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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 02:33 AM Thread Starter
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little devils

So I got into an argument with a philosophy professor on Tuesday (surprise, surprise -- someone's opinion rubs me the wrong way). Anyway, we were talking about society's (and the government's) responsibility to step in and correct certain "bad" things. For instance, he argued that local communities have a responsibility to deny liquor stores the right to open up shop in poor neighborhoods because it would only make a bad economic situation worse when everybody starts drinking. At this point, I asked him why he thought that was so, because I couldn't understand why society or the government had any responsibility to replace individual common sense. My thought is that if someone knows drinking is going to put them in the hole, they can choose to do something about it and stop drinking. I know it's possible. The AA meetings have helped many an alcoholic, but they had to have their minds made up to do it. They can also choose not to become drunks to begin with. What he was arguing was that society make up their minds for them.

prof: "Do you, sir, claim that you don't frequent the liquor store?" (he was assuming I do because I'm in college)
me: "I can honestly say I'm not a regular."
prof: "Well good for you, but most of us have our little devils."

That was his premise. We have "little devils" (figuratively, of course) that make us do things that we know are going to get us in trouble. Therefore, society has to pour resources into poor neighborhoods to keep them out of everyone else's backyards -- because they are, according to him, inherently incapable of helping/controlling themselves! He continued to say that "the reason we have to help out the people in poor neighborhoods is because we have to live with them" and "if giving you welfare keeps you out of my backyard, then I'll give you welfare" basically. He was going on ethical egoism at this point, which I don't completely disagree with. However, when you consider the sheer number of people who abuse the welfare system, it isn't solving anything! If you let them starve, they will work. If you feed them, they won't.

Anyway, I believe in the potential of man. I believe in man's ability to change and to help himself. We all have the ability to kick bad habits, or to make changes in our lives for the better. I don't believe I have some little devils that prevent me from bettering my own life. I don't believe that I *need* society to provide me with its charity and deny me of alcohol if it thinks it will keep me out of trouble. I can help myself. All that is required is enough sense to realize that I need to help myself. If society wants to throw money at me -- great! I'll take it, but then I won't have a pressing reason to help myself become better, so I won't.

I just thought his reasoning was blind and that he needed to get a better understanding of how things really are. It's like those people that say "No war for oil." If they had any f*cking clue how important oil is to the global economy and how intricately it affects just about everything (including the nice way of life and standard of living they enjoy in America), they wouldn't say dumb sh*t like that. That's not to say that I'm advocating the invasion of any sovereign country (no matter the reason), but simply that oil can and will cause wars because it is so important (especially in deciding who has economic power and who doesn't). Anyway, to get back on topic, I'm posting this as a sanity check because maybe it's me that's blind

Also, as many of you know, I've been known to be very opinionated about certain things and I've gotten very fired up in the past. I'll *try* to keep a low profile this time because I'm really curious to get your opinions. Nothing more, nothing less.

Does anyone else see the little devils?


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 09:29 AM
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Re: little devils

That's exactly why the issuance of liquor licenses is, usually, controlled at the local level. If a community doesn't feel that they want additional liquor stores in their area, they can prevent it from happening. I see no problem with that. Check out a liquor store in the city some saturday evening. You can often find a bunch of drunk bums hanging around bothering people, and occasionally robbing them, for beer money. If a community says "we don't want to spread that to additional areas of our community" then I see no problem with that.

However, in many other communities it is not a problem. The liquor stores near my house are perfectly safe to go to and the surrounding neighborhoods are safe and clean. Probably because they are more middle-class and out of the city. People drive their X5's to pick up a bottle of Tuaca, instead of dragging their second-hand converse hightops to the store to pick up a bottle of maddog. big difference. Abusing Tuaca is socially acceptable (if a bit gay) whereas having a sip of maddog makes you an outcast.

But to suggest that society has an obligation to save us from our "little devils" is absurd. If a poor community wants to issue a liquor license in their neighborhood, then that is their business. If the people of that community agree or disagree, they'll make their feelings known at election time. To say that "government" has the responsibility to prevent you from doing something bad is to ignore that, in this country and especially at the local level, the people are the government.

It's a common feeling among many, especially those that deal with abstracts and theories, that "government" is meant to control things, rather than protect liberties and administer certain powers that the people have delegated to them. We decided that we don't want just anybody opening a liquor store wherever they want, so we created liquor licensing. That is not a tool for government to use to save people from themselves, but to simply control the sale of liquor according to the wishes of that community.

We have created certain social safety nets, as you pointed out in your post, to help people when they fall on bad times. And, as you also pointed out, those safety nets are abused. But yet we still provide them because we, as the government, feel that it is necessary and, supposedly, a worthwhile use of tax dollars. It's not an "obligation" to help people or save them from their problems, and it certainly isn't a "right" that someone should be able to purposely not work yet be supported. Society sees it as something worth doing, for the simple fact that getting people back on their feet is preferable to letting them sink into the muck. We paint it nice and pretty to sell it to voters, but that's just marketing.

This, of course, is ignoring election politics and the idea of pandering to one side or the other with, essentially, bribes of money in echange for votes.

My point, if I have one, is that we, as a society, decide how much time and money we want to invest in protecting people from themselves. Sometimes we do it to save ourselves money (like seatbelt laws that, supposedly, cut down in medical and insurance costs) other times we do it because "we" need to save "them" (refusing liquor licenses in poor areas). Personally, I see the latter is intrusive and downright snobbish. "I can handle drinking, but you can't" sounds too much like "I can own land and participate in government, but you can't" to me.

Especially when the people doing the protecting will never do anything about their own "little devils." To use your example, you can probably make a good argument that liquor stores in poor neighborhoods make a major contribution to crime and continued poverty and therefore they should be severely restricted. But you will never see the city councilman that has 4 DUI convitions arguing that they should be restricted in his upscale neighborhood. And, to use one of my own favorite issues, Diane Feinstein (D, CA) is one of the most outspoken advocates of gun control. Yet she has a concealed weapon permit and carries a pistol in her purse. Her life must be worth more than mine.



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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 11:25 AM
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Re: little devils

damn, could you two write any more? lol.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: little devils

Don't tempt me.* I'm losing enough sleep because of these forums as it is. :-)
I actually put off writing my bills last night until after I wrote that post.* I didn't end up going to bed until about 4-4:30* in the morning, cursing the car insurance company for being so damn greedy. :-(


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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-28-2005, 01:50 PM
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Re: little devils

^^aww! you gotta put your bills before posting! lol.

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