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

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Equal treatment doubt

After some cheering by the right the gun toten' folks down in the southwest seem to have lost their luster with some remarks about race etc.  I wish I had been in a position to ask this question before that happened.

The question that I read somewhere was: "If the protestors at Wall Street a year or so ago had brought guns with them, would they have been treated as gently as the rancher?"

Some of us doubt it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Seizing tax refunds

According this article   http://kuow.org/post/irs-chasing-children-dead-parents-debts  the IRS is confiscating the tax refunds of individuals whose PARENTS were overpaid by a government agency and in particular the Social Security Administration.

We are not talking about a final SS payment following the death of a parent (see the article), but potentially overpayments to the deceased parents going back man y years.   

I am not comfortable with this.  While the overpayments may have resulted in an unjust enrichment to the parent(s), and potentially their estate, at an expense to the taxpayers this gets much to close to “the sins of the father”.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Brendan Eich

Here is an article in which the author concludes that since Brendan Eich opposed gay rights he was not qualified to be CEO of Mozilla.


As you may recall Brendan Eich was forced to resign as CEO of Mozilla because he contributed $1000 in support of Proposition 8 in 2008.

Have we reached the point in the discussion on gay marriage that a controlling group now considers disagreement on the topic to be “malum in se”?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Motivation and Voter ID 2

I find the use of an alleged “motivation of your opponent” as an argument against his case to be rather boring and persuasive only to those who desperately want to believe.  The idea is:  Don’t argue that the opponent's case is invalid, argue that the opponent’s motivation is nasty.  I suppose that it is a subcase of the abusive ad hominem argument: A fallacy which usually involves attacking the traits of an opponent as a means to invalidate their arguments.  In this case the opponent’s motivation is the particular aspect of the person that is attacked.   The merits of the case, one way or another, often get lost altogether.  Of course, if you don’t have a good case, then perhaps avoiding an argument based on merit is your best chance.  (Did I just slip into the motivation fallacy?)

The place this is currently getting a lot of play is in the Voter ID laws.  Those Rs are just trying to deny the right to vote of the old and poor who are expected to vote Democratic.  The D’s are just trying to fix it so all of those illegal aliens can vote for them.  Both arguments totally ignore the fundamental question:

A.   If a person claims to have a right or an entitlement to something, should they
1) have to demonstrate that they are eligible for that thing or
2) should the government grant these rights and benefits on the honor system.

B.   Since voting is essential to a democracy it gets special treatment.  There is a fundamental obligation by the government to ensure there is no impediment (other than eligibility) to the exercise of the right to vote.  In particular there can be no financial impediment – tax, charge, or cost (24th  amendment).  That is, if you require a picture ID, then you must provide a way for them to get one cost free.

I choose A1 and B.  A1 it seems to me is self evident.  B is a bit harder to implement, but not really that bad.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not saying either group does not have the alleged motivations.  I am not saying that motivations are not important.  They may explain why someone is taking a certain position.

But an argument based on the opponent’s motivation is not valid.  There are at least two good reasons:
1.  Even if their motives are bad the result could be good.

2.  Unless you are God, you don’t know their motives.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Voter ID

According to this article http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/374882/nc-state-board-finds-more-35k-incidents-double-voting-2012-andrew-johnson#! there were 35K incidents of double voting in NC in 2012. 
The article is moot on whether this was in the Presidential election or all elections in NC in 2012.  If the numbers are accurate it would seem that the argument that fraudulent voting (voter ID fraud) is an insignificant occurrence is demonstrably incorrect.

Wealth AND Income Gap

This is kind of an old article (02/23/2014)  and you all may have already read it.  For those interested in the increasing wealth and income gaps that may not have read it, I think this article does a pretty good job of keeping wealth and income separate in the discussion, although in the end the growing gap is pretty deep for both. Other articles I've read on the subject tend to jump back and forth between income and wealth in such a way as to render their interpretation of the data questionable at best, leaving me to wonder if they even know what they're talking about.   This article speaks to both gaps separately with a lot of stats for the stat lovers.