THAT 1987 INTERVIEW
Bill S.: “I watched the Werner Erhard tape with great interest. It was amusing to hear you lament how 30 year Treasury rates were only 9% after hitting 15% five years back. I liked your suggesting keeping assets in cash just weeks before the Black Monday crash. (I also liked hearing you joke that folks believing you are holding back on the big stock tip that will make them rich. I kept thinking of BOREF in that segment and how if that stock ever hits its perceived potential you will never be accused of keeping that one to yourself.)”
☞ And lest you think I recommend my hybrids lightly — that I’m some kind of fruit-novelty pushover — let me say I have tried the “grapple” — those apples cross-bred to taste like a grape — and they’re just weird. If grapple were a stock, I’d be short.
Cat: “So, let me start by saying I’m a lesbian and a Democrat. And glad to be both! However, one thing that kills me about the the political debate is how extreme both sides can be. The whole ‘polarized’ thing we hear about all the time. Your impassioned post yesterday paints a clear and vivid picture that seems impossible to refute. But I’d be willing to bet there’s some equally passionate Republican out there painting his or her own equally vivid picture. I have a, well, suspicion of anything so strongly, clearly, unimpeachably, rigidly one-sided. Kinda a knee-jerk ‘what isn’t he telling me’ reaction. Cherry picking examples, which everyone does all the time (even avowed unbiased sources), is inherently unbalanced. We do it to prove a point, make a case, counterbalance the other guy, etc. That’s fair enough. But my fairness streak (a mile wide and 2 miles deep), leads me to challenge you: write a similar, passionate, well thought out defense of the other guys. You needn’t publish it, or even share it, but the exercise might be insightful, even for an experienced hand like yourself. I suppose balance and reason (oh, and civilized discourse and compromise) don’t get us very far these days, and certainly the other guys stack every deck they can get their paws on, but still … I don’t mean to say that you are unbalanced or unreasonable or that your discourse is uncivilized. Only to acknowledge that voices that don’t take the extreme ‘flatten the fly with a sledge hammer’ approach tend to get drowned out. Does this make any sense?”
☞ It makes a lot of sense. I’m a big fan of fairness streaks and hope my own surfaces from time to time. I guess the other side of the general case you’re making – with which I agree – is the case against “false equivalence.” The notion that if someone makes an impassioned case for racial cleansing, or for denying lesbians the right to civil marriage, or for the earth’s being – quite obviously – flat . . . and someone else makes an impassioned refutation, then the truth presumably lies someplace in between.
To me, the positions and tactics of the new Republican Party – the S.O.P., as I see it – are extreme and needlessly hurtful to our collective prosperity. I don’t see “the other side” to voter suppression. Or to remaining the only industrialized country without universal health care. Or to not putting people eager for work to work doing things like repairing tens of thousands of bridges that will become orders of magnitude more expensive to repair once they collapse. Or to not reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. Or to not closing the gun show loophole. Or to paying banks to make student loans when they take none of the risk of extending those loans.
I do often know the other side’s argument – e.g., that without photo ID, there will be significant voter fraud, or that we can’t afford to put people to work modernizing our infrastructure, or that allowing gays to marry poses a great threat — but it’s hard for me to give much weight to the impassioned Republicans making these arguments because I no more buy them than I believe that the earth is flat. Study after study – and the failed concerted efforts of the Bush Administration to find more than a statistically insignificant number of examples – and common sense – all tell me that people do not go to the polls in any significant numbers impersonating others. And I believe we can’t afford not to put people to work modernizing our infrastructure – that by blocking this, I believe, the Republicans are adding to our economic woes and long-term deficits. And I believe the advances we’ve made toward LGBT equality enrich, rather than threaten, our national commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And on and on.
So I love your email and fairness streak. And I take your point generally. And I hope that when I make an unfair, extremist argument, you will call me out.
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Money often costs too much.~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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