This Machine (discourse) Kills Fascists

2010 October 13

by Roy W. Bakos and friends

This week, a good friend of mine, and brother of a fellow Bull Mooser, posted a piece on facebook in regards to the recent incident in Tennessee where a pay-for-service fire company refused to put a house fire out over an unpaid $75 bill.  I believe that the pages of the Moose are exactly the place where the following discussion should be put out there and the following does just that.  Please feel free to comment and add to the discussion.

Terrence McNamara via Jason Younger: Anyone out there ever not have the money to pay a tax bill? Or a utility bill? Yeah, I thought so. All of us. No context given as to how long their bill was unpaid, but to let a house burn down because the bill’s unpaid . . . is just wrong.

Branko Mac: The important part here is that this is the Invisible Hand at work. Don’t feel like paying? You get the Invisible Finger. Really, this is an insurance model. GEICO isn’t going to give you coverage in exchange for premiums paid  after you’ve wrecked the car. You gotta pay first, before you drive 100 mph into a guard rail.
To complain about this story is to overlook the reason that we have taxes and services – because people are very poor judges of their actual needs unless and until … the house is on fire. Municipal services, and hence municipal taxes, were created as a way to share the burden, and avoid having some nitwit watch his house burn because he didn’t pay the fireman bill.
Don’t confuse proper Christian behavior with the game theory need for someone to get “the stick” when they choose against with “the carrot” instead.
October 5 at 10:45pm

Stephen R. DeMarie: Rules are rules. Upshot his Ins replacement value was up and he will get more than if he would sell it! Plus side to everything buddy!
October 5 at 11:51pm

Roy Binbuffalony: Beck is a pig (Talk show host Glenn Beck was in full support of letting the house burn down).
October 6 at 2:43am

Daniel Wood: When you wreck your car, you’re out a car; you take the bus, walk, or ride a bike until it’s fixed or replaced. When your house burns down and your four pets die, you’ve lost your home and loved ones. Never mind what would have happened if the people had been asleep inside and died while the firemen watched. This is why fire, police, and EMT services are considered essential services. So while it’s an insurance model, obvious distinctions make it inapplicable to essential services.
October 6 at 11:42am

Daniel Wood: Let me put it another way: instead of the county going to subscription fire services (god, can you imagine subscription police services?), the county should have just charged a tax to every resident to ensure that its firefighters would never be faced with a decision on whether to save a non-subscriber from dying in his burning house.
October 6 at 11:45am

Daniel Wood: And one other point. What’s buried in here is a big reason why I can’t stand strident free marketeers. Beck’s argument is essentially that this is a simple economic equation. If you don’t pay the subscription and get free fire services, you’re sponging off your neighbors, which shouldn’t happen. So you let the market correct. But that reasoning ignores the moral obligations we have for one another in a civilized society. I pay taxes to support my fire dept. If I never have need of those services, then in the same sense, anyone who does have a fire, ends up sponging off me. In Beck’s world view, that’s wrong. In my world view, I’m happy to pay a little extra to make sure my neighbor’s house and pets survive a catastrophe.
October 6 at 11:52am

Roy Binbuffalony: Dan…that is the best articulation of my previous statement that I could have expected!
Seriously, why are we on the Center-Left so afraid to call out the right on morals and values and those things that bind our society together and make the rule of law in a republic possible? Beck gets to call everyone a communist or Stalin or Hitler and we sit there quietly. The right constantly uses morality as a basis to fight against arguments made from the other side to hide the very immorality that is couched in their ideas. Inequality=immoral. Shitting on the poor and the downtrodden=immoral. Having the rich to nothing at the expense of the working. Killing 100’s of thousands in an illegal, pre-emptive war=immoral. Supporting corporations that destroy the planet for profit=immoral. Using the Bible to support positions taken by the guy that is featured in it=immoral.
We need to stop letting the right be the dominant voice on morals and values…
October 6 at 3:00pm

Daniel Wood: The problem, Roy, is that we have no power to let or not let the right be the dominant voice on anything. Have you ever seen Rush Limbaugh’s or Glenn Beck’s audience numbers? While the intelligent and educated (even amongst the Republican party) tend to have nuanced opinions that can be distinguished one from another on subtle grounds, the idiocracy that constitutes Beck’s and Limbaugh’s audiences all line up in lock-step with reductive, simplistic, singular opinions. In other words, if you can’t understand the intricacies of public option healthcare, you will default to the simplistic “say no to socialism” approach, which then creates a de facto unified front.
October 6 at 4:13pm

Roy Binbuffalony: I agree to a point…but couldn’t we use the simplicity of the moral argument to win back the many that have decided to vote against their economic and social well being because the other side has wooed them with Jesus and fear? If we start with the premise that equality is good and moral, that social justice is good and moral, that recognizing and respecting other people’s humanity is moral, that Jesus didn’t tell the crowd to fuck off when they were hungry but he provided loaves and fishes for them, that Jesus overturned the moneychangers tables at the temple, that freedom and liberty are moral as well, can’t we persuade some to come back over to our side and can’t we energize others that have been left out in the cold too long with no real side to choose from?
October 7 at 5:11am

Daniel Wood: You probably could, but the simplistic approach of the conservative base is only one half the coin. The other half is the fact that liberals tend to be a fractious and principled lot, so they prefer to argue amongst themselves about distinctions between essentially equal policies rather than putting aside differences to present a united front. What you propose would be like herding cats raised to an exponent of herding ferrets.
October 7 at 10:01am

Roy Binbuffalony: I can herd ferrets…let those liberals that wish to remain fractious remain so. I think that we can reach out to the Regan Democrats and the majority of the Tea Partiers who are currently voting against their own and their childrens’ economic self-interest by simplifying our arguments into moral/value arguments. Segregation was wrong and was defeated because the vast middle was forced to see human beings endure violence put upon them by people that looked like they (the vast middle) did. They did not need to have read Locke and Hobbes and the Constitution to understand that Bull Connor and his firehose and dogs were wrong. Kids being lynched is wrong. We need to start to argue our point in these terms…not dumb the argument down, but change the focus and tone into terms more easily understood with answers that are more practical and direct…and I need your help to do this!
October 7 at 12:42pm

Terrence McNamara: Roy, lemme tell you what’s still wrong with the current liberals’ tactics: “equality,” “social justice,” “recognizing others’ humanity,” “energize” . . . .
When someone outside of the coasts hears these words, they have a knee jerk reaction along the lines of, “Oh God, not another Metrosexual / Coffee Shop Hippie / Deadhead Who Won’t Grow Up demanding that we make our kids watch Johnny Has Two Mommies, sing Kumbaya and march around their school, and that if we all just required some more Diversity Training, with a little love, the inner city would be all rainbows and hand holding within thirty days, max!!!”
That is what goes through my neighbors’ heads, and their veins, when they hear that kind of language.
When *I* hear the term “social justice,” fer Pete’s sake, *my* blood pressure spikes, and I VOTED for Obama!
While liberals on both coasts are *still* debating whether “womyn” should be spelled with a “y”, whether to refer to God as a “she” just to get a reaction, and whether it was wrong for the Republicans to target the National Endowment for the Arts after taxpayer money was used to exhibit the Mapplethorpe photos, the right continues to kick their asses every November down here.
Now down to Brass Tacks . . . . Firefighters should be a basic service – like roads, bridges and schools. And yes, whether someone wants to or not, they ought to have to buck up ahead of time for the service.
October 7 at 3:28pm

Roy Binbuffalony: Terry, I will address your points on the language later.
As for the firefighters thing…they should be public, funded by taxes, like schools and police and such as they provide directly for the public welfare and safety. Volunteer maybe, but never private/fee based. Ever. Letting someone’s house burn down because of an unpaid $75 is morally wrong all of the time. This is the kind of argument I am getting at to win the argument. Beck is a morally repugnant pig because he would let your house burn to the ground for $75. It is that simple and I am not the former mayor of Wasilla!
October 7 at 3:36pm

Roy Binbuffalony: …and I believe that the above addressed the point about the language. Valid argument and why I am trying to frame our arguments in the context of morality/values and not intellectual nuance. Most people don’t care or have the time or the vocabulary to talk intellectual nuance and that is why Beck, Rush, Palin and their ilk are able to drive so much of the debate. It is also why I believe that it is our job to call them out on moral/values grounds when they are being inconsistent with their positions or making false moral arguments to sway the masses without the time or desire to fact-check everything. We need to stop allowing them to frame the debate all of the time.
October 7 at 3:46pm

Roy Binbuffalony: ‎…and we need to stop worrying about hurting feelings so much. When there is a big, foul smelling, brownish-green, pile of organic matter on your lawn that came from the rectum of a dog, it is OK and good to call it a turd (and yes I am comparing Rush, Beck, and Palin’s arguments to turds).
October 7 at 3:48pm

Terrence McNamara: That’s fine.
But invoke the phrase “social justice,” and don’t be surprised when the middle decides in an eyeblink that this is the same old pie in the sky “all you need is love” crap that should have been allowed to die in the same years as you and I were born.
October 7 at 3:51pm

Daniel Wood: One point: Terry, you are behind the times; the debate over women/womyn died in the ’90s along with pony tails on men and clay bead necklaces.
October 7 at 3:55pm

Roy Binbuffalony: I forgot…the term “social justice” arises from Catholic/mainstream Protestant intellectual thought and the right in your State hates that almost more than they hate the blacks or the Mexicans! Bad, Bad, Bad Sermon on the Mount with its blessing of the peacemakers and its rewarding the meek and that damn hippie whatever you do to the least of my brothers shit…
October 7 at 4:00pm

Terrence McNamara: Dan, whether the debate is over or not for the “womyn only with a y crowd”, the point is that the liberals declared war on their own over that issue. Academic careers were ruined all over the place because of Political Correctness battles…. I can share many of them with you that were still going on at least as late as 1999.
Roy, where the term social justice came from is irrelevant. Swastikas have been around in every culture since the dawn of cavemen, usually as a sign of the good god in whatever culture one looks at it. In Christianity, until the Nazis co-opted it, it was a perfectly acceptable artistic version of the cross.
Socialism itself has been around forever, and is actively practiced in Israel.
That doesn’t mean that the middle of the political spectrum is devoid of knee jerk reactions to the invocation of either; in fact, they most certainly are filled with such knee jerk reactions.
But politicians point with glowing deference to either word or symbol at their own peril. Because their intended positive message will be lost in the clutter.
And to both, the point is, once a phrase or a symbol is co-opted by whatever school of thought, it is a long, long time before it becomes value neutral again.
October 7 at 4:58pm

Terrence McNamara: That means that if a liberal ever, ever wants the center of the country to support them, they should never, ever invoke the phrase “social justice.”
October 7 at 5:06pm

Terrence McNamara: It’s a lyric in Hair, fer Pete’s sake. And the point is made directly, that a guy invoking the phrase has absolutely no common sense when it comes to taking care of friends that he actually sees every day!
October 7 at 5:09pm

Terrence McNamara: I’m talking about the target of the lyric in the song in the musical, not you Roy.
October 7 at 5:10pm

One Response leave one →
  1. October 27, 2010

    Hey, I can’t view your site properly within Opera, I actually hope you look into fixing this.

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