Zoo Station

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Archive for May, 2008

Should government protect us from ourselves?

Posted by Chance on May 31, 2008

Randy Barnett has a good post on payday Loan centers. His opinion is that we would be better off if they were closed down. I’m not a fan of payday loan places myself, but I’m hesitant to say that they should be outlawed.

Randy implies the comparison between crack cocaine and payday loans, and while that may seem dramatic, I think that’s a fair comparison. And even if he didn’t intend the comparison, I will. It made me realize that both topics are really part of a larger question. Should government protect us from ourselves? And to what degree?

It’s many of the same issues with drugs as it is payday loans. Is it the proper role of government to prevent someone from doing something harmful to themselves? If that thing is outlawed, would the results be worse? For instance, is a black market of drugs more dangerous than the accessibility of legal drugs? Is somebody getting a loan from a sketchy character under the table worse than having Pay Day loans on every corner?

I posted on the issue of the Drug War in the past. While I still wrestle with the same issues, I’m inclined to not support the prohibition of payday loan centers, if for simply for the reason that it is hard to outlaw such a transaction. Giving a loan to a friend or casual acquaintance is quite easy. Yes, there is less contract work involved, but it is hard to monitor something as easy as loaning money. And yes, I do believe that if payday centers are outlawed, people may resort to worse measures, whether it is some shady character or somebody running up credit card debt. (There was a post on Market Power about this, but I can’t find it at the moment)

Anyway, I don’t know the answer to the question to what degree government should protect us from ourselves, but in this issue of payday loans, I don’t think outlawing them is the way to go.


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The new judgmentalism

Posted by Chance on May 31, 2008

For some reason today, it is acceptable to judge people based on how they eat. We respect their religious views, political beliefs, sexual preferences/habits, but if they get McDonald’s for lunch or have a soda, many of us feel a need to express our disapproval.

The Evangelical Outpost had a post concerning the sin of gluttony. The article makes a good point in how gluttony is an oft-ignored sin, but I think it puts too much emphasis on comparing gluttony to sexual sin. While the roots of both sins may be similar (I’m honestly not good at understanding the psychological roots of sin), you cannot really treat them the same. As I commented there, and at Neil‘s site, which linked to the article, the area of sexuality has clearly defined boundaries, have sex only with your spouse (of a different sex) and don’t lust after women (or men). Gluttony is not so clear-cut. God does not forbid eating a juicy cheeseburger. At the same time, God does not want us to abuse our bodies, so many times we have to do things in moderation.

I get annoyed at Subway commercials ( the ones that say I’ll order the “make my butt look big” burger or something like that) and Kaiser Permanante commericals because they are all about making people feel bad for their choices, as opposed to encouraging them to make good choices. I feel that Christianity can easily jump on this bandwagon. “Not only is that cheeseburger unhealthy, it is a SIN.”

Now, I don’t know exactly the Christian way the sin can be approached, but I think it is important to realize that it is not a list of do’s and dont’s.

I also think that the writer of the article makes many good points and I don’t think he makes any incorrect statements. When I read the article, however, it just made me think that people may not realize that moderation is really the key issue here, not a list of do’s and dont’s.

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What I’ve been up to

Posted by Chance on May 15, 2008

Sorry I haven’t been posting lately, but I suppose you get what you pay for.

I’ve been busy the past few weeks. I took a trip to San Francisco for work for about a week, then my wife and kid and I visited family in Oklahoma.

Right now I’m trying to decide on stuff to write about. I am deciding if I want to pursue political topics or take a break from it right now.

Also, this post is meant as a jump start. Sometimes I have lots of ideas rolling around in my head and it’s hard to know where to start. I always feel that posting on how I don’t know what to post is extremely lame, but sometimes it is a good way to get the juices flowing.

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