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Friday, December 17, 2010

Politics: A Critique Deconstructed (Part Two)

(See Part One here.)
Part Two
IV. Global Warming Ain't Real
The title of this section basically sums up Wrighton's argument.  Of course, he has no citations, so I have no idea where he is hearing about all the lies.  I suspect FOX News, but that's because that network is sort of like McCain:  really happy to talk about what supports his opinion, but suddenly screaming "BIAS" when something doesn't.
Finish him!
As for global warming evidence:  a handful of bumps doesn't prove something wrong.  Facts speak for themselves.  Well, unless you think National Geographic and NASA are making it all up.  Just like they did with the Moon Landing, right?

V.  Racism Against the Whites
Whether Affirmative Action is the right approach to preventing racism or sexism from being institutionalized at a jobs level is certainly worth debating, but it is currently the only reasonable system by which we can prevent people of color and women from being actively discriminated against (rather than for).  Wrighton makes an indirect argument that whites are actively discriminated against because colleges and employers look at one's skin color or gender and select people based on that rather than on test scores.  While this is true in part (as per AA and other policies), it completely ignores the socio-economic factors that contribute to poor test scores and performance (the same problems caused by underfunded schools)--not to mention that it ignores how utterly useless test scores really are (I'm a college teacher, and people who do well on the tests are still ridiculously disadvantaged in things like writing, etc.).  If we went only by test scores, pretty much everyone going to college would be white, with the exception of those entering sports programs.  David Duke would be very proud of this line of thinking.
This is what the inside of Atlanta's airport looks like.  Only, you know, inside.
Likewise, his point doesn't deal with the fact that even with AA pushing more diversity into schools and jobs, both women and people of color are underpaid and prevented from rising up in the ranks even when they are just as qualified as white men; in fact, his point ignores it, instead opting for the "white men are being discriminated against" argument instead of actually looking at the problem.  But this is all part of a problem that is too big to take on in a post like this.  I just hope that Wrighton isn't making the "let economics decide" argument for dealing with racism/sexism.

VI.  Keep Your Government Hands Off My Healthcare
I'm going to break these apart piece by piece:

"[Government] run health care does not work."
People who have such systems would be surprised to hear that, since it works a hell of a lot better for them than our private healthcare system works for us.

"Look at the wait times for doctors in places like France and Canada."
Most of these wait times are myths or manipulations of statistics.  People who oppose universal healthcare often take one bad statistic in one specific place (like Paris, a very large city in France) and then apply that to every single situation in the country.  But then they also conveniently ignore the fact that we have wait times in parts of the U.S. (not all parts).  I know from personal experience of having to wait three weeks to get an appointment with my general practitioner and having to wait upwards of six hours in the emergency room with a serious respiratory problem (it turned out I had cancer around my airways and my aorta).

But then there are the two times in my life when I received free health insurance and access to a government-funded, university-run clinic.  In my current situation, I can get an appointment with my doctor tomorrow, and pay next to nothing for it (free for appointments; $25 for medications).  Fun how that works, no?
But socialism is evil!
"There are two choices to make here. We use the free market to regulate the cost, thus granting access to everyone willing to pay, or we make it a "public" controlled system, and institute rationing, where only certain people gain access."
Wrighton seems to think that the free market hasn't been in control of the system to begin with, and that they haven't been regulating costs in their benefit for the last thirty or so years (then again, he seems libertarian, so he might suggest that any government regulation is bad, thus believing that people who run corporations must be trustworthy by default--you'd have to in order to be truly free market).  He gets his information from some Austrian institution I've never heard of, but since said institution seems to think the government involvement in making employer-provided health insurance tax free is the same as the government subsidizing health insurance, it's really hard to take them seriously (they basically don't understand the employer-provided health insurance system).

In any case, there are problems with this logic.  First, it offers a false dichotomy--i.e. an either/or that is intentionally limiting and fallacious at best.  The RNC mastered this when the health debate was in full swing.  It also is hilarious for trying to apply to the "public option" things that already exist for the magic "private market."  Rationing is already occurring.  It's called socio-economic rationing.  People who can't afford health insurance or healthcare don't get it.  Fuck the poor, right?  It's not always about being willing to pay, and trying to simplify the argument to money is really just a lame way of avoiding dealing with the human aspect.

But then Wrighton says that cheap healthcare for all will never happen, which tells me he's already given in to the idea that some people just aren't important enough to care about.  Fuck the poor, again, right?
Like I said.  Socialism is evil!  Screw Little Timmy!
Now, I'm not suggesting that universal healthcare is perfect.  It's not.  No system is perfect.  If there was a perfect system, we'd either find a way to ruin it, or do everything we could to replicate it.  But what exactly is wrong with having a public option for health insurance?  If one wants a free market, then one must also want competition, right?  And what's a better way to get insurance companies to compete than to drop regulations that prevents cross-state trading and then institute a public option that anyone can buy into?  I can see the arguments building for this one, so I'll go to the next point.

VII.  Teach or Get Canned
Wrighton says the following in response to my point about changing how schools are funded:
Schools are traditionally funded based upon the property taxes collected by their districts. He's advocating that some schools be given money based solely on the number of students of a particular skin color. Instead, we should make schools accountable for the performance of students. Additionally, we should make each school have to actually earn its keep. If it cannot teach students, or provide them a decent education, then parents should be free to remove them from those schools.
To clarify, while my original point did indicate that race was a factor, the logic I was setting up was aimed towards the poor, who are typically under-served by public education precisely because the places they live in have always been poor.  What Wrighton doesn't seem to understand is that the way a school is funded affects what that school can do for its students.  Poor areas are poor for a reason.  They're typically places full of uneducated people, who then raise kids in an environment that isn't conducive to learning well.  Schools that don't have the funding to counteract the lack of furthered learning at home, and, thus, to deal with the various problems extended from socio-economic status, are essentially stuck.  How students perform is not just about effort.  Studies already show that even being raised in a household without books can put you at a disadvantage in school, and many schools simply don't have the funding to counteract such disadvantages.
Spankings for everyone!
You can't deal with a very complicated problem by simply saying "hey, do it or you're fired."  That's the kind of logic that we need to do away with, because it intentionally ignores the consequences.

And there will be one more post before I close everything out.

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