A smattering of opinionism

North Carolina’s lottery began today, the last of any East Coast state. This is the worst idea in the long, sordid history of bad ideas. What will happen is this: it will be a huge success at first because everyone will rush out and buy a ticket to see what the fuss is about. Sales will be good, lawmakers will grow complacent, and when that money stops trickling in because the novelty has worn off, what happens is funds that they thought were coming in for education simply won’t be there. The program will run in the red, and you know who gets screwed?–the taxpayers.

The rape at a Duke house party made the front page of the New York Times yesterday. I really hope these allegations aren’t true, but this thing isn’t going away any time soon (DNA testing from every member of the lacrosse team except one is apparently in the lab right now, and should exonerate them according to a letter they wrote to their coaches).

Oh, and UNC renamed where I live so it can feel better about itself. “A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

A brief defense of Intelligent Design:

There was an article in the Hill last month by Ben Lundin about how Intelligent Design isn’t a science. He got it half right.

Intelligent Design is a philosophical argument against the categories naturalist materialism uses to interpret the world. Science gives two reasons for everything: causal laws (gravity, light waves, etc…) and randomness (the subatomic level). Intelligent Design says that there is one more cause: a rational agent. By design, science isn’t meant to catch this third category because of what it assumes about the nature of the world, what “categories” it uses. The movie Contact touches on this “third cause” philosophy. If we got a signal from outer space that listed all prime numbers in sequential order, we wouldn’t assume that it either derived from a natural law or from randomness. We would assume that a rational agent created that signal. It would drastically alter our conception of science.

Now that wild tangent #2,435 is done, I just got killed by an 8 a.m. exam. My bed is calling my name, or maybe that’s just the sleep deprivation…

8 comments

  1. A friend of mine recounted to me today that he saw the regressive tax (oops…I mean lottery) in action this morning at the gas station. About 5 separate people ahead of him in line, who looked to not be particularly well off (i.e. indigant) each purchased 50 dollars a piece worth of lottery tickets. But it’s for the schools right?!; How can you be against more money for the schools?! :-PThe “take back the night” protests always amaze me. As if the rapists are not going to rape anyone now because 300 feminists (male and female) went out and “took back the night” (whatever the hell that means). The usual emotism over substance.As for intelligent design, it at a fundamental level is about being skeptical of the darwinist ideologues. Just as the Darwinists began as atheistic skeptics of Christianity, the intelligent design theory involves people who are skeptical of the skeptics. And their skepticism does not solely stem from philosophy, but also stems from the scientific method which the Darwinist’s employ. Specifically, that despite the Darwinist’s claim that the origin of the Earth has it’s source from an unintelligent chemical reaction, the Darwinist’s have never actually observed such an occurrence in the laboratory. Thus, Darwinism is at best still an unproven theory, and should be taught in schools as such.Intelligent design, however, is not a postive theory, but a negative theory. And as a result, intelligent design is not something that can be taught alongside Darwinism in our schools. That is it cannot be taught yet. Intelligent design scientists are actively working on their own positive theory, that may at some point be able to taught as a counter hypothesize to Darwinism. As it stands now, though, Intelligent Design is merely a very cogent criticism of the Darwinist ideology.

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  3. The problem with referring to the lottery as a “regressive tax” is that taxes are by nature obligatory compensation for enjoying the protections and benefits of the state. More specifically, a regressive tax is a tax which places a larger proportional burden on lower-income persons. Lottery tickets are a commodity; no one is required to buy them and, while their profits may serve as a source of state funding, they are in no way an obligation. So while lottery opponents may counter that they are a government fundraising scheme, and that lower-income people may proportionally spend more on it than higher-income people (out of hopes of bettering their lot in life through the extremely low probability of becoming fabulously wealthy by buying a ticket), it is not a tax. Everyone who purchases a ticket chooses to do so, and the ticket is far from being essential.And David, I wouldn’t necessarily refer to lotteries in general as a bad idea; they have existed in some states for a long time and, to my knowledge, have been profitable; if you know of evidence or statistics to the contrary, I would love to see it. I know that South Carolina’s lottery program has been pretty successful, although its youth might cause it to not fit your argument.

  4. The state makes a budget forecast for its expected spending in the years ahead. Included in this budget forecast is what the state expects to take in from lottery revenues. Now, given the state will most likely project a very high take on the lottery, it is inevitable that in the not too distant future there will be a lottery shortfall. The problem with this inevitable lottery shortfall is that the state will have had the lottery revenues built into the state budget and the shortfall will result in an imbalance in the budget. Once this happens, the general assembly and the governor will be able to go around saying we need to raise taxes because of the budget shortfall. This is of course just a prediction, but if you deny the likelihood or the high probability of this prediction, you obviously don’t pay too much attention to how our state government has functioned the last several decades.As for it being regressive, it is regressive, because it impacts the poor at a greater percentage then the more affluent. Just like alcohol and cigarette taxes, the lottery involves a personal choice on the part of the person who pays the tax (as oppossed to being arrested if you don’t pay your state income tax). Just because personal choice is involved, does not make it any less regressive.If you are going to support something, you should atleast be able to admit what it is that you support.

  5. Okay, fair enough, the lottery tax may be a tax that people “choose” to pay by purchasing a certain item. I still question this definition, as it draws no line between what constitutes a tax and what constitutes a purchase price for a good.Your definition means, of course, that alcohol, cigarette, gasoline, and any sales tax whatsoever is also a regressive tax, as it inevitably taxes people with lower incomes at a higher rate, proportional to their resources. But there is still a difference; some of the items which are sales taxed are indeed essential to life (food, domestic supplies etc., and arguably even gasoline). So why is there no intense opposition to these regressive taxes on necessary items that lower-income people must buy as well as others? Like alcohol and cigarettes, lottery tickets are purely nonessential.The “regressive tax” rhetoric is really only brought up by those who oppose lotteries, it seems. If one is to stand against one regressive tax, one should stand opposed to all of them. Who’s ready to hop on the “lower alcohol taxes” bandwagon with me?By the way, “Anonymous,” it would be nice to know who’s posting, just for our own edification. You’re obviously an avid reader :-).

  6. A regressive tax is what it is, it is a tax that has a greater proportional impact on those individuals of lower socio-economic status. The causative factors are something to be discussed, but are distinct and should not lead one to conclude that a tax is not regressive, simply because it is regressive due to a particular class of individual’s personal choices. Yes, the poorer folk drink more, smoke more, and will play the lottery more. But it is still regressive because the state is gathering tax revenue off a greater percentage of those persons who are less wealthy.And yes, sales tax on food can be arguably as bad. This is one of the main criticisms against a national sales tax, and why proponents of the national sales tax include an exemption for all “necessities.”

  7. And I will have to get back to you on my anonymity. πŸ™‚ But yes, I love the Carolina Review. Pretty much the only true thinkers on your college campus. πŸ™‚

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