In response to the same email Don responds to here, and posted for the same reasons (i.e. wanted to reply all, and couldn’t). For those of you not part of the original email, the video touted is this one which you probably don’t need if you’ve been paying any attention to the economy and the problems therein, or you too find it disagreeable when it the video speeds up its clips right as it’s displaying allegedly damning evidence.

“Looks to be good at covering a number of good sources.” And yet, it ignores entire segments of the problem. Subprime lending is a massive contributing factor to the current state of the economy, but it is not the only factor. If it were, we’d be hit with a nasty but short recession and march along our merry way. Instead this collapse matched up with a period of rapid inflation triggered by increased global demand for fuel and food – something that went under the radar of most economic watchdogs because they exclude these as a factor due to their variability. At the same time we’re losing jobs in several areas to foreign countries, in part because the foreign locations are cheaper, but in larger part because our native companies are behind on research and efficiency, and our infrastructure is rapidly falling out of date. For example, China is catching up to us for per capita broadband access and we’re not doing any major network expansions anymore. We’re on track for becoming the backwater of the Western world, and to ignore that as a factor in the current state of the economy not only shows a deliberate ignorance, but immediately ensures that any solution you develop for the problem will exacerbate the other contributing factors you’ve ignored. There’s a reason that right now is the best time for a new economist to get started – they’re rewriting the science every day at market’s close.

“Maybe if we tore every penny out of public education and gave it back to parents so they could decide to send their kids to schools who actually teach history properly, the U.S. would stop looking so much like Atlas Shrugged.” This is a nice idea in theory, and completely impossible to put into practice any time soon. Which schools are those? How are they going to handle the sudden influx of students from other schools, which were probably overcrowded in the first place? How are we going to stop from destroying the “good” schools by doing this to them? The public education system needs a complete overhaul from the ground up, but that’s how you’re going to have to do it. A voucher system only works in situations where you have one bad district surrounded by successful ones which, between them, could shoulder the population from the dysfunctional district. Ignoring this and behaving as if schools will magically sort themselves out once we give parents the freedom to choose where to put their kids is one of the logical fallacies committed by Libertarians I find the most grating. It’s particularly reprehensible since in order for a society built on Libertarian ideals to work, the population must be well educated, and so creating a system that ensures that in the best case we lose a generation of kids while we get our infrastructure in order and at worst we obliterate access to education for the segments of the population who need to have it most. (Educated poor people work on themselves and improve. Uneducated poor people don’t realize that Marx doesn’t still make sense when you can read).

“I’m still not sure what to do: take my own advice and vote for some third party candidate, or vote for McCain because pragmatically the lesser of two evils is the best one can do right now.” Vote for the third party. You know the arguments I’d make about long term benefits of voting third party but, more importantly, doing anything else would render you a hypocrite. That said, I find you assessment of “lesser of two evils” dramatically foolish, and had expected you to come to this on your own by now. The Democrats commit the frequent fault of being well-intentioned, and wrong in the the process. By being wrong they become aggravating, and cost money. Their shadier schemes for engineering the population into a bland Star Trek utopia will, fundamentally, never succeed because reality takes pleasure in sledgehammering utopias. The Republicans, on the other hand, commit the frequent fault of being well-intentioned, wrong, and capable of moving on despite that towards their objectives. The party is still controlled by the religious right, as evidenced by McCain’s choice of Palin as a VP, which means they do not see or acknowledge failure until they reach the Pearly gates and St. Pete chastises them. They’re trying to bring about the end times, and while I’m all for letting them go up in the rapture and leaving me to my carnal paradise, I’d rather they didn’t destroy my country in the process. The Republicans introduced domestic wire tapping, torture, scare-mongering, a concept of mandatory “patriotism”, abstinence only education, teaching creationism in science class, civil service hiring with a loyalty test, filtering science through what’s biblically acceptable, suffocating copyright regulation that goes so far as to limit free speech (just ask McCain), passports to travel to Canada, censorship by the FCC of people who do not pass the undefined obscenity fine of whoever’s in charge that day, the concept of a native citizen losing his rights as such for being labeled an “enemy combatant” (not that we have a definition for that, either), a McCarthy style blacklist, again with no publicly known rules for its governance, that restricts a person from flying on a plane (which can be career shattering, as I’m uncomfortably aware), No Child Left behind (which failed for reasons well past lack of funding) a $700 billion package designed to give a Republican minion virtually unlimited power over the economy and prevent banks from taking the spanking an ostensibly free market was about to hand them, and on and on and on. With the exception of the torture issue, John McCain has not meaningfully stood up against a single one of those offenses. He is a “maverick” only because he dares roll his eyes while marching lockstep with the leadership, and if he couldn’t break out the POW card he wouldn’t be allowed to do that much.

Allow me to suggest that while deciding to vote third party and encouraging others to as well is nice, it’s hardly enough. The Libertarians need a swift kick in the ass and a heavy dose of shaming from the inside because they’ve let themselves be wrong and stupid too often for too long. I’m predicting a collapse of the Republicans in the next five years (six months ago I said “one of the major parties” but Obama seems to have cobbled the Democrats into shape) which means the ass kicking needs to come now. I’d recommend starting by volunteering at a school to get some practical experience of what the problems there actually are, and potential avenues for solving them, but that’s my particular pet issue so you might want to move on something else. Either way, if anything is going to get better, the time for being stupid and wrong is long over, and we’ve got ground to make up for fast. You live in a democracy/republic. Be a citizen.

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