Each week we post a run-down of the best of our reader comments with the hopes of highlighting some of your most valuable insights and encouraging more people to join the fray. Let us know what you think—in the comments!
Aboutlibertarians: The other, related myth (besides private = efficient) that needs to be debunked is that all wealth production is in the private sector. This is demonstrably false. The government produces many goods and services that have value, which can also subsidize production in the private sector (via free/subsidized availability), just as private sector production subsidizes public sector investments. This error comes from the false assumption that (1) only things that have markets have value, and (2) all wealth comes from capital, which is always originally "private" to the libertarians, and therefore has to be stolen. Actually wealth also comes from the collective labor of citizens, who often create a lot of value for which they cannot really be "compensated" even in a very efficient market (e.g. veterans of our many wars). Of course, one thing that the recent years have shown is that our markets become much less efficient when they are less regulated. In an ideal system the public and private sectors can complement one another so that the most efficient markets can be maintained, and wealth-creating activities that can’t be well supported by markets still happen.
In response to Katrina vanden Heuvel’s "Challenging the Self-Made Myth." March 2, 2012
Timcsid: Now that I’m in my mid-50s, I have to confess to still liking NFL football, but not anywhere close to the way I did when I was a kid, or even 10 or 15 years ago, for that matter. The inherent hypocrisy of the whole thing, as described by Dave Zirin, turns me off, as do the militaristic pageants served up as halftime entertainment, especially when the US misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan were at their peak (that part shouldn’t be a surprise–I can recall a Nation article about the oil men who helped finance George W Bush’s political career. It read like a who’s who of Texas-based pro-sports team owners).
The players are part of the hypocrisy, too. Something like a "bounty system" wouldn’t work if they weren’t willing to maim the guy across the line from them. And the truth is, plenty of them would do it for free.
I think I agree with a sports radio talk show host who said this morning that the essence of what a lot of the players really want, based on their complaints about all the new illegal hit rules, is to continue their violent behavior now, but to be taken care of in their old age when the effects of the violent behavior becomes more apparent (I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t be taken care of. They should, but there’s a limit to how far they actually want to go in the present to avoid injuring themselves or others).
In response to Dave Zirin’s “The NFL, Bounties and the Drive to Hide the Violence.” March 5, 2012.
Sderamus: It’s a good legal analysis of the case, but I wouldn’t presume to predict the ruling of the court. As another commented, we’re in uncharted legal waters—at least somewhat. The other problem I see is that this case is an extremely political one and I for one do not expect the Republican members to necessary follow precedent when they can clearly give the President a major defeat in an election year. It seems to me that lately the court has been willing to throw precedent to the wind in order to make political hay, and I fear that they will do that in this case.
It’s not the end of the world if they do so though. While I am a big supporter of President Obama and consider myself progressive, I think ACA was a bad compromise. We effectively enacted a Republican Health Care proposal. It was initially proposed by Republicans as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s Health Care reform efforts. It was enacted in Massachusetts by a conservative Republican governor. I fail to see why we should enact it on the country as a whole. We need a real Universal Health Care system—something that the vast majority of Americans want and need. Perhaps if the Court strikes this law down, then maybe the chorus for real healthcare reform will become too strong for Congress to ignore. Maybe. Hopefully. In a few years. Maybe decades.
In response to David Cole’s “Why Obama’s Healthcare Law is Constitutional.” March 7, 2012
wpmiller: We’re only in this legislative twilight zone because the core issue is being avoided: like police and fire protection, public education, the justice system and other public infrastructure, healthcare cannot be delivered as a for-profit enterprise and at the same time adequately meet the needs of all the nation’s citizenry. It’s never going to be profitable to take care of sick people. Obama’s plan fails largely due to its attempt to placate various constituencies whose differences cannot be reconciled. If the government wants to intervene in any meaningful, sustainable way, it’s probably through some sort of "single-payer" system.
In response to David Cole’s “Why Obama’s Healthcare Law is Constitutional.” March 7, 2012
JakobFabian01: The following is a true story:
During the summer of 2008, I registered to vote on a bus. A volunteer with ACORN, then a very active community organization, gave me documents to fill out. I was pleased to have the opportunity to do so, because my wife and I had recently moved.
When I went to cast my vote – intended for Barack Obama – in that historic election year, I was confident that I had registered long in advance and would find my name on the registry, duly identifying me as a new resident of Dakota County. Much to my dismay, the poll worker did not find my name there. Apparently, the bureaucracy was slow in updating its list of newly registered voters. Fortunately, one of my poll workers was a neighbor—in fact, a member of my church—and was willing to take the time to track my name down. It was found in a separate database.
I like a system of voter identification that empowers neighbors to vouch for neighbors, so that neighbors can help their neighbors vote. I dislike a system of voter identification that would deny me the right to vote until I produced a government-issued piece of plastic. That system would have disenfranchised me and thousands of other voters, simply because they had recently moved from one voting precinct to another.
The number of voters who try to commit fraud at the polls is vanishingly small. Voter ID laws have already proven (in Indiana) to disenfranchise a much larger number of eligible voters than fraudulent ones. This is a cure that is so obviously worse than the disease that everybody should consider it a textbook example of bad government. Accepting the disenfranchisement of so many eligible voters in exchange for the dubious benefit of giving one’s own political party an advantage over others in the next election is a shameful betrayal of democracy itself.
In response to Ben Adler’s “Bad News for Voting Rights in Swing States.” March 8, 2012
Soulgroove: Spare me. Derrick Bell was one of American’s great intellectuals and the reason Barack Obama, then president of the "Harvard Law Review," was supporting Bell was because he took a stand on principle, he simply wanted more women of color to be tenured professors. There was nothing radical about Obama’s embrace on the video or the speech itself, it was a moderate plea to hear Professor’s Bell side of things. What angered conservatives was his book “Faces at the Bottom of the Well" released in 1992. Bell stated that America was a fundamentally racist country through it’s economic, political, social and educational constructs.
Bell asserted in ‘Faces" that African- Americans would have to fight racism through it’s various evolutions and that the Civil Rights victories only solved so much because the problem was systemic. That’s why Breibart and Hannity showed the videos and tried to tie Bell and Olgetree to Obama because that’s a radical idea. That racism is a permanent part of America life, but we as Black People must push through those barriers. It showed those realities through various facts and science fiction fantasies, "Space Traders" among them. It’s one of the great Black Intellectual books of the era and will make you think.
And to conservatives who complain about why African- Americans vote 90% democrat; it is white conservative racism and race- baiting. You can deny the bigotry in which the GOP and its associates practice white racism towards us but we are not stupid as voters. Conservatives from Nixon’s "Southern Strategy" to Rush Limbaugh"s "Barack the Magic Negro" you conservatives have played the race card topside up with a smile and smirk and this election is no exception with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich making racial appeals based on stereotypes. And Republicans want to complain about us voting 90% democrat. Spare me your phony outrage.
In response to Maya Wiley’s “Andrew Breitbart, Derrick Bell and the Attack on Black Intellectuals.” March 8, 2012