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Posts tagged ‘Conservatism’

So much for the promiscuity shot

Remember how wingnuts and conservatives objected to the HPV vaccine because they thought it might cause promiscuity? Well, a new study (hat tip: Feministing) shows that this is not the case:

Since public health officials began recommending in 2006 that young women be routinely vaccinated against HPV, many parents have hesitated over fears that doing so might give their children license to have sex. But research published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics may help ease those fears.

Looking at a sample of nearly 1,400 girls, the researchers found no evidence that those who were vaccinated beginning around age 11 went on to engage in more sexual activity than girls who were not vaccinated.

This was obvious from the start. But I know that anti–choicers won’t stop their freaking out and sexophobia.

Why a carbon tax is the way to go

An editorial in the New York Times got me thinking about why a carbon tax is a better way to fight global warming and climate change than either cap–and–trade or efficiency regulations.

Here are several reasons I can think of:

  • Carbon taxes always provide an incentive to pollute less and use less energy. Even if you cut carbon emissions by half, you still are paying taxes for the carbon you do emit, and therefore still have an incentive to eliminate it. Compare this with efficiency regulations, where someone has no incentive to reduce energy use once the regulation is met. In addition, all too often regulations are designed by businesses themselves, so as to prevent competition (rent seeking). Also compare this with cap–and–trade, where a source of carbon credits may well allow heavy polluters to continue, just because they have deep pockets. A lot of money will not allow someone to avoid paying a carbon tax.
  • Carbon taxes drive both individuals and companies to use less energy. Cap–and–trade is usually done by businesses, and efficiency regulations only impact new products (unless old ones are mandated to be destroyed).
  • According to the editorial, a carbon tax is far cheaper than efficiency standards once a global view of costs is taken into account.
  • Carbon taxes (especially those on fuel) make people drive less and live in denser environments. On a per capita basis, cities are more energy–efficient than suburbs. For example, recycling and public transit are more feasible in densely–populated areas. And people who drive less are less sedentary and therefore healthier.
  • It is possible that cap–and–trade and efficiency standards alone will not do enough to mitigate climate change.
  • A carbon tax is easier to offset as part of a green tax shift than other methods. It can even lead to lower tax levels overall, such as here in British Columbia (cite).
  • Efficiency improvements are subject to the rebound effect, where the decreased cost of using a resource partially offsets gains from using it more efficiently. A carbon tax does not generate perverse incentives.
  • A carbon tax is easier to adjust. If too many pollution permits are issued, cap–and–trade will not have much of an effect since it is harder to eliminate privately–owned pollution permits.
  • Many countries that export oil are rentier states, which means that they earn most of their revenue from natural resource royalties. Those royalties pay for oppressive paramilitary forces that enforce authoritarianism in those countries. A carbon tax will eventually reduce revenues received by those countries, improving freedom there and those countries’ human rights situations.

Hence, for all of the above reasons, a carbon tax is the way to go. My preferred offset is to payroll taxes. But such has virtually no chance of being enacted in the United States (a better chance in Canada [I hope]), due to the extreme polarization and total irrationality (and far worse!) of a number of politicians there. And since climate change is a major danger, Christian conservatism’s climate change denialism makes it, in the long run, the world’s most dangerous ideology.

Dangerous denials

I recently read the following in The Guardian:

Schoolgirls are being denied a potentially life-saving cervical cancer jab at their schools on religious grounds.

Some schools in England have opted out of the HPV vaccination programme because their pupils follow strict Christian principles and do not have sex outside marriage. The jab guards against two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus – 16 and 18 – which cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer. It is offered routinely to girls aged 12 to 13.

[…]

The reasons schools gave for not giving the jab included “not in keeping with the school ethos”, “pupils follow strict Christian principles, marry within their own community and do not practise sex outside marriage” and “the school does not want parents/students to feel pressured by peers or the school setting”.

[…]

Every year, 1,000 women in the UK die from cervical cancer.

The fact that girls are being denied this vaccine is important, as it hinders the ability to generate “herd immunity” using the vaccine, something it has recently been shown to do (cite, cite).

These actions are of course par for the course for religious conservatives. Whenever some medical advance has arisen to make women’s lives easier, some religious dipshit has been there opposing it, abusing, hurting, or otherwise oppressing women. In the US, the same objections— by preventing a common STD, HPV vaccine was creating “a licence to engage in premarital sex” (cite)— were raised. Those people are the successors to the people who objected to using antibiotics to treat other STD’s, to anesthetic in parturition, and that Plan B would lead to “sex–based cults” (cite). Since almost the beginning of history and probably before, religious conservatives have been seeking to control women’s sexuality.

Maybe these people truly believe that these girls will never be raped and will never have premarital sex. If that is the case then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell them because they are hopelessly naive. Or maybe they really want some sort of metaphorical stick to wave over people’s heads because they see it as more important that people not engage in premarital sex than in not getting cancer. If that is the case then Dan Savage seems more and more correct.

How red staters live

The Christian Science Monitor (of all places) has a column about how those conservative Christian “family values” types actually live compared to blue folks (via Fannie):

… According to a new federal study, women with a college education are much more likely to be married than are women who have never graduated from high school. And men and women who married after the age of 25 have lower divorce rates than couples who were married at younger ages.

We could have predicted these results. The US family system, which once differed little by class or region, has become a marker of race, culture, and religion. A new “blue” family paradigm has handsomely rewarded those who invest in women’s as well as men’s education and defer childbearing until the couple is better established. These families, concentrated in urban areas and the coasts, have seen their divorce rates fall back to the level of the 1960s, incomes rise, and nonmarital births remain rare. With later marriage has also come greater stability and less divorce.

[…]

Difficulties in the “red” world, meanwhile, have grown worse. Traditionalists continue to advocate abstinence until marriage and bans on abortion. They’ve said an emphatic “no” to the practices that have made the new “blue” system workable.

Yet, paradoxically, as sociologist Brad Wilcox reports, evangelical Protestant teens have sex at slightly earlier ages on average than their nonevangelical peers (respectively, 16.38 years old versus 16.52 years old), evangelical Protestant couples are also slightly more likely to divorce than nonevangelical couples, and evangelical mothers are actually more likely to work full time outside the home than their nonevangelical peers…. (my emphasis in all cases)

Clearly, if anyone is going against the “traditional” family, it’s red staters. Also clear is how those godless, immoral blue staters are destroying marriage by having sex later and divorcing less. Absolutely no one is preventing conservative Christians from living the lifestyles they advocate; but if you don’t do what you tell others to do, the term for what you’re doing is hypocrisy.

This also shows the nonsense and hypocrisy of “family values” politicians. First of all, shouldn’t you get family values from your family? Why would you want to get it from the government?  This doesn’t mean that non–Republicans are exempt from criticism, but if you campaign on a “family values” platform but don’t actually live like you tell others to, it makes your hypocrisy worse.

All in all, it’s clear that Republican policies and lifestyles don’t protect “family values”. Instead, they just trap people in poverty, promote the very things they claim to stand against, and worse. Conservatives, evangelicals, and red staters are the real enemies in the war on marriage and the family.

Why fiscal conservatives should support marriage equality

What is a fiscal conservative? Ask several people and you may get different answers, but for the purposes of this post I will define one as someone who: (1) supports low taxes and tax cuts; (2) supports “pro–business” government policies; and (3) supports deregulation and a reduction in red tape. It is a complete fantasy to think that those three things are always the correct course of action. However, since most Republicans support those economic policies, I will grant for the sake of argument that they are the way to go.

Opposition to same–sex marriage goes directly against fiscally conservative principles. Here’s why:

Same–sex marriage is good for the economy. In New York,  legalization would bring in $210 million dollars for the state’s economy (cite). Marriage equality in Iowa will boost its wedding and tourism industries by at least $160 million in the first three years (cite). In Vermont, 700 jobs will be created and the tourism and wedding industries will be boosted by at least $30 million dollars (cite). These economic effects will be happening in the middle of a recession, when the economy needs boosting and unemployment is high. There is no way to be pro–business and while at the same time being pro–marriage inequality.

The costs of being a same–sex couple are really high. Using a hypothetical “average” lesbian couple, an analysis estimated that the lifetime cost of being an unrecognized same–sex couple range from $41,196 to $467,562 (cite). By having their marriage recognized, the couple could save all this money. Wouldn’t allowing them to save that much money be the economic equivalent of giving them a tax cut? And if tax cuts always stimulate the economy, then legalizing same–sex marriage will stimulate the economy. One cannot coherently believe that tax cuts stimulate the economy while at the same time refusing to give one to same–sex couples. In addition, by not having to search for workarounds to get some of the rights different–sex couples, it will decrease the amount of red tape.

There is one possible objection to my second point. The objection argues that LGBT people are really a tiny, over–affluent minority who don’t “need” tax cut. Unfortunately for this objection, the idea of “gay affluence” is a myth (cite, cite). And even if it is not, this objection fails. Remember trickle–down economics. If a tax cut for rich different–sex couples or rich single persons causes beneficial impacts due to trickle–down effects, the exact same thing would happen with same sex couples.

For these reasons, fiscal conservatives should support marriage equality. Opposition to it is deeply compromised and goes against their core principles.

Hope for the reasonable right winger

I probably disagree with him on more thing than I agree, but Charles Johnson, of Little Green Footballs, when presented with a post dated cheque from a crashing bank, rejected it when he saw it. Read his post, and read Andrew Sullivan’s response too.

As I have covered several times before, extremist wingnuts is what the problem with the US Republican Party is. Theocratic, authoritarian, homophobic, and misogynist wingnuts are not interested in governing a country; they are interested in governing you.

I am certain that most right–wingers are not wingnutsthe same way most left wingers are not moonbats. And yet the reasonable right–wingers are drowned out by a rabid base that is solidly us–versus–them, where wingnuts think that the “them” are absolute evil and while they hide behind empty words and doublespeaking rhetoric. And they hold the party hostage with political life or death over any moderate who dares to be moderate.

A real party would have principles. Some conservative principles are perfectly reasonable: respect for institutions, personal responsibility, intellectualism, incrementalism, fiscal responsibility; there is absolutely nothing wrong with those. What there is wrong with is denialism, extremism, hostility towards certain groups, misogyny, homophobia, theocracy, and torture are not good principles to stand for.

Rebranding

Consider the following:

At some socially consie organization, a high-level meeting is going on. An employee stands up and says: “We are losing the people. They associate our beliefs with bad things. We are failing. I don’t know what to do.”

The head of the organization thinks about this for a while. That bigwig then looks across the table and says: “I know! Let’s change the names of things we advocate! That way, we can get them all popular again!”

“But won’t people realize that it’s just the same thing with a new name?” And then, that rational employee is fired, and the name change is done anyway.

That little story is made up. But it may as well be what some social consie organizations are doing. Via Feministe comes this Amplify Your Voice post about Abstinence Day on Capital Hill. And it looks like that abstinence ignorance-only sex education is now “holistic approaches” and “healthy lifestyle approaches”, “advocates of real sex education” is “the promiscuity lobby”. And who could forget “reality-based” is “having no values”!

Let’s see now, where have we seen this before? Where have we seen other examples of changing the name of things so as to advance an agenda and to make the other side look bad?

(more…)

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