Quick Roundup 225

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Stossel on "Healthy Wisconsin"

John Stossel discusses Wisconsin's foolhardy race to the cliff's edge of socialized medicine at RealClear Politics.

Does it never occur to the progressives that the legislature's intrusion into private contracts is one reason health care and health insurance are expensive now? The average annual health-insurance premium for a family in Wisconsin is $4,462 partly because Wisconsin imposes 29 mandates on health insurers: Every policy must cover chiropractors, dentists, genetic testing, etc. Think chiropractors are quacks? Too bad. You still must pay them to treat people in your state.

Want to buy insurance from another state, like nearby Michigan, where an average policy costs less? Too bad. It's against the law to buy across state lines. Your state's Big Brother knows best.

The WSJ writes about a "last line of defense against" Healthy Wisconsin, but I say, let Wisconsin try it! Their suffering will be for the greater good.
The piece is valuable for its analysis of how Wisconsin got into the mess it finds itself in today and for its portrayal of the looming disaster that is being called "Healthy Wisconsin". However, I must register my disagreement with Stossel's argument that the inevitable failure of this plan will somehow deter other attempts to bring about socialized medicine by providing "evidence" that it "doesn't work".

Such evidence already exists everywhere socialized medicine has been tried. Furthermore, Stossel himself indicates that he should know better than to think that leftists will fail to come up with a way to ignore any new evidence. He notes that, "They see Wisconsin becoming a fairyland of health happiness supervised by the 16-person 'authority' that will oversee the plan. Socialism will work this time because the 'right' people will be in charge." Exactly. And if socialism fails "this time", they will -- again -- look at anything but the evidence to explain that failure away.

The primary reason that socialized medicine keeps making headway despite the mountains of evidence that one cannot magically make everyone well by government decree is that its proponents see their crusade as a moral crusade. Until we make headway in disputing such baseless claims about morality as that (1) it has no rational basis, (2) it equals altruism, and (3) it is impractical and trumps matters of practicality; we will continue, as Stossel does, to cast the pearls of evidence before swine who regard it as irrelevant in matters of morality.

Michael Medved on Bombing Mecca

Michael Medved, in a long, rambling column, takes a demagogic proposal by Tom Tancredo as an opportunity to preemptively take bombing Moslem "holy" sites off the table in the War We Should Be Fighting, But Aren't.

Sounding quite like a left-wing pacifist, he starts off by claiming that doing so would "enrage" the Moslems. He sticks to his guns even after considering an interesting argument by Victor Mordecai that destroying Mecca might, "undermin[e] Islamic claims that their God is, indeed, 'the greatest.'"

But the real reason Medved opposes doing this is that he regards the fundamental purpose of war as immoral. We see this when Medved takes the following jab at fighting the kind of war we ought to be fighting.
[A]pologists for the crazed, delusional rhetoric of Tom Tancredo might argue that bombing holy structures in Mecca and Medina represents only the beginning of a new and necessary "no more Mr. Nice Guy" strategy for the United States -- an appropriate but insufficient retaliation for terrorist excesses by Islamists. According to such logic, the American military ultimately will move from blowing up buildings to annihilating people until we finally succeed in breaking the Muslim will to fight back.

In this context, we should consider the example of war-time Japan -- where it took the death of more than 3 million human beings, and two devastating atomic bombs, before the thoroughly defeated Empire finally agreed to surrender. Killing a comparable percentage of today's Muslim population would require at least 50 million deaths. Even assuming some moral justification for such unprecedented genocide, we're left with a practical problem: where, exactly, would we find our 50 million Muslims to slaughter? Would we try to kill them all in Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or would we try to distribute the carnage throughout the Islamic world? [bold added]
Note how he dishonestly equates the World War II-like strategy of fighting with Tancredo's spouting off at the mouth -- and then sets up retaliatory bombings and the piling up of a certain number of corpses as a straw-man to substitute for the actual objective and means of fighting such a war, which may or may not require the specific actions he described. That objective, by the way, is this: to do whatever it takes to end the threat of Islamic totalitarianism to American life and liberty. And, by the way, this very objective is unjustified in Medved's eyes: "[e]ven assuming some moral justification for such unprecedented genocide...."

The moral justification and purpose for fighting a war of self-defense, Mr. Medved, is the protection of life and liberty from those who wish to take them away. It is not retaliation. It is not stalemate. And it is not the impossible goal of forcing those who reject civilization to adopt civilization. The only legitimate moral or practical criteria for deciding how to act towards our enemy in a war is the following: How can we best render our enemy unable to harm us, while causing ourselves as little injury as possible?

And one more thing: To call any number of enemy dead "genocide" as you do, Mr. Medved, is a moral obscenity. Our enemy is making his own death an unpleasant necessity for our continued existence. His own blood is, morally speaking, on his own hands.

I personally doubt that even a properly ruthless, World War II-type of attack (of which a proper description and justification can be found here) against the Islamic world would require even 50 million deaths to convince the Musselmen that if they keep bombing us, they'll be in serious trouble. But if it did or it took more, that's their problem and not ours.

My life is sacred, Mr. Medved. If Islamic totalitarians and their sympathizers force me, through their hostilities, to choose between the lives of millions of savages and my own life and freedom, I will proudly choose my life and my freedom. It may or may not take them 50 million deaths, give or take, to grasp it, but I want our military to do whatever it takes to get through to this superstitious filth that if they keep lobbing bombs at me, they can damn well plan to hide in their hovels and caves from our war machine.

As for the question of whether we should bomb Mecca, that is a tactical matter I have not thought much about. If doing so will help break Islamic totalitarian will, it should be done. But on the other hand, my attitude towards temples is like that of the Romans: Let our vanquished foes have their superstitions and worship their impotent gods.

But let's vanquish the bastards first, how 'bout it.

Was this staged, too?

I do not in any way condone vigilantism, which is what looks like occurred at a recent acid bomb attack against a Phoenix-area mosque, but given who the victim is and which "civil rights" group is backing him, wouldn't it be interesting if this attack turned out to be staged?
The bottle, which contained pool cleaner and strips of tin foil, burst some 20-25 feet away from Imam Didmar Faja and another mosque official, although neither man was injured, sergeant Jim Toomey said.

"The bottle ruptured in front of them and they smelled a strong chemical smell when it went off," Toomey said.

"We are treating it as a hate crime. We are taking it very seriously," he added.

Faja is one of six Muslim clerics known as the "Flying Imams" who are bringing a suit against US Airways alleging discrimination after they were removed from a Minneapolis to Phoenix flight last November. [bold and link added]
Notice that the criminal in question will be penalized extra due to his presumed motivation. Punishing beliefs, however repugnant, is wrong, too.

-- CAV


: (1) Corrected "Sowell" to read "Stossel". (2) Other minor edits.


Anonymous said...

Hey Gus,

The Wisconsin article is by John Stossel, not Thomas Sowell.

I really like your breakdown of Medved's arguement. He is plainly dishonest, equating genocide with self-defence.

Is't genocide the indiscriminate killing of members of a specific culture or ethnicity? Kinda like how the Moslems want to kill all the Jews and chant "Death to America?.

I am so sick of 'war critics' burying their small minds in the sand and ignoring the distiction between people who want to kill everyone and people who really just want to be left alone to live freely.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the correction, Chris.

Anonymous said...

Awesome write-up on Medved's column. I'd bet at the root of Medved's pacifism is religion (I think he is Jewish) and its self-sacrificial code of ethics. It just goes to show that if you follow altruism faithfully then you must slit your own throat or get someone else to do it for you (in this case the Muslims.)

I also agree with you on the point that it probably wouldn't take 50 million deaths to pacify the Islamic world. And I so agree with the point that even if it took those number of deaths or more, moral strength and self preservation require that we kill them.

As for bombing Mecca, I think there may be merit to that strategy. I think our goal should be to discredit Islamic literalism and teach the Islamic world that their religion is not a potent force capable of world conquest but a pathetic example of stupidity and impotence. What better way than to smash anything associated with their supposedly invincible "prophet."

Something similar can be said to have happened in the Roman world. The Romans were confronted with something similar to today's Islamic fanatics, namely Mosaic Jews who from what I gather were just as belligerent. The Romans took a number of years but they destroyed Jerusalem and started the process whereby Jews were no longer predominantly literal in their approach to religion but interpretive. I believe this is one of the reasons for the start of Rabbinical Judaism as opposed to the Mosaic literalism. So it might be a legitimate tactic to destroy all Muslim holy sites.

John Kim

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for the kind words and for noting a historical antecedent worth consideration.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Titus Flavian laid waste to the Jewish temple and according to some the Romans went much further than just fighting messianic Jews.

They created their own pacifistic religion (Christianity) to supplement the various violent messianic ones. See: http://www.caesarsmessiah.com/summary.html

Gus Van Horn said...

Like any other religion, Christianity undiluted by the influence of Greek rationality, can very dangerous,so you won't see me defending it here.

I do not, however, subscribe to the notion that the rise of Christianity can be attributed, as the site you mention advertises on its book jacket, to a Roman conspiracy.

The Roman empire eventually adopted Christianity -- which evolved on its own, like so many other oriental religions -- as its state religion (which hastened its collapse).

Lao said...

Brilliant analysis.

For a while there I thought I was the only one who was repulsed with Medved's screed.

An American Expat in Southeast Asia

Gus Van Horn said...

Not a bad post on your part, either. Thanks for stopping by.