Sunday, April 24, 2005
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In praise of the average Americans
If there is one thing that too many modern-day Democrat and Republican party elites share, it's a mild contempt for the average American. For Democrats, Americans are obese spendthrifts susceptible to faith-based argumentation at the expeense of logic and evidence. For Republicans, Americans are obese spendthrifts susceptible to the temptations of a debased popular culture at the expense of moral probity.
Well, a bunch of stories this week suggest that the average American is a hell of a lot smarter than the donkey and elephant elites.
Over at Slate, Daniel Gross observes that Americans are responding to interest rate increases by.... reducing their spending and paying off their debts:
And while we're on the subject of consumer behavior, could commentators please stop bashing Americans for not saving enough when they are acting rationally? If the assets that Americans hold -- like equities or their houses, for example -- are dramatically increasing in value, then it makes sense that their stream of additional savings will taper off.
Meanwhile, earlier this week Jonathan Bor and Frank Roylance reported in the Baltimore Sun that just a smidgen of obesity might be good for you:
The legal team here at danieldrezner.com would like to remind everyone that this report does not recommend obesity and that anyone now tempted to go order several Hardee's Monster Thickburgers are doing so at their own discretion and not with the blessing of danieldrezner.com. More seriously, check out food economist Parke Wilde for an informed appraisal of the ramifications of the CDCP study.
Finally, that allegedly brain-dead American boob tube may acually provide more cognitive stimulation than previously thought. Steven Johnson explains why this might be true in the New York Times Magazine:
Read the whole thing. The only troubling note I found in the piece was the admission that, "The only prominent holdouts [to more cognitively sophisticated plots] in drama are shows like ''Law and Order'' that have essentially updated the venerable ''Dragnet'' format and thus remained anchored to a single narrative line." Which is true, except that when you tally up all the "Law and Order" and "CSI" shows & spinoffs, that's an awful lot of the prime time schedule.
Johnson earns my goodwill, however, by labeling his phenomenon the Sleeper Curve after this classic exchange from the Woody Allen movie Sleeper:
posted by Dan on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM
Looking at Gross's piece confirms a suspicion; he's not talking about "average" behavior, but behavior at the *margin*. Presumably the margin is *always* going to be sensitive to interest rates; that's where the rational maximizers play their games. But it's a bit premature to call this "average" behavior, isn't it?posted by: David on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
I don't think most Americans know that much about the new bankruptcy law so I don't think that can be said to have reduced debts, though home equity loans have probably helped.
However, I think a fairly significant number of Americans have decided that Real Estate is the new gold rush and are over-leveraging themselves in this pursuit. The latest issue of Money magazine has 26% of Americans surveyed saying that they think the best way to get rich is in real estate. [ the highest single item]. That doesn't seem like smart behavior to me (especially since rental yield is decreasing).
Leo Strauss once pointed out that America "was built upon low but solid ground."
That low ground tends to infuriates ideologues on the left (craven selfish materialists) and the right (immoral priapic hedonists).
SMGposted by: SteveMG on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Remember, all Americans save 16+% of their first $80K(?) of income. The government requires this of them.
I can't believe that the author of that one article cites "Law and Order" as a show that lacks "cognitive sophistication."
Law and Order is consistently one of the classiest and most intelligent shows on TV; that is why it has been so successful.
Watch any episode of Law and Order and one sees a very sophisticated plot complete with multiple layers of nuance and ambiguity.
To compare it with the old show Dragnet is absurd. Sheesh.posted by: Thought on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"Arrested Development" is an even better example of this. While its episodes are somewhat funny on their own, the show not only rewards faithful viewing, it pretty much demands it to get the full effect.
Of course, its ratings are notso hotso.posted by: Knemon on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Ok, Marshall Clow, don't do that anymore. I'm just lucky I wasn't drinking anything or I'd be cleaning my monitor.
Sorry, I wrote off Soc. Sec. payments as something I'd probably never see, and I can't see anything thats changed since I turned 16 that would make me believe differntly.
I find it more likely that I'll win the lottery by finding the ticket on the ground when I turn 65.posted by: Gekkobear on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
I dunno about Law and Order being "intelligent". In one episode an accused murderer confesses to his lawyer that he did it, and tells her how and why. Then during the trial she lets him take the stand and lie through his teeth. That's not intelligent or nuanced, that's just plain dumb.
I mean, even Bob Bennett, Clinton's lawyer in the Jones case, made a beeline to alert the judge when he realized that Clinton lied under oath. Why? You can't knowingly let your client commit perjury. It could cost you your license to practice.
I've seen other L & O episodes where I've found myself saying "Hey wait a minute". L & O is only continuing the tradition of Perry Mason, in that their trial scenes have little to do with reality.
"Americans save 16+% of their first $80K(?) of income. The government requires this of them."
Stupidest, most ill-informed thing I've ever read. First, I beleive its closer to 12% of 90k that goes to social security. And to call it savings is absurd. Its a tax, and nothing guarantees that the government will give you anything when you retire, you have no vested property right in social security.posted by: Reg on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
If there is one consistent thread that runs through all recorded history, it is the disdain felt by the "elites" for the common people. The peasant farmer, the small town craftsman or merchant, and, in the current idiom, any inhabitant of flyover country, is judged too coarse, too stupid, too vulgar, too uniformed, etc., etc., to be trusted with important decisions.
The truly funny part of all this is the utter contempt those of us in the heartland feel for the self-appointed big shots who think they should run everything. Whenever they are rejected by the common wisdom of those who actually make things work in this society, they sing the same song about how foolish and unaware of our own interests we are.
What the vanguard should figure out one of these days is that we can only tolerate their BS for so long, and then we tell them to take a walk. Right now, we'll give this bunch a chance to show us what they've got. If they screw up, we'll throw them out and try someone else.
Actually, it's when they screw up. It's only a matter of time.posted by: veryretired on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
The thing that keeps me up at night is this:
"50% of all Americans (and the rest of the world)have an I.Q. of 100 or LESS"posted by: mr lawson on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Obviously Reg hasn't been watching enough "sleeper" TV.
You can watch "L&O" even if you miss the first ten minutes. Odds are, whatever you watched was inconsequential, anyway. "L&O" has a habit of starting the show with a certain story arc and all but abandoning it, as whatever case being pursued takes a hard left turn into something completely different. It doesn't do this as often as, say, late-model episodes of "The Simpsons," but fairly frequently.
Then, half the time "L&O" drops a big twist about five minutes before the end of the show. They give that info away during the commercials, which ruins the entire point of the surprise twist but gets some people to watch.posted by: marchand chronicles on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
The thing that keeps me up at night is this: "50% of all Americans (and the rest of the world) have an I.Q. of 100 or LESS"
If the American people were truly smart, these 3 people would not have been successful. (Not that our elites are that bright either, as demonstrated by our unsustainable policies.)posted by: Carl on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Thank god, or Darwin, someone is looking out for the average Joe.
Come to think of it, "I'm" an average Joe - who wouldn't trade Dragnet for any Law & Order! And imagine that, telling your lawyer you're guilty - which requires the same level of nuanced brightness as in telling your ethically bound accountant about that 50-grand cash.
Yet, it's nice to watch the elites trying to figure out what the average Joe needs - when the answer is right in their own mirror.
Btw, average me likes "Animal Precinct" and "This Old House." And when I want an honest, hard smoking cop, I call Joe Friday.posted by: D.B.Baker on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Americans are the best decision makers in the world. No other people is confronted with the array of choices that Americans face on a daily basis. Our decision making skills are well-exercised and finely-honed.
Yet the elites don't know this. They look at the aggregate result of the billions - yes, billions - of decisions that ordinary Americans make every day and think they can make better decisions for us. They want to tell us what we can or can't buy. They want to tell us what we can or can't produce and sell. They want to take our money from us and redistribute it as they see fit. They want to subordinate our sovereignty to the UN and our laws to foreign laws. All because Americans make decisions they don't like. Their tightly coupled arrogance and ignorance would be humorous if it weren't so malignant.posted by: HA on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"Americans are the best decision makers in the world. No other people is confronted with the array of choices that Americans face on a daily basis."
The colloquial British English phrase generally used in response to a statement like this is "you what?", sometimes lengthened to "you f---ing what?".
This roughly translates to "That assertion, it's one of the most implausible claims ever made. Please supply some strong evidence for it or withdraw it."
For example, an explanation of exactly how US residents are compelled/empowered to make more choices than those resident in other advanced industrial societies might be in order.posted by: john b on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Well, if we're going to go that route, how about
"They want to lead us into a war based on lies, misrepresentation and exaggeration, rather than tell us the truth and let us decide"posted by: Marsh on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
I thought IQ tests were built to have 100 be the median score. If so, 50% of Americans are below 100 by definition.posted by: Eddie Thomas on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
John B says"For example, an explanation of exactly how US residents are compelled/empowered to make more choices than those resident in other advanced industrial societies might be in order."
Okay John B, Americans have to decide everday how they are going to protect the rest of you jerks from the terrorists while and support ourselves in the process, while you jackass Europeans have only to decide how much you are going to slander us.posted by: digitalbrownshirt on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
While there may indeed be a lot of idiots out there, and it may seem counterintuitive that when you throw them all together, they collectively make the right decisions, people (even the sub-100 IQers) do just that.
It's market forces at work. Macro-behavior-onomics.
Slightly more on the subject:posted by: Will Franklin on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Eddie Thomas says "I thought IQ tests were built to have 100 be the median score. If so, 50% of Americans are below 100 by definition."
We know which half you fall in Eddie. IQ tests were not built to have any IQ's fall anywhere, they were built to measure IQ, if thats possible. The bell curve effect shows that the majority of the measured IQ's concentrate around the 100 mark. If there is any symetrey, its that the curve of those falling below 100 tends to parallel the curve of those falling above it.
I spent a chunk of my life with hard hats doing dirty and dangerous work.
I also spent a large chunk of my life with college professors, many of whom focused on whining about how badly the world was treating them (sitting on their butts in the coffee lounge of course).
For common sense, common courtesy and integrity I'll take a guy who operates a bull dozer anyday, over PhDs and lawyers.
These dumb little people keep the world running while the blowhards feel sorry for themselves.posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
I think the real answer to this puzzler is that America is packed with "elites", but not all of them wish to enter the communications profession, i.e. become writers, journalists, lawyers, armchair philosophers, or political radicals.
Communications professionals meanwhile tend to place themselves at the top of the intellectual food chain (as I'm sure rocket scientists are also wont to do) and thus overestimate their ability to apprehend whatever topic they might happen to write about -- and underestimate the intelligence of anyone who is not, like they, a member of the "chattering classes". (For a stellar example of this tendency see the horribly lopsided exchanges between Powerline Blog and Nick Coleman.)
As for the related possibility that "average" America is above average, our immigration patterns make the idea of an above-average nation at least conceivable: whether to avail themselves of our free markets or simply because men with guns were persecuting intellectuals back home a great many highly intelligent people seem to find their way here.posted by: Median Elite on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"For common sense, common courtesy and integrity I'll take a guy who operates a bull dozer anyday, over PhDs and lawyers."
Well said save_the_rustbelt. Thats been my experience as well and I couldn't agree more. I wish you the best.posted by: digitalbrownshirt on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"Okay John B, Americans have to decide everday how they are going to protect the rest of you jerks from the terrorists while and support ourselves in the process, while you jackass Europeans have only to decide how much you are going to slander us."
There's an argument (not a very good one, given the enormous contribution of MI5 and Mossad to global terror intelligence, but an argument) that the above might be a difference between non-Americans and Americans who work for intelligence agencies.
However, you seem to be claiming that Joe Bulldozer in Ohio has to make everyday choices concerning global security and antiterror networks - moreover, choices that Pierre Bulldozeur in Lyon doesn't.
This would appear to make you a liar, a maniac, or both.posted by: john b on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"However, you seem to be claiming that Joe Bulldozer in Ohio has to make everyday choices concerning global security and antiterror networks - moreover, choices that Pierre Bulldozeur in Lyon doesn't."
Joe Bulldozer in Ohio does indeed make those choices everday in selecting leaders who actively execute the policy to combat the terrorists. They doe this in the face of the leftists who seek to mislead them in the press and the bastards from England who seek to influence their decisions at the polls. (Didn't work either did it?)posted by: digitalbrownshirt on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"50% of all Americans (and the rest of the world)have an I.Q. of 100 or LESS"
I guess that leaves the other 50% to have I.Q.s of 100 or MORE.
I take it your glass is perpetually half-empty.posted by: p-dawg on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
You guys have to vote every day? I knew there was a lot of local democracy, but I didn't realise you took it that far...posted by: john b on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Actually, a group has put forward a plan called "libertarian paternalism" for the government to reduce the choices presented to citizens because research has shown that people get stressed out by having to make too many choices, and Americans have way too many choices to make according to these folks. Not only do we have to choose between all those candidates for government office, but you have to decide which doctor to go to, which insurance provider and how much insurance, how to invest your money, where to send your kids to school. Even shopping requires decisions between hundreds of similar products. Oh, it's just too much for the ordinary guy.
"Terman coins intelligence quotient:
from www.aceviper.net's detailed history of the IQ test:
"[...] Since adult performance on tests tended to level off in the twenties, he [Wechsler] needed to abandon the Stern-Terman formula which divided mental age by chronological age. Wechsler based his scoring of the distribution of the normal curve. He equated the mean score for an appropriate age group to a value of 100 and developed tests which resulted with a standard deviation of 15. The first Wechsler Bellevue Scale was developed in 1939 and revised as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) in 1955. [...]"
Now there may be nuance in these not explained for us below 100's, but on the whole there is a basis for the impression that a score of 100 is average.posted by: Dusty on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
> Karl Rove has said that every campaign
Which is pretty sickening when you read, e.g. Churchill's campaign speeches from the 1930s. The district that he nominally represented in Parliment was working class, yet he gave speeches that would be Masters degree seminars in the US today and his consituants apparently waited in line (queue?) to hear them.
Crankyposted by: Cranky Observer on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Half of all Americans will always have an IQ less than 100. By definition.
However on a "constant scale American IQ has risen about 20 points in the last 100 years.
We are getting smarter.
The Social Security tax on wages is about 15%, not 12%, not 18%.posted by: M. Simon on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
IQ scores are normed at 100. Dilbert had a strip about the HR dept. going ballistic that 40% of sick days are taken on a Monday or Friday. (Scott Adams actually had to explain this joke to readers.)
Similarly, our HR department sent out a memo saying "The median number of sick days taken last year was X per employee. However, a number of employees were over the median." Yeah, I'd guess that HALF were.posted by: cc on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
What is funny is that all through the Clinton years, people like digital brownshirt (nice and very descriptive name), were ranting about how dumb Americans were to re-elect Clinton and how the masses couldn't be trusted because they'd vote for higher taxes on the wealthy, the true productive elite of society. The Randroids believe the same as well, of course.
You mean, like tell that there were WMDs in Iraq and that Iraq was linked to 9/11 ? Which elite group did the misleading there ?
Actually the only decision Pierre Bulldozeur in Lyon is making is which candidate is less likely to repeal the 35 hour workweek laws he so enjoys.posted by: Annon on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Jokes aside, I would guess that considerably more than 40% of sick days are taken on Monday or Friday.
I should also add that the founders definitely did not trust the common people (i.e. the elite), that is why voting was restricted to an elite group.
While some of the responses here want to break it down to a liberal elite vs. blue collar regular folks, the fact of the matter is that that is just their own politics. The conservative groups have their own elites as well, and the liberal groups have their own common working people as well (Hispanics in many Southern states as well).
posted by: erg on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
lmao....stop with the statistics already. cc..lol...anyway, along the same line, I love this bit
In fact, they inexplicably found that people who weigh a few pounds more than the ideal are less likely to die than those who weigh a few pounds less.
less likely to die?posted by: amyc on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
But equities aren't dramatically increasing in value, and it is far from clear that increases in house value are sustainable or if they represent the sort of bubble seen before in several markets. We know what happens in the aftermath of the pricking of a real estate bubble (see Japan). Unless some of that wealth is realized (by selling the equities or renting the house), I don't think its awfully smart to reduce your savings based on that presumption.posted by: erg on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
I followed the link you mentioned and it seemed to play down at least part of the reason mentioned for the link.
I also don't see what this has to do with Dan's statement about praising the Average American. Expert opinion on lots of topics fluctuate.
On the other hand, the fact that a lot of Americans still buy variable annuities, still buy loaded funds (although less than in prior years), still buy the wrong insurance products, and are even taking on interest-only mortgages tells me that a lot of Americans do need to get financial education. [The median American might still not need it, but a large population percentage still does]
What I think has the left in the USA really
But, rather, in reality, the electorate is
Poll after Poll shows that young people, even
This Sunday's New York Times magazine
It's happening world-wide too. Another
It looks like what is currently refereed
The resultant paydown in debt is a logical response to the fact that income has gone down for _WAGE EARNERS_ for the last two years. Some of this is the fact wages have not appreciated but the majority is the on the energy side(cost of gasoline) and increases in local and state taxes that are cutting what is left of wages. When the balance left is smaller the logical recourse is to paydown the expensive debt that was affordable. Now add in the fact there may be no Social Security you have no choice but to payoff debt.posted by: Robert M on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Of course, Ted, it might also mean that the "leftist pummelling" you mention is a figment of your imagination.posted by: Another Ted on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Of course, Ted, it might also mean that the "leftist pummelling" you mention is a figment of your imagination.
Either you think of yourself as liberal or you haven't been through either the public school system or the university system. As a graduate of the former and current participant in the latter, you're dreaming if you think leftist values/doctrines are not pushed by the majority of educators. I really wish you were correct, but unfortunately the real world contradicts your vision. Check out academicbias.org if you require real-world examples. I won't even go in to the media aspect, as that's been done rather to death.posted by: p-dawg on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Also, Europeans are not faced with dillemas that those with the power to do something often are. For instance, since Pierre Winestomper does not have the power to remove a dictator, he does not have to face the moral responsiblity of not acting that an American citizen does. He is free to pursue his economic interest because, if say, the Iraqis remain under the boot of Saddam, since he had no power to change this, he has no complicity in the fact of it.
If we sold out the Iraqis, we would have to live with it, as we do live with the mass graves found there, which we are partly responsible for, since we did not destroy Saddam the first time we had a chance.
I know that this idea is probably to subtle for a Brit, as you apparently are, to understand, but as Americans, we are acutely aware of the price of the power to change things.posted by: brb on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
yo, dan --
when americans rationally don't save b/c the value of their home is going up (and spend more), that's fine. but it also doesn't generate any new cash to finance new investment, it just reprices the value of an existing asset. that stats don't lie: $900 b of the $1150 of net us long-term bond issuance was bought by foreigners for a reason. they do set aside some of their current income as savings, and thus have free cash to finance new investment.
and then there is the small risk that housing price appreciation reflects an unsustainable fall in the long-term $ interest rate; if interest rates rise, housing values may fall. To lock in the capital gain, you have to trade your house for cash -- i don't see too many folks doing that. Until you do so, you are spending (or not saving) against purely paper gains ...
This has to be one of the most bizarre statements I've heard to date.
Should Americans be filled with guilt over their moral responsbility about the spread of AIDS, typhoid, dystentry etc. in Africa ? We certainly have the wealth to put an end to a great deal to it and to save far, far more lives than were killed by Saddam in his mass graves. Should we be struck with guilt over huge mass poverty in India ? Since we have the economic ability to change a great deal of this, does that mean we have moral responsibility to say, take up Professor Sach's suggestions on removing poverty ?
Or does this paroxym of guilt only infect us in one specific case -- that of Iraq ?
And incidentally, if we weren't to be as selective in our moral qualms as you seem to indicate, then most other Western countries should suffer similar qualms, because, they -- like us, have the economic power to change a great many lives for the better.
As an american, I have to say that this is pretty amusing, when directed at a country that essentially ruled the seas and much of the world for hundreds of years, far longer than America's reign as hyperpower.
posted by: Ron And Jen on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
The single biggest problem with the elite in this country is ignorance of the difference between intelligence and wisdom. To paraphrase A Fish Called Wanda: chimps read philosophy too, they just dont understand it.posted by: Mark Buehner on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
To that, I'll add this piece of wisdom from "This Is Spinal Tap":
"There's a fine line between clever and stupid."
Something for the political elites to consider...posted by: Appalled Moderate on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Maybe this is a dumb question, but...
Did it ever occur to any of you that there's a certain inherent irony in Dr. Drezner talking down the "elites", considering that he's, y'know, a high falutin' PhD at The University of Chicago, a private institution that charges big bucks to educate kids who were mostly in the upper-middle class to start with?
Or that there's even more irony in talking smack about "elites" in said PhD's personal blog - a medium which, despite some impressive recent growth, still doesn't have much to do with the aforementioned "Joe Bulldozer" crowd?
Let's cut the crap and stop talking about the "elites", whether Democrat or Republican, like they're from some other country. This is America, where we've always been free to tell people we don't like to f^&k off, regardless of their economic, political, or cultural standing. So just keep that in mind and spare us the elitist anti-elitist posturing.posted by: Chris on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"Its a tax, and nothing guarantees that the government will give you anything when you retire, you have no vested property right in social security."
For low saving americans (those who will enter retirement with little or no wealth), I think that Social Security, Mediocare and Medicaid is at least as secure an investment as my 401Ks and real estate.
As a boomer, I have been involved with a couple people who passed away, in their 70/80s. My perception is that there was little quality of life difference between the one on Medicaid in assisted living (perhaps a lucky facility choice) and the one with decent social securtity, a decent pension and a $600K estate.
I think that the argument that "he who dies with the most debt wins" is defensible for many who cannot or will not leave an estate.posted by: Robert on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
I was really convinced that you were correct, and that Americans really were smarter than the permanent govt gives them credit for, until I read the comments on this blog entry.posted by: Alice on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
In history, it seems when the proverbial dung hits the fan, elites are all too often the targets.
More, in this day and age, elite seems a synonym for Liberal. This may have a lot to do with their gratuitous and condescending ways, such as Ward Churchill's "little Eichmans."
Of course, non-elites (conservatives) also engage in insults, but more as an art-form than as a paid avocation. Except the beautiful Ann Coulter, of course.
Nonetheless, when the next revolution comes, where will the confirmed elites hide?
Note: Since the coming revolt will be sparked by our thoroughly corrupted judiciary - it would be prudent as an officer or associate of the court to consider yourself a card carrying elitist.
Of course, I could be entirely wrong. After all, I'm from the average 100, an average Joe familiar with a Cat-D7 (i.e. bulldozer). Nonetheless, I recall a K-12 history lesson, something about the low to mean IQ’ers storming... Starbucks.
Yup. Your comment proves it to be true;
Another Ted ... I can only think of
I suppose this is one of those silly
"Just my imagination ... running away
D.B.Baker: I just saw Ann Coulter on the cover of Time. This is not "beautiful".posted by: three hills on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Three Hills: 'Bulldozer operators' don't read "TIME" - not even the pictures.
Me, I'll wait for the Playboy, thanks;)posted by: D.B. Baker on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
If you saw a Law and Order where the defendant confessed to his attorney, it was not Law and Order, but spinoff #4 from Law and Order. (No, not Law and Order: Elevator Inspectors -- the inferior Law and Order: Trial by Jury.)
Now, granted, being neither 50 nor a devotee of TV Land I'm not particularly familiar with Dragnet, but my impression of it is that it is nowhere near as sophisticated as Law and Order (the original series).
Leave that for Fear Factor.posted by: David Nieporent on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Oh, DRAGNET! The music, the sweaty hammer against metal, Joe Friday lecturing those dirty, low-down criminals! Then, like sex, lighting up a Camel.
Perfect, in its time.
Karl Rove has said that every campaign should be run as though people were watching television with the sound turned off.
Damn, that guy is smart. I reflexively hit 'mute' when the commercials come on. It annoys the hell out of anyone else watching... but the commercials annoy the hell out of *me* (99% of them are crap), and I'm the one with the remote.
Note to self: search apartment for Karl Rove's spycams.posted by: rosignol on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
For example, an explanation of exactly how US residents are compelled/empowered to make more choices than those resident in other advanced industrial societies might be in order.
Read and learn:
These are starting points. Just google the names to see how "intellectuals" are making the case that we have too much choice for our own good. And, of course, the logical progression is that the anxiety induced in the "masses" by having too much choice can only be mitigated by letting our elite superiors limit our choices for us through government coercion.posted by: HA on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
They want to lead us into a war based on lies, misrepresentation and exaggeration, rather than tell us the truth and let us decide
On the contrary, the American people weighed the evidence and wisely determined that there were no lies, misrepresntation or exageration (at least not from whom you are alluding) and decided to re-elect George Bush. Thank God for the wisdom of ordinary Americans because otherwise John Kerry and the Democrats would be well on their way to losing the war in Iraq.
You lost that argument. What does it say of your intellect that you keep making it?posted by: HA on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Ron and Jen,
If you want us cleaning up Africa with guns a blazin, you let me know. I for one am rather sick of wasting funds on kleptocrats like Mugabe. China has a seat on the UNSC and has oil interest in the Sudan. Let me know when the UN gets serious about genocide and acts like preventing war and relieving suffering is more important than acting as a well-paid front for the crypto-colonialism that Europe still engages in.
Iraq was something we could change. All you have to prove that we can change the appalling conditions in Africa is your faith in policies that have failed wherever they have been tried.posted by: brb on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Thank you for reminding me of the latest Orwellian, oxymoronic term the left has coined to justify limiting our freedom.posted by: HA on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
And there were WMDs in iraq, and of course Iraq had links to 911 and of course the Iraq war would cost less than 100 B. If you can't deny the facts, lie . That seems to be your method.
You must not have read the latest polls (including the one from the Washington Post yesterday) showing how uneasy Americans were about Iraq and how many doubts they had about it, and how a significant majority are still opposed to Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq. Americans (a bare majority of 3.5%) decided that they did not want to change leaders in wartime, but that is far from an unqualified endorsement of the war in Iraq. In fact, the war in Iraq almost certainly prevented a Bush landslide.
What does it say of your intellect that your only response to that argument is the untrue statement that 'the American people decided against it' ? And of course, the debate on this is still very much open, it will be up to historians to evaulate it.
That seems to be a logical corollary only in your mind (not surprising, since despite posing as a libertarian, your philosophy is about as authoritarian as anyplace outside of North Korea).
The fact that a lot of companies and industries go out of their way to offer bundled solutions in various categories (from financial services to travel) indicates that for some people, yes more choice is not necessarily good. Some people prefer it, some do not. There is no logical corollary at all.
There are a great deal of ways of cleaning things up that do not involve guns-a-blazing. I know this is a revolutionary idea to you, but its so. There are a great deal of countries in Africa that can benefit greatly from aid, before we go onto Zimbabwe (anyway Mugabe is already 70-80 years old).
Translation: "Despite my claim about how as an American, I bear a heavy burden of choices that others do not and am compelled to act in iraq because my conscience overwhelms me, I really do not find my conscience bothering me over Africa."
There is indeed something amusing over someone who claims that 'choices' compel spending $300 Billion plus in Iraq because 'we could do something about it' ignoring the fact that Iraq is still very much a work in progress. It may all come out for the good -- I certainly hope so, but your referring to is a cut-and-dried case of being able to fix iraq is amusing to say the least.
And despite your other comments, there have been well-managed aid programs that have worked. The Marshall program is one example, others include the Green Revolution. Anyone who claims these have always failed is 1) ignorant of history 2) really has a very selective conscience.posted by: Jen on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
"The Social Security tax on wages is about 15%, not 12%, not 18%.
posted by: M. Simon on 04.25.05 at 10:06 AM"
In fact, the FICA tax, or more accurately OASDI, is 12.4% on the first $90K. Then there is Medicare, 2.9% on all earned income. You can Google up the rates/maximums 30-50 years ago and will be shocked how minuscule they are.
People wonder why lower- and middle-income earners don't save money. Could it be that it's because almost 1/6 of their income is ripped away from them?
You must not have read the latest polls
Since you don't like the outcome of the election, I'm glad you can at least find some consolation in the results of push polls.
despite posing as a libertarian, your philosophy is about as authoritarian as anyplace outside of North Korea
Errr, OK. Don't you think that is a bit of a stretch?
Isn't the market a wonderful thing? While leftist marxbots are wringing their hands about Americans having too much choice, and coining stupid phrases like "libertarian paternalism" to justify more government intrusion in our lives, the market is quietly responding to people's needs.
posted by: HA on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Translation: "Any polls I don't like are push polls. I claim to believe in the wisdom of the people but in reality I only believe in it when they agree with me."
Not that much, really. You seem to be fine with a government that lies and exaggerates us into war. Just about anyone agrees that the goverment's war powers are its most powerful ones (which is why the Founding Fathers put several restrictions on them). You seem to have no problem with any abuse of these most great powers, ergo your claims of desiring liberty or knowledge are bogus.
Firstly, the guys who used that phrase come from the University of Chicago. Last I heard, that was hardly a hotbed of Marxism. Of course, for someone like you who thinks anyone to the left of Attila is a communist, its not surprising. Secondly, picking on a half-assed theoretical paper as some sign of great societal changes just demonstrates your paranoia, nothing else.posted by: marsh on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
You seem to be fine with a government that lies and exaggerates us into war...You seem to have no problem with any abuse of these most great powers, ergo your claims of desiring liberty or knowledge are bogus.
Your conclusion would be absurd even if the premise were true, which of course it isn't. There were no lies and exaggerations that got us into war. The Bush administration presented a factual, multi-faceted justification for war that was authorized by a bi-partisan vote in Congress.
What do you hope to accomplish by harping on this issue 5 months after the election? Suppose you do fool some people into believing in your obsession. What is there to gain?
Or is it just about ego. Perhaps you've invested so much in the fantasy that Bushitler lied and exaggerated to get us into a war for oil that you can't let go. Even worse, you might actually believe it.
Secondly, picking on a half-assed theoretical paper as some sign of great societal changes just demonstrates your paranoia, nothing else.
Cass Sunstein isn't some obscure academic. He is a leader of a George Soros funded effort to revise the Contitution to make it safe for Marxism. This conference "The Constitution in 2020" is a de facto admission that the so-called "progressive" agenda is unconstitutional:
I'll leave you with the last word if you choose. There is nothing to be gained in conversing with a stump.posted by: HA on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
Lets look at those facts now:
WMDs in Iraq: None, confirmed 2 days back
For someone who professedly believes in liberty and the wisdom of the American people, you really dont' seem to beleive in it much, because you want to shut this off.
And according to the latest Gallup poll, 50% of Americans believe that Bush lied us into war. So the common Americans do believe that as well. Think about that.
The gain is the gain that we know about what our government does, why it does things and we behave with appropriate skepticism next time. Of course, your professed desire for liberty doesn't include that.
Perhaps its your ego at work here. You've invested so much of your liberty-loving soul in the idea that the government can do no wrong, that you actually feel that nothing went wrong in Iraq that everything was handled swimmingly and the war was faced on facts.
And incidentally, I don't believe the war was about oil at all.
Well, since your definition of Marxism seems to be anyone who isnt' a Nazi, maybe he is. In any case, he's still an obscure academic being funded by a slightly wacko billionaire. No big deal except to right wing wackos who love liberty except of course when it comes to the Government's most potent powers -- that of making war.posted by: marsh on 04.24.05 at 09:09 PM [permalink]
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