Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on July 11, 2009 By Draginol In Politics

In no particular order…

Scientists are Democrats…right?

Pew Research says that 55% of scientists say they are Democrats, 6% Republicans. Gosh, must mean people who value the scientific method are Democrats while Republicans are just a bunch of religious nut jobs right?

Strangely, the left-wingers who have commented on it don’t seem to be that concerned as to how the survey identified who a “scientist” was.  Is a scientist someone who works at a university doing pure scientific research on the breeding patterns of fruit flies? Does it count someone who works at say a software company researching new ways to simulate different uses of carbon nanotubes?  Something tells me the survey identified the former as a scientist and the latter was not counted as one.  Icky capitalists aren’t scientists right?

Would people who want “affordable” health insurance be willing to go to your door with hat and hand?

I was reading Digg the other day and as some of you know, Digg is largely populated by far left-wing people who are largely unaware of how far left they are (they freak out about FOX News pretty much daily). 

Anyway, on the topic of health care, every time there is a discussion on it, it always boils down to the consensus (on Digg anyway) that single player health care is the way to go.  Single player meaning really tax payers which, as some know, is only around 60% of the US population, the other 40% paying zilch.

So let’s put this in perspective.  Presently, around 88% of the adult population of the United States has health insurance that they either pay for themselves or (mostly) is paid for by their employer. No matter how you slice it, they’re “paying into” the system.

But single payer advocates prefer a system in which only 60% of the population is paying into it.  This means either massively higher taxes just to get what we have today OR (more likely) a lot crappier quality health care than we have today and all so that the remaining 12% of the population can have health insurance.

Most people I’ve met who want a single payer system happen to be in that 40% of the population who pay no net federal income taxes.  I wonder if they’d be willing to come hat in hand and ask you to pay for their pills in person? Of course not, they’d rather act like they’re taking the moral high ground in demanding that you pay for their pills via taxes.

Tree huggers & agendas

I don’t expect a lot of out activist environmentalists.  Most activists seem more concerned with making themselves feel like they “care” than actually doing anything constructive to help the planet. It’s purely about emotional satisfaction for them.

In the mind of the modern American liberal, results are irrelevant, it’s about caring. Don’t you care about the environment? Don’t you care about the poor? Don’t you care about…?

I wish they’d do a little less “Caring” and a little more “DOing”.

Case in point, in an on-line debate on whether SUVs should be outlawed or not I pointed out that yes, I drive an SUV to work every day. It only gets 18 MPG. 

The lady debating me in the post took the high and mighty position that it’s people like me destroying the environment because I don’t “care” about the environment.

I pointed out “Well, I only drive 6 miles a day, that means I only burn 1 gallon of gas every 3 days, how far do you drive?”

Well, she has a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid. She kept pointing this out throughout the discussion because it apparently gets 40MPG.

After a few times of me asking how much she drives, she admitted she works “about” 30 miles from work.  That means 60 miles a day or a gallon and a half of gas PER DAY.

So when I suggested that if she’s so worried about the environment and wants the government to start banning things, why not limit the # of gallons of gas someone can use per week instead of worrying about what kind of car they drive.

And so I got the usual “Not everyone has the luxury of living only a few miles from work, I can’t afford to live any closer.”

Awww. See, it doesn’t matter that she’s burning about 8 gallons a week of gas because she cares. It’s not really about saving the planet. It’s about feeling better about oneself.

I mean, if CO2 is going to cause “millions” of deaths and is the most important issue facing the world (as she repeatedly said) then how can she possibly justify burning 8 gallons of gas a week? Especially when she’s saying “deniers” like me need to give up our “toys” (said toy that burns a quarter as much gas a week as she does).

That’s always been the bottom line with the activist environmental movement. They’re not really serious. It’s just narcissism posing as political posturing.


Comments (Page 1)
on Jul 11, 2009

Sorry Draginol, while you definitely have a point re the scientists, that point about MPG is just silly. I did not choose to be posted to the school I was given. However, I did choose to buy a fuel efficient car for that very reason. In fact it was all the right wing thought on JU that made me think about how I could exercise my capitalist power to make a difference, rather than doing silly things like chaining myself to trees. This, along with parking and riding when possible, are the two main ways I do this. Expecting people to just up and move house to fit in with their job is one of the most unpractical suggestions I have ever heard from a right winger.

on Jul 12, 2009

Expecting people to just up and move house to fit in with their job is one of the most unpractical suggestions I have ever heard from a right winger.

People do this all the time.  It is not uncommon for people to move to accommodate a job change, but I think you're missing the point.  The point is that even though being demonized by this lady for driving an SUV, in actuality she is using more fuel than he is.  And when the option is presented to her to change the situation, it becomes an insurmountable obstacle for her.  So, it's OK to suggest someone get a new hybrid car (and all the environmental costs of manufacturing said car), but it is not OK to suggest that someone move closer to where they work, even to the point where they may not have to drive to work at all?  This seems a little one sided to me.  If your primary concern is really to help the environment, and not just to feel good about thinking that you helped the environment, then such a request shouldn't be so bothersome.

To bring another side to this, I'd also like to point out that fuel efficient does not necessarily mean environmentally friendly.  If you drive a hybrid car, say a gas/electric, you also have to factor in the environmental cost of adding that load on your power gird.  And if you live in an area where your power is generated by coal plants, what is the environmental result of having to burn that much more coal?  Similarly, what are the costs in manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells, or having farmers grow more corn for E85 rather than more sustainable crops?

On a final note, I'd like to play devils advocate and note that if Draginol did drive a 40MPG vehicle, he'd only be using a little over a gallon a week rather than one every 3 days .  Still better than my old Buick though.  I need a new car.

on Jul 12, 2009

How is it silly CS?

If you want to outlaw SUVs and tell me how bad I am for owning one, don't turn around and start trying to make excuses as to why you burn far more gallons of gas than I do.

I don't expect anyone to move. But I'm not the one who was advocating that SUVs should be illegal.

on Jul 12, 2009

I got the usual “Not everyone has the luxury of living only a few miles from work, I can’t afford to live any closer.” Awww. See, it doesn’t matter that she’s burning about 8 gallons a week of gas because she cares. It’s not really about saving the planet. It’s about feeling better about oneself

It's not that practical to try and make people only travel a certain number of miles to work since there are a scarce number of houses close to the main work locations, so some people will have to be further away (typically those who are poorer and so can't afford to pay much more for the convenience of a shorter travel to work). However it is far more feasible to require people to reduce their emissions per mile traveled, since it is possible for everyone to do it, and there aren't such great regressive effects (that is you can get fairly cheap cars with low emissions, while very expensive cars can have high emissions, so the impact isn't mostly on the poor).

The best method though is to just tax the actgual resource in question - rather than trying to make people live much closer to work to use less fuel (doesn't address people using very inefficient cars on short journeys), or make them drive cars that can meet specific efficiency measures to use less fuel (which wouldn't effectively address the issue of people driving very long distances on efficient cars), just make sure everyones interests are more closely focused on efficiency regardless of the distance they drive by making the fuel more expensive (ideally by an amount roughly equal to the damage it is thought to cause).

on Jul 12, 2009

Strangely, the left-wingers who have commented on it don’t seem to be that concerned as to how the survey identified who a “scientist” was. Is a scientist someone who works at a university doing pure scientific research on the breeding patterns of fruit flies? Does it count someone who works at say a software company researching new ways to simulate different uses of carbon nanotubes? Something tells me the survey identified the former as a scientist and the latter was not counted as one. Icky capitalists aren’t scientists right?

That is a little bit prejudiced insofar as you outright deny the usefulness of the breeding pattern of fruitflies in comparison for something that is useful in developing new materials and technology. Those are different fields of research and will have different usage later on anyway. I don't think that stating what sort of political belief a researcher has contributes anything meaningful in a debate unless you mean to say that liberal scientists "waste" their time with uselss stuff (things that can't be turned into a profit right away) and that conservative scientists only have the promise of profit spurning them on. While this may be true for some, I very much doubt that this division is mainly a political one. I like humanities - not very useful in a capitalist sense - but nevertheless important. Research shouldn't be valued alone based on how much profit you can make, it is increasing knowledge in all different areas of science that is important, wanting to understand the universe and everything in it better. 

People in Germany pay more for gas than in the US, so driving an SUV would be really expensive and that is why cars that have very proficient motors which use very little gas are popular. Being environmentally conscious is only a bonus in that, because you need a car to be able to have a life (unless you live in a big city with a good public transportation system). And a big car is better protection in accidents, and if I had a family that would be  my immidiate main concern, not the environment.

 

on Jul 12, 2009

It's not that practical to try and make people only travel a certain number of miles to work since there are a scarce number of houses close to the main work locations, so some people will have to be further away (typically those who are poorer and so can't afford to pay much more for the convenience of a shorter travel to work). However it is far more feasible to require people to reduce their emissions per mile traveled, since it is possible for everyone to do it, and there aren't such great regressive effects (that is you can get fairly cheap cars with low emissions, while very expensive cars can have high emissions, so the impact isn't mostly on the poor).

Sure, it's more feasible to just ban cars we don't like. But we're not talking about what's feasible. We're talking about what would actually be materially beneficial for reducing emissions.

For example, the lady I was debating with objects to higher gas taxes because she has to drive so many miles.  But wouldn't THAT be the most feasible thing to do? Just greatly increase the cost of gas and let people figure out ways on an individual basis?

So why is she and other liberals against increasing the gas tax but want to ban SUVs? Because it makes THEM feel good about themselves. See, they "care". Even though it wouldn't actually do anything helpful for the environment.

Like you said, the best solution would be to tax gas more. A lot more.  IF your goal is to really reduce emissions.  

What it boils down to is that activist environmentalists are willing to enact laws that stifle someone else's lifestyle but not their own. I have an SUV because I use it. It would negatively impact my lifestyle to not have it. 

But don't tell me that this lady has to live 30 miles away from work.  Think about that distance.  The reason she won't move closer is that it would cramp her lifestyle. She'd have to get a smaller house or wouldn't be able to have as much land.   However they want to spin it, it still boils down to her not wanting HER lifestyle negatively impacted but she's perfectly happy to crimp my lifestyle to make herself feel good.

 

on Jul 12, 2009

People in Germany pay more for gas than in the US, so driving an SUV would be really expensive and that is why cars that have very proficient motors which use very little gas are popular.

My SUV is a German vehicle. (BMW X5).

on Jul 12, 2009

That is a little bit prejudiced insofar as you outright deny the usefulness of the breeding pattern of fruitflies in comparison for something that is useful in developing new materials and technology. Those are different fields of research and will have different usage later on anyway. I don't think that stating what sort of political belief a researcher has contributes anything meaningful in a debate unless you mean to say that liberal scientists "waste" their time with uselss stuff (things that can't be turned into a profit right away) and that conservative scientists only have the promise of profit spurning them on. While this may be true for some, I very much doubt that this division is mainly a political one. I like humanities - not very useful in a capitalist sense - but nevertheless important. Research shouldn't be valued alone based on how much profit you can make, it is increasing knowledge in all different areas of science that is important, wanting to understand the universe and everything in it better.

How is it prejudice to argue that both types of research should be counted as "scientists"?

You're totally flipping the argument backward here.  

A Pew Research survey goes out and interviews a bunch of university researchers, while excluding researchers in the commercial realm and surprise surprise, those university researchers are mostly Democrats.

Left wing journalists then proceed to trumpet this highly biased statistic as "proof" that Democrats are the party of reason and logic while Republicans are really just a bunch of red neck, creation supporting witch burners.

 

on Jul 12, 2009

How is it prejudice to argue that both types of research should be counted as "scientists"?
It isn't, that was supposed to be my argument as well, I did seemingly get it backwards I don't disagree with you here.

I didn't understand the statement  the same way you did.. I tried to remember the name of the senator (Bob Dole? I think it was in the 80ies) that pushed a bill on how universities have to patent their research findings or they can't sell them to make money. Everything is pretty much profit oriented because the universities and other scientific institutions have to patent their findings in order to get funds (but this is just what I vaguely remember from doing research on the FDA a few years back).  It might have changed in the meantime. Everything is profit oriented, democrat or republican doesn't really matter in research where it is always about hard cash, either from the results or in needed funds to do the research. Just one good result into the research of a new drug can make enough profit to make all the other research that yielded nothing useable worth while.

 

My SUV is a German vehicle. (BMW X5).
You still won't see that many SUV's around here, even if BMW is a german company. Fuel efficiency is the main motivator in choosing a car. You'd weep if you had to pay as much as we do, and no speed limit autobahns do not make up for it either!

on Jul 12, 2009

Oh Draginol, at it again I see!

Is a scientist someone who works at a university doing pure scientific research on the breeding patterns of fruit flies? Does it count someone who works at say a software company researching new ways to simulate different uses of carbon nanotubes? Something tells me the survey identified the former as a scientist and the latter was not counted as one. Icky capitalists aren’t scientists right?

You bring up a good point, but I think one that can be clarified. 9 times out of 10, the fellow working for a software company or in the private sector is an -engineer- not a scientist. And as society and technology become more and more complicated there are, absolutely grey areas where it can be hard to distinguish between the two.

VERY broadly speaking, scientists are subject to peer review while engineers generally are not, or if they are it's on a voluntary basis.... Scientist comes up with a new theory or model they have to publish it in a journal and have it dissected to stand up to scrutiny.... engineer comes up with a new doohickey for Omni Consumer Products (just watched Robocop, which BTW is a timeless classic) and it will be kept under lock and key until new units are rolling off the production line and the patent's taken care of, blah blah blah.

The natural order of things goes: technician/technologist, engineer, scientist. All of them are critical to keeping society running although all of them will secretely think they are the most important.

1) Scientist comes up with fucked up, abstract concept

2) Engineer takes fucked up, abstract concept and tries to turn it into a practical application

3) Technician gets fucked up new device from engineer and says "I have to make this work?!?"

4) Windows Vista is the result.... hyuck hyuck

I mean, if CO2 is going to cause “millions” of deaths and is the most important issue facing the world (as she repeatedly said) then how can she possibly justify burning 8 gallons of gas a week? Especially when she’s saying “deniers” like me need to give up our “toys” (said toy that burns a quarter as much gas a week as she does). That’s always been the bottom line with the activist environmental movement. They’re not really serious. It’s just narcissism posing as political posturing.

Well, to be honest I drive a Jeep Liberty which is TERRIBLE on gas mileage. However, I usually only drive it once or twice a week to get groceries and the like. On average, I drive it just under 3,000 miles per year which aint too bad if you ask me!

 

on Jul 12, 2009

1) Scientist comes up with fucked up, abstract concept
You could add inventor/tinkerer to that. Some great inventions were made because people tried to defy the odds. Take for example Hugo Junkers who dreamt of building an airplane made of metal (1915 everybody thought he was nuts, but he dreamt of civilian air traffic and just built his plane). 1919 he built the first civilian passenger plane made out of metal. His "Iron Annie" (Tante Ju) became worldfamous.

Don't forget the inventors!

on Jul 12, 2009

The Pew survey was done in conjunction with the AAAS, which publishes Science and has about a million subscribers. As Pew uses modern polling methods, and there's almost certainly engineers with subscriptions to Science/memberships in AAAS, I suspect there was a representative sample of computer scientists in the survey. Caveat - I couldn't find the actual methodology, so if you have, we'd have a better picture.

But don't tell me that this lady has to live 30 miles away from work.  Think about that distance.  The reason she won't move closer is that it would cramp her lifestyle. She'd have to get a smaller house or wouldn't be able to have as much land.   However they want to spin it, it still boils down to her not wanting HER lifestyle negatively impacted but she's perfectly happy to crimp my lifestyle to make herself feel good.

She might not be able to - I couldn't afford to live much closer to my work. Property in the city/around Parliament House costs a fortune and the rents are insane too. But you're right overall - the key to reducing usage is to increase the price of consumables. It worked when petrol prices rocketed just before the GFC. Usage went down until the oil producers realised what they'd done and lowered prices again.

It works for smoking so there's no reason it wouldn't work for fuel.

on Jul 12, 2009

Presently, around 88% of the adult population of the United States has health insurance that they either pay for themselves or (mostly) is paid for by their employer. No matter how you slice it, they’re “paying into” the system.

But single payer advocates prefer a system in which only 60% of the population is paying into it.  This means either massively higher taxes just to get what we have today OR (more likely) a lot crappier quality health care than we have today and all so that the remaining 12% of the population can have health insurance.

There is another wrinkle to this, and not a 'good' one.

With some notable exceptions (I can't pass through the cost of providing health insurance to my employees - the 'prices' I can charge are fixed by third parties, so I guess that makes me something of an altruist), the cost of employer-paid health insurance premiums is passed along to the consumer in the form of a higher price for goods or services.  Meaning more than just the covered 88% are actually 'paying in' as you say.  This makes the argument for singletax-payer even more untenable as you'd be going from somewhere well north of 90% of people effectively 'paying in' down to that 60%.  Of course, what singletax-payer advocates don't or won't say is that the 60% figure will itself move significantly north once a singletax-payer system is implemented - the 60% of us currently paying taxes can't come close to funding it, the money just isn't there.

on Jul 12, 2009

Sorry Draginol, while you definitely have a point re the scientists, that point about MPG is just silly. I did not choose to be posted to the school I was given. However, I did choose to buy a fuel efficient car for that very reason. 

I use public transport.

I walk to the train stop and take the train.

If more Americans did that rather than drive cars and complain about those who "don't care", that would be an option in more American cities as well. (Don't tell me you don't have public transportation in your city. Build it. That would an excellent starting point for those who "care" about the environment.)

I have run into people at work who chastised me for not worrying about global warming and who drive to work every day even though they live even closer to the office than I.

Some switch off their computer screens before the drive home to save energy.

You know what? Tax petrol.

Tax petrol such that all the bad effects can be paid for out of that tax and then let people wonder how to use less of it to save money.

Unfortunately that system would actually help the environment and not just transfer money from one group to another. Environmentalists are often just socialists in a new dress.

on Jul 13, 2009

You bring up a good point, but I think one that can be clarified. 9 times out of 10, the fellow working for a software company or in the private sector is an -engineer- not a scientist. And as society and technology become more and more complicated there are, absolutely grey areas where it can be hard to distinguish between the two.

I think perhaps a higher proportion of engineers than scientists are Republicans.

Doers are often Republicans, "thinkers" are often Democrats.

Scientists obviously support whichever side is willing to invest (other people's) money into research that might lead to nothing. Republicans tend to vote against these things. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong.

Lawyers are also predominantly Democrats. Does this mean that Democrats are both scientifically brilliant and notorious ambulance chasers? What scientists and lawyers have in common is a need for large amounts of other people's money which those other people are not willing to give to them voluntarily.

 

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