The “Why are you so angry????” edition

This week has been a veritable smorgasbord of RAGE-inducing reports of various incidents. Here’s some of the stuff that has been fanning the flames on the side of my face….

How I lost my health insurance at the hairstylist’sFreemarketer: “But if we offer a public option the insurance companies will go out of business!!!” Me through gritted teeth: “That would be the goddamned point!”

Organization Pays Addicted Women to Undergo Permanent Sterilization

Which Women play center court at Wimbledon, the sexy or the talented?? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

How sexism in women’s sports is linked to homophobia

Choice Quote:

As Granderson writes:

Organizers are trying to sell their sport and believe the casual, straight male fan is more apt to watch attractive women—because if they had a love of the game, they wouldn’t be casual fans, would they? In a sport in which Anna Kournikova, a player without a singles title, can become the most popular on tour, no one should be surprised by any of this.

While Granderson is entitled to his own opinion, that doesn’t mean he’s entitled to his own facts. We now have some definitive answers as to whether sex sells women’s sports or if it just sells sex. Dr. Mary Jo Kane, sports sociologist from the University of Minnesota, specializes in gender and sport for women and undertook a far-reaching study of images of women athletes putting their bodies on display for a wide-ranging focus group of both men and women. Kane found a very basic truth: sex may sell airport frat-porn like Maxim magazine, but it doesn’t sell women’s sports.

Kane believes these images "alienate the core of the fan base that’s already there. Women, age 18 to 55, are offended by these images. And older males, fathers with daughters, taking their daughters to sporting events to see their favorite female athletes, are deeply offended by these images."

A-fucking-men. It surely drives me up the wall when I see this everlasting unrelenting push to make women sexy no matter what the hell they are doing at the time.

Sexy and the Gender Binary Naked women are a selling point, naked men…are porn?!

Don’t know much about history…Abolition as self help movement It doesn’t help that Texas assholes want to further downplay minority civil rights leaders in the history texts. Cause they take up so much damned space already. But then the only history that counts is the history of white Americans amirite?

The Not so Hidden Politics of Class Online

How Coco Cola has fucked up India for profit

‘Cisgender’ isn’t an insult. No really, it is NOT an Insult How to check your cis priviledge Please apply the above info to this next post. Why I hate filling out forms

Horndog Billionaire: The Philanthropist Sullies A Good Man’s Name I am sick unto death of shows like these. SICK of them. Take your midlife crisis, grief, need to save the world, need to make a difference, need to fuck the natives, need to get personal fufillment, WHATEVER… and shove it.

On a less crazy-making note…

Musing on Queer People, Fandom and Slash

What does feminist urban policy look like?

Bayou has been updated.

Yellow Peril Supports Black Power

And finally…

Trailer for Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo.

And now a word from our sponsor…


Your ad could be here, right now.

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24 Responses to The “Why are you so angry????” edition

  1. 1
    Dianne says:

    unusualmusic: Thank you for the first link. My blood pressure was too low today. Would this be a good time to mention that the survival rate for AML in young adulthood and childhood leukemias/lymphomas is lower in the US than in western Europe? (I was about to say “any other developed country but I can’t back that statement with references, though it’s probably true.) Excuse me, but I need to go beat an elected official over the head* with some numbers now.

    *Metaphorically of course.

  2. 2
    Jenny says:

    Shit and I’m drinking coke as we speak. Has the case gotten anywhere?

  3. 3
    Sage says:

    Coke has fucked over several places for profit. Watch the film Flow to get a really quick run-down of the damage being done. And don’t forget you’re drinking Coke products when you drink Minute Maid, Fruitopia, Fresca, Crystal, Nestea, Dasani…. Best just to squeeze your own juice or stick to tap water.

  4. 4
    PG says:

    But if the point of offering the public option is to drive the health insurance companies out of business, then it seems rather dishonest for the most visible proponents of the public option to be disclaiming such an intention. Indeed, if I believed that were the point (rather than a wholly acceptable consequence), I wouldn’t support the public option, because that implies that the government will allow it to be a serious drain on the Treasury (rather than endeavoring to make it budget-neutral) in order to make it far more attractive than private sector insurance. That would be disastrous.

    I heard about Project Prevention a few years ago on a libertarian blog. The attempt to convince libertarians that this was bad went like this:

    Bioethicist + Feminist = No Project Prevention

    Not being a libertarian, I can reserve certain aspects of life as being dubious items to put in the market. While I find selling sperm and eggs acceptable aside from the health risks posed by taking fertility drugs — they are merely excess products of the body, like hair — I oppose binding paid contracts for surrogacy and organ-selling. Requiring women to give up children they have birthed is tantamount to selling babies, and I lack Posner’s sanguine attitude toward such a transaction. Interestingly, the pro-life people in the seminar where I read the article supported the idea because it was sold as a way to reduce abortion — pay women to do the right thing with their bodies.

    Project Prevention functions on a similar theme, except in the other direction: pay women to prevent their reproduction. (They also have paid a few men.) Amber Taylor wonders why this offends “left-wing feminists,” as represented on the feministe blog. “And while some opponents of Project Prevention probably think that paying people for participation in clinical trials, for plasma donation, or for egg donation are somehow coercive, I doubt that there’s unanimity on that score.”

    I don’t oppose paying people to participate in clinical trials; while I haven’t done one of those (unreliable blood pressure makes me a lousy person from whom to draw blood), I’ve done psychological experiments and been paid for them. I was compensated in cash for my time and trouble, which were necessary to the experimenters’ finding their results. Like everyone who’s taken Psych 101, I’ve also been compensated in academic credit. If I could donate plasma (see above parenthetical), I probably would do it for free on the self-interested premise that I want it to be around when I need it, but again, plasma is something the public needs, and if we need to pay people to get it, OK.

    I’m more doubtful about egg “donation”* due to the health risks and my general negative feelings about assisted reproduction instead of adoption, but if it’s a product you don’t need that someone else does, and it will cost you time and trouble to produce it, you should be able to get monetary compensation. Eggs should command a higher price than sperm because of the much greater burden of taking fertility drugs and having eggs removed, versus the procedure for sperm delivery, but I am not a fan of price differentiation of eggs based on the perceived quality of the donor. The tall, blond, blue eyed athlete’s eggs might go for a higher price on an open market, but she should be compensated in accordance with what it cost her to sell them, which presumably is about the same as what it cost the short, chubby brunette.

    In all three of Amber’s examples, A needs something: clinical results, plasma, eggs. B can provide that, but B will sacrifice time and/ or bodily comfort to do so. Therefore, A compensates B. This strikes me as quite different from what Project Prevention is doing. The organization is not receiving a good or service it needs to fulfill its own purposes from the women it seeks to compensate. Rather, it is trying to further a policy of non-reproduction by drug addicts**.

    Amber continues,

    So here we have a population that would, if you polled them, probably report that they’d like some form of long term birth control, but they’re drug addicts and are thus incapable of getting their ducks in a row to find a clinic and to schedule and keep an appointment without some sort of incentive. Getting birth control is an inconvenience, and can be painful (here, a shot or an operation). Compensation for time and discomfort is not coercive.

    Coercion certainly is a stronger word than I would want to use. But this is not compensation for time and discomfort. Let’s be honest: this is compensation to keep undesirable reproducers from reproducing. If it were merely for the time and discomfort, Project Prevention would be handing out $300 to Harvard-educated young lawyers and facilitating their sterilizations. The organization has a specific group of people that it doesn’t want to have reproducing, and the quotes feministe pulled are clearly indicative of that:

    “People say we don’t have a right to tell them how many children they can have,” Harris said Tuesday as she coaxed the nonprofit group’s lumbering RV through the narrow side streets off Prospect Avenue. “I disagree.”
    The organization grew slowly. At first, Harris worked from home and got friends to help her post flyers all over Los Angeles. (One read: “Don’t let getting pregnant get in the way of your drug habit.”)
    Rubenstein believes that CRACK’s money would be better spent developing viable treatment options for the women they serve. Harris has a simple response to that suggestion: “That’s not what we do.”

    Those quotes do not damn the organization’s goal, but they do put a dent in claiming only happy shiny intentions for Project Prevention.

    Amber adds,

    It baffles me to see people who typically support reproductive choice agitating for the demise of a program that allows women to make an ex ante choice about future reproduction. Claiming that the money makes it coercive is absurd; by that rationale, all the subsidies that currently exist for parents “coerce” women into having children, the mortgage interest deduction “coerces” people into buying houses, and poor people are “coerced” into working at McDonald’s. Isn’t McDonald’s just saying, “you’ll have a place to sleep if you just spend your life emptying grease traps”? Oh, the humanity!

    Amber and I disagree about minimum wage laws (I’d prefer direct subsidies based on number of dependants supported by the wage-earner, to avoid the market distorting effects of those laws, but such subsidies don’t seem to be politically viable), so I won’t discuss her McDonald’s remark. But the maximum $1000 per child tax credit certainly doesn’t suffice to compensate anyone to raise children; it wouldn’t cover diapers, doctors’ visit and mush, much less childcare/lost wages. By my calculation, it buys about 100 hours of babysitting at teenagers’ exhorbitant 2006 rates. As I’m not sure the robots can do it all, and am uncomfortable with the notion of just importing a workforce (because the brown countries don’t need those people, right?), it’s necessary to raise a next generation to make my old age comfortable, and I am happy to offset the cost of doing so slightly. It would take a hardcore marginalist for the decision whether to raise a child or not to be determined by the child tax credit.

    YOUNG MAN: “Well, honey, we want to experience the joys and burdens of parenting, but on the other hand, can we really afford it?”

    YOUNG WOMAN: “I just don’t know where we could cut the budget to make it possible.”

    MAN AND WOMAN: Sigh.

    UNCLE SAM: “Now you can afford the cost of raising a child to age 18, thanks to the federal government’s annual $1000 child tax credit!”

    MAN AND WOMAN: “Wow! Thanks, Uncle Sam!”

    UNCLE SAM: “And don’t forget our college tuition credit — you can get paid up to four thouuusand dollars for educating your children for today’s economy!”

    (OK, so it’s not as funny as the Reagan-era parody about the margin-minded man who made all of his daily decisions based on the tax consequences.)

    Of course, benefits accrue only to people who raise children; I don’t know of any credits or deductions available just for birthin’ a baby. Indigent women can get free medical care and WIC food stamps during pregnancy, and if they choose to raise the resulting children, receive up to five years of TANF (less, depending on how their state uses its block grant). So there’s a time limit on how long addicts can behave in the way Amber describes:
    Our society respects the right of addicts to “choose” to have sex in a drug haze, get pregnant, and have babies that they won’t or can’t care for. At least some subsidies (although not enough, claim the left-wing feminists) financially support those choices. This just offers financial incentives for making the opposite choice.
    More precisely, Project Prevention offers financial incentives not to become a responsible parent, but to avoid parenthood entirely. And while Amber criticizes the comments to Feministe for “a serious misunderstanding about the fungibility of money,” I am not sure Amber reflects the best comprehension of the operation of welfare programs. She says, “If a crack addict wants an abortion, the argument goes, we can give her a free one (thus permitting her to use the money she might have spent on an abortion on drugs), but we can’t give her $300 and say, ‘here, go get an abortion.’”

    In fact, providing people with what we-the-government/taxpayer think they ought to have is how the non-Phil Gramm version of welfare works. The state provides Medicaid, housing vouchers, food stamps, job training and childcare because we want poor people to be healthy, sheltered, fed and moving toward getting off the government teat. We don’t give people cash, because that cash may be used in ways of which we do not approve. Perhaps this frees up a single mother from having to spend whatever money she does have on her children (the means by which she becomes eligible for welfare) and causes her to spend it on Disapproved Goods or Services. But the alternatives are 1) to let them all fend for themselves without intervention, or 2) to give her cash and hope that someone who doesn’t seem to have made the wisest decisions will start doing so now. The government attempts to discern whether recipients have other sources of income and reduce assistance proportionally. Under a similar welfare scheme of enabling abortions, the free abortion would be offered only to women who otherwise could not afford one. There’s little reason to offer a particular medical procedure for free when all others must be paid for, but Medicaid is not allowed to fund abortions with federal money (though some liberal states do it on their own), which is why free abortions get more attention than free appendectomies.

    Ted comments,

    “Leftists make economically illiterate argument” is such a dog-bites-man story. NB also the false syllogism “Nazis support X, therefore X is bad”, which somehow is never used to argue against public highways. The child tax credit pales in comparison to welfare incentives to dysfunctional single motherhood that were only partially ameliorated by the 1996 reforms.

    I didn’t hear of the Nazis’ giving incentives for voluntary sterilization — I thought they were rather more inclined to doing it by state power than economic persuasion. A closer analogy would be sterilization during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, which some claimed to be voluntary and rewarded with domestically-produced transistor radios, and others deemed forced. A few years ago, the Indian Supreme Court upheld a law prohibiting anyone who has more than two children from running for posts as village officials, because “it is a disqualification conceptually devised in the national interest.” My parents’ home state provides benefits to both communities and individuals based on reaching population control goals.

    I don’t know the origin of other feminists’ opposition to paying people to limit their reproductive future, but for me it arises from the same place as my opposition to paying for organs, and is even stronger because there’s no one who needs the addict’s tubes tied other than herself. If the health care system buys a liver lobe off a dead man’s family and passes it along to me, there’s at least a specific beneficiary whose life is saved. Reliable contraception should be included in private insurance coverage and Medicaid, and I’ve donated to Planned Parenthood in hopes of supporting their provision of it to low-income women who lack insurance. But a woman who takes birth control shouldn’t be viewed as doing a service to others for which she should be compensated. If she needs a ride to and from the clinic, it should be provided; if she needs follow-up care to monitor her use of non-barrier methods, it should be available. If she obviously has a substance abuse problem, the compatibility of non-barrier methods with that drug should be known, and rehabilitative services strongly encouraged.

    I don’t like looking at a patient’s problems discretely; it tends to make for bad medicine. Harris doesn’t view the addicted as patients, and she apparently has no medical knowledge beyond crack baby hysteria. She sees them as potential damaged-baby-makers. This is due partly to her own experience of having dealt only with the children born of addicted women — she adopted four. But it makes her perspective one that excludes the women themselves.

    * It ain’t a donation if you get paid. Unless that payment comes in the form of a tax deduction, but I don’t think sperm banks are 501(c)(3)s, though Project Prevention is.

    ** I wonder how they determine someone is a drug addict. Do they attempt to put the woman through treatment and, when she fails to respond, deem her an addict who should have her tubes tied? The legal-abortion opponents’ argument that abortion is bad because if X-famous person’s mother had had one, we never would have X-famous person’s contributions, is an unconvincing one. The bumper stickers that demand of the reader, “What if your mother had exercised her ‘right to choose’?” always make me think, “Then she’d have fewer gray hairs.” Nonetheless, I’m going to make a similar argument here: what if the woman who bore the kid Dan Savage and his partner adopted had been offered $300 to get her tubes tied? After all, she was drinking and doing acid and pot — and did not cease marijuana use entirely even after learning that she was pregnant. Should she have been disincentivized from being able to reproduce?

    The NYTimes essay that Ted linked evidences the mother’s, and by extension her children’s, being more permanently messed-up by actions other than taking drugs. She seems to have detoxed from cocaine and marijuana, but not from abusive boyfriends and dangerous behavior. NYU law professor Martin Guggenheim tries to compare Marie’s situation to that of someone of a different race and class. “If we imagine it was substances that important people use, we can’t imagine that we would be taking those children.” Prof. Guggenheim ignores that it’s not the substances that seem most likely to derail her children’s proper development, though premature, addicted births aren’t going to help. A household in which a male adult is unreliable and abusive — robbing their mother, beating her, potentially drawing her back into substance abuse — strikes me as a greater risk.

    Yet severing all ties between Marie and her sons isn’t a good solution; I don’t see why an adoption in this case cannot use the same rules as the “open adoption” Savage pursued. There’s the obvious difference that Melissa volunteered her baby for adoption, while Marie is fighting it, and a woman who feels her children were taken away from her is more likely to make the process of the adoptive family’s integrating a new member difficult. Still, the totality of TPR appears to be the worst aspect of it; the erasure of the woman who gave birth to and tried to raise her sons from their lives. That she does not seem to be able to steady herself enough to be their primary guardian and caretaker is clear; that she deserves to be a blank space is not.

  5. 5
    Plaid says:

    The first link’s sponsor at the end of the entry is… fun, in the worse sarcastic sense I can think of. “QUIT WHINING. Our health care system is fine.”
    Screenshot of the ad.

  6. 6
    Sailorman says:

    A lot of the addict program stuff references sterilization. But as far as I can see they offer both sterilization and injectable BC. Does anyone know the proportion of women who get one or the other*, and does anyone know if there is an additional financial incentive to get sterilized over getting BC?

    I see permanent sterilization and injectable BC as being in extremely different classes of long term effect. As a result they have very different moral analyses, much like the distinction between paying for blood donations versus purchasing organs. So in order to really discuss the program it’d be good to know what was going on.

    I am struck by the number of people who suggest that the $300 per year would be better off helping those people get out of addiction. Functionally, that’s a drop in the bucket. Whether or not you agree with the program (and I am most assuredly not in the “it”s a good program” camp at the moment) the fact is that $300 will not even come close to paying for someone to get out of a seriously addicted habit. Frankly, absent tens of thousands of dollars they are unlikely to break addition if it’s serious, and many serious addicts relapse nonetheless.

    Saying that you don’t like the program is one thing, but wanting them to put the money towards curing the addiction, as if that would make a lot of difference, seems disingenuous.

    *there being no injectable for men, i’m assuming that most men in that program get a vasectomy.

  7. 7
    PG says:

    Sailorman,

    I don’t think I saw anyone saying that there should be only $300 per addicted person. Rather, if you have the money to pay 100 women to be sterilized/ long-term contracepting, then you have the money to help AT LEAST one woman break her addiction. You can change her life, instead of writing her off as “at least she won’t breed.”

  8. 8
    Jeff Fecke says:

    Communism was just a red herring.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. :P

  9. 9
    sylphhead says:

    But if the point of offering the public option is to drive the health insurance companies out of business, then it seems rather dishonest for the most visible proponents of the public option to be disclaiming such an intention. Indeed, if I believed that were the point (rather than a wholly acceptable consequence), I wouldn’t support the public option, because that implies that the government will allow it to be a serious drain on the Treasury (rather than endeavoring to make it budget-neutral) in order to make it far more attractive than private sector insurance. That would be disastrous.

    I don’t consider the point of a public option to drive health insurance companies out of business, nor do I think such a thing is even a desirable consequence, unless it happens over a long period. The original statement is the OP’s own opinion.

  10. 10
    Dianne says:

    But if the point of offering the public option is to drive the health insurance companies out of business, then it seems rather dishonest for the most visible proponents of the public option to be disclaiming such an intention.

    There are plenty of counterexamples out there. Many countries have both public and private options. Germany actually has competing public options as well. Certainly a public option will drive a number of private insurance companies out of business but they’re frankly companies that need to go under anyway.

    Indeed, if I believed that were the point (rather than a wholly acceptable consequence), I wouldn’t support the public option, because that implies that the government will allow it to be a serious drain on the Treasury (rather than endeavoring to make it budget-neutral) in order to make it far more attractive than private sector insurance.

    In the long run, universal health care is likely to be less of a drain on the Treasury than the current system. I keep saying this (and oddly no one seems to want to either challenge me on it or agree) but the US not only spends more money on health care per capita than any other country, it spends more public money on health care than any other country. Of course, there’ll be an initial period during which it is more expensive-any big public works project it-but this is the time for a big government project if there ever was one so why not do it now?

  11. 11
    PG says:

    Dianne,

    I keep saying this (and oddly no one seems to want to either challenge me on it or agree) but the US not only spends more money on health care per capita than any other country, it spends more public money on health care than any other country.

    Whose figures and for which year do you get this statistic? WHO’s 2005 “per capita government expenditure on health at average exchange rate (US$)” indicates that the U.S. spends $2862.00, which is high but less than several other countries (Switzerland, Sweden, San Marino, Norway, Monaco, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, France, Denmark, Austria). Some of those countries appear to spend less than the U.S. if you go by WHO’s purchasing power parity figures, but even then the U.S. isn’t spending the most per capita.

    Moreover, my understanding is that Medicare is the massive sinkhole of our government-funded health care, because once Americans make it to 65, they keep hanging on for years (our life expectancy statistics are bad because of high infant mortality and death among young people), and Medicare now covers all their prescription medications (mostly non-generics), triple bypass surgeries, etc. Medicare seems to be a lot sweeter than the health care offered to seniors in most other developed countries: prompt provision of kidney dialysis, hip replacements, and other care that is considered standard in the U.S. but that countries like Japan, Canada and the UK provide based on waiting lists, or not at all if it goes to a very elderly person who has other serious ailments.

    I think this is an unwise way to spend our public health care dollars, which would give greater benefit for the cost if we spent more on primary care and OB-Gyns instead of so much on mostly geriatric specialties like cardiology, but I don’t see how that’s politically likely in this country unless the rest of us become as consistent at voting as the seniors are.

  12. 12
    Auguste says:

    The first link’s sponsor at the end of the entry is… fun, in the worse sarcastic sense I can think of. “QUIT WHINING. Our health care system is fine.”

    If you follow the ad, although I can understand being reluctant to, it’s an SEIU ad in favor of health-care reform. “Sick of right-wing talking points against fixing health care?”

  13. 13
    unusualmusic says:

    @ Diane: Good luck with joining teh fight to make our corrupt elected officials pay attention to the people for a change, instead of the moneyed lobbyists repping our corporations.

    @Jenny: What I linked was the latest that I know of. I’ll look around and keep my eye on it.

    @Sage: Thanks for the film rec and the coke product info.

    @PG at no. 4 The comment at the end of the health insurance nightmare story is entirely my personal opinion. I really do appreciate your thoughtful comments about the sterilization, and I think I agree with a lot of it, though I’ll have to read it again to be sure.

    @Plaid: Teah, I saw that. Blood pressure went up into the stratosphere.

  14. 14
    Sailorman says:

    # PG Writes:
    July 12th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Sailorman,

    I don’t think I saw anyone saying that there should be only $300 per addicted person. Rather, if you have the money to pay 100 women to be sterilized/ long-term contracepting, then you have the money to help AT LEAST one woman break her addiction. You can change her life, instead of writing her off as “at least she won’t breed.”

    Let me start by saying that the sterilization aspect makes me uncomfortable, and that I do not think it is appropriate to overly incentivise that sort of irreversible decision.

    However, the more that I think about it, the more comfortable I get with the concept of paying for people to take long term BC. Here’s why:
    1) I don’t really care much about the motives of the people organizing it. Something can be a good or bad idea irrespective of who thinks it up and/or irrespective of their motivations. I might not give them money, and I wouldn’t vote them into office. But on the limited question of “is ___ program a good idea?”, it doesn’t really matter to me.

    2) I do, generally speaking, come down on the “free contract” side of things as well as the “free action” side of things. The part of me which makes me think that the BC for payment is OK is the same part of me which makes me believe in fully unrestricted abortion rights up to delivery. And in organ sales, FWIW. So generally, the concept of paying to get someone to do something sits fine in my moral code.

    3) Almost all contracts are inherently coercive. Laws are coercive. Tax codes are coercive. Restraining orders are coercive. Health insurance plans are coercive. Coercion is not in and of itself a bad word. The question is whether the coercion is justifiable or not–simply saying “it’s coercion!” doesn’t mean a thing.

    4) And even so: is this coercive? Is there a threat or force being brought to bear? Is there some concomitant relief agency denying them services absent $300 in payment, so that they have to accept in order to eat? If they didn’t get the $300, would their lives be significantly changed; if they did get the $300, ditto? If you think it’s coercive because they aren’t in a great state or because they’re addicted to drugs, do you make an exception for the fact that addiction is (generally speaking) a voluntary act? After all, most laws distinguish between what you choose and what you don’t. A criminal defendant–in a rape case, say–can claim that he was too drunk to be responsible for his actions, only if he was not himself responsible for getting drunk. Addicts, not so much, usually.

    5) The goal is actually pretty good. Drug addicted babies are not a good thing. And giving people BC is a good thing. And, in fact, it’s less dangerous than the combined risk of pregnancy and delivery and/or abortion.

  15. 15
    Dianne says:

    Whose figures and for which year do you get this statistic?

    PG: I got the statistics from the Economist, which is obviously not a primary source. I’ll have to go back and see if I can find what their source was (and also make sure I didn’t screw something up, like maybe it is as percentage of GDP rather than per capita.)

  16. 16
    PG says:

    Sailorman,

    1) I tend to inquire into motives because they’ll affect how a program that might SOUND good is actually carried out. It’s the gap between facially good and good as-applied, if you will.

    2) If you believe in a wholly unrestricted freedom of contract, then you’re very much in the minority, which is why the law recognizes the concept of unconscionability as well as various defenses against enforcement (incapacity, duress, undue influence).

    3) Kinda “duh” that the exercise of law is coercive. That’s what it’s for. “It’s coercion” does mean something: it means the onus is on the person who is doing the coercing to justify it. It may be easily justifiable (“we have to coerce people to pay taxes in order to provide for the common welfare”), but it requires justification.

    4) Coercion is not limited to the use of force or threat thereof. Coerce: “to dominate or control, esp. by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.” Economic duress is a form of coercion.

    5) “Drug addicted babies” may seem to you like a net negative, but given the scarcity of recognition for “wrongful life” claims, our society seems to have reached a consensus that it’s better to be born drug-addicted or otherwise disabled than never to have been born at all.

  17. 17
    Sailorman says:

    PG Writes:
    July 13th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Sailorman,

    1) I tend to inquire into motives because they’ll affect how a program that might SOUND good is actually carried out. It’s the gap between facially good and good as-applied, if you will.

    No disagreement there, and I expect that you would agree that actual performance would outweigh any suspicions about motives. Which is part of why i wanted to know what the sterilize/BC ratio was.

    2) If you believe in a wholly unrestricted freedom of contract, then you’re very much in the minority, which is why the law recognizes the concept of unconscionability as well as various defenses against enforcement (incapacity, duress, undue influence).

    I am fully in agreement with the defenses of incapacity and undue influence. I’m also in agreement–sometimes–with claims of unconscionability: more so as applied to incredibly unequal contracts (sell your kidney for $1) and less so because it squicks the judge out (sell your kidney for $1,000,000.)

    The BC in question isn’t obviously unconscionable in a “this is never appropriate” way, seeing as many people voluntarily use similar BC. And it doesn’t seem incredibly unequal, as they’re being paid to do something which many people would love to get for free, much less to be paid for. And it’s not something like organ donation where we should never pay people at all: heck,if I thought it’d work, I’d pay my own kids to use BC.

    3) Kinda “duh” that the exercise of law is coercive. That’s what it’s for. “It’s coercion” does mean something: it means the onus is on the person who is doing the coercing to justify it. It may be easily justifiable (”we have to coerce people to pay taxes in order to provide for the common welfare”), but it requires justification.

    Sure. The justification here being that (1) it sucks for the potential babies; and (2) it sucks, relatively speaking, for the state.

    Although, as I said, this isn’t clearly coercive.

    4) Coercion is not limited to the use of force or threat thereof. Coerce: “to dominate or control, esp. by exploiting fear, anxiety, etc.” Economic duress is a form of coercion.

    I don’t entirely agree with that last sentence. Placing someone in economic distress and then negotiating to get them out of it is certainly a form of coercion. Failing to get someone out of economic distress if it’s your role to do so might be a form of coercion.

    But what’s your analysis? “Economic distress” has to be relative, right? It has to be related to the form of the contract relative to the poverty of the person involved and what the money would do for them.

    It can’t make sense to say that poor people should be barred from contracts where they get money in exchange for something. And it can’t make sense to say that all people should be barred from contracts where they really, really, need the money that they will get from the contract.

    But unless you take those avenues, this seems to me to really be a restatement of the “unconscionability” clause: poor people should feel free to make contracts, just not this contract. Or perhaps that they should be permitted to take this contract, just not for this amount.

    In which case (IMO) you either need to explain why (1) poor people should be, generally speaking, subject to extra-patriarchal supervision, or (2) nobody at all should be able to be paid to take BC, or (3) nobody should be able to be bought for a measly $300.

    Mind you, if the amount was lower then I am sure various people (not necessarily you) would be claiming it was too low and therefore extra-unconscionable. And if the amount was higher than I am sure people (not necessarily you) would be claiming it was too high and therefore extra-coercive. In my view, that view comes very close to “poor people shouldn’t be allowed to contract without oversight” and I am not super comfortable with it.

    5) “Drug addicted babies” may seem to you like a net negative, but given the scarcity of recognition for “wrongful life” claims, our society seems to have reached a consensus that it’s better to be born drug-addicted or otherwise disabled than never to have been born at all.

    A lot of those wrongful life claims are only trying to gain legal status for feti as a means of attacking abortion, so I don’t count them much. But be that as it may, since when does the “society likes it!” serve as a great justification here?

  18. 18
    Crys T says:

    Communism was just a red herring.

    And I thought I was the only one who remembered that one.

  19. 19
    PG says:

    Sailorman,

    The BC in question isn’t obviously unconscionable in a “this is never appropriate” way, seeing as many people voluntarily use similar BC.

    The comparison isn’t between what is appropriate to do voluntarily, but what is appropriate to be paid to do. The fact that some women voluntarily choose to have their children adopted by other families doesn’t make it appropriate to buy kids. The introduction of economic incentives changes the extent to which something is voluntary, which is one reason that constitutional law has a higher standard for judicial interference in laws regulating economic matters like the sale of eyeglasses than for laws regulating non-economic matters like private, consensual sodomy).

    Is paying one’s children as an inducement for them to use birth control a common practice among parents? It seems really inappropriate to me. If your child is convinced that birth control is good, then you should help her obtain and use it consistently and properly; if your child isn’t, using money to get her to put something in her body that she otherwise wouldn’t doesn’t seem like the right way to treat a child who is above the age of reason. (When I was on a lengthy medication course as an adolescent, I was very recalcitrant about the shots and my uncle hit upon the successful idea of paying me a dollar each time I accepted the injection without fussing, but that was to get me to overcome my fear of needles, not to get me take a medication that I did not believe was good for me.) Certainly if the child is old enough to get pregnant, she is old enough to decide about birth control given accurate, age-appropriate information and counseling. Bribes strike me as demeaning.

    It can’t make sense to say that poor people should be barred from contracts where they get money in exchange for something. And it can’t make sense to say that all people should be barred from contracts where they really, really, need the money that they will get from the contract.

    This is reiterating Amber’s McDonald’s comparison, and like that comparison it neglects the distinction between what most people in financially secure circumstances are willing to do and what they’re not willing to do. I am reasonably financially secure (as much as anyone can be with a mortgage and a job in an area and industry hit by the recession), but I would be willing to do the work that one does at a McDonald’s for money. Heck, I’d encourage my children to do such work rather than rely on me or the government for money. In contrast, there are things I wouldn’t encourage my children to do and that I would give them money to avoid if such things were their only options: selling their organs, prostitution, possibly working at certain meat-packing plants with high rates of injury and death.

    So I’m voting for option (2): nobody at all should be able to be paid to take BC. What this generally will mean in practice is that those who are deemed “undesirable” breeders will not be paid to take BC, because again, NO ONE IS MAKING THIS OFFER TO HARVARD LAW GRADUATES. I’ve seen Norplant used coercively before:

    In several states, judges have given women convicted of child abuse or drug use during pregnancy a “choice” between using Norplant or serving time in jail. In 1991, 1992, and 1993, legislators in more than a dozen states introduced measures that, had they passed, would have coerced women to use Norplant. Some of these bills would have offered financial incentives to women on welfare to induce them to use Norplant. Other legislation would have required women receiving public assistance either to use Norplant or lose their benefits. Some bills would have forced women convicted of child abuse or drug use during pregnancy to have Norplant implanted.

    A lot of those wrongful life claims are only trying to gain legal status for feti as a means of attacking abortion, so I don’t count them much.

    Could you provide an example? I don’t quite see how this provides a legal status for a fetus, given that one can’t make a wrongful life claim until one is born, and the whole point of the claim is that one shouldn’t have been born, which seems contrary to the general sentiments of the pro-life movement.

  20. 20
    Sailorman says:

    PG Writes:
    July 13th, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Sailorman,

    The BC in question isn’t obviously unconscionable in a “this is never appropriate” way, seeing as many people voluntarily use similar BC.

    The comparison isn’t between what is appropriate to do voluntarily, but what is appropriate to be paid to do.

    I think you’re using a backwards limit. In my view, it is appropriate (if not required) to pay people for things even when they would NOT voluntarily do them. I don’t know many people who would volunteer at their jobs, if they weren’t paid.

    But we don’t need to go there. I would argue for widely available BC; I would argue for reducing restrictions on BC; I would argue against preventing someone from getting BC. At some point it become ridiculous (for me) to maintain all those arguments and yet claim that paying people to use BC is immoral. The fact that people not only agree to use BC, but voluntarily seek it out and pay for it in an attempt to get it, is almost conclusive evidence that it is OK to pay people to do it.

    Sure, there are a few exceptions, like yours:

    The fact that some women voluntarily choose to have their children adopted by other families doesn’t make it appropriate to buy kids.

    But that’s a poor analogy, and not only because very few people deliberately have kids for adoption: adoption is merely a result of an earlier decision not to abort. There are many more examples which suit my case than there are which suit your case, I think.

    Obviously, you can choose from a list of things which are currently prohibited transactions (selling kids, prostitution, selling organs.) But that doesn’t address the issue of why you think BC should be on that list, and not on the much larger list of things which are permitted transactions.

    To use similar things, I think it would be perfectly appropriate to pay people to
    donate blood; join clinical trials; go to the dentist; get a tooth pulled; take a cancer screening; get a physical; get a haircut; take antibiotics; finish their entire course of antibiotics; take BC; put on a bandaid; go to school; etc. (Going into the realm where I disagree with many people, I’d even be OK with giving up a kidney or a chuck of liver, provided it was set up correctly. It’s the “bad set up” part that is the problem, not the concept of making the decision.)

    The introduction of economic incentives changes the extent to which something is voluntary, which is one reason that constitutional law has a higher standard for judicial interference in laws regulating economic matters like the sale of eyeglasses than for laws regulating non-economic matters like private, consensual sodomy).

    Sure, it may change the extent to which something is voluntary. But it doesn’t automatically make it nonvoluntary.

    With something which is actively sought by a large percentage of the female population of the US, I think that it is reasonable there be a presumption of voluntariness in choosing it, and not the other way around.
    I don’t know anything about the second half of your sentence addressing the underlying reason for the constitutional difference. I believe you if you say you’re right, but out of interest can you provide some sort of cite?

    Is paying one’s children as an inducement for them to use birth control a common practice among parents? It seems really inappropriate to me. If your child is convinced that birth control is good, then you should help her obtain and use it consistently and properly; if your child isn’t, using money to get her to put something in her body that she otherwise wouldn’t doesn’t seem like the right way to treat a child who is above the age of reason. (When I was on a lengthy medication course as an adolescent, I was very recalcitrant about the shots and my uncle hit upon the successful idea of paying me a dollar each time I accepted the injection without fussing, but that was to get me to overcome my fear of needles, not to get me take a medication that I did not believe was good for me.) Certainly if the child is old enough to get pregnant, she is old enough to decide about birth control given accurate, age-appropriate information and counseling. Bribes strike me as demeaning.

    We may be simply on different sides here.

    From my perspective, giving someone the freedom to contract–in other words, the freedom to make self determinations of one’s own values, priorities, and worth–is the opposite of demeaning. It is a gesture of respect. Similarly, telling a person that you know better than they do about what is good for them is often demeaning and should generally be avoided.

    If you think that is completely backwards, then you and I are unlikely to agree.

    Now: in a perfect world, would those decision be unnecessary? Sure! Just like in a perfect world, nobody would have to sell their organs to raise money to put their kid through graduate school, or to raise money to invest in their latest patent sure thing. But (to use organs as an example for a moment) who is in a better position to decide whether they would rather take the risk of donating a kidney, or take the risk that their future will suffer other bad consequences because they don’t have the $50,000 cash that they might get from selling one… me? You? Are you qualified to make that decision for them; am I? I don’t think I’d have much business in telling them that their priorities were wrong. I can see making really sure that they understood the risks and benefits, but I can certainly see circumstances where a rational person would want to sell an organ. I support reducing the number of circumstances where that would be necessary, but I also support allowing rational decisions in the here and now.

    It can’t make sense to say that poor people should be barred from contracts where they get money in exchange for something. And it can’t make sense to say that all people should be barred from contracts where they really, really, need the money that they will get from the contract.

    This is reiterating Amber’s McDonald’s comparison, and like that comparison it neglects the distinction between what most people in financially secure circumstances are willing to do and what they’re not willing to do.

    OK, if that’s the comparison you want: Many women in financially secure circumstances are not only WILLING to pay for BC, but DO pay for BC, and take it voluntarily.

    I’m not a fool, and I understand the distinction between things which people are and are not willing to do. Note that I’m not arguing about the sterilization aspect.

    I am reasonably financially secure (as much as anyone can be with a mortgage and a job in an area and industry hit by the recession), but I would be willing to do the work that one does at a McDonald’s for money. Heck, I’d encourage my children to do such work rather than rely on me or the government for money. In contrast, there are things I wouldn’t encourage my children to do and that I would give them money to avoid if such things were their only options: selling their organs, prostitution, possibly working at certain meat-packing plants with high rates of injury and death.

    Well, I hate to personalize this, because that always makes things go south, but I presume you wouldn’t pay your children to AVOID taking BC should they desire to do so. Seeing as we’re talking about taking BC, not working at a meat packing plant, then how does this address the issue?

    If not, then you’re back at the same point: If you wouldn’t pay a random person to avoid BC, and if you would (as I’m guessing you would) support making free BC available to more women, then you have basically concluded that BC is not especially harmful, unlike organ donation or meat packing or prostitution. In which case, if it’s not harmful, why not pay people to use it?

    So I’m voting for option (2): nobody at all should be able to be paid to take BC. What this generally will mean in practice is that those who are deemed “undesirable” breeders will not be paid to take BC, because again, NO ONE IS MAKING THIS OFFER TO HARVARD LAW GRADUATES.

    I’m not sure whether this is a “True Scotsman” fallacy or a “better on average” argument. Are you ignoring rich people by assuming that anyone who doesn’t fit the “poor enough to be coerced” model would be unaffected? (fallacy.) Or are you acknowledging that you’re OK with limiting the contract rights of some people who don’t need to be limited, in favor of generally protecting others? (better on average)

    I’ve seen Norplant used coercively before:

    In several states, judges have given women convicted of child abuse or drug use during pregnancy a “choice” between using Norplant or serving time in jail.

    Er… OK with me, at least in theory. In my view, Norplant’s not any more of an autonomy issue than is sticking someone in a prison for a while. Many convicted criminals would love nothing better than to have an alternative to jail, so I’m having a hard time with the “it’s horrible to offer another option” alternative, in theory.

    In practice, it’s often sexist and/or racist, and that part is bad. The government has a bad track record here. Mostly because the judges act in a patriarchal “I know best” fashion (yes, I generally hate that) and tend to inflate the jail time in order to give incentives towards Norplant. That’s coercion, plain and simple.

    The body’s not a temple. Things that affect your body (Norplant) aren’t necessarily worse than about a gazillion other things that don’t technically affect your body but which practically do so (jail, finances, court cases, jobs, housing, medical care, etc.) I agree it may make a lot of sense not to forcibly do things (involuntary Norplant) but that by no means precludes giving it an an option.

    In 1991, 1992, and 1993, legislators in more than a dozen states introduced measures that, had they passed, would have coerced women to use Norplant. Some of these bills would have offered financial incentives to women on welfare to induce them to use Norplant.

    I have more of a problem with this, mostly because as I said above I think the government in particular has a bad track record.

    Other legislation would have required women receiving public assistance either to use Norplant or lose their benefits.

    That would be completely inappropriate, in my view.

    A lot of those wrongful life claims are only trying to gain legal status for feti as a means of attacking abortion, so I don’t count them much.

    Could you provide an example? I don’t quite see how this provides a legal status for a fetus, given that one can’t make a wrongful life claim until one is born, and the whole point of the claim is that one shouldn’t have been born, which seems contrary to the general sentiments of the pro-life movement.

    I will track one down, but it’ll take a moment. I’m not making this up, I promise.
    It’s in the same chain of legal thinking which supports charging people with murder if they cause a spontaneous abortion, or which supports charging mothers with assault if they take a lot of drugs. Both are predicated on the concept that the fetus has legal personal rights which it can assert. That establishment of fetal rights (and any expansion of fetal rights) is often, though not always, a prolife back door argument. It’s part of why convicting women for “drug use during pregnancy” is such a dangerous thing.

  21. 21
    hf says:

    @PG: Some countries do indeed spend more government money on health care. But some of the models for “socialized medicine” do not, which presumably explains what Dianne read. And not one other country in the world spends as much total as we in the US do, not by any measure. (Well, wait, some place called the Marshall Islands that we apparently controlled until 1986 and used for nuclear tests does spend more as a fraction of Gross Domestic Product. Their wiki entry says, “United States government assistance is the mainstay of the economy.”)

  22. 22
    hf says:

    Oh yes, and I’ve seen people say that private insurance companies will not cease to exist if they can do what we pay them for. Very likely they can’t. Other companies may, however, form in order to offer a genuine service that goes beyond the public option.

  23. 23
    chingona says:

    Most of the wrongful life claims that I’m familiar with (and I’m not intimately familiar with them, but I’ve read about a few) have to do with trying to get money to cover the costs of living with whatever disability the person is born with, not with attacking abortion. The whole premise is that if the mother had known, she would have aborted.

  24. 24
    FurryCatHerder says:

    In re hf @ 22:

    I believe that private insurance is going to be its own undoing because it is more inefficient than some kind of single payor / universal coverage plan. Insurance companies today spend huge amounts of money trying to DENY claims, under the economic theory that $100 spent to successfully deny a $110 claim is a net win. Forcing employers to provide insurance, or pay an “Uninsured Employee” fee to cover government expenditures, and provide people with basic insurance, WILL be cheaper since it will help prevent both the “Death Spiral” that happens with group coverage, and reduce the number of people using emergency room services for care that could be done in a clinic.