Archive for May, 2011

What Rand Paul Was Trying to Say

26 May 2011

When Rand Paul said that health care is not a right, and that saying it is a right means that doctors should be enslaved, he had a point. It was a point he expressed poorly, and a point an elected official should not have even tried to make, but it was a good point.

The point is that “health care is a right” is a questionable principle, especially as rhetoric on health care policy. It’s questionable because no marketable good or service belongs to consumers by right. Rather, they generally have to pay for it.

Free speech is a right. It’s not marketable. You don’t have to pay to speak. Television ad time is not a right. If you want it, you have to buy it. Similarly, since a doctor’s service is something one pays for (either the patient pays or someone else pays on the patient’s behalf), it is not something one has a right to.

For those smart enough to say, “Look, we know you just can’t demand the doctor’s service, but everyone should be given a way to obtain health care.” That’s better, but this definition of “right to health care” doesn’t tell us anything about what our governments must do to facilitate the transaction.


I’m a Friend to the Em Dash

26 May 2011

Andrew Sullivan mentions this complaint about em dashes by Norene Malone at Slate.

The only problem I have with em dashes is that I haven’t figured out an easy way to type them.

Legal Fatherhood

18 May 2011

All right. Conveniently, after Dominique Strauss-Kahn crowded simple adultery out of the sexual morality news, we’re back in familiar territory judging a famous married guy for having sex with another woman. Now the news is that Arnold Schwarzenegger, long married to Maria Shriver, got a household staffer pregnant years ago.

I saw today where Andrew Sullivan was making a big deal about the child’s birth certificate listing the woman’s then-husband as the father, rather than Schwarzenegger. A faked birth certificate, Andrew called it. What I always thought, though, is that being married to a woman when she gives birth makes you the legal father, biological parentage notwithstanding. Also, as a practical matter, no one’s routinely doing paternity tests on newborns, so doesn’t the birth certificate pretty much have to list whoever the mother says is the father?

Raise Your Debt Limit

18 May 2011

Suppose your household has a debt problem. Your income suffered a dramatic decline recently. It is slowly improving, but you know you’ll need to make some big changes at some point. Right now you still aren’t making ends meet. On the other hand, your credit rating is excellent. Here are several alternatives you are considering:

  1. Seek a raise from your employer.
  2. Get a second job.
  3. Sell your car.
  4. Sell your boat.
  5. Borrow more money.
  6. Default on your mortgage.

What should you do under these circumstances? What should you not do?

There is no one clearly correct answer. The best answer for you depends on how you value things. Nevertheless, defaulting on the mortgage is surely going to come out worse for you than anything else. Also, although many people’s intuition and common sense will tell them that borrowing more money is the last thing that they should do, it might be part of the best plan.

Consider the premises I set out. Your income situation is improving. Your credit rating is excellent. If the future is bright, borrowing on a rainy day is not wrong.

Selling your car might be a big mistake; it will be hard to get around without it. You can ask your employer for more money, but they might not give you much more. A second job will hurt your quality of life.

Sell the boat? Yeah, probably. I put that in there as the seeming luxury you can do without. What if the boat is a canoe and it doesn’t put much of a dent in what you owe? It still might be wise to sell it, but that won’t be a complete solution.

My solution? Have faith in yourself. Don’t be afraid to borrow more to get through the next year or so. Hang on to the car—you need it. Whatever you do, don’t default on your mortgage. That’s a headache you don’t need.

This Strauss-Kahn Guy, on the Other Hand

18 May 2011

My previous post was about not jumping on public officials’ private sexual sins. Now Domique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF bigwig who has been locked up in Rykers awaiting charges of attempted rape, is another story.

I can still muster some sympathy. He knew what he liked and he was willing to make a grab for it. Many other men, famous or not, have behaved the same way. Maybe he believed the women he attacked wanted it. Maybe he’s known women who really did want it.

That kind of behavior is beyond the pale, though, in our society, and isn’t acceptable for any person who could be called a gentleman. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Back to John Ensign, he seems like he might just be a guy who wanted to fall in love with someone new, who would love him back. It’s pretty awkward for an elected official if an adulterous affair with a staffer comes out in public, and many would prefer not to vote for such a disgraced person, and he’ll have to be accountable to his spouse for any betrayal. I still say the general public can tolerate, and those who feel wronged can forgive the extramarital affair.

So there you go, Sen. Ensign! I’m giving you a break, and now you can say you’re not as bad as DSK

The Outrage about Ensign

15 May 2011

I don’t know the legal import of all the reported evidence of Senator John Ensign’s actions to find a nice new job for the staffer who was the husband of Ensign’s mistress. Maybe Ensign’s guilty of a crime. I’m not saying he isn’t.

However, I am disgusted by the outpouring of judgmental outrage upon Ensign from people in the left blogosphere. A few years ago I was disgusted by the right wing’s howling for Bill Clinton’s hide over his improper conduct with Monica Lewinsky and his ensuing deceptions. To me, this is very much the same. If people can’t help but be curious about other people’s sex lives, that’s okay, but for the gawkers to try to make political hay out of these affairs is disgraceful.

Do I think these men are above the law? No. Rather, I think their sexual transgressions are beneath the level of political issues that the general public should be concerned about. The cover-up actions may in either case have been more or less unlawful, but the harmful effects don’t seem like much to me. They didn’t want embarrassing facts of their private lives to become public knowledge. I wouldn’t have wanted that either, if I were in their shoes; in fact, while not being in their shoes, I still didn’t want it. I didn’t want to hear about it.