How Stupid Are We?

I love my Google mail “targeted” ads. I’ve mentioned them before with regard to spam/Spam. I love it when I subscribe to a comment thread on Troop’s and I get ads for dresses.

I’ve also gotten ads for kissing (women and men), ads for specialized kinds of computer hardware, travel options to India, volunteer organizations, and so on. I’m always intrigued by the non-obvious connections, and sometimes I click through out of sheer curiosity.

Of course, I get tons of Obama ads. Curiously, in the past month, they’ve gone from all positive, to about ½ being ads for things like “Obamunism” and anti-Obama program material. I suspect that reflects a sea change.

Anyway, back to us being stupid: Recently I got an ad for Health Care For American Now. And I clicked through because, honestly, I hear very, very little support for the…uh…Obamanation currently under consideration.

And I was greeted with this question (here’s the link, if you like, I’ll probably start clicking through out of spite, every chance I get): WHICH WILL IT BE? AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE, OR MORE MONEY FOR MILLIONAIRES?

We can ignore the stupidity of that dichotomy for now. We can ignore the notion that somehow Bush’s tax cuts are all that stand between us and cheap health care. We can ignore the immorality of the basic premise: That it’s okay to take money from people who have more simply because someone can think of a better use for it. We can ignore the economic thickness that presupposes that taking money from millionaires has no other impact other than to “spread the wealth around”.

What requires monumental stupidity to ignore, however, is the notion that this will ONLY cost the rich a few of their ill-gotten shekels. This is exactly how the income tax started. A mere half-percent, and only on the most wealthy. They could spare half-a-percent, surely?

The Democrats so successfully beat the Republicans up with the income tax issue, that the Republicans finally caved–much to the shock of many Democrats of the time who were absolutely appalled at the notion of there actually being an income tax.

But it’s okay, because this tax would never affect average Americans. And, no, we don’t need to include a 10% cap on it because the American people would never stand for 10% of their income being taken from them!

And, hey, look at all those rich people not paying their “fair share” again! Wicked rich people, following the laws to minimize their tax burden! We need an Alternative Minimum Tax.

You know? At some point, you really have to be stupid if you think “it’s only gonna affect those guys”. It never just affects “those guys”. Even the poorest of us end up paying, and not just indirectly through increased costs of everything, but through the inevitable VAT they’ll pass to pay for this mess once it gets unwieldy. That is, almost immediately.

So, that’s the question: How stupid are we?

The arguments never change. The results are always the same: incremental slavery.

How stupid are we?

Separation of Medicine and State

The latest encroachment of state upon medicine is, I think most of us realize, nothing novel. We have socialized medicine elsewhere in the world, and no matter how badly it fails and how reductive of liberty it is, the drumbeat to implement it here has been constant throughout my lifetime. But the slope didn’t start slipping with Medicare or any of the other government programs; in my opinion, the journey predates modern collectivism by centuries.

I’ve written before about how my great-grandmother was threatened with arrest for curing TB patients. This would’ve been in the early decades of the 20th century. But she was hardly alone: Medical guilds have been attacking outsiders since the days they were respectable barbers with a shady side-business.

Basically, when the various medical associations managed to get a monopoly on treating the sick, and got the force of the state on their side, they not only diminished prospects for health (in the name of protecting people, of course, it’s always in the name of protecting people), they signed their own death warrant.

Someone else at Ace’s or Althouse mentioned Microsoft, which is a propos because one of Microsoft’s tactics for conquering a niche has always been to “partner” with their future competitors, usually offering some tempting deal. At that point they’d steal code (for example), and integrate it into the OS. Cut off their oxygen, as I think MS CEO Steve Ballmer put it. At that point, you can either outlawyer them, buy them off cheap (if you need to buy them off at all), and voila, you own the market.

I actually consulted for a company that partnered with MS. I was astonished that they partnered with them, seemed to be proud of that fact, and watched as MS created a competitor that is now included with every version of Windows. But at least they’re still in business.

That’s, of course, similar to how the government works, as well. The government “partners” with doctors–and look how tight the AMA and government are–offering them the sweet deal of a monopoly, and wiping out their competition. (Remember, the government just spent $2.5 billion to prove that none of these other things work. Meanwhile tens of billions go into curing cancer with no appreciable progress made.)

And while the government forbade compensation increases during WWII (to stem inflation), they exempted medical insurance, thus leading to the current weird situation where one is beholding to an employer for tax-deductable coverage or else stuck buying their own, giving us the current market distortions in the insurance market. (Well, that and all the other “help” the government gives.)

And now it’s time to pay the piper: The price for the monopoly–for convincing the country that there is only way to treat medical problems, and that there is only one source for that treatment–is to become public servants, under the thumb of the government. In the words of Darth Vader, “I have altered the deal. Pray that I don’t alter it again.”

The thing that got me thinking about this was stumbling across this somewhat overblown video on poor Willhelm Reich. I referred to him as a “probable quack” in my previous post, which was just a flip statement (plus, like “snake oil”, I use “quack” affectionately).

I don’t know if Reich was really a quack or not. I do know that he was destroyed, just like my old pal Ignaz Semmelweis, and his writings actually banned by the government! (Or so they say; I haven’t seen the order.) I’m not sure how the First Amendment allows celebrities to be attacked with known lies, but also allows controversial philosophical and medical ideas to be banned.

But I do think it’s kind of interesting that I keep seeing “the ether” pop up in scientific articles. And I’m pretty sure that it’s within my rights as an American–or it was supposed to be–to explore such ideas, however wacky, stupid or even personally harmful, they might be. I think the Founding Fathers would have wanted me to be able to buy an orgone box if I felt like.

Hell, Franklin would’ve gone halfsies with me.

Links You May Have Missed, But Probably Would Like To See, If Only You Knew About Them

These are for me as much as you. I’ll thank me later. Mostly from Twitter.

Via Freeman Hunt : The blog of Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose” PBS series. Funny that for all the PBS crap I got shown in school, this wasn’t among the viewing options.

Via Andy Levy via Allahpundit: Face transplant story with pictures. Amazing.

More on the voucher situation from the WSJ: “If, however, you are a pol who piously tells inner-city families that public schools are the answer – and you do this while safely ensconcing your own kids in some private haven – the press corps mostly winks.”

Also, today is not the day where I wish I sent my kids to public school.

27% of all marketers suck? Sounds a little low to me.

Funny and short: Why copywriters should be native speakers.

Cringely talks about the future of television on the Internet. It’s interesting.

Hot: Bill Whittle schools John Stewart on the history behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The beauty of being a useful idiot is that you never have to research and you never have to say you’re sorry. Because, damn the facts, you’re right, and Harry Truman was a war criminal.

Lastly, Tabitha Hale aka Pink Elephant Pundit has started doing a radio show/podcast/audio blog/whatever the hell the kids these days are calling it. Episode One is here. I was going to listen to it, but there’s, like, the entirety of “Walk This Way” at the front and that used up any time I had, plus confused me.

You Don’t Understand: I Need The Attention

The late unlamented USSR had a practice of locking people up in labor camps for what we in the West called political reasons. The USSR didn’t, of course, refer to it that way. They locked up people who were mentally unsound. I don’t know whether they learned this from the Nazis–who labeled the Jews as mentally unhygenic–but there are always members of the mental health community willing to label bothersome people “mentally unsound”.

It has happened here before, too. And still happens. Shock treatment and lobotomies have also been used regularly for managing political problems. Really, governments should never, ever have any association with mental institutions, just because the temptation for abuse will always be irresistable–at least until some truly scientific criteria for insanity exists.

I was thinking about this because, well, I used to like Janeane Garofalo. I’m not proud of it. But back in the ‘90s, she was mildly funny and sort of cute in an angsty college chick way, and she had a pleasing acting persona. She delivered one of the great lines in TV history on “Law and Order”, where it turns out she betrayed her celebrity employer for something like $10K:

You don’t understand: I needed the money.

That phrase takes on special meaning now that Garofalo took a paying gig on “24”.

Anyway, Garofalo has taken to promoting the notion that conservatives, right-wingers (i.e., people who disagree with her) suffer from an actual brain problem. Oversized limbic regions or somesuch scientific-sounding thing.

Most people, of course, won’t take the suggestion seriously. But a big enough percentage of the population agrees with it, at least to the extent that they keep giving her avenues to say this. And it’s not just her. There were a spate of “scientific studies” last year purporting to show conservatism as a mental disorder.

But, really, it’s not an approach to tolerate, because it amounts to “socialists lobbying for the right to institutionalize dissenters”. That hasn’t worked out well in the past. Well, except for the State, I suppose.

Given the fact that the insane basically have no rights, someone seriously advocating that an entire demographic is insane is not someone who should be broadcast.

They Saved Hitler’s Brain!

Well, no, they saved his skull. Or just a picture of it. And it’s up for sale on Ebay!

But as always, how do you know if what you’re buying (on the Internet from a complete stranger who may, in fact, be a dog) when buying a prized historical artifact?

Well (as always) you should check the seller’s rating and comments. And, if possible, you should compare the item against known authentic items (or at least pictures thereof).

So, for your edification, I have here an authentic X-ray of Hitler’s skull for you to compare against.

Good luck, and I hope you win!

Manic Monday Apocalypso: If One Atom Bomb Can Ruin Your Whole Day, Two Would Probably Do You In For A Week

Today’s MMA recognizes Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a man who survived the blast at Hiroshima, then went home to Nagasaki just in time to catch then next A-bomb!

It’s interesting to me that a victim meme has sprung up in Japan about this. I guess it all fits in with anti-American sentiments–oh, we’re so horrible because we’re the only ones to have used an atomic bomb in war–but it doesn’t seem exactly Bushido to bitch about being slapped by the guy you picked a fight with.

But then, Japan wasn’t acting very “Bushido” during that time period, anyway. I’ve heard that they don’t really study WWII that way. That is they don’t study their attack on China, and the atrocities there, or their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. As if WWII “just happened”.

I don’t know if that’s true. But it is kind of weird that the whole giant rubber-suited monster genre of movie–Godzilla (Gojira)–begins with an atomic blast, just from a symbolic level. If you’ve never seen the original Godzilla, I recommend it, too: The obvious parallels to Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a little surreal. Just that mix: Now you’re watching footage that looks like a documentary of a true horror, now there’s that goofy looking rubber suit.

Japan had its Apocalypse back in 1945 (though its roots go way farther back, obviously) and emerged a peaceful powerhouse, something I think few would have predicted.

As always, a reminder that while civilization is fragile, dedicated work can bring it back stronger than ever.

Time Sink for Classic Movie Fans

Sent via Ron of…what is it? Fluffy Stuffin’? I don’t want to know who “Fluffy” is and with what he/she/it is being stuffed, much less why. I just go about my Internet business without looking too hard to one side or the other. Especially when Ron tweets that this “Fluffy” entity is running around like Dr. Manhattan. (I hesitate to enquire which aspects of Dr. Manhattans behavior or lack-of-dress “Fluffy” is imitating.)

Anyway, Ron–or perhaps “Fluffy”–sends this blog called Greenbriar Picture Shows, which is a treasure trove of old movie–not all classics–minutiae.

It’s an engrossing read for fans of the cinema.

Libertarian Optimism

“Expecting Washington to cut back its main instrument of power after a capitalism-bashing political campaign is like expecting Michael Moore to share his Egg McMuffin with a homeless man.”

The above from a piece by Gillespie and Welch which is remarkably optimistic given the massive spending. Bankruptcy could lead to–must inevitably lead to?–greater responsibility and less spending and control? Maybe? Dunno.

John Stossel is less sanguine.

It’s true that technology–far from the oppressor imagined by Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury–has mostly had a salubrious effect on liberty. Which is not to say that there aren’t victims.

Gillespie and Welch’s premise seems to be that, in many ways, people are becoming accustomed to tremendous freedom, especially through the ‘net. (We are all anarchists now, after a fashion.) This, in turn, will lead to draining of political power.

That might could be. (Yes, “might could”. Gotta problem with that?)

It’s certainly a nice thought. I think I’ll adopt it. See how it grows.

Darcy asked me the other day if I was optimistic, with regard to people and events. Not exactly. With people, I prefer to dwell on their better aspects. Their worst aspects are likely to be banal, but the ways in which they excel or thrive are more likely to be interesting and useful. (Unless, I suppose, one is an extortionist.)

There’s an optimism one adopts when taking on a project. The idea is that it should succeed. That’s why one generally bothers at all. (And I do the occasional project that I know will “fail” because its success is separate from what I’m trying to get out of it.)

But for large events–society-wide events–history is a bit of a buzzkill. Here we are, in this Golden Age–for surely it is a Golden Age, warts and all–when history demonstrates that all such ages pass, and sooner rather than later. And it’s so easy to see–or at least think we see–the reasons why.

But what else can one do but try to stop that, at least until things get so bad the ship must be abandoned?

That doesn’t sound very optimistic, though, does it?

Rock of Ages

Schoolhouse Rock was a defining cultural moment for a generation: Thousands of kids that schools had failed to reach were suddenly aware of nouns, times tables and American history.

So it’s not surprising to see it used to describe modern situations, as in “I’m Just A (Stimulus) Bill”. Ruth Anne at The Maternal Optimist links to one of the second revival’s songs, Tyrannosaurus Debt. (The first and best run was from ‘73-’79, and the series was revived in the ’80s, briefly, to get some computer stuff in there, and then again in the ’90s for a money series. None caught fire like the original.)

On a related note, Blossom Dearie, who sang “Figure Eight” and “Adjectives” died last week at the age of 82.

Lileks reminisces on Reagan, whom the left is trying to blame all our current ills on, so they can–well, you know, take all the money and run the show. That’s the goal, right?

Reagan was worse than stupid – he was conspicuously indifferent to our futures. It was generally accepted that he either wanted a nuclear war or was too dim to understand the consequences. It went without saying that he didn’t read Schell’s “Fate of the Earth.” It went without saying that he didn’t read anything at all.

Remember kids, Republicans are either stupid or evil: Ike (Stupid), Nixon (Evil), Ford (Stupid), Reagan (Stupid), GHW Bush (Evil), GW Bush (Stupid). This narrative hasn’t changed in my father’s lifetime, much less my own. And it probably goes back to the 19th century, though not so one-sidedly as it has in the past 80 years.

Finally, Clarendon at the New Pamplheteers (h/t Instapundit) writes a little bit about the history of the Boston Tea Party and what those who would co-opt those historical giants should know about how that event came about.

We live in intersting times.

Does It Smell A Little World-War-Two-ey In Here?

Or is it just me?

I’m not claiming to have made any close examination of the parallels, mind you. I just look at the worsening financial situation, the increasing concentration of government power (in the US, in Turkey, in Europe) and–let’s see, all we need is a dangerous, radical philosophy that has the extermination of the Jews as its goal.

Anyone? Anyone?

Nah, I guess not.