Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Suggested Topics

I asked for topics to discuss, and I got them.  Meagan gave me seven at once, so I am going to give quick responses to each, and if some discussion develops I may create longer posts on some of the individual topics.

1. How to really educate yourself about the world of politics?

Read as much as you can.  Back when I worked security this was actually very easy since I had hours of nothing to do but read newspapers and magazines like the New Yorker and The Economist.  These days with so much of the news I digest coming from online sources angling for clicks it seems harder to find reliable sources.

If you really want excellent coverage of US news and in depth educational coverage of political issues, I would suggest Al Jazeera's US Section.  I also strongly suggest watching some of the videos.  The Fault Lines series have been uniformly excellent when I have watched them.  Bear in mind, that while I consider Al Jazeera to be one of the more reliable sources, they do have biases.  Remember to check other sources and not rely too much on any one source.  

Except for when it comes to US elections.  When it comes to US elections, especially presidential elections Al Jazeera seems to be the only really worthwhile news source.  They accurately broke down the statistics that showed that there was no possibility of Romney winning long before the actual election.  They described what different candidates were talking about, and what economic theories they were espousing during the primaries.  They were doing all the things one would want a free press in a democratic country to be doing, but they aren't a free press and they aren't in a democratic country.  They are owned by the government of Qatar.  They are one of the best sources in the world at avoiding censorship, but don't forget that a government can exercise direct control over them.

Use Google and Wikipedia.  If a topic interests you google it.  Check the news on the topic.  When you read an article that either strongly confirms or conflicts with your opinion look up the source on Wikipedia.  Find out what the sources biases are.

I also use google news.  I have a google account, and so I customize my news feed to give me stories on topics that interest me.  This is far from a perfect system, but at least I get a lot of headlines. 

2. Should we be fracking?

I don't know.

I like methane more than petroleum, but it's a matter of degrees.  Fracking seems dangerous.

The best I can offer is a French song by a Quebecois band.  Le Diable et le Fermier.  It's a parable about fracking, but it's in French :/

3. Is Social Security the new welfare?

I don't understand the question.

Social Security is an entitlement that people earn, like Unemployment or VA benefits.

4. The war on drugs - is it working?

The war on drugs is working great!  It's working the same way that prohibitions against highly desired things always work.  It is empowering criminals, killing disadvantaged people, and creating more government jobs and bureaucracy, and has ruined countless lives by criminalizing an ineradicable behavior.  The war on drugs has worked so well that it's easier for school children to get their hands on illegal drugs than cigarettes or liquor.  This is great for drugs, because it is much easier to convince people with undeveloped critical thinking skills to engage in life destroying activities.

5. Vaccines! LOL

People who do not vaccinate their children should be imprisoned and their kids taken from them.

Anti vaccine jerkoffs are endangering me, you, their children, our children, and everybody else because they have poor scientific literacy combined with a narcissistic belief that only their child matters.

6. Why the US will go to "war" with Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, but it won't do anything about the atrocities happening all over the African continent

Because dying Africans do not impact our national interests.

According to Wikipedia he US government spends 17.2 billion on military aid, 31.2 billion on economic aid, and US citizens contribute an additional 71.2 billion.  Much of that goes to Africa.  The US government uses the Peace Corps to do work to help people.  The US military uses troops and special forces to do humanitarian missions.

The US tends not to blow people up just because.  I don't see how killing lots of Africans would help them.  And the US does try to help.  We could also talk about how the US military keeps piracy levels low.

The US might not throw all of its resources into trying to fix other people's problems when those problems do not affect us, and the US acknowledges that other countries tend to not like a big bully telling them how to live their lives, but that doesn't mean the US does nothing for people in trouble.

7. Dirty politicians (like there's a clean kind!)

I think that politicians should be paid the median US income with the top 10% taken out; and their retirement income should be calculated the same way, but with the top 10% left in.  When politicians take federal office they should have to give up any net worth beyond the median net worth, but maybe they could be allowed to have their assets administered by Social Security until retirement as long as they forfeit the government retirement package.  Any raiding of Social Security would be taken out of the politicians administered assets first.


  1. The summary for vaccines seems a little hardlined, what about those people who do not vaccinate due to religious beliefs?

    1. I guess they could be allowed to live in quarantine or in communities in remote areas. It's a public health issue as far as I am concerned. Anti-vaccination people are a danger to public health.

      Religious anti-vaccers endanger the public, and are common sources of avoidable outbreaks. http://childrenshealthcare.org/?page_id=200

      People who can't have vaccines due to real health concerns (like compromised immune systems) have the right to benefit from herd immunity. People who deliberately endanger the public do not.

      Yeah, I know, I am uncustomarily hardline on this topic. But I do not see any valid opposition to vaccinations. It's like Gay marriage, I just don't see a valid opposition. I try to see both sides, but if one side is "I'm too special to shoulder my share of the burden," then I don't view that as valid. I also do not view willful ignorance as a valid position.

  2. Since the vaccination topic is now covered in its own post, might I inquire into the centrist take on GMO?