Tuesday, December 29, 2015

When does life begin? Does it matter?

When it comes to abortion, there's a point that always comes up on both sides of the argument: When does life begin? The discussion is always geared towards whichever side is using it. Pro-choice always goes later - it begins with at birth, or with brain activity (at around 28 weeks) or with a heartbeat (around 22 weeks). Pro-life always goes earlier - it begins at conception, or some other early metric. Furthermore, Pro-life likes to counterpoint the argument of later activity with, "Why can't I just kill a baby after it's born when I decide I don't want it?" or "Why can't I kill a teenager?"

We should stop using this argument, it doesn't matter. Let's discuss why. First, life doesn't "begin" anywhere. Life continues. A baby doesn't magically come alive the second it's born, nor is that status granted on it any time between conception and birth. Indeed, the component parts of the fetus - the sperm and the egg were already alive before they merged. Those cells came from other living cells, and in the mother's case, the eggs were created LONG before she even had sex, much less became impregnated or gave birth. The idea that life begins anywhere is a false yardstick, and it only hurts the cause of pro-choice.

Instead, it's important to focus on the rights of the individuals involved. Roe v Wade said that laws against abortion were a violation of a woman's rights granted by the fourteenth amendment. That amendment says:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This has evolved into the concept of bodily autonomy. To put that simply, a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body. Even if that means the life or death of another human being, born or unborn. Just like I can't force you to give up a kidney to me if I'm dying of kidney failure and you're my only match. It's pretty straightforward, actually.

Of course, the common response to this, and the one that I received in a conversation that lead to the writing of this post is, "but what about the baby's rights? Doesn't it deserve to live?!?"  Well, sure, but not at the expense of the mother's rights. That's the way all of our rights work. I have the right to free speech - right up to the point that that speech impacts another person. I have the right to keep and bear arms - right up to the point that I use those arms against another person. I have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, right up to the point that it affects another person's rights of life, liberty, and their own pursuit of happiness. The baby has rights, but if the baby's rights affect's the mother's, then the mother's rights win. "but, aborting the child affect's the baby's rights too!"  Yes, you're right. But look at it this way - If I decide I like your house, and I move in, am I breaking a law? yes, obviously. it's YOUR house. Of course, kicking me out of your house violates my rights to life - If I'm homeless, I'm likely to die without a place to stay. Of course, that's not your problem, your house is yours, and I have no claim to it, therefore your rights trump mine. Well, the same argument applies to the woman in question. She has a right to her body. Saying she has MUST give up that right because there is a child inside it is the equivalent of suggesting that you MUST give up your own right to property because a homeless person has decided they live there now.

This is why the "when life begins" argument is irrelevant. Life is always there. Abortion isn't a question of life, it's a question of rights.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Trump - A possible future

Donald Trump can't win the election. EVERYONE says that. But, what if he did? Imagine this scenario.

Over the next few months, Trump continues to make abrasive and racist statements. He alienates many people, but he touches a nerve with a lot of the more xenophobic citizens in the country. However, the GOP begins to distance themselves from Trump, in an effort to hang on to moderate voters. At the GOP national convention, Trump gives his most inflammatory speech yet, inciting riots and hate crimes across the country. Nothing fires up a population like hate.

The GOP wisely admonishes Trump, and he completely loses support of the party. In the end, the GOP nominates Jeb Bush as their candidate. Meanwhile, the Democrats nominate Clinton, to the surprise of no-one. Predictably, many jokes are made referencing the 1992 Clinton/Bush race.
During the first Republican debate, Trump announced that he would still run as an independent if he did not win the nomination. True to his word, he announces that he was still going to run as such. The announcement is received with surprising amounts of support. The country is split almost evenly among all three candidates. Even then, nobody takes Trump seriously. The democrats attack Bush based on George Bush's policies, and the Republicans double down on attacking Clinton on her many issues. For the most part, they both largely ignore Trump. Trump, likewise, ignores them. Instead, he focuses on what's worked for him in the past – hatred. He continues to rave against Muslims, against hispanics, and expands his campaign to include a few other groups, including poor blacks, further igniting race issues.

Both the Clinton and Bush smear campaigns are incredibly effective. Few voters trust Clinton, and nobody wants a repeat of the bush years. Many decide to not vote at all, and 2016 proves to have the lowest voter turnout in history. The people that DO show up, though, are the people that are really fired up – namely, those who support Trump. Trump doesn't win the popular vote – barely getting 49% of the 20% turnout, but he wins enough to gain the Electoral votes to win the election. Trump is the 45th president of the United States.

In January, Trump wastes no time following through on his promises. Through an executive order, he suspends immigration of muslims or suspected muslims. He also initiates a program to secretly begins rounding up muslim citizens and placing them in internment camps. Over the next year, he continues to increase a message of hatred and distrust. He also solidifies his base in the administration. In January of 2017, he announces increased action in Syria, and calls for a full declaration of war. Maybe congress gives it to him, maybe they don't. In any case, He continues to glorify the American ideal, while at the same time further painting Islam as “the Great Enemy of America.” Additionally, Trump is extremely successful with his initiatives, and America is actually seeing successes that hasn't been seen since the 50s. People began talking about re-electing Trump for a second term.

In 2018, There's another terrorist attack on American soil. Trump chastises the Islam community. Muslim attacks increase at a staggering rate, and Trump begins to openly take Muslims into custody “for their own protection”. He feigns surprise at the attacks, but his message continues to encourage the hatred toward islam. In 2019, just as people begin talking about the next election, Trump instead declares martial law, and suspends elections indefinitely. There is some outcry, but they underestimate Trump's supporters. In 2020, The president of Mexico formerly announces they are closing their border, and begins arming the US border. Trump declares this as an act of war, and invades Mexico.

At this point, the rest of the world is in a crisis. Obviously, the outcry to the United State's actions is enormous, but there is little they can do. Still, NATO announces that the US membership has been revoked, and its members collectively declare war on the US, along with many other non-aligned countries. It's only a matter of time before the US is invaded.

Sure, it's not possible. Or, is it?

Minimum Wage - How it really works

I read another article on raising the minimum wage today. Something that I haven't seen that I find really interesting is who pays for what. So to grossly simplify things, let's imagine there are 3 people here: The buyer, who buys the product, the worker, who runs the store, and the owner, who gets the profit. Now I know it's more complicated than that, but just bear with this example for a moment. Now, There's supposed to be a delicate balance here. The buyer buys the product, which gives the store money, allowing the Owner to both buy more product, and pay the worker. The Worker keeps the store running, so the owner can sell his goods and the Buyer has a place to buy the things he needs. In this scenario, everyone profits. The Worker gets a wage, the Buyer gets the product, and the Owner makes a profit.

But let's say it costs $20 for the Worker to live. The Owner only pays him $10. So where does the other $10 come from? Currently, it comes from taxes. The Worker has to use government assistance to cover that negative, either through food stamp programs, medicare, or welfare. Sure, people want to raise the minimum wage to $20, so that the Worker can live on salary alone, but here's the interesting bit. Right now, where does the government get the money to pay that $10 to the Worker? The Worker doesn't pay into it - they can't afford to. The Owner also doesn't pay into it, because of tax loopholes, and corporate subsidies. So nearly all of that additional $10 comes from the Buyer. 

The point is, if minimum wage is raised, that means the Owner pays the difference, but right now, the Owner has tricked the system so that the Buyer pays it, as well as paying the Owner. It might be better for both the Buyer and the Worker if the Owner paid the Buyer a livable salary, but guess who decides that change should be made? That's right - The Owner. Doing that would actually be out of line with his own best interests. So the Owner convinces the Buyer that he pays the Worker enough, and that the Worker is just lazy, or greedy. That the Worker doesn't DESERVE more pay. And the Buyer buys it, since that's what Buyers do. The Owner says "I'd like to pay them more, but if I did, I'd have to raise the cost of everything you buy!" but doesn't mention that if he paid the Worker more, the Worker would in turn need less from the Government, meaning the Government would need less from the Buyer, meaning the Buyer would have more money.

 To really fix this situation, the Buyer is the one that has to see the problem, and right now, they're just blind to it, either because they don't want to see it, or because the Owner has tricked them into thinking it's a non-issue. But next time you're the Buyer, think about how the Owner is treating the Worker, and decide if you really want to be complacent in that system.