OK, Max Habibi accidently edited my post instead of responding to it. So I'm going try to re-insert my points while leaving his, and then answering them...
Originally posted by Max Habibi: "people shouldn't talk big unless they're prepared to back it up. When an English or Canadian Yob does something unusuually horrendous,
Me: I agree. That's why I think it's truly pathetic when, after an English or Canadian Yob does something especially horrendous, and the authorities sternly pronounce, "This sort of thing shall not be tolerated!" What are they going to _do_ about it?
Max: Or, for that matter, an American Oob does.
It's not quite so pathetic here. In most of the land area, covering half the population, they _are_ willing to do something about it -- or at least to allow Mr. and Mrs. Private Citizen to do something about it.
Originally posted by Max Habibi: ...there's no justification for violence between men and women.
Me: I can sympathize with the position of a man in a patriarchal society whose wife, after bearing him a few children, is unfaithful. If he leaves her, he endangers the children who are his. If he ignores it, his meagre resources may be disipated to support a genetic competitor's child. So he beats her.
Me: I have to admit, your cultural sensibilities are more generous then my own. Me, I'd knock the sob out.
Being cuckolded is no small matter. But as I said, most man-against-woman violence is just bullying, and no woman should put up with it. Where it exists, it justifies woman-against-man violence in self-defense. (Not to kill him in his sleep, but to stop an ongoing attack. Few women can do it with their hands, but fortunately Colonel Colt made women equal.
Max: ...pay for policemen should be tripled ... criminal penalties for policemen should be doubled.
me: When trying to affect the behavior of others, more incentives, both positive and negative, are always worth consideration. But you're never going to pay cops enough to agree to put criminals' safety ahead of their own.
Max: That's very true. It's better to induce then to threaten.
Me: (I thought I _agreed_ that negative incentives are always worth considering.)
Max: How about a law that allows police officers to collect three times their salary if they're willing to take twice as much penalty for violating the trust of the citizenry?
When it can be proven that police violated the trust of the citizenry, the penalties are quite harsh indeed. Most of the time when police get off it's either because it cannot be proven or because they did not violate the community's trust after all. (It might have been an innocent and reasonable error, as in the Diallo shooting. Or, as in the Rodney King episode, newsmedia may have deliberately misrepresented the situation to the public.)
Max: I guess like to see that first sort of cop weeded out of the police force.
When it can be proven, that's what happens. Sometimes the cops are right, and the administration prosecutes them anyway, to diffuse the possibility of riots by the criminal-sympathizing community.
Max: Remember, Government is a myth shared by the citizenry: much like money. If that faith is strengthened, then the entire civilization benefits. The reverse is also true. I know a lot of good men, most of whom are soldiers, who would be glad to make that sort of a sacrifice for their communities. I say we should accept their generous gift.
Effective cops, like soldiers, join up out of idealism -- to protect the innocent from the guilty. On behalf of the innocent they willingly endanger themselves. Few will accept any amount of money that will induce them to let a suspected thug take the first shot at them, however. Or that require him to risk a heart attack chasing a thug, be beaten and shot at, and then, just as the cop is finally about to overpower him have the perp say, "I give up" and claim his right to be brought in as pretty as a picture.
Alot of police brutality is actually quite reasonable. As one cop put it, "If I order the perp to halt and he runs, he may get away -- that's his reward for running. But if I catch him, I beat his *** -- that's his penalty for running. If he obeys my commands then no one gets beaten."
Max: ... budget for the department of defense and the department of education should be swapped.
Me: That's fine if you want more corruption and waste in education, and don't care if predatory competing societies take advantage of our weakness.
Well, even if we accepted that hypothesis that investing in the education of our youth would lead to the sort of corruptions that investing in the arms companies has led to, I don't think it follows that the predatory nature of societies would undermine the United States. The reality is, we spend more money on weapons then the rest of the world put together. Frankly, we have a enough defense if we just continue to keep them in working order.
We spend more on military technology because we value our soldiers lives; enemy countries consider their soldiers as expendable as their civilians. We spend far more than Europe and the Commonwealth because someone has to do it, and they are freeloading on us. Or, maybe don't have to do it; we could cut the military budget quite a bit simply by following Washington's advice to avoid entangling foreign alliances. That was the argument of the "America First!" isolationists of the 1930s who argued against taking sides in Britain's fight with Germany and Japan.
Max: This is a weak argument. It implies that because in one instance, at some point in history, a decision was advocated by one group supporting one position, then that position is therefore incorrect in other contexts. That's simply flawed.
I never said that the Isolationists position was wrong. I merely note that their position was consistent with contemporary arguments against the current President's policy, and that _if_ he is wrong then they were right. I don't think England and France of the 1940s were any more deserving of our aid than the countries we've been criticized for aiding since then. I don't think Europe today is any more deserving of our support than, say, Israel. Maybe we _should_ reduce the number of our enemies by becoming a big Switzerland. I'm not convinced yet, but I cannot refute the Isolationists' logic. After all, sending guns to England while withholding steel from Imperial Japan _did_ result in Pearl Harbor.
Max: ... no good can come from a dishonest action
Me: Generally it is better to pursue honesty, but I think our dishonest actions to convince Hitler that the landings in Sicily and Normandy would happen elsewhere were beneficial.
In a war, deception by forces you're actively fighting is to be expected. However, as a general rule, I don't think bad seeds yield good fruit: there is always a piper to pay. At least, that's the way I was raised.
I agree. However, you have to pick your battles. For example, if getting the grades to get into graduate school requires that you deceive your professors into thinking you agree with them politically, then that's what you have to do.
As for general philosophical nostrums, I like Steve Martin's essay, "What I Believe"
Amazing: never though we'd agree on anything
[ April 25, 2006: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Originally posted by Max Habibi:
I'm inclined to believe that no good can come from a dishonest action.
I see dishonesty as being a bit like taking a very high interest loan out from a bank. Occasionally it can be justified - sometimes it is necessary in order to avoid something bad happening. Most of the time it leads to more problems though.
As repayments for the loan start to become difficult, it becomes tempting to take another loan out. If several loans are outstanding, some people like to take out a very large loan in order to consolidate their debts into one large loan.
This very rarely leads to a happy ending though. Taking out more loans will often lead to bankruptcy. Dishonesty works in a similar way. Once one lie has been told, another lie is needed to back it up. And then another. And then an even bigger one. Eventually the effort required to maintain a false image of reality means that an immense network of lies may be required. At that point it will be found out, and the dishonest person will achieve moral bankruptcy.