The Philosopher's Tinker Room


Month: March, 2017

Why is the mainstream left ignoring American militarism?

Question: Is the Democratic left engaging in emphasizing socioeconomic domestic policies at the expense of largely ignoring American militarism and military imperialism in a similar way that the Republican right wing emphasizes social conservatism at the expense of ignoring populist economic principles that would support working class Republican Party supporters?  I have in minds specifically Elizabeth Warren’s, when questioning Mattis during appointment hearings, not addressing any of General Mattis’s actions or lack of action involving the alleged war crimes committed under his watch during the Iraq war.  Instead, Warren just asked the General questions about making sure that the military bases in Warren’s state wouldn’t be eliminated.

The need to guard against Ayne Rand followers.

Ayne Rand’s principle of valuing selfishness is the very antithesis of conservative right wing patriotism.  Instead, we need a strong government and regulations to protect the public and environment from the very sorts of selfish capitalism that Rand advocated for.  Letting the markets run things is very much like the fox guarding the hen house.  By the time, if ever, there is a general recognition of the harm done by a business, irreversible harm could have been done to people and the environment.  The only reasonable action is to be proactive by vigorous regulation of the marketplace to protect consumers, workers, the environment and even the systemic structure of the market itself from the sorts of selfishness that Rand advocated for.

VA problems are no reason to abandon single payer

by Glen Wallace

While some may like to point out how the VA has supposedly done such a bad job, as a reason why the government shouldn’t take over health care, they are ignoring some important counter arguments or reasons supporting government takeover.  For one the negative accounts about the VA that people tend to refer to, are to a large extent brought to you by private, for profit, news media that gets a substantial portion of ad revenue from private insurers that have a vested interest in retaining the private health insurance system.  As a result I believe the private news programs are highlighting, focusing and magnifying the VA’s problems, while largely ignoring similar issues and problems that plague the private health insurance system.  One need only look at the online reviews of private insurers to find a plethora of examples that make those insurer’s look even worse than the VA.  And if a single payer system were implemented, then it would be more of an expansion of Medicare than an expansion of the the VA.

Before Obamacare was implemented, while listening to an NPR feature about individuals having problems with private insurers, if I remember correctly, I believe they quoted a statistic that two thirds of all individuals that declare medical bankruptcy, already had health insurance at the time of their bankruptcy.  And the reasons for such bankruptcies wasn’t just due to high deductibles, many were the result of disagreements between insurers and providers about what procedures are, or should have been covered.  As a result, a patient ends up being responsible for for medical bills they thought were covered.  Sometimes the patients can end up getting such bills lowered or covered by the insurer, but getting to that point often turns into a full time job for the patient in the form of phone calls, and negotiations with a hospital and insurer.  Hearing such stories one has to wonder “There’s got to be a better way!”  Well there is a better way and there also is no need to reinvent the wheel — that better way is already being used successfully in most of Europe in the form of a government run single payer health care system.

Why to I have to go through an ISP to connect to the internet?

I don’t understand why I can’t be my own internet service provider.  By that I mean, given that the internet is merely a computer network, why can’t I just plug my phone line into my computer’s Ethernet input and thus be connected to the rest of the computers on the internet the same way I could connect computers to a network in a home or office?  Maybe what we really need is to treat the internet as a utility and have the people own and operate it as such.

Is crosscheck a form of illegal redlining?

Just an idea in the form of a question.  I don’t know the answer, but I think that it could be a potential successful strategy to stop crosscheck by getting a court order to stop the program because it engages in the same sorts of discrimination as redlining.  But in the case of crosscheck the lines are based not just on geographic boundaries but also on other indicators, namely names.  But either way the intent is racial discrimination.

Well, from the little amount of research I have now done, it sounds like any redlining laws apply more specifically to just lending for home purchasing and home improvements — at least that is my limited understanding — I could be wrong about that too.

But maybe a better approach would be more towards looking at more general anti discrimination laws.  From the U.S. Justice Department’s web page about laws against discrimination based on national origin: “Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status. Laws prohibiting national origin discrimination make it illegal to discriminate because of a person’s birthplace, ancestry, culture or language. This means people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they or their family are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group…”

Notice that last sentence of the quote about how people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they have a name associated with a national origin group.  That sounds exactly like what is being done with crosscheck where people are being singled out because their name sounds Asian, Latino or African American.  Perhaps then an appeal to the Justice Department would be in order.


Idea to form a web services cooperative

by Glen Wallace

Idea: a cooperative or union formed to own and operate a server farm and run web services for various organizations.  The cooperative would of course be not for profit, but owners who use it and contribute to the coop could be for profit businesses.  I think that for something utilitarian like a server farm and web services that require large initial funding requirements, and thus limited competition among private server farms and web services that would keep price points down, a cooperative or union would be an ideal way to keep those costs down instead of having to fork over unnecessarily large funds over to some corporate behemoth like Amazon for their Amazon Web Services.