Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Philosophy Survey

I took a spin through this Moral Philosophy Selector. From what I understand of their works, I am not surprised that John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant came out on top for me. I am probably one of the few people out there that thinks that Mill was too restrictive of liberty, but that will take some further reading to pin down for certain.

My Results:

1. John Stuart Mill (100%)
2. Kant (97%)
3. Ayn Rand (84%)
4. Epicureans (83%)
5. Jeremy Bentham (74%)
6. Aquinas (66%)
7. Jean-Paul Sartre (65%)
8. Aristotle (64%)
9. Prescriptivism (64%)
10. Plato (49%)
11. St. Augustine (48%)
12. Spinoza (47%)
13. Stoics (46%)
14. David Hume (36%)
15. Ockham (31%)
16. Nel Noddings (31%)
17. Nietzsche (28%)
18. Cynics (26%)
19. Thomas Hobbes (26%)

Link via Electric Venom

Friday, January 23, 2004

Hey, It Worked for Bill Clinton

So I'm a sucker for easy comedy. It has been noticed that people find personality just as persuasive as issues when it comes to choosing whom to vote for. Bill Clinton showed just how much traction one can get politically by letting one's hair down and having fun on late-night TV, remember his sax rendition of Heartbreak Hotel on Arsenio Hall's show? So it is rather natural for Howard Dean to grab some of the late night looseness. Even better that he is making fun of himself by reading The Top Ten on Late Night with David Letterman:

"Ways, I, Howard Dean, can turn things around."

10. Switch to decaf.

9. Unveil new slogan, "Vote for Dean and get one dollar off your next purchase at Blimpie."

8. Marry Rachel on the final episode of "Friends."

7. Don't change a thing, it's going great.

6. Show a little more skin.

5. Go on "American Idol" and give them a taste of those pipes.

4. Start working out and speaking with an Austrian accent.

3. I can't give specifics yet, but it involves Ted Danson.

2. Fire the staffer who suggested I do this lousy Top 10 List instead of actually campaigning.

1. Oh, I don't know -- maybe fewer, crazy, red-faced rants.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:


Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Excerpt from If by Rudyard Kipling

I would like to think of myself as a brave person. If I saw a toddler wander into the path of a speeding car, I hope that I would have the presence of mind to rush out, grab the back of the child's jumper, and pull him/her back to safety. Perhaps I would have the strength to stand up against oppression should I truly come face to face with it.

All of that is just talk, however, until you actually have to make the decision. That split second where you act, correctly or incorrectly, or not act at all. I have yet to face such a moment where what courage I do possess would be measured.

I have, however, faced several moments where other qualities have been tested. My honesty, my loyalty, my integrity. I don't think that I am deluding myself to say that I have done mostly right in those situations. In those places where I have done wrong, I apologize, knowing that I do not wish to be the type of person who would do those things.

Sometimes a person comes up with a good old-fashioned Freudian Slip, an inadvertant slip of the tounge that seems to reveal more than the speaker wished to show. Other times, people say things while drunk and use their inebriation to excuse themselves as not really having meant it. In some cases, we just blame the heat of the moment. Lee Harris wrote an article at Tech Central Station podering how Howard Dean's "concession" speech and the now infamous holler that he cut loose with.

Just how much should we allow a single outburst to influence our opinion of a candidate? The voters in Vermont seem rather put off by the display, at least judging by the poll numbers. Lee Harris describes the situation this way:

Anyone can win, just as anyone can be defeated, and still not give us a clue to their true metal. But for a man to be badly defeated when he expected to win handily, that is certain to be a moment for the revelation of character, and in Governor Dean's case, it offered him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to let the American voters know whether or not he possesses those otherwise hard-to-detect long term virtues so necessary to lead our nation in a time of crisis -- virtues such steadiness and magnanimity, endurance and wisdom.

This last week, unfortunately for his electoral prospects, Howard Dean revealed the stuff that he was made of and did so in a matter of minutes; and -- fairly or unfairly -- many of those who watched his performance found themselves convinced that they now knew what Governor Dean would act like in a moment of genuine national crisis, and were not assured by the insight that had been inadvertently given them.

Statements that come with little thought behind them carry far more information about a person's character than any premeditated and committe approved press release. Granted, there is a limit. One can't fairly put more thought into parsing another's words than the person made in saying them. Words in the heat of the moment, and that certainly was a hot moment in which Dr. Dean found himself, show how a person deals with the heat. Dr. Dean did not impress.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Oh My God!!

My nefarious scheme worked! I submitted my admittedly small list of W themed entries to the Letter of the Day at Electric Venom. And now, thanks to the Lovely and Talented Kate, I have acheived my first outside link and many, many more people shall see my writings. Mine is the last one on the list with the unrelated word Xylobalsamum. (Running to get my dictionary)

If you are coming here from Electric Venom, then be welcome, peruse, and perhaps return.

To Kate: Thank you very much, you don't know how honored I feel right now.

The entries are linked to the post below. Don't bother with the links, the didn't work the way I wanted, so please just scroll on down.

Monday, January 19, 2004

A When, A Worldview, And a Whatever

In an attempt to draw some attention from the better viewed, I have collected a small group of posts for Electric Venom's Letter of The Day.

In honor of W, a letter near and dear to my heart, I present:

When I Say "The State" Who Do You Think I'm Talking About?

Whatever Happened to Baby Eve?


Worldview (and beyond) of an Engineer

Update: OK, the links aren't taking you directly to the entries. My apologies, and you may read them if you would kindly scroll on down the page.

When I Say "The State" Who Do You Think I'm Talking About?

Yet another Southern Political Figure has emplaced a monument of The Ten Commandments onto public property. This time it is a City Councilman in Winston-Salem, North Carolina placing the monument in front of City Hall.

We all remember Judge Roy Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama high court, who refused a federal court order to remove the monument he put up in the rotunda of his courthouse. He was later removed from office for that refusal. The city councilman cited Mr. Moore as his inspiration for this stunt.

I came at this debate from an angle that I haven't seen elsewhere. Judge Moore claimed that he was observing his personal freedom of expression and religion by putting the monument there and that that gave him the right to refuse the federal court order. Too bad for him that argument doesn't hold water. I would have asked Judge Moore what policy of the state was there that allowed citizens to erect monuments within the state judicial building. I doubt that just anybody with the cash could do so.

That would mean that Judge Moore placed the monument using his authority as Chief Justice. That is across the line. If Roy Moore had the pull to do that, fine, but as Chief Justice Roy Moore he was an agent of the state, and that must be a violation of the separation of Church and State. Essentially, Chief Justice Roy Moore was the State when he chose to use the public space he was in charge of to make a religious statement.

When a person is working as the authority representing a public institution, be that an elected representative, a judge, or even a public school teacher, then that person is an agent of the State. The preferences expressed by that person in those cases must be seen as the preferences of the State. So long as that person is working with the power of the State, then that person must act within the limitations of that power.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Whatever Happened to...

Baby Eve?

It was about this time last year that a biotech firm called Clonaid claimed to have successfully cloned a human being. They made all sorts of promises to produce the child for testing to determine her clone-ness, but the little tyke no showed.

Oh, those wacky Raellians.

Just one of maybe a series of looks back at stories that were once big but that seem to have fallen from public view.
Worldview (and beyond) of an Engineer

When I was in my last year of college, I had to take an economics of engineering course. It showed us how to figure the costs of financing projects and how evil the school administration could be by scheduling the one session of a class required for graduation at 8:00 am.

The topic of the class gave the professor the opportunity to discuss other economic issues relating to engineering. One point he made was that the modern engineer will be more like a contractor than an employee, meaning that we could expect to be hired on for a single project without the assurance that the employer would find more work for you once the project was done. Hence the need for the day's engineers to maintain their own 401k's.

Looking at President Bush's new initiative for manned space exploration, that lesson is coming back to my mind. As often happens, it collided with another piece of junk in the old attic and fused into a new idea.

The other piece of junk was the memory of my first job where one of my first tasks was to get the lab up to date on its written procedures and policies in order to achieve a federal certification. When the auditor came out, I learned that he was a retired engineer from the Apollo program. I grew up in Lancaster, CA, not too far away from Edwards Air Force base. Those years were spent in the shadow of the events of The Right Stuff and the cutting edge of aerospace technology. He was a very personable guy (yes, personable engineers do exist) and he let me pick his brains about the issues he faced in the Apollo program while he was poring over my paperwork. That was to a young engineer like getting coached on batting by Mark McGuire would be to a Minor Leaguer.

During those years of the first trips to the moon, everyone looked at the astronauts as the heroes. No doubt, those gentlemen were the ones who took the risks and put their lives on the line. The engineers, on the other hand, were the ones who Got It Done. They created the technology needed to get a man to the moon and back again. In some cases they had to make the technology to make the technology. The administrators did what they needed to do: they gave the engineers the vision, gave them the resources to do the job, and then they got out of the way. The engineers took the space program from vision to creation. Truthfully, the Apollo program was the greatest piece of collaborative art ever conceived.

Those engineers were determined to Get It Done. Little thought went into, "What am I going to do when this is done?" The Apollo program was like a single commissioned piece of art. The focus of purpose is what made it beautiful.

Today, NASA has slowed. Much of its form has become yet another government agency, filled with administrators whose thoughts of elevation only apply to the career ladder rather than above the atmosphere. The ethos has gone from Get It Done to Don't Screw Up. People speak about fulfilling the human spirit through exploration. The human spirit gains nothing from playing it safe. It gains from taking risks and acheiving in greater proportion.

The reality of what my professor said about effectively being a contractor may or may not be correct. One's heart may tremor at the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds beyond the current job. In a way though, it turns one's mind back to the old ethic. If you have a career position, you can only lose it by screwing up. If you are on a project contract, you know that the next contract will only come if you Get It Done.

That is my concern with the Bush proposal as it is. The earliest date set for a moon base is 2015. Eleven years. That is too long. I don't mean as an outside observer staming my foot and whining, "I want it nooow!" I mean that eleven years, at minimum, is long enough for an engineer in the project to see this work as the rest of his career. That will strongly drive the mindset to Don't Screw Up from Get It Done.

For something like this, Don't Screw Up just won't Get It Done.

Friday, January 16, 2004

I May Be Into Star Wars Galaxies A Little Too Much...

But at least I am not as pathetic as these people.

Monday, January 12, 2004

The Count is Now at: 15

This little snippet is from one of the Indymedia chapters. Because you can expect this type of thing from them, I only had to count to five before cooling off.

Here is the piece of wit ala Photoshop that has me in such a good mood. In case reaction across the internet somehow clues these people in to the fact that this type of image does make others angry and Indymedia pulls it, here is a copy posted by Steven Green at Vodka Pundit.

To save those of you not deeply versed in Greek Literature (myself included) from needing to look up the punchline, the Myrmidon were the warriors taken by Achilles to Troy. They were renowned for being unquestioning and utterly ruthless in executing their orders.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

An Obligation to Oppress

One of the things I will go off on from time to time is the idea that if one wants to have rights, then one has to accept responsibility for the consequences of the practice of those rights. Rights/Responsibility, same coin.

On the flip side that most people don't cosider is that when you give someone responsibility, it has to be assumed that you are giving them the right to manage that responsibility. In the case of health care, if you give someone else the responsibility of paying for it, then they will have the right to try to minimize the cost. If that means denying the freedom of the person covered, then so be it.

Case in point: a Fox News article, via the Lovely and Talented Kate at Electric Venom, in which we learn that the Riverside County Sheriff's Department is instituting a policy of not hiring smokers. The reason? You guessed it, the cost of health insurance is becoming too high and the county needs ways to lower their premiums.

Many of us can understand the frustration of being responsible without the rights necessary to live up to the responsibility. So imagine how tempting it is for employers or the government to make rules (which is in their rights) to prevent the people they are responsible for from doing thing that will cost them money. How often do we hear that such and so behavior costs tax-payers X million dollars a year as a rationale for a law that forces people to be careful? Should we be surprised then that the nanny then tells us that we have to wear a helmet on motorcycles, that we have to wear seatbelts while in our cars, that our kids have to wear helmets while on their bikes, and other paraphrases of "If we have to pay for your mistakes, we'll make sure that you don't make them."?

You can't take your freedom without taking responsibility.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Wealth is Non-Zero Sum

Phil at The Speculist posts a response to Glenn Reynold's Tech Central Station article discussing income income inequality. Both gentlemen agree that income inequality as we have it where the rich get richer faster than the poor get richer will become more pronounced yet less important with time. Phil takes Glenn's ideas a step further and points to nanotech and virtual reality as technologies that will ultimately make wealth moot by destroying poverty.

In the comments section, a reader named Hearn admits to not understanding how a person can become richer without someone else becoming poorer. I responded with a comment two entries lower, and I will further develop my idea here.

In strictly a monetary sense, any transaction means that one person gains money and another loses money, hence it is zero-sum. As the philosophers say, however, money isn't everything.

While cost is an absolute, value is not. If it were, economic exchange would be impossible. As I wrote:

If you look at the value of the exchange, however, then you see that neither side comes out losing. I may pay for a car, for example, with money, but I would believe that the car has more value to me than the money I paid for it. If I didn't, then I would not make the purchase. The seller of the car would have to assign more value to the money that I give him than he would to the car, or he would not make the sale. Both of us would walk away (Ok, I'd drive) feeling that we had increased the value of what we had and are therefore wealthier. As Adam Smith would say, Wealth has been created.

(It may be bad blogging form to quote yourself like this, but why write it all twice?)

All economic exchanges involve the increase in value. A craftsman and a factory take materials and apply effort. The end result is something that will have more value to a customer than the materials did to begin with. For the manufacturer, this has the effect of turning his effort (truly a use it or lose it resource) into money. Meanwhile, the purchaser has increased the value of his possessions by replacing his money with something of greater value.

Even those who work in services create value. A pair of very dear friends of mine own their own computer repair business. While they do not produce anything per se, they do increase the value of the possessions of their clients. To use some really messily expressed math:

1. (Cost of Labor) + (Cost of Parts) < (Value of Functional Computer)

2. (Value of Time Repairing Computer) + (Wholesale Cost of Parts) < (Fees Collected)

The Customer "wins" if 1 is true. The business "wins" if 2 is true. Note that these are not mutually exclusive. Because:

3. (Fees Collected) = (Cost of Labor) + (Cost of Parts)


4. (Value of Time Repairing Computer) + (Wholesale Cost of Parts) < (Fees Collected) < (Value of Functional Computer)

The non-zero aspect of this equation is that (Value of Time Repairing Computer) on the left is determined by the business and (Value of Functional Computer) is determined by the customer. So long as the absolute, objective value in the center satifies both 1 and 2, both sides "win" and both feel wealtier.

Granted the clear definition of boundaries is not absolute. My friends often tell the customer that the customer can get better value for the money by getting a new computer. In the short term this would be a loser for the business, but they recoup in the satisfaction of not ripping off their clients and in good will from said clients.
Power Dynamics

Via Andrew Sullivan, I read this quote of Howard Dean from the New Yorker:

"I think the problem with the Democratic Party in general is that they've been so afraid to lose they're willing to say whatever it takes it to win. And once you're willing to say whatever it takes to win, you lose — because the American people are much smarter than folks in Washington think they are. Do I still believe it? I think you have to be ready to move forward and not just try to hold on to what you've got. I truly believe that if you're not moving forward you're moving backwards in life. There's no such thing as neutral."

I won't get into my thoughts that Dean is just another politician shaping his opinions as a matter of strategy quite yet. What I would like to look at is how his quote applies to any group that is in power, regardless of party.

The Republicans hold both the Presidency and the Congress. So why is it that spending is way up, we are getting prescription drug coverage for medicare, and the president signs in protectionist steel tariffs? Right out of the gate, President Bush proposed using federal money to fund the charitable operations of faith-based groups. In my opinion, that is the joining of the most obnoxious qualities of both sides: the throw-money-at-the-problem Democratic method with the government-dictated-by-moral-busy-bodies Republican method.

Dean likes to say that the Clinton years were Republican in disguise. So far, aside from the war on terror, the Bush years look Democratic in disguise. The process is called Triangulation. You use your power to steal the issues from the other guy, hopefully stealing his votes in the process. The problem with that is by the time you finish taking all of his votes, you are the other guy.

It almost invites the idea that if we elect Dean, then he will cut so hard to the Right once in office that he will be even more effective in getting the Republican agenda enacted than Bush.
The Other Foot Test - Run #1

If this had been said by a Republican of Hillary's stature, do you think CNN would be bending over backward like this to make sure everyone knows that everyone knows that she really didn't mean it?

At least Trent Lott was honestly trying to be patronizing.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The Count is Now at: 10

When I started this blog, I made a promise to myself not to start writing a post on a matter that gets me steamed without first counting to ten, slowly. The plan was to keep anything from making ad hominem attacks or other crimes of poor commentary. The headings above articles such as this will keep a running total of where I am at in the counting. I'll consider myself calmer than I think I am currently if I can keep that total below 1,000 for the year.

Neal Starkman in a guest column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer speculates as to why President Bush's approval rating remains above 50%. Obviously he has done nothing to deserve it:

"What can explain his popularity? Can that many people be enamored of what he has accomplished in Iraq? Of how he has fortified our constitutional freedoms with the USA Patriot Act? Of how he has bolstered our economy? Of how he has protected our environment? Perhaps they've been impressed with the president's personal integrity and the articulation of his grand vision for America?

Is that likely?"

Apparently not. Instead the fault must lie with the electorate:

"It's the "Stupid factor," the S factor: Some people -- sometimes through no fault of their own -- are just not very bright."

Of course, we are not talking about just some people, we need this to explain why a majority of Americans support the current president. It must be that people are too stupid to apply thought and would rather be told what their opinion is.

Now, I can understand why someone of the liberal persuasion, which I assume Mr. Starkman is, can come to feel that way. If you believe in the self-obvious truism that all war is bad, and that the invasion of Iraq is a war, then the invasion of Iraq is bad. One would truly have to be a simpleton to believe otherwise.

Other times you may get a person of the liberal persuasion conceding, nay, demanding, that the situation is really complex. Naturally, these are typically professors or others who would be out of a job if what they are speaking about were fully understood. When the liberal position says that nuance is needed to understand something, that usually means that a conservative simplicity is apparently correct and that contorting the interpretation of the facts is necessary to make it seem that the liberal truism is the correct explanation.

(This whole fair and balanced acknowledgement of both sides of the issue is tough. I'm really having to focus to keep what I am writing from being little more than, "I'm right, you're wrong, so nanny-nanny-boo-boo." You try it and see how hard it is to keep your personal bias out of your work.)

When I look at debates between conservatives and liberals, I can see that they are debating on two entirely different scales, and those scales tend to be constant. To use an analogy: Picture a jigsaw puzzle. The Liberal can discuss and examine a single piece and expound upon its qualities and short comings. Meanwhile, the Conservative will focus on the way that the pieces interact and how the big picture emerges. Out of this interplay, we can get the following exchange:

Liberal: Look at the work I have done on this piece. Each side is precisely the same length, and it now has four right angles, making it a perfect square. Much more appealing than the lopsided triangle it was when you gave it to me.

Conservative: Very nice, but the only space left in the puzzle is a triangle.

From where I sit, it seems that the liberal position is to either take a single issue and shape it to their liking and to hell with the rest of the world, or else accept a position as perfect and demand that the rest of the world adapt. The conservative position is that each piece should be shaped with the big picture in mind and if no piece is perfect, then oh well.

My position? Let each piece be what it is, and you'll find that the big picture is better than you could have done yourself.

And to Mr. Starkman, please try to understand that people can be quite intelligent and still come to a different opinion than you do. Your glib dismissal of over half of the adult population does not make me enthusiastic for your image of intelligence.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Making Room for the New Year

As always Stephen den Beste comes up with some thought provoking material. Either he wrote the essay above well before posting it, or he was far less impacted by New Year's Eve celebrations and libations than I was.

Reading that essay, I was reminded of a few thoughts that had been knocking around in my head at various points last year. In the spirit of the season, I now lay them out in the open in the hopes that they'll clear out and make room for some new and hopefully better insights.

War is Not the Answer. Maybe, maybe not. I grew up under the tender mercies of a world entering the full conservatorship of the Baby Boom. As I worked my way through school I received the initial prototypes of what Eric Cartman would characterize as "Tree Hugging Hippie Crap" that had been reworked as profound lessons for youngsters. I got "It takes two to fight," and "You never hit back," and "The planet is going to die unless you recycle your aluminum cans." (OK, a little hyperbole from me on that last one.)

The Great Law passed down by teachers and recess duty aides was that fighting is wrong, period. Looking at a lot of the anti-war demonstrators who are my age and younger, they seem to have written that lesson indelibly in their minds. Unless you are talking about the types who trash Starbucks and toss molotov cocktails at the police. They seem to have accomplished some sort of mental gymnastics that I just can not comprehend.

Anyway, the Peace Loving (TM) types yell as loudly as they can that War Is Not The Answer. War can only bring more violence.

I was at a stoplight at Olympic and Bundy in Los Angeles when the intersection had been taken over by protesters, many of whom were carrying the aforementioned slogan on signs. This was on the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. The thought that occurred to me at that moment was, "Great idea, when do Saddam and Osama get to learn it?"

Sometimes violence is the only way to stop more violence. I know that is a paradox and it can make the heads of those who prefer to think in sound bites and slogans hurt. The only thing I can say to them is, the pain will be less once the brain is used to working for a living.

Dixie Chicks, et al.: First the basics that you have been ignoring all this time: the First Amendment guarantees your right to say what you want without getting arrested for committing a crime by saying what you said.

You have every right to say what you want to say, but I also have the right to say what I want about what you said. You then have the right to respond, and I can respond to your response. The First Amendment creates a wonderfully recursive environment that is ultimately very aware of itself.

So, Natalie, you had the right to go to London and say that you are ashamed to share the name Texan with President Bush. Note how you were not arrested as soon as you came back to the States. I also have the right to say that I think you are a stone cold bitch for saying that. If you are reading this (given my readership of six, all of whom I am on a first name basis with, not likely) then you are free to leave a comment or make some other public announcement. Just please mention the address, I'd love some notoriety.

People are free to act with their choices in other ways as well. They might not buy your records, or play your music on their radio stations, or go to your concerts. But you have the choice not to invite me to any of your parties or give me backstage passes. Not that I was given those before, what's up with that?

To all of the celebrities who are crying about having their dissent crushed: If you were being truly persecuted for your opinions, then your bookings would involve a person to be addressed as Officer or Sergeant, not as Larry, Jay, or Dave.

In another one of my can't remember who said it quotes: The First Amendment really lets you know who the idiots are.

The Greatest Power is Not the Only Power: In the run up to the Iraq invasion, the protesters and activists were doing everything they could, namely shouting at the top of their lungs, to prevent the war from happening. They called on President Bush, they called on Tony Blair, they called on their elected representatives, and they called upon the people of the West. The only person they did not call on to do what he could to stop the impending war was Saddam Hussein.

Hussein had the power to do what the UN demanded. Hussein had the power to step down and save his people the collateral damage of the war. Granted they were not particularly palatable choices, but that does not change the fact that he had the power to have prevented the war.

The attitude that only the US and its allies have the power to make anything in the world happen or not happen is highly condescending to the rest of the world. In a way it is scary to think that things can happen that you or those who answer to you have no say about. It is much more comforting to think that the rest of the world is nothing but an echo chamber that reflects what we do ourselves. Tempting, but wrong. This thought is both disempowering to the developing world, and ultimately racist.

Classist, as well. David Carr writing from London for Samizdata dissects some of the ideas proposed by the leftist elements of the UK government who come out and say that it is the proper place of the government to coerce a healthful lifestyle upon its populace. While this touches on my view that socialized medicine invites this kind of limitations upon the choices of an individual, the quotes also clearly show the attitude of these politicians toward the great unwashed.

The attitude stems from the idea that the corporations that profit from the unhealthy habits of the ordinary citizen are too influential via marketing for said individual to resist. Therefore, if the average citizen is a sheep, then it is the government's place to make sure the sheep are well tended.

How about we let people eat and drink and smoke all they want. In return, you let them pay for cost incurred when the heart attack comes. It has been shown (desperately wishing I remembered where the study was published) that people tend to make better choices with respect to their health when the idea of financial pain is increased. Or maybe it was that people made worse choices when the financial pain was decreased. Either way, it is something of a weird idea. Why would people be more concerned with a loss of money and health rather just the loss of health. You can't take it with you, nor can you enjoy the money without your health anyway.

I think that it is because we are all aware of the pain of being forced to spend money on a necessary item (home repairs, car repairs, payoffs to keep that little indiscretion in Tiajuana a secret), but not many of us have had the pain of true medical danger. Until that first experience, we can wave off the threat with denial. Most of us just don't have an appreciation of the cost inherent in the physical pain and emotional fear.

But back on point, it is a fallacy to assume because one entity has more power than another entity, the second has no power at all. I have no problem in encouraging people to take responsibility for themselves and showing them which of the choices has the best outcome. I just draw the line at forcing them onto a single option.