I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Monday, October 7, 2013

comment on Bruce's comment of October 7, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Bruce's comments are in black my remarks are in red.

If the Rs trying to force a person (the President) by force, intimidation or undue power It is not undue power.  I know from your previous posts that you do not like the fact that the Congress has the power of the purse – in fact the HR has the power of the purse - but there it is, in Article one of that pesky Constitution.  (not only shutting down almost the entire government, not anywhere near the entire federal government much less the states but blaming it on Obama because he won't capitulate...oh, I mean "negotiate") I have seen Obama on TV saying repeatedly that he will not negotiate on this or the debt limit. doesn't meet the definition of extortion as posted above, then I don't know what to say. What would they have to do to meet the definition in your eyes? Is there anything legal that they could do that you would call extortion? I would love to read what that would be. 

Since extortion is a crime it will be hard to arrange .  I gave Wikipedia’s definition before:       Extortion (also called shakedown, outwresting, and exaction) is a criminal offense of obtaining money, property, or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion.

 Also see merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extortion:  ex·tor·tion noun \ik-ˈstȯr-shən\ :            the crime of getting money from someone by the use of force or threats

 If they are committing a crime, then Obama should have Holder arrest Boehner. There's a headline for you.  That is where you end up if you follow the logic of this kind of rhetoric. The real question is: does this kind of rhetoric improve your argument?  I would think only with those who are already in your choir.

But I feel that we are drifting off into semantics now. Precisely. What the Rs have done in shutting down the government, and soon holding the debt limit and the country's credit rating hostage (yeah, I said it...hostage), is wrong no matter what you call it. The monthly income of the Feds is about 10 times the interest on the national debt.  The Full faith and credit business is a straw man, issued by people who believe that there should be no limit to how much debt that we run up.  I don't care if its a political tactic practiced by everyone including all of my friends and my entire family, it's still not right. Shutting down the government is just too much, too painful for too many. It's way off balance. It's bringing a bazooka to a knife fight. Its having your Dad beat up the elementary school bully. It's putting a yacht in a stock pond. Its fishing with dynamite. All over one law.  Will they try to change the law to make it better? Nooooo. It's got to go or nothing. I've heard some of their ideas about changing it, but that's just gutting it and taking the teeth out of it. If Obama drops the employer mandate – no problem.  If the Rs insist on dropping the individual mandate – then all the above slurs apply.  I understand about the Peter and Paul stuff. But frankly, that's the way that insurance works too.  If you think that “that Peter and Paul stuff” is the way insurance works, then I’m not sure that you have got a handle on the one very large difference between "the stuff" and insurance.  In our society the government uniquely has the right to the initiation of the use of force.  A regular insurance company cannot force you to buy their product.  The government can, eg SS, ACA, Medicare.  That is the real and substantial difference: force.  The insurance companies want Peter to pay for Paul   that is if they have to have a Paul. They would really rather keep Paul out of the system so that Peter is actually paying for nothing at all. Does Peter like that better?  That is why this Peter supports the ACA and the eventual implementation of national health insurance.  But I believe in looking the downside straight in the face and not pretend that it doesn’t exists.  This is another example of the Government forcing us to do something “for our own good”. 
Those things are very dangerous for two reasons. 
1.  It is hard to honestly finance them (see medicare). 
2.  If I may borrow from Thomas Jefferson Gerald Ford (corrected - 10-09-13):
“A government that is big enough to give you everything you want,
 is big enough to take from you everything that you have.” 

So I say again that in view of the fact that it is our side of this debate that is supporting a program that involves force, it seems passing strange that some on our side should accuse the other side of extortion.  Perhaps we hope that if we assert loudly enough the claim that they are doing it, then no one will notice that we really are doing it.  I prefer straight forward argument and I think we have a good case.  I think name calling makes us look like we have a bad case. 


  1. In reading Wayne’s remarks about the government deciding what is best for me and others I remembered a remark that Janeane Garofalo make during the debate preceding the passage of the ACA. I will have to paraphrase but it is something like this. “Americans will love national health care we just need to lead them to it”.

    You will recall, of course, that Janeane Garofalo is that world renowned polymath with the wisdom and insight to make life changing decisions on my behalf. A bit tongue in cheek perhaps, but I have the same reaction to anyone at any level that claims to know what is best for me and mine. It is particularly irksome when they actually have the power to do it.

  2. I throw my hands in the air and roll my eyes in exasperated defeat. Good job Wayne.

  3. WRT the use of force – As Wayne points out the Government has the unique power to use force. An example would be collection of taxes. In a strict moral sense the taking of someone else’s property without their permission is stealing (a moral concept), but in the case of taxes it is allowed by law so it is not theft (a legal construct) even if I did not vote for the taxes..

    To muddy the water, in a democracy we vote for our representatives and they make the laws so in a real sense we gave our permission (not individually but as a majority vote by proxy) so it is not even “stealing”. Not a perfect analogy, but some of the same logic applies to the discussion on “extortion”. It is often difficult to separate legal and moral concepts.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.