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American “pro-lifers” refuse to defend what they actually support

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This guy until fairly recently had one of the more prestigious jobs in legal academia:

Sure, France doesn’t actually ban abortion after 14 weeks but makes the vast majority of them formally and practically legal. And sure first trimester abortions are far more accessible because they’re heavily subsidized or free, not burdened by an obstacle course of arbitrary regulations, and because France has more than one abortion clinic per three million people. And sure the decision the French protestors are opposing allows abortion bans far more draconian than Mississippi’s to be passed. But…whoops, I have another wingnut welfare check to cash!

One nice thing about supporting abortion rights is that I neither have to lie about the policies I support or claim that other people made me take my positions.

Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance. I was first made aware of this during an accounting class. We were discussing the subject of accounting for stock options at technology companies. There was a live debate on this subject at the time. One side (mainly technology companies and their lobbyists) held that stock option grants should not be treated as an expense on public policy grounds; treating them as an expense would discourage companies from granting them, and stock options were a vital compensation tool that incentivised performance, rewarded dynamism and innovation and created vast amounts of value for America and the world. The other side (mainly people like Warren Buffet) held that stock options looked awfully like a massive blag carried out my management at the expense of shareholders, and that the proper place to record such blags was the P&L account.

Our lecturer, in summing up the debate, made the not unreasonable point that if stock options really were a fantastic tool which unleashed the creative power in every employee, everyone would want to expense as many of them as possible, the better to boast about how innovative, empowered and fantastic they were. Since the tech companies’ point of view appeared to be that if they were ever forced to account honestly for their option grants, they would quickly stop making them, this offered decent prima facie evidence that they weren’t, really, all that fantastic.

Application to Iraq. The general principle that good ideas are not usually associated with lying like a rug1 about their true nature seems to have been pretty well confirmed. In particular, however, this principle sheds light on the now quite popular claim that “WMDs were only part of the story; the real priority was to liberate the Iraqis, which is something that every decent person would support”.

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