Saturday, February 28, 2009

He lied, I cried

The great website Factcheck.org lists numerous lies President Obama has told in his most recent speech: see here for a complete list. But his major whopper is his claim that 95% of working American households would receive a tax cut. This is impossible, as more than 5% of American households pay no taxes. Many families actually receive more in EITC payments than they pay in taxes. (I've done tax preparation professionally; trust me on this). The tax credit is refundable, which means many low-income families will receive far more than their income tax burden. (A non-refundable credit can only bring your tax burden to zero). It is really a transfer payment, not a tax cut.

It seems like President Obama may have the same regard for truth that his last few predecessors have had: basically zero.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My letter to NC Times (published 2-27)

Proposition 8 supporters like Gary Zacharias (Community Forum)raise the concern (sincere or not) that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy and other destructive relationships. Like Mr.Zacharias, I believe in traditional values. I therefore propose the following constitutional amendment: Women shall no longer be allowed to vote in the State of California.

Don't call me a sexist: I'm just upholding "traditional" voting. Women didn't vote in Biblical times or even in the early 20th century. There's no evidence God wants women voting. Besides, allowing women to vote could lead to infants voting, or animals voting, or other absurd arrangements. Let's go and raise support for Prop.9: Restore Traditional Suffrage!

His "argument":
In addition, Prop. 8 recognized that any change in the institution of marriage opens the door to all sorts of odd and potentially destructive relationships. Once we have redefined marriage to include a gay or lesbian couple, how can we exclude any arrangement? What’s to keep three men from wanting to have a "marriage"? Why not a 10-year old girl and a 50-year old man? A brother and a sister? There’s no logical or legal reason why any other grouping should be excluded.

Right, so why didn't legalizing women suffrage lead to hamsters voting, as Bill Maher wittily points out? Legalizing tobacco hasn't led to cocaine legalization. Mr.Zacharias' slippery slope argument is a common one, but a fallacious one.


(His absurd argument is here). My comment is below.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why I am not a (pure) libertarian

If there are any libertarians reading this blog, ask yourself this: was the free market sufficient to stop Peanut Corp. from giving people salmonella? The answer is, of course, no. It seems like an obvious point, but James Madison was right two hundred years ago when he said "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."I wonder what Ron Paul will say about this scandal. My guess is he'll probably blame it on the government.

I hold a lot of libertarian positions, such as low taxes, decriminaliziation of drugs, the legalization of same-sex marriage, etc.. But I do not agree with radical libertarians like Paul when they say government is always the problem and the market is flawless. The market is not flawless; almost all of us have gotten ripped off by a corporation at some point in our lives.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FOX News does GOP's bidding, again

Many conservatives--who should know better--argue Fox News is in fact fair and balanced. I have always thought they were in bed with (not literally, at least to my knowledge) the Republicans, but this story really shows just how bad it is. Reading GOP press releases verbatim? You've got to at least fake originality a little better.

Slightly related subject: someone at the Amazon.com website responded negatively to a book review of mine that criticized FOX News. My critic responded that MSNBC was biased as well. While I agree with him (or her)that MSNBC is biased as well, that point was irrelevant to my argument. My correspondent was committing the fallacy of ad hominem tu quoque, i.e. if you call me fat, it's true even if you're fat as well. I urge anyone reading this to pick up a copy of Jamey Whyte's Crimes Against Logic, a devastating attack on bad reasoning and poor arguments.