A Few Questions

How did we as a society get where a woman wanting equal rights and control over her own body is an “ultra-liberal,” and where “traditional family values” mean legally subordinating a woman’s rights to government [usually male] control? And where those who trumpet “family values” the most strongly are the ones most opposed to programs for poor families and neglected children?

Or where the vast majority of “conservatives” are opposed to actual conservation and push for more fossil fuels development – or at the least oppose reducing dependence on fossil fuels?

Or where “fiscally-conservative” Republicans support as much federal spending for government programs as “spendthrift” Democrats and people don’t recognize it, especially Republicans?

Or where “progressive” Democrats seldom, if ever, can make any progress because they’re so scattered that they can never focus on the most important issues, like eliminating de facto discrimination and getting equal pay and equal rights? And why are there so many outcries about the “proper” pronouns and “improper terms” for ethnic groups and so few about poor pay and working conditions?

Why do parents and politicians focus so much on children getting into and paying for college when at least a third of those children haven’t been well enough educated to succeed in college?

And why do so many Republicans feel that teenagers who aren’t old enough to drink alcoholic beverages are old enough to be trusted with firearms capable of rapid-fire mass murder?

Why do so many businesses complain about the shortages of capable and trained workers when they routinely use downsizing and reductions-in-force to remove older capable employees? [Might it just be that the experienced and capable employees make more money, and businesses – especially in the computer, financial, and high-tech electronics fields – don’t want to train younger people and can’t find cheaper good workers?]

Why does the pharmaceutical industry get away with profit rates nearly twice those of similar corporations in other fields at a time when drug prices can bankrupt the average family? And why does Congress let Big Pharma manipulate formulations of established drugs solely for the purpose of forestalling generic competition?

Why are states with dominant political institutions and/or political parties most interested in reducing individual rights the very states most likely to cite “states’ rights” in support of such discrimination?

14 thoughts on “A Few Questions”

  1. Postagoras says:

    I’m afraid that you (and I) are dinosaurs, pining for a time that is long gone.

    The Republican membership of the House has not been traditionally-Republican for forty years now. So you should’ve given up on that at least twenty years ago. They have abandoned all of that in favor of a grievance-based electoral message that continues to resonate with part of the electorate. And even better, it wearies 50% of the public so much that they don’t bother voting.

    Since the Republican voters don’t have any policy desires, that leaves the Republican congressfolk free to put their votes out for the highest bidder.

    That’s the answer to most of your questions.

  2. Bill says:

    As Postagoras says it is about power and the money that flows from that. But I am curious as to how it works? Is it only payback after they leave congress? Is it insider stock tips? Sure, there are campaign contributions but what else? Is it employment of family and friends? I am sure there are line items that aid specific people including themselves, but all these should become public at least by their opponents. What do they gain by the selling of their votes? At times it feels more like they are held hostage.

    1. Many of them are held hostage. They’re held hostage to getting re-elected, and most will do almost anything for that. Because campaigns cost so much, they become beholden to large donors and well-financed interest groups… and that’s just the beginning.

  3. Tom says:

    Specific answers seem to me to lead to this sort of mechanism, but not a solution.

    Humans are humans. Humans are clever and they continuously look for a solution for whatever gets in their way. Some of us even consider anything which gets in our way is an affront to our God given “Freedoms”. We get very upset and work very hard to overcome social restrictions on our desires and behaviors by claiming “Rights” that are not the same as “Freedoms” because “Rights” are man-made not God given.

    In democracies, most obviously in the US, we create rules, regulations, and laws: and then have a profession which primarily seeks ways to make such as ineffective as possible. In many instances we have our representatives creating necessary social rules but ensuring difficulty in practice or at least under-funding of their legal enforcement.

    Thus we have the ability to sue other citizens without a shred of proof; creating situations were such suites are “settled” out of court for monetary gain to the bringer of suit. In addition by allowing variable readings of the rules, regulations, and laws those with money get away with breaking the law and this is visible to the public. Those without resources suffer both justly and unjustly.

    Is it any wonder that this situation would encourage any normal human to ignore at best and disregard at worst rules, regulations, laws and “common sense social behaviors”.

  4. R. Hamilton says:

    “family values” – there ARE conservatives that adopt, support and assist adoption, support and assist poor mothers, etc. Indeed, conservatives are arguably more generous VOLUNTARILY than leftists are. Of COURSE they don’t get much publicity, that doesn’t fit the narrative of conflict to either party’s interest.

    “opposed to actual conservation”? No, conservation is awesome, but like most things should be VOLUNTARY, NOT A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM (either way – did we REALLY need wars to protect access to oil when we have a HUGE amount domestically available if we were only willing to go after it) and when it makes economic sense, which isn’t always 100% aligned with those who expect everything possible to be done right now. If you’re struggling at the moment, a big investment in replacing equipment with more efficient equipment is: maybe one day, but not right now.

    “alternatives”? WHEN THEY MAKE SENSE. I’ve had a reservation for a Cybertruck since as soon after it was announced as I was sure I could afford it without debt, NOT to save the planet, the whales, the children, or anything else, but because the range in the high end configuration is good (500 miles+), it’s just about indestructible, and a stainless steel EV with its far lower moving parts count and greatly reduced brake wear, should last me the rest of my life with reasonably minimal maintenance; and if in 15 years my vision or reflexes aren’t that great, the self-driving will probably have been upgraded to something that really is self-driving. NOTHING AGAINST saving the planet, but FIRST, something NEEDS TO BE PRACTICAL and, even if expensive and/or replacement cost, not economically insane. Again, preferably VOLUNTARILY and with the least possible in the way of government programs, although reasonably expedient regulatory approvals of desirable alternatives, and maybe TEMPORARY tax breaks, are not horrible ideas.

    “fiscally conservative”? I want RINOs gone just as much as I want Democrats gone. I’m even willing to see two of my three favorites (DoD and NASA) take prudent cost control measures (my 3rd, ICE/Border Patrol needs a big increase, though). And ALL social programs, entitlements, and benefits EXCEPT those for government employees (and FERS is normal compared to the generosity of the former CSRS federal retirement system) and those injured in the line of duty in government service, should be phased out (maybe over a generation) with reasonable grandfathering (not looking to collect old folks corpses off the street!) and/or privatized (with SOME responsible constraints, so you don’t have people losing it all). People would be BETTER OFF in the long run, those things would be decoupled from federal spending entirely, and we could then focus on excoriating politicians that run up DISCRETIONARY spending and debt.

    But where is the political advantage to EITHER party in ANY of that? Most of either party want to use our dollars to buy themselves re-election, even if most of that is in spending programs rather than directly redirecting funds to their pockets.

    That’s the HUGE thing about less government, there’s less that it can corrupt, less of a corruptible relationship between regulator and regulated, less favors to offer, and less excuses for more spending.

    1. Postagoras says:

      I love how your EV “needs to be practical”, but the rest of your prescription is to wave a magic wand and transform society.

      Is it practical to lecture this blog repeatedly about your utopia? I see that you care, and that’s great, but it seems like you’re ALWAYS SHOUTING.

  5. R. Hamilton says:

    “And why do so many Republicans feel that teenagers who aren’t old enough to drink alcoholic beverages are old enough to be trusted with firearms capable of rapid-fire mass murder?”

    One can, with parental approval, enlist at 17 (I did). Although back then, one could also drink at 18, at least on base (not necessarily off base, depending on the state or country). Then again, I went to high school in Germany, where the minimally enforced drinking age was 16 (and American kids tended to look older than their local counterparts, and so could frequently get served as young as 14 in local establishments). So the novelty was already gone well before I turned 18, and being a control freak, I took no pleasure in repeating excesses that might make self-control more difficult.

    1. Postagoras says:

      Whoa. Sure, the armed forces train recruits, including teenagers, to use weapons.

      But that isn’t anywhere close to some 18-year-old buying a weapon of war at a gun shop.

      Mr. Modesitt’s question isn’t answered by your anecdote.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        I don’t especially care whether the age is raised from 18 to 21, but I don’t think it will do much good, and any concession to those who won’t stop with one concession is a loss. Brains don’t stabilize until maybe 25, but that doesn’t mean most people under that age are crazy, nor does it provide any legal basis for raising age limits to 25. The problem is NOT age alone; rural kids used to have guns with them much of the time (even in their pickup going to high school, although that was maybe 16 and up only), and any sort of incidents were rare indeed. Heck, 100 years ago, people might get married at 14 or 16, with some support from their families but already working (and having done chores at home since they were 5 or so), meaning they understood responsibilitiy early. I think it was around 12 that I was (living in a city, not the boonies) taught to shoot and handle firearms safely. Learning these things early, as with the beer in my not entirely irrelevant previous remarks, encourages dealing with them sensibly rather than emotionally.

        What’s changed? Single parents or both parents working and not paying enough attention, media glamorizing violence, blaming anything except conduct, general lack of maturity with age, etc. Those are the causes, not access to firearms.

        Are high density areas different from low density areas? Probably, but then limit greater restrictions to the high density areas; most of the country is NOT big cities.

        I MIGHT not hate the idea of 18 with an approved training course as a prerequisite, and perhaps with approval also of a local sheriff or the like, with advice of parents, teachers, or other adults aware of the young person’s conduct and stability. That would at least focus on responsibility rather than on inanimate objects.

        1. You’re dead wrong about population density. According to the 2020 Census, 83% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, and of that number 25% live in the suburbs, meaning that over half the population lives in cities.

    2. What you don’t seem to understand is that a significant percentage of the U.S. population puts self-interest, immediate satisfaction, and profit above the common good, and even above their own interests, and sometimes their survival, particularly where guns and the environment are concerned. Your suggestions will and already are leading to a vigilante society. When people shoot children, doctors, and teachers on an increasing basis, it’s clear that “enlightened self-interest” doesn’t work for far too many people — which is exactly why we have government, to protect the people — and environment — from individuals and businesses who abuse their freedoms in oppressing and abusing others. Sometimes, government fails, but the answer is to fix it, not to allow abusive individuals and businesses the freedom to increase their abuses.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        There will always be abusers. Find them, address what creates abusers, emphasize responsibility and consequences. Those should come before placing restrictions on the majority who are not abusers.

        Is it really selfish to resist restrictions that are only relevant to those who are already willing to become criminals?

        The last thing we need is more laws. We need more people willingly following the laws we already have.

        1. KTL says:


          I urge you to read this piece from today’s Atlantic:


          Constitutional law professor, Crocker, argues rather well that the first portion of the second amendment (security of the free state) balances our collective need to live without fear from the mayhem that can be produced from over reliance on protecting unlimited individual firearm ‘liberties’. At this point, children across the nation, their teachers, and their parents are shouldering unreasonable fears about attending schools. That fear extends to other public arenas as well. The constitution was established in the preamble for the collective – we the people (not just a bunch of individuals).

          I trust that I am no constitutional scholar with ultimate answers to these questions. However, I am also sure that you are not. It’s about time that you acknowledge that many/most citizens in the USA do not agree with you on this issue (even if a packed conservative court at this time does).

  6. Mayhem says:

    One comment on labour shortages. Almost every time a business is complaining about an inability to find staff, what they really mean is an inability to find staff willing to work for what they are offering to pay.
    The pandemic has really drawn a line under this – many businesses here are screaming because their business model based on paying bottom rates due to a steady influx of migrants willing to work temporarily for such has been rendered invalid by closed borders and no migration, while their better paying competitors are poaching all their talented staff.

    In many jurisdictions in the US endemic low pay is maintained by illegal migrant labour or what is effectively economic slavery exploiting a workforce unwilling or unable to change their circumstances. And prison labour is firmly under that as well as explicit slavery by another name.

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