4-26-14 Hodgepodge

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The "Squeegee Bandit" View of Obligation

Over at Voices for Reason, a post elaborates on an apt analogy -- the roadside "squeegee bandit" -- for a very common rationalization for the welfare state:

According to some of the welfare state supporters I've debated, this is the paradigm for a moral society. People do things for you, and now you owe them. Older Americans paid for the government schools that educated you, so now you owe them Social Security. They paid for the roads, so now you owe them Medicare. They slaved and sacrificed for you, and now it's your turn to slave and sacrifice for them.

What's missing is your consent. In a free society, other people don't get to impose what they regard as benefits on you and then extract what they regard as a fair price from you. Can you imagine trying to make it through the mall if clerks could stuff iPhones and silk ties in your bag and then force you to cough up your credit card?
At last, someone has come up with a better term for this kind of thinking than "social 'contract' theory".

Some day, someone is going to attempt to bandy about the term "social contract" in a conversation with me. I can't wait to ask them to elaborate, and then say something like, "Oh, you mean, the 'squeegee bandit' view of obligation!"

Weekend Reading

"To the extent that government pays for our medical care, it will demand a say in how that money is spent." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Should Doctors Limit Medical Care to Save Money for 'Society'?" at Forbes

"The past shapes our attitudes and beliefs, but as thinking human beings we have the power to change faulty attitudes and beliefs." -- Michael Hurd, in "Your Past Does Not Define You" at The Delaware Coast Press

"If you don't like doing something, why use alcohol to make you like it?" -- Michael Hurd, in "When Use Becomes Abuse" at The Delaware Wave

"L.A.'s riots are a harsh reminder that replacing facts with feelings -- which was done by city leaders, the president and a pack of journalists -- is a matter of life and death." -- Scott Holleran, in "Remembering the 1992 Los Angeles Riots" republished in The 1992 Los Angeles Riots

Not Your Father's Physician

Paul Hsieh's discussion of the disasterous ramifications of ObamaCare once again comes with some very practical considerations for physicians and patients alike. I, for one, will fire any physician who speaks of third-party "cost control" as a good thing.

Computer-Generated Laughs

A post at Futility Closet discusses a study of the riddles produced by the 1990s JAPE [Joke Analysis and Production Engine] computer program:
"The results showed that the JAPE-produced riddles were identified as jokes just as reliably as the human-produced ones, and both were easily distinguished from the non-jokes," writes Rod Martin in The Psychology of Humor (2007). "Although the JAPE-produced jokes were rated as less funny, on average, than the human-produced jokes, a number of the JAPE riddles were rated as being just as funny as those produced by humans.
Follow the link to the post for a few of the better ones.


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