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There's Just No Accounting...

Laura at Pursuing Holiness reminds me quite a bit of my friend, Candy. They're both very devout born-again Christian home-schooling moms who think far too much of this born-again agnostic than I have any right to expect. I occasionally find it a smidgen disturbing, but mainly it's comforting.

Well, Laura linked (yet again) to one of my pieces, and used it to contrast the way the anti-war movement treats our troops with how they view abortion, especially for minors. She notes that there is quite a bit of overlap between the two groups, and notes the disparity -- young men and women over the age of 18 are too young and immature and naive to volunteer for the military, but young women even considerably under the age of 18 are mature enough to decide whether or not to have an abortion -- even without their parents' consent or even knowledge.

With all due respect to Laura, I see a way to not only reconcile the two, but tie in numerous other issues with a Grand Unified Theory Of Liberalism.

Laura's omission is in thinking that the matter is about "choice." It's an easy, even seductive mistake -- the word is at the forefront of their arguments, it's not too difficult to think that that is what it's all about.

"Choice" would mean that the individual has two or more options, and has the full authority to select whichever they wish, without any outside interference or granting anyone veto power. Abortion is not a choice; Planned Parenthood pushes it (to its financial gain), and any attempt by anti-abortion activists to make it more of an informed choice or apply the laws that govern every other aspect of parental responsibility of the health care of their daughters is fought tooth and nail. Enlisting in the military, similarly, is not a "choice" unless the would-be recruit has been exposed to raving lunatics shouting that the military is Bush's stormtroopers and they will be forced to bayonet and eat infants, while battling their way through anti-military protesters who are blocking the entrance to the recruiting center.

No, abortion and enlisting in the military are far more like other matters like AIDS and the mortgage crisis.

AIDS is viewed as a tragedy, a disaster, a blind curse that could afflict anyone at any time. Its victims are viewed as noble, suffering people who deserve nothing more than our sympathy and support and especially our money.

The mortgage crisis, apparently, resulted from evil, unscrupulous mortgage brokers who chased down innocent victims, coerced them into signing loan agreements that they wouldn't let them read the full terms and conditions, then rubbed their hands and waited for the inevitable to happen. Then they cackled and rubbed their hands in glee as they set about foreclosing.

What is the unifying element of all these matters?

The overwhelming rush to deny people the logical consequences of their actions.

In the case of pregnancy and AIDS, it's a simple matter: in the vast majority of cases, the person who experiences the unwanted condition acquires it through carelessness in pursuit of physical pleasure. There is almost no end of information on how to avoid AIDS and pregnancy, as well as countless places ready and willing to provide condoms and other implements of risk-reduction for no charge and with no questions asked. I would even go so far as to say that, apart from victims of rape or minors below a certain age, there is absolutely no reason for any woman to get pregnant without wishing to do so. In the vast majority of cases, AIDS and pregnancy are not OPPORTUNITIES for exercising a choice, but a CONSEQUENCE of doing so.

In the case of mortgages, I have absolutely no sympathy for those mortgage brokers who lied and committed fraud and otherwise deceived people into taking mortgages they knew the people could not afford. But I would be willing to bet that that does not apply in the vast majority of those cases. Rather, I strongly suspect that the brokers disclosed everything they were required to by law, but the buyers simply didn't listen or didn't seek out advice from impartial experts or (like a worked-up teenager in the back seat of a car) simply hoped for the best and counted on some great windfall before they fell too far behind on their payments on a home that is far more than they can afford.

I know it's odd to conflate military service with these personal tragedies, but it really does fit here. In this case, the liberals (and yeah, it's a broad brush, but I think it's justified -- while not all liberals are waging war against military recruiters, nearly all of those waging that war are liberals) are trying to "protect" the would-be recruits from the consequences of making the "wrong" choice. Like the pregnant teen, the HIV-positive adult, and the soon-to-be-former homeowner, the young person has made a very serious choice about how they wish to live their life.

But that doesn't matter. They don't have a right to make a wrong choice, and obviously military service is wrong for anyone. (Lord knows it would have been wrong for me. Health issues aside, I simply have way, way too many health issues. I'd have been laughed out of any recruiting office, and the Marines would have laughed at me, then called in more Marines to laugh at me and my name would become the new Marine Corps Boot Camp insult for underperforming recruits.) So they must be "helped" to come to their senses, to realize what a horrible thing military service would be,

So don't sign up for the military. It's a horrid thing. Instead, go ahead and go wild with sex and drugs. We'll make sure you can have access to abortions and drug treatments when things don't work out too well. And if you get AIDS, we're pumping billions into finding a treatment and a cure -- or we'll at least talk about how wonderful you are, until it's time to talk about how wonderful you were.

Should you survive all that, go out and get the best house you think you deserve. If you can't swing the payments, we'll then get the government to save you there, too.

After all, that's the main role of government, isn't it? To protect the people from the logical consequences of their own bad choices? I think that's in Amendment 4.5 in the New, Expanded Bill Of Rights, With Magical Penumbras: "The right of the government to protect the people from making bad decisions shall not be questioned, and no one will be allowed to fail if at all humanly possible, because no one ever learns from their mistakes."

There's a term for a government that exercises that level of control over its citizens. Look it up in the dictionary -- you'll find it between Typhoid and Ulcerous.


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Comments (19)

The whole 'predatory lender... (Below threshold)

The whole 'predatory lender' bogeyman seems ridiculous to me. It seems to imply that lenders deliberately loaned people money so they could stuck with a bankruptcy and/or devalued property on their hands which means they will never get back 100% of the money they lent.

Don't get me wrong. The mo... (Below threshold)

Don't get me wrong. The mortgage seller was making money from fees but they were expecting that in the speculative market, the debtor could probably resell the property easily with a small gain (more if they were 'flipping' it). The debtor probably thought the same thing as well.

Both of them were engaging in folly together.

To get help out of the mort... (Below threshold)

To get help out of the mortgage mess, a person first has to admit he or she was too stupid to look out for themselves. That in a nutshell is how the dems in leadership view their constituency. ww

I would argue that t... (Below threshold)
dr lava:

I would argue that this entire blog is in part an active promoter of the "overwhelming rush to deny people the logical consequences of their actions."

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. have been given a free pass on responsibility. These men, responsible for unknown thousands of innocent deaths in Iraq, are virtually absolved of any blame.

These criminals manufactured evidence and lied America into a worthless war killing 4011 brave young people for nothing.

They are given a pass.

Failed to protect America on 9-11.
No Bin Laden head on a pike.

But a poor woman who can't afford another child and chooses an abortion is irresponsible?

Jay I don't think you are a hypocrite but I can't find the logic here.

I've just popped over here ... (Below threshold)

I've just popped over here from Sadly, No! Over there they're making light of your belief that liberal guys or dumb, while failing to recognize the difference between income and profit

A word of friendly advice from a dangerous red on another matter. If you're going to attack peoples' intelligence, it's always a good idea to use a spell checker.

It's ironic, the sub prime ... (Below threshold)

It's ironic, the sub prime crisis was caused
by our congress who is now scrambling to
"rescue" the borrower from bad decision
Government sponsered mindlessness.

Hey Sociologist:Ja... (Below threshold)

Hey Sociologist:

Jay didn't call anybody stupid in this article. That was actually Cassey (several articles back, and it's funny as hell).

As far as using a spellchecker, they're great, aren't they? Actually, mispelling 1 word out of some 1100 is pretty good. I wish to God I was better than 99.9% accurate in my spellchecking.

dr lava, seek counsel, plea... (Below threshold)

dr lava, seek counsel, please. It must be dark and cold in your warped little world where Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld = irresponsible personal life choices.

I made poor choices in my life. I dealt with the consequences. As a result, I learned, I grew and I became a better person. The poor choices were often easy and immediately gratifying. The hard choices were the ones that stayed with me for my lifetime and the dividends have been immense.

Having worked in virology f... (Below threshold)

Having worked in virology for the past dozen years or so, I was glad to see you connect the Behavior Dots. HIV, pregnancy, signing a mortgage contract,military service (yeah! my grunt son comes home tomorrow from Iraq after 15 months and a second tour) all result from personal action (behavior). Almost all HIV infections are unintended (there are cases of "HIV guilt in which a person intentionally becomes infected just to join "the club"). Forty-nine percent of pregnancies in America are unintended, and except for rape, the preceding activity was 100% a matter of choice. People do not learn to refrain from bad behavior without connected bad consequences; it is our nature. Reward bad acts and they become encouraged and increase greatly: welfare dependency, removal of shame and guilt from the social fabric, hedonism over self-control and sacrifice, and entitlement over self-reliance. Let the failures fail; the poor we will have with us always.

Water should seek its own level, that is, it will only rise as high as the amount of pressure it is able to exert on its container. If humans are not willing or able to exert the pressure on themselves and their environment to remain HIV negative, to live within their means, to look before leaping or signing, then the consequences, which are inevitable and knowable before the act, deserve to fully fall on the recipient. People will still reach out a helping hand, but the status quo in PC America is to deny responsibility, blame it on someone else (white people seem to be a favorite scapegoat), and demand to be made whole at someone else's expense. Oh, and then you get a free victim card to play at will the rest of your life. America needs to slash its welfare programs, to legislate honesty and responsiblity in contracts, and to demand people pay for their keep. Entitlement is a epidemic disease spreading socialism and communism into America. Just as an example, I know a large public clinic that tried to charge a $0.50 prescription co-pay for patients receiving thousands of dollars of HIV meds at public expense per month, in order to have the patient have an ownership in the process. The result was a near riot by "the entitled masses". It really pisses me off to hear people tell me how they are entitled to my income, to my lifetime of effort, self-sacrifice, and diligent work. All the while, I am aware that this theft of my effort is breeding more of the same problems, because you can't control human behavior by paying them to continue it.

Very Public:"Ove... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Very Public:
"Over there they're making light of your belief that liberal guys or dumb, .."

'or' dumb?

Did you mean 'are' dumb?

dr lava,I have to ... (Below threshold)

dr lava,

I have to ask. When you say this, "But a poor woman who can't afford another child and chooses an abortion is irresponsible?" do you realize how poor an example that is?

This hypothetical woman chose to have sex. This hypothetical woman already has a child, so she knows where babies come from. This hypothetical woman then choses to abort the baby, because she doesn't like the results of her first choice? I have to say that, yes this hypothetical woman is acting irresponsibly. Your example is an avoidance of consequences.

Can we just shorten your po... (Below threshold)

Can we just shorten your point?:

You're pregnant--no takesies-backsies.

As for taking responsibility, dr. lava does make a point: leadership in the U.S. is unaccountable for its failings. How does Dick Cheney still have a job after being so fantastically wrong about everything all of the time? And how come CEOs get such lovely golden parachutes when they gamble away billions of dollars, instead of being the first kicked to the curb shirtless and penniless? Accountability and responsibility are nice words that are fun to throw around, but nobody can say that theirs is the responsible political standpoint. Talk about personal responsibility all you want, but as a successful person, mightn't one consider the idea that they have a responsibility to losers and f*ck-ups who have themselves failed to act responsibly? Isn't that a reasonable price to pay for living in a society that, pace that notorious Marxist Adam Smith, takes seriously the right of all members to live with dignity?

Are your tax rates that burdensome when you consider them in relation to countries with comparable standards of living? Which people have it better than Americans; and what are the salient differences between their country and yours?

"Talk about personal res... (Below threshold)

"Talk about personal responsibility all you want, but as a successful person, mightn't one consider the idea that they have a responsibility to losers and f*ck-ups who have themselves failed to act responsibly?"


Making a personal decision to be charitable toward "losers and f*ck-ups who have themselves failed to act responsibly" is virtuous, but mandated indiscriminate charity is a slow and painful suicide of a society.

I'm reminded of the old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats, but when there are captains who make no effort to maintain their boat and keep shooting holes in the hull must we continue to jump aboard, replace the rotted wood and plug the holes for them too?

You're right, Oyster: Canad... (Below threshold)

You're right, Oyster: Canada and Sweden and Germany and Switzerland and Japan are all shitty places to live with really high crime rates that are a direct result of enormous disparity between rich and poor.

Oh, wait...

Matthew, you are so wrong i... (Below threshold)

Matthew, you are so wrong in your assertions that I don't even know where to start. A baseball player gets a 15 million $ contract BEFORE he plays for the team. CEO's negotiate their contracts because their expertise is needed to steer a company. Planned Parenthood made a profit also, with taxpayer money. I do not think our government even comes close to being good stewards of the money I work so hard to attain. Personal generosity is what is needed. Then we won't have so many "victims" running around with their hand out demanding they be given everything. There is a word for those people; sluggards. ww

Itz a shame the VPS didn't ... (Below threshold)

Itz a shame the VPS didn't read JT's little screed about purposeful misspellings and copyright infringement a post or two away.

Itz the folks that want us to use THOUGHTCHECKERS before we push "submit" that don't differentiate between thoughtfulness and political correctness that have the accountability gap.

You're right, Matthew. Let... (Below threshold)

You're right, Matthew. Let's say you have an acquaintance who makes little or no effort to find work. He quit school in 9th grade, does cocaine, drives without a license or insurance and continues on this merry path of life. You keep helping him out of his hole by offering him jobs that he then quits and give him money for groceries that he uses to buy booze and drugs. At what point do you stop helping him?

Much better that the government takes that money from you to keep giving it to him without your knowledge so you can pretend they're helping only those who need it.

What part of 'indiscriminate charity' are you not understanding?

So your attitude towards th... (Below threshold)

So your attitude towards this person is: fuck 'im, let him sink or swim?

I put the word 'person' in bold for a reason. People have rights that cannot ever be forfeit, such as the right not to starve to death, by virtue of the simple fact that they are moral agents (persons), worthy of sympathetic consideration insofar as they possess the faculty of intentionality. (If you want to unpack what that means, John McDowell and Joseph Raz have some very dense books on the subject; or you could all the way back to Aristotle and Kant, or Jesus, if you want the simplified version.) That's not Marx talking, by the way; it's Smith, every conservative's favourite liberal. If it costs you money to guarantee that these rights are upheld, so be it. It's the price we pay for living in a society that is worth being proud of, where we can pursue our ambitions with a very reasonable chance for success. I pay a hell of a lot more taxes than you do, I bet, living in Toronto, but I still live very well. I wouldn't mind having a 42" HDTV, but then I would prefer that all new immigrant families in the city have free access to hospitals and decent schools. And I think there should be as many immigrant families as we can cram in here--I'm not selfish, I think everyone should have the opportunity to live in a great city. It's not a country club, after all. And it never occurs to me that I should be upset that some of my tax dollars are pissed away by people who are totally devoid of hope and ambition. Why would it? I still do very well for myself, and it's not like I have to let them sleep on my couch.

"I still do very well fo... (Below threshold)

"I still do very well for myself, and it's not like I have to let them sleep on my couch."

Yeah, wouldn't want to mingle with the unwashed, now would you? Whatever, Matthew. I resent the fact that I must pay for your "big heartedness".

For one thing, you don't know what I pay in taxes, so your bet means nothing.

The fact is, the government should not be in the charity business. If you're happy that they take your money and give it to people who scam the system and do not try to help themselves then fine. But if you think that your implication that I'm cold and uncaring of "people in need" makes your point, you're way off the mark.

Many people need help and I'm more than happy to oblige. And I do - above and beyond the taxes I pay. But I resent the government who takes my money and handles it the way they do. I resent it every time I'm in the grocery store and I see someone pay for their groceries with a food stamp card and their kids are wearing $100 basketball shoes. I resent it every time I drive past government housing and see BMWs in the driveways. I resent those who work "under the table" and make as much as I do, but get government assistance. I resent those who advocate higher taxes to "help the needy", but cheat on their taxes.

No, Matthew. I would show a man how to fish - I would even give someone else money to show him how to fish if I don't know how to myself - rather than give the government money to keep buying his fish for him.






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