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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case that the state of Virginia could sterilize those it thought unfit. The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963, when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States.

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Yep, not one of America's brightest moments. Eugenics was a big element of the Progressive political movement in America and Germany. A good, albeit controversial look at the political currents that led from Progressivism to the Fascist movements in Germany and Italy is Jonah Goldberg's book "Liberal Fascism," available in most libraries.


One of the things that doesn't often get taught in schools: Most kids are taught about the Scopes Monkey Trial, with the idea that the noble civil libertarian Clarence Darrow represented "Good" in supporting the teaching of evolution and redneck William Jennings Bryan represented "bad" in opposing the teaching of Darwinism.


In fact, the truth wasn't so cut and dried. Darrow himself could be a pretty vile individual, who regularly bribed jury members in trials and famously said that dissent during wartime (at least, during FDR's war) should be punished by imprisonment.


Bryan wasn't the redneck hick modern schools often depict him as. He was actually a political liberal,, a pacifist and anti-imperialist (the character of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz was a satire of Bryan by L. Frank Baum), a trust-buster, a supporter of women's suffrage, and a Democrat, but unlike many of his fellow progressives opposed the eugenics movement. His opposition to the teaching of Darwinism in the school was based partly on his biblical literalism (although he wasn't a strict literalist - he believed the "days" of Genesis could be metaphors for geological epochs), but also on his belief that Darwinism, expressed as Social Darwinism, would be used as a tool for the rising fascist movement and provide a veneer of scientific authority to racism - which in fact, it did.

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Perhaps it's worth noting that the fault lines of a number of key moral issues runs between the natural law of Thomas Aquinas and that of the current progressive movement.


We've discussed on other threads how the natural law value of procreation conflicts with the "If it feel good, do it" values promoted by the sexual liberation movement. That is the source of conflict between lots of things from homosexuality to birth control to contraceptives to abortion.


A second very important natural law value is the value of human life. That conflicts with the utilitarian notions of progressive values on things like euthanasia and abortion.


It is really remarkable to see the very durable cornerstones of western civilization being torn up and replaced on such issues. I'm not really sure that happened during the Hundred years War or the reformation.


It probably happened during the French Revolution, but those value changes were largely defeated in the end there.


In the history of ideas, this is a remarkable time, and not necessarily a good one despite the pretension of progressives.



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As described earlier, the eugenics movement was a cornerstone of progressive politics before WWII. Progressives rejected the natural law value given to life and to procreation, and decided that their politics and the wisdom of government could be used to clean up the gene pool of humanity that nature did so poorly.


Then along came Adolf Hitler and Stalin, who showed the real potential of such policies when wielded by a self confident state. Even progressives were horrified by that!


They have not, however, been deterred by the example of China's "one child" policy to revise their support of abortion. Apparently it doesn't matter if a million unborn children in the United states are killed, as long as they are killed at the initiative of the mother rather than the state.


The Progressive value (seen in this thread) is the utilitarian assertion that a human fetus is valueless and can be destroyed at will by the mother.


Of course, this is contradicted by laws which criminalize the killing of a human fetus if it is not done by the permission of the mother. An assault by someone that kills a fetus can be prosecuted.


Roman fathers used to have the power to kill their children even into adulthood. These days we have the same power, except that it is the mother who is free to decide to kill her child and she has to decide before he/she is born.





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We're not really out of the woods yet on Eugenics. Some bio-ethicists (I should probably put that in quotation marks) have argued that parents should be allowed to kill an infant up to one year after birth, if not doing so would impact the quality of life of the mother or father:




After the journal article that originally argued for this claim was published, it produced such vehement response (some of which was understandably over the top), that the journal editor published an article saying, hey, what's the big deal? As he points out, some of the most prominent bio-ethicists have advocated for such a policy: "The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion."




The aforementioned Singer, formerly a professor at Princeton,has also argued that the aged should be euthanized, even against their will, if they no longer are a benefit to society, and also advocates for zoophilia in some cases. Singer was a member of Obama's health care reform team, so it's hard to argue that he lacks influence.



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Hello AZ Mike,





Interesting article. You can see the idea of the eugenics movement again being revived by Progressives. I guess the horrors of Naziism are forgotten or forgiven.


And notice how the interest of the state to avoid caring for expensive children is again given as a reason for government intervention in life and procreation.


At least in the 1920s the eugenics movement was aimed at sterilizing those deemed to be mentally incompetent, not actually killing children who were already born.


I think this amply illustrates why the values of life and procreation as espoused by Thomas Aquinas are so important.


The Progressive alternative is to dispose of life and procreation as central human values, replacing them with utilitarian values which amount to "if it feels good, do it" and in the longer term will give government control over such decisions whether the individuals involved like it or not.


The Progressive movement has used "choice" as the battering ram to destroy natural law values in government, but longer term we can see that the aim is to give government the power of life and death and to decide whether human life can be conceived, born and lived.

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The Utilitarian idea of an ethical imperative is the one most frequently advanced by atheists (notably Sam Harris) as a response to the need for a grounded moral philosophy. "The greatest good for the greatest number" sounds good in theory, until we realize its inherent moral squishiness - who is to decided what is the greatest good, and which minority members may have to suffer in the name of "human flourishing?"


The use of euthanized patients' organs for transplants, whose organs are much fresher and less likely to be rejected, is seen as a positive good and is becoming common in Belgium.




The creation of human-animal hybrids (chimeras) in (for now) embryonic form, such as human/cow hybrids (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6121280.stm) and human/sheep hybrids (http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/crossing_the_species_boundary) is seen as useful to many scientists. A recent article in Wired Magazine in which scientists were asked what experiments they would like to do if there were no medical ethics boards elicited a strong desire to create a human/simian hybrid, in the name of scientific research that would aid the many.


As Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris - a member of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee - said: "If human benefit can be derived by perfecting therapeutic cloning techniques or from research into subsequently-derived stem cells, then it would actually be immoral to prevent it just because of a 'yuck' factor."


The creation of cloned humans as personal organ transplant banks, or to allow gay couples to have children, has also been proposed under the utilitarian imperative.


The desire to euthanize the aged, the sick, and the apparently useless becomes much stronger for the government once the government start paying more of the bill for health care. In the Netherlands, they have created mobile euthanasia parlors to make the process even easier (http://www.spiegel.de/international/controversy-over-dutch-mobile-euthanasia-teams-in-the-netherlands-a-822484.html). In the name of compassion (aided by monetary incentives), the need to place the needs of the many over the few can seem rational. It sure did in "Soylent Green."


The interesting thing about Utilitarianism is how closely it corresponds to the psychopathic mind.


From: http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/daleks_are_utilitarians_but_are_utilitarians_daleks


Does the linkage between utilitarians and psychopaths sound extreme?


Perhaps, but two American academics have recently published a paper in the peer-reviewed psychology journal Cognition which correlates anti-social personality traits with utilitarian responses to moral dilemmas. This is not an ad hominempiece that says utilitarians are losers but it is statistically significant evidence that people lacking in moral character traits are overwhelmingly utilitarians. In the words of Daniel M. Bartels, of Columbia University, and David A. Pizarro, of Cornell University:


We report a study in which participants responded to a battery of personality assessments and a set of dilemmas that pit utilitarian and non-utilitarian options against each other. Participants who indicated greater endorsement of utilitarian solutions had higher scores on measures of psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and life meaninglessness. These results question the widely-used methods by which lay moral judgments are evaluated, as these approaches lead to the counterintuitive conclusion that those individuals who are least prone to moral errors also possess a set of psychological characteristics that many would consider prototypically immoral.




There is a lesson in this. Of course, the fact that utilitarians tend to be psychopaths is not necessarily an argument against utilitarian ideas. But it should make us cautious about endorsing utilitarian arguments simply because they yield neat, all-end-tied-up answers. Doctors, nurses, administrators and politicians often have to deliberate agonising dilemmas. They should beware of utilitarian advisors who smirk that no dilemma is really agonising its just a matter of counting up the plusses and minuses."




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CalicoPenn: "This whole eugenics thing is interesting but lets keep in mind that it's one thing to discuss it, it's quite another to put forth policies that will lead to it, like vouchers for healthcare.


Yes, like the Obama voucher program that will push 2 million poor seniors from Medicare into voucher programs...


As CalicoPenn has astutely pointed out in his post, Obama's Health and Human Services Department took only one date after his campaign speech to launcn a pilot program that would shift up to 2 million of the poorest and most-vulnerable seniors out of the federal Medicare program and into private health insurance plans overseen by the states, unlike the Ryan plan that made the vouchers optional, and allowed seniors to choose either the traditional government-run Medicare plan or opt for a private insurance plan from a federal exchange of approved insurers. The Ryan plan allowed all seniors to choose, and didnt force the poorest seniors to take the voucher option. It took Obama about a day after his campaign speech to flip-flop on vouchers, and require a state-managed rather than Medicare-managed plan.




Obama's science czar, John Holdren, famously advocated for Eugenics in his 1977 book "Ecoscience" which he co-wrote with Paul and Anne Ehrlich . He has since claimed that his comments should be considered in light of his belief at the time that overpopulation required extreme social control measures on the part of the government to prevent catastrophe - you know, like global warming, now.


"One way to carry out this disapproval might be to insist that all illegitimate babies be put up for adoptionespecially those born to minors, who generally are not capable of caring properly for a child alone. If a single mother really wished to keep her baby, she might be obliged to go through adoption proceedings and demonstrate her ability to support and care for it. Adoption proceedings probably should remain more difficult for single people than for married couples, in recognition of the relative difficulty of raising children alone. It would even be possible to require pregnant single women to marry or have abortions, perhaps as an alternative to placement for adoption, depending on the society."


He also wrote that forced, surreptitious sterilization of the American people would be okay, as long as it didn't affect men or, you know, animals:


"Adding a sterilant to drinking water or staple foods is a suggestion that seems to horrify people more than most proposals for involuntary fertility control. Indeed, this would pose some very difficult political, legal, and social questions, to say nothing of the technical problems. No such sterilant exists today, nor does one appear to be under development. To be acceptable, such a substance would have to meet some rather stiff requirements: it must be uniformly effective, despite widely varying doses received by individuals, and despite varying degrees of fertility and sensitivity among individuals; it must be free of dangerous or unpleasant side effects; and it must have no effect on members of the opposite sex, children, old people, pets, or livestock."


Holdren seemed to think that women should be expected to bear a greater burden of the involuntary sterilization program than dudes:


"Involuntary fertility control


A program of sterilizing women after their second or third child, despite the relatively greater difficulty of the operation than vasectomy, might be easier to implement than trying to sterilize men.


The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births."


I guess I would be considered a natal criminal in Holdren's future:


"In today's world, however, the number of children in a family is a matter of profound public concern. The law regulates other highly personal matters. For example, no one may lawfully have more than one spouse at a time. Why should the law not be able to prevent a person from having more than two children?"


It gets much, much worse, if you can find a copy of Holdren's book, but suffice to say that the 1930s view of Eugenics as a desirable imperative is apparently alive and well in the Obama White House.

(This message has been edited by AZMike)(This message has been edited by AZMike)(This message has been edited by AZMike)

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"Yes, like the Obama voucher program that will push 2 million poor seniors from Medicare into voucher programs..."


You should really do more research rather than just follow what the right wing blogs "report" blindly.


This program will NOT push 2 million poor seniors from Medicare - the folk that will be in this plan will still remain in Medicare.


Those 2 million seniors and disabled are folks poor enough to be eligible to be on BOTH Medicare AND Medicaid.


(A quick overview - Medicare is a FEDERAL program that covers medical care for seniors and the disabled. Medicaid is a STATE run program that covers medical and continuing care for the poor, and continuing care (ie nursing homes) for poor seniors and the disabled that are on Medicare).


What this plan does is allow states to buy managed care plans for those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid to cover the costs associated with MEDICAID only. Instead of using Medicaid dollars to directly pay for the services, they'll buy group insurance plans for these folks that will pay for the services if needed.


(A quick overview of how a group insurance plan works - Say you have an employer of 500 people. He provides them with a group insurance plan that covers a lot of medical care. The employees pay a portion of the premiums and the employer pays a portion of the premiums. Lets say that the premiums are $500 per month per person. The insurance company will collect $3 Million from the company (and it's employees). The insurance company is betting that they won't have to pay out $3 Million in claims for your employees. It's a pretty good bet - out of the 500 people, most won't have to use the insurance in a given year. Even if the insurance company covers an annual physical, say at $100 - they've only paid $50K. Now you might not use it but the guy in the office down the hall has a heart attack - the cost is $100,000. He doesn't have to pay all of it out of his pocket because it's covered by the premiums that everyone has paid - I know, socialist, right? It is until the healthy 35 year old opposed to "socialized medicine" goes for a bike ride, has an accident and gets a broken leg, which ends up costing $20K - how quickly the tune changes when you don't have to cough up the $20K yourself. Insurance spreads the risk out over a lot of people - that's what it does).


So now that we know about group health insurance plans, what the States will do under these plans is purchase the managed care plans for the folks eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. It's NOT a voucher program because they aren't going to be giving folks a voucher to go into the market to find a plan on their own - the States are buying the plan and putting you in it. Since not everyone who is eligible will need it, they are spreading the risk to everyone. And yes, on the face of it, it's conceivable that the states could spend more money on premiums than the insurance company pays out (of course, the insurance company is also taking a risk that in one year they receive 20 million and pay out 25 million but they've got a good chance that one year they'll take in 20 million and only pay out 13 million). But - the States are counting on a couple of things - better ability to budget and savings realized in not having to administer the program.


Of course, now that I've explained the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, and now that I've explained exactly what these programs are doing, you're going to ignore it anyway because that's one thing that the right wing tea bagger GOP is good at - ignoring facts.

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"Most kids are taught about the Scopes Monkey Trial, with the idea that the noble civil libertarian Clarence Darrow represented "Good" in supporting the teaching of evolution and redneck William Jennings Bryan represented "bad" in opposing the teaching of Darwinism." and later, "Bryan wasn't the redneck hick modern schools often depict him as."


AZMike, I noticed the above from your post and it's not the first time I've heard those claims. So I took the opportunity to talk to our guy who teaches a course on Evolution and Religion. I asked him to let me see the results of his 'entry' surveys with regard to the Scopes trial. I also surveyed approximately 150 students this morning with regard to it. By combining both sets of results I am able to construct a sample size of greater than 1000 observations, after the international students are removed from the sample (interestingly, some of them have heard of the Scopes trial, I didn't ask further). Out of all of them, only about 47% have even heard of the Scopes trial, much less formed any strong opinions about it. Out of the total of over 1000 responses, 43 students could identify who Bryan was but could not articulate clearly what his argument was (a few actually had the two guys reversed). Only 37 of the respondents had ever heard of Darrow, much less knew what his argument was. Not a single response from my survey had ever thought about either guy in terms of being a 'redneck hick'. Not a single student in my survey identified either guy as a civil libertarian.


Now these students are college students ranging from freshmen through seniors. They come from nearly every state of the union and like I mentioned, other countries as well. So I think my informal study is a fair characterization, or at least a first cut at one, for what students who go on to college get from school. I'd like to think that the college-bound students are more likely to remember school lessons like this as well. I could be wrong about that but it makes sense at least to me.


The sentence, "Most kids are taught about the Scopes Monkey Trial." does have some ambiguity. It could mean that a majority of students are confronted with something about the Scopes trial and immediately forget it or it could mean that they actually LEARN something about the trial. I am willing to concede that the first option might be true but if so, if my survey is correct, whatever it was that was taught was not effective, at least if the intent was to portray Bryan as a 'redneck hick' and Darrow as the civil libertarian.


I am willing to consider that some of these students are not from what you term, 'modern' schools, whatever those are. However, given that the students from NJ, NY, MA, MN, IL, and the west coast seemed to be as clueless about this as the Southern students, I'm inclined to wonder if ANY of them are products of a 'modern' school system, at least based on your claim. I could be wrong.


So, where do you get your evidence for the claims you made? Do you have some citations in support of those claims? I'd like to know where I went wrong.

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Thanks Calico - you may have AZMike, swearing under his breath, but I appreciate the explanation.. I came here before you posted.. Looked at the info and went on a search for more info. Never found anything else on it.. So right there it looked real fishy, that this would be the only item on it. Then what also struck me as funny was the statement that the policy was added the day after the acceptance speech at the DNC, yet already 18 states had signed up for it, and had an estimate of how many people they would like to put on it.. Sorry, government just doesn't move that fast ! So, although I couldn't find the facts to dispute it, that fishy smell was really prominent.. Phewey.. (Mopping out the fish guts as we speak.)


Democrats are known to love their entitlement programs.. Anyone telling me that the Republicans are defending your entitlement programs, and Democrats are trying to dismantle it has got to show me a lot of proof.. Not just one single article with no backup..


Also this has not been detailed, but my suspicions are if Medicare survives until the Republican voucher program starts up 10 years from now.. Which it probably wont as it will run out sooner once the costs from Fraud, Admn. Fees, and Medicare Advantage are re-added.. I guess Ryan's plan was for the same savings, but Romney wants to restore the waste.. Anyway, If Medicare survives up to when they want to voucherize.. ALL will be given vouchers.. Then you have your choice to use your voucher for Medicare, or some other private insurance company.. Either one you choose, when medical expenses go up, you have to pay the difference..


Sorry, it is the only thing that makes sense, because if given an option for Medicare as it is run today, or taking a voucher to an outside insurance, only the 1 percenters will have the money to buy the private insurance. That will not be enough people going to a voucher system to do them any good.


Now as to Obamacare, (which if kept may start slowing the growing cost of health care as it seems to do in other countries with socialized medicine, like Canada, England & Israel..) Who knows what Romney wants to do.. One day it is to remove it, then it is to alter it, then to remove it, on Meet the Press this weekend he is back to making changes to it..


That and other issues I think Romney would be best to stop talking about. Just direct everyone to a web site where you tell him if you are a "Tea-party" conservative, moderate Republican, or an Independent.. Then based on your answer, the website can pull up the rhetoric you most like would want to hear. I don't know how that will play out during the debates though.. Perhaps we can rig him up a roulette Wheel, and swing it to see which one of his multi-choice answers he wants to give.

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packsaddle - I don't know if I would have picked up just from the title of the trial, or the lawyers names. But I do know about it, just more if some one gives me some detail such as "the trail about whether Darwin Evolution should be taught in schools" or the trial about Darwin Evolution .vs. Biblical Evolution..


I fear though for your study if you stated that much detail, you would ruin some of your study.. But, I will admidt if just asked what the "Scopes monkey trial" was about, although "monkey" might clue me in, I don't know, if that would have been enough.

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