Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- The U.S.' budget negotiations are leading to some public lobbying as to whether wealthy Americans will make any contribution whatsoever to closing the country's deficit. On the plus side, Warren Buffett is renewing his call for a minimum tax for those who can afford it - but the usual suspects are also trying to push yet more freebies for the rich alongside service cuts for those who actually need public support.

- Mike de Souza reports on a much-needed response to the Cons' cuts to First Nations, while Stephanie Levitz notes that the Cons are likewise slashing support for refugees and demanding that private charities pick up the bill.

- Which looks like a rather opportune time to contrast the Cons' plans against Ian Welsh's eminently reasonable proposal as to the starting point we should apply in developing public policy:
If there is one policy point I’d like to make it isn’t a policy point, it’s an ethical one: default to kindness.
Or try kindness first.
In policy terms, the kind thing to do is usually the right thing to do.  I’d go so far as to say, almost always.
The first thing you should do, in any policy situation, is ask “what would the golden rule have me do?”  Most of the time, this will be the correct policy, which will produce the best results.  People who are treated with kindness, in general, reciprocate and are productive.  Yes, there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions.

Further, kindness is the default position even with the worst people.  If you allow rapists to be raped, you become a rapist.  If you torture torturers, you are now a torturer.  You do not, in the old phrase, sink to their level.  That doesn’t mean being a pushover, it doesn’t mean no justice, it does mean that the State has no business seeking revenge and that the rules, which should default to kindness, apply equally the worst people and the best.  This is not just the right thing to do, it is the only thing to do, because the State often decides the best people are the worst people, as even a cursory examination of history will attest, and it very often makes mistakes, as the many errors in capital cases have brought to light.  But, again, even if someone is the worst of the worst beyond even the shadow of a doubt, they must be treated with kindness even as they are incarcerated, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because doing anything else degrades those who do it.  Torturers are always corrupted by torturing, occupying armies always become weak, corrupt and brutal.  You cannot do evil and not be, yourself, scarred by it.

Be kind, and remember, what you insist on your government doing to others changes your government, and will effect (sic) its treatment of you.
- And there's still reason for optimism that most Canadians agree with that focus - despite the massive sums of money the Cons have spent to try to push their anti-social values.

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