Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Of the people, by the people, for the people"

I spent much of today thinking about Andrew Leonard, Katherine Coble, the government, and whether or not I'm slowly converting to libertarianism*. Leonard (as part of my ongoing series--"I read Salon.com so you don't have to") is talking about some jackass on his plane who repeatedly complained to the flight crew because he didn't like the shirt that some other jackass was wearing. Leonard reflects on the incident:
But as I sat and seethed my way through a six-and-a-half-hour flight, it seemed to me that Mr. 23D was a symbol of everything I hate about a specific strain of cultural censoriousness that courses through our society. Your behavior offends me, so you must be punished. How dare you breast-feed in public, or believe in evolution, or love disco music? Your sexual practices, weird religious beliefs, choice of shirts -- whatever it is, the fact that you are doing it bothers me, so it must be stopped! Especially if there's any chance that the "children" might be harmed.[emphasis mine]
In this, Mr. Leonard and I are in complete agreement. People seem to think that they have a right not to be bothered, which is just utter bullshit. You have no right to never be offended, but, in return, there's nothing that says that you can't let the people who offend you know you find them offensive. It's just jackassy and weird to bring in the authorities when you've not been really injured and you're not going to be. And I don't believe that it's the government's roll to involve itself in outlawing behavior that offends people but doesn't actually harm them. In fact, I find that offensive (so, you know, maybe I should petition Bill "The Kitten Killer" Frist to sponsor a bill outlawing legislation designed solely to protect people from offensive behavior, since I find such legislation offensive). And, as previously covered today, I think government is inherently corrupt and corrupting. So, in some respects, I suppose I'm for smaller government, kind of**. I'm definitely for less policing of my personal behavior. But here are the questions I keep meaning to ask the libertarians--and I know I'm usually snarky about things I disagree with, but this one time, hand to heart, I actually am really curious and promise to listen respectfully (But don't go telling me to read someone. I want to know what you think, how you make sense of it.) Coble says "These things that are the bailiwick of the individual--caring for the sick and needy--are now being handled by our drunken Uncle Sam." And I think this, for me is a really dense sentence, so I want to handle it in two parts. 1. When y'all talk, I see a lot of emphasis on individual responsibility, especially a strong emphasis on individuals taking care of each other either through individual action or charitable donation. Correct? 1a. Let's say that little Timmy needs a bone marrow transplant and his parents don't have the money. So, they turn to charities and they host car washes and put their little coffee cans with poor Timmy's photocopied image taped to the side in all the local gas stations and, all told, they come up with $10,000. That's a shitload of money for a lot of poor people, but it's a drop in the bucket towards the cost of saving Timmy's life. Under your system, would Timmy just be out of luck? 1b. I'm on the board of a local non-profit agency that, in part, raises money for community health initiatives (to be sufficiently vague). One of the problems we have is that, after 9/11, though the healthcare needs of the people in the communities we serve have not changed, the country's charitable dollars have gone elsewhere. We predict that, because of the hurricanes, we'll continue to see depressed funding of our programs because, when things happen, people don't give in addition to what they usually give, they just move their giving to the places that catch their eye. Under your system, how would you foster sustained giving, such that these programs (and more like them, if there aren't any government agencies) could continue to function from year to year? Or are they also just out of luck when the fancy of givers flies to something else? 2. Coble says, "And we've elected to allow our money to be taken from us by force," and makes reference to how our "drunken Uncle Sam" now has our money. So, it seems like you guys make a clear distinction between the government and the governed. Does that mean you think Lincoln was full of shit? That this is not a "government of the people, by the people, for the people"? Because, corrupting nature of politics aside, isn't the government "us," too? It's not really "they" who are stealing "our" hard-earned money and using it to provide poor people with luxuries like food or heat. Isn't that we who are "stealing" our hard-earned money? Doesn't it make sense to have a mechanism in place to pool the resources of the people in order to take care of the worst-off of us in ways that individuals just can't? Do you really believe that, other than not infringing on their rights, you really have no obligations to your fellow Americans? If you do have obligations to your fellow countrymen, why not use the government to meet those obligations? Anyway, I'm just wondering and I'm curious to hear from you. *I'm not. **Sorry, this blog lacks smelling salts. Maybe in the next upgrade.

13 Comments:

Blogger Exador said...

*Yes, you are.

One of the overriding libertarian thorns is force. I hate to be forced. Everything the government does is done with the implication or application of force. That's significant.

A lot of the current system would not work too well if government was taken away and nothing else changed. Libertarians believe that other things would change. As Coble points out, if people don't have to pay so much in taxes, they would be more giving to charities, especially when their concience doesn't excuse them with the "that's what I pay taxes for." (#)This is based on human behavior from the earth cooling to roughly 70 years ago.

The other issue is that medicine is incredibly expensive, largely because it is government subsidized through medicare and insurance, etc. There is no free market at work. You pay $12/Tylenol because of that.

You're local mechanic's giant hydraulic car lift costs as much as an MRI machine. Why aren't his prices so high?

It is the libertarian dream that, once competition starts, Timmy's transplant will only be $10,000. See (#)

I think libertarians also take the hard truth that sometimes, services will be limited. Not everybody will get what they want because the cost , in all its forms, is and should be a factor. I think this ties in with their emphasis on self reliance, personal responsibility, and planning ahead. We all have a responsibility to prepare, and if we don't, you deserve what you get. This is an oversimplification that I'm sure both sides will crucify me for.

There is a clear distinction between the government and the people because the government is the only organization that can legally use force to achieve it's goals.

11/30/2005 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I'll have to answer backwards. So, Question #2 first.

First off, I believe firmly that Lincoln's Prepositional Government (Of, By, For) is very much a mixed bag. That government, in Lincoln's day, didn't really have any social programs to speak of. It was an oversight body, a military governance body and an ambassadorial (word? I don't know. It is now) body. All the nice things you want your government to do. There were social programs aplenty, outside the sphere of government. Ever notice how Abolitionism found its greatest strength in the church and in the intelligentsia? Ever notice how The Government pretty much said "screw those 3/5ths people--they can't even vote."? Lincoln only went to war when the nation's wealth from cotton exports was threatened, and largely wrote the Emancapation Proclamaition as a tool to persuade England to not fight on behalf of the CSA. I know that Lincoln found slavery personally abhorrent, yet I don't think he crusaded to end it. His mission was the saving of the Union. He 'saved' it by sacrificing some of its greatest principles only to usher in the single most corrupt and scandalous administration to date. Thus proving that reality in most cases falls short of the idealistic mark. He was elected to as pure a government as you can get, but perverted its purity to serve the supposed larger good of the Union.

Lincoln started the rot, Grant perfected it and Upton Sinclair killed any hope of a purely political government. The FDA was born in response to The Jungle as government decided it needed oversight bodies for "our own good." Ever since then the Government has mutated into an engine for social change, "betterment" and directive. It takes our money by force and grudgingly spends it in such a way as to direct our behaviours (forcing down speed limits through withholding of public highway funds, etc.) It's proven that as it does this, large amounts of money are siphoned off as waste product from its inefficient engine.

So, how can individuals effect change? Well, the responsibility of the individual is to be accountable for the wellbeing of his or her family and then accountable to his or her brethren to the best of their ability. So, you see that everyone in your family is fed, clothed and educated. And you give all you can whenever you can. Like many libertarians I believe that true charity isn't to be displayed, so I rarely (almost never) talk about the things I do for charity. I don't think it's appropriate, and I don't think a "donation resume" is ever done in the true spirit of charity. [For the record, the single best depiction of a supremely charitable individual is Monsieur Myriel in Les Miserables.]

So, to answer: 1a. No. Little Timmy is not out of luck. Those individuals who work for the hospital, etc. will be willing to cut fees. Private charities can also step in with donations. The family can go on a payment plan. Used to be that the family could declare bankruptcy, but now that the supposedly For The People government decided to change the bankruptcy laws to benefit CitiBank, that's not such a good option.

1b. It depends on several things--who is in the community that is depending on this money, etc. Since there is an emphasis on personal responsibility in libertarianism, I think there is more of an emphasis on community responsibility. If you know you are responsible for you and those around you, that takes primacy in your spending. Since our sense of community has been violated by the larger government, we're attracted by the shiniest object--whether it's the biggest storm, the most heartwrenching story on Good Morning America, or the jazziest celebrity benefit. We've been conditioned through years of government social programs to not have those in receipt of our assistance actually be accountable to us. When you send $5.00 to the Amr. Red Cross to benefit Katrina victims you probably envision that money paying for a box lunch for a hungry family in New Orleans. In reality it's most likely going to sit in a bank account somewhere until called upon to put gas in a Red Cross truck. Not that that's a bad thing, but it shows the disconnect between the intent of the giver and the use of the receiver. And that doesn't bother most people, but it bothers me. And it's why local charities suffer on a regular basis.

Obviously, as I wrote this morning, I think Libertarianism is a beautiful philosophy that has an uphill battle for gaining any foothold. Like Kleinheider, I think the two-party system is killing the modern representative government,and I hope that some mutation of Libertarianism will stand a fighting chance over the next thirty years. But I'm not young enough to assume that pure libertarian ideals stand a chance in this country anymore. That doesn't mean I can't live by them, but it does mean that I'm not expecting to be governed by them.

11/30/2005 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Exador said...

Katherine,

You're on the money, except for the bankruptcy thing. All the new law did was make it harder to declare bankruptcy, especially the kind where you don't have to pay your creditors.

If borrow money and don't pay it back, you stole it, plain and simple. Atlanta has been the bankruptcy capitol of the world for the past 5 years, maybe longer. The reason is stupid people putting themselves ridiculously in debt, then simply declaring bankruptcy. I know a guy that's declared bankruptcy three times in the past two years. I don't know how he gets a new apartment.

There's always the labor camps.

11/30/2005 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

On the bankruptcy issue I'm slightly prejudiced.

1. My father is a Federal Bankruptcy Trustee. He doesn't like the new bankruptcy laws because although they are intended to punish the abusers, they also punish people who are in a real bind with medical bills, etc.

2. I know several people who've had to file Chapter 7 because their startup business failed. In all 4 cases that Chapter 7 saved their marriage. Not everyone who files is doing so in order to cheat the system. Some people are construction workers who weren't paid by the General Contractor, some are freelance graphic designers who were stiffed on their invoices by a losing political candidate whose campaign ran out of money.

3. I also know people who have had to file Chapter 13. That's a reorganization, where your creditors aren't allowed to hassle you and you have up to 5 years to pay back either all you owe or as much of what you owe as you are financially able to pay. It bears all the stigma of a 7--it stays on your credit rating the same amount of time, it keeps you from getting new credit and it generally makes you feel like a failure of a human being. But the creditors are paid. I think a decent thing to do under the new laws would to change the provisions for a 13 so that it doesn't carry as much of the same stigma and penalties as a 7. The court doesn't want people to file for 7, but there is really no incentive (other than doing as much of the right thing as possible) to filing a 13.

I live life in the land of the self-employed and the entrepreneur. Bankruptcy is a fairly common ailment among my peers. Nobody likes it, nobody wants to do it. But it has literally kept friends from suicide, so I'm glad it's there.

And yes, I have in my lifetime met a couple of chisellers who ran up credit card bills they didn't intend to pay. But of the people I've known who've had a bankruptcy, they are 10% of the total.

12/01/2005 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Exador said...

My experience has been exactly the opposite. I don't think I've known a single person that just got hit out of nowhere, like with a medical emergency. Everyone I've known has been a loser trying to cheat the system, or at least, their bancruptcy was do to simple stupidity. None of them ever felt bad about screwing over their creditors, especially the "big, evil credit card companies". They only felt bad because their credit was screwed up, not ruinied, mind you, because they were all able to get new things after. I never understood that. Who would ever lend you money or rent you an apartment immediately after you declare?

12/01/2005 06:07:00 AM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

Hello, all. If exador and mycropht are indicative of the current state of libertarianism, then perhaps we should hope that libertarianism gets relegated to the fringes reserved for communism in the U.S. While neither two political ideologies has ever been purely enacted-- for that matter, neither has 'democracy' or 'capitalism'-- and nor should they, I believe there are valuable perspectives in both.

However, what I'm reading here seems like a strange cross between childish absolutism and sociopathy. I'm reminded of the sardonic kick I get out of hearing militant 'survivalists' bitch about "the government", or even when I read Ted Nugent's similar lunacy about not needing a nanny state, blah, blah. The reason these people are able to have their open land, their guns, and their openly expressed opinions is that we have a government that is designed ostensibly to protect their rights to keep those things.

And you're right, Aunt B, the government is us. If it overreaches, or fails miserably, it is not because it is some evil, mystical force from another dimension. It is because "we the people" have abdicated our responsibility to the community (again, us) that our government (of, by, and for us) is supposed to serve.

Mycropht puts the cart before the horse: she blames government for violating our sense of community. I beg to differ. I believe our sense of community in the country has always been morbidly ill, and our government has developed to reflect that. There was once a significant hiccup in the other direction (the New Deal), but even that is under fire now.

The Founders, intelligent and bold as they were, were mostly rich people (some were even slaveholders). Rich people tend to want to make themselves richer, or at least hold onto their riches. They usually use whatever government is at hand in order to maintain that status quo. The founders brought this moral disease with them, and it is a congenital birth defect of our democratic republic. It explains slavery and Jim Crow as much as it explains $12 Tylenol.

Still, the ultimate responsibility for our sickened community lies in the majority of us who aren't rich (and may not care to be). The rich people-- through their arms of corporation and gov't.-- have conducted wars (here and abroad) in order to grab more of the world's wealth for themselves. The sad thing is, they've convinced the non-rich masses to do their fighting for them.

This fight extends from the battlefield into our politics, and that's where I see libertarianism-- and its more popular cousin, Republican conservatism-- as real dangers to what passes for our sense of community. We've all been promised a cut of the material excess (trickle-down?), and we've accepted that thirty pieces of silver in order to turn a blind moral eye to the abuses we've carried out on behalf of the wealthy. By trading our diligence for iPods and cheap gasoline, we've allowed "one person, one vote" to give way to government by wealthy oligarchy.

From what I'm seeing here, libertarianism uses the myth of human independence in order to paint that abuse and neglect with such pious colors as "self-reliance" and "individual responsibility." In reality, though, it usually translates into "hooray for me, fuck the next guy." All the non-government charities in the world can't overcome that sort of spiritual sickness.

12/01/2005 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

Well, church secretary, I take it that you see my libertarianism as sociopathology. I raise you your esposed philosophy as classist egotism. The whole idea that the Rich have screwed up the country for Everybody Else imbues the Rich with mustache-twirling villainy, while appearing to hold the Not Rich blameless for their ethical failings. "You stole? Oh, that's okay because you're not The Rich. You were obviously somehow forced into this 'crime' by The Rich."

It's the creation of a permanent underclass, not only defined by relative lack of money but also granted its own set of social mores.

My libertarianism seeks to correct that, by saying that all men are indeed created and treated equally. I realize that when conditioned to accept that The Not Rich are somehow either ignorant tools or saintly fools it seems like sacriledge to hear someone say "It's Not What You Have But What You Do That Counts."

There's nothing sociopathic about that at all.

12/01/2005 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see libertarianism-- and its more popular cousin, Republican conservatism-- as real dangers to what passes for our sense of community
Well you did say our sense of community is 'morbidly ill'. So a danger to that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Frankly, if your own politcal beliefs are not a danger to what passes for our sense of community, then isn't that hypocritical? And if your own political beliefs are a danger to what passes for our sense of community, then you need to find a better criticism of libertarianism and it's popular cousin.

I'm not quite libertarian, but the crux of it seems to be that you let people do it themselves instead of making them. It's probably overly optomistic to believe it would all work out that way, but it's still a good theory.

W

12/01/2005 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

I guess that I really can't get past the idea that we are our government and that, if that fails to be true, that we've done something dreadfully wrong and need to undo it.

And, if the government is made up of us, the same way that any charity that oversees donations is made up of us, then I just don't see why the government shouldn't move some money around, too.

I guess I just can't get on-board with the notion that the government is stealing from me when it taxes me. I see that you feel that way and I respect it, but I just don't experience it that way. I really just think it's just a part of life, that even though you want to, you can't call all the shots for yourself.

But, on the other hand, it seems to me that libertarianism is an imminently useful story to tell ourselves about who we are. Certainly not the only story we ought to tell ourselves about who we are, but a necessary one.

I mean, sure, there's a way that, say, looking at a homeless, one-legged Vietnam veteran shivering out in the park and saying, "Dude, you're exactly where you choose to be," is heartless and gross. But I can see how it could also be inspiring to some people--they could hear "you're exactly where you choose to be" and think that they could then choose another kind of life.

Which brings me back to my other concern about libertarianism, which is that, while it seems to leave so much room for individual freedom and expression, it seems like it would only work if everyone were just like y'all.

And, clearly, that's not the case.

Still, what I find really interesting is that, usually, conservatives are all like "If only things were like they were back in the past" and liberals are all like "we must work towards a better future." As much as there are other political differences, there's a way in which you can understand their differences by seeing where they locate their utopias.

I believe myself to be almost cured of such utopian nonsense, but when it creeps back in, it's clear that I'm among the "we can work towards a better future" crowd. The thing I cannot figure out about y'all is where you locate your utopia. The Boy Scout seems, kind of, to locate in the past. But Miss Kitty has said in the past that she doesn't think Libertarianism is matured enough yet to have any real political power, thus seeming to locat it in the future.

But I don't know.

12/01/2005 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Kat Coble said...

I mean, sure, there's a way that, say, looking at a homeless, one-legged Vietnam veteran shivering out in the park and saying, "Dude, you're exactly where you choose to be," is heartless and gross.

And it's one of the huge misunderstandings (I think) about libertarianism. I can't speak for every libertarian out there, but at least this one doesn't just disregard the shivering homeless.

Looking at the problem of homelessness in general through my libertarian eyes I would have to say that I beleive firmly that most homelessness (and indeed most other adverse circumstances) are a conflation of choice and circumstance. While you can't always change the circumstance (born with a mental or physical illness, forced out of work) you can change the choices. Charitable concerns--both religious and secular--exist to help with the circumstance, but in my view true charity says "we'll help you when you make the good choice but won't force you. And we won't enable your bad choices, either."

The easiest example, of course, is a homeless person who was born with a mental illness and is an alcoholic. Charities such as the Salvation Army, Bridges to Care, and the Nashville Rescue Mission all say "we'll help you overcome the circumstance, but you have to make the choice to stop drinking. And since alcoholism is the choice of drinking mutated into a bad circumstance, we'll help you kick the habit. You have to be committed to a 6- to 12- month program. But we won't feed you and clothe you just so you have food and clothing money to spend on liquor. If you want to sleep a night here, you have to stay sober while you do."

These are all organizations committed to the well-being of others. They don't force anyone at gunpoint and they acknowledge that you are free to make the choice to continue drinking or taking drugs. Of course, that personal choice does come with consequences--like not having limitless food to eat or fresh, clean clothes to wear.

I just don't see why the government shouldn't move some money around, too.

Charities are shut down for malfeasance all the time. Any charity with the track record of waste and corruption that the government has wouldn't last 18 months. The gov, on the other hand, exists with all of its organizational problems so deeply entrenched that it is impossible to tune the engine.

And most charities (none, that I can think of) do not have an army and a prison system at their disposal to guarantee donations.

The thing I cannot figure out about y'all is where you locate your utopia.

Idaho.

Seriously, my personal utopia is to see the governmental structure mutate to a more Libertarian flavour over the next 50 years. 30, if I'm lucky. Unlike most conservatives, I'm not keening to have things like they were in the (distant) past. I'd like a Reaganesque America, with a strong free market, a strong DEFENSE system and a firm national ideal--but with more freedoms. I'd like the Patriot Act to be dead and gone, and I'd like taxes to be substantially lower. I'd like personal savings accounts for Social Security. I'd like the War On Drugs with its stupid wastefulness, violations of personal liberty and black eye on the constitution to go away.

I have always believed, and will always believe that America can be better than it used to be. It'll never be perfect, but it can always be better. And the only way I see to make it better is to keep it free. Which Libertarianism does better than any other current ideology.

12/01/2005 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

I hate it when I have to quote myself in a thread, because that means someone ignored some of my words and latched onto the ones they found most objectionable.

I clearly stated this:
the ultimate responsibility for our sickened community lies in the majority of us who aren't rich

...and this:
and we've accepted that thirty pieces of silver in order to turn a blind moral eye to the abuses we've carried out on behalf of the wealthy. By trading our diligence for iPods and cheap gasoline, we've allowed "one person, one vote" to give way to government by wealthy oligarchy.

Mycropht, you responded with this:
The whole idea that the Rich have screwed up the country for Everybody Else imbues the Rich with mustache-twirling villainy, while appearing to hold the Not Rich blameless for their ethical failings.

That, comrade, is a Straw Man argument. My entire point is that we're all in this together, but our biggest problem is that we have a tendency to pay that fact lip service while leaning too far toward the "every man for himself" credo. Hence my reference to the Founders. They put into writing all sorts of flowery language about the equality of men, too, but most of them had a hand (directly or indirectly) in both slavery and the genocide of Native Americans (not to mention the exploitation of their less wealthy and educated revolutionary brethren).

And I will reiterate, lest it be ignored again, that we are all participants in this dynamic, whether rich, poor, or somewhere in between. The tantalizing bright side is that we regularly prove ourselves capable of so much better.

As I said above regarding libertarianism and communism,
I believe there are valuable perspectives in both.

However, what piqued my sardonic reflex was not the larger concept of libertarianism, but the examples you and exador used to support the concept.

Also, I'm amused by the notion that the both of you (and 'anonymous') seem to be stuck on, which is that our government (of, by, and for us) forces us to do things. I would like to be more charitable in my assessment, but frankly I find that notion rather childish. I'm generally not a love-it-or-leave-it type, so that's not what I mean when I say that our government won't prevent you from leaving to find greener libertarian pastures elsewhere. But as long as you're here using our roads and calling our 911 and using our plumbing systems and benefitting from the protection of our military, don't you think it's only fair to drop a little into the kitty? Seriously, I'd love to see universal health care come out of my pocket, but that notwithstanding I've been to a few places (like Peru, Belize, and China, for example) where people don't quite get the bang for their buck that we do here. Of course, there are places that appear to get more (like in Western Europe), but we do have a tendency to chide them for being too >gasp< socialistic.

(On that note, as a firefighter and EMT, I am happy to be a taxpayer, as are most of the people who avail themselves of my services. Some of the people who I help pay more property taxes than others, but they all receive the same level of service, and most of them are happy to pay for them through their taxes. I seriously doubt that any of them would like to have to whip out a credit card before I start putting out the fire in their kitchen or administering CPR to grandma. These taxpayers have a basic understanding that I am part of the social infrastructure, and that what I do would not work very well if left to the satanic ravages of "the market.")

It is all part of the larger social contract, and that's called civilization. Of course, there needs to be a healthy balance between the needs of the community and the responsibilities of the individual, and I believe that's where the some of the philosophies of communists and libertarians are most valuable. However, we've seen what can happen when attempts are made to create communist societies: you wind up with Stalinism or Maoism. Yeesh. And large-scale, practical applications of libertarianism? We've been there, too, only we call it feudalism, and it was all the rage in the enlightened Middle Ages.

12/02/2005 04:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's always the trump isn't it?? "You use our roads so you can't be libertarian." Personally, I don't have a problem with kicking in for infrastructure. Being a government employee myself, I do see the need. And I think most people who actually think about it don't mind government sponsored infrastructure either. The social programs are where it gets contentious.

W

12/02/2005 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Church Secretary said...

Perhaps it's my Christian philosophical leanings, but the line between 'infrastructure' and 'social programs' is often a little blurry for me.

Anyway, instead of bitching about paying taxes, I prefer to bitch about taxes being spent unwisely.

For example, I'd prefer to see billions of dollars invested in sustainable energy source development, rather than thrown at destructive and already profitable (and eventually obsolete) fossil fuels conglomerates. I'd prefer to pour my cash into medically oriented drug treatment and public anti-drug education instead of miserably failing (but highly profitable) militarized drug interdiction and 'privatized' prison expansion. I'd greatly prefer to see money sloshed into education (including beyond the secondary level) than see it wasted by the trillions on foreign military conquests and the excessive corporate profits those conquests support.

And so on and so forth, you get the point.
Now, just what are those 'social programs' with which you have such a problem? As I see it, the ones we have that are failing are that way not because of good intentions, but because good intentions were trumped by cynical hamstringing and the usual priority of greed.

12/03/2005 11:17:00 AM  

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