Friday, May 27, 2005

Arguing on the Enemies' Premises Dept.

Here is a great exampleBBG) of how when you start arguing on the enemy's premises, you're half lost already. "The Amazing Wonderdog" picks apart the CPC childcare plan, the chief objection apparently being that it is insufficiently comprehensive, detailed, and/or focused to properly be called a "plan". On those criteria, the Dog is right.

A principled party of the right, when asked about their Child Care Plan, would respond thusly:

"We don't have a national child care plan, for the same reason we don't have a national breakfast cereal plan--because this is a free country, and we shouldn't be confiscating people's income in order to provide perverse incentives for people to eat what we think they should for breakfast."

"Furthermore, our involvement would make cereal cost more for everyone, whether or not they are personally paying the bill."

"And on top of all this, there is absolutely no widespread popular demand for the federal government to get involved in the breakfast cereal business, except insofar as if you ask, 'Would you like to pay less at Safeway for breakfast cereal?', most people would say Yes."

Regrettably for some of us, there is no principled party of the right in Canada. Kudos to Aaron Lee Wudrick in Skippy's comments (the 2nd one, anyway) for at least raising these principles, though achieving apparently zero impact.

POSTSCRIPT: I thoroughly enjoyed this snippet from an old Reason story, dredged up by Nick Gillespie in his weekly bitch-slap of Sen. John McCain:
Some years ago, a newspaper sent me to interview S.I. Hayakawa, by then a retired senator from California. Hayakawa was legendarily combative: Asked once during a campaign stop what he thought about a local referendum on legalizing greyhound tracks, he snapped: "I'm running for the U.S. Senate. I don't give a good goddamn about dog racing."

Such anger--I wonder how he ever got elected?

5 Comments:

At 1:53 PM, Blogger wonderdog said...

ALW's lack of progress is because no one is proposing a comprehensive, government-run daycare system.

Rather, I propose that federal money for child care is used to benefit those who need it most, which can be done through a private system.

I don't think ALW and I actually differ much on the goals.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Well Dog, I guess I'd feel better if the "no one" you refer to included the Minister responsible for it:

"I think child care in Canada is where we were in education 100 years ago. Where we were in health care 40 years ago. Once in education and in health, it was a patchwork of bits and pieces. It was people doing what they could do mostly at home, mostly within their own family because where else and how else could it be done? Because who else but the family could do it? Then, education or health began to seem important enough to think of a different way. From something the family provided to something the government provided and paid for, but not entirely, because it benefited all of us."

And let's not forget: "A system is big and important."

Oh, and from Jack Layton:

"The evidence-based research indicates that high quality indicators rule out the lower wages, less training, higher staff-child ratios, and greater staff turnover prevalent and necessary in 'for profit' centres."

For straw men, these guys are awfully visible.

 
At 4:51 PM, Blogger wonderdog said...

Sorry - by "no one" I meant no one who was involved in the exchange at that point.

Certainly, what the Liberals and NDP are going for in the long term is a not-for-profit, universal system.

But I'm happy with any system that addresses the goal of making daycare affordable to more families, so I'm willing to entertain other options.

 
At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't think of it at the time, but Sam Hayakawa should have been on the CBC's Greatest Canadians list. He literally wrote the book on Korzybski's general semantics, was president of San Francisco State when it became a university, and founded U.S. English Inc. Here's the story of how he became a public figure:
http://collections.ic.gc.ca/heirloom_series/volume5/224-225.htm

-Cosh

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Matt said...

I don't have the intellectual chops to write a real post about this, but I was interested in a sentence in the Hayakawa profile Cosh points to: "He returned to Montreal in 1959 to become the first non-physical scientist to give the prestigious Claude Bernard Lecture at the University of Montreal’s Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery, his topic being the semantic causes of stress"

What does that mean, exactly? As it turns out, it's something that is intuitively pretty simple, but that I would never have imagined was an academic topic. See here:

"This presupposes that the language form "contains" the problem state. The assumption that such intervention strategies are built on is that reframing the language that contains the problem state will in turn reframe the problem state itself."

Which is, I think, a long way of saying that problems are most effectively addressed when we are clear about what they are in our language - this seems indisputable.

Where I either disagree with (or misunderstand) this concept is that an assumption that follows this must be that people with greater language facility are more able to solve their own problems and are happier, which anecdotally I would have to say is false.

 

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