August 25th, 2012

Godzilla, default

Fiction and politics:

There is to me an underexplored potential issue in terms of politics, namely the impact that fiction can and does have on it.
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So with these two examples, one positve and one negative, comes a very important question. How much responsibiliity, if any, do authors have for works that might have political overtones? What of cases where these overtones are either not intended or completely the opposite result of the actual intent (like all the fanboys of V for Vendetta that miss that Alan Moore saw the character as a Very Bad ManTM)? To me I think that such responsibility is much higher where the work itself is actually intended to be political, as in this case the fiction, be it radio, film, novel, Youtube, or what have you, is focused on political matters. As such viewing it and the author from political lenses is entirely justfiable.

But where this is actually unintentional or not the purpose of the original story, I'll be perfectly blunt and say that I think it depends on whether I agree with the message in the story or not as to how strongly I'd uphold the principle that it should matter rather less. The more I agree with the message, the less I'd say anything about it, the less I agree with it, I'd have rather more to say and quite a bit of it rather less positive.

What do you guys think?

Krugman: The Right's problem with fiat money is that it does work.
I think Yglesias has this right:
Commodity-backed money is basically a solution to a non-problem. Or at least it’s not a problem you have if you don’t accept a Randian deeply moralized view of market outcomes. The existince of fiat money is embarassing to that kind of ideology, so it inspires quests for alternatives to modern central banking even when the alternatives don’t make sense.

In this sense fiat money is like, oh, Social Security. The problem it creates for conservatives is not that it doesn’t work, but that it does — which is a challenge to their philosophy. And so it must die.

I wonder if this is fair to say. It does seem to fit with the Religious Right's fear of science. I see a fear of science and hatred of logical results, and a preference for economic fantasies. I suspect it traces in part to the concerns about human overpopulation and unsustainable consumption in the 1970's. If your instincts don't like science, don't like the truth, just turn against those things. Oppose sex ed, oppose contraception, oppose climate science, blah blah blah.

From choosing creationism over evolution, and ignoring environmental problems, it's a short step to endorsing Austrian economics, and ignoring the failures of the free market.

But I don't want to get too bogged down in a tangent about evolution and global warming.

I don't know. Is this really the what's happening? Why is "free-market economics," with all its fallacies and failures, still believed? Is it a religion? An attractive preconception? Why hold onto it?

I think it's not just because people don't know any better, but that they've gotten used to both ignoring reality themselves, and ignoring the scientific conclusions of those who study reality in depth and reveal to us what is not obvious.

Rape and incest

With Todd Akin's comments and the recent renewed conversation on abortion, the "rape and incest exception" has popped back up, apparently because Romney supports it and Ryan doesn't.

But this exception has never made sense to me. As I understand it, the primary argument of the anti-choice side is that women should not have the choice to have an abortion because the fetus at any stage of development has the right to life. If this is the case, I don't see why rape should be an exception -- Akin essentially made this point. There are a lot of practical problems with the exception as well (what burden of proof does the woman have to meet, and how does she do it?) I don't think the supporters of this exception care much about the practical concerns, but is there any consistent reason to support such an exception? It doesn't seem to really fit with the "pro-life" label they apply to themselves.

The "incest" part makes even less sense to me -- we've already dealt with rape, so does this mean consensual incest? If so, why is there an exception for that? If the concern is birth defects (which are exaggerated in public perception), that doesn't fit with the anti-choice crowd's frequent inveighing against the spectre of people practicing eugenics through abortion.

Are there really a lot of people who consider themselves pro-life but still want rape/incest exceptions? If people like Romney feel like they have to take such a position it would seem so, but it just doesn't make sense to me.