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Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

The Landstander posted:

This thread is a good idea, I hope requests are okay

One of the bigger arguments out there is the theory that the housing bubble was the result of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and 'government intrusion' in general as opposed to Wall Street deregulation. I seem to recall there was a very good article that debunked it in a systematic fashion that I found from here, but I don't recall a lot more than that (and it was awhile ago). I can find a bunch of smaller articles and even repositories of smaller articles (like from Media Matters), but I could've sworn there was a more focused 'this is why this is wrong' article.

If anyone had this it would be a good addition.

All the Devils Are Here is supposed to be a very thorough and accurate reporting and analysis of what happened, though I haven't read the book, but I've seen interviews with the authors about the book.

This should be a great resource for the topic, but it's probably going to take much longer to answer your specific questions than the article to which you are alluding.


Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Yoshifan823 posted:

I'm talking with some people on the internet about education, and someone asked about Charter Schools, and aside from laying out some basic points about why privatized education is a terrible idea, The Myth of Charter Schools is something I always cite, just because it's incredibly well laid out and takes something quite a few people have seen (Waiting for Superman) and puts the argument in the context of that movie.

On this same line, I thought I saw a headline earlier today about how teacher unions are actually beneficial to education, but I lost it, and I couldn't find it via Google. Anyone else see/save that?

poo poo, don't let Arkane know you mentioned that,

Seriouspost: That's my go-to article for talking to people about charter schools.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Bob Nudd posted:

How could that article ever be used to convince someone that abortion is morally okay? Take one belief you hold seriously. Let's say you're a committed pacifist. Would a list of dubious anecdotes about alleged pacifists being hypocritical change you into a hawk? It's ludicrous. It doesn't speak to the topic of abortion's acceptability in the slightest. It's just a smug ad hominem against everyone with opposing beliefs on this issue.

I'm sure in pro-life circles they pass around cherished articles that describe how nefarious and other those conniving choicers are. It's all echo-chamber intellectual narcissism, whichever side is doing it.

It's useful because it points out the rank hypocrisy of the anti-abortion movement. If people who are against abortion enough to actually picket abortion clinics were to then have abortions themselves or encourage their daughters, wives, and other female loved ones to get abortions, then it's pretty much the most classic example of hypocrisy and a version of the special pleading fallacy.

The overall purpose is that it shows how dishonest it is for anti-abortion people to consider abortion to be murder. If something is murder, then it should be considered murder no matter who commits the act, it should not be murder just for everyone else but you and your loved ones. These hypocrites are basically arguing for special dispensation for their own abortions while not giving that same consideration to all other women.

To bring it back to your example about pacifists, that article is analogous to having groups of pacifists who are not categorical pacifists, but rather are only pacifists when it comes to nations other than their own. Thus, they discourage and rail against all forms of war and conflict when committed by other nations, but they are hawkish when it comes to wars perpetuated by their own home nation. These hypocritical pacifists want special consideration for the wars and conflicts started and/or continued by their home nation, but are against applying the same standards to all warfare and conflict from other nations.

Another version of this is in regards to terrorism. There are plenty of people who claim to be against terrorism and/or religious violence but then spend time making excuses, shifting rhetorical focus, and playing with semantics to excuse terrorism and religious violence they "like" or at least agree with. Take US Congressman Peter King. He has repeatedly targeted Muslims and lambasted them as either being terrorists or supporting terrorism directly or indirectly, going as far as to set up multiple congressional hearings into radicalism in American mosques and Muslim communities, which are basically McCarthyist witch hunts against American Muslims. King is a rank hypocrite because he has supported the IRA for decades, including publicly promoting them, directly visiting and associating with their leaders, and helping raise money for them through NORAID. He has explicitly claimed that there are no parallels between the conflict in Northern Ireland and other forms of terrorism, especially Islamic terrorism against the US.

Pointing out this hypocrisy is probably not going to convince people like Peter King, anti-abortion advocates, or hardcore doves and hawks to change their positions, but it may help in winning over people on the fence or who are not fully informed about these subjects.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Interlude posted:

Whether or not you consider gun ownership a "civil right" by the standards of your home country's law, it is here in America and thus your standard of judgment is inapplicable.

Except the point is that there are functioning, stable, democratic nations that don't have gun ownership as civil rights, which is an obvious refutation of the gun rights advocacy tropes that the 2nd Amendment is necessary to preserve order, keep crime low, and prevent government tyranny.

I say this while being in favor of gun rights. It's just that I'm also in favor of not making up bullshit to support my positions and not ignoring inconvenient facts.

Dominoes posted:

The OP is a list of American Liberal talking points. It's a D&D groupthink-branded "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must):", with no regard for exploring new policy ideas or fairly evaluating effects of existing ones. It serves to reinforce existing biases, representing a fundamental problem with modern politics.

Now you're just poo poo posting.

You aren't bringing up specific, tangible problems with any of the sources being used, e.g. "those statistics are wrong," "the research methodology is flawed," "the underlying premises are wrong," "the logic is fallacious," etc., all you're doing is simply labeling it all as "liberal" and throwing your hands in the air as if something supporting a liberal argument necessarily means that it is wrong or bad.

Why don't you either make some well-reasoned critiques of the sources already presented or present your own sources that refute them?

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Interlude posted:

That's nice that you think that, but it still can't be used to hand-wave away the 2nd Amendment. I mean I suppose you can just pretend it doesn't exist and debate the issues, but it's kind of the elephant in the room.

Nice job quoting me out of context.

The second part of my comment was that I'm still in favor of gun rights, so I was clearly not "hand-waving away the 2nd Amendment." My point was that those specific issues used by some groups to promote gun rights and reduce regulation (e.g. reducing crime, preventing government tyranny,etc.) are fallacious and just obscure more important arguments about civil liberties and real sociological issues, which I contend support the 2nd Amendment.

It only hurts supporters of the 2nd Amendment to argue demonstrably false tropes that guns are necessary to solve certain problems, especially when other nations have shown that this is not the case. It's more productive to talk about things like (1) fearmongering from those in favor of very strict gun control, (2) false choice fallacies from idiots who frame the debate as either being against the 2nd Amendment entirely or in favor of completely unrestricted and unregulated weapon ownership, (3) that there are other, more important contributors to crime like poverty, so we should deal with those instead, (4) how other nations like Canada, Switzerland, and Finland have personal gun ownership, but do not have anything close to the crime and recidivism rates of the USA so it's not gun ownership in and of itself that causes crime and other problems.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Paul MaudDib posted:

You can find examples of functioning, stable democratic nations that don't have pretty much anything as a civil right. Americans don't give civil rights to kids, so Europe should take away children's rights. Europe doesn't have free speech as a right. America doesn't think welfare (right to food/shelter) or healthcare is a right. And so on and so on.

And your opinion that it shouldn't be doesn't change the fact that firearms ownership is a civil right here. It's a losing battle, one that has legitimate origins in the eyes of many Americans due to the American revolution, and it's simply not worth fighting again.

e: What I am saying is, enjoy living in your first-world European democracies, and if you really want to help you should push for the things that create equality and raise standards of living so that crime is naturally reduced instead of trying to push measures that will create a backlash against those same policies. There's tens of millions of Americans living with disease, no access to dentistry, in food deserts, and so on. We even have Doctors without Borders-style organizations working here in the US. Education costs $25k a year. This should be a thousand times more important to you than whether someone gets to keep a gun. The best way to address crime (and the perceived need for gun ownership) is to make people feel safe and have a stake in society and we are massively falling down there.

What the gently caress is with all of you taking my words out of context and selectively quoting my words?

I clearly wrote that I'm in favor of the 2nd Amendment, so it's quite obvious that you are falsifying my "opinion" because you have an agenda and/or that you suck at reading.

My point was that claims about guns reducing crime and preventing government tyranny are unfounded, especially because there are places with equal levels of civil rights, lower crime rates, and no government "tyranny" that also don't have personal gun ownership as a civil right. The US has far more guns per capita than any other nation in the world yet we have higher crime rates than other comparable first-world nations, so it should be obvious that more guns are not the answer to our crime problem.

That said, my other comments pretty clearly outlined how we can have gun ownership and reduce crime and suffering by other, more important means, like reducing poverty and improving education. So what I was actually saying is that being restrictive or more permissive with gun laws is not actually going to do anything substantive about crime and other problems, other than maybe give people a false sense of security.

Paul MaudDib posted:

Besides, how did that nut who shot up the kids' camp get a gun in gun-free Europe anyway?

Once again you are taking my words out of context, putting words in my mouth, and entirely ignoring the facts. I specifically cited Switzerland and Finland as two of many European nations who have lower crime rates than the US while also allowing for private gun ownership, so I was clearly not asserting that Europe is "gun-free." Norway, the site of Anders Breivik's terrorist acts, is another one of these nations that allows for private gun ownership, yet generally has significantly lower crime and recidivism rates than the US, but you're too busy arguing with straw men to actually notice important things like facts and context.

Honestly, I'm not sure who you are exactly arguing with, but your use of strawmen and taking things out of context make it patently obvious that you're not arguing with me.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Interlude posted:

You're over-analyzing this. I was simply saying that if we're discuss guns in America, its useless to bring up the fact that gun ownership is not a civil right in other countries.

It's not entirely useless because it blatantly contradicts certain claims by pro-gun advocates that society would go to poo poo if guns were further restricted. The problem is that certain pro-gun people are muddying the waters and preventing real debate on the issue of sensible gun regulations (e.g. restricting access based on criminal history, mental health history, waiting periods, firearm registrations, etc.) by bringing up red herrings that fearmonger to prevent discussion of real issues. E.g. if you tell people that crime will skyrocket, causing their families to be raped and murdered, or claim that the government is going to start herding them into FEMA camps if they don't have guns to defend themselves, it prevents many people from rationally discussing the issues.

Interlude posted:

In case you haven't noticed, things are pretty bad in the US. We have awful socioeconomic mobility, a harmful war on drugs, vast swaths of people with little to no access to anything that will lift them out of a subsistence existence. That things are so much better in other first world countries has little to do with access to guns and more to do with the fact that are better places to live if you're poor, ergo less crime.

That was kind of my point and the reason why I am still in favor of gun rights and the 2nd Amendment even though issues like crime are not positively affected by gun ownership.

This again brings up my point about red herrings in gun rights debates, as conservative organizations will fearmonger about Democrats trying to confiscate their guns and allow them to be victimized by criminals or an oppressive government. Just look at any even moderately conservative website and you'll find many conservative commentors talking about how Obama is anti-gun and wants to take away their 2nd Amendment rights when he really hasn't even articulated a position on gun rights, let alone craft or sign any legislation further restricting 2nd Amendment rights.

All of this distracts many people from real issues that would tangibly better their lives and actually reduce crime, like ending the drug war, reducing poverty, and improving education. If you're constantly worried about your 2nd Amendment rights and think that your very safety and liberties rely on you and your guns, then you are not very likely to calmly and rationally study the true issues.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Enjoy posted:

But the market fundamentalist sees free markets as self regulating, so an excess of market power would be corrected in the long term* via competition. For example, a company that priced gouged would, via higher profits, create incentive for other companies to compete against them with lower prices, which would destroy the pricer gouger unless they lowered their own prices in turn. Better avenues of attack might be that market forces don't necessarily reflect human need (use value vs exchange value), or that companies themselves are corrupt institutions since the concept of ownership prevents market actors without means of production from entering into competition.

*we're all dead

Ron Paul was a guest on The Daily Show a few weeks back and he was a perfect example of this market fundamentalist perspective you cite here. He literally said that there are stricter and better regulations in a free market than when the government intervenes and regulates businesses. Jon Stewart did a pretty lovely job in challenging Paul on his assertions, though he did make a few weak attempts and you could easily tell that he wanted to say more but held back. I think Jon is really just hung up by how uncivil, unproductive, and annoying vigorous debates are on other news shows that he holds back so that things don't devolve into shouting matches or arguments.

I really wish Stewart would have called him on this assertion about there being stricter regulations in a free market. There are numerous historical examples of how unregulated markets led to corruption, unethical behavior, and numerous other problems. There are also examples of how government regulation cleaned up many of these problems, like the Pure Food and Drug Act regulating the quality of food and drugs, including requiring ingredient labeling, causing "patent medicines" (unregulated snake oil medications which usually had some undisclosed quantity of opiates) to disappear virtually overnight. More importantly, if the market would have stricter regulations if the government wasn't involved, then why would businesses object to the supposedly lower standards from government mandates? If they were going to clean up their acts and regulate themselves anyway, then why does it matter if the government helps out with administering and enforcing regulations?

Dirty Job posted:

Does anyone have any links to studies discussing whether homosexuality is a choice? I know they exist, but google searching brings me (oddly enough) to conservapedia and a bunch of news articles, not the studies themselves.

I'll have to go find my old links, but as Grifter points out, a major piece of evidence demonstrating that homosexuality (and sexuality in general) is not a choice is the collection of studies showing that so-called "reparative therapy" doesn't work.

Even in the studies conducted by "ex-gay" organizations who promote and/or offer reparative therapy, all that is ever demonstrated is abstention from homosexual sexual activity, which is pretty much the same as anyone, irrespective of orientation, abstaining from sex. In these studies which are actually biased in favor of reparative therapy, they specifically note that there was not a statistically significant change in the thoughts, feelings, attractions, and fantasies of the subjects, i.e. these people were still thinking about gay sex, still attracted to people of the same sex, still fantasizing about having gay sex, etc. So, even this biased sample that would be most prone to accept reparative therapy could not stop actually feeling and thinking as homosexual people even if they changed their behavior by abstaining from gay sex. (The actual study begins on page 41)

This^^^ isn't the study I was thinking of but it covers similar ground, in that it's a research study from conservative Christian Regent University (founded by Pat Robertson) and published in a "Christian psychology" journal, which found that people can change their active behaviors but not their actual orientation. It's not specifically about reparative therapy but rather a survey of people in "mixed orientation couples" where one person is heterosexual and the other is a "sexual minority," e.g. homosexual, bisexual, bi-curious, etc.

That said, all of this stuff about homosexuality being a choice is actually a red herring because you also have to remember that sexuality is not a binary quality. It's a continuum ranging from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality with degrees of both between the extremes. Most people are somewhere between the extremes, but there is such a heteronormative bias that people think it's like the old one-drop rule for race, e.g. "if you ever have absolutely any homosexual feelings or attractions, it automatically makes you completely gay."

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Econosaurus posted:

Can someone tell me about the U.S. post office? Is it profitable or not?

It's not "profitable" in the strict sense of economics in that it can't legally take profits, but it used to generally operate "in the black," having income greater than its liabilities. The postal service is also prevented from competing with other carriers like UPS and Fedex as a private business could, which hurts its ability to bring in larger revenues.

The problems it currently faces are mainly caused by two issues, (1) failure to modernize with the advance of the internet and (2) healthcare/benefits costs.

The former is a problem because the postal service relied on letter-type mail as a big chunk of its bottom line, but the internet caused much of this to dry up with the popularization of email and social networking sites, among other things. This developed into an even greater problem for the postal service because it didn't reduce the number of post offices and postal employees even though demand for delivery sharply decreased. With this glut of offices and employees, the postal service is racking up costs it can't handle and, frankly, doesn't need. This is a major source of the postal service's financial problems and is kind of their own fault for not seeing the writing on the wall and adapting to changing times.

The latter problem is not of the postal service's making, but rather Congress'. In 2006, Congress passed the "Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act," which included a number of changes including the requirement that the postal service has to make a series of payments over 10 years to prepay the healthcare and retirement benefits for all employees for the next 75 years.

Now, the postal service has previously never had a problem paying out these benefits and already has a pretty big trust fund set up just to account for them, so it doesn't really make sense to have this absurd requirement to cover 75 years of costs ahead of time. Making these payments is the most immediate threat to the postal service and is largely what's preventing it from operating with little to no debt.

Short answer: The US postal service can't legally profit, but it has and could operate in the black if it modernized a bit and if Congress reversed an illogical mandate.

Bruce Leroy fucked around with this message at Oct 27, 2011 around 10:51

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Svartvit posted:

This is what Jon Stewart is, and why he's a comedian. He once had the brutal then-dictator of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf on his show with nothing but good words for him, that's how politically vacuous the show is. The fact that a lot of people look up to him as some kind of political person is a huge tell about the state of American civil debate.

I don't think that's entirely fair to Jon. If you separate The Daily Show between the interview and the rest of the show, you get two very different programs. The former is a kind of weak, but entertaining chat show and the latter is this pretty biting and acerbic socio-political commentary.

The Jon in the interview segment is very different from the Jon in the rest of the program. He's very critical and passionate while remaining very funny and entertaining when he's by himself or with one of the correspondents, but the instant a guest sits down, he loses his balls and at best gives them questions which he frequently fails to follow up on and doesn't call people on their bullshit.

There have been a handful of interviews where this hasn't happened and Jon let his persona from the first segments bleed over into the interviews and he became very combative and tough on the guests. The two that I remember off-hand are (1) the lady who started all the "Death Panel" bullshit and came to the desk with a giant binder supposedly filled with half of the healthcare reform bill and (2) a guy representing Liz Cheney's "Keep America Safe" group after they questioned the loyalty of DOJ lawyers who previously represented Gitmo detainees. Jon basically took the kid gloves off when he interviewed these two and didn't let them get away with poo poo.

Of course, it is possible to strike a balance, which Jon really only seems to get right when he interviews Bill Kristol. Jon is very friendly and amiable with Kristol but still politely calls him on his poo poo, though this may be because they know each other so well that Jon is comfortable doing this when he wouldn't be with first time guests.

Overall, the Daily Show is great and very informative, but it's pretty unbalanced.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Dirty Job posted:

I don't think I'm doing this right. Here's the response I received, with references to Karl Marx, hippies, praising Ayn Rand, and how redistributing the wealth is evil!

I'm just going to call it quits. There's literally nothing I can say to her. Ayn Rand, for Christ's sake.

She also responded to a political cartoon I put up and mentioned how climate change isn't something the government should worry about and scientists haven't come to a conclusion on whether it's real or not. She's literally an Earth Scientist, the daughter of another Earth Scientist. Who doesn't believe in climate change.

The easiest refutation to that entire diatribe of bullshit is that there was substantial economic growth and prosperity from 1945 onward, when taxes were significantly higher (I believe the top tax bracket was 75% for a long while) and when the government was far more involved in the economy through social programs and regulation.

She can't explain away these historical facts and neither can other conservative ideologues. I saw Grover Norquist on Bill Maher's show last night and he is just a despicable rear end in a top hat. He literally said that poor people are poor because of the government, which is loving insane. Maher pointedly asked him if there was any level of income inequality which is bad and Norquist responded, "Only when the government creates inequality."

It's futile to bother arguing with these utterly callous people who ignore reality when it's inconvenient. She's obviously an ideologue who won't let facts come between her and the beliefs and biases she has before empiricism and science come into play.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

ShadowCatboy posted:

Honestly, I think you should keep pressing. Your conversation with your friend appears to have gone well (e.g. no yelling, insults, sarcasm, etc.) and he generally seemed receptive to your ideas and, more importantly, facts and evidence.

Try to casually bring it up again, maybe in the context of something like, "I was watching TV today and saw something that reminded me of what we were talking about the other day," just don't make it seem like you are trying to convert him like a Jehovah's Witness.

I've had similar conversations with people I know (generally very conservative family members) and it usually ends with overly dramatic eyerolling and derisive sarcasm, so I'm hopeful you can at least have more productive conversations with your friend, even if you don't convince him to change his positions.


ShadowCatboy posted:

"The Republican replied with: 'Well what if the father's death help inspire the dude to make something better of himself?'

Holy poo poo, from where do you know my cousin?

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

shots shots shots posted:

A Scandinavian economist once stated to Milton Friedman: "In Scandinavia we have no poverty." Milton Friedman replied, "That's interesting, because in America among Scandinavians, we have no poverty either."

A guy took some census data to make a "virtual europe" of people who identify as various descents and found that the old Milton Friedman statement is true. People of European descent are even richer in America than in their respective home countries. Note that the data is done by descent (people who identified a country as their heritage on census forms) rather than first generation immigrants or people with citizenship.

Honestly, that link is loving terrible.

It is extremely intellectually dishonest for him to use sheer GDP to imply that not only is the US more "dynamic," but that the US is somehow better off than the EU-15 overall, though his definition of better seems to basically be "not like Europe." If he were more honest and interested in being intellectually rigorous, he would include analyses of price indexes relative to GDP (i.e. just because you have more absolute money doesn't mean you can buy as much with it), wealth distribution (hint: the US has incredibly higher wealth inequity than any nation in the EU-15, so it's dishonest to claim that the "average" American has more wealth than the "average" European in the EU-15), American out-of-pocket costs for things that Europeans receive from or highly subsidized/controlled by their governments (e.g. healthcare, college education, etc.), comparative poverty rates (he only lists the poverty rates in the US, for the overall nation and for ethnic sub-populations), and other important factors (especially those that impact standard of living) that inform the total picture of how "dynamic" (whatever that exactly means) a given nation is.

The author clearly has a bias and it's pretty obvious to see how it affects his thought processes.

E.g. here's his response to someone criticizing his post for not including a standard of living analysis based on the government benefits and social programs to which Krugman was initially alluding:

Tino Sanandaji posted:


Your comparison is unfair. The debate is about what would happen to the American standard of living if they did what Krugman wants and adopted welfare state policies. Would they:

* Suddenly develop the unique food culture that exists in Italy and France (and certainly not in for example Britain or Finland) and that is the product of 400 years of development?

* Have pretty girls like Sweden?

* Suddenly and out of nowhere develop the rich cultural products the renascence or baroque? Especially the kind you "cannot buy"?

* Retroactively develop a 3000 year old "complex history" like Greece?

* Demographically become homogeneous and escape from racial tensions like Finland?

Of course not. It would be, to quote you, "particularly ridiculous".

Something's that form the quality of life, like income, are effected by policy, and something's are not. It is pointless to debate the things we cannot affect. In the areas policy can affect America is doing far far better than Europe. (by the way, GDP takes into account most quality differences. If people in the US want to buy expensive cheese they have the extra income to do so).

On the other hand, if you want to play this silly game, compare the quality of living in Sunny San Diego with the 8 month long dark winters of the Nordic nations? The culture, food and pulse of New York with typical European cities? C-span and HBO with Italian public television? Harvard with Bocconi?

By the way, SUVs provides people with better driving experiences than tiny Italian cars. Europe is too crowded (not a function of policy) and too poor (function of policy) to afford such luxuries. In Sweden there are plenty of SUV:s, but they are mostly owned by the high income, and are a status symbol, whereas in the US ordinary people can afford them and their fuel. Instead you are left bragging about "energy efficiency"(!). Do you also want to brag about how "well-designed" tiny small European apartments are compared to comfortable American houses?

Western Europe beats the poo poo out of the US when it comes to "the areas policy can affect," from crime rates, crime recidivism, healthcare (both in quality and cost), poverty (especially since they tend to have proper social welfare programs to prevent them from suffering like the poor do in the US), wealth inequity, education, and various other aspects directly affected by government policy.

More importantly, you can see how intellectually dishonest he is, like comparing Harvard University with Bocconi University, instead of more appropriate schools like Oxford and Cambridge. He should have compared US TV with something like Britain's TV (BBC, etc.) instead of Italian TV, which is notoriously corrupt due to Silvio Berlusconi owning basically 90% of media outlets. Comparing San Diego to Scandinavia in terms of climate is also dishonest because it purposely neglects that most of America doesn't have climates like southern California and several states have pretty severe winters on par with Scandinavia (e.g. Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, etc.), not to mention that Alaska (our largest state) is as bad or worse than Scandinavia.

It's pretty telling that he demeans "energy efficiency" in favor of salivating over SUVs, especially since focusing on SUV production is a big part of what caused US automakers to lose marketshare to their Asian counterparts, who offered Americans the safety, fuel economy, affordability, reliability, and longevity that they actually wanted. He also fails to consider that American cities (and to a larger extent, whole states) were planned out with the notion of widespread car ownership in the post-WWII period. European nations generally have better public transit systems than the US and are laid out to better facilitate walking, biking, and smaller vehicles, though this may be more of a product of having older cities that were built when there were no cars.

Each word is more telling than the last and digs him even deeper than his OP and subsequent comment let on, e.g. thinking that universal healthcare, more liveable minimum wages, better retirement benefits, and better government regulations would give us a worse standard of living. If you can't tell how biased and, frankly, obtuse and dull-witted this man is, then you have bigger problems than he does. I generally respect the University of Chicago, but if they're churning out people like this from their PhD programs I may have to reconsider my position.

TL;DR: shots shots shots, stop making GBS threads up this thread with your lovely link(s).

Bruce Leroy fucked around with this message at Nov 4, 2011 around 10:13

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

V. Illych L. posted:

To be totally fair, both Norway and Iceland were pretty much backwaters up until the post-war period, being pretty much Danish colonies outright up until the Napoleonic war and WWII respectively. Norway got oil to supplement its welfare state, but Iceland's pretty much got there on their own straight away.

And the rest of Europe got hosed to hell by WWII and had to rebuild, leaving them at a competitive disadvantage to the US, which had little to no damage (except Pearl Harbor) from the war and had stimulated its economy with war spending and industrial production.

V. Illych L. posted:

Of course, Iceland then unleashed its financial sector completely, and we all know how that went, but calling the foundling states of Norway and Iceland particularly privileged doesn't strike me as very accurate.

Didn't Iceland gently caress itself over by basically becoming America jr. in terms of financial markets? Basically, didn't they do pretty much everything that hosed over Wall Street and American banks?

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

rscott posted:

You mean the vast majority of wealth in the United States is owned by people of European decent? Surely you jest!

Tino Sanandaji (the blog's author) would probably respond by simply comparing the GDPs (in both absolute and per capita terms) of other nations to those of American sub-populations with the same ethnic background (e.g. "See, black people in the US have higher per capita GDP than Uganda and Sudan, so obviously black Americans have nothing to complain about and should stop being such welfare state liberals"), while purposely neglecting comparisons between Americans of different ethnic backgrounds, e.g. ethnic/racial minority rates of income, poverty, incarceration, education, etc. compared to those of European Americans.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

I.W.W. ATTITUDE posted:

Does anyone have any good links that lay out in layman's terms:

Productivity, environmental impact, and sustainability of organic vs. modern agriculture, or addresses the claim that the current global population could sustain itself with organic agriculture.

Can we also get some stuff about genetically engineered crops?

I constantly hear and read crap about GE crops being some kind of evil Franken-agriculture that is going to doom the entire Earth, but everything I know about biology, botany, anthropology, and history makes me think that it's a bunch of scaremongering from people (from what I've seen, mostly pro-organic advocates) who just don't understand it (e.g. the claims of cross-breeding plants with animals, which was just part of some novel research studies into plant and animal genetics but were never meant to be eaten).

I mean, how is it all that different from all the selective breeding and rudimentary "genetic engineering" practiced by humans for the thousands of years that we've had agriculture? Isn't it just refining these ancient processes to a precise science, like old-school astronomy to modern astronomy and astrophysics or the development of modern medicine?

Also, wasn't genetic engineering essentially what allowed for the green revolution through the development of new, high-yield crops?

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

duck monster posted:

Its not the outcomes that have been the problem in these cases, it was the actual costs of the litigation itself.

And again, as I said, the (pseudo)scientific claims are red herrings, its the economic and political problems of patented food that are the problems, notably that of creating dependency for third world farmers.

I'm amenable to discussing those real problems, but that wasn't really my point in bringing up GMOs.

My point was to address the pseudoscience used in first-world nations to fearmonger against GMOs, but I guess my ultimate goal would be for these same people to discuss the real issues of economics and geopolitics in regards to agriculture and business rather than use bullshit scare tactics.

More importantly, I don't think the pseudoscience is a red herring because it has begun to spread to nations that actually need the GMOs to survive.

Environmentalists from first-world nations have used pseudoscience to convince third-world governments to reject food aid from the US and other nations due to fears about health risks from eating the GM crops. People are literally starving and pseudoscience is preventing them from getting access to food aid that would keep them from dying. This is why we need substantive research and evidence to put the pseudoscience to bed, afterwords we can get to work on solving the problems of economics and politics.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Mr. Self Destruct posted:

Its almost as if the ability to hold a patent on such things is in and of itself considered immoral by some people? Nobody is arguing that they are breaking the law, that is of no concern. The ability to commit all sorts of malicious acts is often enshrined in our legal systems, the problem is institutionalized injustice.

Well, if you are going to make an assertion about patents like that, why not add to the thread by posting information about patent law and how, according to you, it is immoral and needs to be reformed?

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Davish Krail posted:

I've returned and updated the OP with some of the links you guys have provided. Thanks to everyone who's been adding them, especially when they're formatted like in the OP so I can just copy and paste.

But seriously, stop making GBS threads up my thread with Monsanto bullshit, start a new thread for that. This should be a place where debate help is sought and received, not another thread for debating itself.

My bad for asking about GM crops.

For content: Can we get some good links about the subprime crisis dealing with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

It's hard finding anything that doesn't just seem like partisan rhetoric.

What little I've gleaned from the few good sources I've found and a few interviews I've seen on The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and other TV shows is that banks knew that if their subprime mortgage holdings went belly-up (as they actually did), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would cover their losses, but the banks and investors in security-backed mortgages would get all the profits if this didn't happen. As I've heard numerous times "profits were made private, while debts and risks rested on the public."

I don't much about banking and finance so I'm not really sure how exactly this worked.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

AlternateNu posted:

After doing a back and forth with my mother and one of her friends on facebook on the legitimacy of trickle down economics , and whether the PPAC Act actually reduces medical costs my mom ends of writing this:

To which I reply:

Now. She comes back with an interesting rant on the mega-Church complex:

Beyond the fact that I know this has very little to do with what we were actually talking about, does anyone have any decent links on Church tax exemption, primarily with regards to change in the last 100 years or so? I'm pretty sure she's ragging on Scientology (and maybe Mormons?), but she is also way overreaching on this argument.

I don't think Churches and religious organizations really had tax exempt statuses (or at least did not exercise them) until the passage of the 16th Amendment, which made income taxation constitutional.

As for how it works in practice, the IRS is actually pretty good about ferreting out fraudulent claims of tax-exempt religious and charitable organizations, but there are a couple of infamous cases to the contrary, such as Scientology. For years, the Church of Scientology had tried and failed to get tax-exempt status, as the IRS is generally pretty hesitant to give any new religious the exemption due to concerns of people creating fake churches (basically claiming that their family is its own separate church and/or religion, with the head of the household as its chief priest/rabbi/imam/pastor/etc.) to make their income tax-free. So, Scientology coordinated literally thousands of lawsuits from its members against the IRS, inundating the government with paperwork, information, and other labor-intensive work. The IRS ended up surrendering by making a deal with the Church of Scientology to give it tax exempt status if its members would withdraw all lawsuits.

Thus, it's understandable from these and other cases (especially with the way Scientology operates as an organization, read the New Yorker interview with director Paul Haggis that turned into an expose of Scientology) why your mother is angry about what essentially amounts to legal tax evasion.

That said, it seems like your mom is kind of taking this from a slightly biased and possibly bigoted perspective in that she doesn't think that these religions and denominations she disagrees with should qualify as religions at all, let alone receive tax exempt status. I understand her argument that she finds it detestable for mega churches and other religious denominations to spend so much of their wealth on themselves rather than on charitable causes, but that still doesn't justify discriminating against religions/denominations that have practices of which she doesn't approve.

Her idea of only allowing tax exempt status for organizations that are just spending collected funds on charitable is somewhat redundant because those funds spent solely on charitable causes are already tax exempt, irrespective of the cause, the contributors, and the entity performing the charitable work.

I do agree with her idea on this, but it would basically mean we eliminate religious tax exemptions altogether in favor of just keeping the charitable donations exemption. I support this not only because I think that it's the best way to fight corruption and ensure funds go directly to the charitable causes, but also because I think that the religious exemption is discriminatory to atheists, agnostics, and anyone else who is not part of a religious organization (e.g. Christians who don't regularly attend any churches and aren't a part of any specific denomination).

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Adel posted:

How do you deal with the "you're just being too sensitive" argument?

For the record I'm usually debating about human rights issues and this one always shuts me down. I'm admittedly not a very good debater, and it really frustrates me that the moment someone utters those words, I feel like my entirely point has just been undermined and dismissed in seconds. I'm never sure how to recover and respond after that.

Let me guess, you're getting that line from heterosexual, white, male, American (or at least first-world) Christians?

It's kind of easy to claim that everyone else and their defenders are "being too sensitive" when you're the status quo at the top of the "food chain" and don't have to take any of the poo poo that everyone else does. If you have no experience what it's like to suffer that kind of violence, persecution, discrimination, etc., then you're likely to not fully understand what those people went through.

A great example of this is how basically callous some people were towards forms of torture like waterboarding used by the US against detainees. These people vacillate between waterboarding being "no big deal" and being justified to prevent terrorism. Christopher Hitchens was notorious for holding this position until he was persuaded to experience waterboarding for himself. He received a fraction of what the average waterboarded detainee did, as he was not physically restrained in place, was only waterboarded for a second or two, and had the authority to permanently end it at any moment. Almost immediately afterwords, he repudiated his former position and declared waterboarding to be torture.

If you receive the "you're just being too sensitive" argument from someone, a good response may be, "Well, then, are you going to volunteer to receive the same treatment? If not, why not?"

Huitzil posted:

The "too sensitive" line is often a statement that you aren't actually accomplishing any of the things you claim, the things you are talking about don't actually have anything to do with surprise sex, murder and oppression, and that it is in fact the "too sensitive" person who is sitting on a high horse, saying insultingly condescending poo poo like "I'm sorry for giving a poo poo about other people, I guess I can't be as selfish as you".

There is no witty one-line rejoinder to "you're being too sensitive" you can fire off and just shut down and humiliate the other guy. "You're too sensitive" is not an argument in the way that "43% of Americans pay no taxes and are freeloaders" is. It is a statement that someone is unconvinced that the thing you are arguing is both true and meaningful, and so the response must be based on the particulars of the argument you are engaged in. You have to actually convince them the normal way, like a person.

Maybe being a snarky rear end in a top hat is not a great way to convince other people, but you have to look at the overall picture of that argument.

Someone responding with "you're just being too sensitive" is not actually disputing the facts of your argument, they are disputing your response to those facts. So, if you present the argument that waterboarding is a horrific practice that should never be used, someone responding that "you're just being too sensitive" is not saying you're factually wrong that waterboarding is used or that the exact practices of waterboarding are not like what you are describing, but rather that you should not be outraged by waterboarding because it's no big deal. In other words, you are blowing things out of proportion.

The issue then becomes a matter of experience and empathy. If you have not personally experienced these things, you are put at somewhat of a disadvantage to properly assess the severity of their affect upon you as a person. You can try to empathize with the people who actually have had these experiences, but it's nowhere near the same thing as having first-hand personal experience, which is why there can simultaneously be antithetical positions about the same issue, e.g. two people can completely disagree about whether waterboarding is torture and cruel.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

computer parts posted:

I'm arguing with someone who is denying that peak oil is real and/or that "shale reserves" can supply the demand for oil. Can anyone link some articles to refute this?

I don't really have any sources offhand about peak oil, but shale oil really isn't a good substitute and isn't a permanent solution to our problems.

Shale oil production is generally significantly more expensive than crude oil production, so if we were to get a significant portion of our gasoline and other petroleum products from shale, we'd have significantly higher costs. There are also many environmental concerns, like waste disposal and water usage and contamination.

More importantly, we really shouldn't be just refocusing on another fossil fuel, we should be shifting towards cleaner renewables like wind, solar, geothermal, and nuclear. Otherwise, we're just kicking the can a bit downfield and just have to go through this same bullshit a few years from now.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

Strudel Man posted:

Perhaps not. There does seem to be some substance to it, as far as the numbers go. - page 53

Taking the more global view, with oil consumption rates of around 100 million barrels a day, we would have about 79 years worth of shale oil.

Now, whether it's worth exploiting these deposits is another question. Environmental issues abound, and the energy return of shale is not nearly so great as that of conventional oil; the Department of Energy estimates an EROI between 2.5 and 7, compared to conventional's 10.5, and these numbers will only decrease as the most available deposits are tapped.

Thanks for the sources.

I think there are two big issues with the problem of energy, and one is that it seems like many people frame it as a false choice. They view it as "which energy source are we going to use for our needs," rather than "which energy sources are we going to use and how will we best utilize them."

There really is no panacea to our energy problems, which why we should use multiple energy sources depending on the demands, complexities, and benefits of different sources in different areas. E.g. wind power works far better in certain areas than others, so it would inefficient and potentially unsound to try shifting our entire grid to wind. So, we should build wind farms where they would be most cost effective and beneficial and use other energy sources in areas where wind is not as pragmatic.

Similarly, nuclear power works well in areas with high population density and high energy needs, but it's not cost effective to use it in lower population areas.

The other big issue is that people ignore the consumption and efficiency part of the problem. The US uses an incredible amount of energy and resources compared to the rest of the world, but people seem to mainly focus on finding just another cheap source of energy to continue mass consumption rather than somewhat reduce demand.

I somewhat heartened by Obama's attempts to address this issue through programs like Cash for Clunkers (which was a pretty awesome way to help the environment, address our energy use, and stimulate economic activity) and his recent push for home weatherization, but the latter has been implemented in almost the worst way imaginable.

Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

GreenCard78 posted:

Can someone help me provide a concise reason to prove that big banks, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo are bad? I know why they are bad, I take the time to do the reading. However, I've been arguing with my roommates that they shouldn't have bank accounts with them and they really are bad. I think I just have a problem of being short and concise and them not caring much about anything other than the number of ATMs available and no monthly charge.

This comes even after one of them had Bank of America and they would mess with his money. He never explained very clearly but it would be things like transferring his money if he dipped below a certain amount or some charges he got but didn't elaborate very well on so I'm not too sure what exactly happened.

I appreciate the help, it's just hard arguing with people who don't care that the misuse of peoples money in investing and losing it is really going to gently caress us soon, it just doesn't feel real yet to everyone.

I'll let Professor CK explain:

Also, Loan Officers Detail Wells Fargo's Blatantly Racist Subprime Loans:


Meet Beth Jacobsen and Tony Paschal, two of Wells Fargo's top subprime loan officers, who recently gave affidavits detailing the bank efforts to needlessly steer minority Baltimore families into subprime loans. The banks shady dealings include setting up a special unit to target "mud people" with outrageously expensive "ghetto loans;" targeting black churches leaders because they "had a lot of influence and could convince congregants to take out subprime loans;" and offering cash bounties to loan officers who issued subprime loans to minority communities. And it gets so much worse...


Loan officers employed other methods to steer clients into subprime loans, according to the affidavits. Some officers told the underwriting department that their clients, even those with good credit scores, had not wanted to provide income documentation.

"By doing this, the loan flipped from prime to subprime," Ms. Jacobson said. "But there was no need for that; many of these clients had W2 forms."

Other times, she said, loan officers cut and pasted credit reports from one applicant onto the application of another customer.

These practices took a great toll on customers. For a homeowner taking out a $165,000 mortgage, a difference of three percentage points in the loan rate - a typical spread between conventional and subprime loans - adds more than $100,000 in interest payments.


"They confirm our worst fears: that this is not just a case based on a review of numbers and a statistical analysis," said the city solicitor, George Nilson. "You don't have to scratch your head and wonder if maybe this was just an accident. The behavior is pretty explicit."

Cantorsdust posted:

The easiest talking point, actually, is "Too Big to Fail." If any entity is so essential to society that it literally cannot be allowed to fail, then it obviously is too important to be under private control. You can point to things like national defense, a transportation network, or utilities as examples of other TBTF entities that we entrust only to the government (or, in the case of utilities, to a government regulated monopoly).

Of course, if they respond that the government can't do anything right or is incompetent, then you can point right back to those examples. Simply put, when it comes to The Important Stuff(tm), we put the government in charge, and if the banks are really that powerful/important, then we can't leave them in the hands of private industry. Or, at the very least, the banks need to be as regulated as the utility companies.

The thing is, other countries like the UK have even fewer banks than the US does, so in regards to their shares of the nation's overall financial markets, those UK banks are even "bigger."

It's not so much a matter of size but of proper regulation. Glass-Steagall would have prevented most, if not all, the financial problems that caused the Great Recession, so if the banks were properly regulated, we really wouldn't have much to worry about in terms of their size.

For content, I hear so much bullshit about "lines" and "rationing" from conservatives who are against any substantive healthcare reform that isn't just a handout to health insurers and drug companies (e.g. selling policies across state lines), but everything I've read about the issue makes it seem like these problems really are no worse in countries with universal healthcare (e.g. UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, etc.) than they are in the US.

Does anyone have a substantive links about the quality of care in different first-world nations with universal healthcare programs? I've seen plenty of information about the costs of healthcare in these nations (i.e. the US spends wildly more in absolute terms, as a percentage of GDP, and per capita than any of those nations), but not as much about the quality of care, including these alleged wait times for services.


Bruce Leroy
Jun 10, 2010

TwoQuestions posted:

"Lots of people who didn't deserve to be working were holding jobs before the crash, now they suffer as they should. Some people just don't deserve to live."

How do you argue against that poo poo?

You can't, really. This person has unrepentant sociopathic views, especially that those people deserve to "suffer."

The only thing that would probably change their view is to actually live the same experiences as the people they choose to condemn to misery and death. Think of it kind of like the process of going from a neo-Nazi to non-racist in American History X.

ZanderZ posted:

Is it possible to support both same sex marriage and the Establishment Clause at the same time?

Or would "civil union" be the right thing to support if you wish to preserve the integrity of the Establishment Clause?

Gay marriage doesn't violate the Establishment Clause at all, especially since the Establishment Clause keeps religion out of government, you were probably thinking of the Free Exercise Clause.

There are two kinds of marriage in the US, civil and religious. Civil marriages are those recognized by the state through marriage licenses and marriage ceremonies performed by either judges or government-recognized surrogates. Religious marriages are those which have special ceremonies conducted by a religious leader of a particular faith, but it is not necessarily recognized by the government unless you also submit a marriage license and the clergyperson who performed the ceremony was recognized as a sanctioned surrogate (though the bar is pretty low, as you can literally become a sanctioned-minister within minutes for certain "online churches").

What gays and their supporters are seeking is civil recognition of their marriages, not necessarily religious recognition, though there are many religious denominations that recognize gay marriages (e.g. Jimmy Carter recently revealed through an interview that his church would). It is in no way a violation of the Free Exercise Clause for the government to recognize gay civil and/or religious marriages, especially since the the First Amendment mandates a separation of Church and State, meaning that a particular religion's objections (or endorsements) to gay marriage would be explicitly prevented from becoming law.

The only way there would be any religious free exercise infringements is if the government were to force clergy to marry gay couples despite their objections to gay marriage. This would never happen and this is not what gay rights advocates are seeking. Simply allowing other people to do something that your religion disapproves of does not mean you religious liberty is being violated, otherwise there probably wouldn't be more than one religion in the US because most view themselves as mutually exclusive to all other faiths, making the adherents of other faiths heretics/apostates.

And if you think about it, supporting gay marriage actually affirms the Free Exercise Clause because it prevents the government from prohibiting the pro-gay marriage religious denominations marrying gay couples. It's the anti-gay marriage groups/faiths who are trying to infringe on the religious rights of pro-gay religious people, not the other way around.

CorkyPorky posted:

The "comic" in question was some Lego Robot Comic about post modernism. I don't know if I agree with him or not. Is he right? I don't know what to say to this.

some guy on another forum posted:

There should just be people. Or do you argue that people SHOULD be divided by these issues and NOT treated equally?

The problem here is best articulated by Stephen Colbert when he asks guests what race they are because he "doesn't see skin color." Just because someone decides to not acknowledge race/ethnicity/gender/religion/etc. anymore doesn't mean other people will do the same and, more importantly, doesn't diminish the inequity suffered by people who aren't in the status quo. Contrary to what this person posted, there is an incredible amount of discrimination and inequity suffered by people who aren't in the status quo, but he (she?) is in denial about it, likely because he's not a member of one of those minority groups.

The other problem is that he's perpetuating the fallacy that there's no more discrimination and suffering, or that it's insignificant, for people of these groups with minority status because it's not as bad as it used to be. Yeah, women can vote and hold property now, but they also make 77 cents for every dollar men make performing the same exact job for the same number of work hours. Yeah, non-Christians aren't being burned at the stake, but Muslims and Sikhs have faced hate crimes, police discrimination and harassment, and government surveillance since 9/11, to the point that many Christian groups have been trying to prevent mosques (e.g. Murfreesboro, TN) and community center (e.g. the Cordoba House/Park 51 in Manhattan) from being built. Yeah, things aren't quite as bad for African Americans as they were under Jim Crowe or slavery, but they still face extensive discrimination including by employers, law enforcement, and banks.

Furthermore, this person is ignoring the problems caused by the effects generational discrimination. Groups that aren't in the status quo have been suffering discrimination and persecution for generations, if not centuries, and it's incredibly unfair to expect them to suddenly gain parity in a single generation, especially with the current discrimination that still exists.

Tim Wise does a good job covering racism and inequity in our society. Here's a good piece by him covering much of the same ground.

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