politics & philosophy Archives

Bigotry backed into a corner by social change 2012

RT @thinkprogress: FACT: Last time North Carolina amended their constitution on marriage it was to ban interracial marriage

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 12:17 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (2)

Why does the government care about marriage? 2012

After seeing the news of North Carolina's ban on same sex marriage, my thoughts again return to the questions that came to me when California's ban was voted in: Why is government even in the marriage business? What benefit does it bring government to control it instead of it being an individual contract? And, in the face of all these budget issues, is managing marriage really of value to government?

I asked those questions on Twitter and had a lively chat with @striatic and @alanstorm (which had the background flavor of making me happy about the internet and the kind of conversations it can enable).

 @striatic said that yes, managing marriage is of value. "Unless you want ceaseless advertisments for 'marriage brokers' and all the inherent overhead dragging on the economy. And then you'd need to regulate these contracts anyway to sync them with government offered benefits."

Still not sure I see the first half of that argument—are other common contractual agreements really prone to over-advertising and, even if annoying, would that actually drag the economy?—but I do see the point that if the government is offering benefits, the management of verifying the required status is something the government is interested in.

I drew an analogy with business contracts not resulting in ceaseless ads or economic drag (indeed, perhaps having an economic contribution). @striatic said, "The majority of people don't need legal aid or ever form business partnerships. The majority of people do get married."

Well, that sent me off immediately for the numbers. According to a Pew Research Center study from last year (as reported by ABC), 72% of U.S. adults have been married at least once, though only 51% are married now. That figure is down dramatically since 1960, when the numbers were 72% and 85% respectively.

Finding numbers on how many U.S. adults have entered into a contractual agreement other than marriage (such as incorporating a business) at some point in their lives was not so easy to find. While I accept @striatic's point that marriage is a significant agreement which the majority of adults still participate in, I am holding out for data on whether it's actually exceptional over other comparably complex legal experiences.

At this point @alanstorm joined in, "Government involvement helps create a standard of fairness for the individuals getting married and enforcement of rights."

To which I replied, "Ok. Standard of fairness with regard to which rights? Tax law? But that would need to change to if gov got out of marriage biz."

He said, "Jerks could coerce individuals into unfair marriage contracts, hospitals could ignore spousal rights in an individual contract, (that is, an individual marriage contract written like a standard employment agreement)."

Domestic partners face the latter (hospitals ignoring spousal rights) often enough. Seems the former (unfair marriage contracts) has old roots in expectation of female financial dependence, though. A lot of old assumptions (e.g., taxes re: shared home ownership/parenthood are linked with married status) would need re-examination were the government to 'get out of the marriage business'.

@alanstorm said, "It's complicated for sure, Wikipedia has a list of the sorts of things I was thinking about: Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States. There's a huge legal support system for married people that gay couples deserve access to. That's what government recognition [is] for."

If the government offers special rights/responsibilities for the married, it is in government's interest to administer marriage. That is clear. What is unclear to me is why it is in government's interest to offer special rights/responsibilities to married people.

@alanstorm said, "Because marriage is complicated, and irrespective of strides in women's rights, one partner often becomes dependent on another. And government (despite its reputation in entertainment politics) is here to help us when things don't go as planned." @striatic said, "Married people want those special rights and responsibilities, which makes it in the government's interest. That's 100% fine if the special 'rights and responsibilities' are not 'advantages', and are accesible equally to all."

However, I remain unsatisfied. I'm not asking "Why are there some societal benefits to government taking an interest in protecting these special rights/responsibilities?" but "What fiscal or administrative arguments continue to make it in government's interest to offer special rights/responsibilities to married people?"

@striatic rightly pointed out that "governments have goals other than self administration, established by their constituencies .. governments aren't businesses." But I can counter back, "What other goals is it serving for government to offer special rights/responsibilities to married people?"

He said, "altogether nuking marriage is a solution looking for a problem. The problem isn't marriage, but who isn't allowed it."

I'm not proposing nuking marriage. I'm just questioning which aspects of it should be managed by government.

@alanstorm concluded whimsically, "Fiscal argument? Because we pay taxes and deserve it! (I'm glad we managed to resolve 200+ years of policy in one twitter night.)"

But I'm not satisfied there, either: "Well, except that taxes are biased toward the married, which for unmarried committed couples (by choice or exclusion) ain't great."

That last round brought in @lrgc, who said, "Assuming it's in society's interest, then government is society's administrator. Now I'd need to think if it's in society's interest."


And can I just say, '140 character limit means you never have serious conversations', my lily white ass! :)

Posted on May 8, 2012 at 10:33 PM in Current Affairs, politics & philosophy, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stop the { } mixing! 2012

RT @FourthAndFirst: North Carolina, Then and Now:


(via @patrickneville)

Posted on May 8, 2012 at 09:31 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friendship is not a business transaction. 2012

RT @mortari: "Friendzoning is bullshit because girls are not machines that you put Kindness Coins into until sex falls out."


Brilliant essay. Here's another bit:

I cannot state this clearly enough: if you really believe in equality, then you have to acknowledge the fact that women have a right to say no. That no matter how pure and true your feelings, your ladylove is under no obligation whatever to reciprocate them, because friendship is not a business transaction, and women are allowed to want male friends. Yes, it is difficult and sad and heartbreaking to love someone who doesn't love you back, and doubly so when that person is a friend. Believe me; I speak from experience. This is not a fun thing to endure! But discounting the woman as a bitch, a user, a timewaster, a whore with no taste who only wants to sleep with arseholes instead of Nice Guys like you is not on. It is pure, unadulterated sexism: the attitude that friendship with a woman is only ever a stepping-stone to getting into her pants, such that if the pants-getting is off the table, then so too is the friendship.

Which, frankly, is bullshit. If you don't care enough about someone to enjoy their company and respect their decisions when sex is off the table, then that person is right not to sleep with you, because enjoying someone's company and respecting their decisions is pretty much how sex gets on the table to start with.

Posted on May 7, 2012 at 11:16 AM in linky goodness, politics & philosophy, sex, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Who's really stalling things in Congress? 2012

Guess what? It wasn't the Tea Partiers

Posted on May 7, 2012 at 01:31 AM in linky goodness, politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

5 Ways to Spot a B.S. Political Story in Under 10 Seconds 2012

RT @stewart: S'funny when Cracked.com has top notch tutorials for political media literacy

Posted on May 6, 2012 at 10:16 PM in linky goodness, politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reboot the Romney-bot 2012

RT @SteveMirsky: "by admitting that his head swivels around on a titanium base, Romney would wipe out Obama’s advantage among young"

Posted on May 6, 2012 at 11:16 AM in linky goodness, politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

This reflects a not insignificant difference between this fall's presidential candidates 2012

RT @BarackObama: POTUS: “I want women to control their own health choices, just like I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons."

Posted on May 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM in politics & philosophy, sex, tweets, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

The potential to effect change is better than ever 2012

RT @mulegirl: Dear GenX, a suggestion for your pending reactionary midlife crisis: Revive your youthful passion for human rights. The fight is still on.

Posted on May 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Put your money where we need it, BART. 2012

Here's a good petition: Tell BART to fight for American jobs & get a better deal for taxpayers = win-win #bart4america

Posted on May 4, 2012 at 09:31 AM in Current Affairs, politics & philosophy, San Francisco, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

xenophobia + perception of anonymity 2012

RT @anildash: Looks like elapsed time from a TMZ link to the first death threat being received via email is about two hours. Unsurprising, but still sad.

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 10:19 AM in politics & philosophy, The Web, tweets, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and "Protection" Act 2012

RT @thelancearthur: Infographic of the Day: "WTF is CISPA?"
Created by: Paralegal.net

Posted on May 2, 2012 at 11:16 AM in politics & philosophy, tweets, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Bin Laden Freakout 2012

RT @sullydish: Obama bragging?? If Bush had killed OBL, he would have jumped out of a helicopter in a jump-suit with fireworks

Posted on May 1, 2012 at 01:01 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

the polarization that's always bubbling underneath the surface 2012

RT @jsmooth995: New video, looking past the news cycle on Trayvon Martin

Posted on April 30, 2012 at 02:53 PM in Current Affairs, politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Finding the Limits of Empathy 2012

RT @cshirky: Degrees of empathy & political engagement are correlated directly among liberals, inversely among conservatives.

Posted on April 30, 2012 at 09:16 AM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

How America Came To Torture Its Prisoners 2012

"I read nearly 140,000 formerly classified docs about America's abuse of prisoners since 2001. Here is what I learned."

Our highest government officials, up to and including President Bush, broke international and U.S. laws banning torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Worse, they made their subordinates in the military and civilian intelligence services break those laws for them.

Posted on April 29, 2012 at 09:31 PM in Current Affairs, politics & philosophy, tweets, warnings & kvetches | Permalink | Comments (0)

Understanding Hipster Racism 2012

RT @questlove: wow. Lester Bangs/Hipstrer Counterculture/Music Critcs/& wherever you fall on the "Girls"debate: read and absorb.

Posted on April 27, 2012 at 06:04 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

making neighborhood connections 2012


Posted on April 27, 2012 at 05:37 PM in politics & philosophy, San Francisco | Permalink | Comments (0)

"a very moving manifestation of Norwegian culture" 2012

RT @thelancearthur: 40,000 Norwegians raise their voices to sing "Children of the Rainbow" to annoy mass murderer Anders Breivik.

Posted on April 26, 2012 at 09:16 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wow. Just wow. 2012

RT @carlzimmer: Creationist ex-chair of Texas board of ed on the Colbert Report. Tragicomedy.

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 03:46 PM in politics & philosophy, Television, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Case Against the Death Penalty 2012

RT @thelancearthur: If you can't decide if you want to keep killing people, the ACLU has a long article about why it does't make any sense.

Posted on April 23, 2012 at 05:31 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

California Death Penalty Ban Qualifies For November Ballot 2012

RT @thelancearthur: Attn. Californians: In November you get to vote if you want to continue using your state taxes to kill people.

Posted on April 23, 2012 at 05:31 PM in politics & philosophy, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

* 2012

RT @Annaleen: Love this. RT @para_sight: What do we want? image from http://t.co/kXxMeFMQ

Posted on April 21, 2012 at 04:46 PM in politics & philosophy, Science, tweets | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oppose the Protect-IP Act; it's bad for American business and American values. 2011

I've been participating online since before the web and for the past 15 years it has been a vital part of my day-to-day work. If these acts pass, if service providers become liable for the content their users post, it will stifle both economic and creative expression. That's the last thing we need in this economy.

Imagine if Johannes Gutenberg could have been shut down because someone didn't like the content of a book his presses printed.

Contact your elected officials through FightForTheFuture.org or better yet call them directly to register your opposition to this dangerous proposal.

Posted on November 16, 2011 at 04:47 PM in politics & philosophy | Permalink | Comments (0)

My voting slate for the November 2010 California election 2010

I was surprisingly on track with the Bay Guardian this time.

Governor: Edmund G. Brown
I like Jerry. He was a good governor the last time he was my governor.

Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom
He's a little too much of a friend to super-wealthy people and corporations, but I don't hate Newsom and I definitely don't like Maldonado.

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen
Bowen does a good job and, from everything I have heard, runs a very clean ship.

Controller: John Chiang
Another good public servant worthy of continuing support.

Treasurer: Bill Lockyer
And another person who's served the state well and who I continue to support.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris
I hope she will improve (drastically) her performance over her time in San Francisco, but I definitely choose Harris over her death penalty lovin' opponent Steve Cooley.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones
No nose-holding on this one: Jones is a strong consumer advocate and health care reformer and not a right-wing, corporation-lover like opponent Mike Villines.

Member, State Board of Equalization, District 1: Betty Yee
Bring back in my theme of continuing support for folks who've been doing a good job.

United States Senator: Barbara Boxer
See my full post on this race, but in short: I worked at HP when Fiorina was CEO; I definitely don't want her representing my state.

United States Representative: Nancy Pelosi
With the pressure against her and any vaguely progressive agenda, it's a wonder the House has been able to make the progress they have. Pelosi knows how to fight this fight, so let's keep her working at it.

Member, State Assembly: Tom Ammiano
My man in the assembly. Keep on keepin' on, Tom.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson
Aceves wouldn't be the end of the world, but Torlakson's approach seems inclined to make him more effective.

Assessor-Recorder: Phil Ting
Seems to run a good team and to bring in the revenue the city is owed. Their communication during the Prop 8 case ruling was pleasing.

Public Defender: Jeff Adachi
Sure. Okay. Disagree with him on his Measure B advocacy, but he does fine as public defender.

Proposition 19: Yes.
Changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed.
We need to change pot from a cost to a revenue source (and incidentally weaken drug cartels by giving them legitimate competitors). I just wish it didn't smell like cow ass.

Proposition 20: No.
Redistricting of Congressional Districts.
Allowing some unelected committe to redraw the lines is highly unattractive.

Proposition 21: Yes.
Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to Surcharged Vehicles.
Restores a funding source we shouldn't have lost.

Proposition 22: No.
Prohibits the State from Taking Funds Used for Transportation or Local Government Projects and Services.
There are already enough constraints on state spending. Let's not tie hands while we get this budget working.

Proposition 23: NO!!!
Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year.
Climate change is going to cause more harm to our state's economy than holding polluters accountable for their sacrificing our future for their profits. Let's keep the pressure on as high as possible to jumpstart the green economy.

Proposition 24: Yes.
Repeals Recent Legislation That Would Allow Businesses to Carry Back Losses, Share Tax Credits, and Use a Sales-Based Income Calculation to Lower Taxable Income.
Repeal special-interest tax breaks!

Proposition 25: Yes.
Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass a Budget from Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes.
Let's get this state goverment able to operate effectively again. The party of inaction needs to be unable to hold back the rest of us.

Proposition 26: No.
Increases Legislative Vote Requirement to Two-Thirds for State Levies and Charges. Imposes Additional Requirement for Voters to Approve Local Levies and Charges with Limited Exceptions.
What's bad for budget approval effectiveness is also bad for other charges. Let's stop this now instead of having to repeal it later.

Proposition 27: Yes.
Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. Consolidates Authority for Redistricting with Elected Representatives.
An unaccountable, unrepresentative commission is not a better answer than having the legislature draw these lines.

Measure AA: Yes!
Vehicle Registration Fee
Let's get cars working for a more livable city.

Measure A: Yes!
Earthquake Retrofit Bond
We need this. It will save lives and blocks. Building collapse is definitely a huge danger in an earthquake, not only to those within that building but to the surrounding area due to the risk of collapse leading to fire. As a NERT, I can help up to a point, but big fires are beyond our skills, training, or resources. We will not have enough fire crews to fight many major fires around the city after a major quake and we must do what we can to avoid this risk.

Measure B: No.
City Retirement and Health Plans
This is not the way to solve the issues in this area. Furthermore, charging the same increased amounts to workers regardless of their income level is unfair.

Measure C: No.
Mayoral Appearance at Board Meetings
A healthy relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor should be part of our city government, but given the current membership of the board this does not seem like the answer.

Measure D: Yes.
Non-citizen Voting in School Board Elections
The residents from our city come from all over the world. Those who choose to raise their children here should have a say in how those schools are run.

Measure E: Yes!
Election Day Voter Registration
Whatever makes it easier to get more public participation in democracy is good.

Measure F: Yes.
Health Service Board Elections
Was on the fence on this one, but swayed by Supervisor Chiu's support for it.

Measure G: Yes.
Transit Operator Wages
This is most definitely not a fix for all Muni's problems. However, it does send a strong 'get your shit together, people' message. A bit on the fence over this, but edging down on the yes side.

Measure H: No.
Local Elected Officials on Political Party Committees
I don't see why we would want to stop competent, experienced people from serving. Also, is this even constitutional?

Measure I: Yes.
Saturday Voting
We get to test drive this and someone else will pay for it? Hell yeah.

Measure J: Yes.
Hotel Tax Clarification and Temporary Increase
The increase in costs this brings will not keep people from visiting our city and we need revenue. Jump on it!

Measure K: No
Hotel Tax Clarification and Definitions
This measure makes some small improvements in how tax is calculated (like J), but does not add any new revenue. Kill it!

Measure L: No!!!!
Sitting or Lying on Sidewalks
You've got to be fucking kidding me. The problem isn't sitting or lying, it's aggressive panhandling. So you're gonna ticket someone lounging on a PARK(ing) Day installation and not the standing guy berating you for not giving him change? This measure is a load of crap.

Measure M: Yes
Community Policing and Foot Patrols
How about actually enforcing our existing laws and building strong neighborhood/police connections instead, hmm?

Measure N: Yes
Real Property Transfer Tax
A little more taxing on transactions over $5 million dollars? Duh. These guys can well afford to pitch in.

Whatever you do, vote! It makes democracy go.

Posted on October 23, 2010 at 02:31 PM in politics & philosophy | Permalink | Comments (3)

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