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Saturday, May 16, 2009

CAN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, SOCIETAL NORMS AND DUTIES, A LARGE INTERVENTIONIST STATE, AND DEMOCRACY EASILY MESH?

Today's Buggy Topic Is Found . . .

at Economist's View, the laudable web-site maintained by Professor Mark Thoma of the University of Oregon . . . a savvy and balanced macroeconomist. 

The lengthy buggy commentary on the topic --- captured faithfully by the subject-title here --- is found in the same thread where the buggy prof commented at length earlier this week: on Adam Smith's views, always a source of controversy, on balancing societal pressures with individual rights.  The newer bugged-out stuff was posted on May 16th, 2009 at 9:02 A.M.   You can run a search for "buggy" to find it.  And in case you haven't read the initial buggy post, you might find that relevant to the later post.

Click here for the relevant thread and prof bug posts.

Note Something

The fellow posters in the thread keep strictly --- without exceptions --- to abstract generalizations, reinforced by "I think this" and "you, you fool, think that" . . . always a sign of not just weak arguments but also ideological proclivities protected by all sorts of group-think psychological defenses. 

Prof bug, over his scholarly lifetime, grew weary of such abstractions early on.  His lengthy new post reflects that weariness.  It deals with two morally charged controversies --- abortion rights and the death penalty; notes public opinion results on these controversies; links them to the problems of democratic rule and accountability to . . . well, to whom?  And compares the big differences in democratic rule and legal systems on the issue of the death penalty in the USA compared to West European countries as well as Canada.

Surprisingly, as you'll see, majority support for retaining the death penalty in the US, for good or bad, is not much different from what such opinion happens to be in Canada, Britain, or on the Continent of Europe.  And yet the US remains exceptional in the maintenance of the death penalty in 39 of our 50 states.   Why the difference?.