a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

I'm Loyal to Nothing Except the Dream


Ok, if you want to say socialism is fixing the price for the product which in this case is health care then yes I agree with you we have fixed the maximum price we will pay for health care to doctors and health care providers. Do you think that is good or bad?

What does that mean in Canada? I means that all people regardless of their ability to pay for health care will get it. It also means that the rich and the poor get similar levels or care. Levels in rural poor communities may not be a good as in cities however. It also means I don’t have to pay out of my pocket for any required care. No deductibles, no insurance costs, etc. No hospital will bill me for required procedures. There are some additional insurance items I can pay for (or if I have supplementary insurance it pays for that), for example if I want a private room I can pay extra out of pocket. Can a doctor overcharge me for a procedure? No since the Government has set those maximums, and the Government is billed, not me. Can a doctor submit too many patients or procedures and defraud the Government, yes.

I guess in the end you have to decide is the Government meant to allow the “free and capitalist spontaneous order” you mention, or is it there to serve the people? If you believe it was meant to serve the people then we should get things like health care, and education etc. to help uplift the people, all the people. If you do not, then you believe it really should be a tool of business to weed out the weak and the poor and let them die off effectively. If you cannot compete, you cannot survive.

It looks to me like China is rising as the next economic superpower. Have you seen how they prepare their leaders, as they must go thru grueling competition and extensive study to become government leaders? They want only their best and brightest to be their leaders. The US could learn something from that. If you think I am being critical of you, then yes I am. If you know how to learn you must learn to think for yourself, and see for yourself, and listen to what others have to say. Why am I talking to you, because I don’t want to see the US destroy itself, and that is what I see it doing right now.

Lastly, I would ask you as an American citizen, why do you think your healthcare system to be superior to others. As I mentioned all modern governments have recognized the need for government run health care, to provide required services to all. The US is the only one that has not been able to accomplish this basic task. I used to live in the US and had health insurance, and still was sent a bill for my surgery. I spend a year going between the doctors, the hospital and the insurance to get the 10k bill paid by the insurance who denied the claim. I know people who were bankrupted by their health care costs. If you feel this system is superior, they why are other nations NOT following your lead. The US needs to take a good hard look and if you are unable to recognize the needs of your fellow citizens and help each other, you are doomed to fall like Rome fell in the end under the weight of it’s own corruption. I am first to say I may be wrong in this. What I don’t understand is why you cannot also see both sides and say, yes I may be wrong too. Donald Trump has this character flaw. The US needs to realize that as a people you are stronger when you talk to each other and listen to each other, but you have stopped listening. You are allowing yourselves to be divided into two camps of thought, by your leaders, by your elite. If you cannot realize this and come together, you will become the divided states of America. Perhaps you are already there.


Actually, it’s not the elite that’s doing it. It’s a fundamental difference in understanding of human nature. Check Thomas Sowell’s ‘A Conflict of Visions’.


I’m living in Brazil, and voting is mandatory here. I don’t think it’s a good thing. Here’s one way to look at it: if elections can hang on the 2-3% that is the swing vote, do you want to suddenly hand over the choice of our leaders to the 40% that couldn’t even bother to show up? Chances are that 40% also wasn’t motivated enough to study in depth the issues and the candidates. We already live in a world in which the media personality of the candidates plays too strong a role. Here in Brazil, people officially change their names to things like “Michael Jackson” and “Barack Obama” just because the name recognition itself is enough to push them over the top. That to me is what mandatory voting does to the system.

Then again, I already think all of us are unqualified to some degree to be voting…


Interesting so I fall into the camp of the “The Constrained Vision”? I guess. I would say for me as a child I had the Unconstrained vision, but after my experiences and seeing how the world works and how people treat each other I believe that people are mostly self-interested, myself included. What determines how far along the scale you are, is based on how well your needs are being met. For example, my wife is from Madagascar, and whenever we go there, no matter how great the people are, they always steal from us :slight_smile:. It is because of the extreme poverty they face and when they have an opportunity, they take it. My wife’s family who live there, and relatively well off, are also stolen from.

The Unconstrained Vision- Sowell argues that the unconstrained vision relies heavily on the belief that human nature is essentially good.

The Constrained Vision - Sowell argues that the constrained vision relies heavily on belief that human nature is essentially unchanging and that man is naturally inherently self-interested, regardless of the best intentions.


What do you think about direct democracy? I know, there’s referendums, and they don’t always have the best outcomes, but I think part of the problem is with bad information and lack of proper tools (you who made Stack Overflow should know how a good UX can make a HUGE difference).

As for a third party (or, a 5th party, really), without a change to our current system, I think multiple parties are harmful rather than helpful. Did the Green Party help or hurt their closest allies, the Democrats and Al Gore? And again this year against Trump?

What I can’t stand is that we don’t have preference voting, or a runoff system. Until we do, the people who can’t stand to vote for second best are very often helping their worst enemies.


Agreed, media reporting always seems to me to have a skew either to the left or to the right and is rarely objective. But the same can be said of world news reporting. I once had a Chinese roommate who told me that the soldiers in Tiananmen square were defending themselves against the students. For me at the time those events were simply know fact. Her husband was in the Chinese government. In the end I’m an no longer 100% sure what happened there vs what was reported in our media since the media in both countries are so biased against each other.


For me, more important that a 3rd party (we have 3 or 5 or more here in Canada and it doesn’t help very much :slight_smile:) is that you have them create a pool for campaign contributions. All contributions go into the same pool and that pool is divided amongst the parties to run. This is to put the funds and the contributors at arms length and to not advantage one party or candidate over another. Right now the US and most countries politicians are awash in contribution money.

This makes the politicians indebted to those who gave to their campaign.
If a corporation wants to give a million, then they should be allowed, but that money would be divided amongst all the candidates equally, so part of the money would go to the candidate the corporation wants to put forward, but also to their opponents. So, if elected, that official isn’t compromised by that corporation. Just a thought.

The downside is that everyone and their grandma will try to run to get some of the funds…


It would be an interesting exercise, put each candidate for a major office on the ballot on one list and their position on say the top 5 issues that were pre-selected during the campaign by all candidates on a second list. To cast your vote you have to match the name of the candidate with their correct positions, if you do it successfully your vote is tallied and counts, if you get it wrong, your vote is tossed as being uninformed on the issues and unqualified to cast the vote. I’m not arguing that this would be ethical or fair, but I do think the outcomes of the elections would change dramatically. Even as a study it would be quite interesting to run such an election as a mock election to see if people really know who they are voting for, or if they are just taking a name that they have heard a lot and selecting that.


This also happens here. Not only funds, but there’s a law that each candidate is allowed free air time on the TV to say their piece. Air time on national TV is VERY valuable, so that leads to people running for office just to get the time and share it or even sell it to someone else (yes! that happens!).

The other problem, as you may have noticed, is that even with campaign fund limitations, we have the Super PACs - external, supposedly independent, organizations with an unlimited supply of money to spend on ads, etc. on behalf of the candidates.


Excellent idea!

I’ve tossed around some thoughts on this in the past. I’m both all for it, and reticent, mostly because it is exactly this kind of requirements that have been used in the past for voter suppression.

On the other hand, I have a vision of something a lot more radical than that, which, while it doesn’t specifically require showing aptitude or qualification, does require a significant interest in the issue. But this solution relates to direct democracy, and couldn’t be applied to our current republican system.


I was also thinking of a test for voters so that only informed voters would be allowed to vote, but that’s such a slippery slope. That takes you down the road of blocking groups of voters based on an attribute and we see the problems that causes by excluding groups and skewing the elections. It’s sad but in the end I see the beauty of the Chinese system, but not allowing people to vote to change the party. But it allows those run the party to change the laws and system as they see fit. I watched the “Coming war on China”, and they said it well: “In the US you can change the party, but not the policy. In China you can’t change the party, but you can change the policy”.

I think a direct democracy would also be better, but then you have to ask yourself the question, what if a majority of the people wanted something that was clearly wrong or inappropriate, how would you handle that scenario? I guess that’s where a body like the supreme court is supposed to have people who can decide on the merits of things like that.


You make very good points.


Drugs are flowing through the southern border for the same reason people are: you can pretty much just walk in with the current level of protection. In other words, the border is currently effectively unsecured. To hamper the flow of drugs, any border protection is better than none, obviously, so the current protection is better than no protection. As I said, it is technically possible to build a wall that entirely eliminates both illegal immigration and the flow of drugs over the southern border. So now they have three choices. One: They can dig a tunnel. It is easy to check for tunnels with modern scanners or even by poking a stick in the ground. The longer the tunnel, the lower the chance of detection, but the higher the cost and difficulty of building it, and all tunnels are eventually discovered. Two: They can go by sea. Three: they can go by air. Regarding the last two ways, look at Singapore. Singapore has had no trouble enforcing its drug laws, because it is committed to doing so. Look at this: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-drugs-idUSKCN0XH2IS
"We believe that drugs will destroy our society," said Singapore Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam. "With 200 million people traveling through our borders every year, and given Singaporeans’ purchasing power, a soft approach will mean our country will be washed over with drugs."
Governments and societies have resisted their citizens taking drugs for hundreds, if not thousands of years, for obvious reasons. Singapore has won it’s war on drugs. America and other Western countries have decided to tolerate drugs, for now. They’ve convinced themselves that enforcement is impossible. Singapore proves that an effectively drug-free nation is absolutely possible and inexpensive. It’s just a matter of will.


You answer your own question, at least initially. The political establishment decided not to enforce the law because of cheap labour. It is absolutely possible to have the systems you mention. Again, it’s just a matter of will, and there has been no will for a very long time. It is clear that illegal immigrant labour from Mexico and South America hurts the poor and middle class in America and increases wealth disparity between American citizens. That is unfair, and it is against the law. Trump supporters don’t hate illegal immigrants per se. They hate illegal immigration. Why? Because it is hurting them, their families, and their communities. You’re implying that their opposition to illegal immigration is unjustified, and that just isn’t true. Had Trump taken advantage of this situation to get himself elected? Of course. Consider that if American leadership had not failed and the laws had been enforced, you would be less likely to have Trump today. This is simply democracy working as it should. The ignored have voted in a leader who has promised to help them. Your point is that Trump will shaft his supporters and cave to the same forces he railed against, notably lobbying (how is lobbying not legal corruption?). That remains to be seen. If he doesn’t perform, Americans can elect someone else.


If you read that I’m for or against illegal immigration, then I’m sorry, I really don’t want to get into do I support it or not, that to me is irrelevant in looking at the efficacy of a wall to stop illegal immigration or drug trade. When I look at a problem I try to look at it as something to analyze and solve, even if I may not agree with it.

So you admit that illegal immigration is mainly a labor issue, it takes jobs. You also affirm that it’s true that we haven’t really been enforcing our labor laws effectively, mainly because while everyone want to talk about it, they still for example like their illegal nanny who works for less and doesn’t complain.

So given that the jobs are an issue, how does building a wall change the job situation? Until the current 11 million (estimated) illegal workers here stop working, those jobs aren’t opened up. So even if I were to agree that a wall would be an impenetrable barrier, that not a single new illegal immigrant worker could enter the country, how does that do anything for the near term, or even the mid-term prospects. Do we expect that if a wall goes up then the worker we have now just decide to go home? This is why I don’t support a wall for the purpose of reducing illegal immigrant employment. I just don’t see it as cost effective. The logic just doesn’t seem to be there for me, though I’m not an expert on illegal immigration or undocumented worker employment.


I didn’t read that you’re for or against illegal immigration at all. I can’t tell, and it doesn’t matter. The personal views of an arguer don’t matter. Only the facts and the logic of the argument matter.

You said the issue of the wall and the whole “Mexican” thing isn’t actually about jobs at all. That just isn’t true. Millions of Illegal immigrants, many from Mexico, are in fact taking American jobs. What could be more important to a voter than jobs? You mentioned demonisation and scapegoating, but at the same time you know that there are tens of millions of illegal immigrants who have actually taken jobs from Americans. That’s a fact. Trump took advantage of this justified anger. If the laws had been enforced, scapegoating would be much harder, because there wouldn’t be a problem. The reason Trump’s message resonated so strongly is because it is absolutely grounded in reality. Trump didn’t just campaign on illegal immigration. He campaigned on another “outside force” taking American jobs from the poor and middle class, namely shipping jobs overseas. Between the harmful economic effects of globalisation and illegal immigration on the American poor and middle class, and it being ignored for so long, it’s no wonder Trump was elected. Trump’s victory was populism, plain and simple. But it wasn’t based on completely unfounded and irrational fear. When you get fired and a week later you’re replaced by an illegal immigrant from Mexico, you’re going to be angry. When your plant shuts down and goes to Mexico, you’re going to be angry. It’s really has happened to tens of millions of Americans, and will continue to happen unless something is done. Demonising and scapegoating implies unjustified blame. It’s clear that Trump voters’ concerns over offshoring and illegal labour are, in this case, entirely justified.

You’re conflating building a wall and securing the border with deportation. They’re separate issues. A wall and secure borders will stop illegal immigrants entering and taking American jobs in the future. The deportation issue is about what to do with the illegals already in America. As long as America is wealthier than it’s relatively poor neighbours, it’s going to have illegal workers trying to get in, and the number of illegal immigrants in America will continue to increase. It’s the same for Australia, next to Indonesia. Australia constantly patrols its northern waters and turns back boats. Australia doesn’t have a deportation issue because they secured their borders. What America does with the illegal immigrants already entrenched remains to be seen. Securing the border prevents the deportation issue from getting any worse. It should be done for that reason alone. (Obviously.)


Still say just make the penalties high enough for employers to where they don’t employ illegal labor, and the problem fixes itself. Toss a few company owners/CEOs into jail for a while if they are caught disregarding the law (second or third strike), and they will change their practices pretty quickly. Personally employ someone without a work permit (i.e. that gardener or nanny), pay a big fine if caught. If some companies close down due to this that is too bad, they chose to not follow the law, they have to pay the penalty, right. No source of jobs, then nobody really wants to come here to fill them. The reason people come is that the opportunity is better than where they are, and that’s because employers provide that opportunity.

Not sure why this isn’t just obvious?


@Nicholas_Mitchell I am curious why the wall is such an important matter to you, since you live in New Zealand.

Speaking of New Zealand, you know what is effective as a wall? Thousands of miles of ocean. It’s startling how dramatic the difference was in what happened to the Maori native people in NZ compared to the native peoples in Europe and America… in a good way! Since the boat trip to get to New Zealand was so long, nobody fewer people survived long enough with a serious disease to communicate it to New Zealand. Additionally, by the mid 1800s western society was beginning to develop a concept of social rights such that “kill 'em all” was no longer viewed as a … morally acceptable … way to deal with native people occupying lands you wished to claim in the name of a distant country.

Back to the wall, consider the data:

But the origin countries of unauthorized immigrants have shifted, with the number from Mexico declining since 2009 and the number from elsewhere rising

We may need to build a wall that goes around the entire perimeter of the US to make this effective. And it’ll need to be airplane height. Be sure to adjust your budget estimates accordingly Nicholas!

There is “iron manning” a discussion, where you have to be able to make viable pro and con arguments on a topic before you are allowed to discuss it. It’s not a bad idea. For example @giorgiog seems super concerned by drone strikes, and there are undeniably pros and cons:


It is good to understand both the pros and cons of any contentious issue. If it is hard, it is never clear cut what the “right” answer is.

Every war involves killing. If you are concerned, ask Trump to call off the war on terror we’re currently waging, and have been waging since 9/11:

since the United States began conducting drone strikes abroad following the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, civilians are roughly 8-17% of all deaths from US drones. In World War II, civilian deaths, as a percentage of total war fatalities, are estimated at 40 to 67%. In the Korean, Vietnam, and Balkan Wars, the percentages are approximately 70%, 31%, and 45% respectively.

If this is actually important to you, versus a rote talking point to “make Obama look bad” then call for peace, not war. And for the record I think every president will use drone strikes, and justifiably so, because a) technology marches on and b) the death of american servicemen is far more damaging to them politically than the death of anonymous people in other countries who are working for groups that we are technically at war with.

War. The word you are looking for is war. We are literally at war with these groups. So you are saying “I don’t believe war should involve death”. Well, good luck with that, @benjol.

As I said earlier, it’s a call to action that any citizen can use to make their voice heard. Read the bottom 1/3 of the blog post and look for the bullet points.

So the solution is to elect a billionaire elite? This is nonsensical.

I agree that a lot of people hated Clinton’s guts, for sure. And probably the only positive thing about the Trump campaign is that it definitively killed off both the Bush and Clinton “dynasties” in american politics. But the cost of Trump is too high, when on day nine we are issuing religious bans on people entering the country even when they hold a green card.

I agree that both parties are not really working, which is why I called for a third party. If things get bad enough under Trump, and it looks that way so far, I hope we can harness the energy in that turmoil to make a third party viable again.

Indeed, we all have the freedom to die.


I absolutely agree with you. Those things should be done. But a drug analogy: the demand for illegal drugs will always be there. If the drug supply is cut off, people can’t fulfill their demand for drugs. The demand for illegal labour will always be there, tempting businesses with lower costs and higher profits. If the illegal labour supply is cut off, businesses can’t fulfill their demand for illegal labour. Simple.


I’m not trying to make Obama look bad, I’m trying to point out the inconsistent way you judge Trump vs the way you give Obama a pass by making excuses like: we’re at war, or hey he was doing only what had been done by prior presidents, or hey I don’t think droning people is important.

So if, as you say we are at war with these countries, then would it not be appropriate to ban (or at least scrutinize) citizens of those nations for obvious reasons?

You say you don’t hate him, but you are certainly biased against him and assume the worst at every turn. That’s no better than all the right-wingers hating on every single thing thing Obama did or didn’t do, real or imagined.


“Iron manning” - nice! Who does that?

The ProCon site - I’ve seen it before, and it has a great layout for giving the top arguments. It would be great if that sort of thing were available for every topic in the news, updating live (and if everyone actually used it…). THAT would be a game-changer.


If we are at war, people are going to die. That’s a stone cold fact. If you actually believe this is wrong, then you’d be against the war on terror. Are you? Or are you just parroting a talking point over and over?

No, I just evaluate the policy decisions on a case by case basis. As I said earlier, if Trump can make Medicare extend to every American citizen I would be hugely in favor of that.

I did say that I think Trump’s character is extremely dangerous for a leader, and I stand behind that 100%. He’s capricious, petty, vindictive, prone to cronyism and nepotism, does not tolerate dissent, and avoids admitting mistakes, ever. For example:

Researchers rank Richard Nixon as the nation’s most disagreeable president. But he was sweetness and light compared with the man [Trump] who once sent The New York Times’ Gail Collins a copy of her own column with her photo circled and the words “The Face of a Dog!” scrawled on it.

Also @Nicholas_Mitchell here’s links to a bunch of studies that show immigrants don’t increase crime:

Example excerpt from one:

Public concerns about the costs of immigration and crime are high, and sometimes overlapping. This article investigates the relationship between immigration into a metropolitan area and that area’s crime rate during the 1980s. Using data from the Uniform Crime Reports and the Current Population Surveys, we find, in the cross section, that cities with high crime rates tend to have large numbers of immigrants. However, controlling for the demographic characteristics of the cities, recent immigrants appear to have no effect on crime rates.