Saw something funny on another website recently. It was one of these mass infinitely-resent emails that conservatives send to one another as part of their mutual affirmation society (talk radio isn't enough, it seems). It contains 20 things that you supposedly must believe in order to be a "GOOD Democrat".
It's pretty typical sound-bite talk radio conservatism, the kind that falls apart under any kind of serious scrutiny. Oh sure, there are gems of truth embedded in it, but I thought it would be worthwhile to blow away most of these stupid myths. There are 20 of them, so I'll take them one by one in the weeks to come.
So we begin with Stupid Conservative Myth #1:
Liberals believe the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.
Ok, it's not meant to be serious of course but to poke fun at silly liberal beliefs that Big Government can solve every problem and so on. But let's look at the general sentiment behind it seriously. A typical conservative response (indeed, the one I first read) might be that "sexual abstinence" and "safe sex" are what prevent the spread of AIDS, not government funding, but then how do they expect that to come about? Good parenting?
Ok, great, we're all in favor of great parents. So what if the kid has really shitty parents? Do we just write that kid off? I mean, sure, shitty parents shouldn't have kids, but we haven't legalized neutering idiots, so in the real world, what do we do with their kids? How is that kid supposed to know what is up? Who is going to teach that kid what he or she needs to know?
Some volunteer? There aren't enough to make up for all the shitty parents, so at some level, *someone* is going to have to pay a qualified and trained professional to do the job. Who's going to do that? Bill Gates? Nope, it's the gummint! So in that sense, federal funding (and state and local funding) to promote education about AIDS can and does help prevent the spread of the virus.
I started this series as a single comment on a conservative blog that Chuck also graciously hosts, but I think the whole list is too long to discuss in a huge comment strand, so I am trying to organize it here. I don't know if the original list poster will participate, but I hope he does (from what little I've read, he looks like a true blue dittohead). At any rate, here is his response to my point:
Oh joy, email that ends in .edu, let me guess, you're a tenured professor at a liberal university somewhere, right? No, not the gummint, if the parent't are that shitty, the job probably falls to the kid's school nurse, so it's not the government, but me who has to foot the bill with my property taxes. Personally, I say let the fittest survive (and use condoms), and let the laws of natural selection apply.
My response to that:
Let's see, each part in turn: I'm a non-tenured (renewable one-year contract) science instructor at private southern University associated with a branch of the Christian Church. I got a good laugh reading that you think I am at a liberal university. This is Bush country here. Democrats don't even bother to run candidates for most elections. And I spent my whole childhood around here.
I hate to tell you this, but the kid's school nurse works for the gummint, unless it is a private school. Maybe not the federal gummint (but part of her salary is likely subsidized by the feds), but the state and/or local gummint. I don't know how you differentiate between the levels (is federal gummint crappy but state and local gummint okay?). Are you saying local gummint is ok because you pay the bill more directly somehow through property taxes? I guess I don't get that.
Still, it is the gummint educating kids about AIDS, and the funding for that education comes from all levels. If some of that funding went away, the situation would deteriorate. That's all.
I'm not saying it should be infinitely funded, but I think for a nationwide problem, the feds can probably respond more effectively with a greater economy of scale than the local governments, so the answer to what level of funding is appropriate is likely greater than zero (but I couldn't give you an exact dollar amount without doing more homework, something that debating the original assertion doesn't require).
But apparently that doesn't matter much because your position is we should let the kids die. Great, now that's cleared up. I'm willing to end the discussion on #1 right there by saying we differ on basic principles of humanity.
Perhaps I'll get a more serious defense than "let the kids die" in the comments, but I doubt it. So I propose Item #1 that you must believe in order to be a good conservative:
Posted by Observer at September 15, 2003 07:04 AM
1. The gummint should never try to educate people about sexually transmitted diseases. If somebody is stupid enough to get AIDS, we should let them die.
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