Changing your views

[Here’s a meaty topic that we can try to discuss on the main section of our blog.  If you think the comments are getting out of hand let all of us know.  —  July]

by Becky

We are all well aware that we have a variety of political leanings among Totebaggers. This article describes research into the origins of those leanings. Do you agree? Have you had life experiences that led you to change your views to a more conservative or more liberal stance?

I had a moderate anti-gun stance growing up. We did not own a gun, and a story my dad told me about a friend of his that I knew stuck with me. Someone had attempted to break into their house while he was home. He grabbed his gun and chased the guy down the street. The criminal was younger and more fit and got away from him. He was telling my dad the story and saying that he thanks God that the kid got away. He was just a teenager, and he was thinking afterward “I’m gonna shoot a kid over a TV?” However, the patient voices on here and some friends helped me see a different perspective, and my views are much different now. This is NOT a gun discussion, that is just an example of how my coming to feel less fearful of a subject made me change my views on it. Has anyone had a similar experience?

At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.

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273 thoughts on “Changing your views

  1. I don’t want to derail the conversation right off the bat, but wouldn’t it follow that women should be, overall, more conservative than men? Girls get the fear drilled into them from the time we’re tiny. Don’t talk to strange men, don’t give a man a ride home, don’t walk after dark, don’t walk alone, don’t open the door if you’re home alone, etc.

  2. I agree that safety/security, both physical and financial, is probably a factor in people’s political leanings but I thought the claims in the article were excessive. I think the specific challenges we face growing up (not enough money, unstable family life, abuse, social exclusion at school based on class, race or other factor) shape many of us for life.

    One area I’ve changed my views based on The Totebag is the effects of divorce. I was called out one day for my negative assumptions, with references to the many successful Totebaggers who have been divorced or are children of divorced parents. I realized that my limited experience with divorce and its very negative current effects on my nieces were overly influencing me. The effects of divorce are family-specific and heavily influenced by family income and social class. So I’m wrong about my conclusions in Totebaggy scenarios, but only partially wrong in a general, public health sense.

    As background, my nieces have lived with a variety of mom’s boyfriends and mom can’t be bothered to get them to school so they have missed 40+ days this year during her half of joint custody. Attempting to modify custody arrangement so BIL can have them during the school week would cost $20k in legal fees and likely wouldn’t be successful. No real enforcement mechanism against parents in divorce situations who don’t take their kids to school.

  3. No real enforcement mechanism against parents in divorce situations who don’t take their kids to school.

    That’s got to be regional. An acquaintance in Boulder has three autistic kids (!!!) and one of them was simply unwilling to get out of bed and go to school for a lot of 8th grade. It’s remarkable how little a parent can do if the kid simply Will.Not.Move. Anyway, the cops came and threatened to throw my friend and her husband in jail if they didn’t get the kid to school. And these are Totebaggy parents — an engineer and and occupational therapist.

  4. Addressing the article, I think that fear is a frequent and key motivator for strong political views on both sides of the aisle, not just conservatives.

    My in laws are very conservative, and they seem to have a level of fear about their likelihood of being victimized that, in my estimation, tends to be a lot higher than is statistically warranted. Someone’s going to waltz off with their barbecue grill, an average cleaning lady dusting their home office is going to be motivated to snoop through their financial statements and target them in the future, there might be or there may have been a K&R policy in place, corporate espionage was a constant threat (although, I have to concede, not without some justification and an apparent attempt).

    But, at the same time, Denver Dad thinks that the Amazon guy wants to rob him, and he’s a liberal.

    And my mom has become a lot more conservative, but never locks doors or windows. Ever. Never worries about what she tells complete strangers in friendly conversation, and so forth. However, in her case, there is a political fear, I sense, that her values are threatened, whereas my dad, who’s much more moderate, gives no indication of that sort of fear (or of any physical security fears).

    But I know liberals who have these same types of fears, they just perceive different threats.

    So, fear takes different forms, and it’s not just physical.

  5. ” Anyway, the cops came and threatened to throw my friend and her husband in jail if they didn’t get the kid to school.”

    This is a wonderful example of convoluted thinking. And why were the cops involved? Was a crime being investigated / suspected? Or are the cops also the truant officers? What useful societal purpose would be served by jailing the parents? Aren’t there any school district mental health professionals who understand that’s just how it is sometimes with autistic (or any other) kids? Seems like a lot of excessive/unnecessary punishment threat.

  6. It’s against the law to not send your kids to school. When my son was ill and missed months at a time, we received threatening notices and had to refer the school district to his doctor. It’s often times not the individual school, but the district who is in charge of enforcement.

  7. One of the commenters on the article noted that once a person buys a gun, and presumably feels physically safer, they didn’t suddenly become more liberal.

    I think one reason why Oprah is so popular is that she seems to live her advice of not making decisions based on fear (or self-doubt). She is hopeful and positive.

    Part of the difficulty in changing ones mind is giving credence and weight to new information, being open to a different point of view and admitting that you may not be right. This is all really hard stuff for us humans. And, is part of why scientists like Stephen Hawking are so amazing. Their ability to think outside the box and be open to new ideas is admirable. And hard to do. And at the same time they have to be amazingly stubborn and persistent that they are not wrong when they do make a discovery.

  8. WCE’s ex-SIL may very well have received a lot of these threatening notices. She may simply not give a shit, and the authorities making the threats were likely overplaying their hands.

  9. Houston – I get that it’s the law. But jailing people, vs at least at first, fining them seems rather heavyhanded. It’s one thing if the parents were intentionally keeping their kid(s) out of school so they could e.g. plow the back 40; it’s completely another if you’ve got an autistic/sick etc kid. There have to be mechanisms to address these situations outside of the criminal justice system. It’s not like the parents were a threat (to tie back to the OP) to anyone’s safety, so why is jail the appropriate sanction?

  10. It’s like a fight we had on here or TOS years ago, when a bunch of people were lamenting the school nurse’s “Policy” that a sick kid must be picked up within X number of minutes, and keeping a childcare system in place that is ready to comply with this requirement added cost and complexity.

    And Rhett and I are like “Or else what?”

  11. No time to talk about this today, but many people galvanized against Trump got that way because of fear.

  12. “Part of the difficulty in changing ones mind is giving credence and weight to new information, being open to a different point of view and admitting that you may not be right. This is all really hard stuff for us humans.”

    This is really true.

    For myself, I have found some truth in that old saying that if you are young and not liberal, you have no heart, but if you are old and not conservative, you have no brains. I’m still pretty liberal, generally, but life experiences have definitely made me see the world in more nuanced ways.

    While I’m still pro-choice, I have much more complicated feelings n abortion after going through pregnancy and childbirth myself. On the one hand, I don’t think of it in abstract way anymore – I feel much more strongly that a growing embryo IS a life, but then again, I also feel even more strongly that no woman should be forced to go through pregnancy and childbirth against her will. On a less controversial note – I have much more nuanced thoughts about regulation – I can see how the cost-benefit analysis is often flawed, and how it is exploited by corporations as well. The same is true for other issues. I admire people that are more independent rather than adhering to party talking points, no matter which party.

  13. Milo is correct that she has received notices and visits from the district attendance enforcement and is unresponsive. The costs of enforcing a law against the minority of the population who chooses not to follow it can be very high. (see politics thread for related comment on enforcing gun registration laws against non-compliant assault rifle owners)

  14. “Or else what?”

    Well my daycare would charge me if I were late for pick-up, with repeated offenses reason for expulsion from the program, resulting in even more cost and expense.

    In a more dire scenario, social services could be called in and in an even more dire scenario, one could lose custody. (And we’ve talked before about the differences in treatment of white families and not-white, and dual parent v. single parent, by social services.)

    Social services is preferable to jail but still not a fun path.

  15. While I am conservative in some of my views, I have come to dislike the declared ( importantly the un- declared) tea party conservatives out there! I share Hillary’s views on them. The totebag political discussions helped reinforce those views for me because the so called rational explanations given ( for certain views) do not really do anything to mask the underlying thought process. Previously I would have given such conservatives the benefit of doubt.
    While I also do not share the extreme left views, I find myself isolated in the middle.

    Now I just try to stay away from such discussions because I’d rather be ignorant than be filled with negativity those discussions bring.

  16. “It’s against the law to not send your kids to school. When my son was ill and missed months at a time, we received threatening notices and had to refer the school district to his doctor. It’s often times not the individual school, but the district who is in charge of enforcement.”

    Last year I received a truancy notice and various threatening letters when my son was sick and missed school. I am waiting for the notice this year because I think we are close to the limit. Apparently this is a common enough problem with sick kids, because when I mentioned it at my son’s last doctor’s appointment, the doc told me to call them if I had any more problems, because they had a social worker on staff who would call the district and explain the legal realities of sick kids.

  17. I am not sure I buy the whole fear thing as a big motivating force in political positions. I think a lot of it has to do with the rural/urban divide. For instance, I have come to understand why someone who lives in a rural area might have a greater need for a gun than someone like me who lives in an area where a police officer will show up within 3 minutes of me dialing 911. The political divide, though, comes up when we need to decide whose interest to prefer (rural areas probably are better off with guns v urban/suburban areas that are mor dangerous because of them).

    So I would say my core beliefs are a lot more nuanced because of life experiences, but in my case, I get more liberal as I get older and tend to think life result is mostly luck/circumstances.

  18. “In a more dire scenario, social services could be called in and in an even more dire scenario, one could lose custody. ”

    Dire indeed. The reality is that they can’t even get WCE’s deadbeat ex-SIL to get her kids to school. Nobody’s going to do anything because your kid with the fever was picked up in 90 minutes rather than 30 minutes.

    I was having this conversation with DW’s aunt one day a few years ago, on the topic of missing school for vacation. She was relating this personal horror story about the time they took their kid (DW’s cousin) to Hawaii, and later that year, she also happened to miss a lot of school due to illness. Her grave, grave warning was that they got a letter from the school saying that if she missed any more days, they might have to come in for a meeting.

    I was like “So…go have a meeting.”

  19. One of the commenters on the article noted that once a person buys a gun, and presumably feels physically safer, they didn’t suddenly become more liberal

    Yes, and the kids in Florida, who have every reason not to feel safe, don’t seem to be becoming conservative.

    The study seems irretrievably flawed. At a certain point in life, is it even possible to imagine being perfectly safe? At some point, hopefully early on in life, one has to live as if physical safety is not guaranteed. One can get thrown from a horse, knocked silly in a basketball game, hit by a bus, etc. We tell preschoolers to look both ways so they don’t get run over by a car. Even if they were experimenting on college students, one hopes that Yale students have the need to check traffic before walking in the street ingrained. And even if one if physically safe, emotional pain is constantly lurking.

  20. Milo, the notice I received was legal in nature. Basically, they were going to haul me to court.

  21. Y’all know that some funding for schools is tied to absentee rates, yes? So of course the schools take this stuff super seriously. Also, think of missing school as a gateway drug. Absenteeism is the first sign of a whole bunch of other problems.

  22. Here missing school has multiple consequences. First, in high school, it is by class and not by day, so missing 1st period Math on an A day and 1st period Science on a B day is one absence for each class vs. lumping them together as two. Get so many absences per class and you must go to Saturday school to get your classroom attendance up to the cutoff. Fail to go to Saturday school, you fail the class. You then make it up in the summer by taking summer school. Choose not to take summer school and you retake the course the next year. This becomes a problem when it prevents you from taking the next level Math class and now you cannot graduate on time unless you take summer school at some point to get back on track. The reason you miss school is irrelevant you still were not physically present.

    Last year, DD#2 had every band absence fall on a B day. She was one absence away from having to go to Saturday school. It doesn’t matter if they are excused or unexcused, it is all about butt in seat time. My girls’ absences are generally related to attending school sanctioned events, but they still monitor their absences to make sure they don’t go over the allotment.

  23. Interesting. I was pretty conservative as a kid – Rush, National Review, George Will etc. And threats to my personal safety were constant both at home and at school. Once I got to college and especially after I started my career, I had no fear at all and I also became much more liberal.

  24. At a certain point in life, is it even possible to imagine being perfectly safe?

    I feel perfectly safe.

  25. Ada – Have you ever treated someone for complications arising from swallowing a small piece of a plastic fork?

    Asking for a friend, of course. :)

  26. I think personal experience has more to do with someone’s political leanings than purely safety, though I see that it plays a factor.

    I would generally consider myself moderate, but there are some issues I find I myself to be more liberal and others more conservative. I think one underlying factor for me on many social issues is I don’t think children should be punished for having “poor”** parents. **Poor as in inept, incompetent, neglectful, un-involved (truly not by totebag standards) vs. just financially poor.

  27. “She was relating this personal horror story about the time they took their kid (DW’s cousin) to Hawaii,”

    Do/did you all do this? We are this year for spring break because #1 and #2’s spring breaks are different, so we are pulling #2 out for that week. He is only in kindergarten, so not a big deal, but when does it become a big deal?

  28. Birdie – We’ve taken them out for a week at a time, but I think that will stop next year with middle school.

  29. There must be studies about kids who grow up in, e.g., Sierra Leone during its civil war, or current-day Syria, or many other instances. Hell, what about the kids who grew up in London during the blitz? They turned out pretty socialist.

  30. Agree RMS, people who actually live in areas of great personal danger do not seem to espouse the same gun views as americans who live in safe encalves. With all the gun control discussions, that guy making a flippant “car violence” remark on someones post about their personal gun violence experience really gets to me.

  31. Psudeo do you safe personally or your family? When I was sick and depressed I had the worst anxiety about my family. If I texted and didn’t get a response I’d…it was bad. But with the bupropion it doesn’t really happen any more. Sometimes I’ll get a little tinge but it’s barely noticeable. And the fear was never about someone hurting them intentionally it was always that they’d get sick or slip in the tub or get hit by a car or something.

  32. Rocky – Maybe there’s a variable in the equation where one’s perception of current safety is counted relative to previous experiences, in line with Rhett’s attitude. Based on his change in circumstances, he now underestimates the threats around him.

    There are so many people, it seems to me, on both sides of the political spectrum, whose whole entire lives have been spent in relative peace and prosperity, yet they are convinced that everything is going to Hell.

  33. @Birdie: We did every year, until the year DD started to struggle to catch up on the work that she missed — I think that was 4th or 5th grade. You know me, I see school rules on things like attendance and homework as “well-intentioned practices designed help most kids succeed” (i.e., they’re more like guidelines, really). That means I don’t much care about toeing the line when my kid is doing fine, but once my kid isn’t doing well, then the rules become mandatory.

  34. I feel like it opens up so many possible discussions:

    It does! Especially: why are all dresses sleeveless? It’s so annoying. That’s why I like E-shakti, you get both sleeves and pockets.

  35. We had a veterinary missionary speak on Sunday who has spent the past 20+ years with the Karamajong in Uganda and I’ve been listening to her speak periodically for ~20 years. Sometime in the ’90’s, civil unrest caused soldiers to flee and leave their rifles, and the tribes that obtained the left-behind rifles then had a huge technological advantage over tribes without them. As a single, white female veterinarian, she was perceived as both useful and impartial by the surrounding tribes (so no one killed her) and has brokered various peace agreements and facilitated infrastructure improvements such as schools, clean water and work-for-food programs. (The clean water came largely from the U.S. military after 9/11, due to U.S. efforts to create infrastructure in areas without functional government, but she worked with the military so the soldiers understood the existing tribal conflicts and could avoid exacerbating them) Her agency now has a Ugandan veterinarian running it (she met him as a high school senior and facilitated his training; he is now her boss) and the area is more peaceful. It’s interesting to hear how the social problems have changed from frequent murder/violence to HIV/addiction.

  36. I was very liberal as a young adult. Pro choice, anti gun, pro gay marriage, pro business regulation. None of those views was based on fear, nor was my gradual evolution to conservative views based on fear. The liberal views were almost entirely from the academic environment in which I lived. The conservative views are the product of lived experience and heavy immersion into social science data from DH. IME, most people don’t spend nearly as much time as some of us here in forming and defending their views.

  37. I also agree with whoever said that none of us is “safe.” Bad stuff happens even if you are very careful and always follow the rules.

  38. There are so many people, it seems to me, on both sides of the political spectrum, whose whole entire lives have been spent in relative peace and prosperity, yet they are convinced that everything is going to Hell.

    I agree. And it’s amazing how powerful the nostalgia bias can be. If you visit a car blog people will say, “Cars today are rubbish.” And someone will point out that a Honda Odyssey can go 200k with barely an oil change all the while being able to smoke a Ferrari Daytona around the track, while getting 30mph, while carrying 7 people, in such safety that years go by where no one is killed driving or riding in an Odyssey. Cars used to come from the factory already rusted with 15 things broken and they were rolling death traps.

  39. veterinary missionary

    Another thing they didn’t tell us about on Career Day.

    Interesting anecdote, WCE.

  40. “Maybe there’s a variable in the equation where one’s perception of current safety is counted relative to previous experiences”

    @Milo, I think you’re on to something there. Happiness is the delta between experience and expectations, right? So someone from a horrible background will see the current situation as so much better than they had any right to protect.

    I think the study is interesting, and I think that same fear is what is driving so much of the political anger right now, on both sides. Under Obama, conservatives were afraid that their way of life, their view of what the country is and stands for, was threatened by policies they disagreed with. Now with Trump, liberals are afraid of exactly the same thing. So we all shout louder, feel like we need to be even more defensive of our positions, because we feel vulnerable and under attack. And the more we yell, the more we have Nazis marching and liberals counterprotesting and all of that, the more scared and vulnerable we all feel, and so the more polarized we get.

    I also wonder if some of it boils down to who you trust. My early life experience basically taught me that the governent was there to help me — certainly much more than, say, the local Bible-belt churches who treated my mom like Jezebel, or the wealthy who see poverty as a character flaw (which is why Romney’s “47%” thing hit close to home, even all those years later). So I feel “safer” with things like SS and Medicare, because to me it actually feels like a safety net. OTOH, people like Pseudo deal with the irritation of government regulation every day, and people like WCE have a much stronger network through family and church. So to them, the fear runs the other way.

    I wouldn’t say that fear made me more or less liberal/conservative. But what it did was make me double down on the importance of my core beliefs. When I was young, man, businesses were flat-out evil, and the world was dog-eat-dog, so I’d better take whatever I can get and grab onto it. As I felt more secure, I was able to loosen up, better see both sides of most issues, and actually hear opposing viewpoints, because I didn’t feel like my livelihood, my safe position in society, was as personally threatened any more. We are all afraid of the “other”; but when we feel safe, we are more able to try to understand instead of already being in fight-or-flight mode.

  41. Psudeo do you safe personally or your family?

    Not entirely safe. Kids I know have been killed by a drugged out wrong way driver. This has happened in more than one occasion. My family and I are mediocre drivers who spend a lot of time on the road. I have been run off the road twice in the past year by trucks and/or heavy equipment. Asking the Russians to leave my property was stupid, but I did it anyway. Evicting trespassers in general is stupid, but I do it anyway.

    My mom has been in and out of the hospital fairly regularly for the past ten years. She is in the hospital now with influenza…at her age, she is not safe. My son has been ill for the past few years, at one point, his doc called and said, if this happens, get in the car, start driving, call me and we will decide which ER to go to. Somehow, we need to get him grown up, able to handle his own medical issues and brave enough to face the world.

    DH works with heavy machinery, with chemicals, and at night, although not all three at the same time. That is hazardous.

    Rhett, do you feel that your family is safe or just that you guys can handle whatever comes?

  42. “. I think one underlying factor for me on many social issues is I don’t think children should be punished for having “poor”** parents. **Poor as in inept, incompetent, neglectful, un-involved (truly not by totebag standards) vs. just financially poor.”

    I agree with this. I think this is why I tend to be more liberal in a lot of things.

    “There are so many people, it seems to me, on both sides of the political spectrum, whose whole entire lives have been spent in relative peace and prosperity, yet they are convinced that everything is going to Hell.”

    I see this a lot too. IME (limited), it seems like the people who are the most overprotective (both for their kids and themselves) are the people who nothing really bad has ever happened to.

    One of the ones that gets me in the thing that Milo posted is “Our children are now mannerless”. WHO are these horrible children that other people are always running into to complain about? And where did these people live in the supposed “mannerful” past? I don’t feel like I am frequently running into horrible children everywhere. It’s such an odd one to me, but I hear it all the time.

  43. “. I think one underlying factor for me on many social issues is I don’t think children should be punished for having “poor”** parents. **Poor as in inept, incompetent, neglectful, un-involved (truly not by totebag standards) vs. just financially poor.”

    I agree with this, but I also think this is what pushes me to be conservative. Having bad parents should be something that society helps kids overcome. Schools should function for kids whose parents are not functional. Kids with sucky parents needs to have a path up and out of their situation into the MC/UMC

  44. Rhett, do you feel that your family is safe or just that you guys can handle whatever comes?

    With the meds I just don’t worry about it. My prefrontal cortex tells my reptile brain, “The statistical likelihood of anything happening is negligible.” and the reptile brain says, “Ok, sounds good.”

  45. I’ve given my personal safety change theory. My thinking brain theory is that the discovery that how hard you work is only very weakly correlated with how much money you make has made me much more liberal. On weeks I work from home I’m making many multiples of what some nursing home health aid does and I’m just half listening to con calls and surfing the internet in my underwear. Why should I resent my tax money helping the less fortunate? I got a pretty sweet gig.

  46. I agree with this, but I also think this is what pushes me to be conservative. Having bad parents should be something that society helps kids overcome. Schools should function for kids whose parents are not functional. Kids with sucky parents needs to have a path up and out of their situation into the MC/UMC

    Phrased like that, it sounds more liberal than conservative.

  47. My prefrontal cortex tells my reptile brain, “The statistical likelihood of anything happening is negligible.” and the reptile brain says, “Ok, sounds good.”

    I’ve also written and evaluated enough studies to know that data can be made to dance in almost anyway the author wants. And I also know that statistics applies to populations not individuals.

  48. Phrased like that, it sounds more liberal than conservative.

    No, it’s just that the deck shouldn’t be stacked even more in favor of those with connections. Everyone should have a fair shot. I’m pretty sure that makes me a conservative.

  49. Everyone should have a fair shot. I’m pretty sure that makes me a conservative.

    I don’t believe it does. In order to give everyone a fair shot you need to take from the prudent and responsible to give to the children of the imprudent and irresponsible. That’s not what conservatives believe in general.

  50. Rhett – working from home today. One kiddo has a fever and is not hungry but otherwise seems perfectly content to veg out. I am getting so much done! And getting paid quite well to do it. Now the actual work is quite tedious.

  51. “WHO are these horrible children that other people are always running into to complain about?”

    I think there’s often a significant class dynamic in these complaints. A few weeks ago, you guys were talking about the entitled attitudes of so many upper middle class (or very upper middle class) kids. They’re not “mannerless,” but many are kind of full of themselves at a young age.

    It was a high school friend’s mom who last shared that meme on FB that I saw, but I imagine my mom *might* nod in agreement at that point, or at least chuckle knowingly.

    At the same time, as someone who teaches undergrad English to non-traditional college students, she’s always commenting about how exceedingly polite and deferential the students are. And these tend to be kids (well, young adults) who are from working class backgrounds, or lower. Many, but not all, are using GI Bill benefits.

    Interestingly, on the topic of perceived safety, she’s told me several times that she has students who will not allow her to walk to her car alone after class at night. They’ll stay after class while she’s talking to someone else, they’ll wait quietly. And they’ll simply declare that she shouldn’t walk by herself. This has been going on for years, and it’s always the African-American males in class who do this. Is she naïve about the danger to her, or are they overly sensitive to it?

  52. “Pseudo – I agree with Rocky. I read your post and thought – she meant liberal, right?”

    That’s because we all want the same goals. Each person sees the same goal and says “Well, yeah, that’s why I’m liberal/conservative.”

  53. Is she naïve about the danger to her, or are they overly sensitive to it?

    This is unanswerable unless we know more about the location of the parking lot and its surroundings.

  54. “I think there’s often a significant class dynamic in these complaints. A few weeks ago, you guys were talking about the entitled attitudes of so many upper middle class (or very upper middle class) kids. They’re not “mannerless,” but many are kind of full of themselves at a young age.”

    The UMC kids I know are super polite and well mannered. In a way that is really impressive and not something I had ever experienced until I lived among them. They just have an ease with the world that I think is directly a result of their cushy upbringing.

  55. @Rhett/Kerri: Also working at home, just because DH is out of town and I feel like it. On my third pot of tea, wearing comfy gym clothes, with a nice heater going since the office was a little chilly this morning, and the three-legged wonder cat curled up asleep next to me. Have caught up on both Facebook and yesterday/today’s posts, and figure I’ll wander over to CrossFit around 4:15. Oh, and I’ve actually got somewhat interesting billable work today, too. And I’m getting well-paid for it!

    Yeah, honestly, life has turned out so much less sucky than I had any right to expect. And so much of that was just sheer dumb luck and external things beyond my control, like lucking into “Great Society” subsidized childcare as a kid.

  56. “This is unanswerable unless we know more about the location of the parking lot and its surroundings.”

    Varies. Maybe at Hopkins, they have a point. But some of the other places, it’s probably more of an ingrained habit and courtesy.

  57. “They just have an ease with the world that I think is directly a result of their cushy upbringing.”

    But, compared to you, how does the waitress at Cheesecake Factory perceive that “ease with the world”?

  58. That’s because we all want the same goals.

    I don’t believe we do. Well…who is we? Those of use here? Perhaps. If we’re talking about Robert Mercer, his goals aren’t the same as mine or yours.

  59. But, compared to you, how does the waitress at Cheesecake Factory perceive that “ease with the world”?

    For some people the Cheesecake Factory is considered special occasion fine dining. For others it’s where you go on Wednesday when you don’t feel like cooking. Don’t feel like cooking kids would be polite, please and thank you, etc. but they wouldn’t come across like it’s a big deal, because it isn’t.

    It’s sort of like making a big deal about being in first class vs. that’s how we always do it.

  60. Kerri, one of her goals is to introduce economically sustainable, indigenous veterinary care to the mostly-pastoral tribes in the area so their animals survive and they don’t have to raid each other for sustenance. Economically, most people working in animal husbandry will be at the “vet tech” rather than “fully-trained veterinarian” level, but she has created a supply chain for veterinary supplies and pharmaceuticals that is reliable and by which local “vet techs” can support their families by providing needed veterinary care. She thinks it’s better for the local population to see a Ugandan person as the head of the local veterinary business than a western, white woman and it’s only taken two decades to reach that goal. :)

  61. “Is she naïve about the danger to her, or are they overly sensitive to it?”

    I think they are gentlemen and would be proud if my son did the same.

  62. WCE – thanks for that explanation. I’ve seen a slew of women train others who then are moved up the chain while the women stay put – often with little explanation so at minimum the optics are terrible, so I’m a bit sensitive to the issue.

  63. “On weeks I work from home I’m making many multiples of what some nursing home health aid does and I’m just half listening to con calls and surfing the internet in my underwear. Why should I resent my tax money helping the less fortunate?”

    If I may speak on behalf of the resentful, I don’t get the sense that they ever resent any help that goes to the employed nursing home health aid, or at least they wouldn’t if presented that specific scenario.

    If you say “this person’s working full time, busting her ass changing bed pans, trying to pay the rent and put food on the table,” even the most bitter Tea Partier will probably say “yeah, [the government/the system/someone] needs to make sure that she can afford health care/school lunch.”

    I fully realize that, in many cases, when this Tea Partier rants against Obamacare or Medicaid or Food Stamps, sometimes these are the people who may be adversely affected, so his position is at times inconsistent.

    However, the resentment is directed toward those who are not employed and are not making any real effort to gain employment.

    I will also add, and I don’t mean this snarkily, that if you truly believe that the amount of your income going toward the less fortunate is insufficient, there are plenty of charities that will relieve you of the excess. You do not have to wait for the government to take more of it from you.

  64. “that if you truly believe that the amount of your income going toward the less fortunate is insufficient, there are plenty of charities that will relieve you of the excess.”

    I think this is a big difference between liberals and conservatives. I think the government is usually much better at deploying resources to those who are less fortunate. I have dealt with enough “charities” to be very, very wary of them.

  65. “I think they are gentlemen and would be proud if my son did the same.”

    My brag: A couple of Fridays ago we woke up to a bunch of snow on the ground, say 8-10″. Enough so that the county declared a state of emergency and my employer pushed start time back to 10am except for ‘essential employees’. Since I had two college kids at home I rousted them to help me move enough snow and their cars so I could get out around 9 and get to work. And they didn’t gripe about that, maybe because of my recent hip surgery, maybe because they realize they have a pretty good life. That was just for me. Well it turns out they ended up staying outside and in addition to performing the drudgery of shoveling our walk they helped a couple of neighbors who had (1) a car blocked in by the town plow and (2) just needed their driveway & walk shoveled. That neighbor posted about their good deeds on facebook which got a lot of likes.

  66. ” I have dealt with enough “charities” to be very, very wary of them.”

    I think plenty are pretty shitty, but I would think that the ones that do some of the most practical things, like taking car donations and fixing them up for working-poor families, has to be one example that’s about as direct and efficient as you can get.

  67. I think they are gentlemen and would be proud if my son did the same.

    That was my thought as well. It may be that she’s correctly recognizing that the risk is minimal, and they’re correctly recognizing that a minimal risk is still a risk and can be reduced by having an escort.

  68. I have dealt with enough “charities” to be very, very wary of them.

    Agreed, I tend to lump all charities in with the Red Cross and Wounded Warrior Project in that they’re all barely concealed frauds. With the government you eliminate the free rider problem and they are more efficient. IMHO.

  69. “Oh dear, this is terrible.”

    “Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted that he was aware of the collapse and that he would be in “constant communication” with law enforcement throughout the day. ”

    Not partisan, but I’m so sick of this need for politicians to act like they need to provide direct oversight of every crisis or tragedy.

    If you have to Tweet something, I think it’s better to say “Aware of the tragedy, thoughts/prayers, we’re standing by to help in any way possible.”

    Announcing that you’ll be requiring constant briefings is really off-putting.

  70. “Agreed, I tend to lump all charities in with the Red Cross and Wounded Warrior Project in that they’re all barely concealed frauds.”

    Is this fair? Kinda like me lumping all government infrastructure efforts with NYC’s attempt to build the new subway line.

  71. The Wounded Warrior people should be taken out back and shot.

    But there are plenty of other, legitimate groups. To just say “they’re all crooked” is no different, and no more justified than saying the exact same thing about the government and its efforts.

  72. Well, it really depends on the charity. There are a couple of small, local charities where I know the people who run them, and they run on a shoestring, and I endorse them. But the ones that are ginormous corporations, not so much.

  73. I think that on a personal level, everyone wants the same things. The message gets lost as it moves up the chain, like a game of telephone. Now we have this group of people vs. that group of people and they supposedly want different things.

    My views have been changed by the Totebag. I now recognize more of my own bias, and I recognize how/why people can think a certain way but not see their own bias. It’s been very helpful when I’ve had to deal with family.

    My father’s siblings make a great small-study for this very topic. All raised the same, with the same level of fear/abuse/uncertainty, and yet all have different perceptions of the world. My dad was the most liberal of the bunch, yet, when you ask them all topic-specific questions, they have the same answer. It’s just that the particular group they identify with uses the words they like. My dad (and by extension me) are too “smart” for them with our fancy education. (Seriously, my uncle told me that. His grandkids will all go to college, but his children – my first cousins – didn’t. I spend a lot of time hiding my education from my family.)

  74. Is this fair?

    I should amend my comment. Many charities work best with both private funding and federal and state grants. Meals of wheels comes to mind. I just tend to think it’s easier and more efficient to have it funded with taxpayer money.

  75. I also don’t like the begging aspect. If someone is born with cerebral palsy for example, we as a society have the obligation to take care of them. But they shouldn’t have to beg. It should just be taken care of discretely.

  76. I share RMS’s preference for small, often-but-not-necessarily local charities because I feel like my small contribution makes more of a difference. There are inherent difficulties with charitable scale that make the Gates Foundation make different choices than the WCE family.

    I saw that the local ecumenical charity-of-last-resort is seeking an Arabic speaking volunteer because they are having so many clients that speak only Arabic. Usually charities get better at serving specific needs when those needs hit a critical mass. In this case, many families need maternity/infant/children’s clothing. (I am a leading donor of elementary school boy clothes. :)

  77. “That was my thought as well. It may be that she’s correctly recognizing that the risk is minimal, and they’re correctly recognizing that a minimal risk is still a risk and can be reduced by having an escort.”

    I like this line of thinking.

    “Not partisan, but I’m so sick of this need for politicians to act like they need to provide direct oversight of every crisis or tragedy.”

    True. That is one thing that I can say about certain criticisms of Trump. I don’t like when people spend a lot of energy nitpicking whether or not he has tweeted about any particular tragedy and on what timeline. I don’t think that managing the PR around making sure that a leader is publicly expressing concern about everything that happens is a good use of time. There are cases where it is egregious, but not all of them. And you are right about the briefings – another waste of time. Of course the Gov is going to get briefings about what he needs to know – let’s not add to the work by making them more than they need to be.

    (Does this cross the line because I specifically mentioned Trump as an example?)

  78. “(Does this cross the line because I specifically mentioned Trump as an example?)”

    No, because you didn’t vote for him.

    It’s occurred to me that it would make for an interesting week on a Political thread if the one rule was that you could only express views from the “other side.” Perhaps it would have to get started by people criticizing those in their own party whom they find too extreme.

  79. My views have evolved such that I believe different people may have similar goals but different ideas on how they should be achieved. IMO neither conservatives nor liberals think that poor children should be punished. But, for example, one group may believe that poor children would benefit from more school choice and another group believes stronger teacher unions would be more helpful. And it’s destructive to attribute negative intentions to those with whom you disagree. I’ve come to this view after being misunderstood and in turn misunderstanding the actions of others.

  80. ” even the most bitter Tea Partier will probably say “yeah, [the government/the system/someone] needs to make sure that she can afford health care/school lunch.”

    I disagree. As was mentioned above many folks don’t put a lot of thought into it. Some will argue she should have studied harder in school and been a doctor rather than a nurse’s aid. To your larger point, if you sat them down and explained that she has an IQ of 81 and no amount of studying is going to get her through med school and this is the best she can do. They might agree. But it won’t change their mind any. They are more comfortable thinking the world is fair and if someone is on the bottom it’s because they deserve to be on the bottom. Many people are like that.

  81. Ivy, the problem is not about the tweets ! (And I agree with you), but while most liberals will hold your view, if the shoe was on the other foot, can you imagine the criticism?

  82. “Not partisan, but I’m so sick of this need for politicians to act like they need to provide direct oversight of every crisis or tragedy.”

    If one of the walkways collapsed over Storrow Drive I’d expect the mayor and governor to be on the case. That’s their job. But then again MA is small and has one big city that’s also the capital so maybe that plays into it.

  83. “Some will argue she should have studied harder in school and been a doctor rather than a nurse’s aid.”

    This does not fit with your view that the embittered have become that way because their brute strength has been rendered obsolete by technical innovation.

  84. “But they shouldn’t have to beg. It should just be taken care of discretely.”

    This reminded me of Sarah’s NE family in the movie Sara, Plain and Tall. Such a New England-y sentiment.

  85. Perceived safety – Many of us tend to feel safer in our “normal” surroundings where things are “familiar”. In general, you aren’t paying close attention to what is going on around you because it is “always” safe. This is when something is most likely to happen. Milo’s friend’s mom may feel so comfortable that she isn’t aware of things she should be and the students are. They might also just be being polite, which is nice too.

    I had a boss (agency head) who said that if we were working after dark (or 8 pm given the time of year) that we should go together, ask another person in the office to go with us, or get the security service to walk us to our cars. I can’t count the number of times he went with me to my car when I was working on a huge project and late almost every night. His point was, when you are in an area where there aren’t many people and something happens, there is no one to help you. Taking your help with you is just being prepared.

  86. ” but while most liberals will hold your view, if the shoe was on the other foot, can you imagine the criticism?”

    people who are eager to criticize the President for anything will not shy away from criticizing a perceived halfhearted personal response to a crisis. there were many liberals who did NOT hold Ivy’s view during Katrina, as one example.

  87. IMO neither conservatives nor liberals think that poor children should be punished.

    In an ideal world, no. But many hard core libertarians would argue it’s not the role of the state to ameliorate their condition. Other would argue that the punishment of their condition is necessary to encourager les autres.

  88. Frank Rizzo (Police Commissioner, Mayor of Philadelphia) said “A conservative is a liberal who got mugged the night before.”

  89. Milo – I was just about to say that I think Katrina was the impetus for this perceived need for politicians to show they are on it! Katrina was such a cluster. Since then, no one wants to make the mistake of not being seen as doing something. Now it’s tilted the other way and politicians, in trying to look like they’re on it, now look like their showboating or insincere. I could give lots of recent examples of that but will refrain. (My examples involve both parties, national and regional.)

  90. Milo, what Kerri said. I also think that current presidency is such a cluster too, making liberals react like republicans. Cannot stand CNN for example. And they do get more fodder every day. Like the Tillerson ouster the other day. So cant blame them either.

  91. Careful, you guys, I would say that the last handful of comments are starting to violate Mémé’s proposed rules.

  92. Dell – I’ve stopped watching CNN too, except I do follow Jake Tapper’s tweets. CNN really started to bug me when I was pregnant with all of its scary medical stories, always based on some new study of 12 people in Iceland. Not everything is breaking news or god awful. Can’t stand Wolf at.all. I think the “just saying” bit by Carol Costello was the last straw.

    Lately I watch PBS Newshour and CBS Sunday Morning. Both have more long-form, in depth reports.

  93. So what is “accelerated bridge construction”, and can we use decelerated bridge construction next time?

  94. “there were many liberals who did NOT hold Ivy’s view during Katrina, as one example.”

    My recollection is that the Katrina criticism was focused on the sufficiency/speed of the government’s actual response, not the speed/nature of the communications about said response. But I could be wrong.

    And yeah, I am much less inclined to jump all over someone for not sending “thoughts and prayers” quickly enough or with just the right language. That’s just crap.

  95. Sorry, Kerri, I think we’re all just feeling our way here. I just looked at the posts and thought, Uh oh. Someone will be along shortly to slam that. I could easily be wrong.

  96. My recollection is that the Katrina criticism was focused on the sufficiency/speed of the government’s actual response, not the speed/nature of the communications about said response. But I could be wrong.

    No, there was also the business about doing the flyover, and then the comments by Barbara Bush. And now I’m participating in this. Here, I’ll try the other side: I think Barbara Bush’s comments were interpreted in the worst possible light, and that the point she was making could probably have been made in different language by someone on the Left and been lauded.

  97. @Rocky, I did ask myself whether describing the current Administration as a “cluster” would be objectionable. My impression is that most folks here would agree that it’s a cluster, with all the comings and goings, and tweets and un-tweets, and all the general daily craziness. We just disagree on whether that is good or bad, brilliant intentional strategy vs. incompetence and ego, whether the policies are good or bad, etc.

  98. @Rocky — thanks, I had no recollection of Barbara Bush’s comments or the criticism she received. I stand corrected.

  99. I think Barbara Bush’s comments were interpreted in the worst possible light, and that the point she was making could probably have been made in different language by someone on the Left and been lauded.

    It’s like having a friend with an well insured asshole abusive husband who dies. “It’s really the best thing that could have happened to her.” Is fine to think and it’s probably true. But it’s not a sentiment to express in mixed company.

  100. “So what is “accelerated bridge construction”, and can we use decelerated bridge construction next time?”

    If it’s what they used here, I think it’s when they build the bridge offsite and then laid in place. So instead of closing the road for 8 weeks, it’s closed for a weekend. That’s what they’ve done here to alleviate some traffic concerns when a bridge needed a total replacement. They built the bridge on an empty lot and then spent ~72 hours “stitching” it into place.

    A quick google search didn’t help me… but it’s lead website is hosted by FIU. That’s not good. https://abc-utc.fiu.edu/

    Here’s a better site: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc-2/abc.cfm

  101. I was actually deployed during Katrina, so what news we heard of it came in three-sentence updates, delayed by a few days or a week.

    Here’s the quote:

    Almost everyone I’ve talked to says, ‘We’re going to move to Houston.’ What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

    And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them.

    The cringe-worthy aspect is obvious. But I think that “this” in the second paragraph is saying that a relocation might be bringing new and better opportunities.

  102. I agree that we often have the same goal – children shouldn’t be hungry in our country – but we have very different approaches in how to get to that goal. It is the approach that shows where people differ. For example, locally there has been disagreement on whether the schools should provide free/reduced lunch to school kids in the summer. One side feels that if they can get to the school to pick up the food, they should be fed and not go hungry. The other side feels that funding summer lunches is disproportional to funding school year lunches thereby taking away money from other needs. Plus, they argue that the families are “saving” money during the school year on food (breakfast and lunch) and should be able to pay for it during the summer and/or the kids are in summer programs, some taxpayer funded, where lunch is provided.

  103. Rhett, you’re going to have to explain that one.

    BB said that the hurricane was a blessing in disguise for the residents of New Orleans. They ended up being relocated to more prosperous parts of the country. They got help fixing up their homes. They got help getting resettled, etc.

    It turns out that she was right. Many of those who were evacuated never returned and the data says they ended up doing much better in Dallas and Houston and the other cities they evacuated to than they were doing in New Orleans.

    But as true as it was – it’s not something you should say in public.

  104. Plus, they argue that the families are “saving” money during the school year on food (breakfast and lunch) and should be able to pay for it during the summer

    That shows a certain blindness to the human condition that I have trouble with. Public policy on the left and the right is usually made by totebaggers and they often seem really have a hard time understanding what it’s like to be in the 8th percentile. The right thinks they have the ability they just aren’t trying. The left thinks it must be some external force holding them back. In reality they are being held back by being in the 8th percentile of human ability and 26 million of our fellow Americans are in the 8th percentile or below.

  105. “I just tend to think it’s easier and more efficient to have it funded with taxpayer money.”

    This is what I think, too. Especially when the economy starts to tank.

  106. I agree with the general sentiment that fear is a great motivator for views at every place along the spectrum. For example, my life experience as a woman and member of a religious minority and granddaughter of immigrants and child of a divorced mom who did not attend college is long enough and varied enough to recall that many of today’s government protected rights, including access to employment, education, housing, public accommodation, health care, and also the freedom to be married or single, parent or non parent, openly heterosexual or openly something else, cannot be taken for granted even in the US, but are subject within my own lifetime to the currents of society and history, or even the whims of legislative, judicial and executive action. So constant vigilance is required.

  107. Rhett’s comment, “It’s like having a friend with an well insured asshole abusive husband who dies. “It’s really the best thing that could have happened to her.” Is fine to think and it’s probably true. But it’s not a sentiment to express in mixed company” reminds me of a conversation I had with my Dad regarding a classmate of mine/colleague of my Dad’s who hit his head due to alcoholism and died. He had been married to another classmate whose entire life had been disadvantaged (periods with no electricity in her house, holes in her shoes) but who had recently become a nurse and may or may not have gotten their divorce finalized before her husband died.

    Me:Whether their divorce was final or not, maybe she’s still the beneficiary of his [work-provided] life insurance policy.
    My Dad: We can pray.

  108. “So constant vigilance is required.”

    Many a hardcore conservative Facebook meme concludes with this very sentiment. :)

  109. Rhett – my DH has the same opinion about charities. He especially hates the property tax exemption for charities (and even more particularly hates that churches and universities get that exemption). And he doesn’t trust doctors. But at the same time he is extremely liberal. It’s an interesting juxtaposition

  110. Rhett – I think that is exactly the point – the assumptions being made on both sides. And, regardless of side, the issue is the children are hungry due to “poor” parenting (as earlier defined).

  111. AustinMom,

    If you haven’t you should read the First Things article WCE posted on the political thread. It talked about idealogue being defined as those who forces reality to fit their ideology. In terms of those of limited ability, it seems both sides don’t want to acknowledge what’s actually going on, they just want to try and frame it in a way that fits their ideology.

  112. But, at the same time, Denver Dad thinks that the Amazon guy wants to rob him, and he’s a liberal.

    I think I’m realistic. Someone just posted yesterday on our nextdoor site that he opened his garage, ran back inside for a couple of minutes, and came out to find someone rifling through his car. Crime happens, even in nice UMC neighborhoods. And even if you don’t have priceless artwork.

    Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. They see an open garage or something left in the yard or find an unlocked door and make an easy grab. So why would you give total strangers access to your house? You might live in a crime-free utopia but I live in the real world.

  113. So why would you give total strangers access to your house?

    The question is what do you have that’s so valuable that it’s worth inconveniencing yourself? The chance of Amazon stealing from you 2%. Chance they make off with anything worth worrying about? In my case 0%.

  114. It has been interesting to interact with the in laws. They feel that they were never helped by anyone not the government, not by charities because they weren’t poor enough. At the same time, they saw lots of people taking advantage (fair or unfair) of the various programs to get ahead. What irked them most were the home country affirmative action programs that were not income based. DH and his siblings had to compete for the very few seats that were not reserved for some section of the population. Unlike Rhett’s change after his circumstances became better, the inlaws staunchly believe in their hard work, not in luck, not in assistance from anyone,

  115. I would have to imagine that you’re more worried about the sense of violation than you are about them taking anything in particular. But may be you are just worried about your stuff.

  116. My friends considered me to be moderate to conservative in college. When I got out of college, I was considered super liberal. I’ve gotten more liberal as time goes on. I was an economics major and one of the first things we learned was that government has an important role to determine what we prioritize. I think government is much more efficient than charities at delivering services to those who need it. They have massive economies of scale. We give a lot to charity, primarily to our church, and I believe that private charities have a place in society too. I give more as a practice of my faith than anything and as we have become more generous I find that I worry less about money and about if people are getting more than they deserve.

    This blog has given me more insight to people who have more money than me. DH and I don’t have the financial stress that our parents did, and I feel like I have more than enough. I used to think we made a lot of money but after years on this site, I realize we are only middle class ;)

    I missed a ton of school freshmen year of high school. My mom had breast cancer. My oldest sister, who lived 4 hours away at the time, had a baby 2 months early who had a lot of health issues and died at 3 months. We were out of town a lot, but I was getting straight As. I remember the school office saying I was going to fail after missing so many days, which I thought as ridiculous given that I was at the top of my class.

    I think of rules more as guidelines. I’ll follow them if they make sense, but I’m not going to follow dumb rules. My mom would occasionally let me take “mental health” days off from school. DH thinks this was bad parenting. I reason that if I’m knocking everything out of the park why can’t I take a day off? But I’m also one of those people who use every day of vacation each year and am praying that I don’t get sick in December.

  117. tcmama, I missed lots of school and agree with your outlook that in terms of attendance, rules are guidelines. If we want to go on a long trip and the school doesn’t like it, I’ll do the paperwork to homeschool for the duration of our trip.

  118. DS also missed a lot of school last year. I did take note of Totebag advice, emailed the teacher, emailed the administrator to let them
    Know there was not a solution in sight. When I met with the administrator he was matter of fact, saying that they had other students with long term health problems and to do my best in getting whatever work from the teachers or telling DS to check the website. The end of the school year was not far away, DS had done well, so the administrator was most laid back. It is a private school and he told me for things like illnesss, they are quite lenient regarding attendance at least till high school.

  119. “The right thinks they have the ability they just aren’t trying. The left thinks it must be some external force holding them back. In reality they are being held back by being in the 8th percentile of human ability and 26 million of our fellow Americans are in the 8th percentile or below.”

    Certainly policy makers on both the right and the left are from the cognitive elite. But thinking of the right and the left more generally, which group would be more likely to agree that “the world also needs ditch diggers”?

  120. On the issue of changing one’s views, I may not be of an age where much change is expected, and recent events have hardened, not softened my views. The slippery slope argument all of a sudden has direct personal relevance. But I have been distressed about the direction of the country since Reagan was elected. The two recent Democratic party Presidents, especially Bill Clinton, are not liberals in either a classic philosophical or a New Deal Great Society sense. People with my overall views tend to refer to themselves as Progressives.

    This site has given me a lot of exposure to the concerns of other regions. Just as Pseudo was surprised that so many of us did not live with personal safety or property worries , I certainly had no concept of the need for personal and property self protection in less densely populated or policed areas. And i have learned a lot from you all about federal land policy, and gave been stimulated to read up on water rights and such. I never really had views on all that, and the ones I am forming are probably quite regional in focus.

    But my views on church state separation have shifted from this is just random noise, all is secure, to alert, danger on the horizon.

  121. But thinking of the right and the left more generally, which group would be more likely to agree that “the world also needs ditch diggers”?

    Both. Both right and left to some extent valorize and romanticize the working proletariat. It’s the lumpenproletariat that give both groups ideological headaches and cause the fights that Rhett outlines at 3:34.

  122. OK, I grew up in places where there was a reasonable amount of crime. Our house was broken into numerous times, a woman was stabbed ti death a couple of blocks away in her garage at 6am, trying to go to work, and I walked into an armed robbery once at the Montgomery Wards. I was fearful all the time. And yet that fear never made me want to own a gun. I was, and still am, what I consider middle of the road on guns, but now I feel extreme because everyone is extreme. My grandfathers and FIL all owned guns and hunted, and my current BILs own guns and like to fancy that they might hunt. On the other hand, my brother killed himself with a gun that he never ever should have owned. So my opinion was always that people should be able to own guns but that there should be good background checks that no one can slip through, and people with history of mental illness and suicide attempts, like my brother, should not be allowed to buy a gun. I always thought that was nicely in the middle between the people who want to ban all guns and the people who think everyone should be doing open carry all the time. But now the extremes dominate the discussion.

    Weirdly, I lost my fear when I moved to NYC. And for good reason – violent crime rates, even back in the 90’s, were much lower than the places I lived as a kid.

    I am pessimistic that progressives and conservatives will ever come together. While we can all agree on some easy things – help poor kids, take care of the sick and elderly, etc – there are too many other differences in core values. Just look at the abortion debate. There is not going to be agreement there because we are pitting two core values, plus entire belief systems, against each other. Another fundamental difference is our beliefs on American identity. Is it a fundamentally open, multicultural America with no particular preference for religion or culture, or a fundamentally Judeo-Christian (and there are some who would even drop the first word), western European origin country in which other groups are tolerated but not allowed to dominate? And this isn’t a matter of racism – when I look at National Review, I see plenty of cogent, reasoned out arguments in favor of the second option. I can appreciate them. But for me, the first option is a fundamental belief that won’t respond to the nice logical arguments put forth by people like Ross Douthat even if I enjoy reading them, and I am sure those NR authors feel the same way when they read pro-multicultural articles on say Vox,

  123. The question is what do you have that’s so valuable that it’s worth inconveniencing yourself? The chance of Amazon stealing from you 2%. Chance they make off with anything worth worrying about? In my case 0%.

    How is locking my doors such a big inconvenience to myself? I assume you lock your doors when you leave your house and lock your car when park. Why would you put yourself through “such an inconvenience” if you don’t have anything worth worrying about?

    As for what’s so valuable, it’s not that it’s so valuable, it’s that it would still cost some money to replace things (even with insurance), not to mention it would be a hell of an inconvenience to have to do it. Why should I make it easy for someone to come into my house, ransack it, and steal stuff? And don’t tell me it will never happen because I don’t have faberge eggs lying around, because it happens all the freaking time to people who have less things worth stealing than we do.

  124. I agree. And it’s amazing how powerful the nostalgia bias can be. If you visit a car blog people will say, “Cars today are rubbish.” And someone will point out that a Honda Odyssey can go 200k with barely an oil change all the while being able to smoke a Ferrari Daytona around the track, while getting 30mph, while carrying 7 people, in such safety that years go by where no one is killed driving or riding in an Odyssey. Cars used to come from the factory already rusted with 15 things broken and they were rolling death traps.

    This is the same as how everyone thinks baseball (or replace with your favorite sport or entertainment) was at its best when they were 12.

  125. Everyone should have a fair shot. I’m pretty sure that makes me a conservative.
    ……..
    I don’t believe it does. In order to give everyone a fair shot you need to take from the prudent and responsible to give to the children of the imprudent and irresponsible. That’s not what conservatives believe in general.

    Both sides believe everyone should have a fair shot. They differ on what constitutes a fair shot.

    If you say “this person’s working full time, busting her ass changing bed pans, trying to pay the rent and put food on the table,” even the most bitter Tea Partier will probably say “yeah, [the government/the system/someone] needs to make sure that she can afford health care/school lunch.”

    I fully realize that, in many cases, when this Tea Partier rants against Obamacare or Medicaid or Food Stamps, sometimes these are the people who may be adversely affected, so his position is at times inconsistent.

    However, the resentment is directed toward those who are not employed and are not making any real effort to gain employment.

    I’ve said before, this is a fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals want to ensure that all the “deserving” people are helped and are okay if some of the “nondeserving” are included, while conservatives was to ensure that none of the “nondeserving” are included, and are okay if some of the “deserving” are excluded as well.

    I think this is a big difference between liberals and conservatives. I think the government is usually much better at deploying resources to those who are less fortunate. I have dealt with enough “charities” to be very, very wary of them.

    Yes, this. Conservatives distrust the government, liberals distrust private industry. In general terms.

  126. “pro-multicultural articles on say Vox,”

    The problem with the pro-multicultural articles on Vox is that they are written by and for people who, in separate conversations, openly admit that they consider a significant part of our own country uninhabitable because it is, in their minds, dominated by a culture and religion that they believe is less than embracing of their own progressive values. And I don’t even necessarily fault them for thinking that, as I think it’s perfectly natural, and in many ways beneficial, to live in a community that you feel shares your values (and those are, truly, good values).

    But I don’t think they’re really genuine in their arguments that they are somehow more welcoming and eager to ever see our country become increasingly dominated by a culture that traditionally does not value the equal rights of women (let alone homosexuals), or the rights of people of different faiths, or those of no faith. That, or they haven’t quite thought this through.

  127. “But thinking of the right and the left more generally, which group would be more likely to agree that “the world also needs ditch diggers”?”

    My guess is the left. The right is more likely to suggest backhoes.

  128. “But I’m also one of those people who use every day of vacation each year and am praying that I don’t get sick in December.”

    Do you not have separate vacation and sick leave banks?

    Employees at my former employer didn’t, and I usually kept at least a week or so of leave banked in case of being medically unable to work. Not maintaining such a margin seems somewhat less than totebaggy.

  129. “I think this is a big difference between liberals and conservatives. I think the government is usually much better at deploying resources to those who are less fortunate.”

    IMO, it’s not just about efficiently distributing aid.

    I think there’s a spiritual benefit to willingly giving to someone else in need, as well as to receiving benefits that aren’t funded under threat of prosecution but are the result of someone caring enough to give of themselves.

  130. That, or they haven’t quite thought this through.

    No, that’s not fair. Once again, let’s hear from Karl Popper:

    Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

    Generally speaking, those arguing for multi-culturalism and tolerance are arguing for the acceptance of things that are not directly contrary to liberal democracy. Those who argue for the end of persecution of Muslims in the community are not arguing for Sharia law.

    Your claim at 7:45 is a sweeping generalization. If you will please find a specific example of the argument you deplore, we can discuss that specific example. Otherwise, we are on a slippery slope back to the politics page, where we can happily resume “Your mother wears Army boots!” arguments.

  131. I think there’s a spiritual benefit to willingly giving to someone else in need, as well as to receiving benefits that aren’t funded under threat of prosecution but are the result of someone caring enough to give of themselves.

    There is, indeed. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of people to starve to death.

    It is worth remembering that in the days when the Church was the government, tithing wasn’t optional.

  132. Rhett: When we were newly married and moved to our first apartment, the apartment was totally cleaned out about 3 days after we moved in. They took everything–CDs, clothes, cheap tv. They even took DH’s cheap museum posters that hang on most college dorm walls. Nothing of real value, but it was hard to replace when we were young and relatively poor.

  133. Rocky – This is the specific argument I’m looking at
    “Is it a fundamentally open, multicultural America with no particular preference for religion or culture, or a fundamentally Judeo-Christian (and there are some who would even drop the first word), western European origin country in which other groups are tolerated but not allowed to dominate?”

    I read this as a subtle argument in favor of the former, and, contrary to the latter, we should be open to not just tolerating other groups but allowing them to dominate.

    Personally, I couldn’t agree more with Popper.

  134. Do you not have separate vacation and sick leave banks?

    Employees at my former employer didn’t, and I usually kept at least a week or so of leave banked in case of being medically unable to work. Not maintaining such a margin seems somewhat less than totebaggy.

    It has to be at least 20 years since I worked at a place that had separate sick and vacation time. I’ve always had one bucket of PTO since then. And my PTO is now use it or lose it, no banking and no getting paid out. So I’m just screwing myself if I don’t PTO days to have a cushion in case I get sick. But I haven’t called in sick in over 10 years so I’m not too worried about it.

  135. “is it a fundamentally open, multicultural America with no particular preference for religion or culture, or a fundamentally Judeo-Christian (and there are some who would even drop the first word), western European origin country in which other groups are tolerated but not allowed to dominate?”

    But this is not a particularly accurate description of the competing narratives. Everyone seems to claim preference for their own culture — whether that be “progressive” or “traditional.” Certainly, the intolerance on many campuses and in media circles for dissenting conservative views is every bit as repressive as insistence on respecting Judeo-Christian values.

  136. Rhett: When we were newly married and moved to our first apartment, the apartment was totally cleaned out about 3 days after we moved in. They took everything–CDs, clothes, cheap tv. They even took DH’s cheap museum posters that hang on most college dorm walls. Nothing of real value, but it was hard to replace when we were young and relatively poor.

    Exactly my point. Thieves don’t care if you have anything “of value”, they will take anything and everything. Why anyone is willing to make that easier to happen to them is beyond me.

  137. think there’s a spiritual benefit to willingly giving to someone else in need, as well as to receiving benefits that aren’t funded under threat of prosecution

    Why shouldn’t you be forced under threat of prosecution to help, along with the rest of us that can, a kid with cerebral palsy who can’t under any circumstances care for himself? Why should he have to beg and grovel for alms?

  138. “It is worth remembering that in the days when the Church was the government, tithing wasn’t optional.”

    10%, by definition, right? No other brackets? No FICA? Sign me up.

  139. “Is it a fundamentally open, multicultural America with no particular preference for religion or culture, or a fundamentally Judeo-Christian (and there are some who would even drop the first word), western European origin country in which other groups are tolerated but not allowed to dominate?”

    Upon reflection, I think Mooshi has misstated the aim of most progressives. We can distinguish between “not oppressing certain religious groups” and “showing no preference”.

    I had a whole bunch more to say about tolerating Amish communities, but I decided I was rambling.

  140. They took everything–CDs, clothes, cheap tv. They even took DH’s cheap museum posters that hang on most college dorm walls. Nothing of real value, but it was hard to replace when we were young and relatively poor.

    Fortunately at this stage of our lives:

  141. “Why shouldn’t you be forced under threat of prosecution to help, along with the rest of us that can, a kid with cerebral palsy who can’t under any circumstances care for himself? Why should he have to beg and grovel for alms?”

    You seem to inferring something I didn’t state.

  142. “10%, by definition, right? No other brackets? No FICA? ”

    I’m guessing no standard deduction either.

  143. Re. pulling kids out of school to go on vacation: Not that this is going to change anyone’s views (to tie in with the main topic), but as the spouse of a teacher, I would ask you to consider that it’s a big PITA for teachers when kids miss many days of school to go on vacation. Parents always say that their kids are going to make up the work while on vacation, but sometimes the kids don’t, or sometimes the kids get stuck when doing the assignments and the parents can’t explain the material well, or sometimes the class is doing something that can’t be replicated on a series of work sheets (for example, DS does a lot of interactive projects with his class in Social Studies), and when the kid returns, he/she is like a fish out of water because he/she missed a big chunk of the project. DH inevitably has to spend extra time, one-on-one, with a kid who has been away on vacation getting them back up to speed, and this is time he can’t spend with the 22 other kids in his class. It gets old.

  144. You seem to inferring something I didn’t state.

    So you were talking about donations given to those who are already lavishly cared for?

  145. I’m knocking everything out of the park why can’t I take a day off?

    That brings up another difference. Those who are results oriented vs. those who are process oriented. Do you fail the kid who has really been trying but just isn’t getting it while giving an A to the kid who barely shows up by knows the material?

  146. “So you were talking about donations given to those who are already lavishly cared for?”

    No, I was just pointing out that efficiency of delivery isn’t necessarily the only or best basis on which to evaluate the optimal means of distributing aid.

  147. Fortunately at this stage of our lives:

    Rhett, what about the inconvenience of replacing your stuff? It seems much more inconvenient to have to do that than to protect your stuff in the first place.

  148. NoB, what grade(s) does your DH teach? For anything below HS, grades are meaningless, so just give the kid a bad grade and move on.

  149. Rhett, what about the inconvenience of replacing your stuff?

    Inconvience? They are doing me a favor! Less shit to throw out.

  150. “For anything below HS, grades are meaningless, so just give the kid a bad grade and move on.”

    But that might keep the kid out of the honors and calculus tracks.

  151. You can’t seriously expect him to just “give the kid a bad grade and move on.”

    Even if grades are meaningless — and they’re not — there’s still the fact that they are actually supposed to learn specific concepts, and in a subject like Math, the student may not be able to move forward without it.

    And, if nothing else, he needs to ensure that they are as prepared as possible for the state tests.

    The only thing I’ll offer in our defense is that we specifically recognize that taking them out for a week does involve extra work for the teacher, and we thank them profusely for it before and after. We have not done it every year.

  152. Rhett’s comment on his appreciation of thieves cleaning out his junk for him reminds me of reading one of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s diaries in which she secretly wished for a casualty-free natural disaster that would have the same result. And now that DH and his family are faced with clearing out and selling his mom’s house after her move to assisted living, I can see the benefits as well. The realtor suggested getting the house listed by May 1, which DH is fine with (he walked thru the house in a hour and filled only two small boxes with things he wanted), but other sibs will agonize over each knick knack and coffee mug and drag out the process for months. There are file cabinets and crates in the basement and attic filled with 50 years of dated records, cancelled checks, receipts, bank statements and the like. I don’t save that much but when we get home I plan another ruthless purge.

  153. “IMO, it’s not just about efficiently distributing aid.

    I think there’s a spiritual benefit to willingly giving to someone else in need, as well as to receiving benefits that aren’t funded under threat of prosecution but are the result of someone caring enough to give of themselves.”

    This is rather selfish. Needing this type of help should be about getting this group of people what they need, not about making other, better off, people feel good about themselves. I think volunteering is very important, but if people’s needs aren’t being met because not enough people are volunteer, then those people go hungry.

  154. That is very true, but at the same time many of those who advocate for, say, higher taxes on the “rich” and greater government spending on the “needy,” will assert that their position has greater moral authority because it demonstrates that they care. And they claim this moral authority even though they are using other people’s resources to care for the needy.

  155. ‘I don’t save that much but when we get home I plan another ruthless purge.’
    I’m with you, Scarlett. I just returned from cleaning out my mother’s 2 bedroom apartment with multiple siblings and grandchildren. OMG. I am scarred for life. And this was the second downsizing for my mother – but of course she took the things most meaningful to her to the retirement community. I spent yesterday loading up bags of stuff to donate and throw away from my home. Same planned for today. One thing I have learned for sure is the 2 generation rule – once no one is alive who knew the person who owned the trinket or hideous broach, no one values it. Better to get rid of grandma’s stuff yourself than to leave it for your kids who never knew your grandmother or cared that she kept those peacock feathers on her dresser.

  156. Here’s what happened in the home country to my own neighborhood. I grew up in a “mixed” area, where no one religious community dominated. People really didn’t tend to move. They liked their neighborhood and neighbors But there were religious riots in the surrounding areas and a few of our neighbors felt unsafe (though there weren’t any incidents in our neighborhood) They quietly moved to areas where there was safety in numbers. Once that happened there was a big shift and our area turned from mixed to being dominated by one religious community as newcomers moved in. That accelerated the flood of selling as people for one had no idea who their new neighbors were and they felt uncomfortable by the radical change in the feel of the neighborhood.

  157. You can’t seriously expect him to just “give the kid a bad grade and move on.”

    Even if grades are meaningless — and they’re not — there’s still the fact that they are actually supposed to learn specific concepts, and in a subject like Math, the student may not be able to move forward without it.

    And, if nothing else, he needs to ensure that they are as prepared as possible for the state tests.

    So have him come in before or after school or at lunch to catch up. Inconvenience the kid who was out, Don’t hold up the other 22 kids.

  158. Inconvience? They are doing me a favor! Less shit to throw out.

    I know you’re just “playing devil’s advocate” but I’ll play along anyway. Were you going to throw out your computers, your bicycles, your sous vide, or any of the other shit that you use on a regular basis and have no desire or plans to get rid of any time soon?

  159. “So have him come in before or after school or at lunch to catch up. Inconvenience the kid who was out, Don’t hold up the other 22 kids.”

    That sounds a bit cavalier towards the teacher’s time and may be impractical. She may have other responsibilities before or after school or during lunch. I appreciate NoB’s perspective, especially when so many families seem to believe that taking kids out of school is no big deal.

  160. “there’s still the fact that they are actually supposed to learn specific concepts, and in a subject like Math, the student may not be able to move forward without it.

    And, if nothing else, he needs to ensure that they are as prepared as possible for the state tests.”

    Yes, this. For one thing, DH really cares about the kids in his class, and he wants them all to succeed, so if a kid is behind because his or her parents made the (in DH’s opinion bad) decision to pull them out of school for a vacation, DH still wants the kid to catch up and understand the material. So, he puts in the time to make that happen. He will vent to me when he gets home about how selfish the parents were to prioritize an off-season vacation over school, but he will never show that attitude to the parents or the kid.

    And yes, if the kid bombs on the MCAS (MA standardized test) because he or she fell behind due to the time away, and DH just gave the kid a bad grade and “moved on” and didn’t do anything to help the kid catch up, you better believe that the poor score will be blamed on him, both by the kid’s parents and by The Educational System.

    (DH teaches 4th grade, BTW.)

  161. This conversation is a good reminder to keep up my big purging project. But I don’t want a thief to do it for me!

  162. “And they claim this moral authority even though they are using other people’s resources to care for the needy.”

    But isn’t that the definition of “government”? We decide as a country what our priorities are, and then we tax people to pay for it, and individuals don’t get to opt out because they disagree with a particular spending decision. And personally, I do think it is “moral” to decide that one of those nationwide priorities is to provide a basic level of care for those who cannot do so on their own for whatever reason.

  163. HFN, Even better is to decide not to collect peacock feathers, or ceramic thimbles (MIL) in the first place. Break the generational stuff burden.
    And don’t even think of living in the same house for 50 years.

  164. LfB,
    Everyone claims moral authority when it comes to providing for those who cannot support themselves, IMO. But at least those who support private charity are doing so with their own resources, and therefore seem to have a greater claim to moral authority.

  165. “The question is what do you have that’s so valuable that it’s worth inconveniencing yourself?”

    Eh. I think the question is why do I care so much more about the new “stuff” that I’m ordering than about my existing “stuff” that I bought at some time in the past? And why would I inconvenience myself by installing an entirely new entry system simply to protect that new stuff?

    To me, it’s cost-benefit: The stuff inside my house is a lot more valuable than the Charmin sitting on my porch. And I currently do not have a problem with packages being stolen (surprise, no one wants my Charmin). So why am I going to pay money to solve a problem I don’t currently have — especially if it also marginally increases the risk to my more valuable stuff inside?

  166. The end goal isn’t to have people claim moral authority, it is to provide for those in need. I don’t pat myself on the back when I volunteer. I think about how lucky I am to not be in that situation.

  167. Denver — it’s not like teachers are always free before school, after school, or during lunch. Those other 22 kids in DH’s class? Some of them have been sick (colds, flu, stomach bugs, etc.), and DH needs to spend time one-on-one getting them caught up. (DH is very glad to do this, BTW – he never vents to me about doing extra work to help kids who have been out due to illness.) Then there are the kids (there are at least a couple every year) who have spotty attendance because their family situation is a mess, and the parent(s) just can’t manage to get the kid to school sometimes (so that child needs a lot of one-on-one attention to keep up). Then there are team meetings with his co-teachers, curriculum-committee meetings, parent meetings, etc., all of which have to be scheduled before or after school. Lunch? Well, yesterday he had to have lunch with the principal to discuss an issue that just came up with a kid (the issue had to be addressed quickly, and lunch was the only time both DH and the principal were free). Last week he had to schedule a lunch with some of the girls in his class because there has been girl drama brewing in the room that he felt had to nip in the bud. Often he works through lunch just to keep his own head above water.

    My basic point is, teachers are so busy, and pulled in so many different directions, that they really don’t need the added burden of kids who fall behind because their parents pulled them out for vacation.

  168. It s definitely extra work when a kid is out of school for any reason. I have a varsity baseball player in one of my courses. The baseball team scheduled a 10 day away trip for midterm week!!! So I had to create a makeup midterm for this student. Now, that sounds easy, right? Not in an advanced OO design course! It typically takes me 5 to 6 hours to create an exam for this kind of course, because it is hard to think of good problems that fit into the time frame, and of course everything has to be tested out. So I felt pretty darned annoyed that the baseball team thinks it is perfectly fine to yank their players out of school for 10 days during the official midterm period, dumping the extra work on us faculty.

  169. @Scarlett: I disagree. There is ample evidence that leaving charity to individual choices means that the charity is distributed very unevenly and unequally, in the same way that “save the [creature]” campaigns tend to focus on the cute/attractive/pretty animals and not the nasty little stinging/bitey things. So I think it is more moral to say that I want to make sure all the needy are taken care of, even if I personally might not like or choose all of the recipients.

    I also think it is unfair to characterize it as simply “other people’s money,” given that if I vote in favor of a government aid program, I am also voting to increase my own taxes also pay for it.

  170. Having complained about the extra work, I am now going to admit that we are likely to pull DS2 out of school for 3 days in May so he can attend a teen survivor workshop being held in California. He went two years ago and it was very beneficial. He is also likely to participate in a panel presentation – teen survivors speaking to parents of kids in treatment – as part of the larger conference. I feel badly about doing this, but the conference and workshop are important for him.

  171. I have great sympathy for NOB’s DH. Our district takes a very hard line on taking kids out of school for vacations. I don’t blame them, kids are out of school for vacation/work days/holidays all. the. time. It really only took word getting around six years ago that the son of two doctors who took him on vacation every year the week before spring break had been turned down for the STEM magnet middle school because of absenteeism for the totebag parents to rethink their plans.

  172. Mooshi, I really think what you are doing with your DS2 is in a different category than going to Disney in the off season to avoid the lines.

  173. “I am also voting to increase my own taxes also pay for it.”

    I don’t disagree w/ you, but my question, maybe for you, but particularly for Rhett, is why aren’t you paying more to the U.S. Treasury voluntarily? At the very least, you could simply omit a few deductions.

    Rhett thinks he doesn’t pay enough as it is, that he takes home an unfairly high amount compared to a nurse’s aid, that there is no charity more efficient than the U.S. government, that he wishes he could pay more to the government. Just go ahead and pay more.

  174. “Just go ahead and pay more.”

    That’s what I’ve always thought. But then the response might be that “but it’ll only go to fund more fighter jets”. It’s not a straightforward solution I guess.

  175. In the U.K. taking kids out for vacation is not done. My nephew and niece are in school with lots of families whose practice in the years past was to take the kids to the parents countries of origin during Christmas break. They would stay a month but Christmas break was at most two weeks. This resulted in lots of missed school for a lot of kids and the school system cracked down. Summer break is not the ideal time to visit the home country, it’s the monsoon season there.

  176. why aren’t you paying more to the U.S. Treasury voluntarily?

    Maybe in part because the current use of tax dollars goes against a lot of my deeply-held principles. (N.b. to the U.S. Treasury: I’m still paying you every dime you ask for, and on time. Don’t come after me.)

    Isn’t it often state and local taxes that are used for the benefit of the less-well-off? So I often vote for tax increases when those go to the schools, the library, etc. That way I know my increase is going to what I asked for.

  177. ““but it’ll only go to fund more fighter jets”. ”

    Then give to charity!

    “But I don’t like charity, they’re not as efficient as the government.”

    Good grief. Forgive me for not really believing people when they say that they think they make too much money. Actions speak louder than words.

  178. That’s not directed at you, Rocky, as I have gotten the impression that you’re giving away a lot of time and money.

  179. LfB, I don’t disagree that it’s easier to raise money for cute orphans than for homeless drug addicts. But whether it’s the government or private charity raising those funds, isn’t it the same people who are making the decisions, either to vote for higher taxes or to send money voluntarily to charity?

  180. Milo, I think I remember having this conversation a while ago, and the larger point is that we want the programs in place to provide effective aid, and my extra contribution won’t accomplish that. Right now, the government trend seems to be going the other way. Assuming for argument’s that enough people contribute extra that you wind up with significantly more revenue than the government is currently projecting, there still isn’t a program for it to be spent on. So what happens? Congress then looks at the higher revenues and decides what to do with it — and at this point in time, my bet would be more tax cuts rather than more aid programs. So then what happens? They readjust the budget around those new revenue projections and cut taxes by some degree. OK. But that extra revenue was voluntary — so what if I and all my compatriots decide not to continue? Revenue drops, and now they have to cut the budget. And guess what gets cut first when the budget gets tight? So as I see it, the best-case scenario is that my additional contribution does nothing to accomplish my goal, and my worst case scenario is that the tremendous success my program results in cuts to those very programs.

    Now, obviously, that outcome would be different with a different Congress; there are times in our history in which surpluses have gone to support aid programs. But that sure isn’t now.

  181. I can give directly to my local school through their foundation but I choose not to because I don’t believe they use that money efficiently. (Like buying gee whiz electronic devices to bring classrooms up to “21st century”.) OTOH, I could NOT give directly to a particular school activity that I thought was worthwhile. I was told that the only way to donate was to sell or buy gift wrap paper! sigh

    Milo, I am similarly baffled.

  182. LfB – That entire argument seems logical enough, but then someone can’t similarly turn around and say “but I also won’t give to charity,” because government’s better at charity.

  183. Do you fail the kid who has really been trying but just isn’t getting it while giving an A to the kid who barely shows up by knows the material?

    Results matter. In the very early days of my career the 3-level-up big boss from the home office came to visit our little group. He was a really good guy who did a lot for my career and we became especially close after he retired. After the all-hands meeting some of us were talking with him and he mentioned his appreciation of “how hard (we) are working, but remember results matter. No one gets a great bonus for trying, you have to deliver the results.” That stuck with me.

    While the guidance counselor recommendation is something almost all college admissions offices look at, the look more at grades, the classes taken, test scores. And besides, if the kid really is knocking it out of the park gradewise, wouldn’t you think the counselor letter would emphasize the great grades vs the fact the kid misses a day or two a week?

  184. “because government’s better at charity.”

    In fact, the way you’re making it sound, the government’s horrible at charity. They mismanage funds and priorities constantly — you expect no better from them. You’re convinced that any more money they receive will be squandered on tax cuts.

    But, still, you want them to take more of your money on this idea that if they can just get enough of it, if they can just get over a certain threshold, then they will become the best possible distributor of funds to all the right places.

  185. “Actions speak louder than words.”

    Which is why we also give a lot to charity. Certainly in the current political environment, that is far more effective than contributing the same amount to the US Treasury. “Wanting more government aid programs” and “giving to charity” are not mutually exclusive.

    @Scarlett: But the benefit is that government programs tend to be run under regulations, which means there have to be objective criteria for who qualifies. E.g., qualifying for “welfare” programs has always been based on how much money you earn, not on whether you happen to know someone at a particular charity, or whether the pastor thinks you have an appropriate reason for having a baby out of wedlock — or even whether you live in an area that is wealthy enough to have churches/charities with the resources to offer that kind of support, or that has been targeted for help by a wealthier suburban charity.

    Example: my firm has run a program for kids at a downtown DC elementary school. Let’s assume it’s the greatest program in the world (it’s not). We can still do it at only one school. What about all the other kids at the other schools nearby? Whereas if that was a program from the Dep’t of Ed., it would be at all of the schools. [Yes, this is a bad example, because schools are run at the state/local level, it’s just the first illustration that springs to mind.]

    So, yes, we will always have some bias in the types of programs we choose to fund — who is deemed “worthy” of support. But once we make that decision, it gets implemented broadly and more fairly. And frankly, there are enough “sellable” needs that if we could get those covered, I’d be a happy woman (e.g., “no child should be without food, shelter, or medical care”).

  186. July, you can always choose to get involved with the school foundation, so you can influence their choices. I have similar concerns which is why I have served as a parent member of the district technology committee for 3 years now. Yeah, they still make some silly choices, but I have been able to nudge a little bit, plus I have learned a lot more about the pressures that they operate under (many parents in our district WANT those gee whiz gadgets, probably more than the educators themselves).

  187. @Milo, no, you are mischaracterizing my argument. At a policy level, I think a critical part of the role of government is to care for those who cannot. Our society gives us great opportunities to succeed, but there will always be some who cannot. I think you measure a society by how it treats the needy.

    Part of the reason I believe this is because government is better at distributing “charity” than individual humans are, for all of the reasons set forth above. Therefore, I would happily vote for more government programs to help those who need help.

    But you asked why I don’t just send extra money to the government. My answer is that doing so will not accomplish that goal, which is to implement and fund *programs* to help the needy. The decision of whether to do that is made by Congress, not me — and at the current time, it is entirely predictable than any excess government funds will NOT go to fund aid programs.

    As a result, I am going to be pragmatic. I am going to vote for representatives who support my goal of aid programs, and I may contribute to particular campaigns to do what I can to change the policy. I will vote for them even knowing the result will likely be to raise my taxes. But unless and until that policy change happens, I am going to devote my excess funds to charities, because at the current time, that is a far more effective way for those extra dollars to help those in need than making extra donations to the government.

    And I have to go do some actual paying work now.

  188. “And don’t even think of living in the same house for 50 years.”

    Good one, but it happens. We’ve been in our place 27+ years. The plan was 5-7years, when I’d get the next career bump and be moved to corporate. Well, the offer of the bump and move came at 8years. But by then we had 2 kids, didn’t know if we were done on that front, obv. we were not, and the salary offer of 20% more wasn’t going to cut it in a place that’s 50% more expensive and DW wasn’t going to get any more money for moving. So we stayed. And we were/are very happy with the decision to stay in our relatively low cost area.

    We’re now in the stage of our home’s lifecycle were serious functional stuff needs to be replaced: HVAC (done), roof, windows, front walk. Then there’s the aesthetic stuff we want to do: bathrooms, other landscaping, kitchen refresh, painting everywhere. We’re not ready to move, so it’s not just a matter of taking the hit on the sales price and letting the next owners do it. So we’ll do all that stuff, like our place in it’s new(ish)ness, and end up staying (t)here for another 10-15 years.

    Besides which, we haven’t really discussed where we’d want to live if not here and I know I’ve expressed here before that I’m probably not up for having to recreate all the social linkages we have here.

  189. Milo and July, are you still baffled? As LfB said, the response is that sending money to the general tax fund doesn’t accomplish the preferred goal.

  190. but my question, maybe for you, but particularly for Rhett, is why aren’t you paying more to the U.S. Treasury voluntarily?

    The collective action problem for one.

  191. But those government regulations are drafted by people, usually unaccountable bureaucrats, who have their own biases regarding the allocation of these scarce resources. As you acknowledged. Depending upon the party in power and the relative skills of advocacy groups, someone has to make the call whether to fund programs for autistic kids or recovering opioid addicts. It’s not realistic to think that government funds are handed out by objective and altruistic methods insulated from the same human motives and weaknesses as private charities.

  192. “and at the current time, it is entirely predictable than any excess government funds will NOT go to fund aid programs.”

    Then technically, you don’t actually believe that taxes should be raised at this point in time, because you’re not confident that the current federal government shares your priorities. You believe that the government only deserves more revenue at some hypothetical point in the future when they are collectively better aligned with your priorities about where and to whom the money should be distributed (not on further tax cuts, presumably).

    Until that time, as you say, you believe that charities are better aligned with your personal values and priorities, and you would prefer to give your excess resources to charities rather than the government. Which is exactly what most conservatives say.

  193. “The collective action problem for one.”

    What collective action problem? (and now *I’ve* got to do some work, so I’ll be back around lunch)

  194. “So we’ll do all that stuff, like our place in it’s new(ish)ness, and end up staying (t)here for another 10-15 years.”

    This is the situation that we’re in. Also, I haven’t done any projects in 2 years, so it’s kind of piling up. However, thanks to Lark, I have my budget and am powering through.

  195. I vote for specific mill levies, for example. Maybe saying “taxes” is too general and is confusing.

  196. It’s not realistic to think that government funds are handed out by objective and altruistic methods insulated from the same human motives and weaknesses as private charities.

    While it is certainly true that those who work in government have biases, blind spots, etc., the rules that guide the distribution of the resources prevent them from refusing aid to (e.g.) black people, or fat people, or people who have unpleasant personalities. Private charity is typically free to distribute resources to the pretty blonde lady instead of the black guy who won’t pull his pants up. It doesn’t matter that the level of need is the same.

  197. Mooshi — Just speaking from my DH’s point of view, he would be totally supportive of your taking your DS2 to the survivors’ gathering. A couple of years ago, he had a kid in his class who was adopted from China. The father had a professional conference to attend in China in October, and the family decided that they would use that opportunity to take their daughter to China as well so that she could visit the place of her birth (this was her first trip back since being adopted as an infant, and might likely be her only trip back unless she decides to return as an adult). DH was very supportive of that trip. But trips like that are very much the exception, and not the rule. Usually the reason kids are being pulled out of school for a a week is more like, “the airfares to Orlando are SOOOO much cheaper than they are during school vacation week,” or, “we got a great deal on an all-inclusive in Mexico,” or some such.

  198. Just go ahead and pay more.

    Try to think of this at the town level. We’re going to move to private schools with parents paying out of pocket. But what about kids whose parents can’t afford it, you ask? Well, that’s where charity comes in. But of course the amount of charity given is going to be a small percentage of the former property tax revenue. What will the vast majority of people do with the saved money? Spend it on themselves of course, in many cases spending money to advantage themselves and their children over the people who are being good and donating to charity and especially those who cant’ afford tuition. That’s the most likely scenario, is it not?

  199. What collective action problem?

    Meant the above post to explain the collective action problem.

  200. “Which is exactly what most conservatives say.”

    No. Conservatives say that is how it should be. I say that it is the best I can do while advocating for different policies.

  201. I agree 100% with Nap. I let Finn’s comment slide because it was late at night. As a past recipient of tangible assistance, which is primarily what government is set up to provide, I preferred efficiency and impersonality to the sort good intentions that required certain sort of expected behaviors from me.

    I know plenty of people who think their taxes should be higher to pay for wider services that government does not currently choose to provide (health care is a biggie). Giving more money to service the national debt or make up for tax cuts is not an effective way of changing government spending priorities.

    Of those people many give meaningful targeted amounts to smaller charities, where they can often donate their time and participate in other ways, even if it is just helping with legal or financial issues. And almost everyone on this board donates time or money to community organizations that clean up the parks or provide stuff for their kids and other kids at school, items that probably should be paid for by public revenue but are part of the system that results from and also perpetuates geographically segregated inequality of opportunity. Some of us say, we aren’t giving to large charitable organizations because we don’t do United Way (which is often semi obligatory at work) or Red Cross or in my case my own local religious blanket charity organization which does not even allow the fig leaf of “directed giving” and expressly sends a large portion of my donation money overseas for use in a regime I don’t support.

    I could right now insert a couple of directly on point comments musing about current and past inconsistencies or even outright hypocrisy from unspecified posters from “the other side”. That to me is the sort of unpleasant tone that makes it hard to have discussions on the main site.

  202. Were you going to throw out your computers, your bicycles, your sous vide, or any of the other shit that you use on a regular basis and have no desire or plans to get rid of any time soon?

    No, but looking around there is nothing here that couldn’t use to be replaced. The Roomba is on it’s last legs. That piece of shit Vizio TV needs to go but it’s working well enough that I don’t feel like getting a new one. We’re going to need a new sofa at some point relatively soon. Even the picture I’m looking at on the wall “somehow” fell off the wall and now the bottom is chipped.

  203. I agree with LfB, even though our charitable giving is done to religious organizations that serve people with different needs regardless of religion. The reason we do it is at least we are informed about the of which there are many and *feel* that we know where our money is going. If we care more, we could go volunteer and see exactly where it went (we have volunteered at the Food Pantry with direct contact with recipients, it’s hard to get an appointment to volunteer at the pantry, but that’s another story). The Food Pantry serves a workplace for adults with disabilities. It’s a place where they can spend the day doing tasks that can occupy them. Not sure if they get paid but it’s quite a bit lower on the functional scale than even the simplest regular retail job. The government is assisting vast numbers of people who can’t help themselves, the charity is doing it on a smaller scale.

  204. Rhett — if only the thieves would steal your toilet, too! Then you could justify the purchase of the fancy Japanese one with the butt-cheek icons.

  205. Correction – we *feel* we know where our money is going. The number of programs are many….

  206. I am a vicious purger. I was definitely influenced by all the china and infinite number of things in glass cases that I wasn’t allowed to touch at my grandparents house. It all ended up being damaged and worthless when my grandfather moved houses upon my grandmother’s death. My mother wonders how she gave birth to such an unsentimental daughter.

  207. ” if only the thieves would steal your toilet, too! Then you could justify the purchase of the fancy Japanese one with the butt-cheek icons”

    ha ha ha ha ha!

  208. “No. Conservatives say that is how it should be. I say that it is the best I can do while advocating for different policies.”

    I disagree with that. Both sides are eager to influence and change the government’s spending priorities.

  209. NOB – I appreciate your posts last night and this morning. And I agree with everything you say.

    What I find interesting about the pulling kids out of school for vacation thing is not the economic arguments of lower costs the weeks before/after which I totally get from one perspective, but rather the “creep”. i.e. BITD we got Thur & Fri off for Thanksgiving. Now some schools close on the Weds before. Which makes for a 2-day school week. So, naturally, some of those who can afford to do so decide that whole week is now available for vacation and they just pull their kids for those two days.

  210. NoB – I appreciate your husband’s perspective. I am planning a Disney Cruise for the year when my eldest granddaughter is in 4th or 5th grade (still elementary in her town) , and her parents are not concerned with her missing a couple of days of school. I will carefully think about the scheduling from the teacher’s perspective. I think it is fair to say that I am willing to do the work and she has the bandwidth to deal with missing 2-3 days, but I don’t want to be nagging for homework or doing lessons on vacation OR making extra work for the teacher.

  211. So, naturally, some of those who can afford to do so decide that whole week is now available for vacation and they just pull their kids for those two days.

    Chico State had that problem. They had given in and just cancelled school for Mon-Fri of Thanksgiving week. So naturally some of the kids decided to leave the previous Friday. At that point the administration directed the faculty (insofar as you can push tenured faculty around) to give significant exams on that Friday. I did it, because I wanted to stop the creep.

  212. NoB, My experience has been that very little is missed during elementary school. One year we took the kids out to go to Disneyland, the kids were supposed to miss two days, eldest got sick and missed another two. She went to school on Friday, took the end of the week tests and scored 100%. Her teacher didn’t do any makeup work with her, and to be honest, really couldn’t be bothered to work with her on the days she was there.

    Another kid skipped an entire school year with little effect.

    My high school kids miss school for activities on a regular basis. We have long since learned not to ask for the work beforehand. Oftentimes the teacher would just give them something that had nothing to do with the work, if any, that was done in class. It is much more efficient to see if they are going to do anything and do it afterward. I sometimes have to remind the teachers that state law requires that the kids have as many days as they miss to make up the work.

    I think kids should be in school, learning new material. If they aren’t learning, I’m much less concerned about them being in school

  213. “’No. Conservatives say that is how it should be. I say that it is the best I can do while advocating for different policies.’

    I disagree with that. Both sides are eager to influence and change the government’s spending priorities.”

    OK, I am not sure how we keep talking past each other, so let me try this one more time. Conservatives say that the government should properly have little to no involvement in supporting the needy, and that those efforts are best left to charities, and that this is how it should be. I say that right now, since the conservative view is prevailing in the government, giving to charity is the best that I can do to support the needy. But I continue to advocate for a larger role of government in supporting the needy, because I believe the government will do it better and more fairly than the charities will.

  214. Yeah, but Pseudo, I think we’ve already determined that the schools in your area are, as our illustrious leader would say, shitholes.

  215. My kids are young (and no longer in public school!) – but the cost saving for us are substantial. That Disney cruise was probably 2-3k cheaper, + 1-2k less for airfare. Coupled with the fact that my children seemed to be doing very little of value in school, it doesn’t make sense for us to spend 3-5k extra to go on vacation when the school allots time. I know, I know – not everyone is spending a million dollars on vacation. But the second grader was missing yet another week of “dice problems” – add 6+6! subtract 6-4! The kindergartener was missing a week of who-knows-what. The value of those experiences (when they are so below the kids’ ability, among other things)is not $5k.

  216. But I continue to advocate for a larger role of government in supporting the needy, because I believe the government will do it better and more fairly than the charities will.

    I don’t think applies in all cases. The government can be really slow in responding to disasters for example. In the past fourteen months, I have twice hosted refugees from somewhat natural disasters. I say somewhat because the disasters were either exacerbated or caused by government inaction. The government didn’t have the physical capacity or institutional knowledge to deal with 180,000+ refugees or to deal with the livestock that people fled with following the fires. The government didn’t have the have the agility to provide food and shelter for the people and animals who fled with almost no notice. The churches (all religions, not just the monotheistic ones) stepped up, and did most of the communities.

    The government simply isn’t big enough to deal with the magnitude of catastrophes, and a government large enough would be a threat to civil liberties and economic freedom. There is a place for both private and public charity, and private can sometimes get the job done more rapidly.

  217. I have to say, this morning’s conversation is reminding me of the unpleasant “gotcha” nature that makes me avoid the political page. It feels more like point-making than attempting to understand. To paraphrase (in an exaggerated manner for effect):

    I believe the government is better at serving the needy than charities because reasons.
    Then why don’t you give extra money to the government.
    Because they won’t actually use it to serve the needy
    I’m tired of liberals using the need for government programs to justify not contributing to charity
    I contribute to charity
    Gotcha! So you admit that charities are good and you’re doing exactly what conservatives do!

    It feels like the point has been to paint me into a corner and force me to admit that I am either selfish or a hypocrite (or both). I have been trying to discuss the issue and answer the questions that were posed, fairly and with examples, of why I believe government is more likely to spread money/supplies/services more fairly than charities, and of why I don’t believe that just throwing money at the government now will accomplish my goals. I don’t think my points are particularly obtuse or internally inconsistent: I place a high priority on helping the needy; I therefore advocate for what I think is the best way to achieve that goal (the government); and unless and until that “best way” is working, I am going to put resources into what I think is the next-best way. So I am struggling to see why we are talking past each other on this, other than to conclude that we are back to getting annoyed and trying to prove points instead of understand and discuss.

  218. You guys are talking past each other because you are not acknowledging that there is a deeper, very fundamental difference in worldview here. Conservatives tend to see the government as external to themselves, and just another entity in the marketplace. One of you used the term “unaccountable bureaucrat” earlier in a post. I think that is a fairly common attitude among conservatives – the government is a large faceless organization not much different from Exxon or Microsoft. Liberals on the other hand see the government as the representative of the citizens. They see government as different from Exxon because people can vote. The government is us, according to that viewpoint, which is probably why they are so profoundly upset by Trump, because they have to acknowledge that Trump is us.

    And I don’t want to argue as to who is right or wrong. There is probably some truth to both beliefs. The big thing is that, if you see the government as being ourselves, you will tend to assign it a fundamentally different role than if you believe that the government is simply a large organization like Exxon or the Red Cross.

  219. Pseudo, you made a sudden change in topic when you went from “helping the needy,” which heretofore in this discussion had used the homeless, the poor, and poor children as examples, to “natural catastrophe victims”, which is a different category. Yes, those people are needy.

    There is a place for both private and public charity, and private can sometimes get the job done more rapidly.

    Like the Red Cross? Because they have not done a good job.

  220. I’m still steamed that you called her kids’ school a shithole. Many people use similar sentiments when describing my kids school or frankly any public school in Texas.

  221. And, I want to say that I actually think Rocky’s been pretty restrained on this thread. I interpreted the shithole comment as an acknowledgement of the fact that Pseudo often discusses the negative attributes of their local public schools as a way of pointing out to the rest of us that we can be blind to the bubble of our “good” school districts.

    I disagree that the thread was a failure. If there’s a spectrum between real estate and recipes on one end, and Republicans/Democrats are evil Politics threads, and if the goal is to try to make some of the former a little bit “meatier,” then why can’t we just accept that the meat’s going to include some gristle from time to time?

  222. Houston, thank you

    I have long known that I am not really a Totebagger, and every once in a while someone else feels the need to point out that am not really a Totebagger and my comments are not always welcome or relevant. I tend to accept that as the cost of admission.

  223. Houston,

    First of all, it is not Pseudo’s fault that the public schools near her are beyond horrible. So I am not being harsh with her.

    Second, the only thing I know about Pseudo’s schools is what she herself has posted here. Story after story about monumental stupidity, incompetence, malfeasance, and much worse. In her version of events, the schools are actively preventing learning. They are not merely neutral; they actively stop children from progressing. They actively work towards failure.

    Pseudo, if I appeared to be criticizing you directly, please understand that I was not.

  224. The experiment is officially a failure.

    I don’t think so. I think people are just getting used to the new rules and if anyone gets out of line they just need to be reminded.

  225. +1 to Milo. It’s been ok. There’s been some policing/speaking up. Not all experiments look great at the outset. Let’s give it some more time.

  226. Moreover, pointing out that Pseudo changed the subject from “the homless” to “victims of natural catastrophe”, is not harsh, nor does it make Pseudo not a Totebagger, nor does it mean her views are unwelcome.

    I am unclear on whether this is a failed experiment. If we’re really all just supposed to smile and say, “Oh, uh huh” to everything that everyone else says, then I guess it’s a failure, and it’s a good thing that it’s a failure.

  227. I have long known that I am not really a Totebagger,

    Sure you are, that’s why you think the schools suck. You put a value on education that is significantly above the median in your community.

  228. “There is a place for both private and public charity, and private can sometimes get the job done more rapidly.”

    I agree with this. I also think that for the continuing provision of basic needs to those who are most vulnerable, the government is in the best position to provide the necessary goods and services. Of course government programs are not perfect, but I think many do as good or better of a job in making sure that everyone is covered compared to charities. This doesn’t stop me from giving $ to my favorite charities.

  229. I think RMS is right that how best to deal with natural disasters is a different topic than how best to deal with the bottom 2,4,8% or whatever of Americans who can’t maintain an minimal standard of living without assistance.

    I think this goes to the point about ideologues. An liberal ideologue thinks the government is always the answer and a conservative/libertarian ideologue thinks the private sector is always the answer. More realistic people think sometimes the government is the best option and in other cases the private sector is the best option. I think we may want to get away from that type of thinking.

  230. I think we may want to get away from the more rigidly ideological arguments. Is what I meant to say.

  231. I view this thread as a relative success. I’ve enjoyed the conversation, for the most part.

  232. “I think we may want to get away from the more rigidly ideological arguments. Is what I meant to say.”

    I think that nobody here’s ideologically rigid, but opinions can be interpreted that way.

  233. I think that nobody here’s ideologically rigid,

    I agree but sometimes the arguments can head in that direction which can be problematic.

  234. “I also think that for the continuing provision of basic needs to those who are most vulnerable, the government is in the best position to provide the necessary goods and services.”

    But of course there’s a lot of disagreement on what constitutes “basic needs.”

  235. “At that point the administration directed the faculty (insofar as you can push tenured faculty around) to give significant exams on that Friday. I did it, because I wanted to stop the creep.”

    I love that idea. Given how much we’re paying for college, I would not be happy about that sort of creep (I’m not really happy about other sorts of creeps either). I’m wondering why not have exams given the Monday and Tuesday before T-day. Sort of an informal (or formal) mid-term short week.

    I would’ve liked having midterms just before T-day so I could’ve enjoyed the long weekend without having to study for exams the next week. OTOH. I was one of the few who stayed on campus for that long weekend, so having exams right afterwards was a relative advantage for me.

  236. “the benefit is that government programs tend to be run under regulations, which means there have to be objective criteria for who qualifies.”

    That can be good and bad.

    “E.g., qualifying for “welfare” programs has always been based on how much money you earn”

    And this can be gamed. E.g., people with significant assets can structure those assets to appreciate rather than generate income. Others choose to not work rather than disqualify themselves from benefits.

    It seems not uncommon for early retirement bloggers to game government benefit programs to their advantage.

  237. The problem with left is that so often the rhetoric one hears most is not nuanced. Same as the other side. I can give an example of the womens’ march. it seems that this march was organized by or instigated by Linda Sarsour (atleast from my reading). If left to her, she will have us follow sharia law. So many things about her are completely in conflict with american ethos. But the left will blindly follow her. How is it different from conservative christians imposing their brand of religious beliefs on rest of the country? This is the reason why I don’t identify with far left. No point in replacing one kind of oppressive system with a worse one.

    For me, both are scary. vigilance is required either way.

  238. “The experiment is officially a failure.”

    IMO, that’s a premature declaration. There’s a line that needs to be found, and I think it’s been successful so far in that people have indicated when they think that line is being broached. It’ll take some time to find that line, and I suggest we limit the number of threads like this to, say, once a week or so.

    IMO again, it would really be a failure if people just left, so as long as everyone is sticking around and helping to shape this forum to everyone’s comfort, the experiment is not a failure.

  239. I don’t know anyone IRL who thinks that the government should turn over basic subsistence support to private charity efforts. But as Finn pointed out, there are generally significant differences of opinion regarding the definition of basic needs or the disabilities of those who should qualify for support.

  240. “Do you fail the kid who has really been trying but just isn’t getting it while giving an A to the kid who barely shows up by knows the material?”

    Perhaps this is why, especially in early grades, there often isn’t just a single grade given. There is a place for an “A for effort” alongside a C for mastery of course material, and the corollary C for effort and A for mastery of course material.

  241. But the left will blindly follow her.

    I don’t see this happening. I think a lot of people on the left object to Sarsour, especially now that they know more about her.

    I have the distinct impression that many participated in the Women’s March for their own reasons, not the reasons stated by the putative leaders. I know my friends did. I stayed home this year because I couldn’t figure out what the point was. I would rather march for a very specific purpose, e.g., “Denver should eliminate that .

  242. Ack! Angle brackets make for invisible writing

    “Denver should eliminate [some ordinance] that [does something stupid].

  243. “This is rather selfish. Needing this type of help should be about getting this group of people what they need, not about making other, better off, people feel good about themselves.”

    You seem to be ignoring the spiritual benefit to the recipients.

    IMO, in the big picture, if people didn’t feel good about themselves for doing it, they wouldn’t do it, whether “it” is directly giving to charity from their own resources, or having the government do it with their and other people’s money.

  244. But Finn, you’re promoting the “spiritual benefits” to the recipients at the expense of recognizing the dignity benefits of knowing that you don’t have to grovel for subsistence.

  245. No, I haven’t made it an either/or situation. I’m just pointing out that there’s another aspect.

  246. March 18, 1818, we all obviously had ancestors alive then. But I don’t know anyone who knows anything about them, what their lives were like, their triumphs and tragedies, etc. At best you could find a census entry or a ships manifest but that’s really all that remains unless that person was fairly prominent.

    But what about the future? March 16, 2218 for example. With data storage so cheap and getting cheaper, I wonder if our decendants will be able to pull up our old cloud storage accounts and social media posts and get a sense of our lives? In our children’s case their great great great grandchildren might be able to follow their ancestors’ entire lives from sonogram till death.

  247. Ok this was my topic and I missed the whole thing. I think it was a success – it generated a lot of discussion and the annoyance only showed up at the end. People felt comfortable calling out the tone or style that they don’t like, and others are listening to the feedback. We are doing pretty well for day one, IMHO. Plus the discussion was good – I enjoyed reading through all the comments

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