[extropy-chat] Fahrenheit 911 - objective review?

Brett Paatsch bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Sun Aug 22 01:52:56 UTC 2004

Samantha Atkins wrote:

> On Aug 13, 2004, at 9:59 PM, Brett Paatsch wrote:

> > If you expect that either Kerry or Bush will win and 
> > consequently hold the power of the office for four years
> > why wouldn't you vote for whichever of those you dislike
> > the least?
> What for?  So I can say that my choice won?   I would rather say
> that I voted for the candidate and party that actually stood for what
> I believe in.    Frankly I think both Kerry and Bush are a disastrous 
> choice.   I cannot in good conscience vote for either one of them.

No, to minimise the damage, where damage is damage or harm as 
*you* see it. Harm to *you* and to the principles or values that 
*you* support whatever they are.

If Badarnik can't win the presidency this time around (in your opinion)
then you must know that someone else will win it this time around. 

And you must know that you and everyone else will live with the
consequences for four years. 

> > The reason I ask is that I get that neither Bush or Kerry appeal
> > and I get that a lot of people think it won't make much difference
> > but I can think of two grounds on which I think it will make a
> > practical difference.
> >
> > 1) International law   (or just plain old rule-of-law period)
> >
> > Kerry does not yet have conspicuous bad form as the head of
> > state of a permanent security council member that invaded a
> > foreign country.
> Ah, but he says that even knowing what we know now that he
> would have invaded Iraq!

I haven't read or heard him say that directly but I accept that what you
are saying is likely to be the case. And it would be a decisive point
against Kerry in my opinion were Bush not saying the same thing. 

It would be a decisive point for me because I see the maintainence
and development of international law especially in the area of peace
and security as the highest priority. Without it free trade isn't free
trade is something muddleheaded or underhanded.

But this is where politics gets tricky. It could be that neither Kerry
nor Bush give a damn about international law or even that both do 
but think that the average voter doesn't (and they may be right).
That its too esoteric.  

Politically it is likely (to say the least) that Bush can't say he regrets
invading Iraq over WMD's in hindsight (there is still a war on!) and 
Kerry is in the same situation (ie. there will still be a war on and 
Kerry will still have voted "for it" in simple speak - though I'm not 
sure its quite that simple - its not the same for Congress to vote to 
empower the President with a full range of options - including the
military one as it is for the President to mistakenly go with the
military one - which is what I think actually happened). 

To get elected Kerry may be making himself seem like Bush-lite
(to use Mike's term) on issues that won't matter to the majority 
of voters. I think Mike is likely right in that he won't be quite so
Bush-lite the other side of the election. That is what makes it hard.
He'll probably be more like a traditional democrat and drift to the
left after the election and were I a tax paying American living within
the fortress and looking for relief as my number one issue that might
influence me more than it does as an Australian.  I like both major
electable parties close to the middle on the left-right dimension so 
I'd not want a left drift but far more important to me I don't want
him to be anything like Bush in terms of his diplomatic skills. I want
him to be a whole lot better and he may be only a little bit better
(I can't imagine that he'd be worse than Bush diplomatically  - in
diplomatic terms I think Bush might as well be completely crazy). 

To me Bush has had a chance as a diplomat and ought not under
any circumstances be given another. It would be dire for 
international peace and security as the message that's going out
currently is pure 'might makes right'. Kerry hasn't had a chance 
so diplomatically he is still something of a "clean skin".  

> > 2) Stem cell research. (When Bush goes so will his screwy 
> > council  on bioethics).
> Don't be so sure.  I can easily imagine a bioethics council 
> determining what government provided medical insurance should 
> and should not cover. I can easily imagine government provided
> healthcare wiping  out much non-government based healthcare
> choice.

How sure should I be? :-)

Do you imagine that Kerry will keep the President's Council on
Bioethics in the same form as it is now?

With stem cells the problem is that uncertainty about government
policy is making it difficult for the private sector to do what the
private sector does.  The private sector is not a homogenous
sector its a bunch of competitors. It represents a risk for any particular
firm in the private sector to go into basic research that won't pay 
dividends for far longer than a presidential term. If policy changes
they may not be able to pay back the investors who invested in
basic research. 

You have to have the basic research. Its the basic research
(or the amount of it) that is being hit now.  Bush's *ethical*
stance on stem cells has caused a go slow globally.  That will
translate into longer times taken to develop treatments based
on understanding. The understanding is taking longer than it
needs too as too few researchers are financially able to get into

Before the goods of stem cell research are commercialised 
they must be developed and before that the biology of human
stem cells must be understood. Politics is slowing down the
rate at which we are understanding because its keeping 
researchers away from the enabling basic research. 

The above is over simplified - but this post is already too long.


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