All Three Branches Determine Constitutionality Of Legislation

I have to agree with Ramesh Ponnuru here. Congressmen take an OATH to uphold the Constitution. They exercise their power of “legislative review” by NOT WRITING OR VOTING FOR BILLS which they think violate the Constitution. If they don’t do this, they shouldn’t be in Congress. If an unconstitutional bill gets by them, the President should veto it because he too takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. And if it goes that far, SCOTUS should strike it down. That way all 3 branches of government get to determine the constitutionality of legislation. The Court just gets the last say.

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89 Responses to All Three Branches Determine Constitutionality Of Legislation

  1. AMW says:

    I’m totally with you on that as an ideal. But when’s the last time (Ron Paul aside) that you ever heard a congressman or president oppose a bill because they thought it was unconstitutional? A politician never says, “I think legislating x would be a great idea, but it would also be patently unconstitutional, so I oppose it.” Heck, unless I’ve got my history wrong, W. even signed McCain-Feingold with the expectation that it would be overturned by the Supremes.

  2. Mark Boggs says:

    So W. was counting on “judicial activism”?

  3. James K says:

    The trouble is that the incentives are all wrong. If something popular, the legislature are better off voting for it, and the President is better off signing it. Then when SCOTUS strikes it down, they can blame it’s failure on “judicial activism”.

    Of course, I agree with you morally. I have no time for a government that can’t respect its own laws.

  4. James Hanley says:

    The weakness of judicial review is that it provides cover for the “political” branches. I’ve long been persuaded that the majority of congressmembers who voted for the Communications Decency Act knew damn well that it was unconstitutional and that the Court would strike it down. But they were afraid to go before the voters and be accused of supporting internet porn if they voted against it.

    The political theory of our system is exactly as Jon Rowe explains it. But we have to read his second sentence as prescriptive not descriptive.

  5. buddyglass says:

    Create a penalty. Just brainstorming here. If the supreme court overturns a law you voted for as unconstitutional then you’re forbidden from seeking reelection when your current term expires. Of course this might have a chilling effect on the passage of new legislation…but then that should be counterbalanced by the public’s desire that legislators actually pass new laws. If you vote against everything because you’re afraid of it eventually getting overturned and ending your congressional career then the public will choose not to reelect you. If you vote for everything that’s popular with no regard to constitutionality, eventually something you voted for will get overturned and your tenure in congress will be cut short.

    Probably not workable in the real world, but fun to think about.

  6. James K says:

    An interesting thought buddyglass. I’m not too worried about the chilling effect, but there is another second-order effect that would worry me.

    SCOTUS is appointed by politicians: appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Under the regime you outlined I can see politicians appointing judges with a higher degree of legislative deference than they do now. It might end up suppressing judicial review entirely.

  7. James Hanley says:

    There’s also the problem that many cases are marginal. If the SC rules 9-0, then it’s pretty fair to say Congress should have known better. But if they rule 5-4, that’s a pretty slim thread on which to hang a re-election ban. And if we tried to set the rule at, say, a 7-2 ruling, it would be pretty easy for the Court to institute an informal rule of switching, so that one judge on the winning side switches to the losing side, to make it a 6-3 ruling and avoid incurring the wrath of Congress. Not that Congress can do too much directly, but it wouldn’t make sense for the Court to purposely pick a fight they can easily avoid.

    The public is supposed to be the one who punishes the political branches, and in part that’s because there really aren’t good mechanisms anyone’s ever devised that don’t either create perverse incentives or produce politically unacceptable results.

    Obviously the public does a lousy job, but in a world of imperfect institutions, sometimes a lousy job is the best outcome.

    Like JamesK, the chilling effect itself doesn’t concern me. I think that would be the desirable effect of the rule.

  8. AMW says:

    SCOTUS is appointed by politicians: appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Under the regime you outlined I can see politicians appointing judges with a higher degree of legislative deference than they do now.–JamesK

    There’s also the problem that many cases are marginal. If the SC rules 9-0, then it’s pretty fair to say Congress should have known better. But if they rule 5-4, that’s a pretty slim thread on which to hang a re-election ban. And if we tried to set the rule at, say, a 7-2 ruling, it would be pretty easy for the Court to institute an informal rule of switching, so that one judge on the winning side switches to the losing side, to make it a 6-3 ruling and avoid incurring the wrath of Congress. –James Hanley

    It seems to me there might still be some way of imposing a penalty without making the incentives totally perverse. Maybe a tournament system. Every election cycle, the sitting senator & rep with the highest percentage of overturned legislation gets the boot. Or maybe a handicapping system. For every x% of legislation that a senator/rep votes for that gets overturned, he must beat his opponent by an extra 1% of the popular vote in the next election. Or maybe a lottery system. For every piece of legislation voted on that doesn’t pass constitutional muster, a senator/rep’s name gets written on a piece of paper and put in a big jar. At the start of the election cycle, some number of names are drawn from the jar. If your name comes up, you don’t get to run for re-election.

    Oh, wait, better yet: In all of the above, it’s only representatives who can be punished. Senators are immune. So the Senators, who actually confirm the Justices, won’t be as concerned about judicial review. That lets you crank up the punishment on reps much higher, to really put the fear of God in them. Since you need both houses to pass legislation, you really only need to bring one of them to heel as a constitutional safeguard.

  9. Michael Heath says:

    This was the only element of the “Pledge” I liked.

    I think it would be impossible to execute such a law by trying to draw direct lines on all the elements of comprehensive language, but I would like to see a law that requires a report out of the Congress which is signed by the President that accompanies all passed legislation. That report should provide a comprehensive argument on the constitutionally of the legislation along with certifying this legislation is in some combination: not in violation of the Constitution, rescinds old legislation that was not in compliance with the Constitution, enhances the ability of the government to execute policy in a way that better protects people’s constitutionally protected rights, or increases the people’s ability to exercise their rights.

    My primary reason for liking this initiative is the judiciary only hears cases under certain conditions. That provides the Congress and their President co-conspirator to pass all kinds of unconstitutional garbage where individuals have little opportunity to get standing in order to successfully sue.

    I haven’t thought this through very carefully but this is my first impression and it does address a personal aggravation that started decades ago.

  10. James K says:

    AMW:
    Those are good refinements. I always forget about the dynamics of a bicameral legislature.

    Michael Heath:
    It sounds reasonable to me too. Your federal government is one of enumerated powers, so everything it does should be reducible to one or more of those powers.

  11. Matty says:

    Didn’t Jim Babka have a campaign for every bill to include something like “congress is authorised to legislate on this by the following clause of the constitution..”?

  12. James Hanley says:

    . Since you need both houses to pass legislation, you really only need to bring one of them to heel as a constitutional safeguard.

    An excellent point, AMW, and a your idea is a good way to avoid creating ugly incentives for the Senate.

    Now all we need is a truly practically implementable way to discipline the House.

  13. D. C. Sessions says:

    The weakness of judicial review is that it provides cover for the “political” branches. I’ve long been persuaded that the majority of congressmembers who voted for the Communications Decency Act knew damn well that it was unconstitutional and that the Court would strike it down. But they were afraid to go before the voters and be accused of supporting internet porn if they voted against it.

    “Afraid” is at most half of it. Consider the CDA, but also consider all of the State legislation regarding creationism in schools, abortion restrictions, or damn near everything passed by the Arizona legislature this year (explicitly and openly intended to start litigation.)

    The various legislatures are not only counting on reversal in the courts to stop unConstitutional laws, they’re counting on reversal so that the subject can be reused next time around. We now have two full generations of politicians who have built their careers on opposing legal abortion. If they’d actually succeeded in making it illegal, they’d have lost their #1 campaign plank and a huge vasopressor issue for their base constituency.

    Given that, I’m actually led to conclude that the current USSC (even with added right-wing justices) is less likely to overturn Roe v Wade because it would weaken the social-conservative wing of the POG and shut off the primary source of pressure pushing the Court to the right. Oddly, this is precisely because the Court’s extreme right is so overtly political rather than in spite of it.

  14. D.A. Ridgely says:

    Ordinarily, I agree with Lily Tomlin’s observation that “No matter how cynical you get, it’s never enough,” but I have to disagree with D.C. Sessions here. To be sure, there are politicians who employ and count on precisely that gambit. But, alas, there are in my experience far more who are true believers, albeit of various sorts. So, for example, those who believe Roe was incorrectly decided may well believe the issue should, for better or worse, be left to the states; and I seriously doubt that politicians who managed against all odds to accomplish the overturning of Roe would have much difficulty being re-elected.

    Mutatis mutandis, the far left would have to continue to expand the welfare state beyond, e.g., government provided health care to continue in office. In fact, merely preserving the status quo against further encroachment by “the enemy” usually serves well enough.

  15. Matty says:

    We now have two full generations of politicians who have built their careers on opposing legal abortion.

    It has always puzzled me why abortion is an election issue in America but not in the UK.

    As I understand (which I may not) Roe vWade could only be overturned by another Supreme Court decision. So if standing for Senator or President a politician has some influence on whether this will happen through the Judicial nomination/confirmation process, if standing for any other elected office they would have no influence at all.

    By contrast abortion could be criminalised in the UK by a one vote majority in both Houses of Parliament so any candidate for MP surely has a much greater chance of changing the law than his US equivalent. Despite this I can’t think of any British politican who has campaigned on the issue and the parties stay well away from it through the convention of the conscience vote.

    Any thoughts on why this might be?

  16. OFT says:

    As I understand (which I may not) Roe vWade could only be overturned by another Supreme Court decision.

    W. could have prohibited abortion had he wanted to. I believe Duncan Hunter’s bill 551, went through, making the baby in the womb a person, and another bill came out, around 2004, which prohibited the Supreme Court from interfering, as the Constitution confirms.

    If W. would have signed both of them, abortion would have been illegal except in the case of rape. But W. was, and is, pro-abortion.

  17. James K says:

    Matty:
    The same’s true in New Zealand, our politicians generally don’t go near social issues. Every so often one party makes a few changes (like the introduction of Civil unions a few years back) but these are not debated fiercely within Parliament, though they often are by non-politicians.

    I think its because the religious right have no real power in either of our countries. The dominant religion in your country is the eminently mild C of E and in New Zealand politicians don’t talk about religion at all if they can avoid it (with a few exceptions). It’s not controversial because we don’t have a lot of voters with strong preferences on the issue.

  18. James Hanley says:

    W. was, and is, pro-abortion

    Well, that might be something of an overstatement.

  19. D. C. Sessions says:

    But W. was, and is, pro-abortion.

    Or you could argue that W. was, and is, more dedicated to partisan advantage than he was or is to any particular policy and threfore wisely preserved the single issue that has most driven the rightward shift of the United States Supreme Court by consolidating the religious right as a Republican franchise.

  20. OFT says:

    Or you could argue that W. was, and is, more dedicated to partisan advantage than he was or is to any particular policy and threfore wisely preserved the single issue that has most driven the rightward shift of the United States Supreme Court by consolidating the religious right as a Republican franchise.

    The religious right is another issue, however, W. claims he’s a Christian; he isn’t, and the Church bought it. The Scriptures are clear, life begins at conception, and its destruction is murder.

    Pro-life is not a Republican franchise in the modern sense, as there are many pro-life democrats. It is a Christian franchise.

  21. Jon Rowe says:

    “The Scriptures are clear, life begins at conception, and its destruction is murder.”

    The Catholic Church has its natural law method of proving life begins at conception. However, I don’t know of any verses/chapters of scripture that prove this. Yes, there are scriptures that suggest a human is a “person” in the womb; but please fill me in at those that prove a FERTILIZED EGG is a human being.

    The common law and many natural law philosophers in Christendom (Blackstone, James Wilson) by the way, did NOT believe life begins at conception but rather at “quickening” which was sometime AFTER conception.

  22. James Hanley says:

    OFT,

    You don’t know that Bush is not a Christian. I’m pretty sure the Bible says something about only God knowing, and you’re not God.

  23. D.A. Ridgely says:

    OFT, You don’t know that Bush is not a Christian.

    Pish-posh! By comparison to OFT’s omniscience, God’s grasp of the facts is shaky at best.

  24. OFT says:

    The common law and many natural law philosophers in Christendom (Blackstone, James Wilson) by the way, did NOT believe life begins at conception but rather at “quickening” which was sometime AFTER conception.

    This is pure semantics. Blackstone believed life was at conception, and Wilson was not making a scientific statement, just a personal observation.

    <i.You don’t know that Bush is not a Christian. I’m pretty sure the Bible says something about only God knowing, and you’re not God.

    W. is not born again. Jesus said a person must be born again to enter Heaven with their sins forgiven. Besides, W. doesn’t believe in biblical inerrancy, which if God did indwell his mortal body, W. could not deny passages of scripture without conviction from God.

  25. Jon Rowe says:

    OFT: I stand by my remarks on Wilson & Blackstone until I see you source their quotations that refute them.

  26. OFT says:

    Jon,

    To believe a person was not, at conception, yet at a point after, in the womb, was a person, doesn’t make sense. Whatever that is, is not in the Scriptures. It sounds almost as foolish as Muhammed believing gender is determined by who ejaculates first. Wilson, growing up in Calvinist Fife, Scotland, understood Original Sin, and when conception took place. Judges 13:5 is clear. Therefore, Wilson did not adhere to whatever you mentioned.

  27. OFT says:

    Jon, you are correct. In the view of law, the framers believed life started at the “quickening” probably from Aristotle. This is obviously not a scientific statement, but the prevailing statement.

  28. OFT says:

    I think legally, Wilson and Blackstone, who quotes Lord Bracton, made their views about life in the context of legal rights, and estates etc. For instance, Blackstone quotes Lord Bracton, which implys the penalty for abortion is before the quickening, thus, there is a difference between life, and when that person contains legal rights, etc:

    ‘St aliquis mulierem pregnantem percusserit, vel ei venerium dederit, per qvod fecerit abortivam; si puerperium jam formatum fuerit, et maxime si fuerit animatum facit homicidium. (If anyone strike a woman when pregnant, or administer poison to her, by which abortion shall ensue, if the child should be already formed, and especially if it be alive, that person is guilty of manslaughter.)’

    – Bracton. L 3. c. 21.

    I think if we studied Lord Bracton, Blackstone, etc. their statements on when life started was a legal description, not a theological statement. Thus, Blackstone:

    “Since minors are not in traditional terms legally reckoned to be competent to engage in sex, to enter into contracts, or to form sufficient “informed consent” to agree to their own medical treatment (“on account of the imbecillity of judgment,” is how Blackstone put it in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 1, p.424), it is incredible that they would be regarded as competent to make a life and death decision about something that, later in life with a more mature reckoning of conscience, they might themselves regard as a real person — considering themselves to have committed a murder.”
    http://www.friesian.com/abortion.htm
    http://books.google.com/books?id=Iv1BAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA376&lpg=PA376&dq=blackstone+on+life+at+conception&source=bl&ots=RWeYze8RB4&sig=T7Cjawo86tDynJYyyvEcRMi5Vb0&hl=en&ei=14KmTIOhOoOglAee7aQX&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAzgU#v=onepage&q&f=false

  29. James Hanley says:

    OFT,

    Are you really claiming that those who don’t believe in biblical inerrancy can’t be Christians? I didn’t realize you were that particular kind of kook. I mean, it’s one thing to believe in biblical inerrancy, but quite another to think that it’s a defining characteristic of a Christian.

    And I repeat that you cannot know whether W. was born again. You’re not God. W has claimed that he was set on the path toward God after a meeting with Billy Graham. It’s not a “I got saved at the alter call at church camp” or “road to Damascus” type story, but it’s W’s word that he set out on the path to God, and I see no reason to doubt him on that. And neither you nor I know how far he got on that road.

    By the way, it makes perfect sense to say that the foetus is not a human at conception, but is at quickening, because quickening was when God was said to implant the soul. No person, no soul. Now you may disagree about when the soul gets implanted (I disagree that a soul gets implanted), but if a person believes the soul doesn’t come in until quickening, then it’s very logical for them to believe the foetus isn’t a human until then.

    Of course it’s not in scripture. But then neither is the idea that the soul is implanted at the instant the egg is fertilized found in the scripture, either, so far as I know. If it was, I doubt theologians would have spilled so much ink arguing over the issue over the millenia!

  30. We need to begin electing business people into office and then paying and rewarding them based on measurable items. It is no secret that when people are unaccountable they do not perform at peak levels, if our government had these measurements in place we would see more efficiencies. All we have to do is get it passed through congress….

  31. Matty says:

    We need to begin electing business people into office and then paying and rewarding them based on measurable items.

    But which measurable items? What do do when voter A regards a government as successful if it pays down the debt even if that results in fewer police on the street and voter B regards a government as succesful when it pays for the police that make him feel safer even if that results in higher national debt?

  32. James K says:

    Christopher James Conner:
    Better information collection would be an extremely good idea. Monitoring and evaluation should be standard practice for every policy proposal, but it is hardly ever performed. If a policy is worth implementing, its worth actually checking to see if it’s doing what it’s supposed to.

  33. James Hanley says:

    The fundamental flaw in Mr. Connor’s scheme is that the public doesn’t want the same measurable items. Passing a ban on abortion would be quite the measurable item, but damned if I want to reward anyone for that. Other people would pay vast amounts for it.

    We want our bureaucracies to act in a businesslike manner as they implement policies, but the idea that setting public policy can be handled that way is to falsely assume the existence of a single utility function for the public.

    And businessmen, of course, would most probably protect their own interests first, just as would anyone else. Adam Smith told us that and I’ve never seen any evidence to the contrary. (Which is not to say there shouldn’t be any businessmen in Congress–their perspective on efficiency is too often wholly lacking.)

  34. Michael Heath says:

    I was going to let Mr. O’Connor’s comment post slide given my riff off it would be off-topic, but since the blogger bit I will as well.

    I would like to see some obligations by government officials to review specific metrics that trend over time. I think a review by the President around the time and attendant to the State of the Union would be perfect. I’d like the same out of the House and Senate which would be presented by the various Committee Chairs.

    I’m particularly frustrated that elected officials generally get to arbitrarily report the metrics that best fit their storyline with few exceptions (e.g. high unemployment is a good exception which can’t be avoided). The lack of consistency leads to no consistency from presentation to presentation and therefore a lot of cacophany and a more uneducated populace. In addition the lack of a graph with parsed information also creates a lot of opportunities for politicians to take undeserved credit or inappropriately deflect blame.

    Public corporations are able to come up with some consistent measurements in spite of their also having a diverse set of stakeholders, e.g., their quarterly reports. Parsing the results and considering them respective of time and the results of others helps form a context of honesty as well – it’s hard to avoid the truth when its reported regularly where the audience becomes increasingly able to understand what factors drives the results. From that perspective I don’t think it would be difficult to start out with a couple of metrics we could all agree on, certainly initiatives like the degree of abortion-rights would fail, but I’m confident others like GDP, U6 unemployment, and trends in median disposable income would gain bipartisan support (if the GOP were sane, given they currently are not, all bets are temporarily off).

    For example, I think having a President report recent and predicted results regarding GDP could be supported by both parties. I’m aware that some economists argue GDP is not sufficiently correlative to the health of a society, my point is to first get started with some popular metrics that are already de facto standard metrics and let the enhancements or substitution battles happen after getting started and refining the process with some metrics already carefully monitored. A couple of aspects I would like to see reported is our GDP growth rate compared to other countries and groups of countries. I’d also like to see it reported nominally compared to other countries. Each report should have a visual graph that provides insightful information where economists generally concur the explanations for the trend results are accepted.

    Another example is the deficit. Presidents and Congress should be reporting on the deficit that also forces them to break it down from several aspects. One would be whether its structural, driven by the stage in the business cycle, or because of specific terminal initiatives. Another would be a report that parsed out the primary policy initiatives that led to such or change in economic conditions. A change in an economic condition should force the re-evaluation on whether a certain rule for the road requires adaptation.

    For example, a deficit driven by a foreseeable war where effective taxes are relatively low compared to GDP would reveal horrible policy judgment (e.g., financing the war in Iraq). However a deficit even in when the business cycle is bullish which is exclusively focused on increasing future growth rates might be acceptable in spite of such debt creation happening in a non-recessionary period – i.e., that policy looks to increase GDP sufficiently to reduce the debt relative to GDP just like companies secure debt/equity to exploit market opportunities which if successfully executed, brings returns sufficient to pay-off that debt or make it trivial relative to the income stream.

    The key to all this is that the elected officials be constrained by what they must report and the framework of the reports and getting some independent certification of the results and explanation of the results by expert bodies. Yes elected officials have the power to modify such reports, but only by going through the legislative process. I’d argue that people would like this enough they’d force these politicos to get independent verification of the efficacy of their proposed changes just like we now see both parties running to the CBO to score their proposals and market them accordingly.

  35. James K says:

    Michael, for-profit corporations have it easy since they really only have one goal and it’s easily measured. Still, i agree with you, it would be nice if politicians were judged on outcomes more directly. As to which outcomes, well that’s a question the democratic process is as well suited to as any other mechanism I can think of at the moment. Democracy should ideally be about the public stating it’s terminal values at a high level. How to attain those values is better left to experts.

    In fact, at that point you start to shade into Robin Hanson’s Futuarchy, which is a system I’d like to see explored on a small scale at least.

  36. Heidegger says:

    A question, if you please, a profoundly stupid question, but I must ask. We seem, recently, to endlessly hear of how billions of dollars are being thrown around for this problem and that problem, various “stimulus” packages, social programs, all the while being reminded that there is absolutely no money to pay for these schemes. So, the solution? Just crank up the money printing machines and we’ll be just fine.

    Now, if that’s all it takes, why create unfundable programs, and instead, just send every household a million dollars? Money, in the hands of the general population, couldn’t be worse off than money in the hands of incompetent government bureaucrats. I know, intuitively, this would probably be a disaster, but not sure why. Of course, the first problem would seem to be, no one would show up for work, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s say that doesn’t happen, everyone shows up for work, much richer of course, and most decide to put their newly acquired wealth in savings accounts and very safe investments—at what point does the whole scenario completely collapse? I know it has to, but why doesn’t it happen when government starts spending one trillion more dollars than it has?

    I know this is idiotic–forgive me, but am deeply curious to know why this experiment would, undoubtedly, be disastrous. Thanks.

    Anybody old enough to remember that TV program from the 50s, “The Millionaire”?

  37. James K says:

    Heidegger:

    I know it has to, but why doesn’t it happen when government starts spending one trillion more dollars than it has?

    Barring reforms that I don’t think are likely to occur, I firmly believe your government is on course for a sovereign debt crisis in 20-30 years. In short, I think your system is going to collapse, it just isn’t there yet.

  38. James Hanley says:

    Heidegger, a few thoughts in response, but I don’t have time to fully flesh them out today.

    1. Keynes wouldn’t absolutely object to your proposal (although he would probably object to the amount). He argued that the main point was to get money into the economy during a recession (and we are following a Keynesian stimulus path right now). In one of his famous arguments he said if necessary we should fill bottles with cash, bury them, then let people dig them up. He was being facetious, but his points was to get the money out there any way possible. Still, even he believed it was better to target the money toward the most productive purposes, rather than just throwing it around. But it is entirely possible that giving it directly to families might have a more productive result, depending on the types of programs funded.

    2. The government isn’t exactly just printing more money. True, the Federal Reserve can literally put more money into the economy, or pull it out of the economy. What the Fed holds still exists, in some mystical sort of fashion, but doesn’t circulate, so it’s not participating in the economy and doesn’t get counted as part of the money supply. But it can add to the money supply by buying securities with its “vault money” (so to speak–most of it doesn’t have any corporeal existence). But much of the government’s extra spending comes from borrowing–as long as U.S. citizens, the Chinese, the Brits, Dutch, etc., etc., are willing to keep loaning to us, we can keep borrowing to live beyond our means. But if they stop believing loaning to us is a good investment, then they’ll stop borrowing and we’ll be in a pinch trying to pay the bills. The only way then to borrow more would be to increase the interest rates we’re willing to pay, but at some point that just makes everyone realize the house of cards has gotten too shaky to rely on.

    3. While we could give households money directly, the amount we give matters. If we give each household a little more, they may go out and buy more, stimulating the economy. If we give each household a million dollars, there won’t be enough goods and services available for all of us to purchase at current prices. The competition for those goods and services–too many buyers chasing too few goods–would result in massive inflation. (Just think of an auction of rare items–lots of people want the ancient trinket or classic car, but there’s only one of that thing available, so the price goes up.) According to economists like Paul Krugman, a little inflation can be good for the economy–because I think my money will buy less tomorrow, I will spend it today instead of holding on to it (of course that assumes I have money to spend). But massive inflation has devastating consequences. So I’m not sure how serious you were about the million dollars (perhaps it was just hyperbole), but the serious point is that how much we hand out does matter. It seems to be a Goldilocks problem–either too little or too much is no good; it has to be just right.

  39. OFT says:

    Of course it’s not in scripture. But then neither is the idea that the soul is implanted at the instant the egg is fertilized found in the scripture, either, so far as I know.

    So far as you know is correct.

  40. D.A. Ridgely says:

    So far as you know is correct.


    Also sprach OFThustra.

  41. Matty says:

    Of course it’s not in scripture. But then neither is the idea that the soul is implanted at the instant the egg is fertilized found in the scripture, either, so far as I know.

    So far as you know is correct.

    I take it from this comment that the idea is in the Bible, being rather ignorant of the text myself I’d be grateful if you could give us a reference to where.

  42. James Hanley says:

    OFT,

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “so far as you know, too.” If you think the scriptures do say the soul implants at conception, please prove it.

    Briefly, verses that won’t remotely persuade me because I’ve already considered and rejected them: anything about the evils of spilling the see on the ground (which would prevent God from putting the soul in the fetus at whatever time he chooses to do so, by preventing a fetus from being created; anything about “in my mother’s womb he knew me (God being omniscient and omnipresent, He knew me even before I was in my mother’s womb, and anyway it could mean that in the 9th month God took note of me in my mom’s womb and stuck a soul in me moments before I entered the world).

    Go to it, big guy!

  43. Heidegger says:

    Thanks JamesK and James H for the replies. I knew it was a crazy idea, but I was very curious to hear your thoughts on this matter and JamesH, I think you identified the ultimate weak link with, “too many buyers chasing too few goods”. Even though, wouldn’t that situation provide jobs for all in order to keep up with demand? I was just throwing numbers around when settling on a million dollars for every household just to see how this thought experiment would ultimately fail and fail it would—there would be zero0 incentive for anyone to go to work. Didn’t Mugabe pretty much destroy his country with this “money printing” solution? I think Idi Amin as well. He, of the famous, “bus crash kills 200,000” explanation for the disappearance of thousands of people during his reign of terror.

  44. James K says:

    Heidegger:
    Mugabe did a much more thorough job on his country than that, the hyperinflation was barely more than a coup de grace, still it certainly didn’t help.

    The fundamental mistake most non-economists make is that they pay attention to money, when money is usually the least important thing happening in the economy. Money doesn’t make us rich, stuff makes us rich. The more stuff we have, the richer we are. Money is just a pool of “potential stuff” that makes trading easier than barter would be. Keynesians call for stimulus in times of recession, not because they think increasing the amount of money would make us richer, but because they effectively want to trick people into thinking they’re richer, in the hope this will shake everyone out of recession. It doesn’t work over the long term because people catch wise to the trick and then you get a collapsing economy and high inflation (see: the ’70s).

    Outside of recessionary conditions Keynesians will call for budget surpluses to help pay for the recession-era deficits, and to stop the economy overheating. That’s why Krugman made such a big noise about Bush’s deficits. I dislike Krugman (at least as a political commentator), but he was being perfectly consistent with his views here.

  45. OFT says:

    The Scriptures do not play semantics or make theories about “quickening” or when God implants a soul; doctrines are fairly simple with God, just as when life begins.

    If a woman got hurt, and had an abortion due to anothers malpractice, it was penalized. There was no distinction. Exodus says a punishment was due for a caused pre-mature birth:

    If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
    -Exodus 21:22-23.

    Judges 13:5, claims Samson was a Son at conception, that conceiving is part of bearing a son:

    For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

    Hosea says murder is at conception in this judgment against Ephraim:

    As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer. Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

    -Hosea 9:11-14

    Some would say the Catholic Church by 325AD was not Christian; it’s debatable, as there were still many Christians within that body, their pronouncements were in-line with the Scriptures, not Natural Law:

    Thou shalt not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for ‘everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged as being unjustly destroyed’ [Exodus 21:23, Septuagint].

    -Apostolic Constitution, Book 7, Section 1, §3. Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, edited, with notes, by James Donaldson, in the Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors ; revised by A. Cleveland Coxe; v. 7 (1975 printing): p. 466.

    I would tend to agree with Calvin and the Reformers, Original Sin is part of the issue, where the Fall is imputed at Conception, appears to be at the same time the soul is given:

    The reformers insisted upon the full humanity of the fetus from the time of conception. Their insistence arose, however, less from attention to the abortion issue itself than from their concern about the doctrines of original sin and predestination. Full humanity of the conceptus was believed necessary if the mind and spirit as well as the body of nascent life were to be involved in the consequences of the human Fall.” (v. 1, p. 14, col. [1])

    -Montgomery in Encyclopedia of Bioethics (1978):

    It is also noted, the Reformers believed the Catholic Church appeared consistent on this issue with the Scriptures.

  46. D.A. Ridgely says:

    I am shocked, shocked to discover that none of OFT’s offered cites justifies his position!

  47. James Hanley says:

    OFT,

    What DAR said.

    Seriously.

  48. mcmillan says:

    Since I’m waiting for a simulation to finish I figure I’ll make an effort to explain why OFT’s response seems unsatisfying and maybe head off complaints that we’re not engaging with his evidence.

    Quote 1: No reference to a soul or personhood, just that causing a miscarriage will incur a penalty. I’m not clear what it means by “mischief” but it at least some situations the penalty is simply a fine, less than would be expected to be a punishment of murder or a person.

    Quote 2: Again no references to souls or personhood at conception, and it seems a stretch to say it is meant to suggest Samson is considered a son at conception, rather than saying that after conceiving a son will be born (as opposed to a daughter or miscarriage occuring)

    Quote 3: not actually scripture, and did you not notice it refers to the same passage you gave in quote 1?

    Quote 4: Again not scripture, simply saying that Calvin and the Reformers believed as you do. All right, we’re not disagreeing that some people believe that, just that a clear cut scriptural argument doesn’t seem to be present.

  49. OFT says:

    mcmillan:

    You are looking for specifics; they aren’t there. However, conceiving is part of bearing a son. A son is a person, and conception is part of that. And a son has a soul. You can see why the Church took this position.

    More so than specific numeration of the doctrine, imputation at conception is what Original Sin and Predestination is all about. It only makes sense the soul is imputed at the same time. Where does Scripture imply the soul entered the womb later on? It’s not consistent with imputation of Original Sin.

    From the text in Hosea, it appears to say murder can happen at conception. Anyway, this is the historic position of the Church.

  50. James Hanley says:

    A son is a person, and conception is part of that. And a son has a soul.

    All undoubtedly true. (Well, I don’t believe in souls, but for the sake of discussion, I can easily accept it as a stipulated fact, so for all practical purposes, undoubtedly true). But the fact that the son is a) conceived and b) has a soul does not mean that a) and b) happen concurrently, or anywhere near together in time. And the Bible does not say that they do.

    I’m not saying b) couldn’t happen concurrently with a). After all, who am I to tell God how to work. I’m just saying that so far you’ve shown us nothing in the Bible that makes any clear claim that a) and b) are concurrent. It’s just your assertion, and your interpretation based on convenience rather than scriptural language. It’s much like a pinioned duck: there’s a lot of quacking and flapping, but it just doesn’t fly.

  51. OFT says:

    James,

    Neither is the Trinity, and Original Sin specifically enumerated. But these doctrines are inferred from the text. The Bible says The Messiah is eternal, and co-equal with The Father. Are you going to argue “but the word Trinity isn’t used?” Yes, Scripture does not mention implanting the soul at conception. With that said:

    A) Biblical Life begins before conception, as God knew you before then. Indeed, the very notion of “conception” in the Bible does not refer to the fertilization of an egg by a sperm, rather conception is what happens when God “conceives” of someone or something.

    B) Scripture says conceiving is part of bearing a Son. A Son has a soul. And, how can God know who you are before you were fertilized; without a soul, as Jeremiah 1 says?

    C) From a humanist point of view, with Christianity’s influence, does not science teach life at conception? From the moment fertilization takes place, the child’s genetic makeup is already complete. Its gender has already been determined, along with its height and hair, eye and skin color. The only thing the embryo needs to become a fully-functioning being is the time to grow and develop.

  52. Heidegger says:

    I was wondering, does there exist a “libertarian” position on abortion? I’m speaking of a position that is widely accepted by my the majority of libertarians. Hard to imagine a situation in which a human being’s right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is more encroached upon than being murdered inside the womb. A rather cataclysmic denial of inalienable liberties to be certain. For that matter, is it more moral to “give” a woman a right to kill a fetus rather than to “take” the life from a fetus? If the giving of a liberty ends up taking a liberty, why does “giving” trump “taking”?

  53. Jon Rowe says:

    Heidegger. There are a number of libertarian positions on abortion. A popular one is the property/eviction position, that even if the fetus is a “person” the mother, owning the property of her body has a right to “evict.”

  54. Heidegger says:

    Jon–the only owning of a person as “property” was during slavery. I think.

  55. Heidegger says:

    I would assume, judging from the content of the posts and comments at this site, and assuming this being a fair reflection of the libertarian world view, that 80% are pro abortion, 20% against. Just a guess. I’d say just about the same for left-of-center, right-of-center. Theoretically, “pure” libertarianism should be a 50-50 split.

  56. Heidegger says:

    One other thing, if a pregnant is murdered, it is ALWAYS tried as a double murder. Why is the fetus no longer considered a women’s “property” but a separate human being, under such circumstances?

  57. Jon Rowe says:

    No, it’s owning YOURSELF as property and the fetus as a DIFFERENT person (one you DON’T own) being EVICTED.

  58. Jon Rowe says:

    On a personal note, I’m not a fan of abortion, but I have a hard time with the idea that a fertilized egg is a human being. I’d permit abortion before the first trimester, probably not that different from the “quickening” standard.

  59. Heidegger says:

    Evicted, yes, unfortunately, dead on arrival. Too bad the aborted can’t sue the landlady…

  60. Heidegger says:

    Jon–since we’re talking about freedom and liberty, more or less, check this out. I’ve been recently pretty much out of my head with this song–Hymn to Freedom, by Oscar Peterson. Ineffably gorgeous and sublime. Truly, he is touched by an angel. Oscar, you da man!!

  61. Heidegger says:

    Hey, why not make this the official theme song for, One Best Way?

  62. mcmillan says:

    does not science teach life at conception?

    Now you’re starting to get closer to my area of expertise (I’m a biochemist though, so my developmental biology knowledge is pretty rudimentary). From my experience the closest we ever got in my biology courses to discussing when “life begins” was a joke from my lab partner pointing out how futile it would be to pick one single event that is “conception” for which life to begin with. (Though I will admit that is also largely influenced by a adverseness to discuss politics in those courses despite the reputation of professors as godless liberals forcing their viewpoint on innocent students)

    Development is a messy process with lots of events occurring at different times and any of them going wrong could lead to a non-viable embryo. The mixture of genetic material is probably one of the least interesting parts. Also considering how few scientists would agree that the genes are all you need to determine the individual I find it amusing that many of the same people that point to that as the defining “start” for life would probably also criticize scientists as being too willing to reduce humanity to it’s chemical parts.

    Personally if I had to pick an early event that would make sense as the first point which an embryo was a unique individual it would be after cell differentiation has begun, so any cells separated from the rest of the embryo couldn’t develop into a complete organism.

    Switching to Heidigger’s question, I mostly agree with Jon Rowe’s description of how balancing rights can take place(this page was what I found with a quick search discussing some analogies that develop that idea more). However I also think a lot of of people who don’t have a problem with abortion view development as a process. As such they would disagree with your premise that the fetus has the same rights as the mother, since it doesn’t make sense to pick one point at which a person gains full rights, but a spectrum that means gradually adding those rights. I will admit that puts people that share that view with me into a uncomfortable situation of needing to decide what capabilities makes something deserving of rights, something I still won’t say I feel I’ve come up with a completely satisfying answer.

  63. Heidegger says:

    Dr. McMillan, so glad you could join the conversation. Is it possible to agree that the fertilization of the ovum is the beginning of human life? Probably not, hence the never ending debate of what conception is, when “life” begins, but let’s face it, once you have the zygote, you have a complete, total genetic entity and the only possible point of when a fetus should have the same rights as the mother is when it exists as a perfectly genetically conceived human being. Notwithstanding my poor mother’s inquiry about whether or not it’s legal to abort her twelve-year old son (me), what we’re really dealing with here are nanoseconds as process. In other words, a hopelessly difficult conundrum which has no foreseeable solution. Perhaps, it’s best this way. Could it be that liberal and conservative brains are simply wired differently?

  64. mcmillan says:

    First off, I’m not quite Dr. McMillan yet.
    And the process I was describing is much more than nanoseconds. It’s about a minute for physiological changes related to sperm and fusion to be detected. For humans the first cell division is about a day later. Then it doesn’t implant into the uterus for about another week, which if you believe it was a human life prior to that point then the most common cause of death is failure to implant. Up to this point is also generally when identical twins result from splitting the embryo. Formation of the different layers (gastrulation, which is what I was thinking of as the earliest stage that I think of it as something other than a mass of cells) starts happening at about two weeks, with the structures that will become the brain beginning to form about 3 weeks in, but doesn’t develop enough to be functional until the second trimester, and the connections for sensory input that don’t develop until the third trimester.

  65. Chris says:

    Heidegger, why the name “Heidegger?” I will get this out of you at some point.

    I’m not a biologist, but this is a discussion I’ve had often. My approach (which I wrote about at length several years ago here)is somewhat idiosyncratic, but not entirely absent from the bioethics literature (see, e.g., this book),

    is to approach the beginning of life in the same way that I approach the end of life (which is a can of worms in itself, I know). I believe in in the higher brain death standard, and so for me, personhood begins when higher brain functioning (organized) is present. This occurs sometime between 25 and 28 weeks (I think the median is 27 weeks). After this, I think abortion becomes a truly sticky issue. There are some feminists I know who argue that even with a viable, neurologically “alive” fetus, the woman’s right to choose trumps the fetus’ rights. I’m not sure how I feel about the arguments for that position, but I find abortion up until ~27 weeks to be perfectly acceptable, because I don’t see the fetus as a person.
    Most biologists and bioethicists, at least those who publish on the topic, don’t adopt a neurological view of life. However, there are several other views, and many of them put the start of life at different points. For example, twins can separate at 12 days. If this is possible, it seems strange to call an embryo prior to 12 days an individual person, though it might be a living thing (being alive and being a person are two separate things, conceptually, even if they ultimately end up being coextensive in practice; these two things are often confused, especially in non-scholarly discussions of the issues). However, there are biological/bioethical theories currently discussed in the literature that place the beginning of life/personhood in each of the trimesters, and even at birth. The upside of that is that it’s quite clear by now that biology, ultimately, isn’t going to solve the conceptual problem, though it’s not inconceivable that biological technology, along with social and policy advances, could solve the practical problem (which makes all of the theorizing worthwhile).

  66. Jon Rowe says:

    I too have question why the name Heidegger because his thoughts don’t seem very Heideggerian. Plus someone like TVD would point out the unfortunate connection between Heidegger and the Nazis.

  67. Michael Heath says:

    mcmillan and Chris,

    What is the range of development where the unborn begins to experience suffering? I’ve rarely thought about and debated abortion policy so its an innocent question. The reason I ask is that I saw this presented as an arguably valid juncture where the unborn’s right to not be aborted superseded the pregnant mother’s right to abort for reasons not related to the mother’s health and safety. I found this approach interesting but didn’t know how to equate that to a stage of development.

  68. OFT says:

    Mcmillan,

    From a Christian point of view, God knew you before conception took place. From that angle, and for others already noted, it is the beginning of life. Conception should at least be where the soul is implanted, because we know from scripture that an aborted fetus will go to heaven. In that case, how will God clothe that person; as a man, a child? God knew how that person was going to be, and that person had a soul.

    Luke 1:15 says ” [John The Baptist] was filled with the Holy Spirit, even from the womb.” John wasn’t Divine, and no where does Scripture talk about a “quickening” in the womb. As Jon says, it’s “a-biblical.”

    I believe in in the higher brain death standard, and so for me, personhood begins when higher brain functioning (organized) is present. This occurs sometime between 25 and 28 weeks (I think the median is 27 weeks).</i.

    But the person feels pain before then, no?

    I don't see the mother having any say whatsoever. The baby has its own DNA, etc. If a woman is raped, there are consequences for not just that. But executing the baby for the sins of its father is another sin that can't correct the first sin.

  69. Chris says:

    Michael, no one knows, though it is not physically possible until around 25-27 weeks.

  70. Heidegger says:

    Chris, sorry to say, the links you provided are not accessible–any chance they might be in another site or format? I’d be very interested to read your train of thought on this issue as I’ve never heard it quite presented in such a way, an interesting way, I’d add–a neurological perspective, the “higher brain death” standard as you put it. You’d still be killing an Einstein, or a Bach, or a Beethoven or any other sentient being whether you aborted it one day or 270 days. And why aren’t feminists screaming bloody murder over sex-selection abortion in China? Haven’t heard a peep….males are outnumbering females almost 4-1. Agreed, the conceptual problem is not ever going to be solved or resolved. Hmmm, now about that Heidegger business….no, not parading around the house in a Waffen SS uniform, singing the glorious phrases of Die Fahne hoch, die reihen Fest geschlossen….all jackbooted and ready conquest of Untermenschen….will get back to you, though.

  71. Matty says:

    I don’t have anything to add to the abortion discussion as I’m still deeply conflicted on the issue myself, but I would like to congratulate you on having an intellectual discussion. I’ve seen a few internet discussions of the topic and they always seems to degenerate into a slanging match about how one side wants to murder children and the other wants to enslave women.

  72. Chris says:

    Heidegger, first of all, feminists are screaming about sex selection. You should actually listen to some feminists before decrying them for what they are or aren’t doing.

    Second, I included an extra quotation mark at the end of the link. here it is without the problem-causing punctuation.

  73. James Hanley says:

    OFT–you’re making lots of inferences, then assuming you’ve proven your case definitively. You haven’t, and you can’t, or you would have by now.

    Heidegger wrote:

    80% are pro abortion,

    Pro-abortion? So now you’re going to engage in the right-wing’s favorite dishonest meme? Why don’t you just come right out and say we favor the torture and killing of unborn babies?

    Pro-abortion is one of the stupidest terms anybody can use. To be pro-abortion, a person would actually have to favor abortions over births. We’d have to go around handing out literature to try to persuade women to have abortions instead of giving birth. There might be a small number of environmentalists who think the earth’s too overcrowded already who take this position, but I’ve never actually met any (and I know quite a few environmentalists who worry about overpopulation). Perhaps a pro-abortion person would favor China’s policy of forced abortions for women who already have one child.

    But I doubt anyone here is actually pro-abortion. I’m staunchly pro-choice, but with my own daughters I heard the heartbeat at an early age and thrilled to the realization that there was a little life in there. When my wife got pregnant for the third time we were not at all happy at first, but for us abortion was never an option. So to have a shallow-thinking troll like you call us pro-abortion is simply offensive, and goes to show what a dishonest debater you are.

    Get honest or get lost.

  74. Jon Rowe says:

    Heidegger,

    Yup you don’t many Oscar Petersons. Personally I like Keith Emerson; but I know some piano snobs who are like he ain’t Horowitz; he ain’t Peterson so he’s not worth my time.

  75. Heidegger says:

    Mr. Hanley, my apologies if I’ve struck a raw nerve with regard to characterizing your position as, “pro-abortion”. I’d be very curious to know how someone could be “pro-choice” and not be “pro-abortion”. It’s logically impossible. Being pro-abortion hardly means being an advocate of abortion. Pro-gun hardly means support of murder—pro-family doesn’t mean advocating incest–why does, “pro-abortion” ruffle your feathers so? I’ve seen countless debates where one side was identified as “pro-abortion” and the other side as, “pro-life”. And what in the world does “staunchly” pro-choice mean? Up to the moment of birth? No parental notification needed? Oh, and please explain how partial birth abortion is not infanticide. I’d really love to see how you dance on the head of a pin with this issue.

    I understand that this is a very difficult, and deeply sensitive subject and would never in a million years try and diminish your personal, laudatory decision to rule out abortion as an option. I am among the flummoxed as anyone else on this subject.

    So, Professor, relax, have a beer, and listen to one of the most beautiful pieces of music you’ll ever hear in this lifetime, Hymn To Freedom. “When gripping grief the heart doth wound, and doleful dumps the mind oppress, then music with her silver sound, shall quickly lend redress….”

  76. Jim51 says:

    “I’d be very curious to know how someone could be “pro-choice” and not be “pro-abortion”. ”

    Then you are an idiot. A hateful dishonest partisan hack of an idiot. And your subsequent pretended sensitivity on the subject is transparent to anyone who has bothered to genuinely consider the difficulties that such a question as abortion presents.

    Although this is not my blog, I concur — get honest or get lost.

    Jim51

  77. Heidegger says:

    A solution. How about instead of “pro-abortion”, pro-abortion rights? Pr0-abortion rights seems to be a reasonable and accurate characterization of someone who identifies themselves as, “pro-choice”. Hey, but what do I know, I’m a hateful idiot.

  78. D.A. Ridgely says:

    I favor legalizing drugs even though it may well lead to more people being addicted to drugs. It doesn’t follow that favor drug addiction. So, also, many if not most (but probably not all) of those who strongly support abortion rights do not, as a result, strongly support having abortions.

    I’m not sure, however, that these are such self evident points that one should be condemned for not being clever enough to grasp them by himself.

  79. Heidegger says:

    Mr. Ridgely, “I favor legalizing drugs even though it may well lead to more people being addicted to drugs.” That’s precisely the point I was attempting to make. Just as identifying the “pro-choice” position as “pro-abortion” simply means that they support the legal rights of a woman to terminate a pregnancy. It was Mr. Hanley, who said, “To be pro-abortion, a person would actually have to favor abortions over births.” That’s n the case at all. To favor abortions over births would be, “pro-death”. I am hardly trying to make a logical extension of a pro-abortion position to encompass fetal death under any circumstances.

  80. Heidegger says:

    DAR,

    “I’m not sure, however, that these are such self evident points that one should be condemned for not being clever enough to grasp them by himself.”

    You really needn’t be so harsh and judgmental on Professor Hanley!

    (How many commenters do you suppose are now just ready to say, “you’re so stupid Heidegger, you don’t even realize DAR is talking about YOU?)

    Sharpen the libertarian daggers, all,–eternal banishment from this site is a fait accompli…

    Seriously now, wouldn’t preaching to the choir be a terribly tedious and insufferable fate? If nothing else, I think we have very interesting conversations and for me at least, sometimes even, enlightening. And I am most certainly not a troll. That we have contrarian positions is just the way things unfold. This is not an attempt to deliberately antagonize and annoy the commenters and posters at this site. And being a, “hateful, partisan idiot”, do I have a choice, pro-choicers?

  81. Jim51 says:

    “How about instead of “pro-abortion”, pro-abortion rights? Pr0-abortion rights seems to be a reasonable and accurate characterization…”

    No. How about ‘pro-choice?’ Or how about ‘those who feel that in general, the best locus of decision in this matter is the woman herself even though many of those people would not and could not consider such for themselves?’

    Jim51

  82. Heidegger says:

    Jim51,

    “pro-‘those who feel that in general, the best locus of decision in this matter is the woman herself even though many of those people would not and could not consider such for themselves?’ Certainly worth pondering…

    Or how about, pro-“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

  83. Matty says:

    *sigh* it seems my last post was premature

  84. James Hanley says:

    Heidegger,

    Asking people to use honest words is preaching to the choir? Then since you obviously are not part of that choir, are you admitting to not using honest words?

    It’s a clear sign of your basically infantile mindset that you think favoring allowing someone to make their own choice about an activity means you actually favor that activity. Just as being in favor of legalization of drugs doesn’t mean I actually favor or advocate smoking pot, snorting cocaine, etc., favoring allowing a women the right to choose doesn’t mean I actually favor or advocate abortions. The only people I’ve ever know who are foolish enough to think that are raging moralist ideologues and college freshman who just aren’t very well educated yet. I don’t know where you fit in there, although I suspect a bit of both.

    Do I need to be so harsh and judgmental? Yes, I do, because you’re coming into our house and perpetually annoying the crap out of us while rarely–if ever–adding anything of value to the conversation.

    And you can forget about trying the silly guilt trip of “ohh, libertarians banning people? How ironic.” All that shows is that after spending a couple of years here being an utter pain in the ass you still know nothing about libertarianism.

  85. James Hanley says:

    I’m not sure, however, that these are such self evident points that one should be condemned for not being clever enough to grasp them by himself.

    Well, if we’re talking about teenagers, perhaps. But I think Mr. Heidegger’s old enough, and he certainly thinks he’s intelligent enough, that I think condemnation for failure to grasp is justified.

    And anyone who’s paid any attention to the abortion debate would know what terms are considered appropriately descriptive and which aren’t.

    But I’ll accept his use of pro-abortion if he’ll accept my use of anti-women for his viewpoint.

  86. Heidegger says:

    Herr Hanley,

    Who’s “us”? Are you the official spokesman for everyone else on this blog?

    Do you normally exhibit such a prickly temperament when someone doesn’t agree with you?

    Are you, perchance, a honorary lifetime member at the Joy(less) Luck Club?

  87. Heidegger says:

    Forgot this: JH, “you’re coming into our house and perpetually annoying the crap out of us…” That was the “us” I was referring to.

  88. D.A. Ridgely says:

    I think I’ll withdraw from this particular spat but not without making a couple of final comments.

    First, there should be no question in the minds of any of our readers that this blog is the property of its authors and that, as such, we reserve the right unilaterally to toss anyone out we damn well please. Nothing could be more libertarian, after all, than the exercise or even the arbitrary exercise of property rights.

    Second, while I might be more hesitant than some other authors here to draw certain conclusions about some of our readers — I am, after all, a notorious softy in such matters — I’m quite willing to note here for the record that, for the most part, Heidegger’s comments on this blog have been of little if any substantive value and further that, insofar as he may believe himself to be in some sense auditioning for or, even worse, appointing himself as this blog’s comic relief or Shakespearean fool, I would certainly look elsewhere in making that casting decision.

  89. Heidegger says:

    Okay. Verdict delivered, verdict accepted. If my favorite author, Dapper DAR, Top Dog at this site, says my comments have “little, if any, substantive value”, I’ll assume that expresses a unanimity of opinion amongst the folks at One Best way. I wonder what a comment WITH substantive value would look like—what its “value” would be. Perhaps Mr. Hanley’s endless derisive, shameful, condescending ridicule of Mr. van Dyke and OFT might point the way. If that’s substance, then go ahead and continue patting each other on the back (ad nauseum) for your brilliance, nonpareil, which, far too often, amounts to cheap, gratuitous, shots. And yes, I have learned something from visiting this site—that professional intellectuals can be the most nasty, miserable, human beings on this earth.

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