Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Health-care Debate IX

So, I was asked on the last post, what DO I support…

I believe in freedom, as defined by the Wiccan Rede: “If it harm none, do what you will.”

One of the freedoms we have is to buy and sell and start and stop business.  That’s a free market and it works like this: if there is demand, then the market supplies it.  The higher the demand the higher the price.  This makes sure the supply is never exhausted, because the higher the demand is the more the supply is rationed by price.  Its self regulating, efficient, and simple.  The only problem is amorality: the free market only follows the back half of the rede “…do what you will.” and completely ignores the the first part.  It’s self regulating nature does not include moral regulation. The free market is just a tool; it can be used for constructive or destructive purposes or for just sort of plodding along.

If all free markets were perfect markets, the market would need little moral guidance.  Simple things like: “You can’t buy or sell people” or “Only certain parties can buy and sell substance X” would be all the morality the market would need.  Perfect markets mean all actors are rational, there are no hidden costs, and the buyer and the seller both have all the information they need to make a rational decision.  The problem is, “free market” means free to be a perfect market, or a highly imperfect market.

Remember that a perfect market requires rationality of all actors?  What about when the market actors are highly irrational? In a disaster the price of staples tends to skyrocket in a free market.  Now, in a perfect market this would be a good thing.  Raising the price would ration access to the supply, ensuring that vital commodities only go those who really need them and preventing the exhaustion of supply.  Unfortunately, the first thing to run out at ground zero is rationality.  The people who can afford the goods at any cost by all of them (far more then they need).  They sit on top of their horde, and no one else gets any.  (This is why the government often controls prices and access to goods in an emergency.).

In fact, I think I can make the case that irrationality is the cornerstone of the free market.  There is no real, functional difference between a Chevy and a Pontiac, but people pay more for the Pontiac because they are irrational.  People pay hundreds of dollars for Nike shoes that cost the Nike corporation a few dollars to produce because they are irrational.  Brands, in general, are irrational.  People will tell you “I like this brand because it stands for X,Y, and Z.”  Actually it doesn’t.  Every brand stands for the exact same thing: money for the owners.  That’s it, nothing more nothing less.  Various CEO’s have actually been taken to court for trying to say they had a responsibility besides money for the owners.  The stock holders always won.

Because of irrationality, the free market fails to do what the perfect market does: lower the price to the lowest level the producer can sustain.  Instead, the free market produces a ladder of products with the cheapest and lowest quality going to the poorest and the most expensive and highest quality going to the rich.  In most of what we do, this is perfectly fine.   Jim Beam bourbon is about $15 a 3/4 liter.  Jack Daniels about $20, and thats just fine.  I absolutely support a free market for booze, because it’s not something anyone actually needs anyway.  I support a free market most of the time.  When it evolves to a perfect market thats even better, but often people are too bloody irrational for that.  That’s fine too. Freedom means the freedom to be irrational.

I think, however, that health-care is good case for government involvement.  This is because the ladder will apply to health-care.  The rich will get the very best doctors, and the poor when they can afford them at all, will get the very poorest.  I think that such a situation is immoral.  It’s fine and dandy for the rich to get the best houses, cars, TV’s and booze, and the poor to get the worst.  It’s not so fine for the poor to get the worst health-care.  I think it is immoral for people to have to die or suffer just because they are poor.  I also think, in general, it is immoral to take people’s money even if you are doing it to help others.  In the end, I think it is more wrong to let the poor suffer and die then to let the rich keep what they worked for.

Thus, I support a national health care plan.  Research shows the single payer model to be the most cost effective, so that is the model I support.  So, would I vote for the Obama plan were I allowed to?  Absolutely not.

Any program which requires a large, strong, national government must be in violation of the constitution, if not in letter, then in spirit.  As a result, it will be a bass-ackward band-aid whose form is characterized by what is necessary to pass through the constitution and not what is best for the American people. I cannot support any national plan, or any national goal, in the absence of 4 things: a new constitution, Condorcet voting, proportional representation, and a national assembly.

The current constitution is made for a weak, small federal government.  If we need national health-care, and I think we do, we need a new constitution which produces a cohesive, rational, strong, large, federal government.

Condorcet voting: a strong, national government and the constitution which allows it can be a great assistance to the people, or an unholy terror of the Soviet type.  The only way to keep the government, by, for, and of the people is democracy, and Condorcet voting is, frankly, more democratic.

Proportional representation is the same.  It gives more voice to more people, and helps keep multiple parties.  Condorcet voting is pretty useless if there are only two contenders for every election.

Finally, a national assembly.  National programs need to be overseen by leaders elected nationally, not a national collection of leaders elected locally.  All legislators need to be elected by Condorcet voting, and the Senate needs to be elected in a coast-to-coast popular election.  Baring these changes, placing the national health-care in the hands of the existing system would be a cure fare worse then the disease.

Remember the bridge-to-nowhere? Get ready for the hospitals for no one.

October 12, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Government, Pharmacology, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A letter to God

This is not a flippant thing that I am about to do. I think a lot of people who care about me are really confused about what I believe, so I am going to give you all a view into a letter to God that I am sincerely writing as well as posting. If you, the blog readers, think you have an answer that can backed up, please feel free to answer any of the questions below in a comment.

Dear God,

I don’t get you. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten you. I know people say this is because you can’t be gotten, but I don’t buy that. Even if I never understood you, thats what friends do, they try to understand where each other are coming from. People tell me that you want to be my friend, and I guess I want to be yours. I say “I guess” because I am not really sure. I hear that you offer a love like no other, but you seem to charge a price like no other as well. The US Military (my employer) says I must offer my life for them. This I must do only once, and often as not, should the opportunity arise it will be to save my comrades. You demand not a single, ill-though, impassioned second to save those I love, but every second, of every moment, of everyday, for the rest of my life. My job demands my life but once. You demand it forever, in this existence and the next.

All that I know about you is contained in my heart, the words of those around me, the world around me, and the Bible. Though emotions give life color and verity, they make a poor compass. I will not trust my heart to know you, not if I believe what you say in the Bible. You say the heart is “deceitfully wicked”. I can’t trust what is deceitfully wicked to guide me. And the heart is capricious, loving someone one moment and hating them the next. Thats why a good man speaks from his mind not his heart, which you also say: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”

The words of those around me are sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly, but regardless of specific instance, generally useless when its about the spirit. Truth is not true because of consensus, it either conforms to reality or it doesn’t. Besides if my heart is wicked why are other peoples’ hearts different? I cannot be alone in my sin: “For all have sinned…” When it comes to you, everyone has an agenda and I can’t trust anybody who claims your name to say to me only what benefits you and not what benefits the speaker.

The world around me is beautiful. I love the trees and ocean. I like to ride my bike in the roasting sun and have the wind blow the sand stinging against my legs. I see around me beauty and order. Because the world you have made is full of order I see man’s greatest dream over my head everyday. We always wanted to fly. With the physics you made as part of the universe you created and the minds you gave us we figured out how to make great tubes of aluminum fly through the air not as stupid bullets, but guided in flight by our hands, obeying our constant whim. Science, the systematic study of a rational universe, is the greatest tool we have ever found. Because with science, we can make an airplane fly, and our ancestors could not. Yet… you and science that describes your creation are not in agreement. You claim to have made the earth in 7 days, and the genealogies you provide in Scripture tell us that the earth is about 7000 years old. The science that gives us such a window into the depth and power of the Mind that designed all says that the earth is 4.5 billion years old.

I trust the descriptions of this rational universe we live in to be true everyday. Every day I use my front door because I trust that I still can’t walk through my wall. Every week I put gas in my car and expect to get around 30 mpg. This is because I trust that the description of the combustion of hydrocarbons with oxygen producing CO, CO2, water vapor, and l trace amounts of various things will function the way they always have since the 1600’s when we began to study such things. But the science that flawlessly describes the 60 cycle alternating current which is invisibly turning my monitor off and on with clock-like precision mysteriously fails totally to date the earth I live on.

Contained in my blood is DNA, which I have always believed that you were the author of. The ability to even visualize this DNA did not exist until 50 years ago, and I’ve thought us blessed that we could have this lens into how “fearfully and wonderfully made” that we are. My father, dying of a virus, may yet be saved by the executed knowledge of DNA to create a cure. The tens of of thousands of people cured by the recombinant DNA created were saved by man doing his best to manipulate the physics you created. Yet this knowledge points to evolution. The more we know about DNA the more man appears to be related to African Apes. False conclusions show themselves in false results, but recombinant DNA heals. How can it be so repeatably, veritably right in all regards but this one?

Finally, the Bible, my source of meaning and context since childhood. The Bible I have is a Protestant Bible. It does not contain the Apocrypha, because that is not part of the Protestant tradition. The Catholic Bible does contain it, because of the Council of Trent in the 1500’s, over a millennium after it was written, decided it too was canon. But it wasn’t written when it happened. Your word was written 50 to 100 years after the events it describes happens often by people who weren’t there. Why? Why would wait a century to write your inspired word? If the writers were writing your words, why was the canonicity of many unestablished till the 400’s? Then, a more then a millennium later at Trent, the Catholic Church had to take a stand. Luther’s sola scriptura meant for the first time the Catholics had decide what was scripture (since prior to this tradition and papal bulls were equal in authority to scripture).

God, this looks horribly like humans, not like you. Your omnipotence seems sorely lacking in all these proceedings, as clearly as it is lacking in the actions of those who claim to act in your name. Please answer these questions, they confuse me very much

Sincerely,

The lost sheep

March 20, 2008 Posted by | Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments