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26 October 2009 @ 09:14 pm
And now, time for another update. They're rare because my life is a lot of sameness, so I save it until I have interesting things to report.

I got into a big discussion about health care with a libertarian acquaintance on Facebook. It went on for around two weeks, hit 70-something posts, and only ended because of his passive-aggressive status sniping and complaining that my posts were too long so he was only going to respond in person now (and then posting a Ron Paul interview on my wall the next day). His arguments were the usual libertarian idiocy--I can basically summarize them with, "Free market invisible hand free market rational actor free market government fails at everything free market income tax is theft RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRON PAUL!" and give you a good idea. There's a subsidiary discussion on my Facebook wall if anyone wants to read that for a more in-depth analysis.

The best comment was 'sociology has no impact on the market.' I'm a bit curious about this, because I thought he lived on Earth, but clearly he's from the Perfect Robot Future where frail meatbag weakness has been replaced with pure, flawless, metallic logic.

Suzugamine's cultural festival is next week. I've been asked to do some calligraphy at the festival, and I'm finding it more difficult than I thought I would. I'm going to write (matsuri, 'festival'), and that's not a problem. The problem is in public Japanese calligraphy, the way one writes the character is just as important as technical proficiency. So if I just draw straight lines with minimal flourish and get it perfect, it's stil not a good performance. That's proving a bit difficult for me. I practice again on Wednesday.

Last weekend was the fall festival in Chiyoda. softlykarou and I thought there would be food stands and so on around, but we went all over the place and didn't find them. We eventually went to the Arima (our local neighborhood) community center and found out that that's where everyone had gone. There were the traditional kagura performances, including one comedy version of "Tamamo-no-Mae" where the warriors had hard hats and the monk, when Tamamo-no-Mae transformed into a fox and tried to eat him, pulled out a gun and shot her. We also had oden, which was actually good this time. My previous experience with it was last year, but it was only lukewarm when I had it and oden is designed to be served hot.

On the geek-RP front, softlykarou is finally running a game for me. It's a dark fantasy game using nWoD as system and reference material (using this RPG.net thread, written by John Snead, one of the freelancers for White Wolf, as the basis and expanding from there), drawing on Vampire Hunter D, Claymore, and so on for inspiration. It's pretty awesome to actually get to play in a face-to-face game after spending literally years just running. I even used Campaign Cartographer to make a map of the campaign area, though it lacks a lot of detail (because we're going to fill it in in play).

Scribblenauts is fun, and the Large Hadron Collider is hax. That is all.
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: None
Jeb Boytarmadillo_king on October 26th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
Are you part of the P&W FB friends or have I just missed you?

Having watched Ron Paul consistently advocate things that are against the interests of his district here in Texas and vote against his district in Congress and still see him consistently get reelected, I can only pound my head against the wall.
jdcohen on October 27th, 2009 01:42 am (UTC)
You mean like how Ron Paul voted against federal aid for Galveston after it was hit by Hurricane Ike? I went to Galveston this past April for a wedding (a little over half a year since Ike hit) and though parts were rebounding, you could still see damaged husks of buildings, vacant properties, and water lines painted onto buildings. And, on principle, Ron Paul voted against sending money to his constituents (though the bill was overwhelmingly approved by Congress anyway). It takes quite a lot of effort to be simultaneously that principled and that inhuman.

slarnosslarnos on October 26th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
Every time I hear someone use the whole "invisible hand" thing in serious conversation, I cannot help but imagine that said hand is working them like a muppet from behind a nearby table or other piece of furniture.
jdcohen on October 27th, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)
Did you also tell this Libertarian friend that the market's goal is not always the most desirable outcome? The free market, the invisible hand, and the invisible muppeteer do one thing best: bring about profit. Doesn't matter if it's a marginal profit made by selling competing homogenous products to intelligent and wary consumers, or whether it is selling overpriced monopolized snake oil to idiots with money - so long as there is profit to be made, the free market will make it. But profit, goods, and services are not the only priorities our society has. A great example is healthcare.

America as a society place a high value on life - we brag about multi-million-dollar daring sniper-commando rescues, below-freezing cliff-hanging helicopter evacuations, and most recently the cost to taxpayers of a boy thought to be stuck in a balloon. We as a society worship the idea that we are willing to save lives no matter the cost, though in practice this is far from the truth. That disparity between the will to save lives and the cost of doing so - e.g. when an insurer is unwilling to pay for an expensive-yet-lifesaving treatment - is often met with criticism and scorn, not praise. We want a system that saves everyone, but we simply cannot operate such a system for-profit. So, when someone claims that the free market is the best way to safeguard the lives of the American public, I call bullshit.

Please tell your Libertarian friend that yes, he is right that a free market healthcare system would be beneficial for those Americans who own shares in that system - but would be heavily detrimental to the ideal of saving lives at any expense. That is why the government exists - to foster a system that either encourages or forces coverage of all those expenses even when doing so is not profitable.


P.S. That isn't to say that I'm advocating a single-payer system... I do still believe that a for-profit insurance model can work, but with government regulation to force insurers to cover the unprofitable as well as the profitable and a public option to keep prices competitive (especially since, in most markets in the U.S., one or two insurers have a practical monopoly on insurance).
jdcohen on October 27th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)
Damn... found a typo. In the 2nd paragraph the 2nd to last sentence should read "We want a system that saves everyone, but we simply cannot operate such a system strictly for-profit." That makes much more sense, because otherwise I contradict myself.

dorchadasdorchadas on October 28th, 2009 11:49 am (UTC)
Oh, I did. At great length and detail (hence his "ZOMG tl;dr" reply).

I suppose it's not so bad, though--he's a True Believer in the free market, so the discussion was doomed from the start.