part of the country that is unsure whether Obama was born in the U.S.:
“50 years ago you shouted nigger, 30 years ago you talked about States Rights, now you ask to see the president’s birth certificate.” — commenter Eric K
“You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.” — Lee Atwater
If anyone is looking for reasons why the Republican Party holds little to no appeal to me right now, here’s something to noodle on:
Less than half of Republicans believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America, a new public opinion poll finds.
Only 42 percent of Republican respondents in a Research 2000 survey … said they thought Obama was a natural born citizen; 28 percent said they did not believe Obama was born in the United States; 30 percent said they were not sure.
The responses, which were gathered after several prominent conservative media personalities fed suspicion that Obama was unconstitutionally holding office, show the extent to which the conspiracy has taken hold in the GOP.
That only a plurality of Republicans were willing to acknowledge the president was born in America is nothing short of astounding, considering the preponderance of evidence that confirms his Hawaiian birth.
This isn’t the lunatic fringe of the party; a majority of Republicans aren’t fully convinced that our President isn’t a foreign-born interloper!
Someone call me the day the Republican Party gets some measure of its sanity back. Until then, enjoy the frothing mass of hate-filled, paranoid, xenophobic stew you’ve been stirring for 40+ years.
I so love it when scientists take the time and effort to unleash the full power of their arsenal in the service of taking snippy dilettantes down a few pegs. I know Sully and Gherald will be hurt that this guy trained his sights on their BFF, Megan McArdle, but – well – the full post is just too delicious:
Megan McArdle in fact knows very little — not nothing, but not much either — of the formal apparatus of modern economic thought, nor of the rich bodies of content knowledge real economists have developed on a number of important questions, including, most important for the present discussion, medical economics and political economy…Read the whole post, you’ll be glad you did.
I don’t read McArdle much because I know she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, and the glibness of her ignorance and the infantile quality of her ideology (that brand of libertarianism present in populations that include my nine-year-old and that can be summed up “you can’t tell me what to do”) piss me off. Why read annoying, uninformed –if glibly written — dreck?
My earlier post on Glenn Beck and a comment from a friend on Facebook prompted some thoughts on a construct relating to bias that I’ve been thinking about lately:
Bias, in and of itself, doesn’t bother me as much as what people do in the service of their biases. After all, most everyone in every facet of life operates on a daily basis to somehow service their biases and advance some kind of agenda.
If someone is biased yet uses facts and truth in support of their agenda, I don’t get too worried.
If, however, someone employs lies, fear-mongering, xenophobia and racism in service to their biases/agenda, that’s when I have a problem.
Based on the following, one has to wonder: “What would Glenn Beck have to say in order to get fired?”
So, what say you? Is there a line that Beck could cross that would actually result in him being fired?
Yesterday on Fox News, host Glenn Beck went on a rant about President Obama’s comments about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the upcoming meeting Obama will have with Gates, who is African-American, and the arresting officer, Jim Crowley.
“This president has exposed himself, I think, as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or white culture,” Beck complained, later adding, “He has a, this guy is, I believe, a racist.”
Update: Even the reliably excreable Morning Joe team thinks Beck was way out of line:
WASHINGTON POST’S JONATHAN CAPEHART: How is it possible that this guy can sit on national television and call this guy a racist? The President is half
MSNBC HOST MIKE BARNICLE: In reality, Glenn Beck is just show business.
…The larger, dumber statement is that the President of the United States has a
deep seeded hatred for white people. Hello Glenn!? His mother was white! He was
raised by a white woman, his grandmother! Hello!? Glenn? … Come back down to
HOST MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Outrageous is one way of putting it. I would say
irresponsible, especially now…selfish, self-indulging.
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