October 27, 2004


Illinois Senate Candidates Trade Insults (NICOLE ZIEGLER DIZON, 10/27/04, Associated Press)

The debate included a lengthy discussion of the role of government, with Keyes suggesting government generally should leave poverty and other social ills to religious organizations.

"I am not obsessed with government, and I think that's the difference between me and Barack Obama," said Keyes, a Republican and former ambassador to the United Nations.

But Obama, a Democratic state senator, maintained that government must do its best to help when it can.

"When a child doesn't have health insurance, they don't need a lecture. They need health insurance," he said.

For the first time in the three debates, Obama at times found himself on the defensive.

He struggled to explain what in his religious beliefs leads him to oppose gay marriage. Keyes hammered him over opposing school vouchers while sending his children to private school. Asked whether he opposes drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, Obama first said no, then laughingly corrected himself to make clear that he opposes drilling.

Given the situation he was asked to step into there was no way for Ambassador Keyes to win the Senate race, but he has conducted a virtual seminar on the meaning of the Constitution and the role of religious morality in public life and has demonstrated rather decisively that Mr. Obama is not ready for the primetime he'll be asked to take on after he wins this election by 40 points.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 27, 2004 2:14 PM

Keyes couldn't win if he'd lived in Illinois all his life. He's a fringe-y kind of guy.
If he really wants to get to Congress, there has to be a House district somewhere that would elect him. Ron Paul made it.

Leaving poverty and other social ills up to religious organizations is a good way to perpetuate poverty and other social ills, as all of recorded history shows.
Religions have a role in helping people out of difficult situations, or in avoiding such situations entirely, but they've never been up to the task of helping everyone who needs it.

Also, even if they'd ever had the resources available, they don't care about everyone. For various reasons, religious organizations choose to let some people fend for themselves.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 27, 2004 2:59 PM

The welfare state's track record vis a vis poverty and other social ills isn't exactly stellar.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at October 27, 2004 3:07 PM

& the President is moving us towards a church based social relief system.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2004 4:22 PM

"The welfare state's track record vis a vis poverty and other social ills isn't exactly stellar."

True in some cases. But compare poverty rates among the elderly before and after Social Security--for that matter, watch what happens after privatization. And whatever you might think of the "failures" of the public school systems now, it might also be informative to compare literacy rates and other such measures before and after the (entirely socialist) drive for compulsory public education.

Whatever the motives behind them, the drives to privatize these and other current functions of government will have the effect of restoring old-time style poverty rates and increasing ignorance.

Posted by: M. Bulger at October 27, 2004 4:30 PM


That's nonsense. The elderly will have 70 years of private accounts built up under them and be obscenely wealthy. Just imagione someone born in 1935 retiring today having bought $2000 of stock every year for the last 70.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2004 5:33 PM

"When a child doesn't have health insurance, they don't need a lecture. They need health insurance,"

No, they need parents who don't have kids until they can afford health insurance.

M. is correct. The only anti-poverty programs that have pretty clearly worked have been those aimed at the elderly. Not to defend the current system, but they don't generally blow their checks on intoxicants, etc.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 27, 2004 7:02 PM


It's exactly what they buy, drugs. All that's happened is politically powerful elderly transfer the money of the weaker young to themselves, making the old the richest segment of our society and the young the poorest.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2004 7:08 PM

As I said, I'm not defending the current system, and that wealth transfer effect is a real problem. My point was to second M.: that of the federal various poverty programs, the one success was to reduce poverty among the elderly.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 27, 2004 8:21 PM

On the other hand, compulsory public schooling has been on a downward slide for at least three generations. My grandfather grew up in rural Ohio and learned Latin and read Cicero in high school. My father went to high school in the Los Angeles suburbs and learned French and read Voltaire. I learned Spanish by playing baseball with Mexican kids and had to put up with Maya Angelou. My generation on average spent more years in school than either of theirs, but I can't say that my generation is less ignorant than theirs; rather the opposite, I should think.

Correlation isn't causation, of course, but with the state of the teachers' unions one does wonder. I really doubt that abolition of compulsory public schooling would cause an explosion of ignorance. A drop-off in the number of years we keep kids in school and in a prolonged childhood, maybe, but that's not the same thing at all.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at October 27, 2004 8:41 PM


Peter thinks the program less successful than Paul.

Posted by: oj at October 28, 2004 12:23 AM