Thursday, February 26, 2004

A response and an apology to Mr. Davis

My first reaction upon reading your comments was, "He took my posts out of context. Really, I meant them for the RIL and Angry Clam crowd." Funny thing though, I remember being extremely dissatisfied with the exact same response when it called Angry Clam on similar issues couple months back. I always thought that the whackos on either side of the spectrum antagonize and feed off each other but I never thought I'd would be pulled ever so slightly by its whirling vortex. I apologize for offending you and I will try to be less flamboyant in my prose from now on.

I thought I was being careful not to lump all kinds of conservatives and Republicans together but reading it over it’s not so clear. This is why for example, kept typing "anti-immigration conservatives" over and over again. Clearly, this was insufficient. Other than the RIL crowd, Republicans do not want to stop immigration because they are racist. My guess is that it’s either political (immigrants tend to vote Dem), protectionism for labor (a reasonable although I think flawed position), or not wanting to pay for their social services (also reasonable although I think surmountable). Many Democrats I’m sure share the same concerns and hold similar beliefs. I was trying to make a joke with the mariachi stuff but it was crass.

As for affirmative action, in my self-righteousness I argued my point poorly. Allow me to expand on my premise: even when you control for parents income black students don’t do as well as white students. Why is this? Well, a rabble-rouser would say it’s all just prejudice. (I remember being shocked when a co-worker’s friend who worked in insurance recounted a story of having to hide a client family’s blackness in order to cover them at a price they could afford). I don’t think prejudice is that big a factor.

You can probably blame it on a cultural problem forged in a history of oppression but again, we can only guess. That said, if two students are otherwise indistinguishable then chances are the black student has had to work harder to overcome those extra obstacles. This is not true in every case but it’s ok to think probabilistically. We do it when we assume that people who scored high on their SAT are more deserving of college admission (although it’s certainly not true in every single case). My opinion on affirmative action jives with the Supreme Court ruling stating that race can be a factor in admission, but not an overriding concern.

As for Clinton, he inherited the first honest peace dividend after the cold war and used it to pay down the debt, rather than fund more programs. Yes, the economy was good, but it was good under Reagan when we had record deficits. Now let me address the next two counter arguments: 1. Reagan’s budget proposals were always only 2% or so lower then the Democratic ones so you can’t blame congress. 2. Yes, congress ended up spending more than they originally proposed but that’s standard operating procedure. We can see the same thing from the current Republican congress.

Granted, Clinton’s hands were tied by moderate Democrats in Congress and the Senate. But that’s exactly the point: the last time Democrats held the Legislative and Executive office spending and taxes wasn’t nearly as out of whack as it is now that they are Republican controlled.

If Republican politicians want to cut government programs while cutting taxes that’s a legitimate policy goal. On the other hand, enacting permanent tax cuts for a temporary stimulus program while adding permanent and inefficiently administered Medicare benefits is just irresponsibility. Compare Clinton’s plan to fix healthcare by employing a system more efficient than the current one to the boondoggle recently passed through congress. Yes, Clinton wanted to increase taxes so the program wouldn’t throw us into deficit. Also, he wanted to make healthcare cheaper. This is a tradeoff and there are arguments to be made on both sides. If we disagree then we should discuss. But we certainly shouldn’t say that Clinton wanted to take over 1/7th of the economy and pretend like the argument is over. What is he? A James Bond villain?

Again, I apologize for lumping reasonable people like you, Kenny and LaFata in with right-wing kooks like RIL and the Angry Clam. In the future, when I mean Angry Clam and the RIL boys I will say “Angry Clam and the RIL boy” or just “right-wing kooks”. However, I can’t apologize for holding liberal positions any more than you can apologize for being conservative.


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