• This House Supports the Markey/Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal Resolution

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    We’re looking for Speakers and a Moderator for this event. Please contact Roy Ferreira via Meetup if you are interested. The Green New Deal (GND) is a set of economic stimulus programs and policy proposals that aim to address climate change and economic inequality in the United States. It is a modern take on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal whose social programs and public works projects sought to mitigate the effects of the Great Depression. The GND also addresses what the proponents view as the most urgent issues of the 21st century. The Green New Deal Resolution was introduced by Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in February 2019. It is not a bill, but a set of policy proposals and goals upon which future legislation would be based. It calls for a “10-year mobilization” to do the following: - Guarantee a job with family-sustaining wages, family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security for all. - Guarantee high-quality healthcare, affordable and safe housing and clean air, water and food for all - Provide resources for training and educating all, including higher education. - Meet 100% of power needs through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources - Repair and upgrade the country’s infrastructure while eliminating pollution and green-house gas emission as much as technologically feasible - Build a ‘smart’ power grid and ensure affordable access to electricity - Upgrade existing buildings to maximize energy and water efficiency - Overhaul transportation systems to eliminate pollution, GHG emissions as much as technologically feasible, using in zero-emission vehicles, clean affordable public transportation and high-speed rail. Supporters see the proposals as reasonable and necessary given the great urgency of the task at hand: mitigating the devastating effects of anthropogenic climate change on the human species. What could be more important than protecting the very air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat!? The GND will also spur economic development in planet-saving green energy technologies, and put a lot of people to work building the new infrastructure the country sorely needs. Social and environmental justice intertwine to tackle the most urgent social issues of our time: economic inequality, lack of access to high quality healthcare and education. Critics point to the astronomical cost, by some projections as high as $93T over 10 years. The GND is a “pie-in-the sky” set of goals without many specifics on how to achieve them and get them passed into law. Humankind’s dependence on fossil-fuels for almost every aspect of our lives makes such drastic movement away practically impossible, especially in the proposed 10-year timeframe. Critics are dubious that these perceived “threats” to humanity and human societies warrant such radical policies. Internet memes of “farting cows” and grounded airplanes aside, the measures themselves will likely cause tremendous human suffering in their zeal to solve all of humanity’s problems. As Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace put it: “If fossil fuels were banned every tree in the world would be cut down for fuel for cooking and heating. You would bring about mass death” What do you think of the Green New Deal? Join us at the Mechanics Institute Library as we debate this controversial topic. All attendees will be charged $5 at the door. Everyone will be given a chance to air their views, although no-one is forced to speak. While we understand debates can get heated and emotional, we expect debaters to be civil and respectful of each other. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_New_Deal https://www.c-span.org/video/?457701-1/senator-markey-representative-ocasio-cortez-launch-green-deal https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2018/12/04/the-common-sense-extreme-of-the-green-new-deal/#5e393ee03290 https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-12/a-green-new-deal-isn-t-ready-for-prime-time

  • This House Supports Democratic Socialism

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    For the purpose of this debate, “Democratic Socialism” refers to principles and policies advocated by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). According to the DSA website Democratic Socialists argue that to achieve a more just society: “…many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives…We believe that social and economic decisions should be made by those whom they most affect. Corporate executives who answer only to themselves and a few wealthy stockholders make basic economic decisions affecting millions of people. Resources are used to make money for capitalists rather than to meet human needs. We believe that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them. Social ownership could take many forms, such as worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as possible. While the large concentrations of capital in industries such as energy and steel may necessitate some form of state ownership, many consumer-goods industries might be best run as cooperatives.” Critics of Democratic Socialism counter that its proponents exaggerate the ills of contemporary capitalist economies in order to justify its extreme agenda. For instance, American income inequality fell between 2005 and 2015, after adjusting for taxes and transfers and median household income rose by 10% in real terms in the three years to 2017. But the real problem with Democratic Socialism lies with its prescriptions for these supposed ills. Take fiscal policy. Democratic Socialists peddle the myth that vast expansions of government services can be paid for primarily by government borrowing and higher taxes on the rich - without serious repercussions, basic math and economic history to the contrary. Like the socialism of old, Democratic Socialists suffer from a faith in the incorruptibility of collective action and are naïve about the potential of bureaucracy to be captured by special interests and undermine economic growth. Rather than shield firms and jobs from change, the state should ensure markets are efficient and that workers, not jobs, are the focus of policy. Rather than shackle market forces, government should harness these forces for the greater good. There are better ways to achieve a more just and equitable society than the path of Democratic Socialism. So what do you think? Is Democratic Socialism the best way to achieve a just and equitable society? Is Democratic Socialism necessary because capitalism inevitably leads to increasing levels of exploitation, inequality and oppression? Or do the Democratic Socialists have it wrong, in both their diagnosis of the problem and their prescription for how to fix it. Is there some middle way to achieve universal health care, affordable housing, and stronger social safety net than becoming a socialist nation? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these and other questions. Read More: Democrat Socialists of America: https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/what-is-democratic-socialism/ https://quillette.com/2018/08/06/democratic-socialism-is-a-scam/ https://vittana.org/15-democratic-socialism-pros-and-cons https://www.foxnews.com/politics/as-socialism-sees-resurgence-here-are-its-pros-and-cons https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/02/14/millennial-socialists-want-to-shake-up-the-economy-and-save-the-climate

  • Informal get-together

    The Irish Bank

    No formal debate tonight, but since we have a gap until our next debate, let's get together to discuss whatever events in the country and in the world are on our minds, and argue about them, as we normally enjoy doing post-debate. AND, importantly, share ideas about possible topics for future debates at the Mechanics Institute Library, which we've reserved for the following dates: Monday, February 25; Tuesday, March 12; Tuesday, March 26; Monday, April 8; Monday, May 6.

  • This House Opposes the 'Toxic Masculinity' Message Exemplified by Gillette Ad

    If you’re interested in being a Speaker or moderator for this event, please let the event organizer, Roy Ferreira know through Meetup. Gillette’s new razor blade commercial doesn’t show a single man shaving. It opens with men of different ages looking at their faces introspectively in the mirror, but then shatters the classic tagline of “The Best that a Man Can Get” with scenes of classic ‘toxic’ masculinity. Boys wrestling and fighting at a cookout, bullies chasing a boy down the street, scenes of men demeaning and catcalling women to watching audiences of guffawing and dismissive men. It then urges men to “say the right thing, act the right way”, showing alternative scenes of men being protective of children and standing-up to men who demean and objectify women. A new tagline, “The Best a Man Can Be” urges social change in the interests of boys who “will be the men of tomorrow”. The company’s foray into social messaging and the #MeToo movement garnered it national media attention, and widespread controversy. Critics decry the ad as yet another piece of corporate messaging that berates and belittles men and boys. At best, men are shown as bumbling idiots, like the stereotypical row of men standing behind their grills and mindlessly mouthing the phrase “Boys will be Boys”. At worst, males are portrayed as routinely misogynist, cruel and violent. Basically they are inherently bad. Out in the real world, many men and especially boys, are taking this messaging to heart, seeing themselves as inferior beings. Boys increasingly lag behind girls in college attendance, have higher rates of suicide and are more likely to live at home with their parents well into adulthood. On the other hand, men often take the most dangerous jobs, fight our country’s wars, and – when given a chance – excel in many fields of endeavor, like science and technology. Their achievements are ignored and glossed-over, while they are chastised for behavior that does not conform to feminist standards - in this case those of the feminist director of the ad. Supporters of the ad point to the shocking statistics of sexual harassment and violence committed by men (mostly against women, but also against other men), as reasons for the urgent reform of male behavior. Patriarchal societies have at best turned a blind-eye towards these harmful behaviors, dismissing them as “Boys will be Boys”, shrugging their shoulders as women are routinely demeaned and attacked. Unchecked masculinity has been responsible for untold violence, wars and massacres in human history. Its past time for reform! Men are certainly capable of caring and nurturing behavior, and boys need new role models to emulate. As Whoopi Goldberg points out on her show, “The View”, the message in Gillette’s ad is merely "Don't be a jerk!”, something that everyone, men and women alike should espouse to. Sounds simple enough! What do you think? Join us at the Mechanics Institute Library as we debate this explosive and very timely topic. A $5 fee will be charged at the door. To view the ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPmuEyP3a0 https://nypost.com/2019/01/20/that-idiotic-gillette-ad-may-have-turned-the-tide-on-toxic-masculinity/ https://www.wired.com/story/gillette-we-believe-ad-men-backlash/ http://theconversation.com/gillette-has-it-right-advertisers-cant-just-celebrate-masculinity-and-ignore-the-metoo-movement-110034 https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/gillette-ad-about-toxic-masculinity-metoo-movement-draws-criticism-boycott-n958796

  • Motion: Trump Must Be Removed from Office through Impeachment

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    Article One of the US Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachments of officers of the federal government, including the president and vice president. The Constitution specifies that a president cannot be impeached for just anything; it has to be for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Other than this vague description, the Constitution sheds little light on what would constitute an impeachable offense and the Supreme Court has deferred to Congress to make that determination. Several commentators have called for the impeachment of President Trump. They argue that President Trump should not be allowed to serve out his term because his authoritarian tendencies and impulsive personality are a threat to our national security and democratic institutions. Between obstruction of justice, conflicts of interest, attacks on the press, threats against political adversaries, and reckless provocation of allies and foes alike, many consider Trump so unfit for the office of president that he must be removed as soon as possible. Others argue that any attempt to impeach and remove Trump from office would fail and be a waste of time, because the Senate is controlled by Republicans who are not about to risk their political futures by removing a president so popular with the party base. Given that the majority of independents and over 90% of Republicans are against impeachment, an attempt to remove Trump from office would tear this country apart. Others claim that the desire to remove Trump is more about partisan politics than alarm about the flawed character and poor judgment of our president. So what do you think? Should Trump be impeached and removed from office? Or not? Or at least not yet? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these and other questions. Read More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/29/donald-trump-impeachment-congress-house-senate https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/27/opinion/trump-impeachment-resign-drew.html https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/11/14/even-with-evidence-high-crimes-impeaching-trump-would-probably-fail/?utm_term=.855b9a067656 https://www.anthonybrobinson.com/a-trump-tipping-point-2/ https://www.needtoimpeach.com/impeachable-offenses/ https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/409902-dem-strategist-says-trump-should-not-be-impeached https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/house-democrats-impeach-trump https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/12/impeach-trump-poll-public-support-983837 https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/08/donald-trump-impeachment-unlikely-unwise/ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/29/donald-trump-impeachment-congress-house-senate

  • This House Supports Breaking Up the Big Tech Companies

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    In the late 19th century, America’s first Gilded Age began with a raft of technical and social innovations but ultimately culminated in the creation of mammoth trusts owned by “robber barons”, who used their wealth and power to drive out competitors and corrupt American politics. …We’re now in a second Gilded Age that has spawned a handful of new robber barons: giant hi-tech companies. Facebook and Google dominate online advertising. Apple dominates smartphones and laptop computers. Amazon is now the first stop for a third of all American consumers seeking to buy anything. This consolidation at the heart of the American economy creates two big problems. Firstly, innovation is stifled by big tech’s sweeping patents, large data networks and dominant platforms that have become formidable barriers to new entrants. Secondly, this massive concentration of economic power has generated political clout that is easily abused. – Robert Reich (quoted and paraphrased) “Break up Facebook (and while we're at it, Google, Apple and Amazon)" On the other hand, the effect of big tech companies on the economy has been positive in many ways. Consumers get more selection and lower prices, small businesses can reach a wider audience, and the government receives oodles of tax revenue. History has also shown there's a better, faster, more efficient and more direct way to deal with companies that are "too big". Let the free market work. Time and again, giants of industry get toppled not by government regulators, but by disruptive new competitors. It's a virtual certainty that decades from now Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and others will have gone the way of Microsoft, IBM, Sears, Zenith Electronics, Kodak and Bethlehem Steel. Once mighty companies brought to heel by a dynamic, ever changing and fiercely competitive market. So what do you think? Do the Big Tech firms more harm than good? Or vice versa? Should they be broken up? Should we let market forces do their magic? Or is the answer somewhere in between? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these and other questions. Read More: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/20/facebook-google-antitrust-laws-gilded-age https://www.economist.com/special-report/2018/11/15/technology-firms-are-both-the-friend-and-the-foe-of-competition https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/facebook-google-amazon-break-up-anti-trust-monopolies-free-market/ https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/dont-damage-our-democracy-by-breaking-up-big-tech/ https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/5/17805162/monopoly-antitrust-regulation-google-amazon-uber-facebook

  • Progressives are Bad for America

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    What is a progressive? Politicians, activists and others disagree about what the word means. There's no precise definition. “Progressive” is a category with fuzzy boundaries. Still, in general, a progressive fits certain criteria: someone (usually a Democrat) who prioritizes economic and social equality and strongly supports bold government action and a redistributive tax system to achieve policy goals. Examples of progressives include Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Barbara Lee. Critics of progressives point out that many of their policy proposals are poorly thought out, impractical, unworkable, or counterproductive. Progressives have also engendered a culture of class warfare, intimidation, intolerance, and contempt for other points of view. Resting on the laurels of their “good intentions”, progressives are prone to the following line of reasoning: “our goals are noble. Only morally-deficient people wouldn’t want universal health care, free tuition, or the elimination of poverty. We are right and if you don’t agree with us, you are a racist, misogynist, xenophobic, and/or [fill in colorful epithet here]. It’s ok to shout you down because your so-called ‘free speech’ thwarts the cause of social justice and harms the fragile core of the oppressed. Besides, whatever you think is wrong with us pales in comparison to the horrors unleashed by Trump and his Republican white supremacist lapdogs.” A progressive may counter: “oh, come on. We’re only trying to do what many European countries have already done – and their economies seem to be doing just fine. There is nothing wrong with unapologetic advocacy for social justice. Inequality, racism, poverty, and lack of social mobility are huge problems that require bold action. Healthcare, housing, and education are universal rights, which would become universal realities if progressives win the fight against the selfish and the powerful. Ours is a deeply humanistic vision, one that elevates compassion over profit and personal dignity over exploitation.” So what do you think? Is there something about the modern version of progressive that would undermine the American project? Are progressives simply Democrats by any other name, except that they have the courage of their convictions? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these and other questions. Further reading: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35467470 https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/america-divided-it-starts-the-democratic-party http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/tribalism-exhausted-majority-centrism-david-brooks-democratic-party.html https://www.economist.com/united-states/2017/09/21/the-democrats-are-ditching-centrism-for-economic-populism https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/08/white-liberal-racism-why-progressives-are-unable-to-see-their-own-bigotry.html https://www.jovanka.org/platform https://www.marketwatch.com/story/democrats-socialism-will-bury-us-in-debt-we-wont-be-able-to-get-out-from-under-2018-07-11

  • Three California ballot propositions

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    We'll be doing something different for this debate. Of the eleven statewide propositions on the November 6 ballot, members will pick THREE of them, and we'll spend 30 MINUTES debating each one. Now we are looking for three member volunteers to pick ballot propositions in advance of our meeting. As a volunteer, you will read up about the proposition you select, and the arguments given by its supporters and opponents. Then, at our meeting, you will share what you've learned, and be prepared to answer questions about the proposition from the other people in the room, who will also argue among themselves -- and probably with you -- about the merits of the proposition during its allotted 30 minutes. YOU CAN VOLUNTEER FOR A PROPOSITION BY POSTING A COMMENT HERE ON THIS WEB PAGE. If you do, be prepared to give a presentation on it for up to 5 minutes. Full descriptions are linked from these web pages: https://ballotpedia.org/California_2018_ballot_propositions http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/propositions/ http://quickguidetoprops.sos.ca.gov/propositions/2018-11-06 Summaries: 1. Issues $4 billion in bonds for housing programs and veterans' home loans. 2. Uses revenue from millionaire's tax for $2 billion in bonds for homelessness prevention housing. 3. Issues $8.877 billion in bonds for water-related infrastructure and environmental projects. 4. Issues $1.5 billion in bonds for children's hospitals. 5. Revises process for homebuyers of age 55+ or severely disabled to transfer their tax assessments. 6. Repeals 2017's fuel tax and vehicle fee increases and requires public vote on future increases. 7. Authorizes legislature to provide for permanent daylight saving time if federal government allows. 8. Requires dialysis clinics to issue refunds for revenue above a certain amount. 10. Allows local governments to regulate rent on any type of housing. 11. Allows ambulance providers to require workers to remain on call during breaks paid. 12. Bans sale of meat from animals confined in spaces below specific sizes. JUST FOR FUN, WE HAVE AN ANONYMOUS POLL WHERE YOU CAN SHARE WHICH PROPOSITIONS INTEREST YOU: https://www.meetup.com/sfdebate/polls/1271740/ We'll also need a MODERATOR for all three mini-debates.

  • Motion: The Sexual Revolution was a Mistake

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    If you would like to moderate this debate, contact Event Host Deborah through Meet-up. During the 1960s, the urge to 'find oneself' and a quest for autonomy were characterized by changes towards sexual attitudes. These changes to sexual attitudes and behavior during the period are often referred to generally as the 'sexual revolution'. As described at the time, the sexual revolution represented a “new permissiveness in sexual behavior…a “new morality” freed of hypocrisy and fear and grounded in tolerance…a state of mind, in which sex would be separated—as far as science, will and conscience could separate it—from duty, pain and fear, from everything but pleasure, and there would be an equality of giving pleasure and taking it, as in a mythic democracy where power would not be exercised by one group or person over another…in essence a women's revolution, [challenging] old assumptions about the nature of female sexuality and women's place in society.” (Worsnop, 1970) Well, that was how it looked then. These days, a sexual counter-revolution has taken hold, amidst growing concern that generations of free and easy sex has taken a toll on the lives of both men and women, not to mention families and children, leading more and more young adults to steer clear of sex altogether. Critics of the sexual revolution argue that it led to generations of men unmotivated to grow up or commit to serious relationships, in large part because men saw less need to make themselves into appealing long-term partners. According to this argument, the multi-decade epidemic of sexual harassment and assault, single moms and deadbeat dads is a direct consequence of the 1960s sexual revolution. Some call for a return to a norm of sexual restraint. As Christine Emba put it, “Now could be the time to reintroduce virtues such as prudence, temperance, respect and even love. We might pursue the theory that sex possibly has a deeper significance than just recreation and that ‘consent’—that thin and gameable boundary—might not be the only moral sensibility we need respect.” So what do you think? Did the sexual revolution do more harm than good? Was the sexual revolution necessary for the evolution of feminism and LGBT rights? Is the sexual revolution being blamed for ills that have other causes? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these and other questions. Further reading: Sexual revolution: myth or reality Worsnop, R. L. (1970). http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1970040100 Let's Rethink Sex https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-rethink-sex/2017/11/26/d8546a86-d2d5-11e7-b62d-d9345ced896d_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8d0ce03b8238 Why Humans Have Sex https://labs.la.utexas.edu/buss/files/2015/09/why-humans-have-sex-2007.pdf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_revolution_in_1960s_United_States https://readswc.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/the-sexual-revolution-was-a-huge-mistake/ https://ifstudies.org/blog/the-sexual-counter-revolution-among-young-adults

  • The Future of the SF Debate Club

    Mechanics' Institute Library

    If you love SF Debate, this is the meeting not to miss. What debate topics do we need to debate (more of)? How should we choose which topics to debate? Will we stay at the Mechanics' Library (rent recently increased 50%)? Come support this SF institution of 10 years and do the SF Debate thing....express yourself! There will be no door charge for this meeting.