Realistically Curbing Abortion

By: Mormon Heretic
October 8, 2012

“Many laws permit or even promote abortion, but to us this is a great evil,” Elder Oaks said in Saturday afternoon’s session of General Conference.  Oaks is just one of many religious leaders that call abortion evil, but are there more effective ways to curb abortions than to simply stand on a soapbox?  A recent study in St. Louis has shown a program that cuts the teen birth rate by 72%, and cuts the abortion rate by 68%.  How does it do this?  By providing free contraception.

“As a society, we want to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortion rates. This study has demonstrated that having access to no-cost contraception helps us get to that goal,” said Alina Salganicoff, director of women’s health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“It’s just an amazing improvement,” Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said of the results. “I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.”

The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost — from birth control pills to goof-proof options like the IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.

When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives — the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.

The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

In fact, if the program were expanded, one abortion could be prevented for every 79 to 137 women given a free contraceptive choice, Peipert’s team reported in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

I think it’s nice to stand on a soapbox and talk about the evils of abortion, but if we really want to stop unintended pregnancies and abortions, we’ve got to be pragmatic.  With this program, teens avoid pregnancy and keep children out of poverty, a goal that Oaks seems to laud when he said

“Children are highly vulnerable.  They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves, and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being. Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision-makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests.”

….

“Children need the emotional and personal strength that comes from being raised by two parents who are united in their marriage and their goals.”

I understand the concern that providing contraception gives people a license to engage in immoral sexual activity, but it seems to me that they’re doing it anyway.  Isn’t it better for children to be raised in an environment where (1) they are wanted, (2) parents are married, and (3) they aren’t in poverty from birth?

If we’re really serious about reducing the number of abortions, and having children raised in better homes, doesn’t it make sense to support programs that actually prevent both abortion and unwanted pregnancy?

There are some who complain that insurance companies shouldn’t be required to pay for contraception, but I find that argument short sighted.  In the long run, if we can prevent unwanted pregnancies, we will save money.  An NBC News article said

According to a 2011 study from the Guttmacher Institute, unplanned pregnancies costs the United States a conservatively estimated $11 billion per year.

“The way I look at it as a gynecologist with an interest in women’s health and public health and family planning, is that this saves money,” Peipert said. “When you provide no-cost contraception, and you remove that barrier, you finally reduce unintended pregnancy rates. It doesn’t matter what side one is on politically, that’s a good thing.”

He also discussed direct costs and how much better contraception is for women in high risk groups.

Several factors contributed to the declines, he argued. First, a large majority of the women in the study were encouraged — and chose — to use intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and hormonal implants over more commonly used birth control pills.

Because birth control pills require strict adherence, and people forget to take them, that method fails about 8 percent of the time. IUDs and implants are over 99 percent effective.

Second, program enrollees included high-risk populations like women and girls who’ve already used abortion services once — and are more likely to have a second abortion — and women and girls who are economically distressed and may not have means to obtain contraceptive products and services.

That’s important because an IUD, including the device and the physician’s service to place it in the uterus, can cost between $800 and $1,000. Since an IUD lasts at least five years, it saves money in the long run over a monthly cost of roughly $15-$25 for pills, but the up-front charge is prohibitive for many women.

James Trussell, a Princeton University professor of economics and public affairs and an expert in family planning called the results “terrific, great work, and a very important demonstration project.”

What are your thoughts?  Do you think the Church and Elder Oaks would support contraception as a means to cut both abortion and having children raised in homes in poverty without 2 parents?

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66 Responses to Realistically Curbing Abortion

  1. K on October 8, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    So, advocating laws against murder or child abuse is “standing on a soapbox”. And we should curtail murder and child abuse by trying to appease those who may commit these things? Why would abortion be treated any different?

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  2. Hedgehog on October 8, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    I do think pragmatism is tremendously important.

    Birth control is certainly the cheapest option. If you’re advocating the IUD route you’re going to have to get around some groups viewing it as abortive as opposed to preventive.

    Anyone not favouring birth control has to look long and hard at the effects of poverty, deprivation and poor educational opportunity, and be proactive in ameliorating the effects this has on teen behaviour, decisions to abort, child neglect etc. This might well be the better option. However, in the absence of anything to really, truly, seriously address any of that, well birth control is better than nothing by far.

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  3. Joseph S. on October 8, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    K: “Why would abortion be treated any different?”
    Perhaps because a woman having sex is not the same thing as a murderer or child molester?

    Free contraception = less abortion. Studies with facts and numbers cited above show it to be a practical and profitable solution.

    Free bullet-proof vests = less homicide. Let’s give it a try in a neighborhood where homicide rates are high. Report back with the statistics. My guess is that there would be other factors that would make this an unfit solution.

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  4. Paul on October 8, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    Anything that reduces the number of abortions is good. But I would not look to conservative religious groups (including the LDS church) to publicly support condoning premarital sex. There are of course other alternatives to abortion ( like adoption) that the church does vigorously support.

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  5. MH on October 8, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    K, I’m pretty sure you are familiar with Elder Oaks talk a few years ago titled “Good, Better, Best.” Standing in General Conference calling abortion evil is “good”, but actually preventing abortion and teen motherhood is “better.” How many of the 9000 teens in the St. Louis study changed their behavior as a result of Elder Oaks talk? Yet we can see how many didn’t have pregnancy or abortion because of contraception. Obviously, the study was more effective than Oaks talk.

    Are you saying that you would rather have more abortion in the name of not “trying to appease those who may commit these things”?

    Hedgehog, I have not heard of anyone that claims an IUD is abortion. Are such people primarily Catholic (where even birth control is “evil”)?

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  6. Jenn on October 8, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    It sure would be nice to see the world in black and white like that. If the world were a better place, abortion should absolutely 100% be illegal. But then, in a better world, we wouldn’t need it at all. The fact of the matter is our world is a giant shade of grey- I know that aborting a 20-week fetus is wrong, that’s clear. But a zygote? Not so sure (aside from the fact it is a way of wiggling out of consequences for bad choices). Where do I define where it gets criminally “wrong”? Would I rather let a women “wiggle out” of consequences for bad choices, or make her carry it out and bring a child into a world that doesn’t have space or resources for them? (and yes, I’m a HUGE proponent of the adoption option- again, in a more ideal world women would accept it as a great option and abortion wouldn’t be considered). It’s a huge shade of grey.

    In truth, I think Elder Oaks is probably realistic enough to support free contraception programs, in addition to preaching celibacy and gospel principles.

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  7. Hedgehog on October 8, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    MH #5
    There’d no doubt be a large overlap in a Venn diagram.

    As to claims of an IUD being abortive, that would all depend on where an individual would decide to draw the line as to where life begins (1), and how soon they believe fertilisation might occur after sex (2). Referring specifically to copper IUD, whilst copper is seen as an effective spermicide, controlled trials have also shown that a copper IUD is also effective as emergency contraception. So there is the whole question of to what extent this is solely due to the effect as a spermicide, or action against a fertilised egg? According to the nhs website, controlled trials on a hormonal IUD as emergency contraception have not been carried out (not that they recognise anyway). Certainly in this country, I have read of groups opposed to abortion and also which for them includes emergency contraception. But I don’t think all oppose the use of other methods of contraception, that wasn’t the impression I got. My view is based on various news reports over the years, not something I’ve particularly studied.

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  8. Jon on October 8, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    I agree contraceptives would cause much good to happen for these teens. I disagree with the idea that we should force groups of people that believe contraceptives are evil to pay for them through taxation, forced regulations, etc. This should be funded through private means.

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  9. Howard on October 8, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    Abortion is evil! Well it isn’t that simple. Only 30 to 50% of conceptions progress past the first trimester. The vast majority of those that do not progress are lost before the woman is aware of the conception, and many pregnancies are lost before medical practitioners have the ability to detect the presence of an embryo. Between 15% and 30% of known pregnancies end in clinically apparent miscarriage, depending upon the age and health of the pregnant woman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion. If early abortion were truly a great evil Elder Oaks should be speaking out against spontaneous abortion as well which ends far more pregnancies than deliberate abortions. Clearly late abortion is wrong but early abortion? No one knows, not even Elder Oaks.

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  10. KT on October 8, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Yes, lets stick our head in the sand and pretend teen sex just isn’t going to happen………..What an unrealistic view point. It happens in homes where there is NO parental expectation about pre-marital sex and it ALSO happens in homes where there is a lot of expectation about no pre-marital sex….
    If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. I am of the opinion that a teen needs to be educated and supported in making the right decisions. But, they are going to make up their own mind. A lot of parents try to control, control, control. It’s kind of like when someone talks about quitting smoking or losing weight – they have to make up their own mind to do it and want to do it for themselves. It’s the same with teens having sex. Some will choose not to and some will choose to. For the ones who choose to do it, as a parent, I would rather have my teen safe from contracting STDs and getting pregnant.
    There are plenty of people who have children and regret it, or are not happy about it. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/not-wanting-kids-is-entirely-normal/262367/#.UGS4L1wlZBA.facebook
    I’m not saying that as an argument in favor of abortion, but I am saying it makes birth control right, even for teens. And honestly, if the Church is going to continue to be so against the “practice” of homosexuality, many of whom (gay couples) would be great adoptive parents, then they really need to get off their soap box.

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  11. Anon for now on October 8, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    As an example of the moral complexity of this issue, consider the following true situation:

    Husband and Wife already have several children. But Wife suffers negative health consequences because of these pregnancies. Husband and Wife decide that they are neither emotionally nor physically capable of caring for any more children. So, Husband gets a vasectomy and sterilization is confirmed. Six months later, Husband’s vasectomy unknowingly fails and Wife becomes pregnant. Having the baby would most likely aggravate Wife’s health problems. Furthermore, it would most likely push Husband, Wife, and Children over the edge emotionally, either in terms of trying to care for yet another child or in dealing with the trauma of placing that child for adoption. So Husband and Wife make the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy, which takes place within days of first becoming aware of it. Husband and Wife are grateful they had this option available to them.

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  12. Mike S on October 8, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I am totally in agreement with actually talking about and providing contraception if we are serious about reducing the abortion rate. Whether abortion is legal or not is missing the whole point.

    From multiple studies, here is a summary:

    …while it may seem paradoxical, a country’s abortion rate is not closely correlated with whether abortion is legal there. For example, abortion levels are quite high in Latin American countries, where abortion is highly restricted. (In fact, 20 million of the 46 million abortions performed annually worldwide occur in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws.) At the same time, abortion rates are quite low throughout Western Europe, where the procedure is legal and widely available. Also, Eastern and Western Europe have the world’s highest and lowest abortion rates, respectively, yet abortion is generally legal throughout the Continent.

    Some abortion opponents allege that the U.S. abortion rate is due to the extreme “permissiveness” of the nation’s abortion policy. (As the result of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the right to choose abortion is constitutionally protected until fetal viability, after which states may prohibit abortion except when it is necessary to save a woman’s life or protect her health.) In practice, however, U.S. policy is roughly comparable to that of many Western European countries (which, moreover, pay for the procedure under their national health programs)—and virtually all of these countries have much lower abortion rates. Consistent with the experience of other countries around the world, the key variable that accounts for the high U.S. abortion rate is not a permissive law but a high unintended pregnancy rate.

    From another study, comparing Sweden and the United States, two countries with roughly equivalent percentages of sexually active teenagers with 2 or more partners in the previous year, we see the following:

    Sweden 7.8 births/1000, US 54.4 births/1000
    Sweden 17.2 abortions/1000, US 29.2 abortions/1000

    It’s pretty clear. If you want to reduce abortions, it has nothing to do with making it illegal – it has to do with making contraception available. Again – actual numbers: There has been a 44% DECREASE in the teen birth rate in the US from 1991-2010. Abortion has been legal the entire time, so it’s not because of that. The biggest difference has been contraception programs.

    So, with regards to Elder Oaks talk: Counsel against abortion for members of the Church. For many people, adoption is a great option and helps infertile couples. We have many practices that we do that have nothing to do with legality.

    But clamoring for more strict LAWS against abortion hasn’t been shown to work – not in the United States, not anywhere in the world. If the Church is TRULY concerned about the abortion rate, they should accept that easy access to contraception is the best way to prevent this form of “child abuse” (a phrase that cheapens ACTUAL child abuse in my opinion).

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  13. Paul on October 8, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    #9 Howard, are you really suggesting that Elder Oaks claims that miscarriage is evil? He said nothing of the sort.

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  14. Samuel Rogers on October 8, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    #11 — Nice example.

    From an LDS religious viewpoint, however, it could easily be argued that God would shape their backs to bear the burden of another child. Saying the trial of another child would have been too much for this family is probably never acceptable from an LDS theological point of view.

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  15. Howard on October 8, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Paul,
    No, that twists what I am saying. If early abortion is to be avoided wouldn’t it follow that miscarriage should be avoided or minimized? If not why not? Is the issue spirits miss or are delayed the opportunity for a body? If so miscarriage creates the same problem, doesn’t it? Is the issue man playing God? If so doesn’t man play God when a doctor extends life? The issue is far more complex than the simple statement that abortion is evil.

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  16. BrotherQ on October 8, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    An excellent, thought-provoking post! Thanks!

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  17. Cowboy on October 8, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    Sort of a meaningless talk. How would Elder Oak’s fix the problems of child soldiers, or crack-babies born to crack mothers, or international child prostitution? Would he just pass out copies of the Proclamation to the World? What would he even do about poverty? Yeah, we don’t need Elder Oaks to tell us what the ideal is, we already know that. We need solutions to problems that are much bigger the divorce rate among middle-class Americans.

    Secondly, I wonder if he would criticize polygamy the same way he criticized SSM? Would he calculate the risks of “experimenting” with marriage? The whole talk was a presumptuous soapbox.

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  18. SilverRain on October 8, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    I think I can see your point (of the OP.) It is certainly more pragmatic to look at the problem, realize you can’t stop people who want to have sex from having it, and taking measures to reduce the consequences for them.

    But, at the same time, do you think that perhaps it is a betrayal of moral ideals to spend significant effort trying to reduce the consequences of bad behavior? Does it really have as much effect as people claim it will, or do people get lazy and don’t take advantage of it anyways?

    And it is possible that he was referring to PROMOTING abortion as a great evil, rather than both promoting and permitting? After all, the Church’s official stance gives exceptions.

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  19. NewlyHousewife on October 8, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    I want to know which grandchild led to the inspiration of this “talk”.

    What I find most troubling is that because Oaks is well known this talk will likely be mentioned (if not the focus) in a first-of-the-month RS lesson in a white, middle to upper-class ward who has no knowledge of child soldiers and the complexity that leads to the developing of such and ending with a speech about how as members we are so much better than everyone else because clearly our kids are taken care of. Never mind abuse happens in member families as well. His entire speech rubbed me the wrong way as a rich guy berating any member who happened to live in Rwanda.

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  20. Will on October 8, 2012 at 8:58 PM

    “His entire speech rubbed me the wrong way as a rich guy berating any member who happened to live in Rwanda”

    Whatever

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  21. E on October 8, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    I am not seeing what Elder Oaks’ talk has to do with contraceptives. You seem to believe that providing free contraceptives to high risk populations would be contrary to something in the talk. I would agree this looks like a promising way to decrease the teen pregnancy/abortion rate, at least in the high risk population studied. I am not seeing anything in the talk that would prevent you from supporting such a program.

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  22. Hedgehog on October 9, 2012 at 1:38 AM

    #18 Silver Rain: “But, at the same time, do you think that perhaps it is a betrayal of moral ideals to spend significant effort trying to reduce the consequences of bad behavior? Does it really have as much effect as people claim it will, or do people get lazy and don’t take advantage of it anyways?”

    The figures Mike gives indicate that it does have a significant effect.

    On the betrayal of moral ideals -
    I have always supposed that moral ideals are there to prevent harm to both ourselves and others. That is what makes them moral ideals. I would therefore argue that use of birth control in those circumstances is an act designed to reduce harm in such circumstances, and is therefore, relatively more moral than not doing so. There is still harm of course, and that all plays into what are the best ways to teach chastity.

    I recall as a youth, growing up in the church, having lots of questions about these issues, and greatly distressing my Sunday School teacher (poor guy), in a lesson on chastity. The big argument always given in such lessons was that it was such a great sin, because it could result in bringing a child into the world in circumstances less than ideal, not to mention messing up your life by having a child before you were ready to do so. My argument in class, was that I could see how that could apply back in the day before effective contraception etc., but it didn’t really wash with me as a reasonable argument now (this was about 30 years ago). I could see by his distress that it was more than that, although noone ever seemed to be able to articulate why. I obeyed, but I did think and still think that the way we go about teaching chastity often leaves a lot to be desired.

    If you’re going to be out teaching it to the big wide world, ‘because God says so’ won’t be enough. Talking about unwanted pregnancy or STDs as the only downsides won’t really wash either. We also have to address the other physiological and biochemical effects of such relationships, and how they play into emotional and psychological effects on individuals. Another way of potential harm. Our teaching needs to be based in respect for others, and for their physical autonomy. We need to teach how such a physical relationship requires there to be commitment first, and how God has decreed that the commitment first be formalised by marriage, for all our protection.

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  23. JR on October 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    I doubt the Church will openly support contraception to cut down on abortions etc. or else they would have already done so. I am in favor of some form of contraceptive implant. It would cut down on all sorts of social ills and save money in the long run. It would have to be implants because people forget to take pills and get lazy about using other forms of contraception.
    I have a friend whose daughter is pregnant with her third child (all 3 kids have different fathers) because she doesn’t use birth control in any form (she can afford it) and tells her guy “friends” they have to use protection, except this last time her guy “friend” didn’t have his protection (she doesn’t keep any in the house)and now she is going to raise another child on her own. She chose to take a chance. Happens all the time. I give her credit for not aborting.
    This subject frustrates and angers me for many personal reasons. Which is why I would support public funding and/or private funding of contraception. We already have corporate welfare for the wealthy (along with other benefits for them)so why not help with birth control especially for those who are economically challenged or irresponsible due to drug use or other problems, including laziness like my friend’s daughter.
    I had a Visiting Teaching companion who taught her boys(she didn’t have girls) about the law of chastity and the spiritual, physical, and emotional consequences of breaking it. She also told them that she can’t control what they do but they better carry and use protection if they decide to have sex. She also told them she would buy the contraceptives or give them the money to do so. She was criticized by other members for how she handled this topic with her kids.
    She taught about abstinence/chastity and to be responsible if they acted on their physical urges. Not every parent can talk to their kids the way she did because she had a great relationship with them. My kids didn’t want to hear this stuff coming from me because it was “eeww, yuck, embarrassing”. I would hope that Sunday School and Seminary teachers are this blunt and can explain this topic so the kids understand the bad consequences of having sex before marriage.
    Aborting by choice is not the same as miscarriage.

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  24. Hedgehog on October 10, 2012 at 3:13 AM

    #23 JR
    I like your VT companion.

    On your friend’s daughter. Ultimately everyone makes their own decisions, of course. But this is one reason why it does help to know how our bodies work. Because women are more likely to make those riskier choices when they’re at their most fertile, and the hormones are screaming “go”. I’m not saying your friend’s daughter doesn’t know this, but it seems so many people don’t. When you know, you can factor that in.

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  25. aerin on October 11, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    I think we should use public funds for free birth control for everyone. It’s much cheaper than paying for prenatal care, childbirth, headstart, public schools, free lunches and prison for children whom parents cannot afford. Obviously the gov’t doesn’t pay for all those things for all children, but it does happen. And children from lower socio-economic status are at risk for all of them.

    Funny, we’re all about cutting many of those government programs, but definitely not going for the ounce of prevention route.

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  26. Will on October 11, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    “I think we should use public funds for free birth control for everyone.”

    I have 16 Trillion reasons why this isn’t a good idea.

    We as a society are enabling unwanted pregnancies, and a whole host of other social ills, by having all of these dependency programs – by paying people to be poor and by taking care of people that can and should take care of themselves. If these programs were substantially cut, or eliminated all together, people would look to other alternatives if they got pregnant – either they would do the right thing and put the child up for adoption, or they would do the wrong thing and abort the child. In either case, society as a whole would give more consideration to having sex without protection; or, better yet would reconsider having sex before marriage.

    Let people spend their own money on birth control. For heaven’s sake, it is less than a can of soda. We really need to get away from this dependency cycle; it is breaking us morally and financially. Seriously, think of the damage that is in one’s soul when he or she expects someone else to take care of them. We preach against this type of dependency in the church because it causes real damage to one’s soul, not because we are stingy.

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  27. Geoff - A on October 11, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    I think the point of the original post was to question whether Elder Oaks was, like Will in believing the solution was for everyone to follow their view of morality, or whether birth control and the whole package of sex education are a more effective solution. Is it more moral to have less sexually active people or less abortions. Could it even be possible to have both as the people in question may not be the same people?

    Mormon Heretic and Mike S have both provided statistics to show that the sex education/birth control method works and the other doesn’t.

    But perhaps we could have a hybrid message that the ideal is chastity but if that can not be achieved then birth control is the next option in preference to either abortion or adoption

    I have come to realise recently that some people can understand and accept a logical argument, and others can not see a point of view other than their own. I had an example in HP group where someone said they believed every word an apostle/Prophet said was scripture and the the Family Proc definitely was, but when he read Boy Packer saying it was advice didn’t see that it was inconsistent with believing it was scripture, even when an apostle said it wasn’t. Impossible to even discuss a different point of view.

    So would Will be capable of accepting the obvious, or would Elder Oaks? Doubtful?

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  28. MH on October 12, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Will has 16 trillion reasons why it is a bad idea (which he lumps with all spending), where I have 11 billion reasons why it saves money. Will would rather have overspending and not save any money by having more abortions, more throwaway kids, more abusive parents, while I would prefer less jails from throwaway kids, less child abuse from bad parents who make bad choices, less infants of alcoholism and drug abuse, and less abortion. Something seems wrong with Will picking up pennies and throwing away dollars.

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  29. Will on October 12, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Geoff,

    I accept that some people choose different standards for their life and by no means am I or Elder Oaks anywhere near perfect. We are not. Both of us are men that are trying to do the right thing with governing principles in mind. Chief among them, in this context, are:

    We believe men are responsible for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgressions. With this in mind, I shouldn’t be responsible for someone else’s actions or decisions – at least to the extent I can control it and as such should not be asked to pay for someone’s condom.

    We believe God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. With this in mind, we should do all that is possible to uphold God’s law. Realizing we are not perfect or hypocritical for trying to uphold a law that we do not always live it the way we should.

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  30. Will on October 12, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    MH,

    This is exactly why the burden should be put on those that make these bad choices so they are less inclined to do so in the future. More importantly, it would have an impact on those contemplating such activity. It might be bad at the outset, but would improve over time.

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  31. Bob on October 12, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    #29: Will,
    “We believe God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance”.
    The Church does make allowances in abortions and other ‘sins’or transgressions.

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  32. Mike S on October 12, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    #30: Will This is exactly why the burden should be put on those that make these bad choices so they are less inclined to do so in the future.

    Great theory. The reality that is that we aren’t much different from anyone else and we all make mistakes.

    According to what little research there is, 58% of Mormon women have had sex before they were married. Of Christians who “plan to wait” until they are married, roughly 80% have had sex before they were married. And among the US population in general, 90% of women have had sex before they were married. (And these numbers are similar for men – so don’t think we’re “off the hook”). These numbers have been stable since at least the 1940′s, and likely back even further.

    I agree with your “ideal world” – people would abstain from sex until marriage and be faithful afterward. The reality, however, is that people have sex. Unplanned children are the result. We can stick our heads in the sand and try to pass laws banning abortion so that “child abuse” doesn’t occur. Or we could look at reality and try to PREVENT the pregnancies from occurring in the first place.

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  33. Cowboy on October 12, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Will:

    Your assumption, unfortunately, is based on the rational consumer model. Interestingly, studies verify that in area’s where the population income and education levels are higher, your theory holds true(er). However, we are back to the problem, at least in the U.S., of crack mothers having crack babies. I wouldn’t expect rational opportunity costing to be effective among that segment. In other words, I don’t think many of the lower income/education demographics that usually experience these problems, would excercise the decision making your calling for. So we would still have babies being born, but the abortion methods and forthcoming complications would be worse and ultimately just as expensive (if not more), and the inhumane treatment of children born into poverty would increase…unless there is a social program to protect them!

    I can buy into the philosophies of meritocracy, responsibility,etc, to a point. For example, I would like to see greater accountability placed on individuals to finance medical problems related to lifestyle (I know, the devil is in the details…I’m just trying to make the point that I can accept some of your ideology…just not the practicability of all of it.) I can even mostly accept class-warfare (only because it’s a reality that I don’t see changing), but where my social ethics sort of hit the wall, is in regards to what society should do about children born to drug-addicted parents. Adoption is a nice option, but it would be very easy to out-supply the demand. Were I king, I’d have drug addicts neutered (yes, I’ll admit that even I am something of an ideological despot). Seeing as how that is not an option, there needs to be a practical solution for these “messy” situations. A wise person will understand that a proper solution will come at some kind of intersection between social/fiscal practicability, and ethical ideals. In other words, what “ought” to be done, vs what actually “can” be done. In short, your suggestion would come at the cost of society acting even more inhumane towards unborn children. A preventative course, such as lower cost contraception, seems very responsible.

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  34. mh on October 12, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Will you live in a vacuum. The fact is that crack babies cost you money to house then in jails. They Rob you and me, steal from banks, commit crimes, etc. you are sticking your head in the sand. Their bad choices affect you and me, the responsible ones. it’s more responsible for us to help them have no children so we don’t pay for jails to house them later.

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  35. Jon on October 12, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    it’s more responsible for us to help them have no children so we don’t pay for jails to house them later.

    As long as it’s not forced like they did before with the forced sterilizations. As long as it is not done with stolen money to pay for the contraceptives.

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  36. h_nu on October 13, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Another way to curb abortion would be to:

    1.) Kill abortion doctors.
    2.) Stone fornicators.

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  37. FireTag on October 13, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    The early Twentieth Century progressives went down this road and ended up in a very bad place. Once it becomes acceptable to do a cost-benefit analysis on whether people live or die because they aren’t “real” people whose lives are “worth” living, it can be amazing how quickly the categories of “sub-people” can expand by age, race, gender attraction, or belief system.

    I think we might want to try a more cynical approach as a thought experiment. How does the abortion rate in any society compare to its suicide rate? That might give us some insight into how bearable the cost of life looks to the potential “abortees”.

    This is not only a question of moral efficiency, it is also a question of moral equity. After all, if jailing them later is so bad that we should kill them now, can’t we just kill them later so we don’t annihilate those who make it past their terrible start?

    After all, if abortion and contraception had been more available in the mid-twentieth century to clean up the unintended consequences of pre-marital sex, Barack Obama probably wouldn’t be around to be President of the United States.

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  38. Samuel Rogers on October 13, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    In regards to the moral issue of prescribing contraception, I can’t help but be reminded of what is done to help opiate addicts overcome their addiction.

    The best medical practice to help these people is to prescribe them drugs like bruprenorphine or methadone. These drugs are similar to addicting street drugs. They are addicting and pack a punch, albeit less so and thus can serve as a transition drug. Thus, one way to look at the issue is to say that doctors are supplying the very drugs to these people that they get high on.

    However, study after study has shown that addicts who are willing to come to a clinic every week to pick up these drugs are way less likely to end up in jail or commit crimes. Furthermore, a significant amount of these people actually do conquer their addictions in the end.

    I’m not going to go into how this is similar or different to providing contraception, but I wanted to provide it as food for thought.

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  39. MH on October 14, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    FireTag, in answer to your question about suicide rates and abortion, it is my understanding that nations with high abortion have low suicide among women. States with high divorce rates also have lower suicide among women.

    So it could be argued that high divorce saves lives. Contraception certainly seems to prevent abortion from unintended pregnancies. It seems to me that given the choice, many irresponsible people would choose contraception over abortion. I think it just makes a lot of sense to help irresponsible people make the right decisions concerning unintended pregnancies. Society would save money, have lower crime, etc. But there are those like Will and Jon who are islands unto themselves and can’t seem to acknowledge the wisdom of such an approach.

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  40. Jon on October 15, 2012 at 7:01 AM

    MH,

    I never recall saying that I’m against your plan. I had three points:

    1. It is not OK to use force to get people to pay for it. This is especially true for those that disagree with contraception (which includes many of your brothers and sisters of your own faith).

    2. It is not OK to force people to use the contraception. Governments have done forced sterilization programs on people, one of the reasons to be leery of government programs.

    3. In other words these programs should be funded through voluntary means and should be administered to people that are fully aware of what they are accepting (i.e., educated on contraceptives before receiving them).

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  41. Mormon Heretic on October 15, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Jon, perhaps I am reading between the lines. Since you seem to have a real problem with taxes, I’m reading your words as taxes are a form of “force” that you oppose. So therefore, you don’t want the government to impose any laws on insurance companies mandating that they pay for contraception. Am I misreading you?

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  42. Jon on October 15, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    MH, You are correct. But I have no problem with the insurance companies implementing it themselves or private charities doing it.

    BTW, how are the poor going to afford this insurance?

    Oh yeah, your in favor of using force to make everyone get insurance too.

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  43. mh on October 15, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Sigh.

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  44. Cowboy on October 16, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    What the heck:

    Jon:

    Here is the point you are overlooking. Your philosophy would only work if you were King, and here is why. The degree of non-governmental intervention that you are requiring would also require that in some instances children be forced to starve in the streets.

    Fact 1) Young children are socially, mentally, and financially, helpless. They lack all of the necessary requirements to be accountable agents for their own well-being, and therefore must depend on others.

    Fact 2) Ideally, parents are responsible for the nurture…(The Family – I actually agree with this part).

    Fact 3) If parents neglect their obligations to care for the needs of their children, that responsibility must necessarilly fall to others OR it must be neglected altogether, in which case children starve, become criminals, etc.

    Fact 4) Every idiot with the equipment can create children without regard to their ability fullfill their obligations relative to fact number 2.

    Fact 5) Regardless of your political ideology, people will have shared interest in:

    a) Relieving the suffering of neglected children

    b) want relief and protection personally from the crime it fosters

    c) want it all to be efficient

    d) (here is the big one) want some level of Government participation – particularly when it is realized that the private charities are not significant enough to address the volume of the issue. In other words, people other than you do like the idea of Government intervention at certain levels, and recognize that it comes at a cost.

    To state it all more plainly, you are missing democracy in your ideology, and are forgetting that you are not King, and that some people actually do like cooperation on certain issues. This has a cost, and that cost is tax. Suck it up and deal with it, or get an island.

    FYI: I almost agree with your point on insurance companies. It’s arbitrary to make insurance companies the entity responsible for covering a mandated service. If contraception is to be mandated, it should be managed at the government level, or subsidized. However, since I’m not always a fan of government subsidizing business, I would prefer that it be managed by government. Just my thoughts on policy particulars.

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  45. Jon on October 16, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Cowboy,

    What the hell!!???

    I don’t want to be king. It is you and MH that want to be king and tell people what they can and cannot do. Before you know it you’ll be telling people who can and cannot get married. Wait, your ideology already states that that is what you want the government to do. Damn, can we not have even one part of our life without daddy telling us what we have to do? Can we not be free agents in anything?

    Fact 1)You are right.
    Opinion 2) I agree, but this is also an opinion, do you have proof of this?
    Fact 3) True.
    Fact 4) I agree.
    Opinion 5)
    a) I agree.
    b) I agree.
    c) I agree.
    d) This is a load bull. Governments are not efficient. When you create a monopoly of force, efficiency goes out the window, and that is a fact. The reasons private charities are big enough and don’t do enough is because government has regulated them to be small and less effective – what charities exist today do so in spite of government. Government taxes that go to “charitable” causes lose 70% on average in bureaucracy and that is a fact. Bureaucracies incentives are for following rules and sucking as much money as they can from the government tit, not helping people. Helping people is a side effect not the main mission. Private charities have people that are passionate about what they are doing and are willing to receive lower pay/benefits (to the point of doing things for free) in order to help others. That passion makes them much more efficient than government could ever cause people to be, unless the persons ideals are for power and greed.

    There are lots of people out there that think like I do. Besides, when does the amount of people that believe something determine the veracity of the idea?

    To state it all more plainly, you are missing democracy in your ideology, and are forgetting that you are not King, and that some people actually do like cooperation on certain issues. This has a cost, and that cost is tax. Suck it up and deal with it, or get an island.

    Since when did I want to be king? I don’t want to be king, you do. Don’t you understand that? You are the one that wants to boss people around and throw them in jail if they disagree with you. I don’t want that. I want people to love one another. As we can see here, government causes the contention by pitting us against one another.

    Democracy:

    1. Rule by the people, especially as a form of government; either directly or through elected representatives (representative democracy).

    Why is this the standard? We could easily change the definition to mob rule or tyranny of the majority if no ethical standard is adhered to. Is that what you want? Tyranny? The way you and others talk that is what it sounds like.

    No, I will not “suck it up.” I am not an island and that is why I argue for liberty so my children/grandchildren don’t have to grow up slaves to this “democracy” of yours.

    I think people should interact one with another. That is what makes us great, not being separate but working together for the greater good. But I also recognize that using a gun to get people to do what you want is unethical and counterproductive. People will help one another given the chance. People are much kinder than you would think, if you would just give them a chance to be.

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  46. Cowboy on October 16, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    You decided you wanted to be king when you decided that you wanted to throw American democracy out the window.

    How many people Jon, have you been able to convince? You state:

    “There are lots of people out there that think like I do. Besides, when does the amount of people that believe something determine the veracity of the idea?”

    Who? would you say, realistically, that they represent any kind of majority…or an insanely small minority?

    As for the second part of your question, the notion of public support actually goes a VERYYYYYYY long way in establishing the veracity of social politics. After all, what other standard would you use to the measure the veracity of effective Government? Ultimately if people aren’t happy, then do any of the other details matter much?

    It would be nice to live in your summer camp kumbaya world, where everybody play’s nice, but since I don’t…I suppose a little force goes a long way towards ensuring the peace. Sorry you don’t like it.

    It’s also very hard to take your criticism over “opinions” very seriously, when you are arguing that the American model of government ought to be scrapped in favor of your untested system that depends on a shared sense of altruism.

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  47. Jon on October 16, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Cowboy,

    Let me explain what being king implies. It implies that you can put your boot on someone’s neck and force them to bend to your will. I’m using words to try and convince others that there is an ethical standard which we should live. You are using the tyranny of the majority to put your boot on someone’s neck to force them to do what you would like them to do. Now, who wants and is king?

    Cowboy, you want to know who else are voluntaryists? Look it up on the internet, there are a lot of us out there. Look up LewRockwell dot com and Mises dot org and freedomsphoenix dot com and freedomainradio dot com and the free state project and the shire among just a few.

    Now you propose that we need a majority? Even your democracy isn’t run with a majority. Not everyone votes, it is the minority that rules over everyone, even when people are elected it is rare, if ever, that they even adhere to the majority thought. Obamacare was rejected by the majority, according to polls, so was the financial bailout. Not that it matters, if there is no ethical standard people adhere to then it is still a tyranny.

    As for the second part of your question, the notion of public support actually goes a VERYYYYYYY long way in establishing the veracity of social politics. After all, what other standard would you use to the measure the veracity of effective Government? Ultimately if people aren’t happy, then do any of the other details matter much?

    What standard would I use? The same one that I’ve been saying for quite some time now. The non-aggression principle. And just so you know, people in this country are not happy (according to polls), so does that mean democracy has failed? By your standard it has.

    Yours is the world of kumbaya. Mine is the world of realism and practicality. Just read copblock dot com for while and you’ll see that things aren’t truly peaceful. 250 million people died at the hands of their governments in the 20th century, not including war, you call that peaceful?

    The system that I propose doesn’t assume perfection. It does assume a certain amount of personal liberty, but so does yours, just read the founding fathers written work some, they state it themselves.

    Voluntaryism has been tested to a certain extent. But it matters not, what matters is what is right and wrong. Did it matter that people didn’t know what would happen if they ended slavery? No, what mattered was that slavery is wrong, period.

    Cowboy, your arguments don’t appear solid to me. The very things you accuse my ideas of are the very things that are wrong with your ideas. The idea that we need to keep ourselves safe from criminals by creating a monopoly force is ludicrous, where would the smart criminals go? To that very same monopoly of force and that is what we see now in our country and in other countries abroad.

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  48. Cowboy on October 16, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    Good luck Jon!

    You are now referencing, again, the same websites we discussed last time. I’m very familiar with various theoretical economic models. I understand the logic, even yours…I just don’t accept the assumptions it hangs on, ie, the predicted outcomes on human behavior. It’s worth noting that there has been an increasingly greater overlap between economics and psychology in the last several years, precisely because many contemporary economists are starting to recognize that assumptions about human behavior and motivation may have been more intuitive than realistic.

    I have also begun to realize that economic systems are only partially responsible for the relative success/failure of societies. In business’s we pay greater attention to management and personell, for example, each of which factor into how economies operate. In other words, many of the problems that you cite generally with the American system, can easilly be reduced to management issues,just as easilly as systems issues. If it is management issues, particularly corruption, there is no reason to believe that your system would fair better. In fact, because it is untested (outside of small tribes and hippie communes) there is plenty of reason to be skeptical.

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  49. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    It is precisely because of human behavior that the free market is better and monopolies don’t work. Monopolies tend towards large bureaucracies with great inefficiencies that have a great desire to self perpetuate. The free market makes people work harder and be lean with tendencies toward higher quality and lower cost. This isn’t a management issue, this is a system issue.

    That is why when you find super star teachers they burn out because of the bureaucracies, like John Taylor Gatto. That is why we have a failing school system, why we are losing the “War on Poverty” (more like the war to keep people in poverty and put more people in poverty) and why we are losing the war on drugs and why we are seeing ever greater militarism of policemen, why we are seeing continuous war, why we are seeing a trend towards fascism (merger of the state and corporations).

    It is quite obvious that those things would happen, that is the nature of the beast, monopolies. You can even see this in the church, where people have an uncanny loyalty to their leaders (taught to them from when they are young, just like loyalty to political party/government is taught) is leading to greater bureaucracy and the church spending money on things that go outside of its core mandates.

    Once again. Just because something is new doesn’t mean it can’t work. If that were true we wouldn’t be driving in cars, using computers that fit in our hands, and writing each other from 100s of miles apart in an instant. The US constitution was a new idea (yes, it was based on previous ideas but never implemented). Should the founders should have said, “Oh, it hasn’t worked before, we shouldn’t bother.” No, it is good to try new things. That is another problem with government. When it monopolizes something we lose out on competition and, therefore, miss out on new innovations.

    Seems obvious to me. I don’t understand why you don’t see it.

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  50. Hedgehog on October 17, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    Jon,
    How about you go and study the social history of Victorian Britain. Sounds a lot like what you want. Were there charitable and philanthropic organisations? Yes! Were they able to help everyone? No. Poverty was appalling, conditions dreadful.
    Not enough people actually cared. That’s the reality.

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  51. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    Hedgehog,

    I’ll take a look.

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  52. MH on October 17, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    Jon,

    why we are seeing continuous war, Jon, we have less death due to war than we did in biblical times, and “we are now living in the most peaceful time of our species existence”: See http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

    We all agree that if everyone loved one another, ANY political system would work. For me the question is whether anarchy would provide me more protection than democracy (or a republic, if you’re into that stupid argument). Looking at Somalia, where they have no contraception and anarchy, I’d choose the American form of government. But if you want to move to Somalia where they don’t force you to pay for contraception, by all means, I encourage you to move there for your utopian society.

    But let’s cut the off topic discussion, and get back to the topic at hand: realistically curbing abortion. Jon, if you’re realistically going to move to Somalia, I guess it is on topic, but something tells me you are not realistically going to do that.

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  53. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    MH,

    Stop throwing out the red herring Somalia. We all know that that isn’t the society I’m talking about. I’m talking about a society that respects the non-aggression principle (NAP). Comparing a NAP society with Somalia is like comparing a statist society with Hitler’s Germany, they have nothing in common (well, I suppose they do, but it is the worst result, not the best). Also, Somalia is more of a tribalistic society, not an ordered anarchy society.

    Yes, I’ve seen that video you are talking about. I’ll watch it again just for you. But just because there is less death due to war doesn’t mean that there is still a ton of work to get to where we need to go.

    OK, MH, end of discussion for me. I just wish you would stop twisting my words and ideas to fit into your paradigm.

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  54. Cowboy on October 17, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    “We all agree that if everyone loved one another, ANY political system would work. For me the question is whether anarchy would provide me more protection than democracy (or a republic, if you’re into that stupid argument).”

    This comment is worth repeating, as it sums up the entire contention. I outlines the argument and the assumptions. I don’t accept the initial premise enough to have any expectation that anarchy could succeed in producing happy and thriving societies for the majority of a population.

    That’s my final comment on the matter.

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  55. Cowboy on October 17, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    I guess one more quick comment:

    “It is precisely because of human behavior that the free market is better and monopolies don’t work.”

    You missed the point. The reason economists are starting to move towards psychology is precisely because they are admitting that we don’t understand human behavior as well as we thought.

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  56. MH on October 17, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    Well Jon, Somalia is the only nation in anarchy (perhaps parts of Afghanistan or Pakistan). So, if that’s all we can compare the experiment, then I’d say it has failed far more spectacularly than the American experiment in 1776.

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  57. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    MH,

    I thought we were done talking about this?

    Take a look at E-bay. Its anarchy is working out pretty well.

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  58. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    MH,

    Once again. Somalia is more like tribalism than it is like ordered anarchy two different things.

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  59. mh on October 17, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Your buddy ldsa seems to like the tribal anarchy model, and he is much more persuasive than you. He actually thinks Somalia is a success story.

    And now back to Realistic discussions.

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  60. Cowboy on October 17, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    “Take a look at E-bay. Its anarchy is working out pretty well.”

    I thought you didn’t like taxes? Ebay’s fee structure border’s on extortion, and is far far more complicated than necessary. The better example would be Craigslist, which fair’s quite pitifully compared to eBay.

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  61. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    MH,

    And that is what makes ordered anarchy so great. He and his friends can go start a tribal community on their own property and I don’t care, it doesn’t hurt me. But your system does hurt me because you don’t like leaving other people alone. And, yes, Somalia isn’t as bad as you think it is but neither is it true anarchy.

    Cowboy,

    E-bays fees are voluntary, I can choose not to shop there (in fact I don’t I usually shop from Amazon). So there is competition. In fact there is even an option that doesn’t charge anything, like you stated, called Craigslist. You even have another model that works great in UT called KSL.com classifieds. You see the variety? That is what is wonderful about the free market.

    What if someone steals something from your house? How much variety do you have there? Not much. In fact, many of the cops that you rely on think themselves superior and enforce laws because that is what they are told to do instead of being human and thinking, that guy is just smoking a joint and not hurting anyone, I’ll leave him alone, nope, that is not what most cops do. That is what is bad about the monopolistic system.

    Now back to FANTASY discussions.

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  62. mh on October 17, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Jon, we have wandered of the reservation. You have given me am ideas for a post. Let’s keep This on contraception and abortion, and save the off topic for my next post.

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  63. Cowboy on October 17, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    “You even have another model that works great in UT called KSL.com classifieds. You see the variety? That is what is wonderful about the free market.”

    That’s not true John, we live in a police State in America, and under these conditions it is impossible for those options to exist… therefore they don’t.

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  64. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Cowboy,

    That doesn’t follow one another. But, yes, you are correct, we do have police everywhere that stop us from being free. Just read some copblock.com. Oh, wait, you don’t want to because it will ruin your world view? That’s fine, but just don’t ever say I never told you so.

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  65. Jon on October 17, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Sorry, MH, I should have stopped myself. Whoever wants to have the last word, go ahead. I’ll stop posting. You can delete the last post if you want to.

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  66. [...] crime rate because unwanted children don’t grow up to become career criminals.  In addition, a St. Louis University study showed that when free contraception was given to high schoolers, it cut the teen birth rate by [...]

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