Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The meaning of is

It's funny how the things that characterized the United States in it's best and most prosperous years are being characterized as bad for the country and a one way valve in the sewer pipe that leads to Marxism, while the days before we had things like unemployment insurance saw poverty, hopelessness, homelessness, broken families, social unrest and egregious injustice far beyond anything we've had in generations.

Why for instance are unemployment benefits bad for America? because they encourage people to stay jobless said smiling Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Yes, I've noticed that the families living in old cars, scrounging in dumpsters and sleeping in the woods or in shelters are really living the life of Riley in increasing numbers these days, taking vacations in the sun while hard working Republican Senators who have free health care have to support them. I mean that we were once the most productive people on earth even with social security, unemployment and disability benefits doesn't really tell us anything, does it?

Of course being of the same party, Republican Senate Whip Kyl would likely have defended most anything fellow Republican Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) said that was an attack on one of those things that makes us a nation rather than a bunch of individuals looking out for themselves alone. Unemployment benefits are one of those things: things that make us a society with common goals and values rather than serfs doing without to support the lifestyles of corporate barons -- and Senators.

Of course to a Republican, a hypothetical reason for something to be bad is more to be believed and waved about as a tribal emblem than any mere empirical observation to the contrary. Unemployment insurance makes people lazy and unwilling to work, just like life insurance makes them want to die, health insurance makes them want to have surgery and liability insurance makes them suicidal drivers -- and insurance itself, being a system for pooling risk, taking a small amount from each participant so that no individual has a catastrophic loss, must therefore be Communism. The true Randian Monad will never accept any cost that might benefit anyone else as well as himself -- right? Of course the idea of insurance is saved from Communism only if instead of a 3% administration fee, someone makes 30 or 40% from it: the more money, the more justified by the grace of profit, amen. Unemployment insurance

"doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work,"

says the Senator, but of course that depends on what the definition if is is. If is denotes observable reality, the statement is shaky for want of evidence. If is denotes adherence to ad hoc dogma nailed together as an obstructive barricade, then perhaps Kyl makes sense. I'll leave it up to you as to whether you believe his peremptory proclamation or your lying eyes.

If you do side with Mister Jingles from Arizona, I'd like to ask you why, if we can't afford to temporarily keep the unemployed from starvation without running the risk of irreversible Communism and the irretrievable loss of precious bodily fluids, why then can we can bail out millionaires and give them special tax relief without similar concerns? After all, experience dismisses the argument that they will create jobs with the extra millions and shows that they will buy unregulated derivatives, invest in hedge funds and pump up the market until it crashes. Kyl? Are you listening? Kyl?

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