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On insurance Fri, Sep 22, 2017
This Twitter saga about a young conservative who didn't want to be forced to pay for insurance under Obamacare but then got in a car accident and needed insurance, is a good illustration of two important points: 
  1. Insurance exists because of this.  It's a redistribution of wealth, or a collectivization of the cost of care for health or injury or accident or other large unpredictable expense.  The young pay for it, the old pay for it.  That's how it works.  All young people feel like they shouldn't be paying for it; all old people are thankful for the young people who do.  We need this.  So suck it up and get over it.
  2. Many ideas and issues only become relevant when they happen to you.  Like that conservative politician who changed his tune on gay marriage after his son came out as gay.  Or the people who are anti-abortion until they unexpectedly get pregnant.  Or the people who say all drug users should be imprisoned until one of their family members gets hooked on painkillers and goes to rehab.  It's fascinating to me how entrenched people can become in their beliefs, only to quickly and drastically change their minds when faced with the proper experience.
#psychology

Heritable tribalism Wed, Sep 20, 2017
Tribalism, or the tendency for humans to break off into groups to which they're extremely loyal, makes sense and has been shown to be evolutionarily beneficial.  Tribalism tends to lead to pride in one's tribe.  I think it's weird when the tribe you're a part of was an accident of your birth, like race or ethnicity.  White pride?  Why are you proud of something you literally had no control over?  Proud to be an American?  Why, when you had no choice in the matter?  You haven't done anything to be proud of, aside from being born to parents of a certain race and in a specific location.  That's just genetics and geography. 

I think this matter extends a little further to religion.  Religious affiliation is largely dependent on the religious affiliation of your parents and/or your community.  Claiming pride in one's religion, or espousing its virtues above other religions, is ignoring the coincidental nature of essentially being assigned a religion at birth. 

Finally there's the topic of sports fandom.  This is almost entirely dependent on geography, and it's even memorialized in a song with the words "Root, root, root for the home team".  It's morbidly fascinating to watch people get into physical fights because they believe the team from their geographical area is superior to a team from a different geographical area. #sociology

Legalize all drugs Tue, Sep 12, 2017
I think all drugs should be legal.  I'm kind of surprised people are opposed to this idea.  I mean I get that drugs are sometimes dangerous and addictive and tend to ruin people's lives.  But here's the deal: 
  1. Making something illegal doesn't reduce consumption or usage.  The fact that our country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic proves that people use drugs regardless of their legality.
  2. Legalizing drugs wouldn't cause everyone to use them.  If heroin was legal, would you use it?  If you haven't already, you probably wouldn't start.  Drugs can maintain their level of dangerousness regardless of their legality.
  3. The war on drugs is widely regarded as a failure, both in terms of usage reduction and crime prevention.  It has cost an inordinate amount of money and imprisoned countless people needlessly with mandatory minimum sentencing.  America has the largest prison population per capita in the world, and taxpayers pay for that, both economically and sociologically.
  4. We already have legal drugs:  caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.  Smoking cigarettes is a near-certain death sentence, and alcohol causes all kinds of health and societal problems.  Drawing the legal line after these drugs is arbitrary at best, racist at worst.
  5. Drugs can be dangerous, and we should treat them the same way we treat alcohol:  use it responsibly, don't drink and drive.  The same guidelines can and should apply to all drugs.
  6. Illegalizing a product that people desire creates a de facto black market.  Removing those restrictions should essentially remove the black market.
  7. Black markets thrive on secrecy, secrecy breeds misinformation, and misinformation is harmful, especially when it involves putting foreign substances into one's body.  A legal open market would provide consumers with information necessary to make an informed decision.  Plus the federally regulated sale of drugs would ensure ingredient purity and dosage.  These things are all sorely lacking on the black market.
  8. Drugs could cause an economic boom.  There's money to be made in farming, chemical manufacturing, taxing, and shipping.
Maybe we could change the name of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Drug Enjoyment Agency. #health