"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants" - Albert Camus

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blog War Declared: Intro

Yesterday I had new visitors to my blog. My newly acquired dim witted progressive friends, who seem to have high opinion of their intellect, from factose intolerant challenged me to debate them. I accepted.

Now, I do not normally like to engage the typical trolls that occasionally show up but these 5 guys (I do not know how many of them will actually engage me) seem to have a degree of intellectual honesty (as much as progressives can) and, from what I have gleaned on their site, conviction of their ideological leanings. I will take a Ralph Nader or a Dennis Kucinich any day over squishy progressives who likes to disguise themselves as 'moderates'. I value principled people no matter how diametrically opposed we may be. So let the war begin!

A quick side note to broletariat who said "we just know we’ll look 1,000 times smarter than you because you are completely misinformed and have no idea how to analyze information, much less formulate a logical, reasonable argument":
Don't be so sure.....in order to look smarter, you will have to make sense of your progressive views in a logical manner and back them up with evidence. Pure opinions that are not based on a solid foundation count for nothing other than rhetoric. I cannot wait for your rationalization of the indefensible. But, then again, I am keeping an open mind. In fact, at the bottom of this post, I have a few preliminary questions for you guys that I would appreciate your views on. They will go a long way towards establishing the premise of my arguments.

Now, I am not sure what your backgrounds are but mine include having travelled and lived in several countries around the world, having studied K-12 in Europe in the late 1960s-1970s while classic education was the approach (which is sorely lacking from the PS system here), having two masters from prestigious grad schools, various levels of involvement in national and international affairs (campaigns, round table discussions, etc.), and 20 year membership in Mensa. This is not meant to be 'tooting my horn' but rather familiarizing you with my background so that you limit your ad hominem attacks.

As this post is for their benefit as well as others who frequent my blog, here are a few ground rules:

1) Issues can cover anything we post on our blogs as well as philosophical issues that may come up.
2) Proper defense of POV needs to tie together philosophy, logic, and empirical evidence.
3) Responses may take more than a day to post (as I have other responsibilities as you probably do) and no overwhelming with multiple posts since I am just one person.
4) Starting now, lets try to refrain from ad hominem attacks on each other (that also means calling each other juvenile names) or people involved in our posts. I know it seems weird to request this but watching MSNBC types (whom my new friends find witty and intellectual, I am sure), I know that if it wasn't for ad hominem attacks, there would be little progressive commentary on air (case in point: just watch what is said about, Palin, Beck, etc. - almost never challenging them on their substance (especially with Beck) but ridiculing them as their bible - Rules For Radicals Rule #5 - dictates)

So without further ado, here are my opening questions:

1) What are your opinions (generally speaking - you do not have to write a 50 page essay) of our Founding Documents and their relevance to modern day U.S.?
2) Do you believe in a 'living constitution'?
3) What do you think a 'right' is and what are basic 'human rights' as you see it?
4) Where do you draw the line between 'rights' that need to be protected by the government and 'wants' that should be individual responsibility?

I will have more questions later but these should suffice to have a philosophical discussion going.

By the way, I will be responding to your first post (probably in sections since it was long) over the week-end.

Thank you, gentlemen.


Unknown said...

I apologize for my ad hominem attacks. It is typically the only way to elicit a response, but I appreciate the professionalism. I will actually tone down my rhetoric. But it worked didn't it?

The Patriot said...

Apology accepted. I would have said yes anyways because I do like principled defenders of their POV and you guys seem pretty hard core progressives - infact I would not be surprised if you guys said you belonged to the DSS or a similar outfit. I am making some assumptions here but as much (or little) as I have gleened of your posts, that is my quick impression.
That is actually a compliment since most progs I know do not have the courage of their convictions to the level of wanting a real debate of two philosophies as different as night and day.
This may seem like an odd statement but I am not a Republican and thus I am not defending the status quo. To me, establishment Reps, Democrats, and the system we have here all work hand in hand in a disgraceful display called crony capitalism. That makes me as much an idealist as you guys because my pretty darn close to perfect free market system founded on principles of classic liberalism/libertarianism is as far from reality as your 'fair and just' world. The reason is politics and the corruption it is mired in. We need a new political system which I will take up at appropriate point.
You may be surprised at how close free market capitalism really is to your views in many aspects. That is why many ardent communists from Soviet era Russia have transformed in to ardent supporters of classic liberalism. But, I digress, so I stop here.

The Patriot said...

Sorry, typo, I meant the DSA (not DSS) My fingers were typing faster than my brain.

Akiles said...

@Zack: Why are you apologizing?
So the man spends weeks isulting one's point of view (see previous posts) and then when someone responds in kind the patriot cries like a girl and that's it?

Loved the way the patriot asked for a stop to the "ad hominem attacks": In fewer words, he started his write up by calling you an imbecile and then asked for the attacks to stop. On his following post he opened with more insults... yet he expects respect.

Anyway... a few things.
You have two master's? Really? I thought you only had one.
And "round tables" -c'mon man... you know you are not allowed ;)
And a mensa membership for 20+ years? I thought you let it expire 20+ years ago.
And of course... you experienced the tiranny of the european form of government: of course at such an early age it caused such an impression on you. Because you were the only kid full of hormones thinking about economics and not alcohol or chicks.

Did you finally figure out what inflation is? Have you gotten around calculating a rate of return yet?

The Patriot said...

Excuse Akiles. He cannot distinguish between ad hominem attacks and labeling people progressive/socialist/etc. Yes we did briefly (at the very beginning) use ad hominem name calling but we settled in to debating past that point. I am sure Zack and friends do not mind being called progressives as I do not mind being called by my own philosophical leanings; and we can point each other's perceived weaknesses.

Regarding the rest: As I put in my profile, I have completed the course work for my second master (as I got derailed by family issues while starting my thesis). I understand that my post reads as if I completed it.

Regarding Mensa membership, I stopped paying dues in 2000, not 20 years ago (I was being cheap). Neverthless, once you are tested to be Mensa material, the fact does not change (otherwise anyone who pays dues could become a member). I still recieve annual mailings from them.

Finally, Akiles thinks that Profit Margin is NOT calculated as net profits/total revenues despite text books, investopedia, Money magazine, Forbes, and everyone else including me think. That by the way came about from his assertion that health insurance companies at the time (2008) were wildly profitable (despite being ranked 86th as a sector with average 3.3% profit margin)

Regarding inflation, Akiles had to be reminded by me that the only reason we do not have price inflation now is because the V (velocity) in the formula has not materialized thanks to the persistent low consumer sentiment and unemployment. He thought as of 2010 that we were at the doorstep of deflation. You need to excuse him because he is a Krugmanite. He is a really nice guy, however.

factoseintolerant said...

I replied to your four questions.


factoseintolerant said...

Well profit margins don't really tell the whole story, and with your degrees you know that.

Their ROIC's are around 16-18% (an estimate from what I could find about their ROE's) which is pretty good considering they don't actually add value to anything.

factoseintolerant said...

Here's an article about my above statement actually.


The Patriot said...


I was busy for the past few days. I agree that health insurance companies do not add any value at first glance. However, they are insurance companies and therefore nothing but a hedge for people against catastrophic illnesses. That is why I am all for health savings accounts that are backed by (much lower cost) catastrophic illness policies. They are, in my opinion, useless intermediaries that help drive the cost of healthcare up otherwise.

Regarding ROIC: This is not a good measure. When a company's business model doesn't call for substantial capital or even involves negative operating capital, the ROIC is usually extremely large (also dividend payouts are not as big as many other sectors). That is the case with health insurance companies. Every sector has different capital requirements. The more intensive ones will have low ROICs (like hotels, paper, marine, pharmaceuticals or other R&D intensive sectors). So comparing ROIC among sectors is like comparing apples to oranges. ROIC is a great measure to make comparisons within the same sector.

factoseintolerant said...

Well I think that is the point that people make though. They are able to make significant sums of money without much on their own part.

The Patriot said...

They provide a service and make a reasonable return (as measured by their unimpressive average profit margin). I do believe that they are unnecessary for routine care. As for catastrophic care, someone must provide a policy to guard against it.