Thursday, April 28, 2005
Damn Wal-Mart Commies
Putting aside the morality of forcing people to work in slave-like conditions, the so-called free market does not exist in China when it comes to wages. China artificially suppresses wages by anywhere from 47 to 85 percent below what they should be,according to the AFL-CIO's complaint about China's labor policies filed with the United States Trade Representative last year. With Wal-Mart as its willing customer, an authoritarian regime ruthlessly warps the market for wages by enforcing a system that controls where people can work and imprisons and tortures people who attempt to organize real unions or strike. Maybe the rock-bottom labor costs are really behind Wal-Mart’s slogan “always low prices,” but the company is certainly not an example of how to win in a free market economy.
It’s easy to see why Wal-Mart and its conservative defenders discard ideology: money. By ignoring free market principles, the left-wing Harvard Business School estimates that Wal-Mart reduces its procurement costs by 10-20 percent, primarily by taking advantage of the artificially suppressed labor market in China. One can’t help note the delicious irony that Wal-Mart’s “free market” leadership is powered by an authoritarian regime that still refers to itself as communist.
Truth is, Wal-Mart could not survive in a real free market: It would, for example, have to pay Chinese workers more (which would ruin its low-wage business model) and spurn any offers of government subsidies. Indeed, it’s fitting that Wal-Mart, the business model fawned over by free-marketeers, exposes the so-called “free market” as a lie, no more than a crude—albeit effective—marketing phrase. By offering the seductive promise of prosperity through something “free,” we’re told we have to hand over control of our communities to some mystical “market” force. But that’s just an illusion conjured up to hide from us real-life actors who exploit the sweat of our brows, deplete our natural resources to make huge profits and take handouts funded by our hard-earned incomes.
Again, Tasini has an obvious bias against markets. But he's got some things right. Here's a cleaned-up version of what I said on Alas, A Blog:
I have always argued for true free market economics, and Wal-mart ain’t it. I’m not talking about its U.S. business practices (although those are surely unethical, and sometimes anti-market). I’m talking about its practices abroad.
Republicans argue against free trade with Canada for prescription drugs because Canada’s price controls would be imposed on us. That’s a valid capitalist argument. But the same argument then works with all kinds of free trade — for example, China is imposing its Communism on us.
“Free market” doesn’t mean that an employer can do whatever he wants. In a free market economy, all contracts must be voluntary, and physical coercion is not allowed. And although a company is not legally required to accept unions, it also cannot legally murder employees who try to unionize.
The same is true for China’s wage-fixing. Think of it as having a maximum wage instead of a minimum wage. How, exactly, does that go along with free market ideology? It doesn't. (And no, neither does a minimum wage.)
Of course, many companies use anti-market labor, not just Wal-Mart. Res Ipsa asks, "Is it really an American company’s responsibility to thwart Communism when 1 billion people seem content enough about it that they haven’t revolted?" Not really. Few companies can compete without utilizing communist labor practices. Once one company does it, they all “have” to do it.
So whose responsibility is it to thwart these practices? That’s hard to say, since we're dealing with governments that refuse to protect their citizens. My initial reaction is to blame all the so-called “pro-lifers” who are perfectly fine with companies murdering employees for trying to unionize. We, as consumers, have some responsibility. Definitely. But our options are surely limited. It’s nearly impossible to know what products come from ethical labor practices.
Then again, what is our government’s role? In my opinion, it should have a limited role, but it should protect us against murder and physical abuse. So then I have to ask myself if it should protect citizens of other countries from those things. In general, no, it shouldn’t. But should we allow American companies to participate in murder and abuse? And should we allow those who murder and abuse to trade with us? Those are deeper questions.
So for my part, I don’t shop at Wal-mart. Put in economic terms, it reduces my “utility” to do so. It is worth it for me to pay a little more. Still, I’m sure I buy sweatshop products. But I make an effort to avoid it as much as possible. And if everyone did that — if we all adhered to Adam Smith's theory of enlightened self-interest — then sweatshops would not exist. Ahh, but most people don’t really care, and I can’t make them care.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Newsflash: Life's Not a Fairy Tale
At first I thought.... puh-leeze. Sure, fairy tales are stupid. But linking them to domestic violence seemed pretty far-fetched. But after reading the entire article, some it started to make sense. (I don't buy the whole thing.) The study, entitled The Tales We Tell Our Children: Overconditioning of Girls to Expect Partners to Change, was done by grad student Susan Darker-Smith. She had this to say about female abuse victims who identify with characters in fairy tales [emphasis added]:
"They believe if their love is strong enough they can change their partner's behaviour," Darker-Smith said. "Girls who have listened to such stories as children tend to become more submissive in their future relationships."
If you're like me, you're wondering why on earth any adult woman would identify with fairy tale characters. But when I look I around me, it's clear that many of them still do. I wouldn't necessarily consider them submissive; I would just consider them divorced-from-reality. Here's more from the article [emphasis added]:
Darker-Smith said she believed younger generations exposed to television and other entertainment media may react differently and be less submissive than those weaned solely on literature.Gee, that's funny. Notice how the boys' stories have nothing to do with women, but the girls' stories have everything to do with men (and princes, in particular)? Boys aren't raised to be princes! So it doesn't make sense to raise girls to have that expectation. Nor does it make sense to raise a girl to think of herself as a princess. It's not reality, and it sets her up for failure.
Her work found the most popular bedtime stories for girls were "Cinderella" and "Rapunzel", while boys were more likely to hanker for "Paddington Bear" or "Thomas the Tank Engine".
Now, I'm not saying a woman should expect a man to treat her bad. On the contrary; I'm suggesting we should merely see each other as real humans with actual flaws. If you think you "love" the person you're with, but you want to change him/her, then it's not really love. You should find someone else who is more compatible, or (gasp!) stay single for a while.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: A princess-wannabe does not have realistic expectations of men and marriage. This causes a clash between men and women that may lead to physical violence within relationships. Of course, there's no excuse for domestic violence, and I'm not suggesting we blame the victim (whether that victim is male or female). But if we can figure out what is causing gender-wars, shouldn't we try to fix it?
I know there are some people who will argue that we also shouldn't raise boys to regard violence as an acceptable solution to most problems. I can agree with that, too (although sometimes force is needed, and both boys and girls should know how to defend themselves). The reason I focused on fairy tales is because 1) that's what the article was about, and 2) I have a particular dislike of the prevalent princess-culture.
A brief side note: Googling for more info on this study allowed me to find The Bitch Girls. "Bitter Bitch", who appears to like guns (!), also blogged about it.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Men Against Chivalry
"Charlotte Hays should be ashamed of herself for suggesting that it is the duty of men to protect women. So if a WOMAN fights in a war and is captured and tortured and then killed on some godforsaken field, it’s a tragedy, but if a MAN does so he’s just doing his job? Please.Yes, B.G., I will see you as an equal. Too bad I'm already engaged, haha. I hope another equality-seeking woman comes your way, because you deserve that respect. Don't let those traditionalist hags tell you that you should be the provider of all things princess.
"Hays and other ’traditionalist’ women seem to think they’re on the side of men for ripping into feminists who want to see equality on the battlefield (and elsewhere). By all means, leave me in the hands of the feminists if it will save me from Charlotte Hays. The feminists might actually see me as an equal, rather than as a meal ticket, personal valet and unpaid bodyguard. Death to chivalry. Long live equality and basic human decency."
Thursday, April 21, 2005
End Feminist Chivalry, Part I
I realize this is a very politically incorrect stance for me to take. But I don't really care. Fuck it. I'm not a leftist, so I don't have to play by those rules. I never claimed to be a nice person, either.
So this is what I propose: Anti-feminists must be subject to anti-feminist treatment. In other words, those who dish out sexist comments should also receive them. For example, the
Well, Ms. Charlotte Allen and Ms. Charlotte Hays... you first need to have looks before you can ruin them. And the two of you, well... you can't even use boxing or military service as an excuse!
But don't take my word for it. Feel free to check out these disastrous photos of Charlotte Allen and Charlotte Hays. Warning: Viewing these images could cause one to :barf:
There will be more posts on feminist chivalry in the future, which is why this is "Part I". I do have an actual argument brewing. But right now, I feel like being an asshole.
UPDATE: I'm starting to feel guilty about ridiculing the IWF ladies' hideous raisinesque faces. I should have at least said something about their bodies, too. After all, the American beauty standard is wonderful, says the IWF. So they'd probably appreciate my advice.
Dear Charlotte and Charlotte,Sheesh. And people think I call men pigs?
Please lay off the doughnuts. It is making your husbands very unhappy. In fact, they won't quit calling me! It is your duty as wives to visually stimulate your men. They wanted me to tell you that, while they appreciate that you always make dinner, you really don't need to be eating it yourselves.
So please, do your husbands (and society) a favor and do something about the fact that we can see your asses coming around the corner five minutes before you get there.
The Feminist with the Tight Tiny Ass
P.S. And the double chins have got to go! Just clip that shit or something!
Comments on Conscience Clauses
I have to disagree with you on this one drumgurl, for several reasons:These are all great points. But Mary from Compound Interest sees it another way. This is her response to letting businesses decide:
1. We're not talking about frivolous products here, but medical prescriptions necessary for one's health. Pharmacies should be required to have at least one pharmacist on duty at all hours of their businesses operation in order to fill all legal prescriptions, or have their pharmacy license pulled. This is a public health and public safety issue, and as such, the state has an interest in protecting the public.
2. Transportation is a big problem in many areas of the country. The coy "oh, we'll help you get this scrip filled across town" isn't going to help a woman who rode the bus to get her scrip filled, and the bus service ends before her chance to get across town. There are many other cities that have no bus service at all. The woman who walked a mile to get her scrip filled probably does not have the time in her day to walk another five miles to the next pharmacy. Again, I don't think it's asking too much for a business that is licensed to sell medicine to be required to have at least one person on board during hours of operation that is willing to fill all prescriptions. And yeah, there is the pesky issue of certain pharmacies being the only game in town for a thirty mile (or more) radius.
3. Most insurance plans require that a person use a specific pharmacy or pharmacies; it is entirely possible that a person could be left without a way to afford their prescription, even if they could theoretically access another nearby pharmacy. I'm allergic to several classes of antibiotics. I have insurance, which means I get to pay $15. If I had to pay out of my own pocket for the more unusual prescriptions I require to battle infection, it would cost me over $100.
4. The idea that there is a natural force in 'competition' that is a leveller amongst businesses is bogus. It sure didn't (and doesn't) work that way in regards to racism and sexism. Businesses are run by people, with all of their foibles. People do not always operate in a rational manner. Some of them insist on racism and sexism, highly irrational forms of behavior that not only have a high cost to society at large, but have a high cost to those businesses that practice them....and I'm not talking about lawsuits, but the everyday losses incurred by the refusal to treat their female and of color employees and customers equally and with respect. It costs them. They don't care. And if there are enough businesses in the area that operate in the same manner, that will be the status quo. Laws were needed to battle racism and sexism, and unfortunately laws are needed to get our damn prescriptions filled.
I am all for Gov. Rod Blagojevich taking the hard line here in Illinois. This is a public health issue. Fuck pharmacies that aren't concerned with women's health. Maybe they'll get concerned if their license is yanked. This isn't any different from a lunch counter refusing to serve black folks...keep your sorry racist ass at home if you can't serve everyone!
I see the fundamental American-ness in this argument. And yet ... Despite my pro-choice stance on reproductive rights, it doesn't quite work for me.While I can empathize with both La Lubu and Mary, I think La Lubu has the better argument. Customers and businesses have more at stake here than pharmacists. If I had to choose a state action, I would choose to force pharmacists to fill prescriptions, rather than force businesses to lose customers and customers to lose prescriptions. And I also agree with La Lubu that this is a public health issue. Some women need prescription birth control for health reasons other than preventing pregnancy. (I realize preventing pregnancy in itself is a health issue, but I'm trying to think like a looney-lifer here.)
I am still sympathetic with the discomfort that some pharmacists feel about being expected to do something that they find morally repugnant to keep their jobs. My empathy for them comes not out of respect for their stance on E.C. (with which I strongly disagree), but a keen sense of the coercive nature of the employer-employee relationship in the absence of a union.
The delivery of health care is qualitatively different from most of the goods you'd pick up at Target. For one, unlike most consumer goods and services, the points of distribution for health care are highly regulated -- and those points of distribution are becoming fewer in number as drugstore chains merge and Wal-Mart muscles its way into small towns. In some towns, Wal-Mart is the only game in town. If you're looking to buy E.C., and they don't sell it, you're up the proverbial creek.
Now imagine that you are a pharmacist in the reverse situation. There's only one pharmacy in town, and they sell E.C., which you oppose for religious or ethical reasons. You sell it or you're out.
At one time it was perfectly feasible for a pharmacists just to run their own shops. Like doctors, though, pharmacists are finding themselves less and less a member of a profession, and more like regular workers. Except we get unions to stick up for us; they get Republicans. Yeah, I'm a little jealous.
But the thing is, I don't want the state involved at all. I certainly wish I could wave a magic wand and make discrimination disappear. But I can't. And I don't trust the government to protect me. The government that protects can also turn around and oppress. I'm not willing to invite the state into my life like that. Because once we give them that power, our rights are subject to the whims of whatever party is in office.
And right now, I think it's more likely that a "conscience clause" bill will pass, rather than a bill to protect women. The latter just isn't going to happen with looney-toons running the show. So the goal should be to protect women from these government lunatics. Whether we like it or not, we need Republican support against conscience clauses. Are they going to support the left's idea of forcing pharmacists to dispense birth control? No. But we might be able to convince the few Republicans with libertarian leanings to keep the state from supporting mandatory conscience clauses.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
New to Red's Roll
Another addition is Decnavda's Dialect. Now, this guy really is "to the left" but he's also a libertarian. (Notice that's with a lowercase "l".)
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Many of you won't know who The Runaways are. They were the first all-female hard rock band to be signed to a major label. They also happened to be teenagers at the time. The most well-known lineup consisted of Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West, Cherie Currie, and Jackie Fox. Jett and Ford, of course, went on to have very successful solo careers.
The film is a documentary directed by Victory Tischler-Blue (aka Vicki Blue), who was also the bassist for The Runaways after Jackie Fox quit. I enjoyed watching the documentary, even though a lot of it was disturbing. These teenaged girls were certainly abused and exploited (and I don't use those terms lightly). Only Lita Ford, the awesome machissmo axe-shredder, seems to not have issues today over what she went through. And Joan Jett chose not to participate in the film, so I have no idea how she feels about everything.
There are some reviews of Edgeplay at Amazon if you'd like to know more.
Lita Ford, Joan Jett, Jackie Fox, Sandy West, Cherie Currie
The Live in Japan album cover (left to right):
Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Sandy West, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox
Thursday Boob Blogging
I've got boobs on the brain. Usually, that means I'm dreaming about stroking an exquisite male pectorial. But today, everyone else's boobie blogging has me thinking more about the female breast (but not about stroking it, unless I've got an itch). In particluar, Amanda Marcotte from Pandagon and Hugo Schwyzer have a provocative pair of posts that I'm following. Go read 'em.
UPDATE: Pseudo-Adrienne also has a good post regarding the FDA, silicone implants, and why some women choose to get their chests augmented.
Conscience Clauses, Part II
2) The issue is not about pharmacists rights, but the rights of their customers. They should be free to live as they want and pharmacists through gov't regulations prevent this.Sunni said:
2] Pharmacists' vs. customers' "rights": There's no such thing as a right to buy whatever you want from whomever you want. By Craig's reasoning a bar would have no basis for refusing to continue serving an obviously drunk customer who wants more booze. In today's lawsuit-happy environment, a bar is already liable for all kinds of potential outcomes, even after not serving an impaired customer more alcohol. If a business refuses service to anyone (for any reason, which used to be the way it was across this country -- it now seems to be limited to the west), the customer's "right" is to try to find another business to patronize.As much as I want women to have access to birth control, I have to agree with Sunni on this one. We can't let the state be involved on either side. Like I said before, most businesses will realize it's in their best interest to require their employees to sell birth control. Pissed off customers will go somewhere else, and for a lot more than just birth control. They will likely stop patronizing the business completely.
That doesn't mean I can't be sympathetic to the scenario expressed in Aunt B's post. I very much want women everywhere to have access to birth control. So what to do about it?
Well, NARAL Pro-Choice America has an idea. You can sign their petition to the pharmacies at CVS, Eckerd, RiteAid, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens, urging them to provide prescription birth control to all women with prescriptions. I signed the petition. I don't agree with all of the language ("a third party has no right"), but since it's a non-state solution and I support its goal, I signed it anyway.
Hey, guess who responded... Wal-Mart! Here's what they told me:
Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for contacting us at Walmart.com regarding women's prescriptions for birth control. Your comments and concerns are very important to us as we strive to meet your needs.
Wal-Mart does not carry emergency contraceptives. Our pharmacists may decline to fill a prescription based on personal convictions. However, they must find another pharmacist, either at Wal-Mart or another pharmacy, who can assist you by filling your prescription.
Again, we thank you for your comments regarding this issue.
Customer Service at Walmart.com
Okay, so I don't enjoy shopping at Wal-Mart anyway. It's just not a pleasant experience. (And that's without considering any ethical issues. My local Wal-Mart just plain sucks.) Plus, they are utter douchebags for not carrying emergency contraception. (They have the right to be douchebags, but still...) Emergency contraception does not cause abortion, and in fact has the ability to prevent thousands of abortions each year. That's something I care about! A "pro-lifer" should care about that too, no? But I've digressed...
The only thing I give Wal-Mart credit for is their policy to find another pharmicist to fill the prescription. It's a pain in the ass for sure, but at least they're not confiscating it.
Which brings me to my last point -- I would support legislation that bars pharmacists from confiscating a prescription. That's someone else's property, and even though a woman hands it to a pharmacist, she has a reasonable expectation that the prescription will be filled. I mean, isn't that what pharmicists do?
Rice v. Clinton, 2008
Thursday is my blog day, so there will be some more posts coming up.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Conscience Clauses: Let Businesses Decide
This one is a no-brainer for me: let the businesses decide. Here's basically what I said in my comments on the other blogs:
Why do Republicans support "conscience clauses"? A Republican should support the right of businesses to make the decision, and the state should have nothing to say about it. Suppose I’m working as a cashier at Target and I’m morally opposed to selling Maxim magazine, or condoms, or alcohol. Do I get a conscience clause? No. Target can tell me to sell the stuff or be fired. That’s their right!
There are some pharmacies who will voluntarily allow conscience clauses. But most will want to do what’s best for their business, which is to require their pharmacists to sell all the products they offer. Otherwise, a customer will patron another pharmacy where she doesn’t have to deal with the bullshit. And that means another pharmacy will get the rest of her business too– meaning all the other items she buys when she stops in to get her birth control.
Funny how some Republicans hail the free market only when it suits them.
Some Reasonable Reads
Like a lot of libertarian-minded individuals, I have a disdain for the incorrect way in which the word "liberal" is used. Reason's Jacob Sullum addresses this in Free to B&B: Can liberals rediscover liberalism? (Eric Cowperthwaite has also blogged about this issue.) Here's an excerpt from the Reason piece.
This [classical] liberalism, which requires private property, free markets, and the rule of law, has little in common with the statist mutation that goes by that name in the U.S. One of classical liberalism's central insights, Vargas Llosa noted, is that "freedom is a single, unified concept. Political and economic liberties are as inseparable as the two sides of a medal." By contrast, self-styled liberals in the U.S. tend to view economic liberty with indifference, if not hostility, leaving its defense to conservatives.In another article, Matt Welch gives advice to the "liberal" party in Goldwater Democrats: Why the losing party should learn to love limited government.
There's a better and arguably more attractive ideological option than being anti–"pro–free market," and it's sitting right in front of the Democrats' noses. When the party you despise controls most of the levers of government, it's an excellent time to run against government.That's good advice. The bloggers at Democratic Freedom seem to have the same idea.
My last plug for Reason is Julian Sanchez's libertarian take in Hearing No Evil: Rosy visions of the PATRIOT Act.
The information we do have about the use of the PATRIOT Act doesn't do a great deal to bolster the claims of its defenders. Though the Act is invariably described as "anti-terror legislation," it seems clear that the majority of "sneak-and-peek" searches conducted under the law's section 213, wherein law enforcement may conduct searches and decline to inform the search subjects they've occurred until many months later, are used primarily for investigations having nothing to do with terrorism.Well said. I highly recommend reading the full texts of all of these articles, regardless of your political affiliation.
Marriage Law and the Schiavo Case
But as I watched The McLaughlin Group last Sunday (4/03/05), I heard an interesting point brought up by Lawrence O'Donnell, a strong Democrat. I assumed he would defend Michael Schiavo. But instead, he said something quite different.
[From the transcript. Emphasis added to O'Donnell's comments.]
MR. O'DONNELL: ...But the legal adjustment that should be made is the ridiculous way that marriage law in the United States confers rights to people. The notion that Michael Schiavo alone, who is in effect married to someone else and having children with someone else, gets to still, through the thread of marriage law, decide whether she lives or dies is utterly preposterous.I have no idea whether Terri Schiavo was a "vegetable" or not, and I am ashamed that our society has made such a spectacle of her condition. The issue I'm concerned with here is whether or not marriage law should be changed in this regard. Should Michael Schiavo have had the sole power to make this decision? I'm not so sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who should do it?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, I promise you that my daughter's pre-nup will specify that the husband not only does not get to decide about her feeding tube; he doesn't even get a vote. If you have a division between parents and spouses over what's to go forward, I am with the parents.
MR. BLANKLEY: In the Schiavo case, obviously I'm going to be with the parents. And the law, I think -- again, I think we have a lot of debate over whether what she said is going to be the new modification or not. For some of us who trust our wives more than anyone else on the planet, I would want to have it there.
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, specify it.
MR. BLANKLEY: But what I'm saying is --
MR. O'DONNELL: But you should be able to put someone else in charge.
MR. BUCHANAN: One of the things I think is going to come out of it is a real war on the judges. I think there's a real feeling, John, on the part of an awful lot of people --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tom DeLay.
MR. BUCHANAN: -- that this judge sentenced this woman to death. And she didn't die a natural death of the brain damage. She died of starvation and a lack of water when her parents and her--
MR. O'DONNELL: The laws were very well applied. It's the crazy connecting thread of marriage law that killed her.
MR. BUCHANAN: But the parents and the others could not bring water to a dying daughter. And the American people do not want that type of thing to happen again, as you said earlier. But there's going to be a war over these judges, Supreme Court judges and appellate court judges, and it's going to be a bloodbath.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Looked at through a political lens, who was the political winner, the Democrats or the Republicans?
MR. O'DONNELL: There's no political winner here at all. And the judges did a perfectly good job of interpreting, first of all, marriage law, which exclusively granted Michael Schiavo the decision-making power here, and then evaluating all the other things that were legitimately able to be brought in front of them. I don't think enough was brought in front of them. I think there were some very strange questions left open here. But that's the way the law -- [interrupted]
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Michael Schiavo -- is he a winner? We've heard
what O'Donnell said.
MR. O'DONNELL: He's not a winner to me.
MS. CLIFT: We're not going to change -- he's been demonized, but we're not going to change the marriage laws in this country. We still believe in the --
MR. O'DONNELL: He's been questioned based on very legitimate evidentiary questions in the background of this case. And I think what we have here is a situation where we have to decide as a population, when there's a disagreement among seemingly rational family members, parents versus spouses, how is that resolved? And why should there be a legal prejudice in favor of a spouse, which in this country is a frequently temporary relationship, and certainly was in that case?
Then again, I'm certainly not happy with how "the right" has handled this issue either. Reason's Cathy Young makes some good points in Lifers on the Loose: The appalling rhetoric in the Schiavo case.