Consider this a repository for unfiltered source materials (not counting the headings) on the Affordable Care Act. i do not necessarily subscribe to everything in these articles, and sources, but wanted a place to gather people’s stories and reports on the Affordable Care Act. Also, if you have stumbled across this post and you have a story to tell. Feel free to share how the Affordable Care Act has affected you. I have some strong opinions on the matter, but I’d just assume let the stories and the stats speak for themselves.
*Admin Knew that Millions would lose their current plans.
*Website woes are tip of the iceberg
*Consumer Reports tips on how to Sign Up online
*President Acknowledges website not working, suggests phone and mail signups.
*52 Objections to Obamacare
*Elderly Patients losing specialty doctors, changing plans, or losing coverage.
*Obamacare subject to extensive fraud from false websites and popups.
*White House promises that households will save, on average, $2,600 a year in healthcare costs.
*”Only Upper Income will be taxed”–but that’s false and it wouldn’t be enough to pay for ACA anyway
*Summary of Problems with the Obamacare website: Healthcare.gov
*Most states opt out of Obamacare’s federal “state marketplace”
*Average healthcare costs for Families have already risen 29% and for Individuals 25%
*CareFirst Reports: 76,000 losing coverage to accomodate ACA
* Caterpillar, Delta, UPS, Sea World among 100 companies losing coverage or radically restructuring because of multi-million dollar tax hikes because of ACA; uninsured rising by hundreds of thousands.
*Dems Beginning to Support Mandate Delay
* Insurance Cancellations Sore Above ACA Enrollment
*About 1/2 million ACA applications started; Not necessarily completed
*Doctor Shortage Coming? Obamacare expected to increase patient demand of medical services
For some balance/contrast, see:
Apparently it is illegal to adhere to the normal and historic Christian faith in refusing to support Gay Marriage.
The Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled, on August 22, 2013, that Elane Photography illegally discriminated against a lesbian couple that sought their services for wedding photography. The couple promptly found a different photographer for the wedding. And the court ruling fined Elane Photography $7,000 for court costs. The ruling was based on New Mexico’s human rights code prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, religion, color, creed, ethnicity, ancestry, or gender. Elane photography made their case on the basis of the freedoms of religion and speech.
New Mexico’s court ruling seems flawed, and their ruling promises to stay unsettled and contentious for years to come.
First, this is not some lunch-counter case where a waiter declines patronage from blacks. A turkey sandwich is the same, regardless of the color of the costumer. When there is art involved, and photography is an art, even wedding photography, there is a lot of discernment involved so that the artist should have a wide-birth to select his or her settings so that the craft communicates his style, preferred impressions, and overall builds his or her portfolio. This is not free-license for just anything, but neither do we really want our courts dictating our arts very much if we can help it.
Second, this is a free-market. Businesses have to make business decisions. If a business is known to work with groups or individuals that the community does not like, for whatever reason, that business might lose contracts, jobs, and work orders. This is Machiavellian, I know. But on the softer end, without embracing full pragmatism, we still should be wise in our affiliations. I may know that an accused pedophile is probably innocent, but till his name is cleared, I might need to suspend any contracts with him till his name is cleared, or perhaps cut ties with him in case my “knowing” proves errant. One may even choose to avoid photographing weddings that seem doomed for divorce. I don’t know the statistics on this, nor the particular couple involved, a wedding photographer might now want his or her pictures to tied to epic fails.
Third, one should have some basic freedom to conduct one’s business in support or opposition of social institutions(i.e., not necessarily persons). One’s businesses may promote churches or mosques they like, carry name brands that they consider to be “ethical,” decline to let a charity advertise in their window, not accept trade agreements with foreign companies, aim their product sales at certain demographics, and be exclusive in which kinds of institutions they sell to, etc. It is silly to demand that a home-builder decline contracts with NGO’s (Non-governmental organizations). As a social institution, an NGO might be just the kind of group that one supports (or rejects, it works either way here). A green-energy home builder should not be forced to contract with high-rise construction corporations, no matter how profitable their offer may be.
Fourth, one should be able to target their craft towards specific demographics. It is silly to demand that a photographer who only does children’s portraits must also do senior pics, engagement shoots, prego’s (pregnancy shoots), or wedding photography. If someone refuses to do some of these kinds of shoots, is that anti-pregnancy discrimination? Or anti-marriage discrimination? Or for the senior pics, is it anti-education to not shoot their pictures? Obviously, a business should have some freedom to target their artistic craft, their business, and their livelihood towards audiences that they think they can please. It is probably not a good business model to readily accept business from groups whom you so radically disagree with that you cannot likely please them, and cannot likely get good reviews (and online reviews are life and death to modern businesses).
Fifth, it is fairly undemocratic and generally (though not absolutely) bad policy for courtrooms to dictate the mores of the country broadly, and for businesses specifically. In some cases, the courts do a fine job at holding people accountable to constitutional principles. And in the rarest cases, courts can rightly amend constitutions to reflect advancements in greater human dignity and civil liberty. Other times, courts can lose constitutional integrity and pit one person’s demands (to be able to get photographs from whomever they want) against another person’s freedom (to select clients whom they can satisfy). Effectively, sexual orientation becomes a more sacred and protected right than religious affiliation. Apparently, the first amendment no longer protects people from being coercive restrictions on one’s religion.
Sixth, when we factor in how we are not talking about merely targeted demographics–which businesses have the freedom to do, and we are not just talking about the stylistic choices and expertise of the photographer–again which businesses have a right to do (i.e., one may turn down a “biker wedding” or a “cowboy wedding,” and accept only “traditional” weddings), and when we remember that gay marriage is an institution, not merely a gender or a pair of genders, or even a sexual orientation, but a kind of societal recognition and acceptance of a particular institutionalized relation between two people, we can no longer guarantee a 1-to-1 identity between civil rights violations and institutional discrimination. It is normal and common, and even good, to discriminate against institutions on the basis of merit, preference, style, moral considerations, economic considerations, and so on. Need I mention how silly it would be to take a photographer to court who only shot gay weddings? Despite my moral disagreement with them, I respect that freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the free personal autonomy to run one’s business as they see fit. Now this is no blanket support of discrimination. Our country fought hard to outline general parameters for fair and equal treatment of people under the law to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender and racial discrimination, or handicap or heritage. But the constitution becomes contradiction if it’s principles for fair and equal treatment are contorted into religious discrimination, or into shackled speech.
Seventh, the freedom of religion does come up here. Opposition to gay marriage is not exclusive to religion, nor need it be based in religion. But it is common to religions such as Christianity (and X,Y,Z world religions). Traditional marriage (wherein marriage is defined as between a man and a women) is a moral norm for these religions, and our constitutional right to freedom of religion prohibits coercing anyone to violate integral or otherwise deeply rooted moral convictions of their faith, such as, demanding they advocate homosexual marriage. Here again, the civil rights comparisons don’t stick. There is no universal church creed, nor widescale theological tradition, nor clearly and consistently Biblical teaching, nor test of orthodoxy that demanded racism. Meanwhile, the same cannot be said for homosexual marriage. There was no orthodox racism, whereas traditional marriage is the universal orthodox view of the church.
Eighth, and building from the last point, the civil rights parallels bread down. Since gay marriage is not simply a “gender” issue, but a social institution, opposition to gay marriage cannot be simply and safely lumped under gender discrimination. Opposition to gay marriage does not have a clean and tight affiliation with racial discrimination, as if gay marriage were a comparable “civil right.” Neither males nor females are being discriminated against, as such. One is not even be discouraged from homosexual practice. Rather, the position opposes a particular institutionalization of homosexuality, with neither homosexuality nor marriage being a “gender.”
Lastly, We would do well to keep a market-friendly bias towards liberty such that one business may decline to photograph gay marriages, and another business may shoot gay marriages exclusively. They are allowed to vote with their business, and create by their energies. And they should not be forced by government coercion to conform their moral and religious convictions to court-ordered mores. Exceptions may occur, and this libertarian ideal might be too radical for some readers. But it is virtue, not vice, to advocate for freedom and liberty, especially in conducting one’s livelihood.
Having said all that, I’m not sure if Elane Photography should appeal to a higher court. Given the tenor of our current supreme court and the mood of the country at large, there is a strong possibility that the case would turn out poorly, establishing a negative precedent for the Traditional Marriage camp, and thus make things harder for future cases of moral coercion–such as forcing a studio to shoot weddings of institutions that they themselves, their religion, their moral judgments, and their reasoned beliefs, hold to be wrong. They may decide to go to the higher court, but the cynic in me thinks that the odds are against them right now.
1) Credible–worthy of belief
2) Verified–demonstrated truth.
There are all sorts of evidential lines that lend credibility and have nothing to do with veracity. The only thing that makes veracity is correspondence to reality (correspondence view of truth). One can approximate verifications with partial demonstrations, but in the absence of scientific-type experimentation (which is largely impossible for historical events), 100% verity is rare. Usually what people deal in is credibility where the witnesses and circumstances are shown to have endured several or relevant filters that can undermine credibility–such as family/friend bias, monetary interests, personal gain, inadequate reporting, contradictory reports, rescensions, etc.
For example, suppose Barney’s alcoholic mother was in the bathroom drinking when an intruder came into the house, grabbed Barney’s gun from the drawer (after Barney lunged for that drawer), said, “Give me all your money or I’ll kill your sister over their [the one cowering in the corner].” Barney refuses, the sister gets shot and killed, and the intruder leaves. Now Barney and the mother are the only living witnesses. Barney is obviously biased, and his testimony, for all that it is worth, is not necessarily the most credible witness, especially since it is discovered in court that Barney always hated his sister and had threatened bodily harm to her several times when she disagreed with him. Likewise, barney’s mother has low credibility because she’s biased, was in the bathroom, and is drunk most of the time because of her severe alcoholism. She’s about to lose her only remaining child to jail, so she’s not the strongest witness.
Do any of those threats to credibility undermine veracity? No. Low credibility witnesses can still tell the truth. Concurrently, high credibility witnesses can still tell lies. Credibility is merely a measure, often imprecise and partial, of whether a person has strong reasons to tell the truth, or few/no strong reasons to lie. Plus, there is still the chance for misreporting–telling what one thought was true, but is not.
Several evidential tests we use fall within the “credibility” category such as 1) multiple attestation, 2) diverse attestation, 3) embarrassing attestation, 4) complementary attestation. To approach verification we need other circumstantial and material evidence which shows that the report in question is the only reasonable or the best account of an event. Material and circumstantial evidence, in this case, might be dusting for prints on the gun, the shoe prints on the door that the intruder kicked in, tire tracks on the dirt drive-way that don’t match the family’s cars, etc. For a biblical event, we can weight witnesses against each other all day long–OT reports versus ANE reports outside of Scripture. But we also need archeology, geographical analysis, cultural anthropology and so on to show whether an event actually happened, rather than simply showing that, “This witness had no reason to lie, but could still be accidentally misreporting an event.”
A problem that soon arises, though, is that this “guilty until proven innocent” approach to ancient reports is too cumbersome to do on wide scale or consistently. Historians, and our court of law, routinely circumvent that skeptical standard with an alternative credulity principle, namely, evidence and witnesses are considered truthful/innocent until proven false/guilty. This is not at all a verification principle since the principle would have to assume the truth of all isolated witness reports (i.e., where something is claimed which cannot be falsified or verified externally). It is however a functioning credulity principle that serves to avoid the endless downward spiral of historical skepticism, Jesus-mythicism, and deconstructionist histories. This historical credulity principle works well with reliabilism (i.e., our senses are generally reliable), realism (i.e., reality is knowable), and the epistemic credubility principle a la Richard Swinburne (i.e., what seems to be true probably is true, unless demonstrated otherwise).
Tags: Aquinas, Badassness, C, Chuck Norris, Exists, God, Roundhouse Kick, Spoof, St. Thomas
Thanks goes out to Doug Beaumont for this creation . . .
Tags: atheism, Bet, Blaise, Existence, Exists, Gambling, God, Natural Theology, Non-existence, Pascal, Theism, Wager
Now lets set all these arguments aside and think for a minute . . .
If you [non-Christian/non-theist] are right, then I’ve wasted my life and you haven’t. You’ve been free of religious dogma, religious moral restraints, and that nagging guilt of always fearing a God, etc. etc. Neither of us is going to heaven, neither of us are going to hell. However, if I [Christian theist] am right, then I’ve rightly used my life and you’ve misused yours. I’m going to heaven and you are going to hell. It seems that there is much more at stake so that Christianity is the reasonable choice. You have everything to gain, comparatively little to lose, and the threat of hell is neatly avoided. If I’m wrong, well I haven’t lost nearly as much as if you’re right
Fortunately, the scenario given above is not Pascal’s wager, though it does come close. Everything after the first line is about right. Pascal’s “Natural Theology” includes the Wager after considerable argumentation and debate about evidences for God’s existence. He presumed to carry his own respective burden of a proof, offered evidences in favor of God’s existence, addressed arguments against God. And then returned to the Wager to cover all his bases. Namely, he showed how reasonable people can still make a decision whenever they face a cognitive crossroads, an inconclusive truth.
Even still, to some people the wager I gave above sounds reasonable enough right? Wrong. If it were 99.9999% likely that God does not exist, an almost certain gain of one mortal life (the atheist bet) can be a better bet than that 1% chance of Immortal life (the Theist bet). The same works in the negative. A 0.0001% chance of hell might be, for all our judgment abilities, a safer risk than a 99.9999% chance of a wasted earthly life. Put in more humble terms, I can have one cupcake now–with 99.9999% likelihood. Or if I devote myself to good dieting, self-control, exercise, humility, and integrity, all by faith in the name of Jerry, then there is a 0.0001% chance I might get to inherit Jerry’s Cupcake factory at the end of my life. It will be in my family’s name for future generations. Frankly, if those were my options then just give me my cupcake.
To properly employ Pascal’s wager, the precondition for the wager is that the evidence is roughly equal on both sides–for and against God’s existence. If the evidence were 50/50, Pascal’s wager justify’s theism in the face of agnosticism or atheism given a cursory cost/benefits analysis. And it also works if the evidence heavily favors theism but is still inconclusive, say, it’s 90% likely that theism is true but that blasted Problem of Evil just won’t settle down and submit.
Anytime people use Pascal’s wager when they have not shown strong evidence either way–that is not really Pascal’s wager but a bastardization of it to exempt people of their respective burden of proof, or short-cut through the duty of clear and reasonable thinking. That’s intellectually dishonest and an embarrassment to Pascal.
In term’s of Casino or Card games, Pascal’s wager is like “Evens/Odds”–if the card is Odd you win, no-God exists; if they’re Even then I win–God exists.
Because our knowledge is partial and the evidence is incomplete we can come to crossroads where both routes look equally tempting to our reasoned judgments. Supposing that both possibilities are equally live: God exist/Evens or No God Exists/Odds–we might still have to make a choice as to whether we’ll believe in God or not. If we refrain from belief, we’re still non-believers ans so we’ve made a choice. In that case, Evens/God exists makes the most sense. Just speaking pragmatically that option is solid.
It might be objected that we can’t just “choose” to believe what we don’t think is true. Correct, we can’t. But if we are truly reasonable people and we are trying to follow the evidence, then we do come crossroads where the “truth” is inconclusive, we don’t know. In those cases I know from experience that we can give a friend the benefit of the doubt, we can suppose that X is true, or we can have “faith” that Z is right.
But the trick is, we are rarely that reasoned and rational. To even be able to choose what to believe in a 50/50 probability case, we have to be willing to be wrong, we have to have the courage of conviction, and we have to be intellectually honest with ourselves about the REAL reasons for our belief or disbelief.
Tags: Alvin Plantinga, atheism, Christianity, credibility, dependency, John Calvin, John Loftus, Outsider Test of Faith, religion, Theism, Thomas Aquinas, truth
Dallas area atheist John Loftus has a book called, “An Outsider Test of Faith.” I have not yet bought the book. I’m not committed yet to reading it, but it seems interesting enough to investigate a bit through amazon previews and such. So far, I’m finding a preliminary objection–and one which some “Loftus Scholars” like David Marshall have corroborated–is that the outsider test of faith collapses when applied to itself.
Loftus asks, in the introductory pages, whether one should start from a position of faith or a position of skepticism. This is a fair question, and he rightly acknowledges that full neutrality is practically impossible. Agreed.
He then proposes a few theses on route to his conclusion.
Thesis 1: The Religious Diversity Thesis–a diversity of religious positions exist, largely from people’s upbringing within particular religious traditions.
Thesis 2: The Religious Dependency Thesis–we are religious creatures, irrationally so, such that we lean even against all evidence and reason towards religious interpretations of reality.
From these he inductively concludes that any given religion is highly likely to be false, given such prior conditions.
A few positives of this approach are that his opening expression seems careful (enough) and defensible, to a point. It’s not formally valid, but it does not seem to be offered with modal logical rigor. It’s more of a probability assessment. Its pretty common knowledge that people tend to follow the faith of their parents and people are generally quite prone to religion.
The most obvious problem with this outsider test of faith, however, is that it applies equally well to atheism, agnosticism, and skepticsm. Thesis 1 should be called the Religious and Irreligious Diversity Thesis–Buddhists tend to raise buddhists, atheists tend to raise atheists and so on. Hence, an atheist’s beliefs are not especially truthful–on surface assessment–if he was conditioned into it by his parents, or professors, or a strong peer group.
The second thesis has some other flaws with it. “The Religious Dependency Thesis” mistakes non-rational for irrational. I do not reach a belief in my own existence through rational inference; I reach it through direct awareness. Yet it’s silly to fault a person as “irrational” for believing in his own existence. His self-awareness is sub-rational, not anti-rational. In that sense it is reach from outside of rational inference and therefore non-rational. Religious awareness is claimed, by at least some, to be so obvious and directly known that it would be a non-rational kind of knowledge. Now I’m not defending this counter-thesis, but just proposing that some heavyweights have gotten behind this idea calling it the “Sensus Divinitatis” (Calvin and Aquinas) or “Properly Basic Knowledge” (Plantinga). And the fact that children seem to be “born believers” is not direct evidence against theism at all. Quite the contrary, if such basic epistemic modalities are opposed fundamentally, consistency demands we oppose equally fundamental modes of knowing/knowledge by skeptical principle. Even if we don’t oppose all such “basic” beliefs, we should at least have a comparably good reason for absorbing some while deflecting others.
Why then are people so chronically prone to religious belief? Perhaps its true. Perhaps not. Either way, one should not ASSUME that widely held beliefs are false unless there is at least as much initial evidence to suggest it’s false. Sure, a billion people could be wrong, but neither is it prima facia likely that that many people are wrong if no comparable counterevidence is given.
Also, on the Religious Dependency Thesis, it could be the case that some people are innately non-theistic. Even by the Proper Basicality theory (Plantinga) they might have malfunctioning cognitive abilities. Should that initial non-belief be treated as false until proven true? No, they may be correct–from the start. And if there were billions and billions of atheists, who were chronically atheistic whether they came from atheistic upbringings or not–if that were the case, then atheism would have an initial “bump” in its prima facia evidential standing. It would gain probability since “two heads are better than one,” and a billions heads are even better. Truth is not achieved by vote. But, frankly, credibility is.
Also with the Religious Dependency Thesis, Alvin Plantinga’s “Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism” comes to mind. Many atheists like Loftus think that religious belief can be explained for its survival value, in spite of its falsity. But the same could be said of naturalism, atheism, or skepticism. These might be broadly truthless approaches to reality, but they are effective enough at serving survival that they persist for another generation.
I can’t claim to have a wide or deep knowledge of Loftus’ “Outsider Test of Faith,” but his opening premises seem deeply flawed already. Perhaps in the course of the book he gives some strong and objective reasons for preferring skepticism over belief, but so far in the opening pages he does not seem like he’s heading there.