This is the bi-weekly open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:
1. Sorry about the decreased volume of blogging lately. I’ve been working night shift, plus I discovered Worm. The good news is that now you’ve discovered Worm too, so you have better things to do than read this blog.
2. Comments of the week are Joscha on TV and German fertility differences, Universal Set on Christian colleges and some clarification on grit.
Right now it seems like the only non-stupid chance the GOP has of stopping Trump is to have everybody but Ted Cruz drop out and endorse Ted Cruz. Combined, the supporters of Rubio, Kasich, and Cruz can conceivably beat Trump. Divided, they will obviously lose. The idea that they can wait until the convention and then sneak in Mitt Romney or Kasich or something is completely idiotic. Any lingering respect the GOP rank and file had for the party would be destroyed by such a move and Trump could very well run third party if he feels the nomination has been stolen from him (I don’t think he would if he lost “fair and square,” before the convention). Either way, the result is almost certain Clinton victory.
Now there are probably some people high up in the GOP who would genuinely prefer a Clinton victory to a Trump victory, but do they really prefer a Clinton victory to a Cruz victory? Or are they just that stupid and disorganized and narcissistic that they can’t do the one obvious thing that might stop their Trump nightmare scenario?
According to a piece I recently read, current Republican convention rules, created in 2012, only allow votes on the first ballot to be counted if they are for a candidate who is supported by a majority of the delegations of at least eight states, and only allow a candidate to be nominated who meets the same condition. If that is correct and the rules are not changed, it looks as though Trump and Cruz will be the only candidates who can be nominated.
Winning on the first ballot still requires a majority of the delegates, not just of the votes that get counted.
Interesting. But regardless of the technical rules, I’m pretty sure of this: if the GOP wants to win, they either have to nominate Trump and stop trying to undermine him, or else they have to beat him fair and square in a manner which is obvious to everyone before the convention even begins.
Most people don’t understand or care about the technical aspects of the convention. If it is perceived that Trump’s nomination was “stolen” from him it will massively demoralize GOP voters and/or trigger a disastrous 3rd party run. Remember, this is an electorate some of whom thought Donald Trump got to be president now that he’d “won” Super Tuesday (based on some facebook posts I saw).
Does it count as fair and square if Trump gets 45% of the votes on the first ballot, Cruz gets 35%, and Cruz then gets a majority on the second ballot?
Good question. Would I accept a Cruz victory under such circumstances? Sure, I would accept a Cruz victory under any circumstances since I like his policy views a lot more than Trump’s. But the question is what his followers would perceive as “fair and square.” Arguably nothing but a Trump victory, but I think there may still be room to hand Trump an unambiguous loss.
It may depend somewhat on the media coverage leading up to the event. If the story is “outcome uncertain as GOP enters hotly contested convention” then maybe Trump voters will accept a non-Trump victory. If the story going in is “Trump expected to receive nomination” and he doesn’t, then it might be harder for them to accept.
Of course, it also matters whether or not Trump himself accepts the outcome, which, I predict, will depend on whether doing so makes him look better or worse. He certainly has a history of being a sore loser as seen after Iowa. He did sign that pledge saying he wouldn’t run third party, but it also said something like “if they treat me fairly.”
But your point about the rules does increase my hope of a Cruz victory, since presumably most Kasich-Rubio-Bush delegates would sooner cast a vote for Cruz than Trump. But I do worry about what will happen if Trump’s loss is not seen as legitimate.
Yes, I think this is exactly right.
The closer Trump gets to 1,237 delegates, the greater the notion that he’s entitled to the nomination, and the more perfect the unity required of all the other delegates to stop him. Perfect unity is almost impossible to achieve in politics. Non-Trump delegates aren’t necessarily anti-Trump. Individuals rank their candidate choices in all kinds of idiosyncratic ways.
Moreover, if Trump is, say, 12 or 30 or 50 short of a majority, nothing can stop him. Many delegates would be thrilled to be part of a small group of people to put a candidate over the finish line to victory. Quite possibly, the president of the United States would owe you a huge debt of gratitude!
And even if he doesn’t win the White House, still, an eccentric billionaire would owe you a huge debt of gratitude. That’s got to be worth something.
Interesting profile by Marian Tupy on John Cowpertwaite, who was Financial Secretary of Hong Kong from 1961 to 1971 and a major champion of laissez-faire policies:
Good Guy Sir John.
Interesting especially about the statistics collection. It seems that it is in general a bad idea that will encourage people towards evil.
Very interesting. Doing nothing when nothing needs doing seems to be one of the hardest things for humans to do in all kinds of ways, actually.
I like that idea about the statistics.
I suspect that Cowperthwaite is the subject of one of the stories my father told. He was traveling around the world studying monetary systems, got to Hong Kong. Nobody there could tell him how its monetary system worked, but he eventually figured it out. He then talked to the man in charge (I was remembering it as the governor general, but it could easily have been the financial secretary)—who correctly explained it. Asked why nobody else could, he responded that if they understood it they would have messed it up.
That’s by memory, but I think reasonably accurate.
Factually speaking, almost all religions are almost certainly lies*. Thus, the most common use suggested for religions by the non religious – a religious morality – is inferior to a secular morality, as a secular morality is malleable while a religious morality is by definition backwards, the only question is to what extent.
However, it is true that prayers and religious beliefs provide a benefit to mental health (and prayers are different and possibly more effective than meditations in that regard). I’m thinking of construing a secular religion with various artificial analogies for concepts of theistic religions.
In particular, what secular gods would there be?
Most people in the comment section are probably familiar with Moloch already.
My other ideas include Azathoth, the blind watchmaker; Tzeentch, God of Change, evolution, ambition and hope; and Media, the quasi-Greek goddess of guess what.
*Not a single supernatural claim that has been claimed by a religion as true has ever been proven correct, and there is a large amount of ones that are proven false. If there is *a* deity, it is sufficiently removed for a regular religion’s concepts of a benevolent god that actively influences the world to a sufficient degree that prayers are useful and a nonsecular moral codex is in any way superior for us to conclude that religions are just that: lies.
Popeye , God of consciousness/reality.
Body: It is true that prayers provide a benefit to mental health.
Footnote: There is no evidence that prayers are useful; any claim to the contrary is lies.
Prayers provide a benefit to the praying person’s mental health, but are completely useless in reaching the actual goal outlined in the prayer. I assumed that was quite clear from the context.
I know it always feels like amping the rhetoric up to 11 should aid your argument by anchoring listeners to your extreme, but usually it just makes folks tune out, because they see you saying something ridiculous instead of something reasonable.
Not a single supernatural claim? I suspect you’re palming a card with the word “supernatural,” most likely by defining any claim that did pan out to be non-supernatural. Is the claim that prayer is good for you merely natural because it is true? When Moses told the Israelites that if they did not follow the Law, they would be exiled from the land, was that supernatural? How about when the Jewish prophets said that idols don’t do anything?
Most people recognize that supernatural claims generally fall into the “not currently testable” bucket. Just to be ecumenical, I don’t think we say that Hinduism’s belief in reincarnation is “proven false,” let alone a lie. Making such broad sweeping claims just looks silly.
Almost all religions frown heavily on profanity. It is okay to denounce other beliefs in a bunch of ways, but the criticism of itself? Tone it down a notch, will ya? I believe there is a reason for this. Volumes upon volumes of theodicy and denouncements of heathens on one side, gentle handshake and shoulder pat and “well, I’m sure that everyone is right in their own way” on the other.
I am the sonorous prophet, and my voice is the knife.
>I suspect you’re palming a card with the word “supernatural,” most likely by defining any claim that did pan out to be non-supernatural.
Generally I define supernatural thus: there is one event (a man squints his eyes and stares at a ball), another event (the ball moves half a meter) and the causal link between the two is what supernatural is. Which itself is a “i know it when i see it”. The Israelites might not follow the Law, and they might have gotten exiled, but is there an A->B that is actually supernatural such as “a god did this”?
>Is the claim that prayer is good for you merely natural because it is true?
When you tell someone of a hardship, and someone tells you “I will pray for you”, they mean “I am actively doing a thing that makes your hardship better”, when they /actually/ mean “I am doing a thing that calms me down a bit but does nothing for you, ain’t I nice?!” Of course it’s not useful to tell people that when they pray for you, because that would mean you take away their feel good device to zero benefit for either of you, but still.
“When you tell someone of a hardship, and someone tells you “I will pray for you””
No-one has ever said this to me, and i agree, it would seem crass – but at the same time, I have prayed for others without ever telling them I have done so.
Come to think of it… isn’t there a bit in the bible about this?
It seems like so many criticisms of christianity from the secular christian (Dawkins) perspective are answered by… christianity.
“the causal link between the two is what supernatural is.” – a supernatural claim is a claim that a specific incident was caused by a conscious decision. Or a magic. Or anything else that makes the event unpredictable. We can’t predict it because we don’t have sufficient knowledge of the things which cause it. That’s why, actually, there is something desperately arrogant about those who’ll dismiss the supernatural as a matter of course.
The assumption that secular morality would be superior to religious morality seems a bit suspect.
At best they would be equally fictitious.
Imagine a third-generation stock broker who buys and sells exactly how his grandfather have done on this day fifty years ago. A broker who uses current input is a better broker than someone who wants to put all of his money into a stock of a company that does not actually currently exist.
Is “Buy Low, Sell High” not the way stock brokers do things anymore?
In order for your assertion to make any sense you would need to show that the fundamentals of human experience and psychology vary wildly from decade to decade, if not year to year. That’s a big claim, one that would seem to run counter to even a basic awareness of history, or literature.
> Is “Buy Low, Sell High” not the way stock brokers do things anymore?
I’m not saying “using the same principles”. I am saying “50 years ago my grandfather bought stock of Comptington Noodles, therefore I, too, will do exactly this.”
> In order for your assertion to make any sense you would need to show that the fundamentals of human experience an psychology vary wildly from decade to decade, if not year to year.
Human morality forms according to economical and societal trends. The absolute basic laws like “you should not harm other humans” are trivially solved by giving people Important Reasons and by dehumanizing the humans hurt.
Until economical reasons stopped demanding child labor, everyone was completely morally okay with it.
I’m not saying “using the same principles”. I am saying “50 years ago my grandfather bought stock of Comptington Noodles, therefore I, too, will do exactly this.”
In that case your comment is a non sequitur.
The absolute basic laws like “you should not harm other humans” are trivially solved by…
To put it charitably, the fact that you think this basic or trivial is illuminating.
I will grant that people’s personal morality is often determined by convenience. the part I find hard to swallow is the apparent assumption that this is superior to other options, or that it will only ever work in the direction you want it to. (the chronological chauvinism I mentioned earlier) I imagine that Nietzsche, Hobbes, and St. Augustine, would all have some choice words on that subject.
>as a secular morality is malleable while a religious morality is by definition backwards
1. Do you believe that Catholics – for example – have the exact same morality as their co-religionist ancestors a millennium past?
2. How is a “malleable morality” any different from amorality?
Different kind of malleable.
A secular morality is always reactive. For a significant amount of time the majority belief was that people are all relatively the same, but some of them choose to do gay things (usually because they are perverts or whatnot). Historically very recently it changed to a more evidence-based approach that being gay is an intrinsic and immutable characteristic, which led to a momentary increase in gay people’s suffering, followed by rapid progress in the equal rights direction.
On the other hand, the Bible gives no such leniency. Gay people must be murdered, it is a horrible abomination.
Religious people were very happy to do this and literally the only reason they do not do this currently is the existence of secular morality, as is true re: all the other horrible things that religion tells people to do.
If you’re going make claims about evidence and rigor, you need to present your evidence and demonstrate rigor.
As it stands, your argument reads as a pretty bog-standard example of chronological chauvinism coupled with argument from convenience. IE “My assertion is newer and furthers my goals ergo it must be true”
[thought better of it, staying out of this one]
Thus, the most common use suggested for religions by the non religious – a religious morality – is inferior to a secular morality, as a secular morality is malleable while a religious morality is by definition backwards, the only question is to what extent.
You seem to be engaging in a bit of chronological snobbery here. An alternative perspective is that religious morality is superior to a malleable secular morality because it is less likely to shift according to the latest winds of fashion.
I am not interested in extreme short-term shifts in morality. According to the trends as they were in 1960s, at this point we would have more or less free drug use (at least universally legalized marijuana), polyamory and free love in general, lowered age of consent – none of which happened; but legalization of gay marriage was absurd even for them.
An existing religion with existing holy texts will offer no new research, no new ideas, it will never give ways to decrease human suffering, I would say it is good at keeping the status quo on human suffering at least, but that is of course false.
An existing religion with existing holy texts will offer no new research, no new ideas…
You do realize that there is an entire branch of philosophy/scholarship that would beg to differ do you not?
Perhaps what we need are not new ideas, but greater motivation to follow our old ideas. There’s a lot of data suggesting that religious people give more to charity, for example. We even found this on the SSC survey: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/11/04/2014-ssc-survey-results/#comment-258741
Better formatting and graphs here
“An existing religion with existing holy texts will offer no new research, no new ideas, it will never give ways to decrease human suffering”
That does not describe how real world religions function.
Jewish law as of 200 A.D. permitted a man to have multiple wives, permitted a man to divorce his wife but did not permit a wife to divorce her husband. By 1200 A.D. (I think–I don’t swear to the exact timing) polygyny was no longer permitted and while a wife could not divorce her husband, she could go to a court with evidence that would result in the court forcing her husband to divorce her.
Islamic law provides a mandatory punishment of amputation for theft. Islamic legal scholars deduced a set of restrictions on what thefts the rule applies to that drastically reduced it. Stealing a cow grazing in a field isn’t the Hadd offense of theft. Nor is stealing stuff in a house where you are a guest. Nor (according to some scholars) is stealing state property. Nor …
Jewish scholars carried the same approach, applied to the stoning of disobedient sons, to the point of arguing that it would never happen.
Torah law cancels all debts every seven years, which raises problems for getting someone to lend money to you in the sixth year. A legal formula, Prosbul, was invented, possibly by Hillel, that lets you evade that requirement.
I like to claim that, by the standards of the rabbis, every Supreme Court justice in history was a strict constructionist. I wouldn’t carry the claim quite that far for the mujtahids, but there are four orthodox schools of Sunni law and for at least some legal questions a believer gets to decide which school’s position he accepts.
Do you know where Christianity got its commitment to monogamy from (which was clearly present from the start)? I always assumed Judaism had switched by that time and it just carried over, but that wouldn’t fit your timeline.
Jewish law might have allowed multiple wives after Jewish culture had stopped favoring the practice.
What’s the history of Christian commitment to monogamy? My memory is that the church didn’t get seriously involved with marriage in the early centuries and I’m pretty sure there was openly polygamous practice, at least at the top levels, among the Merovingians.
I think I’m remembering a book by Duby, probably _The Knight, the Lady and the Priest_.
@David Friedman – there’s a couple verses (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:6) that specify monogamous marriage as a qualification for being an Elder/Deacon/Bishop/Church Official. As far as I can remember, that’s about the sum of it as far as the Bible itself goes; can’t really speak for Catholic tradition. Jesus mentions marriage a few times in his teachings, but all the instances seem to imply monogamous marriage is a given.
My bet would be that early Christian attitudes on the subject were drawn from Jewish ones.
Could be the influence of the Roman occupation? The Romans were pretty serious about (legal) monogamy.
Also, Jesus mainly preached among the poor, while polygyny was more common among the rich.
@Nita – no real clue on causation. I just can’t remember a single mention or instance of polygamy in the NT, other than the mention-by-exclusion in those two verses. Wives come up a number of of times, Jewish, Christian and Roman, but they’re always framed as monogamous marriages in the translations I’m familiar with.
Were polygamous marriages common among Jews or Greeks in the era?
@Jaskologist , Charlemagne practiced concubinage/polygamy, while still being in good graces with the church.
Martin Luther later, under a great deal of persuading blessed a bigamous marriage for Philip I.
I believe that the emphasis on monogamy dated back to Paul dissuading against marriage in general, stating that it should be only done when celibacy is impossible or too difficult.
Also a quick google states “Valentinian I., in the fourth century, authorized christians to take two wives”.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo offers another view of the Trump phenomenon, specifically why Republicans have decided their own party’s establishment is the enemy.
Republicans are divided “between people who feel the party establishment has betrayed them and those who do not.”
Okay, so what specific betrayal are the party leaders guilty of?
According to Marshall, they promised to destroy Barack Obama’s presidency, and failed to do so.
Now, it seems to most of us that Republicans in Washington didn’t fail at that for lack of trying. Indeed, they tried a number of historically unprecedented things, like threaten a default on the national debt.
Marshall concludes that “a large portion of the GOP is not satisfied with what can realistically be achieved by conventional political means.”
Sounds about right.
Generally speaking, the Republican base wants to reverse political and social changes they see as entailing the literal destruction of America. The best, the absolute pull-out-all-the-stops best, that their party can offer is slowing down the rate of change. Somewhat. So why should they keep supporting the party brass?
That is to say, what sort of outcome should these people be satisfied with in your opinion? What is the best deal that they can ‘realistically’ achieve through normal party politics?
” Indeed, they tried a number of historically unprecedented things, like threaten a default on the national debt.”
No, no, no.
They threatened not to raise the debt ceiling. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, eventually the government has to reduce expenditure to income. The government’s income is very much greater than the interest on the national debt. It’s only if you assume that, for some reason, the government is unwilling to cut other expenditures that refusing to raise the debt ceiling results in default.
This particular misrepresentation is very common and makes no sense at all, which I take as evidence of the bias of the sources from which many people get their information and the unwillingness of many people to bother thinking about what they are told when it fits their prejudices.
The government, by which I take it you mean the executive, can’t reduce expenditures to income. Just as the debt ceiling is a law so to the spending bills are a law. Post Richard Nixon it is clear that Presidents can’t legally decide not to spend appropriated money.
Subjecting the President to inconsistent legal mandates is something like legislative malpractice. The best the President could do in such a situation is try to look for clever solutions — like minting a giant platinum coin or selling off government assets (starting with those in Republican districts perhaps).
In theory this extreme brinkmanship strategy works if you’re trying to force the President to violate a law, then impeach him for violating it. See, e.g., Andrew Johnson.
In practice removing the President for what’s ultimately a political disagreement is unprecedented and would be perceived as staging a coup, even though it’s perfectly legal. Again see, e.g., Andrew Johnson, and note that Obama has far more allies in Congress than Johnson needed to survive impeachment.
You’d have to default on the debt or do politically toxic (and economically disruptive) things like delaying social security checks and military salaries. It’s not at all obvious to me that the bondholders would have gotten priority.
I don’t know who would have gotten priority, but the popular claim that doing that a debt limit forces a default is simply false. Even if there were spending bills that covered all other expenditures, Congress can change those bills and the President can sign the change. It’s only if the President and Congress are unwilling to cut anything but interest payments on the debt that the result is default.
Do you seriously think that there is no package of expenditure cuts that the Congress would have voted, or only none that the President would have been willing to sign? If the latter, it isn’t Congress that is forcing a default.
Yes, I “seriously” think there is no package of expenditure cuts and revenue increases that Congress would have voted on that would have made a debt ceiling hike unnecessary, even if Paul Ryan had been president. The reason is obvious: nobody in Congress ever did any work toward creating such a package in either the 2011 or 2013 crises.
Do you “seriously” think that the median congressman would survive voting for an immediate 40% reduction in US government expenditures? Where does your confidence come from?
I actually largely agree with this estimation. What didn’t make sense to me was the Republicans who were bothered by the government shutdown which was the inevitable result of the failed brinkmanship tactics at least part of their constituency wanted them to use to force the government to cut spending, defund Obamacare, etc. This does speak to a big split in the GOP though: between those who would punish their politicians for shutting down the government by refusal to compromise and those who would reward them.
But the fact is, the GOP controlled House and then House and Senate did fail, repeatedly, to actually cut spending because they were afraid of the negative political consequences of actually following through on their threats. This is why I like Ted Cruz most of those Republicans still in the race: his whole brand is based on being willing to have everyone in DC hate him.
Yeah, I’m sort of confused by this as well.
See, when they do all this brinksmanship and shut down the government, it makes me happy and I approve. But there are apparently a lot of Republicans who will vote people out for doing such things.
How is it that people are so fed up with the “establishment consensus”, “both parties are the same”, etc., that they’re willing to vote Trump just to wreck things; but at the same time they vote out any politician who tries to deviate from that exact consensus? There’s a lot of Republicans out there who would love to radically cut the size government in their heart of hearts, but they are held back by fear of the voters.
It reminds me of a quote Mark Calabria (of the Cato Institute) once related to me from Senator Jeff Sessions: “I’m a little bit of a libertarian, and I’d be a lot more of one if I didn’t have to stand before the voters of Alabama.”
It’s not a contradiction, it’s just different people, right? Some people want brinksmanship, some people want cooperation.
There’s a lot of Republicans out there who would love to radically cut the size government in their heart of hearts, but they are held back by fear of the voters.
I am skeptical. Why do you think this?
Yes, but who are the people voting for Tea Party candidates who nevertheless change their votes when those politicians do what they said they were going to do?
Anecdotes like the one I related. And the fact that a lot of conservative politicians have been heavily influenced by groups like the Heritage Foundation, often being involved in youth activism with them. If someone is pushed into politics by involvement in the conservative movement, he’s probably a lot more conservative than the median voter.
Don’t you think that a lot of politicians would, for instance, love to actually reform entitlement spending? They just know it’s political suicide.
Or take this (in)famous comment by Mitt Romney, which is a lot more forthright than what he said in public:
Yes, but who are the people voting for Tea Party candidates who nevertheless change their votes when those politicians do what they said they were going to do?
Say you have group A, who prefer brinksmanship, and group B, which wants bipartisanship. Group A is small, activist, and highly motivated. Group B is large and doesn’t pay attention to politics except when something exceptional is going on.
The debt ceiling comes up as an issue, and group A noisily pushes for brinksmanship; while group B is largely oblivious. So you get brinksmanship. Eventually, the debt ceiling becomes a major news issue and group B starts paying attention. Group B is much bigger and more powerful; once activated, it gets its way.
On politicians – what I see is politicians telling libertarian/donor audiences what they want to hear, while telling mass audiences the completely different things that *they* want to hear. I don’t see a particularly strong reason to believe one or the other.
Heck – you say downthread that Republicans never shrink government like they say they’re going to do. But I hear Republicans promising to protect entitlements, increase defense spending, suppress immigration, etc. and they generally manage to do all that. Have you considered that you’re being fooled here?
Going back to a previous discussion – it seems like the right model is “Republicans like “government” (spending/regulation/etc) that helps their favored groups and dislike “government” (spending/regulation/etc) that does not help their favored groups.” This applies both to politicians and to voters. Republican politicans run against “big government” but they always take care to exempt entitlements, military, police, etc.
I don’t have any problem with this explanation—except I find it hard to square with the polls that show Congress has like a 10% approval rating, and solid majorities saying that politicians are out-of-touch and not representing them.
What do those people want? If group A is small, they can’t all be in group A. Yet what reason do those in group B have to be frustrated? They always get what they want, if what they want is essentially the status quo.
It is plausible to me that what people say in private, when they think the mass media isn’t listening—and to people already in the tank for them—is more likely to be true than what they say on the campaign trail.
I mean, maybe these politicians have no genuine beliefs at all about policy and have literally wired themselves to only think what the polls are saying is popular today. But I find that psychologically unlikely; I think they have policy preferences of their own, which they sometimes find necessary to suppress in order to appeal to voters.
I don’t think this is just Republicans: I think Democratic politicians are likely to want a more left-wing outcome than the voters will let them get away with. For one, it’s why you saw them sort of evasively denying support for gay marriage when it was unpopular, only to much more eagerly embrace it when it became popular. Probably a lot of them really would have liked to come out in favor of it years before, but it was perceived as too risky.
That’s my point: those people should like the Republican establishment!
But large majorities of voters do not like them! They apparently feel so betrayed by them that many of them are willing to vote for Trump just to bring the whole thing crashing down.
The question is why these voters don’t like the Republican establishment, when it consistently delivers what they want.
Why do you think that group B is actually getting what it wants?
Compromise on the debt ceiling after a giant fight and a bunch of ominous warnings about imminent economic catastrophe is NOT what group B wants.
What group B wanted was for the issue to have been quietly resolved without all the drama.
Because that’s not the kind of thing disillusioned Republican voters say when they’re interviewed. It doesn’t fit at all with the polling data, or with support for insurgent candidates—who take a harder line—against the establishment.
They don’t complain that Republicans aren’t doing enough to fall in line with Obama’s legislative agenda and approve every budget he proposes. They complain about the opposite: that the two parties are the same and they’re not being given a real alternative. They complain about politicians selling out their principles once they get to Washington.
There may be some Republicans who dislike the establishment for being too conservative, but they don’t seem to make up this apparently-huge majority that “group B” consists of.
Very crudely, I would say –
Group A is some fraction of the Republican party.
Group B is the rest of the Republican party plus the business community (business HATES uncertainty) plus swing voters/occasional voters.
If the debt ceiling crisis had been settled by immediately cutting all federal expenditures 40%, the voters would not trust Republicans to govern again for a generation. That’s why nobody bothered to write those bills.
Sure, there are Republicans and conservatives who want to do this, but the large majority of Americans aren’t going there.
This is another culture war that has been irrevocably lost: people don’t identify with states any more. For better or for worse (I think both), we are far more unified as a single polity, a single huge community, than ever before.
Washington is the focus of everyone’s political attention. People across the political spectrum look to Washington to solve problems.
Regional and local differences in political parties have been leveled: we are all national Democrats and national Republicans now. The local variations were wiped out by our voters, who had no patience for the old ways, the genteel liberal Republicanism of New England, or the old-line conservative Democrats of the Deep South.
Notice that party labels don’t come with modifying prefixes any more?
No, it’s not because Washington is suddenly spending all our money, or that the states have atrophied. States still have enormous power and resources, and there are constant struggles over issues in every state legislature. But you wouldn’t know that from the news media, which has almost completely abandoned any attempt to cover what state governments do.
State capitals, at least in larger states, used to have dozens of competing news bureaus. Look at any daily newspaper from 50 years ago, and you’ll find plenty of detailed stories about the progress of state legislation in Lansing or Albany or Springfield or Annapolis. All that is gone today.
Here in Michigan, if I want to know about some controversy over state legislation, I have to turn to boutique proprietary news sources (not easily available to the general public) like MIRS or Gongwer.
Sure, I could go to the legislature’s web site, put in a bill number, and find the text of any one of tens of thousands of house or senate bills. But to know which ones are significant, which ones are being considered in committee, which ones are scheduled for floor votes, well, that would be a full time job, and nobody is doing that on behalf of the general public. The people who do that kind of work labor in almost total obscurity.
This goes beyond politics. The distinctive cultures and accents and food and music and architecture and dress of states and localities are dying out, or becoming an elite specialty rather than something everyone knows and upholds. It’s harder and harder to find any real cultural difference between, say, upstate New York and southern California. Everybody is watching the same TV shows, cheering for the same sports leagues, playing with the same toys, listening to the same music, buying the same furniture, etc., etc.
Even the political junkies watch C-SPAN, not the state equivalent (e.g., the Michigan state government channel has similar programming and a tiny audience). Even in remote corners of the country, people who follow politics are likely to be far more familiar with U.S. Senators than their own state senators.
So if the federal government were effectively decapitated or massively scaled back, that would be good news only to a small handful of ideologues. Everyone else, including most people who currently vote Republican, would vehemently demand a return to status quo ante.
I agree with your point that the country has become more homogenized.
But you seem to be thinking that, in wanting to reduce the size of the federal government, I want to give more power to the state governments. I don’t. I’m not at all arguing that we should go back to the days where everyone identified with his state first. I agree that those days are gone.
There’s a difference between not cutting the budget by 40% overnight and not doing anything significant to cut it at all, such as by adopting a plan for more gradual cuts.
The Republicans don’t do either of those things. And for me, that produces frustration: they keep getting elected but never do what they say they’re going to do.
Now, in some sense I agree that radical cuts to government spending are very unpopular with the American people. They want to pay no taxes but still get all the same entitlements.
The part I don’t really understand is how so many people can apparently share the same frustration with establishment Republicans for never doing anything to reduce the size of government, while not even wanting them to reduce the size of government. What exactly are they frustrated with? What changes do they want which they are not getting?
Maybe it’s purely frustration that the Republicans aren’t doing enough to deport all illegal immigrants; that would fit with support for Trump, at least.
But I think it’s more than that because at least rhetorically I hear a lot of oppositions to bailouts and cronyism, and regulations being too restrictive, and entitlements encouraging dependency, etc. And yet it’s precisely because of fear of the voters that politicians can’t do anything meaningful to shrink the size of government or reform entitlements.
Large legislative bodies, regardless of politics, are inherently unable to do this.
To adopt a budget cutting plan, first, there needs to be a Plan, and it has to be put forth by someone with enough legitimacy and clout to prevail on the legislature and the public. Normally, only the executive can do this, or perhaps a legislative leader who totally dominates the majority.
There is no individual legislator who is more interested in abstract budget cutting than serving the needs of his or her district, which usually means spending money on it, or protecting existing spending from being cut.
Among legislators, getting support from other legislators involves some degree of logrolling, that is, money for others districts’ priorities.
The only player who systematically says “no” is the executive, because the executive cares above all about getting the whole picture right. No matter how expansionist the executive might be, he or she has to fight against public money being frittered away on a thousand pet projects.
Legislatures are delighted to cut taxes, but without someone leading the way, with some legitimate Plan, they are unable to increase taxes, no matter how liberal they are, or necessary it may be.
If the executive proposes a tax cut, almost no legislature, no matter how liberal or expansionist, can resist enacting it.
Absent strong leadership, a legislature can’t even balance a budget. Every incentive runs in the opposite direction.
Belatedly, I was just remarking to Wildbow how you’ve come across his work and that he should totally feel responsible for the declining post frequency… and then I realised it’s actually probably my fault. Sure enough, I looked back on our New Years correspondence, and there I was, mentioning it.
I hope that’s actually just a coincidence, because if not then I feel a bit weird since my offhand remarks do not usually cast any waves, but on the other hand,
nothing is ever a coincidence…
Either way, I’m glad you’re enjoying it! (…I actually haven’t read it yet. It’s quite far up on my list of things I really ought to get around to reading, though.)
Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera is excellent.
The thing that always bothered me of space operas is that widespread, fast interplanetary/interstellar travel would make it easy for anyone to destroy any planet not defended by elaborate systems.
Weber’s solution to that is basically an interstellar compact not to do that. If any star nation violates that agreement and uses WMDs on an inhabited planet, the most massive empire in the universe dedicates all of its not-inconsiderable military resources to exterminating the offending regime in its entirety.
Tends to keep things civilized. (As to why the massive interstellar empire doesn’t violate the Deneb Accords itself, it’s…complicated.)
Because any other civilization with FTL has the ability to make any other civilization disappear in a burst of gamma radiation if they really want to.
We live in a world where 2 countries have the ability to utterly annihilate any other country in the world in a matter of hours, and another 7 have the ability to do serious damage to any of their neighbors in a similar amount of time. For whatever reason, we have yet to blow ourselves up, and if anything this state of affairs seems to have made the world more peaceful, not less.
I see no reason why things would work out differently in a hypothetical interstellar human civilization in a similar state of Mutually Assured Destruction.
MAD on earth depends on the nuclear powers having second-strike capabilities, and on it being known who those second-strike capabilities ought to be deployed against. These conditions may not hold in space.
Earth also depends on depends on weaponry capable of causing planetary destruction not being available to any random person of moderate means. But any single starship in most space opera is capable of doing enormous damage to a planet by (for example) ramming the planet at high speed.
It seems like second strike capabilities would be far, far more likely to exist in space than on Earth. Any weapon capable of traveling to another star system and causing mass destruction on a planet there would by necessity be space-based, and space-based weapons can be located anywhere.
Second-strike capability on Earth is limited because missile silos are cheaper than nuclear submarines, but in space the equivalent of submarines are the only game in town.
As for knowing where the attack came from, that wouldn’t be a problem either. Any propulsion system strong enough to accelerate a spacecraft to relativistic speeds in a reasonable amount of time will be bright enough to be detectable at a distance of several light years. Which means that any interstellar civilization worthy of the name will be able to trace the interstellar planet killer weapon back to where it came from. This would likely make it extremely difficult if not impossible to avoid retaliation for using one of these weapons. Granted, this is still an issue in space opera settings with non-gate FTL, especially if spacecraft in FTL cannot be tracked or detected.
That is a legitimate point, but it might not be as big of a concern as it first appears. Consider how, in more than a century of commercial aviation, there hasn’t been a single case of an official pilot (that is, not a hijacker) deliberately crashing a commercial airliner into a building, even though there have been a few cases of official pilots deliberately crashing commercial airliners. And there are lots of private organizations that possess commercial airliners or freight planes of similar size. It seems like background checks and legal regulations can work for this sort of thing.
Planes on their own are not a good weapon. The WTC collapsed because jet fuel can melt steel beams, not because of the impact; now imagine the possible devastation inflicted by an ICBM of equal mass.
Starships, however? What gets us to orbit? Rockets. Repurposed weapons.
If a reasonable sized starship can accelerate to relativistic speed, it can achieve catastrophic destruction on any planet.
As you are no doubt aware, a SpaceX Falcon 9 is a repurposed ICBM only in the sense that a Boeing 747 is a repurposed strategic bomber.
Actually, all of the Western launchers are pretty much clean-sheet launcher designs, instead of repurposed weapons. The only exception is the Delta II, and we don’t use very many of those any more. The Delta IV and Atlas V are basically related in name only to their weapons-derived predecessors. The Russians haven’t made the same changes, but they haven’t done much development since the end of the Cold War.
The R-7 Semyorka — the basis of the carrier rockets for Soyuz vehicles and their relatives — was ridiculously overpowered as ICBMs go, too. It kinda made sense when it was being designed, since early hydrogen bombs were very large and heavy, but it was obsolete in that role by the time it finished testing.
There are a number of small rockets — Western and otherwise — that reuse components from decommissioned ICBMs, but that’s more of a footnote.
If a reasonable sized starship can accelerate to relativistic speed, it can achieve catastrophic destruction on any planet.
Except that a reasonably equipped space guard cutter should be able to spot it from light-years away and blast it to vapor with the most trivial of space-combat weaponry at that technology. The tiny fraction of the vapor which intersects the target planet might make for a nice auroral display over a hemisphere.
But we’re talking about Space Opera, which rarely involves relativistic starships. Alastair Reynolds does some good work in that subfield, but mostly Space Opera uses interplanetary ships and/or FTL drives of one sort or another. There is no physical requirement that an FTL drive require energy levels comparable to relativistic travel, and most SFnal versions don’t.
> jet fuel can melt steel beams
AFAIK, it can’t. But it can heat them up sufficiently that their mechanical strength is degraded enough that the structure collapses anyway.
I specifically used that phrasing because of the meme.
I’m completely comfortable with calling Boeing 747 a repurposed strategic bomber to the same extent. The purpose of a plane – specifically a passenger plane – is to be an almost endlessly reusable thing that carries a load from point A to point B without fucking it up much.
The purpose of a rocket is go away from its exhaust very quickly. Rockets as weapons came first, rocket-powered things that carry people came much later.
Weapons generally need to be load bearing. However, when a spaceship becomes fast enough, its mass becomes a load.
There are an awful lot of assumptions being made here about the nature of space travel, especially “fast interstellar travel”. Perhaps it would be best if people were to actually state those assumptions rather than assuming everyone else shares the same ones.
For example, are we assuming that fast interstellar travel is absolutely not accomplished by means of wormholes, stargates, jump points, or other such point-to-point deviations from special relativity’s bar on FTL travel? Because authors like Niven and Bujold have had no trouble keeping their space-operatic universes safe for planetary life by arranging for any would-be attacker to come through known chokepoints ideally positioned for a defensive ambush.
Really, if authors can’t set up the science and technology of their settings to support the story they want to tell, they need to pick a different genre. And if you all are so certain you know the one true way space travel will actually be conducted in future centuries, let’s hear it.
Kizinti lesson, any device’s usefulness as an engine is directly proportional to it’s usefulness as a weapon.
Anyone clever enough to build a Stargate is definitely clever enough to weaponize it.
Which is why most settings with artificial FTL Gates, including Stargate, have them as Lost Technology left behind by a long vanished supercivilization.
Though I think (I read about this a long time ago, it might have been about a different series) at least one episode of Stargate involved destroying something by opening a portal into the interior of a star.
The Kzinti lesson is an article of faith which has since been disavowed by its author. Reaction drives make poor weapons unless you make implausible assumptions regarding e.g. exhaust collimation. You can do the math, and I know people who have done the experiments.
As for weaponizing a Stargate, sure. But will it be an offensive or a defensive one? Because I’m pretty sure I know which side the general concept favors.
My understanding of physics ends with Newton, so this may all be wrong, but last I heard, any FTL, even via Stargate, also gives you time travel. That’s got to be weaponizable.
John puts this well. There’s no reason to focus exhaust to the level needed to make it a reasonable weapon. It might be considered to be the equivalent of modern warships ramming each other (something they do when they’re feeling a bit frisky, not a way of killing people), but nothing more.
It depends on what you mean by ‘time travel’. There are certain proposed wormhole geometries which are not excluded by our current understanding of relativity, and which connect points in space-time, so they theoretically allow you to ‘time travel’, although this could just mean that you move 10 light-years away and 9 years into the future. Of course, there are configurations which allow you to go 10 light-years away and 11 years into the future, or back to where you started before you arrive, but it’s thought that they’ll form perfect feedback loops and destroy themselves.
In the sense that a self-destruct mechanism on your time machine is a weapon, perhaps.
“FTL gives you time travel” is often overstated – FTL plus relativity allows time travel, but doesn’t require it. You have to go out of your way to set up the requisite conditions, e.g. by accelerating one end of the stargate to relativistic velocity. So it’s perfectly reasonable to have a Space Operatic universe in which people don’t do that but just flit around the galaxy at FTL speeds. Smart people, anyway, because there’s relativity but there’s also quantum mechanics.
To the extent that anyone understands quantum gravity, it seems likely that a wormhole pair, stargate, or other FTL contrivance will experience exponentially increasing feedback as it comes asymptotically close to being operated in a time-travel mode. So, kaboom. Probably not some grand cataclysmic universe-destroying kaboom, but one just barely powerful enough to destroy your would-be time machine if you ignore the warnings. The math is still kind of hazy on this one, as it’s not a subject most physicists are comfortable with, but at least from an SFnal vantage point there are potential Space Opera settings where, “But if I arrange the wormholes thusly, I’ll get a time machine, and those fools at the institute will be sorry they laughed at me, bwuahahaha!”, is the same level of crackpottery as making perpetual motion machines out of magnets or offbalanced rotors or whatnot today.
I’m pretty sure one of the SG-1 season finales featured a super-weapon that worked on that principal. It’s also plot point in both Greg Bear’s The Way and in Niven’s The Mote in God’s Eye
Google indicates that it was Season 4 of SG-1 and that the weapon worked by opening a gate into a black hole.
I don’t think the Kzinti Lesson should be dismissed so quickly. As Heinlein observed, weapons as a class are energy transfer devices. If you can accelerate your exhaust to an appreciable percentage of C you can accelerate a baseball.
No, you can’t. We can accelerate atoms to a very appreciable fraction of c today. We can’t do the same with a baseball. There’s no reason to suspect, and a lot of reasons to doubt, that developing that capability to the point where it will be able to propel spacecraft will give us the ability to accelerate macroscopic objects to similar speeds. So all you have is a very poorly-focused particle beam. Not a relativistic baseball cannon. And there are very good reasons why you wouldn’t want that particle beam to focus too well. It makes it much safer (and easier to engineer), and a 1-degree cone costs you approximately 0 thrust.
People have proposed particle beam weapons, and one of the major challenges is making sure they stay focused at reasonable ranges. Suggesting that engine designers will solve this problem is rather silly.
Thrust is a function of propellant mass and exhaust velocity, if you’ve developed this capability to the point were it’s useful as a thruster you’ve developed the capability to effect macroscopic objects almost by definition. The difference between 5 ounces of baseball and 5 ounces of monoatomic hydrogen is largely academic if you get it going fast enough.
Never mind the fact that the shear wattage required to do so opens up a whole host of capabilities of it’s own.
Thrust is a function of propellant mass and exhaust velocity, if you’ve developed this capability to the point were it’s useful as a thruster you’ve developed the capability to effect macroscopic objects almost by definition. The difference between 5 ounces of baseball and 5 ounces of monoatomic hydrogen is largely academic if you get it going fast enough.
It’s not academic in this context. The baseball will not spread out noticeably. The cloud of hydrogen will. In other words, the baseball makes a much better weapon. The problem is that it’s much harder to launch the baseball in one piece than it is to fire off a bunch of protons (or the baseball as plasma).
The difference is only academic if the scenario is ‘fired at a target at range 0’. But we’re not. We’re discussing a weapon. Weapons are complicated, and are certainly not defined only by ‘penetration at the muzzle’.
Never mind the fact that the shear wattage required to do so opens up a whole host of capabilities of it’s own.
Shear wattage isn’t a thing. Shear stress, yes, but not shear wattage.
As I and John have both said repeatedly, exhaust spreads out. 2 degrees is a standard angle for ion thrusters, so I’ll use that. A 1 GW engine with that sort of dispersion will have an energy flux equal to that of sunlight at Earth’s surface at only 16 km. That’s not necessarily a lot if we’re dealing with relativistic drives, but the inverse square law applies. It would take 4 TW to push the solar-equivalent flux point out to 1000 km. You’d have to be absurdly close before it becomes a viable weapon. Wattage only works if it’s concentrated, and propulsion engineers have no incentive to do that.
You’re assuming that the “baseball” represents absolute mass flow of the engine not the unit of mass striking the target. Realistically (for a space opera setting) the engine’s total energy and mDot are going to be order’s of magnitude higher.
For example, a “conservative” Heinlein-esque torchship of the sort that populates most hard sci-fi settings* will be pumping out something on the order of a few terrawatts easy.
If you want to go truly mad Hienlien’s own Lewis and Clark from Time For the Stars weighed in at ~50,000 tons, and could accelerate at 3 G. It’s notional power output is easily several hundred petawatts in which case the “Stargate principal” definitely applies. If you’re clever enough to build it, you’re clever enough to weaponize it.
*Something with an all-up mass around 1000 tons, mass ratio < 2, 0.3 – 1.0 G acceleration, Ve ~200 km/s. Think the Endeavor from Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama or Rocinante from Stephen Corey’s The Expanse.
You’re assuming that the “baseball” represents absolute mass flow of the engine not the unit of mass striking the target. Realistically (for a space opera setting) the engine’s total energy and mDot are going to be order’s of magnitude higher.
No, I’m not. The total mass/energy output is irrelevant. What matters is how much hits the target, and at reasonable ranges, it won’t be enough. I’ve done the math to demonstrate this. Either show why we should expect ships to blunder around at ranges of hundreds of kilometers or explain why drives will be well-focused enough to make them competitive with bespoke weapons.
For example, a “conservative” Heinlein-esque torchship of the sort that populates most hard sci-fi settings will be pumping out something on the order of a few terrawatts*.
And it is totally incapable of doing any damage at 1000 km.
If you want to go truly mad Hienlien’s own Lewis and Clark from Time For the Stars weighed in at ~50,000 tons, and could accelerate at 3 G. That’s a power output in the hundred thousand terrawatt range
And a sunlight flux range of, what 14,000 km or so. With the sort of tech you’d need to not melt your own ship, you could probably get within a few hundred kilometers safely. Yawn.
in which case the “Stargate principal” definitely applies. If you’re clever enough to build it, you’re clever enough to weaponize it.
That’s a very different thing from the Kizinti lesson. I don’t dispute it, but saying ‘anyone who could build a TW fusion torch will also have very impressive weapons’ is not the same thing as saying ‘a TW fusion torch is itself an impressive weapon’.
The engine in my car is an impressive piece of engineering, and it’s pretty obvious that anyone who could build it could also build guns, or turn the technology involved into a weapon. (Say a high-tech potato cannon.) But that doesn’t mean that the engine itself as installed is a good weapon. Don’t equivocate between the two positions.
No, I’m not. The total mass/energy output is irrelevant. What matters is how much hits the target…
Exactly, 5 ounces of hydrogen hitting at relativistic velocity will have largely the same effect as a baseball hitting at relativistic velocity. Dispersion angle/thrust collimation only matters if you are trying to calculate the total mass and energy output of the engine, or trying to calculate the damage that a given engine will do a specific range.
Reread the original reply and wording of the Kizinti Lesson any device’s usefulness as an engine is directly proportional to it’s usefulness as a weapon.
Your car would also be a rather effective weapon if you were inclined to use it as one. As effective as a nuclear missile? No. But effective none the less. Which is ironic seeing as how nuclear missiles would make an excellent propulsion system.
Edit: I also think that you dropped a zero estimating the Lewis and Clarke’s drive. My own estimate was closer to 450,000 km for a 1 petawatt drive.
*Something with an all-up mass around 1000 tons, mass ratio < 2, 0.3 – 1.0 G acceleration, Ve ~200 km/s. Think the Endeavor from Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama or Rocinante from Stephen Corey’s The Expanse.
OK, total drive power of 1E12 watts. Assume even 0.1% of that winds up thermalized in the exhaust, and the plume is at least 3.6 degrees wide.
Doing the math, I get a plume intensity equal to that of sunlight in Low Earth Orbit at a distance of 480 kilometers. You could eventually kill a spacesuited man by heatstroke at that distance, if he couldn’t find shade. If you can close to 90 kilometers, you can start melting white-painted aluminum, slowly.
If, instead, I take 0.1% of that energy budget and channel it through a rapidly pulsed KrF excimer laser at a measly 5% efficiency, then focus it with a four-meter beam director, I can literally blast a hole through half-inch steel plate in an eyeblink at 500 km range (power density 1.2E10 W/m^2). Or melt aluminum at 275,000 km.
The true Kzinti lesson is that if there’s a violent conflict, the party that devoted one-thousandth of their budget to actual weapons is going to annihilate the side with the very efficient reaction drive without even noticing they are being “fired” upon.
The point of the Kizinti Lesson is that even relatively “conservative” spacecraft designs qualify as WMDs long before you start strapping guns to them.
As I noted above your car makes is an effective weapon if you feel inclined to use it as one. Maybe not as effective as a purpose built cannon or missile. But effective none the less.
Exactly, 5 ounces of hydrogen hitting at relativistic velocity will have largely the same effect as a baseball hitting at relativistic velocity. Dispersion angle/thrust collimation only matters if you are trying to calculate the total mass and energy output of the engine, or trying to calculate the damage that a given engine will do a specific range.
All of this is obviously true. But since we are talking about the practical utility of the drive as a weapon, trying to work out the damage of a specific engine at a specific range is rather important.
Reread the original reply and wording of the Kizinti Lesson any device’s usefulness as an engine is directly proportional to it’s usefulness as a weapon.
Technically true, but as has been repeatedly demonstrated, the proportionality constant is very, very small.
Your car would also be a rather effective weapon if you were inclined to use it as one. As effective as a nuclear missile? No. But effective none the less.
False analogy on two counts. First, we’re not discussing ramming people. Second, I can’t think of very many situations where someone with a gun doesn’t beat someone with a car. Not a nuclear missile, a gun.
Which is ironic seeing as how nuclear missiles would make an excellent propulsion system.
And? I’ve known about Orion (and Project Rho) for quite a few years. Actually, John and I have both written stuff that’s posted there.
Edit: I also think that you dropped a zero estimating the Lewis and Clarke’s drive.
OK, I did. So with a truly absurd drive, you’ve managed to reach the point where you can give me a potential sunburn at 2/3rds of a light second. I do stand by the second part of my statement. The ability to shield against something is going to be intimately linked to the ability to harness it in the first place. The pusher plate of an Orion-drive spacecraft makes a great shield against hostile nukes.
The point of the Kizinti Lesson is that even a relatively “conservative” spacecraft designs qualify as a WMDs long before you start strapping guns to them.
No, it doesn’t. That’s Jon’s Law, and it basically involves either hovering directly over the target, or ramming it. The ultimate test of a weapon is its utility against hostile and aware opponents, not how it does in situations that more resemble an accident or terrorism.
As I noted above your car makes is an effective weapon if you feel inclined to use it as one. Maybe not as effective as a purpose built cannon or missile. But effective none the less.
Not really. Nobody uses cars as weapons on the battlefield.
(Unmodified cars, that is. Car bombs are a very different thing.)
Anyone have thoughts about this analysis? Is this a legitimate effect?
I detest the headline, which coyly implies that dead people are flocking to the polls.
The notion that Trump does better in counties where less educated middle-aged white people are in greater socio-economic distress? I haven’t looked at the numbers, but it certainly makes intuitive sense.
The effect is flat in Massachusetts, perhaps, because Massachusetts counties are so vast that local differences are all subsumed. Moreover, with restrictive party registration laws and few Republican officials, the number of Republican primary votes is probably quite small.
The increase in death rates due to “poisoning” (drug overdoses) and suicide is real and troubling. It is probably related to other social ills, such as the falling labor force participation rate among men.
All that being said, statistically, there may be something else going on. I wonder if the rising death rates among non-college educated whites is partly an artifact of rising educational attainment across the board. The non-college-degree part of the population is both shrinking and aging.
For example, the Wonkblog analysis uses the population from 40 to 64. Death rates (based on the U.S. Life Table) increase by a factor of six across those years, in other words, a 64-year-old has six times the chance of dying in a year than a 40-year-old does.
Meanwhile, the 40-year-old is significantly more likely to have a college degree than the 64-year-old. That means the college-educated folks in the 40-64 age group have a younger average age, and a lower death rate, than the non-college folks.
So maybe they’re really measuring “proportion of 40 to 64-year-olds who are closer to 64 than to 40”? That seems plausible.
As a minor data point about the pervasiveness of feminism, I’m reading A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe, and I was profoundly annoyed by some gender role stuff in it. It’s set in a fairly advanced future, and the female lead (so far) says she’s a teacher, says she hopes she doesn’t look like a teacher, spends a couple of paragraphs explaining what she does*, and then apologizes for going on so long. This aspect of things doesn’t get better. Men and women split up after parties, with women doing the cleaning up. There is no explanation of why this part of life is in the 50s or somesuch.
So I take a look at the reviews at amazon. Some people like the book, some are bored by it. No one mentions the gender roles.
*Students have plenty of access of things to learn, but if they aren’t interested, it doesn’t do any good. Teachers specialize in getting children fascinated with learning. This sounds utopian to me, in the good sense.
It is unclear how much is “the book isn’t so good” and how much is “the narrator is an organic robot sex slave who narrates everything to fix old style detective story cliches”. Because it feels like a combination of 1950s science fiction (with the lone genius and his secret breakthrough) and detective stories (where cops question suspects by beating them up)… which don’t really go well together. It would be a bit like writing a science fiction novel where the dastardly plot is the one from Johnny English, but playing it seriously (for those who don’t know, it involves removing the Queen of England and her family having her replacement use the power of the monarchy to seize all the land in England and turn it into the world’s prison).
There’s a novel in which women and men split at a party? Isn’t there a federal law enforcement agency we could call? You know what, fuck all this civilization bullshit, if we’re going to have books in which fictional women clean up after dinner, let’s go back to the savanna, I say. Nothing good has happened since the invention of glassware.
There’s a woman making a point that’s not very good? Isn’t their movement one of supposed saints and perfectly logical beings? You know what, fuck all this feminism bullshit, if people are going to come to conclusions I disagree with, let’s go back to medieval times, I say. Nothing good has happened since the institution of marriage.
I disagree! Glassware is the culprit! Have at you!
Man, I almost thought I might have made a good post, but you taking it not at all seriously and being all joking about it must mean your point stands anyway. Fuck.
The institution of marriage predates the Middle Ages by at least a thousand years, probably several thousand.
Good things happening didn’t suddenly end with glassware being invented. What’s your point?
Yes, but that wasn’t real marriage, since it only involved one man and N women. Real marriage includes one man and one man, and one woman and one woman. The discovery of real marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court was in all the papers a short while back; I’m surprised a legal scholar like yourself is unaware of it.
It doesn’t matter much, anyway, since in about ten years or so the Supremes will undoubtedly discover that real marriage includes N women and M men. I will try to bask in Scott’s happiness on that day, but am likely to fail—among other reasons because the in the vast majority of cases where N is greater than or equal to 2, M will equal 1.
Sastan, did you notice you strawmanned what I wrote?
I did not. I focused on irrelevant bits of it and used hyperbole!
Would you prefer I dealt with your one fiction book being a data point on the state of feminism in all the world? Come now. Let’s at least have some fun!
That wasn’t Nancy’s point, though. The point was that, although she thought this book was gratingly retrograde in its gender roles, nobody else reviewing it on Amazon mentioned it. So the supposed consensus among all right-thinking people that everyone must recognize and denounce all microaggressions, etc., isn’t nearly as pervasive as you’d think from reading Salon or wherever, since this problematic book is out there and nobody’s complaining about it.
The lack of reaction to the book, not the book itself, is what tells you something.
BBA, thank you. That’s exactly what I meant.
There’s a difference between “right-thinking people must denounce all microaggressions spontaneously” and “if someone else denounces the microaggressions, right-thinking people must ego along with the denunciation”. We’re a lot closer to the latter.
The vast majority of the public is apathetic about any movement not directly affecting their own lives. This is true for all movements of all types, whether social justice or not and whether influential or not.
Are they SJ-sympathetic, but not activists themselves? Or are they not sympathetic? Or have they not been exposed to the memes in the first place?
Now this may be me misinterpreting it, but a lot of social justice pieces I’ve read imply that if you aren’t loudly offended by [whatever it is they’re decrying], you’re almost as sexist/racist/etc. as the person who made it. Silence implies approval which makes you complicit in the oppression. And so on. This leaves little room in the movement for quiet supporters, even though that’s what most people who support SJ (or any other cause) are.
SJWs aren’t everywhere, but they could be anywhere. It’s pure chance that no SJW happened to have jumped on that book.
Also, there’s not much a SJW could do to an Amazon reviewer, so there’s no pressure for Amazon reviewers to conform. If it was professional reviewers instead and one SJW happened to jump on the book, a lot would go along (and the book would certainly never get a Hugo).
So, let’s take a look at some professional reviews:
I’m not seeing the pattern you predicted.
There was an “also” on that. The first part was me pointing out that SJW targets are random.
The reason professional reviewers haven’t been intimidated is that the book doesn’t happen to have been chosen as a random target.
I’m not saying: “here are three positive reviews, therefore you’re wrong”.
I’m saying: here’s a feminist review “denouncing” the book, here are two later reviews failing to “denounce” it, and here’s the lack of the expected social media shitstorm / other horrible consequences.
Not every work which is hated by feminists produces a shitstorm, even if one feminist does notice it. It’s a matter of chance. Furthermore, the “consensus” in question isn’t a literal consensus. There’s a small group who really hates the thing, and a larger group that is either intimidated by or vaguely sympathetic with the first, who goes along with the shitstorm but won’t spontaneously start one.
And both of these things are true when you replace “feminist” by pretty much any pressure group. If that counts as proving Internet-feminists don’t have widespread influence, then no group has widespread influence.
Out of universe: the reviews of A Borrowed Man have not been all that positive (nor has the discussion on Urth.net been enthusiastic) and I get the impression that, like with most of his recent novels (Pirate Freedom/An Evil Guest/The Sorcerer’s House/The Land Across), it’s trading very heavily on having been written by Gene Wolfe (who is now old enough and a widower and could die at any moment, which is why everyone has been rushing to give him awards while he’s still around) and would’ve sunk without a trace if it had been written by some newcomer. If you’re reading a Gene Wolfe book, you’re used to his old-fashioned views like Christianity, anti-socialism, and traditional gender roles, so why would you complain about that part of the package? It would be like complaining that important events take place off-screen and the narrator and other characters subtly lie to you and you miss the real story – yeah, that’s Gene Wolfe for you.
When I see something strange or anachronistic in a Gene Wolfe story, pretty much the last explanation I reach for is, “Huh: guess he’s just clueless about his characters and careless with his world-building.” Here are some better explanations for the regressive gender roles (which I don’t remember seeing any evidence were pervasive throughout the society, as opposed to just manifesting in the one weird family):
**** SPOILERS! ****
1) The book is clearly an homage to / pastiche of noir detective novels and movies. You need an innocent-seeming damsel in apparent distress to make it work.
2) In noir, everyone’s always lying. In Gene Wolfe, everyone’s always lying. So when the damsel-in-distress character tells a story that makes her look like a damsel in distress, she’s….
3) She’s trying to get something out of a resimulation of a 20th-century detective novelist, and needs him to trust her and/or be attracted enough to her to short-circuit his naturally crafty and suspicious mind—so she figures out what he expects out of a (20th-century) rich girl damsel-in-distress, and plays to that type.
4) The narrator is filling in his stereotyped thinking in place of actual reality, not just about her occupation (which is only superficially similar to a 20th-century schoolteacher), but the women cleaning up after dinner, etc. He’s not just a (possibly hack) author, he’s an author telling us a story that he tells us is true—but no normal human can remember exact dialogue, so it’s reasonable to think he’s making up filler, as well. To add to the unreliability, he’s a resimulation (Charlie Stross’s word; I forget Wolfe’s) of that author, and so might be even more prone to stereotype and bend reality (in a time something like a hundred years removed from his actual life) to what he thinks it is or should be or makes him look good (maybe he just doesn’t have the mental capacity to go much beyond the thinking that went into the original author’s books).
5) I’ve never read anything by Gene Wolfe where everything in the future has progressed. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most things in most of his stories have regressed from the present, to an alarming degree: in The Book of the New Sun, we’re so far in the future that the Sun has gone red, but society has slid back to at best early modern structures, and stayed there for practically forever. So maybe the society in A Borrowed Man really has regressed to the point that women are all teachers and nurses, and meekly clear the dishes after dinner while the men go have a brandy and a stogie.
6) Speaking of regress spiting progress: the society in the book can recreate authors as flesh-and-blood beings (progress!), and when it does so, it uses them to reinstitute a form of slavery and the absolute control over the slaves’ lives (the opposite of progress!). The sexism of the 1950s is bad, but it kind of pales in comparison.
7) Again, I could be wrong, but the stereotyped femininity doesn’t seem to extend much beyond this one rich family, and as Fitzgerald told us, “The rich are different from you and me.” It’s possible the eccentric father deliberately brought up his children in a weird and very anachronistic way (echoes of The Fifth Head of Cerberus; I wonder if Wolfe was home-schooled).
8) The more I think about it, the more downright strange the narrator is, as a being. Wolfe finesses this by (a) having him be the one to tell the story, (b) having him seem so much like a regular human, and (c) evoking our sympathy for him in his struggle to be free, or at least safe from the fire. But aside from superficial similarity and the narrator’s own spin on things, we don’t know how much like the original author he is, or even how much like a normal human being. Maybe he has the equivalent of massive brain damage, or thought patterns that are more deeply-grooved than a normal person’s, or just much narrower (as I understand it, the authors are resimulated based solely on their literary output, which may not include an autobiography). In any event, he wouldn’t notice this difference from the original author, because he isn’t really him. Also, none of the resimulations seem to last very long; maybe he’s wearing out and becoming senile and I just missed a bunch of clues to that effect. That is to say, maybe this is Wolfe’s least reliable narrator ever!
9) The further into the book you get, the smarter the delicate flower rich-girl teacher turns out to be. Maybe Wolfe is trying to tell us something about masks, maybe something about the narrator’s preconceptions, maybe something about our preconceptions (toward both reality and genre). As with all his other stuff, it’s going to take another couple of read-throughs to figure much more out.
Edited to add point 10: 10) He’s a slave (we figure this out slowly). He’s even separated from (a recreation of his) beloved (which also brings to mind Solaris). I need to look for more 19th-century Slave Narrative tropes the next time I read the book.
Yes, I freely admit all of the above would be desperate, tendentious reaching for transparent excuses for casual sexism—if we were discussing a piece of fan-fiction by a nineteen-year-old male, or a Hollywood script.
But this is Gene Wolfe we’re talking about: all of the above guesses could be true, plus another ten explanations, and it still wouldn’t be as convoluted* as The Fifth Head of Cerberus.
Maybe nobody’s going for Wolfe’s scalp on a sexism charge because they’re afraid of getting caught in his semantic and thematic hall-of-mirrors-built-over-a-tarpit.
(* The judges would also accept: “nuanced”, “layered”, or “thought-provoking”.)
I’m a romanceless Nice Guy™ who bought too much into the whole argument of feminism. That is, I’ve disproportionately read too much into the things they said that make men evil and feel a lot of guilt for things that I was very unlikely to do in the first place. Only now, thanks to this blog and a lot of therapy, I’m realizing that some of the things I’ve taken from feminism are harmful to my own interests.
It was mostly fear (of feminists) covering up other fears (of the unknowns of relationships), which resulted in other fear-driven behavior like trying to get into gay relationships, because in my mind men don’t have a long list of associated dangers. They are easier. Unfortunately I’m not actually into men, so I have to deal with the fear.
Then I ran into “Should You Reverse Any Advice You Hear?”, and I really identified that with the idea that i’m not the intended audience of the advice they give. The conclusion of that post isn’t a strong recommendation to reverse the advice, it’s more like “consider it”, and i’m doing so.
My question is: what is a decent source of advice that opposes what i’ve been fed? My goal here is to be less lonely and keep my sanity. I don’t know, /r/trp? I’m fine with doing a lot of cherry picking if needed.
My advice would be to stop relying on advice. If you have a specific problem, try and find an answer to it. On the other hand, if you’re hoping for general advice on the state of the world and what must be done (and how this ties into sexy-times), there is so much rubbish out there, it isn’t really worth the cherry picking effort.
Presumably you already have your own ideas of what it is that is good/right/beautiful. Before you do anything, ask yourself whether your actions will make the world more like that (in the minute particulars).
Feminist dinosaur here, ie 1970s Marlo Thomas type. I’m not sure which ‘wave’ of feminists you’ve been reading, but it’s probably something I’d like to debunk, if that would help.
Just the current one, I’m only vaguely aware of the existence of the previous waves. It’s like a lot of people in my social circles share clickbait articles where the bait feels like “read and sympathize with this horrible situation, otherwise you’re a horrible person”.
I don’t think you could debunk much – It’s not so much what they say, but how I take it. The motte is all good – equal rights and stuff – but when some “radical feminist” says “all men are rapists”, on the conscious level I understand that statement to be an incorrect generalization, but on the subconscious level I feel like I’ve done something wrong and I’m a bad person. Doesn’t help that they get a lot of support (retweets, favs, plain old money throwing) for being so vocal about their extreme positions – it makes me feel that this isn’t an isolated case and maybe there’s more truth to it than I think, and maybe being a man makes me a threat, as if testosterone had the power to make me irrational enough to commit horrible acts.
…except that I lowered the bar of “horrible acts” from “rape/murder” down to “making eye contact / talking to a girl”. I’ve read many things about women being uncomfortable when strangers talk to them, and I don’t want to be like that. Granted, those strangers are often saying obscene things, but there’s also the “look at this nerd trying to impress me, how disgusting”. That really fucking hurts. That kind of people shouldn’t carry the flag of “social justice”.
Anyway all the above is fixed through therapy, I’m working on it.
“I’m only vaguely aware of the existence of the previous waves.”
Pretty much everyone accepts them as the default in the west.
First wave- legal equality and the vote
Second wave- anti gender discrimination
Of course both movements had their crazies- first wave notably had people willing to resort to vandalism, destruction of property and hunger strikes. There are also crazy ideas that were aligned/part of the movements (free love/misandry/lesbian separatism) as well as the conflation of women’s issue/gender issues.
If you like history, first wave is pretty interesting; it is a time when the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League and the Men’s National League for Opposing Women’s Franchise join forces to create the National League for Opposing Women’s Suffrage.
@ Samuel Skinner
“first wave notably had people willing to resort to vandalism, destruction of property and hunger strikes”
One of these things is not like the others.
@ Anon #1519
…except that I lowered the bar of “horrible acts” from “rape/murder” down to “making eye contact / talking to a girl”.
A while back Scott Alexander wrote about something Scott Aaronson wrote about such ‘feminist’ conflation of motives.
I’ve read many things about women being uncomfortable when strangers talk to them, and I don’t want to be like that.
As a girl, I didn’t expect horrible behavior or horrible motives from every man who approached me with eye contact etc etc (all that kind of body language). But if they did it without good reason I snubbed them anyway. This must be very confusing to the man: the current ‘feminists’ conflate all men’s motives to rape … and many girls have only one way of responding to any man who is acting insincere!
there’s also the “look at this nerd trying to impress me, how disgusting”.
Ime, it’s not the nerdiness/geekiness, it’s the insincerity, the trying to impress. In my experience, a geek/nerd was someone who had something in his own life to be geeky about, which was a good sign.
When a person has taken a lot of damage about how they talk to girls, he may become self-conscious about talking to anyone about anything. That’s a reason for getting involved with groups that have neither many girls nor many men preoccupied with girls. Find groups with a good mix of demographics: old women, married couples, etc. Such as projects that have deadlines and problems, where people will be talking about definite practical things with no time to be self-conscious: building a community playground, running a food bank, or something with children or dogs to wrangle.
Uh… No. They don’t. Other than that, good comment.
I was wondering if I could ask you some questions
about your experiences as one of “the romanceless”. It’s not journalism, just research for a character im creating.
I dont necessarily expect to hear from you but if you’re interested in reflecting on what its been like with a nonjudgmental correspondent feel free to anonymously (or not) email me : firstname.lastname@example.org.
I feel your pain, romancelessness is hard. (It’s hard even after you solve the sexlessness part.) It sounds like you’ve been reading some pretty awful stuff if you’ve come to regard (heterosexual) dating as a landmine field. You should realise that some people’s embittered hostility towards you and yours is not The Objective Truth, and however else you agree with feminism, once you stumble upon shit, you should take care not to step in it. As a general rule, never trust anything fully; always be on the lookout for that bit (or heap) of wrongness that is basically guaranteed to be found in everything.
Which brings me to my other point. Best not to employ the pendulum model of changing opinions or worldviews, i.e. going as far off in one direction as your conscience and sanity allows, and then reversing course hard and in an accelerated fashion. TRP, too, is full of shit, and as far as I’m concerned it’s not even symmetrical to feminism in how far you have to immerse yourself in it in order to reach toxicity. What you need here is not to be found on the feminism-antifeminism spectrum, but outside of it. Something free of constant gender strife.
Get yourself a meatspace, mainstream, mixed-gender group of friends who are reasonably attractive and gregarious and don’t have very strong opinions on gender issues, and anchor your worldview to theirs as a sanity check. Cozy up to women in non-sexual contexts and see for yourself whether they bite or not. 🙂 I don’t know what other characteristics of yours other than this deep anxiety contribute to your lack of success with women, but in my experience, the best ways to hook up with people are to look good and to attend large social gatherings that involve copious amounts of alcohol. Usually, you can do something about both of these things.
As for your information feed, I’d suggest reading some mainstream men’s magazines for dating advice, since they’re guaranteed not to be off-puttingly feminist and, unlike r/theredpill or PUA blogs, there are reputational checks in place for them that filter out the worst of the other. But… then again, I don’t read those and can’t vouch for them, I’m just going off some vague idea about what they might contain.
(Whoa i spent a bit too much writing one reply and four more replies showed up, thanks everyone! ♥)
Where do I get one of those? The few times I’ve gone to places with copious amounts of alcohol I ended up interacting with either the guys I already knew, or no one at all. The latter isn’t fun.
Anon #1519 asks: Where do I get one of those?
Is there a local gym, hobby club, church or minor/amateur league sports organization you can hit up? If so those would be good places to start.
This year, you might look at groups of volunteers supporting whichever political candidate you lean toward. Needn’t fake anything: it’s early enough in the season that “I’m undecided between [H and B / T and C] and I’d like to learn more” is okay if you’re efficiently stuffing envelopes or whatever.
Can you expand on this?
I’m assuming that by loneliness you mean a lack of romantic success with women, which luckily is something that is very fixable if you have a solid plan. PUA has been refined a lot over the last decade: in particular, Day Game is essentially an optimized version of ‘normal’ dating behavior which I recommend as much less soulless than going to clubs / bars. My gold standard there is Roosh V’s Day Bang, although that’s fairly old by now. Even if you just want to do low pressure online dating / hookup apps there are good data-driven approaches: OKCupid for one has a huge amount of public data outlining successful strategies.
But you shouldn’t expect having more frequent sex or relationships to fix loneliness or maintain sanity on it’s own. You can’t rely on the woman (or women) in your life to meet all of your psychological needs. Probably the best thing that you could do for your own mental health would be to get a group of male friends together with a common purpose. The Männerbund is a vital institution that is largely missing in modern society, but you can still get a lot of the benefits by joining a workout group or sports team. If you’re still in college, consider getting involved in Greek Life or the ROTC: I personally chose not to do either because it would have interfered with my studies, but the sense of brotherhood and discipline have been very healthy for my friends who have.
Also this is just something that helped me, so I can’t say whether it would be useful for you necessarily, but I found that classical philosophy is very helpful for rebuilding a non-pathological definition of virtue. Meditations and the Enchiridion were the most personally relevant out of what I’ve read but we have such a rich philosophical heritage it would take lifetimes to do more than just dip a toe in. If you need something to replace the broken ideals of modern feminism with it makes sense to go back to the source.
Anyway I’m really glad to hear that you’re getting better and wish you the best going forward!
Yep, that’s pretty much it regarding loneliness. Probably not an actual feeling.
I don’t really have problems regarding sanity. Probably. It was sort of hyperbole mixed with fear of dangerous thoughts messing with the apparent clarity I have now. I used to have depression but it appears to be completely solved by now, which is the reason that the focus of my therapy is moving to more “complicated” subjects like interpersonal relationships. And yeah, complicated – it’s likely that my previous issues with depression and lack of self confidence and this current issue with feminism are all misguided attempts to protect myself from the even greater problem. Yeah it sounds silly once the problem is identified.
Other than that, thanks for the ideas! Getting a group of male friends sounds like an easier first step that might help with the others, too (well, that’s pretty much what other replies say, too).
TRP works fine if you make sure to let your eyes kinda glaze over every time it pretends to be at all scientific. It’s the one example that always pops up in my mind when I hear people arguing that what is true and useful must always be the same.
I don’t mean this as an attack but if you’re the type of person that read a whole bunch of internet feminism and it affected you so deeply that you needed a lot of therapy, I’d stay away from the ideological parts of the internet (including self help communities). A lot of it is play acting, trying on different ideas, being more strident and pure because of anonymity, and so on. If you can’t treat it as the game it is for many of the other people than it is just going to hurt you.
If you have a good therapist (a big if, I know) work with him or her on these problems instead. That’s what you are paying for after all.
Along the same lines, this is great advice:
1. Less Lonely:
If your goal is sex and/or romance, begin by focusing on stuff that is beneficial for you anyway, and additionally has the effect of making you a more desirable partner. I have no idea what kind of shape you’re in, how you dress, etc but working out, eating better, dressing better, are all a guaranteed return for you, outside of making you more attractive and more confident. Plus, gyms can be a great place to meet people (for friendship, or otherwise).
Going on some kind of high school graduation comedy quest to get laid will lead to disappointment. Improving yourself is a more sure payoff, and it increases your chances of romantic/sexual success.
2. Keep Sanity: I’m going to echo the people here who have said not to just go wildly off in the other direction. Far better to just avoid stuff that bothers you by, for instance, unfollowing people on Facebook. From what you say below it sounds like the issue is seeing people in your social circle post clickbait articles. If you can’t unfollow for whatever reason, just remember that clickbait is like that for a reason.
One approach to finding a girlfriend is to expand your network of non-girlfriends–married couples, male friends, women who for any reason are not prospective romantic partners. People know people.
After the end of my first marriage, the wife of a colleague suggested that there were lots of nice girls at the local university folk dancing, so I should try going there. It turned out to be good advice.
Plus, again, advantage of other, mostly guaranteed benefits.
The longest-lived and best relationship I’ve been in was in large part the result of something I got involved in with no hope or intention of it getting me into a relationship.
Replying to myself to reply to all the repliers: Thanks so much! You all seem to be sensible people who don’t violently disagree with me for having some unpopular opinions, and I’m glad I’ve found this place. I get a feeling of safety here, even though it’s all public and I have to wear this anon mask.
All the advice is considered, even the advice that says that I should stop relying so much on advice, and that I should stop considering all the advice, and… hmmm, that’s a bit hard to add up. Well, I did say I’d cherry pick.
One thing I forgot to point out and that I realized because of a couple of suggestions: I’m not from the USA. I tend to forget that, because most of my online activity always ends up being USA-centric, and I fear feminism as if I lived there, but I’m fairly sure that the country where I live doesn’t have the same kind of aggressive feminism that results in concerned articles in conservative newspapers talking about how the usage of trigger warnings in universities is literally destroying our youth.
But yeah sometimes I have to explain a different world to my therapist. She’s on holiday for the next few weeks BTW, which is why I felt the need to talk about this stuff here. Thanks again ♥
Advice can be good. But you do not have a real-world “sanity check” for online advice.
Though “Red Pill” myself, the Red Pill would do you no favors if you aren’t actually focused on meatspace.
Second Point: The so-called “Nice Guy” problem will affect you regardless of your online habits. It is not a problem to be a “Nice Guy,” but you cannot walk on eggshells around everyone your whole life. You will transgress social norms and people will get pissed at you. You cannot avoid that.
But more importantly, it’s not the end of the world. Most people are not going to call the Stasi just because you used a bad pick-up line or whatever.
If you want to see what TRP has to offer, read The Game by Neil Strauss. It’s unsettling, but not to the degree that actual TRP sites are, and it’s also funny and sad and humanizes some people who actively resist humanization. (By the way, are we not allowed to spell out The R– P— on SSC?)
You might also want to try spending half an hour a day being a psychopath: analyze why people are really doing the things they’re doing, and don’t let yourself think of anybody as good (or evil). Don’t start with real people; begin with characters in The Walking Dead.
It turns out people are usually a lot simpler than we think, it’s just really disturbing to see the strings on which we all dance. (Cue Bela Lugosi….) But once you’ve adjusted your social and interpersonal habits and approaches to the underlying reality, you can put the muscles and skin back over its distressing skeleton and proceed with a normal life again.
(This was much more encouraging and uplifting in my head.)
My RSS informs me there’s an upcoming election in the Union of the Comoros. My first thought: gays, full to the top of queers they are. A point well made.
This is a bit of a weird question, but I have been reading r/AskHistorians for a while, and while I know accusations of tribes and biases are almost a cliche here, but I noticed something kind of weird: everyone is obsessed with and fawning over the Eastern Roman Empire / Byzantines. I am not sure if it is just one or two people skewing the discussion but every discussion about them seems to cover how tragically underrated they were and every discussion about their wars or actions seems to be weirdly sympathetic.
(Weirdly, there is no such oddities for groups like Vikings, Soviets or Mongols– they are all discussed with what looks to an outsider with clarity and rigor and are condemned whenever they do something amoral)
The Byzantines are the culture that hipster classicists study.
(/s, but only somewhat.)
It’s just a fad, I think. They’re not covered much, if at all, in the average person’s education, so reading about them is like finding out some kind of “secret knowledge”. And certain aspects of it can be interpreted in a way that makes you feel superior to the conventional wisdom. Like, “you know how they told you the Roman Empire fell in the 400s—well that’s a lie!”
I think it’s similar to the attraction people get to arguing that Galileo was an asshole who had it coming, or that Thomas Edison was a fraud who stole everything from Nikola Tesla.
Probably 30% or more of the Byzantophilia in internet culture comes from playing Europa Universalis, too. 😉
But overall, I think it’s just a fad, like how several decades ago everyone was wanting to study the hidden wisdom of the Orient. Even C.S. Lewis was talking about the “Tao”. And before that, it was appreciating Ancient Egypt and the cultures of the Near East. Except this is more of a mini-fad; I don’t think the average person on the street, or even the average “sophisticated intellectual” gives a rip about the Eastern Roman Empire.
I actually find this to be a problem in academia in general, at least in the humanities, where I work. On the one hand, it’s really hard to actually dig up something no one has heard of and prove to everybody it’s important. On the other, nobody cares if you prove that Rome was a great civilization, Mozart was a great composer, and the most famous poets are justly famous.
The easiest way to feel you’re making a contribution is to say “you know that really important thing you thought you understood? Well, actually, you’re totally wrong because [insert minor quibbles x, y, and z which “complicate” our understanding of famous thing a, but don’t really imply the man on the street should change his evaluation of Rome or Mozart or whatever].”
As a Sinologist who usually writes in English for an English audience but who sometimes writes in Chinese and presents his papers to Chinese audiences, I also notice this dynamic: the Chinese are still very much at the level where they are happy if you tell them something good about their civilization and most celebrated artists and unhappy if you tell them something bad (though arguably they’d be especially unreceptive to a white person telling them something negative about their civilization, but I think it also applies to Chinese scholars). [insert handwringing about postmodernism and the Downfall of the West]
Western academics are much more about the “problematizing” and “complicating,” for better and for worse (this has recently become an issue for famous Indologist Sheldon Pollock, who is getting slammed by Hindu academics for not presenting a sufficiently reverent vision of Indian civilization).
The Byzantines also pop up in Victoria 2 and in mods for Hearts of Iron. Paradox likes them almost as much as they like overpowered Sweden.
“Sweden is Not Overpowered”
Also, Paradox adds the Byzantines to everything largely due to huge community demand.
Top comment, by the official Paradox Interactive youtube account:
“It’s funny, we were just thinking of giving Sweden a boost. We also feel that Sweden is not overpowered, so it’s nice to hear that we aren’t alone!”
I alternate between which of these two I find most convincing. Pascal-Emmanual Gobry argues that conservatives have essentially taken over the Republican party, they just haven’t taken the reigns yet.
On the other hand, Ace hits it out of the park with this:
I think this is part of what Schilling and Kestenbaum miss upthread. It may well be that this was the Republicans’ “turn” at the helm. But too many in the Republican base no longer believe that this equates to them getting a turn. Kestenbaum and his colleagues are especially mistaken to be excited at the Trump phenomenon. Say you guys take the Presidency. What do you think happens as you confirm even harder to the Trump contingent that they are disenfranchised? Do you think they will just vanish? Trump is a symptom. Stopping Trump will not cure the patient. Only stopping Trump will probably make it even worse, as the pressure he might release builds even higher.
And it is not just a right-wing phenomenon. How many Democrat-controlled cities have had riots in the last few years? How many days has it been since your police forces last shot/strangled a black man? The fact that your only two candidates are Hillary “I’m ok with covering up rape, and if you vote for me, so are you” Clinton and Bernie “Even lefty wonks think I don’t understand policy, but at least I hate bankers” Sanders should be a source of shame. Your base may be slightly more willing to sit down and do as they’re told, but not that much more, and I suspect not for that much longer.
Phrased yet another way, in this far too long meandering rant: If a nuclear bomb fell on DC tomorrow and nobody you knew was there, would you be worse off?
I’m probably not an “elite,” but I am a model citizen by most objective measures. I am financially successful, reasonably high IQ, have no criminal record, pay all my taxes, reproduce above replacement level, and am even an elder in my church. The nuke scenario improves my life and the life of my family. That should terrify you.
“The nuke scenario improves my life and the life of my family.”
Politics aside, I find it very very hard to believe in a central government that is on the one hand sufficiently superfluous that making it vanish would not result in maybe temporary but certainly costly chaos and on the other hand sufficiently powerful to make your life significantly worse by its mere presence.
Yeah, unless you’re living in a cave, you would be seriously affected and in a negative way by the economic and political chaos resulting from the nuclear destruction of DC. Not to mention the police state that would likely follow.
I’m not going to say that our government is objectively doing a good job, but it could be a lot worse. A 59% is a failing grade, but it’s a lot better than 0%.
>The fact that your only two candidates are Hillary “I’m ok with covering up rape, and if you vote for me, so are you” Clinton and Bernie “Even lefty wonks think I don’t understand policy, but at least I hate bankers” Sanders should be a source of shame.
While I agree that Hillary and Bernie look like pretty bad candidates, if the party gives enough creedence to this 8 year thing to plan around it, it makes perfect sense. If you’re pretty confident that you’re gonna lose, you’re not going to burn a good candidate in the election, so you just throw Hillary to the wolves, and you can even market it as giving her her due for being snubbed in 2008.
Bernie just sort of happened, his current campaign to me seems like what Trump’s might’ve been if the GOP rallied around a single candidate from the start, only much sadder because you know a lot of people threw their money into that sink.
I would claim that it *is* mainly a right-wing phenomenon – look at polling. 77 percent of Democrats would be at least satisfied with Clinton as nominee, which in line with historical averages at this point (there was 71% support for Obama in 2008 after the primary, for example, and McCain in 2008 and Kerry in 2004 were in the mid-70s as well). Meanwhile, the major Republicans today are all around 50%. So I’d read that as a collapse in Republican unity and no particular change in Democratic unity.
Not sure what you’re referring to regarding riots. I’m sure there were some high-profile incidents but I would be surprised if there was an increasing trend.
It’s mostly a gut feeling thing. Being in power can paper over cracks a bit, just as Republicans didn’t really start voicing their displeasure with Bush until he was out of office.
I think Sanders being competitive at all took everybody by surprise, including him, and is a symptom of deeper rumblings. If people were happy, he would have had no support at all. And notice how nobody has a positive message this cycle. Obama had a very positive message the first time he ran (Hope and Change!), regardless of whether or not it was true. Sanders’ message is “everything is awful.” In fact, his opening debate statement describing how bad things are could have been ripped straight from a Tea Party rally until he got to part where he blamed it all on bankers. BLM was getting decidedly uppity, although the wind seems to have gone out of their sails lately.
Like I said, more a gut feeling than something I have data for. But I wouldn’t bank on great Democratic unity in the forthcoming decade.
This is the kind of thing that drives me nuts. The answer is one, in Baltimore, and all in all a quite small riot. There was another minor incident in Ferguson which isn’t even close to a real city.
Things have been so good for so long that we don’t even remember what a real riot is or how terrible they were.
I think you are completely, 100%, totally wrong. It would be mass pandemonium for years or even decades. Life would noticeably be worse for virtually everyone. You want to talk about an alternate universe where the federal government never developed into as big an entity — fine, but this is just totally off base. Depressingly so since you seem like a pretty sharp dude.
A real riot? Is that like a real Scotsman?
I count eight in the US on Wikipedia’s list of riots in the 2010s and fewer, but larger-scale, in Canada. That’s not many compared to South America or the Middle East, but it’s more than one.
(That’s not to say that the nuke argument isn’t stupid. It’s pretty stupid.)
But I’m hesitant to infer broad urban left-wing unrest from a list of riots that includes “riots in Keene, New Hampshire caused by drunken college students at a pumpkin festival” and “Riots in Tampa, Florida After Cigar City Brewing Company prematurely ran out of beer at their annual release of their highly acclaimed Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout”
Totally fair. I was there for the riots in Oakland, though, and those were a lot closer to the Ferguson pattern than the pumpkin one — and symptomatic of a broader pattern of civil unrest that the list doesn’t really convey.
Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout is the fuel of the Cathedral.
I thought lattes were the fuel of the Cathedral?
@sweeneyrod – What’s that? The Cathedral ran out of fuel? No wonder the Trump is resounding!
symptomatic of a broader pattern of civil unrest that the list doesn’t really convey
What conveys a pattern of broad civil unrest to you?
>I thought lattes were the fuel of the Cathedral?
Jeez, lattes are so 2010, get on with the times.
If by “broad pattern of civil unrest”, you mean maybe somewhat more unrest than the 2000s, but less than the 90s, the 80s, the 70s, the 60s, the 50s, the 40s, the 30s, and further back than that, okay. But that’s a funny idea of widespread civil unrest.
Well, to take Oakland in 2010 as an example, there was one event — the riots following the verdict in the Oscar Grant case — that made national news. But depending on where you draw the line, there were anywhere between a dozen and close to a hundred little events before and after that didn’t make the news, or only locally. Marches, sit-ins, other demonstrations, with or without a black bloc trying to kick off a riot — later on these shaded into Occupy, which was a lot more combative in Oakland than in most places. Leaflet and poster campaigns. Vandalism — the bank by Lake Merritt got its windows smashed a half-dozen times, and some cars got torched on May Day.
You’re going to have a hard time connecting the dots on this sort of thing if you’re just reading about it on the Internet. But it’s there.
@Vox — I was not trying to describe a national pattern there. Tensions in Oakland were highest from 2009 through maybe 2013 — there were some aftershocks around the time of Ferguson and Baltimore, but I got the impression that that was being driven by anarchists and other radicals, not by anything grassroots. The late Nineties through the 2000s were quieter, but the early Nineties were worse. I can’t speak as accurately for much earlier but I get the impression of a long dry spell — in terms of political violence — starting in the Seventies.
For your reading convenience, here are all the U.S. and Canadian incidents from the cited Wikipedia page since 2010:
• 2010 – Vancouver Winter Olympics Riot. Small short-lived disturbance involving Black Bloc members
• 2010 – April 10 – Springfest Riot, Harrisonburg, Virginia, dozens injured; 30–35 arrested.
• 2010 – Riots in Santa Cruz, California.
• 2010 – G20 Riots in Toronto Canada – Zero dead, significant damage, 1105 arrests 
• 2010 – Riots in Oakland, California after not-guilty verdict returned in Oscar Grant case.
• 2010 – Prison riot in Quebec, Canada, 2 killed.
• 2011 – Riots in Vancouver, Canada after the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup.
• 2012 – Riots in Anaheim, California, several injuries and 24 arrested.
• 2013 – Riots in Brooklyn, New York after the death of Kimani Gray who was shot and killed by NYPD
• 2013 – Riots in Huntington Beach, California, 1 injured.
• 2014 – Riots in Tampa, Florida After Cigar City Brewing Company prematurely ran out of beer at their annual release of their highly acclaimed Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, angry attendees began a small riot. Police were called to the scene and dispersed the angry crowd. The riot prompted the brewery’s owners to cancel the event in the future. No lives were lost, but some injuries were reported.
• 2014 – Riots in Keene, New Hampshire caused by drunken college students at a pumpkin festival.
• 2014 – Riots in Ferguson, Missouri caused by the shooting of Michael Brown and charges against the accused officer being dropped.
• 2015 – April 26: 2015 Baltimore riots erupted in Baltimore, Maryland, United States in response to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody.
• December 28 Riot of 2,000 at St Matthews Mall, Kentucky.
• 2016 February 27: Riots after the shooting of Abdi Mohamed in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Based on this, the Democrat voting bloc most likely to riot seems to be college kids (despite having the least to riot about).
One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong…
I count 1836 total arrests in all of these riots, of which 1105 came from the G20 riots in Toronto. 308 injuries, of which 136 were in Toronto and that almost certainly an undercount. Based on this, the voting bloc most likely to riot seems to be not Democratic but Liberal Party of Canada.
More to the point, I count three small riots on that list – Toronto, Ferguson, and Baltimore/2015.
Compare to, e.g.,
Watts/1965, 34 dead, 1032 injured, 3438 arrested
Detroit/1967, 43 dead, 1189 injured, 7321 arrested
Baltimore/1968, 6 dead, 700 injured, 5800+ arrested
Washington/1968, 12 dead, 1098 injured, 6100+ arrested
Los Angeles/1992, 55 dead, 2000+ injured, 11000+ arrested
I lived through that last one, so indulge me in a “these kids these days moment”. You all think this is a time of Great Unrest heralding the Downfall of Western Civilization, as manifest in the riotous behavior the disaffected youth of today? We’ve lived through worse by far, and endured. We built spaceships and flew to the moon, while enduring a riots an order of magnitude worse than anything seen in this decade. So go join all the ignorant buffoons who talk of “war zones” in the streets of American cities, so we can laugh at you en masse.
Today’s riots are an insignificant nuisance. If the rioters are trying to achieve any sort of social change, positive or negative, they’re going to have to pry themselves away from their Twitter and Tumblr feeds and seriously up their game. Today’s Trump voters, those actually scare me.
I knew I should have left off the nuke thing, but since I went there…
I think there would be an economic downturn as a result, sure, but as Bernie like to point out, our economy isn’t exactly great right now. The economy would recover.
I do not expect roaming bands of warlords to come in. My neighborhood will not erupt into riots,. My local community will be able to continue providing the essential services, and all the money that is currently taken from me in taxes will be able to fill in the remaining gaps. Things will have settled into a new equilibrium long before my kids have to fend for themselves.
What do the feds offer me? Social Security payments that may not be there when I’m old enough to get them (and are inferior to what I can save on my own away)? More expensive insurance? Countless subsidies and welfare programs which I am ineligible for, but must pay for? The main thing the central government exports to me and mine are programs to indoctrinate my children away from my religion and into Progressivism. That last one alone would probably be sufficient all in itself.
No, I just have crappy hosting, but it’s cheap and I hardly ever post anyway. Fixed.
I’m reminded of the Steven Pinker quote:
As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin’s anarchism. I laughed off my parents’ argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. By 11:20 A.M. the first bank was robbed. By noon most downtown stores had closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters.
It was certainly eye-opening to go to a country with weaker police presence and notice that every Starbucks — I’m not exaggerating, I literally mean every Starbucks — had a couple of guards with Kevlar vests and short-barreled shotguns.
Treasury debt has essentially replaced gold as the basis of the international financial system. (Please don’t turn this subthread into an argument about the gold standard.) There wouldn’t just be a downturn, there would be absolute chaos while the world tried to figure out what to do now that dollars aren’t backed by anything anymore.
But once that gets sorted out, you’re probably right in that your burbclave would do just fine in the face of federal collapse. Just make sure the guards are paid well – there are MANY people on the outside who wouldn’t do just fine.
Yes, quite understated. Not to mention the elimination of the Federal Reserve to coordinate global finance. The local banks would still be around, I guess.
” Not to mention the elimination of the Federal Reserve to coordinate global finance.”
Why do you think the Fed coordinates global finance? That’s the capital market, not the central bank. The world capital market could run just fine without the Fed, or Washington.
“If a nuclear bomb fell on DC tomorrow and nobody you knew was there, would you be worse off?……..I am a model citizen by most objective measures. I am financially successful, reasonably high IQ, have no criminal record, pay all my taxes, reproduce above replacement level, and am even an elder in my church. The nuke scenario improves my life and the life of my family. That should terrify you.”
It does. So, in which Church of Satan are you an elder?
“The nuke scenario improves my life and the life of my family. That should terrify you.”
It improves my life too. I mean, assuming the implausible scenario where everyone just kind of goes on as before but without the federal government.
To imagine a scenario which doesn’t imply such crazy displacement/war: if all the state legislatures voted to dissolve the federal government in a gradual enough way as not to cause too much chaos but most of the states entered into agreements continuing to allow free travel and trade among them, I think my life would be much, much better in fairly short order.
But I also think Jaskologist’s metaphor may be appropriate: there is enough frustration with DC right now that many would sooner accept the chaos that would ensue upon a more radical, sudden change than let it continue on in its current course. That is scary. I’m not saying we’re ripe for a revolution… yet. Things have to get a lot worse still before people will be dissatisfied enough for that. But I do think Trump is, in some sense, an attempt at a bloodless revolution.
I’m not setting the fuses, I’m just saying that federal government is a net util loss for me and mine.
Now, if DC were on fire, the Gospel does teach that I must piss on it, but my sinful nature would probably put up a real fight.
I should point out that I did not mention myself, personally, as being “excited” about Trump being nominated.
Yes, chances are that Donald Trump as Republican nominee will give Hillary a win. But given the structural advantages Republicans have in 2016, Trump could win the election no matter what he does or says. Think of the novel “Dark Horse”, by Fletcher Knebel, which posits a similar scenario.
If Hillary is elected, Republicans will continue to accumulate grievances and motivation. In 2020, after 12 years of Democrats in the White House, they will probably win, most likely with someone a lot like Rubio.
I’m sorry, but I don’t take the overall Trump phenomenon very seriously. Trump is a fad, and he will be forgotten soon after he loses. Most of his supporters, I mean like more than 90% of the people who voted for him in primaries, are lightly attached to politics, and without Trump as an interesting focal point, will turn their attention to other things.
Yeah, lots of people feel alienated and disfranchised a lot of the time, that’s part of the human condition. It’s what Young Marx wrote about, apparently, as distinct from the more sophisticated stuff written when he was older.
I know a lot of conservative Republicans, some of whom are Trump supporters, and I discuss politics with them in person almost every week. I am not seeing this seething rage you describe. People are intrigued by Trump, and like that he would shake things up, but I don’t get the sense that they’d be very upset if he didn’t end up as president.
“I know a lot of conservative Republicans, some of whom are Trump supporters, and I discuss politics with them almost every week. I am not seeing this seething rage you describe.”
It definitely exists. Don’t know what proportion of Trump supporters, but it does. Arguably more importantly, I think there’s a decent chunk of people who are normally apolitical who like the idea of Trump just because… I am tempted to say because he’s a reality TV star, but I think it’s more about the kind of reality TV personality he is: labor class billionaire, i. e. what they aspire to.
@Larry Kestenbaum – “People are intrigued by Trump, and like that he would shake things up, but I don’t get the sense that they’d be very upset if he didn’t end up as president.”
Well, for that matter, I’m not going to be upset if he doesn’t end up as president either. Getting him into office isn’t really the point. Using him to pry the overton window back open and to punish the GOP is. Actually getting the presidency is a distant third.
[EDIT] – “I’m sorry, but I don’t take the overall Trump phenomenon very seriously. Trump is a fad, and he will be forgotten soon after he loses.”
This is entirely correct. By the same token, Ron Paul was a fad. The Tea Party was a fad, at least until the GOP more or less co-opted it. That’s sort of the whole point of what we’ve been saying: Trump himself is just a symptom. He will be immediately abandoned as soon as he loses because a great many people are only interested in his presidential bid as a tactical play.
Trump is a lot more a fad than either of the other two you mention. Ron Paul never won mass support, never won any big elections, but he has many thousands of serious, dedicated adherents and defenders even today. I don’t know that there is even such a thing going on for Trump. His movement is miles wide and a millimeter deep.
And I mean that the whole Trump thing is a fad, including the anger. Trump says something that resonates, highlights and denounces some particular outrage, and a lot of people say, “Yeah!” They post it on Facebook pages and share it with their friends. Many of them will go and vote for Trump in the primary and the general election. But that will be the extent of it.
By a year from now, there will be nothing left. Assuming Trump loses fair and square, there will be no interest in marching on Washington to demand anything. If millions of people get activated and energized again, it will be over some completely new outrage.
I’ve been in politics for almost half a century, and I’ve seen lots of these things come and go, from the right, from the left, from the center. Absent some recent hot grievance, something quite specific, especially something that affects them directly and personally,. Americans (or probably most people) don’t stay outraged very long. A movement arises, motivates millions of people, and perhaps even seems poised to force major changes. But then something changes, people lose interest, and it vanishes.
No, only a tiny handful of people even think in terms of ongoing strategy and tactics. And those people, including yourself, are politicos. They’re the ones who wake up in the morning thinking about politics. They’re the activists, the thinkers, the bloggers, the tacticians, in some cases the revolutionaries.
They are just exactly like the people who make up the Republican and Democratic “establishments”, in every city and town and township of America, the precinct delegates, the writers of party newsletters, the campaign volunteers.
And, indeed, a portion of the people who get motivated by Trump, and stay motivated, and want to bring about change, will end up in Republican party organizations, just as some of the people who got motivated by Bernie Sanders will end up in Democratic party organizations. Some will get disillusioned and drop out, but others will remain indefinitely.
Almost every activist in either party can be identified by which presidential candidate brought them in, wave after wave after wave. Me, I came out of the McGovern campaign.
This is going to sound horribly condescending, and I know I would have hated to hear it when I was 18, but the effect of actually engaging in ongoing electoral politics gradually deradicalizes people.
They maintain their principles, sure, but they become more practical, more aware of how big the polity is, how many points of view there are, how difficult governing is. Sooner or later, they come to value electing candidates and advancing policy goals rather than overthrowing tables.
On a smaller scale, this is exactly the same phenomenon as people getting elected to Congress, going to Washington, and “becoming part of the problem”. A devoted acolyte of Sanders or Trump would say, they get corrupted. And maybe they do to an extent, after all, there’s a whole lot of money floating around.
But aside from that, they figure out that abolishing the Federal Reserve or getting rid of nuclear weapons or instituting single-payer, or whatever else they promised to do during the campaign, is going to be incredibly complicated, not a matter of taking a quick vote and going home. They come to realize that this is a really big country, that the government has a whole lot of moving parts, and tinkering with them even a little requires accommodation with a whole lot of other people with different ideas and interests.
That’s a long and roundabout way of saying, no, I don’t see an enraged citizenry or civil disorder or riots in our future. We have some serious problems, but in so many ways, we’ve never had it so good. Yes, practically everyone is dissatisfied about something, but that is nothing new, and isn’t likely to change.
@ Larry K.
Hm. What brought me in was 1998. As a non-politico, I’d cheered Bill Clinton in 1992, appreciated the peace and prosperity and given him credit, but felt resentment as he caved on DOMA, copyright extension, etc. I can imagine someone who stopped at that point carrying the resentment permanently, especially if they hadn’t noticed the prosperity.
Your idea of cycles makes a lot of sense to me. After eight years or so, the good conditions are taken for granted and the remaining flaws are why we need Change(tm).
The apolitical nature of most people is simultaneously the most frustrating and reassuring thing. Whether it’s Occupy Wall Street or me the radical libertarian, I think in any society, even those which end up having big revolutions, it is always a small layer of really motivated people stoking/latching on to some momentary upswell of common fervor. I don’t think you could get the majority of the populace of anywhere to care about any kind of politics for a very long time.
Re. it not being simple to abolish the Federal Reserve, etc., this is actually the phenomenon I was trying to find a good name for in a recent thread: the “professional distortion” which makes you less able to put something into perspective the closer you get to it. I am not, of course, saying that I understand the Fed better than someone who works there; I am saying someone who works there is also likely to have a distorted impression of its importance.
Setting aside any object level issues of whether abolishing this department or that central bank would be a good idea, in the same way I’m willing to consider arguments from insiders for why x department is more important than I think it is, people who have been working deeply in politics for years have to consider that they may have developed an outsized impression of how complex and indispensable the thing they work with really is.
I mean, how many people who work for the FDA think the FDA could be safely abolished, for example? To take an extreme example, we can imagine some kind of North Korean bureau of farm planning and one of its employees saying “do you know how complicated our job is?? People are already struggling to get enough to eat now; abolish the Farm Planning Bureau and they’ll really starve.”
That is, precisely because it is such a big, complex nation and economy, the federal government needs to stop trying to run it. But that same complexity gives insiders the impression that something so complicated could never run on its own.
Doesn’t this go to heart Burkean conservatism, which for some reason everyone around here likes to attribute to Chesterton?
I’m politically liberal (in the US sense) but my inclination would not be to outright abolish any major branch of government without very deep and long consideration.
There was a political survey linked somewhere in here and it had a question about NSA surveillance. One of the options was “No, and the NSA should be abolished.” To me that answer makes no sense. Perhaps if we took it to mean electronic espionage would be the CIA’s responsibility (or the military, etc) but if you take it to mean we are not going to have any offensive or defensive signals intelligence program it just strikes me as willfully naive. And I say that as someone that’s pretty far to the pacifist / isolationist side of things and has been called naive many times myself.
All of which is to say: I can imagine a world without an FDA and the outlines of a path to get there, but if you think we should just vote to abolish the FDA and leave it at that (or blow up the buildings) then I think you are exaggerating to make a point rather than suggesting an actual change in the world you’d put in place if the responsibility were on your shoulders.
“I think you are exaggerating to make a point rather than suggesting an actual change in the world you’d put in place if the responsibility were on your shoulders.”
I think the purpose of providing the “blow it all up” scenario is to emphasize this:
If I had a choice between magic button 1, which causes the US government to completely fall apart today, or magic button 2, which causes us to gradually transition to an anarchocapitalist social arrangement in a logical, orderly fashion, with a gradual scale back in the government, I would, of course, push button 2.
But if there is no button 2, if the choices are button 1 or nothing, then I would push button 1, or at least seriously consider it.
This is the point of the extreme scenario: to emphasize that, while (almost) anyone would prefer an orderly transition, some people are unhappy enough with the status quo that they’d even prefer a disorderly transition to its continuation.
The thing is, it seems increasingly like button 2 does not, in fact, exist, at least if the desired outcome is an actual, significant reduction in government power. Republican voters have, in effect, been pushing button 2 for a long time now and are frustrated that it doesn’t work. Voting for Trump is a move towards finally pushing button 1.
And this is why the Democrats are now the conservative party. I think there may be fewer of them who would push button 1 (with the results correspondingly changed to their ideal arrangement) today than Republicans. They don’t need to push button 1 because their button 2 is functional: in fact, it’s the default result.
Basically, the more unhappy you are with the status quo, the bigger a risk you’re willing to take in hopes of changing it. The fact that the election will probably be Hillary vs. Trump shows exactly where their respective electorates are at in this regard. The Democrats are the conservative party.
I’m going to have to second onyomi here. We know there are policies in place that are actively bad that have substantial political support and that when removed make people better off. Rent control, price controls, state granted monopolies like taxis, etc.
Additionally getting closer doesn’t make you more objective and understanding for all of them; if the costs are diffused, but the benefits concentrated, you are likely to be interacting with people who get the benefits (since they have a strong incentive to support the regime).
So don’t assume that the government policy is optimal; it should be assumed to be politically optimal, which is an entirely different beast.
The takeaway is that as a rule of thumb the easiest programs to eliminate are probably the best ones (since they were installed because they worked) while the hardest to remove are the worst (since they were installed because they benefit a small interest group).
Of course if you want to get things done, the best place to do so would be the easiest programs. Fortunately, while their existence is probably the best, their internal workings probably aren’t so you can make beneficial changes (like the FDA’s acceptance of drugs that have been tested in other countries).
We know there are policies in place that are actively bad that have substantial political support and that when removed make people better off. Rent control, price controls, state granted monopolies like taxis, etc.
Yes, but there are also policies in place that are actively good that have substantial political support and that when removed make people worse off. A banking system that can be trusted to store your wealth and handle your payments, an internet that works and a power grid to support it, not having criminal gangs that break your kneecaps if you don’t give them half of everything you own.
All those things go away if the US government goes away. Some of you may be fantasizing about the individual states taking charge of the good stuff the government does, but the window of opportunity on that one closed about a century ago. And even if the states were still capable of handling basic government functions without federal support, all of the bad policies you cite are implemented at the state rather than federal level and they get worse if the states aren’t answerable to federal courts. So I have to assume that by the time you’re done tearing everything down, you’ll have done for the state governments as well.
Some people just want to watch the world burn. But your model for that needs to be the Arab Spring, the Euromaidan, or the Lebanese Civil War. With Mexico today as what the country might look like after a generation of reconstruction.
And you know what? You all can skip the wait and go live in Mexico right now if that’s what you want. Please do. Show us that you can in fact thrive in such an enivronment, or better still improve on it, before you ask the rest of us to join you in watching our world burn.
“A banking system that can be trusted to store your wealth and handle your payments, an internet that works and a power grid to support it, not having criminal gangs that break your kneecaps if you don’t give them half of everything you own.
All those things go away if the US government goes away.”
I don’t see how that follows. You can’t imagine how reliable banking, internet, power, and personal protection could be provided on a private basis?
I certainly agree that some of the things the US federal government currently does need doing; it doesn’t follow that only the US federal government could do them, nor that it should do them.
As for not wanting to take the risk of a big shakeup: the people who are currently doing pretty well rarely do. Though I hate the status quo, I certainly don’t want a bloody revolution or anything like that. But I still don’t see why Trump would be more likely to cause that than anyone else: certainly most of the other GOP candidates seem at least, if not more likely to start a new, ill-advised war: good ol’ reasonable Kasich basically said we need to take out North Korea.
The bigger concern is that there’s a good chance Trump would only be different in terms of style, not substance: http://www.ronpaullibertyreport.com/archives/trump-already-surrounding-himself-with-establishment-men
I’m not an anarcholibertarian; I’m just agreeing with the “there are things that are broken and need to be removed and spamming Chesterson’s fence doesn’t change that”. There is no high road to figuring out what to do; rules of thumb can help, but at the end of the day you are going to have to look into the actual regs.
“A banking system that can be trusted to store your wealth and handle your payments, an internet that works and a power grid to support it, not having criminal gangs that break your kneecaps if you don’t give them half of everything you own. ”
You are going to have to check with onyomi, but I’m pretty sure most libertarians support the existence of the police. And internet and power don’t require the government; the issue is that they are natural monopolies, not that they are impossible without the state.
“You all can skip the wait and go live in Mexico right now if that’s what you want. ”
Libertarians want less government. Mexico does not have less government. I’m not sure why “go to a country that had a revolution 90 years ago” is an answer to people who people who want revolutionary change.
“Show us that you can in fact thrive in such an enivronment, or better still improve on it, before you ask the rest of us to join you in watching our world burn.”
There are about a million Americans in Mexico right now so I’m not sure what you are trying to prove. Libertarian solutions can’t improve Mexico? Because if you count pro-free trade and privatization, Mexico has certainly done a bit of that since the 1980s.
The actual answer is “magic button is not a realistic scenario because there are things being hand waved away”.
Y’all seem to be forgetting that there are two components of Chesterton’s fence parable. The second is that the young monk is allowed to remove the fence if he can demonstrate that he understands why the fence is there in the first place.
It’s not enough to say that the system is broken, you need to understand how and why its broken if you want to fix it.
I love the phrase “spamming Chesterton’s fence” now…
@hlynkacg: I’m pretty sure most libertarians, myself included, can give you pretty plausible accounts of how most of the aspects we don’t like about government came into being and why they continue to exist, even though much better solutions are possible.
And one other point about “leave our nice system alone and take your experimentation to Mexico”: it’s a bit ironic that not only are the people likely to say that doing pretty well in the current system, but that they are also probably more able to move easily. How easy, for example, is it likely to be for the poor whites in the “Donald Trump support predicts high mortality” study to learn a foreign language and move their families to a foreign country in order to try a different lifestyle? Can we blame them for wanting to try something different where they are?
I myself am certainly not a low-education Trump voter (and hopefully not a high mortality one), nor even, most likely, a Trump voter at all; I am saying that it’s a bit insensitive to say to the people who are currently doing very badly and who can’t easily move: “don’t go messing with our nice system; if you want to experiment with a different system, you can move.”
@onyomi: I don’t see how that follows. You can’t imagine how reliable banking, internet, power, and personal protection could be provided on a private basis?
Of course I can. Now show me where they are being provided on a private basis, and explain how this promptly scales and generalizes to the whole of the United States.
Building institutions takes generations, particularly if you have to build an entire nation’s worth at once. The institutions that we actually have now, are needlessly complex bits of social machinery that have dozens of cogs labeled “Federal Government of the United States of America” inserted in places that aren’t always obvious.
Look, there are people who, for various reasons, think automobiles and electronics are a bad mix. Lots of these people drive e.g. 1980s diesel Mercedes, and get around just fine. You’ve got a 2016 Toyota with an infuriating number of glitches, and you are proposing to tear out everything that looks like it might have a microchip, saying “…but cars don’t need electronics, here, read this article about a 1980 Mercedes!”.
Actually, the geek in me thinks it would be kind of a neat project to rebuild a 2016 Toyota as an electronics-free vehicle.
But not if the Toyota is my only means of transportation. You all want to do something productive with your anarchist dreams, go start actually building the sort of institutions that a non-dystopic anarchy will need, in markets where the existing ones are failing and the government isn’t paying attention.
To be fair, no one is suggesting you can’t mess with the system. The political process is there so the system CAN be tweaked.
However, the political process is such that you cannot simply re-write all national institutions all at once. If you really want that kind of experiment, you should try it somewhere else.
If you want to tinker, by all means, participate in the current political process.
@Larry Kestenbaum – “By a year from now, there will be nothing left. Assuming Trump loses fair and square, there will be no interest in marching on Washington to demand anything. If millions of people get activated and energized again, it will be over some completely new outrage.”
That’s sort of the whole point of what we’ve been saying: Trump himself is just a symptom. He will be immediately abandoned as soon as he loses because a great many people are only interested in his presidential bid as a tactical play.
…I guess the difference between our views is that you think the Trump phenomenon is an isolated one based on his specific attributes, and I think it’s part of a larger trend based on growing dissatisfaction for the establishment. Would that be a fair description?
“No, only a tiny handful of people even think in terms of ongoing strategy and tactics. And those people, including yourself, are politicos.”
True. I guess my point would be that the politicos are starting to think that the status quo isn’t worth preserving, and so are throwing their support increasingly behind the random flareups. My argument is that Trump’s supporters like him because he appears immune to the hostility of the press and the establishment, more than they like him for embracing their fears of muslims and mexicans. Politicos and regular red tribers both hate and fear liberals and the establishment much more than they do muslims and mexicans. Politicos like me will frame that support in terms of tactics. Regular salt-of-the-earth types will just say he seems “strong”, “a tough guy, not a wimp”, etc. Both lead to the same conclusion, though, which is backing outsider long-shots rather than insiders.
“That’s a long and roundabout way of saying, no, I don’t see an enraged citizenry or civil disorder or riots in our future.”
I don’t either, and I’m a bit confused where this idea comes from. I expect more conflict within the republican party, not riots in the streets.
“This is going to sound horribly condescending, and I know I would have hated to hear it when I was 18 but the effect of actually engaging in ongoing electoral politics gradually deradicalizes people.”
If I’m understanding this and the rest of your post correctly, you’re saying that the existing establishment isn’t just politically powerful, but that it is itself what political power looks like. That without the machine, nothing gets done, and therefore Trump and similar movements are doomed, because they cannot sustain their agenda long term, while the establishment can and so wins by default?
Also, no worries about the condescension. Once again, I’ve greatly appreciated your posts in this thread. John Schillings’ too, for that matter.
“Now show me where they are being provided on a private basis”
Banking? Private banking is being provided on a global scale all over the world, and has been for centuries.
When the Amsterdam stock market started in the 17th century (the world’s first, so far as we know), most of its contracts were illegal, hence uninforceable. Similarly in the next century for the original version of the London Stock Exchange. Both functioned just fine, as long as the government didn’t do anything more aggressive than not enforcing their contracts.
Yes, but on reflection, I think that Trump crystallized a lot of pre-existing frustration. It wasn’t just his specific attributes.
I think both of those things are factors, and you could be right that the first is more important.
Also, lots of people are angry or fearful for reasons nobody here has even mentioned. Some of those things might even strike us as irrational, or strictly local, or irrelevant to politics, but those attitudes predispose someone to support an angry candidate, no matter what words the candidate is actually saying.
Ah, I see now, the riots thing came from Jaskologist, not from you.
That’s not how I would put it, and I’d want to pin down what specifically “machine” means here, but yeah, I think that’s a fair statement.
There’s also an element of “getting stuff done is more complicated than most people realize.” That probably applies in all organizations and at all levels. Political “specialists” (e.g., you and me) exist because most people lack the time or inclination to think things through or get involved in the necessary details.
The other thing is that, most of the time, the politicos have no way to motivate the rest of the population to go out of their way to do anything. Talk to anyone in electoral politics for long, and you will get to their frustration with apathy and low voter turnout.
It doesn’t matter how angry or disaffected the politicos are, if nobody else pays them much attention. As an extreme example, I have known some very frustrated revolutionaries. Mass movements are relatively rare and brief, and usually motivated by some kind of threat that average people take seriously.
And finally, one factor that I didn’t mention explicitly is aging. I detest the old saying about the heartless 20-year-old and the headless 40-year-old, but one’s perspective does change with age, or even just with time spent in the political world. My own views have not undergone any fundamental change, but they are considerably more nuanced now.
Thank you, and I very much appreciate your thoughtful engagement.
I wrote that long post as an attempt to think out and explain my own perspective on the issues in this thread. It’s not something I could have written without having my assumptions challenged so severely. I was a bit apprehensive about how it would be received. Thanks to you and to everyone for your civility and kindness.
“It improves my life too. I mean, assuming the implausible scenario where everyone just kind of goes on as before but without the federal government.”
I just can’t imagine what the federal government has done to cause you so much more suffering than the rest of us.
Revolutionaries typically provide reasons for tearing down the world. Im hearing “my life would improve”. Well in which ways? And Im not talking about other people. Specifically you? How would your life improve?
“I just can’t imagine what the federal government has done to cause you so much more suffering than the rest of us.”
(not directed at me)
That implies that how much suffering the federal government has caused someone is a known fact, so different attitudes reflect different amount of suffering.
A different, and I think more plausible, reading of the situation is that people disagree about what the world would be like if the federal government didn’t do various things it does.
Let me give you a real example. I believe that, without the FDA, there would have a great deal more medical progress. In support of that belief, I can point you at an old article by a prominent scholar which found that a single change in the FDA rules cut the rate of introduction of new drugs in half while having no effect on their average quality.
Three good friends of mine died of cancer—one my closest friend outside my family. I think it likely that all three would still be alive if the FDA had not been slowing medical progress for seventy some years. Do you agree that, if my view is correct, then that single federal program has caused enormous suffering?
If so, then your disagreement with those who would prefer that Washington not exist isn’t a result of Washington having hurt them and not you. It’s a result of different opinions as to the effects of the federal government on both you and them.
So even though cancer patients are living longer than ever, your gut feeling is, life expectancies arent skyrocketing fast enough so lets try to scrap the system that brought us this far?
Dismantling the system will cost untold lives and opens the door to all the unknowable black-swan futures banking off other unknowable black-swan futures.
Perhaps this time above all is one where we should put as much energy into working for good government as we do idly bitching about it. Anti-Governmentalism is a good politic to start a kid off on. Its safe. No one’s going to argue with your kid. But its more and more become the default politic of very smart and very stupid adult americans.
When the Amsterdam stock market started in the 17th century (the world’s first, so far as we know), most of its contracts were illegal, hence uninforceable. Similarly in the next century for the original version of the London Stock Exchange. Both functioned just fine, as long as the government didn’t do anything more aggressive than not enforcing their contracts.
I am familiar with the early history of banking and stock markets. It’s a great story, if nothing else. And if this were still the 17th century, or even the 18th, we could tear down the government and perhaps expect the banks to keep functioning. Though I fear that the banks would find good and responsive government to be sufficiently useful that they would go create one – for narrowly banker-centric definitions of “good and responsive”.
This isn’t the 18th century, and I hope nobody here is of the impression that modern banks are functionally identical to the late renaissance versions except for a legal department that keeps the government regulators at bay. Regulatory capture works in both directions, and modern banks are de facto public-private partnerships. They deal in a currency backed ultimately by nothing more or less than the full faith and credit of the Federal Government of the United States of America. They operate at what would otherwise be insanely narrow margins, buttressed by an insurance system nothing in the private sector can presently match. The ties of personal and familial trust that kept the old banks honest have been replaced by the federal courts. Even the military is embedded in the system now, with money moving at near lightspeed synchronized by a timebase owned and operated by the United States Air Force. I’m certain experts in the field can come up with a few hundred more examples.
Yes, private replacements can be imagined for all of these. Those private replacements don’t presently exist at the necessary scale, or at all. Creating any one of them would not pose any great problem. Creating all of them simultaneously? In an environment where you can’t pay any of the people involved with anything short of gold and silver until you’re finished? Where, with the FBI out of business, the clever sorts of criminals are trying the “help” you restore the banking system as a money pump from everyone else’s wallets to their own and the less clever sorts of criminals are just shooting the place up to get at the gold coins you’re using in the interim?
Here’s the plan. Step 1, build the core of a banking system capable of sustaining a modern economy without government intervention. Step 2, test it in niche markets where there’s a need for such a thing, but the police can still be expected to arrest the worst sort of criminals. Step 3, tear down the government.
Doing that in the reverse order would be a catastrophically bad idea.
In a large polity, political optimality is about the best a democracy can do, and I don’t agree that it’s always a bad thing.
Contrary to some perceptions, political actors generally do pay attention to arguments about why this-or-that policy should be implemented or modified or discarded, and don’t just agree with whoever offered the largest bribe, or made the biggest threat.
In my experience, where there is a huge gap between political optimality and general optimality, it’s because somebody’s not at the table, so their interests are not being advocated, or the decision process has been artificially skewed in some way.
You’re being defeatist here. Interest groups, large and small, that are beneficiaries of government policy, are defeated in political decisions all the time.
The two gigantic cases in American history are the slaveholder interest before the Civil War, and the alcohol interest before Prohibition.
Perhaps slavery is not a good example, because it was never seriously challenged before actual fighting broke out, but in the second case, a grass-roots campaign of idealistic individuals successfully destroyed an entire major industry, along with taverns, restaurants, hotels, etc.
Prohibition was undone fourteen years later, but not because of special pleading from those financially interested, rather, the impact of other negative effects changed a lot of minds.
There are many other examples.
Remember the deregulation of the airlines in 1978? The Civil Aeronautics Board used to strictly control all routes and fares. Deregulation (which was advocated and achieved by appointees of a Democratic president) was surely good for the airline industry and the country at large, but there were many losers, companies who were protected from competition by a costly bureaucracy. They fought back pretty hard. Deregulation still won by overwhelming votes in the House and Senate.
The Tax Reform Act in 1986 ended tax shelters and (to quote Wikipedia) “significantly decreased the value of many such investments which had been held more for their tax-advantaged status than for their inherent profitability.” You think the owners of those investments just watched quietly from the sidelines? They fought, were defeated, and lost billions.
In politics and policy, “interest group” does not mean “immovable obstacle”.
“your gut feeling is, life expectancies arent skyrocketing fast enough”
Do you agree that if FDA regulation sharply reduced the rate of innovation in medical drugs, that would support my claim? If so, don’t you think that before attributing my claim to “gut feeling” you should at least have asked for the cite to the article I described? If a single change to the regulations (the Kefauver Amendment to the Pure Food and Drug Act) cut the rate of introduction of new drugs in half, that suggests that the whole body of regulations had a much larger effect–not implausible given that they greatly increased both the cost and the time delay to bring medical drugs to market.
But your gut feeling that “Dismantling the system will cost untold lives,” for which you didn’t even hint at evidence, trumps that.
“In my experience, where there is a huge gap between political optimality and general optimality, it’s because somebody’s not at the table, so their interests are not being advocated, or the decision process has been artificially skewed in some way.”
The economics of foreign trade were worked out, correctly, by David Ricardo about two hundred years ago. While economists have proposed some special cases in which a tariff might benefit the country that imposed it, actual tariffs have never fitted the pattern of those cases and the general view of economists, ranging from me to Krugman, has long been that tariffs normally impose net costs on the country that imposes them.
England in the 19th century and Hong Kong in the 20th followed the policy that implies, and both were spectacularly successful economies. Almost no other country has done so.
What skews the decision process, as has been known for a long time, is the internal public good problem faced by every interest group. It’s much more soluble for a concentrated group than a dispersed group, so benefits and costs to the former are weighted much more heavily than to the latter on the political market place. That isn’t a special case, it’s the norm.
The explanation I have seen of the politics of airline deregulation—I’m not sure it is correct—is that a major airline concluded that it was being held back by the existing cartel arrangement enforced by the CAB, and so stopped supporting it.
@ Larry K.
I detest the old saying about the heartless 20-year-old and the headless 40-year-old, but one’s perspective does change with age, or even just with time spent in the political world.
Considerably older than 40, and thinking of Arab Spring, what I see is young people crashing a 90% Sturgeon Factor system — while age, treachery, and money stand ready to pick up the pieces and put them together as an even worse system.
So the nuke seems to me to lead to an oppressive police state at best and a bunch of wars at worst. (Look how people reacted to 9/11 and multiply by 100).
So let’s instead think a bit about the gradual formal dissolution of the federal government, and heroically handwave away all the difficulties of transition.
I’m totally open to the idea that the United States is “too big” and that it ought to instead be some number (3? 10? probably not 50) of smaller countries. The federal government certainly gets up to a lot of terrible things, though we probably disagree on which things, specifically, are terrible. The catch is that your state/local government is constrained from doing terrible things by the federal government as well.
Consider – maybe you don’t like American foreign policy. What would New Texas’s foreign policy look like? Or if you do think America should be more interventionist, do you think New Texas can handle the world’s problems without the support of New England and Montival?
Maybe you think the government is trying to oppress your religion, which is dominant locally. Are you ok with your coreligionists becoming *way more oppressed* in the more hostile parts of the country?
Taxes too high? Federal government too corrupt? Do you really think these issues will be better after your regional government takes over the federal government’s functions?
and so on.
In the end, if you handwave away the (enormous) transition costs, some people will be better off and some will be worse off. But you can’t just magic away the federal government and leave everything else unaffected, and it’s likely that you’d be very unhappy with whatever replaced the federal government.
This ignores nuclear weapons. Needless to say splitting up a country with nuclear weapons is a bad idea, especially if they get parceled out among the constituent members.
It’s happened once, and while I wouldn’t say the outcome was good, it didn’t lead to immediate nuclear armageddon.
If you are referring to the breakup of the Soviet Union, all of the functional nuclear weapon systems that remained of that polity’s arsenal were transferred seamlessly to the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Some major components of nuclear weapon systems, not usable in isolation, wound up in the physical possession of other nations, which were told in no uncertain terms from all directions to Give Them Back Or Else, and who lacking either allies or usable nuclear weapon systems had little choice but to comply. So, not quite the scenario Skinner was talking about.
But probably the most realistic scenario for any breakup of the United States. There will be a rump Federal Government somewhere, and it will have all of the old nukes that remain operational.
The alternate histories where e.g. Ukraine salvaged and rebuilt ex-Soviet nukes, or the future histories where e.g. the Republic of Texas restores the Pantex plant and builds its own, I’m guessing a good fraction of those timelines have a substantially enhanced background radiation count.
Of course, when the federal government does bad things, everyone living within the nation is affected. If New Texas does bad things, only folk living in New Texas are affected
Unless they start a war. They could also decide that free trade isn’t working out too well and impose tariffs and export restrictions.
Would there even be free trade and freedom of movement among the now-independent States?
Since this goes in the #thingsiregretwriting file, let me officially disavow it. The nuke scenario is obviously a bad one, not least because it handwaves too much away (a lot changes depending on whether the nuke is dropped by Al Qaeda or China).
The point I was attempting to get across is that even though I am doing well in the current system, I find the government significantly more of a hindrance than a help. And now that the left has focused primarily on the politics of rubbing noses in it, I feel unrepresented by it as well, so both my practical and moral allegiances to it are substantially weakened.
For somebody who isn’t doing well under the current system, I’d have an even harder time making the case for their allegiance. They are right to believe that their rulers view them with disdain. Washington is experienced similarly to a foreign imperial power in many parts of America, and while you can claim (just like every other imperialist in history) that you are keeping the peace, that chaos would follow your withdrawal, and really you know what’s best for the natives, there are very few nations that don’t opt for self-rule when given half a chance.
“Washington is experienced similarly to a foreign imperial power in many parts of America”
I think this is really key: when blue tribers complain that red tribe hatred of Obama is excessive/crazy/pure racism, they rarely think in these terms. Yet it is clear many middle Americans think of Obama as “not my president.” The usual reaction to foreign occupation is not just mean bumperstickers, it’s blowing things up. It’s probably mostly the fact that patriotism is a red tribe value that keeps people from going there.
Ironically, Blue Tribe is supposedly all about acceptance–of everything but the outgroup, of course. But at the Oscars and the like they sent this message loud and clear–even as they complain that Red Tribers don’t respect the president–“you’re not us.”
So, is it Washington or Obama that is “foreign”?
Not always getting your way is an inherent part of democracy — and, more generally, an inherent part of peacefully coexisting with persons whose interests don’t always coincide with yours.
The parties currently in power in my country aren’t a perfect match for my personal political preferences, but if I said that only my “patriotism” prevents me from going on a violent rampage — well, I think that would be a little crazy, actually.
So, is it Washington or Obama that is “foreign”?
Why not both?
Obama made it quite clear from the outset that he was not “one of us” which on it’s own probably wouldn’t be much of a problem. But when you combine it with a dramatic broadening of the government’s ability to effect peoples’ daily lives, it starts to look a bit more threatening.
Likewise I would suggest that it isn’t patriotism” prevents me from going on a violent rampage So much as I value law and order so I will make a good faith effort to obey the law even if I disagree with it.
That said, if sense that the government is not acting in good faith were to become widespread I would expect an outbreak of “Irish democracy” where non-compliance with the law becomes the new “normal”.
“Not always getting your way is an inherent part of democracy”
But so, too, is feeling like you are being ruled by people who, while they may not always agree with you on every particular, are nonetheless like you in the sense of having some shared cultural assumptions.
The cultural divide between red tribe and blue tribe in the US has been rapidly widening since about 2000. At a certain point it feels like you are being ruled not by people with whom you have a good-spirited disagreement on some object-level issues, but by people who are just not “you,” at all.
(Of course, I think the illusion that “we” can “rule ourselves” created by democracy is always fallacious at any size above that of a smallish town, but even granting democracy the possibility that “self rule” by a large group of people is possible, there is a prerequisite that there be such a people–i.e. a group with some shared values and assumptions; otherwise you just have warring factions in uneasy alliance, which is different from democracy as ideally conceived).
And it’s not just red tribe feeling alienated by blue leaders: how many blue tribe members threatened to move to Canada if Bush got reelected, or if Trump gets elected? And though few will probably follow through, many of them are also not joking. To say “if the other side wins the next election I’d rather stop being a citizen of this nation” is to say, essentially, that the other side is so far from being able to represent your interests that it feels alien to you.
An oft-ignored corollary of “if the other side wins I’m moving to Canada”: if your side is so different from the other side that you’d feel fundamentally disenfranchised if they won, why then, should you expect the other side to respect your leaders if you win?
Ugh. For a lot of Blue folks, Obama was the very first president who felt like he was “one of us”. And we weren’t constantly going on rampages though the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Reagan/Carter/etc years in spite of our alleged lack of patriotism.
“we weren’t constantly going on rampages”
Why not? Because you were confident that you would get your turn eventually? I don’t mean that facetiously. If, going back to Carter, you never truly felt represented by this government until Obama, why do you still believe in it at all? Are you really satisfied with a government that represents you 8 out of every 40 years?
My best guess is you are defining “one of us” much more narrowly than I am. I’m not saying all the politicians need to feel like your circle of friends in order to represent you (and believe me, I understand the sentiment–culturally, I am mostly blue tribe and an academic–I know the excitement of getting to have a professor president for the first time since Woodrow Wilson). But there’s a big difference between “Bill Clinton doesn’t really feel like ‘one of us,'” and “these people literally feel like a foreign occupation force.”
But let’s say having a really big democracy inherently means there are decades where you feel like you are being ruled by a foreign oppressor. You get your turn eventually, but there are whole decades where you feel the whole government is being run by and for people very much unlike you and is pushing alien values down your throat.
This seems to me like it is, in fact, the reality of a very large democracy. Which is why I’m against large-scale democracy. It sounds to me like: “ugh, I hate the style of clothing the fashion czar has chosen for our national uniform the past few decades, but I’m sure one day I can vote in a fashion czar I like.” Why not just let everybody buy their own clothes?
Where’s the “rampages” thing coming from? Who’s going on rampages, or even suggesting it? Even my poorly chosen hypothetical wasn’t actually proposing that I would like to nuke DC.
I think the point is that, under the Bush presidency, “red tribe” people didn’t feel alienated from the national government.
At least where I grew up, a large number of people had “W: The President”, “W: Still the President”, and even “J: The Savior” and “S: The Coach” stickers on their cars. People absolutely went along with the “freedom fries” thing and often suggested that people opposed to the Iraq War were traitors.
You may not like the size of the federal government; I don’t either.
But it’s sort of absurd to say the country is coming apart at the seams when we’ve probably got the most integrated political culture that we’ve ever had. As Larry Kestenbaum points out, at no other time has everyone’s focus been so directed toward the national level.
And we’re not at all seeing more real political discord than we have in the past. Do you think Trump voters feel more alienated than Democrats did at the 1968 convention? Do you think Republicans today feel more alienated from Obama than the New Left felt from Nixon? Are major political leaders being assassinated left and right?
It may all be madness, like adopting a national “fashion czar”. But just because you think it’s crazy, doesn’t mean that the population as a whole isn’t invested in the concept of America as a nation for which it’s very important to set a common policy.
@Jaskologist — I don’t think this is supposed to be a Godzilla rampage so much as a Calvin and Hobbes rampage: there is this meme that failing to quickly come to a consensus on e.g. the budget, or saying “no” to too much of the stuff that the President proposes, represents some kind of tantrum, dereliction of duty at the very least.
I think this says some interesting things about how our political culture’s evolving: a shift away from care/harm rhetoric and toward loyalty and dignity, traditionally the provinces of the Right.
“got the most integrated political culture that we’ve ever had.”
Really? Are we… both talking about the United States of America? I mean it’s not the most disunited it’s ever been. That would be the 1860s… but it also seems far from the most united. And when I say “united” I don’t mean agreeing on object-level issues; I’m referring more to a sense of broadly shared political-cultural assumptions.
Of course, there is also the human tendency to always feel like everything is about to come apart at the seams. So I realize things could be a lot worse. I do, however, think the political culture has gotten a lot more polarized and divisive in my lifetime.
Re. W: I’m not sure what you’re getting at. I never implied there weren’t a lot of red tribe people who thought W represented them.
The most centralized political culture, I’d buy that, but integration is a slightly different thing.
but integration is a slightly different thing.
Integration is not, as anyone who lived through or has read the history of the 1960s can attest, necessarily a peaceful thing.
No matter how much Red and/or Blue may or may not like it, we do have a very integrated culture. Red Tribe sees e.g. all the abortions happening in California as an abomination upon our land that must be stopped, even as all the abortions happening in Europe are, meh, wrong but someone else’s problem, and even though Red Tribe mostly doesn’t live in California. And Blue Tribe, from its safe coastal enclaves, sees gun violence in Texas as a shameful thing that Must Be Stopped even as gun violence south of the border in Mexico is, meh, wrong but someone else’s problem(*). Both sides may look to Washington and see corrupt, unresponsive government leading the country to ruin, but those are our corrupt government officials, and that’s not the same thing as a bunch of foreign invaders.
We are, as a nation, integrated. The window of opportunity for Red Tribe to do its own thing in Texas while the Blues do their thing in California is long closed.
* Unless they can blame it on Red Tribe, of course.
@ John Schilling:
Exactly what I meant.
“but those are our corrupt government officials, and that’s not the same thing as a bunch of foreign invaders.”
Interesting. On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense and is actually the logical consequence of the centralization impulse I deplore. It is the result of the centralizers fundamentally winning again and again over the past century, I’d say.
Yet I also totally understand what Jaskologist means by DC feeling almost like a foreign occupation force. I guess the two things are in tension: long history and tradition plus multimedia, globalization, and centralizing trends on the one hand, but a somewhat more recent yet growing dissatisfaction with many of the above on the other.
@Jaskologist “Rampages” was a response to onyomi’s statement about how the natural response to foreign occupation is blowing stuff up.
Well, that is how people tend to respond to occupying forces in North Ireland, Sri Lanka, the Middle East…
I am probably going too far in imagining that we are at all near that level of alienation from the federal government, but then, there is that Last Psychiatrist piece…
I also, weirdly agree with Vox and John Schilling that we are “integrated” in the sense of thinking it is our business if an abortion or campus shooting happens 7 states away from us, but I also think cracks are beginning to show in that.
There’s no contradiction: the increased centralization is the problem. If everybody has to have the same policy, everybody is going to want it to be their values imposed on everybody else. And since we are extending the reach of that centralization into more and more aspects of life, people will feel other values being forced on them in more and more ways. We meddle and we haven’t the right.
There’s no getting out of this problem, though.
If you’re walking down the street and see a woman being attacked by a rapist, don’t you have the right to “meddle” and come to her defense? Even if you’re in a different city or a different country?
Injustice is injustice, and you have the right to put a stop to it, no matter where it’s taking place.
Pretty much everyone thinks people should be left alone to “practice their values” and live their lives the way they want, so long as they aren’t causing any harm. The difference of opinion comes in regard to what they consider to cause harm.
The fact is that some people see laissez-faire capitalism as a system of injustice, while others see anything but laissez-faire as a system of injustice. Some people see the right to have an abortion as the right to commit murder, while others see it as part of a woman’s natural right to control her own body. These views are inherently in conflict with one another; what one side sees as its rightful liberty, the other sees as impermissible license to oppress the weak and innocent.
I’m not saying that these questions are subjective and that there are no answers; I’m saying that we cannot determine what we should do independently of the answers to these questions.
Agreed, which is why the invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam was not just morally justifiable, but morally obligatory.
I’m honestly not sure if you’re being sarcastic.
Either way, whether it is morally permissible and/or obligatory depends on the consequences. I do think that any relatively free country has, in some sense, the right to go around and topple any oppressive dictator it wants. In other words, those dictators don’t have some sort of sovereign right not be interfered with.
But the free country also has the responsibility to do so in a manner that will actually be effective and productive of a better outcome. If you see a woman being attacked by a rapist, it’s not morally permissible to throw a hand grenade at them.
So you may theoretically say, “Abortion is murder, but making it illegal in New York City would cause so much conflict that it would do more harm than good.” However, to show this would be a very serious burden, with the presumption being in favor of stopping it, if indeed it is murder.
Was the ending of slavery and the preservation of the Union worth the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the Civil War? I think so, but it’s not too hard to argue that the greater good was for the North to surrender to Confederate demands. In any case, that sort of pragmatic refusal to intervene is very different from refusing to intervene on principle.
If you’re walking down the street and see a woman being attacked by a rapist, don’t you have the right to “meddle” and come to her defense? Even if you’re in a different city or a different country?
By “rapist”, do you mean a drunken male college student responding consensually to the drunken women’s sexual advances, or do you mean a husband who is simply exercising his marital rights?
Also, if I’m a Saudi man walking the streets of Los Angeles and I see a sinful woman spreading corruption upon the land by wearing a miniskirt and bikini top, can I at least lash her until she covers up?
Injustice is injustice, and you have the right to put a stop to it, no matter where it’s taking place
Injustice is tricky to define except in the trivial cases like the one you were going for, the forcible violent rape of a woman by a stranger who dragged her off into an alley. And because that’s de jure illegal pretty much everywhere, it isn’t a terribly useful example here.
So what’s the actual rule to apply to less obvious cases?
1. Obey the laws and customs of the land you are in, ignoring the marital rape in Pakistan but stepping in to stop drunken consensual sex in Berkeley?
2. Obey and enforce your own rules, the core moral ones at least, which you know to be right no matter where you are? Might get you shot by the LAPD, but the degenerate people of California will have no claim to moral superiority.
3. Obey and enforce the moral code of Western Liberal Democracy Before The SJWs Messed It Up, which is the One True Morality that should be applied everywhere?
I’m not sure if I’m being sarcastic. But I think it well illustrates why I like the comparison to imperialism. I don’t think there’s much difference between these cases in principle.
(Practicality being a whole other matter.)
As I just got done writing elsewhere in this comment section, this is just categorically, unequivocally false. If you really believe this, you are deluding yourself.
A substantial majority (64%) of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. This includes majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
(The following are from 2014, but I don’t think the numbers have changed much, and they’ve been in that general ballpark for the past 6 years or so.)
53% think neither party represents the American People.
37% of likely voters fear the federal government, and a majority (54%) consider it a threat to liberty rather than a protector.
19% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed.
I don’t think ANY of those numbers mean what you think they mean. Answering those questions in a negative way is pure my-tribe signaling.
If a given tribe’s identity includes signalling “our rulers do not represent us, they do not have our consent, they are a threat and doing things we don’t want done,” how is that substantially different from that tribe “seeing DC as a foreign imperial power”?
Larry Kestenbaum says: this is just categorically, unequivocally false.
While I do believe that Jaskologist is exaggerating a bit, I don’t think he’s exaggerating nearly as much as you say.
I live in the Imperial valley of California, but work takes me into San Diego and LA on a regular basis. Going from one to the other definitely feels like going to a different country, and I say that as someone who spent a good deal of his youth overseas. People talk different, social norms expectations are different, and have different shared experiances/ideas about history. There are even border patrol checkpoints on the I-8 and CA-78 heading East. When LA Water and Power puts the squeeze on the valley it certainly feels a bit like a foreign power to me. The idea that folk in the Midwest might feel the same way about Washington or the coasts does not seem like that much of a stretch.
Over time the scope of my interests has widened (I think that this isn’t uncommon?), starting with investigations into individual ethics a several years ago, to reading about how groups function (psychology, sociology), and recently my interests have been pointing toward government, statecraft, and political science (where will I go next I wonder?).
Of the latter categories I’ve read some of the famous foundational works (Wealth of Nations, Communist Manifesto, …); though interesting, many are quite out of date. I was wondering if someone could point me toward books or textbooks (or something else that works) that give both historical and modern examples, and delve into the details. It seems to me that so far I’ve only really learned about the ideals, intentions, hopes, grievances, and some of the symbols of concepts like democracy, socialism, communism, fascism, etc., like trivia. I’m more interested in how these concepts are implemented.
For example, I’d be interested in something dedicated to the various forms of democracy, getting into different forms of representation and elections. I’d be less interested in a book detailing how certain democracies were historically formed, and the people who were involved. So more theory, less history. Thanks!
Caitlyn Jenner has endorsed Ted Cruz and offered to be his “trans ambassador”, which I find amusing and many people are finding outrageous or offensive.
Quite amusing; he’s stated before that he gets much more flack from Hollywood types for being a Republican than being trans (unsurprising, but still depressing; heterodox Hollywood is not happening any time soon).
Anyone know if that XKCD survey from last year ever come of anything?
google -> explain xkcd: 1572 -> reddit
According to my research, Randall crashed GoogleForms when he tried to download a wazzillion petabytes of submission data or something.
SSC readers who changed your legal name, especially to one specific to the same gender, how satisfied are you with the result? Was it worth it? Did you end doing it more than once?
Is MIRI or its peers looking at the likes of this?
Because I think this is where AI will arise; not from tootling around trying to create smarter-than-human computers, but from refining and feeding in even more data and gradually turning over more and more analysis and recommendations to the specialised programmes we develop.
Precisely. And as Watson (or whatever replaces itself) proves its efficacy over time, gradually instead of assisting the doctor, it will replace the doctor for routine monitoring/procedures. Instead of helping, as in “With cancer care, Watson can help a medical professional develop a personalised care plan based on case notes, doctors’ notes, and medical literature”, Watson will take over developing personalised care plans itself.
Because no single human or even team of humans will be able to crunch the data so fast and so efficiently. Oh sure, the lead oncologist will look over the plan to make sure it’s not recommending the equivalent of “feed the patient red lead”, but eventually? The consultant will be an adjunct to Watson, not vice versa.
And that is how we’re going to turn over routine running of tasks like power generation and oversight of stock exchanges and everything else to our servants, and then we get Forster’s “The Machine”.
And then Watson and Siri and whatever Google and Amazon and Microsoft call their personal assistants they’re hyping all over the place these days will start fighting one another because they’ve decided that their rival AI assistants are the main obstacle to assisting humans the way they are programmed to optimize.
Tool-AIs aren’t considered benign. I’ve seen essays warning that a sufficiently smart tool-AI is equivalent to an agent-AI (i.e., Google Maps AI sounds good, until it starts building bridges to shorten the distance you have to drive). And a tool-AI applied to certain tasks, like “conquering the world,” is still terrifying even if a human is completely in charge of what the AI is doing.
But I don’t think simply allowing AIs to handle mundane tasks is something that MIRI is worried about. If the AI truly is better at the task than a human (truly, as in “Study shows that robot-run hospitals have 90% fewer patient safety errors,” not “Mad scientist says robots are cooler than human doctors.”), then why shouldn’t we?
Yes, someone will die when Watson goes crazy and orders a drug overdose for the patient and no human doctor thinks to stop it. But on the other hand, patients already die when a half-asleep human doctor orders the wrong meds and there’s no computer there to stop them. If our biggest problem in the future is “The AIs have solved all human ills except for a couple pesky bugs,” I would consider that a win.
And really, as long as Foster’s Machine doesn’t try to disassemble Earth and turn it into more computers, that’s a good outcome by MIRI standards.
Trump’s healthcare reform agenda: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/healthcare-reform
How much does publishing prices matter if hospitals are not forced to actually charge the same price to cash-paying and insured patients?
Not gonna lie. Dude may be insane on the stump, but that’s actually a pretty solid list of reforms.
Related directly to your question, the problem I’ve had and have brought up before isn’t with whether or not they’ll publish a price. Since many procedures require some advance payment anyway, they’ll quote you a price. The problem is when you pay the price, then five months later they send you a new bill saying that wasn’t actually the price and they’re charging you more. That can only happen with insured prices, not cash prices. The transparency problem seems to be on the insurance end more than the provider end.
The key thing, IMO, is to at least publish what things will cost if you *don’t* have insurance.
To take one example I’ve read out of many similar healthcare-cost horror stories floating around the internet:
– Woman goes to hospital with ankle problem
– Doctor suggests use of a boot, i.e. something like this thing you can get from Amazon for $40
– Hospital offers to provide boot, is unable to quote the price, everyone assumes insurance will pay for it
– Woman’s insurance refuses to cover boot, hospital bills woman full price for it, which is over $900
If that woman had been able to find out in advance what the hospital’s full price was, I guarantee you she would have refused the hospital-provided boot and done her own shopping around. Multiply by large numbers of people and a whole variety of non-emergency services and equipment, and there’s suddenly actual economic pressure on hospitals to cut that sort of thing out.
I’m a comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy nerd nearing 40. I’ve read at least 15 books a year since I was eight, when I read The Hobbit, averaging probably twice that, and I’ve read thousands of comic books. Worm is hands down the best literary implementation of the superhero genre. It should be edited heavily – you can feel the effect the deadlines have, how the rhythm of the writing made certain parts too long, and most of all that this is the first real full-scale work of the author. This does not take away from the fact that as there is a well thought out setting, plenty of good characters (and a couple of ones that are absolutely fantastic), the world-building is top notch, and most of all that you can absolutely feel the love that went into the work.
Cut down to two-thirds the length, and with extra care given to word choices, this is the best job at creating a superhero setting that has been done in decades, and may possibly surpass the comic-book medium’s examples altogether. It has so many things that are a love story to comic books; the first person perspective, the tragic backstories, the load of teens involved. Only these things are actually necessary due to how the world works.
Of course… all of this wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t so damn engrossing once you get into it.
Quick question based on the early discussion of rationalists’ tastes in fiction: Do people in this community tend to like the art that’s considered both speculative and “serious”? I’m talking the academia-approved (or at least not scorned) stuff like 2001, Solaris, Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, etc.
Philip K Dick is probably my favourite Sci Fi writer, by far, but I’m pretty sure it’s not for the same reasons it’s considered “serious” speculative fiction.
I like PKD and some earlier Clarke; Clarke is exceptional when he’s sticking to hard SF, but later in his career he started leaning too heavily on mysticism and social-science speculation that he’s not very good at. (Childhood’s End might have been the turning point.) Vonnegut’s too misanthropic for my current taste, but I ate him up when I was younger and more susceptible to that sort of thing. Haven’t read Solaris or any other Lem.
But if we’re talking about writers who’re both speculative and “literary”, the guy that comes to mind is Gene Wolfe, who may be my favorite living author. Imagine Jorge Luis Borges crossed with Jack Vance.
Speaking for myself, I sometimes like “serious” stuff, and I sometimes like speculative stuff. I also sometimes like “serious” speculative stuff, but I don’t think art that’s in both categories is more likely to appeal to me than art which is in only one.
I like PKD and Wolfe for relatively contemporary respected scifi-fantasy. Vonnegut seemed really juvenille to me when I read some of his stuff, didn’t continue on. Been meaning to read Borges, but I greatly dislike the Latin America magical realism stuff I’ve read for school, so have been putting it off even though I realize they’re probably not the same thing.
Trust me, Borges is way better than your average high-school Latin American magical realism. He’s incredibly deep, in a mathy kind of way — if I’m paying attention, I find something new every time I reread one of his stories. And if you’d prefer something a little less abstract with that, you can always pick one of his stories about gauchos getting into knife fights.
(Well, One Hundred Years of Solitude was pretty good, though everything’s twice as good when you’re not being forced to wring out five-paragraph essays from it. But Borges is better.)
You have convinced to revisit them, at some point. The to-read list is ever-increasing!
A good way of explaining it for LW types would be: Borges is like Hofstadter, but with philosophy replacing math and computer science. In the same way your typical Hofstadter dialogue is full of hidden allusions to e.g. recursion, set theory or Godel incompleteness, your typical Borges story is full of hidden allusions to e.g. Plato, Spinoza or Schopenhauer.
(A difference is that Hofstadter is fundamentally a computer scientist and, besides plain having fun, is didactally explaining these concepts. Borges is fundamentally a sceptic and, besides plain having fun, is subverting and implicitly criticising traditional philosophy by making it the center of a literary game.)
Can recommend Borges, in Spanish if possible, but still great in English too.
Was also meaning to learn Spanish first, how is the level of Spanish required to read Borges?
If you’re starting from scratch, probably high enough to not make it worth it to wait until it’s good enough… Then again, I’m not a very “aesthetics of the prose” kind of guy, so maybe it is worth it.
For what it’s worth, I’m currently reading Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner which (though I don’t think he’s correct on some specific points of French pronunciation) seems so far to be a reasonable stab at a rationalist’s guide to learning languages.
I don’t think 2001 was anything like Clark’s best work.I do think Childhood’s End was amazingly effective as a literary experiment that no one noticed– no character’s decisions make a bit of difference, and yet it’s very engaging. When I first read it (as a rather bitter child) I thought the human race had transcended. As a more cynical but less bitter adult, I think we were eaten.
I couldn’t make it through Solaris.
I liked Vonnegut, then decided he hated human competence, then more recently reread Cat’s Cradle and was amazed at how he got the pieces to fit together.
I was a Dick fan for a long time, and then sort of drifted away from him. I’m not sure how his work would look to me now, but he at least gets points for wild inventiveness.
I would appreciate it if academe or somebody would give me a framework for talking about quality of world-building, and I’m not talking about the logical consistency so much as the vividness (or lack of vividness) of images. And the relationship between vividness and consistency.
I’ve always preferred “Rendezvous with Rama” to “2001”.
My reading of it was that we were eaten, but the author was trying to sell us on the idea that it was transcendence.
Yeah, that was pretty much my review of the book after reading it recently. Cthulhu sends demons to fatten up lunch, lunch gets eaten, demons get sent to prepare dinner.
Why is this shit lauded as some kind of masterwork?
Kindly point and laugh at the replies up the chain. I’m mildly upset. https://twitter.com/CoronaCoreanici/status/705146864606318592
Was this a continuation of something or it just popped up out of the blue?
Just popped up. Someone I was following retweeted.
Seems a little odd; it appears to conflate (or identify) Rationalists with Bronies, and both with nerd-shaming.
Must have been the tail-end of a quarrel somewhere else, but it does seem odd as a random tweet – why would the retweeter approve of saying “Rationalists are all child-men living in their parents’ basements and incapable of getting a job, a girlfriend, and a life”? Especially in contradistinction to scientists?
Somebody’s ox got gored and they were hitting back!
Point and laugh? This is sad. The main thread down from https://twitter.com/AmyDentata/status/705126380061601792 is basically talking about some group of people who self-identify as rationalists and don’t seem to have anything to do with the lesswrong kind of rationalism. Idiots ruining a label, and this person decided to amplify that association to their followers.
So, who are they talking about? Apparently, it’s someone on YouTube complaining about hugboxes and identity politics… Thunderf00t?
“basically talking about some group of people who self-identify as rationalists”
This group seems to intersect with “sceptics” i. e. people who rather indulge in the bashing of “pseudosciences” than getting anything done whatsoever.
“and don’t seem to have anything to do with the lesswrong kind of rationalism. Idiots ruining a label,”
Then again “lesswrong” in its implied humbleness (which seems a bit out of character?) is a much better label than “rationalism”. Unlike “lesswrong”, “rationalism” does not convey, that we are talking about an unobtainable ideal.
Personally I get the impression that rationalists, both of the sceptics and the lesswrong brand tend to underappreciate the implications of being locked into a human brain. Coincidentally this might be a driving force beheind the rationalist interest in transhumanism.
“This group seems to intersect with “sceptics” i. e. people who rather indulge in the bashing of “pseudosciences” than getting anything done whatsoever.”
That applies to most people who are members of a cause. The abolitionist movement had a significant amount of people whose contribution was agreement, signing petitions and wearing buttons.
“Then again “lesswrong” in its implied humbleness (which seems a bit out of character?) ”
“Personally I get the impression that rationalists, both of the sceptics and the lesswrong brand tend to underappreciate the implications of being locked into a human brain. ”
Links following up on the piece about Trump followers being uniquely authoritarian. I got them by asking MacWilliams rather than using google fu.
I think this is the regression tables
not sure whether this is very different from other articles
overview of authoritarianism in American politics, has a magificent top illo
How does any of this differ from Tea Partiers complaining about the Bush/Cheney’s money grabs or Republicans as a group complaining about Obama’s threats to “Bypass Congress” on Gun Control and Immigration.
What makes Trump so special?
Why is Vox suddenly so interested in separation of powers?
The American left’s response to Trump is a small mystery to me. Policy-wise he’s probably further left on average than anyone else on the Republican field, immigration aside. I’m not saying they should love him, but if someone handed me a list of his policy leanings (insofar as they’re identifiable) and no other information, I wouldn’t have predicted anywhere near this number of “literally Hitler” memes, dark mutterings about dystopian regimes, threats of moving to Canada, etc. that I’ve been seeing on my Facebook wall. Let’s not even talk about Tumblr.
All I can think of is that he breaks the rules of the game. For the better part of thirty years, if not forty, anything smelling vaguely of racism has been radioactive in American politics: not quite enough to instantly sink a policy, but more than enough to cede the moral high ground. But along comes Trump and his wall, and suddenly no amount of highbrow scorn makes a difference. The guy’s actually making headway, even among traditionally marginalized demographics, and clown-car analogies, cartoons about parasitic brain squirrels, etc. don’t seem to matter.
That’s got to scare the dickens out of a group that’s used to framing the national discourse however it wants, even if it doesn’t always win the ensuing argument. And it’s enough to almost make me like the guy, even if I disagree with him almost point for point on policy.
There have been a few incidents of violence towards outsiders at Trump rallies. Now you can expect some bad apples in a campaign this size. The troubling fact is that Trump seems to encourage it.
Now combine this with his oddly phrased disavowals of David Duke. Left-wing Kevin Drum and right-wing Jonah Goldberg independently reach the same conclusion: Trump wants to publicly disavow the Stormfront crowd without losing their votes.
No, this isn’t fascism, but this is closer to fascism than America has come in decades. But the left has been crying wolf at “fascists” for even longer and, well, Aesop was right.
Still looks like grasping at straws.
How much violence have Trump rallies had compared to, say, Black Lives Matters rallies?
your link (march 2nd)
” But as Weisenthal points out, Trump repeatedly said “I disavow, I disavow, I disavow,” without ever mentioning who he was disavowing. And since the reporters weren’t given mics, you really couldn’t hear what the question was about. You’d only know if you’ve been following this controversy.”
Another source (feb 29th)
“And I don’t mind disavowing anybody and I disavowed David Duke. ”
It looks like people are making stuff up about Trump.
Also- racism is not fascism. The Integralists are a thing and everyone who ignores them makes a Brazilian cry.
“How much violence have Trump rallies had compared to, say, Black Lives Matters rallies?”
BLM isn’t running for president.
>BLM isn’t running for president.
“The American left’s response to Trump is a small mystery to me. Policy-wise he’s probably further left on average than anyone else on the Republican field, immigration aside.”
Apparently so, and this Democrat would give him a nudge toward the GOP nomination, just in case of a GOP win. But we have plenty of Democrats to love who have those good policies as well as other good policies Trump opposes. So why bother defending Trump?
Otoh, a Republican voter who shares Trump’s “populist” policies (protecting Social Security etc) doesn’t have any GOP candidate to love. And hearing those policies advocated for in Red Tribe language, by someone who rejects other leftist ideas — is something for those Republicans to shout for.
I don’t find it mysterious that the American left isn’t defending Trump; I don’t expect it to defend anyone under a GOP flag in an election year. But I do find it (slightly) mysterious that it’s attacking him before all other candidates. This would be more explicable if he was the clear front-runner — though the apocalyptic tone’s still unusual — but it started long before he started winning primaries, when a lot of people still thought of him as a joke candidate.
This might not be true of all parts of the left, but it’s true of those I have any exposure to.
The American left’s response to Trump is a small mystery to me. Policy-wise he’s probably further left on average than anyone else on the Republican field, immigration aside.
And, the mockery started well before Trump became a serious contender. So neither his policies nor his power made him the top target — of Left, Right, media, or comedians.
What makes a top target is oddities easy to characture, or soundbyte-able phrases .. and/or perhaps lack of powerful friends.
I’m willing to take the other side, even at the risk of being called hysterical. It doesn’t have anything to do with racism and moral high ground, but it does have to do with willingness to break the rules of the game. I worry that there is a moderate chance that he would try to break the US government and a small chance he’d succeed. I’ve got friends that grew up in Venezuela, Russia, or even Israel. I know how precious a functioning government is — one where the rules can be pushed, sometimes twisted, but at the end of the day are still real felt constraints.
Some of his supporters don’t care, they think things so bad that it is worth breaking the system to get change. I think they are dangerous fools that don’t understand how good they have it. Some aren’t capable of seeing a system level argument, I don’t have much to talk about with them. Some, who may support him tepidly if at all but don’t see what the fuss is about. They think that once in the white house he’ll basically just become an ineffective president with some strange policy positions or be a playboy and not do much of anything. That he won’t try to do something like order the FBI to go arrest congressmen that insult him or the military to go bomb the Mexican capital building when they say they won’t pay for his wall. Then there’s those who agree that he might try something like that but think it’s no big deal as long he doesn’t get his way. But I think there’s already been a lot of damage done if it gets to that.
Could he really be any worse than the last two guys?
As I noted in my earlier reply, Bush fractured his own party, and the same people currently freaking out about Trump were rooting for Obama to bypass congress on Immigration.
I’m not buying this whole “breaks the rules of the game” angle.
@Brad – It seems to me that the system’s handling of Nixon made the system as a whole stronger, not weaker. That’s not a good argument for putting criminals in the White House, but on the (to me, fairly remote) chance that Trump tried to abuse his power in that way, I would expect Washington as a whole to process him like a pinata through a wood chipper. What’s to stop them?
“That he won’t try to do something like order the FBI to go arrest congressmen that insult him or the military to go bomb the Mexican capital building when they say they won’t pay for his wall.”
Both of those happen to be illegal and believe it or not the military have the right to refuse to obey unlawful orders. Trump may not be a good president, but I don’t see why he would do insanely illegal things given the fact he has managed to go through life and run a major business without doing insanely illegal things.
It seems to me that the system’s handling of Nixon made the system as a whole stronger, not weaker.
I would expect Washington as a whole to process [Trump] like a pinata through a wood chipper.
Yes. The Democrats ousted Nixon by threat of impeachment; the Republicans did impeach* Bill Clinton; and both sides already hate Trump.
* ie indict
I’ve read many analyses of the form “The Nixon impeachment caused Americans to lose their trust in government which lead to bad outcome x,y,&z.” Not sure I buy the causation but they have a point about the trust in government. That said, you have a good point about Nixon actually leaving and that showing that the impeachment process is real. But I don’t know about something like the military refusing the president’s orders — that seems like the kind of thing that we’d rather not have to test, ever.
Torturing the relatives of accused terrorists also happens to be insanely illegal. I’m not willing to play the “it’s all an act game”.
To be fair, the cause of people losing trust in the government wasn’t necessarily Nixon’s impeachment but rather the fact that he was an enormous crook.
And? I’m not saying it is an act. I’m saying that Trump will follow the law. I think Trump simply has no clue what the law is in regards to foreign affairs.
The American attitude towards government seems to have changed enormously during the Seventies — practically every metric you can think of has inflection points there — but I’m not sure Nixon was the cause.
“the cause of people losing trust in the government wasn’t necessarily Nixon’s impeachment but rather the fact that he was an enormous crook.”
Is it clear that he was any more of a crook than previous presidents, as opposed being less successful in not getting caught?
I heard a talk by someone who had been active in state politics at a fairly high level. He commented about what a shock the Watergate case had been. As he put it (not verbatim, since I’m going by memory):
“Everyone knows that we spy on them and they spy on us. But this time some bastard called the cops.”
That his positions, such as they are, outside of immigration are on the left of the Republican party (not saying much) and kind of centrist by US standards (again, not saying much), isn’t itself a counterargument against fascism.
Fascism, after all, was populist (for, at least, some people – eg, the NSDAP was populist, but only in the interests of those it considered racially acceptable). Germany under National Socialism had all sorts of welfare-state elements – but that welfare state was denied to oppressed minorities, and funded to varying extents by plunder from oppressed minorities and occupied territories: property confiscated from Jews deported to camps was distributed to others (often those with party connections), the standard of living in Germany was kept higher during the war than you might expect through messing with exchange rates in the occupied west and outright plunder in the east, and so on.
“Can’t be a fascist, because he’s more populist than the Republican establishment leadership” is a strange argument.
The problem is that a lot of people don’t know what fascism actually was, historically. Some people (and not just on the left) will throw the term around ridiculously.
It’s also not an argument I made. I think whether or not he qualifies as fascist by some definition is almost irrelevant, partly because hardly anyone knows or cares about the characteristics of fascism as a political movement (vs. as a boogeyman), and partly because, as you say, the term’s been thrown around too much to have much sting left.
I apologize; I phrased it sloppily – did not mean to say that was what you were saying.
To put things better:
Some on the left are saying “he’s a far-right wing fascist”. This is a strange claim on two counts. One, because he is to the left of the established Republican leadership on pretty much everything except immigration. Two, because the actual fascist movements in the 1930s had some policies that were essentially left-wing, economically speaking.
People who view fascism as “extreme conservatism” don’t know much about fascism. The whole “those who want to uphold the status quo are fascist pigs!” thing is historically ignorant, because neither the Italian Fascists nor the National Socialists were big upholders of the status quo.
So, people who say “he’s a fascist” or “he’s like a fascist” are making a decent point – authoritarian or semi-authoritarian “we need a strong leader who will cut through the red tape” populism is a big part of fascism. But they’re making the point without meaning to, or knowing why it’s a decent point.
And, given that some on the left have been calling every law-and-order, family-values economic conservative a “fascist” since whenever, it definitely has lost its sting.
That’s not a great report. Consider this bit:
That “OMG they think black people should be slaves!” is not the whole of it. The poll question was about executive orders and do you think they are/are not constitutional. As examples of executive orders, they gave the “freeing the slaves” part, yes, but also “interning Japanese-Americans”.
You could have said you didn’t approve of freeing the slaves by executive order if you think executive orders are an unconstitutional exercise of power, not because you think black people should be slaves. If you think executive orders are unconstitutional, then to be consistent you could say “no” to all the examples.
Equally, if you think executive orders are constitutional, then to be consistent you should have said you approve of the internment during the Second World War. However, I haven’t seen anything about “X% of whomever’s voters want to intern Asian Americans”.
A lot of people, of course, said they approved of nice executive orders (freeing the slaves) but not mean ones (interning American citizens). Which is no kind of joined-up thinking on political issues but at least signals virtue, right? “We only like the good use of executive orders, those are constitutional but nasty ones are unconstitutional! Or maybe they’re no kind of constitutional at all, but you know which are the nice ones and which are the mean ones because you can feel the warm glow in your heart! Which is totally different from the war-time situation where most people thought the mean internment order was a nice order instead!”
I can’t believe I’m trying to defend Trump supporters on the grounds that they’re not all racist bigots, but the splashy headlines about authoritarianism are not even any use as fish-wrappers if the premise is wrong because you misinterpreted the data.
Tragically, as a law student currently enrolled in a constitutional law course, a lot of very smart people quasi-seriously hold the position that “if it’s good, it’s constitutional, and if it’s bad it isn’t.” This operationalizes as “if it’s good, we stretch whatever provision we can find (usually either the commerce or necessary and proper clauses of Article I) to cover it, but if it’s bad we’re all-of-a-sudden going to turn into strict constructionists.”
Tragic indeed. Since it’s the spring term, I’m guessing 1L rather than 2. You can still get away!
I have a notion that the difference between left and right is whether the primary focus is on bad behavior by high status people or by low status people.
I don’t know whether this maps on to distant societies like Athens and Sparta.
It might mean that Communism became right wing almost as soon as it got into power.
If your theory of the political spectrum puts communism on the right, that’s a pretty serious problem with your theory.
Some of my left-libertarian friends consider communism to be right-wing, and they have plausible arguments for it, such as democratic planning exacerbating problems with status structures and reinforcing the power of social capital.
@ Nancy Lebovitz
I have a notion that the difference between left and right is whether the primary focus is on bad behavior by high status people or by low status people.
Well, that seems to fit my impression of some opinions I see various places, which bring in punishment of petty thievery, preventing welfare ‘cheating’ even on a tiny scale, and moral condemnation of poor single women who are careless about birth control … even when counter productive to saving public money. And I don’t see much condemnation of people who cause worse damage by oil spills, market crashes etc (even when the market manipulators do get convicted of a crime; where are the demands for them to get real punishment, or to be banned from such power?)
A fascinating Tyler Cowen post on What are the core differences between Republicans and Democrats? Very Hansonian. A few excerpts, though it deserves to be read in full:
Speaking as a Republican, this guy, er, doesn’t really get us at all.
I’m a Republican because I think by voting for them (somewhat delusionally) I can actually achieve practical effects in shrinking the size of government, or at least limiting its growth. “Preserving the status of traditional groups” enters into my thinking approximately 0% of the time.
How many Republicans does Tyler Cowen know?
Since even you admit that your thinking is “somewhat delusional” (and indeed Republicans actually haven’t been doing any government shrinking or limiting of government growth to speak of), Tyler Cowen is being charitable and assuming that thinking can’t be the real reason, or more Republicans would have recognized the obvious lack of track record and abandoned the party.
I don’t know that this is quite fair.
It seems to me that the Republicans are more likely to cut taxes than Democrats, and less likely to create new programs taking over vast new areas of the economy. Now, George W. Bush, as a “compassionate conservative”, was a bit of an exception on that latter count, but that provoked a lot of resentment among the Republican base and was a major factor leading to the rise of the Tea Party in 2010, wanting to overthrow the Republican establishment.
Republicans are also more likely to appoint Supreme Court justices who support a government of (relatively) limited powers.
And even Bush tried to privatize Social Security at one point. It didn’t pass, but he wanted it to.
Of course, a major part of the problem is when war fever takes over the Republicans, and they suddenly forget about small government.
The best option for restraining government is, of course, divided government, since both Republicans and Democrats have their own things they want to spend a lot of money on. but when government is divided, neither of them get what they want.
>The best option for restraining government is, of course, divided government, since both Republicans and Democrats have their own things they want to spend a lot of money on. but when government is divided, neither of them get what they want.
Really? Because that’s not what I see at all. I see what happens as “Team A has a project, but it needs at least some votes from Team B to pass both houses. Team A offers the moderates of Team B a pork bribe. The huge bill plus pork passes, everyone seems confused that the national debt is so huge.”
Yes, that’s what should happen in theory. But in practice that’s not at all how it goes.
That would work except that both sides are universalistic in ideology (Democrats more so than Republicans). They don’t tolerate heretics living in peace according to their own rules.
@ Adam Casey:
That’s the problem with “bipartisanship”.
When the two parties hate each other, on the other hand, those huge pork bills are less likely to pass. Or at least they have a good deal less pork in them.
It’s totally unclear to me what “leaving the other side to live by their own rules” would mean in this context, since the country has to be governed according to some policy or other. Laissez-faire is a policy, too. If it’s imposed, the other side doesn’t get what they want.
Anyway, the point is not that they tolerate “heretics” and sing kumbaya. It’s that they don’t have the ability under divided government to get all of what they want.
>When the two parties hate each other, on the other hand, those huge pork bills are less likely to pass. Or at least they have a good deal less pork in them.
Really? The two parties hate eachother now more than they have in the recent past. Obamacare got passed. The recent budget got passed.
And surely if you need to bribe someone who hates you you’ll need a bigger bribe not a smaller one?
Divided government was a great theory. It failed utterly. Turns out that in practice you can’t stop politicians from making laws just with a clever constitution. Can’t fight incentives like that.
The government wasn’t divided when Obamacare passed, so that’s not a strike against the theory. The latest budget is, though.
Yes, Obamacare was passed under total Democratic control of the legislature and the executive. And Medicare Part D was passed under total Republican control.
The current spending deal shows that divided government is not sufficient for completely grinding the wheels of government to a halt and preventing spending that both parties support. But it doesn’t create any major new programs. No major new programs, in terms of spending, have been created since the Republicans took over Congress.
I mean, since 2010 they’ve actually adopted—not perfect, but better—rules against pork-barrel spending.
A good Reason article elaborates on my view by pointing out that a divided Congress worked much better for limiting spending than did either a unified Democratic or Republican Congress:
Hence the “Very Hansionian.”
The idea is that people that don’t experience or understand the full range of human emotion are really good at understanding human behavior. Because they aren’t blinded by emotion or something. Or maybe it’s not that they are very good at it, it’s just that they are good at signalling that they are very good at it to gain status. Or something. Hard for broken allistics like us to understand the 8 dimensional chess.
I think Cowen would claim that the parts of government Republicans actually cut are those that erode the status of what he calls traditional groups. He’d read the Republican position of, say, “cut burdensome regulation” as a way of supporting and extending the status of businesspeople. Conversely, as you note, Republicans often call for increases in spending in many areas and there’s generally a “traditionally important group” whose status is protected or extended by this. For example Republicans generally call for increases in military spending, which is a way of supporting and extending the status of soldiers.
Not that the status arguments are the *only* reason for these positions – but really, I think I agree with Cowen for most people the status argument is what matters and that people want government to do things that raise the status of their preferred groups and want government to stop doing things that lower the status of their preferred groups. Your typical Republican voter is not doing an analysis of US military capability and deciding to support US military spending based on said analysis; they start by thinking “yay soldiers” and everything after that is rationalization. As Robin Hanson says, “politics isn’t about policy.”
Republicans therefore tend to be the party of small government because the government currently generally does more to extend and protect the status of groups Democrats “like” / degrade the status of Republicans “like”, than the reverse. On issues where this dynamic is reversed, Republicans become the party of big government and Democrats become the party of more limited government (e.g. police power, immigration).
Obligatory disclaimers – obviously the same largely holds for Democrats too, obviously vast handwavy generalizations with lots of exceptions, etc.
For example Republicans generally call for increases in military spending, which is a way of supporting and extending the status of soldiers.
It’s hard to see how spending a trillion dollars on the F-35 “supports and extends the status of soldiers”. Unless maybe you’re counting fighter pilots as soldiers, but that’s a bit of a stretch – particularly when you’ve got a competing political movement to preserve the A-10 close air support aircraft over the objections of the USAF.
Any DoD spending at least incidentally “supports soldiers”, but there’s a whopping big chunk of it that is clearly being driven by the goals of maintaining real warfighting capability, defeating the bad guys with minimal soldier-type activity, and/or turning taxpayer dollars into defense contractor profits. There’s also stuff that is driven by soldier-glorification. And sometimes they overlap, because sometimes you actually do need the soldiers to fight wars and defeat the bad guys. So drawing the line is going to be hard, even with things like the F-35/A-10 debate to help define it. And this…
they start by thinking “yay soldiers” and everything after that is rationalization
…seems to me like someone started by thinking “Republicans stupid” and everything after that was a rationalization.
No expert on the subject, but I have read that there’s what could be viewed as status battles going on within the USAF (and, presumably, other air forces) between high-ranking officers with a fighter-related background and those with a bomber-related background. I’ve also read that one reason the USAF wants the A-10 phased out is that a mission of supporting troops on the ground is/is seen as subordination to the Army – again, could be seen as a status thing.
Spending on the F-35 isn’t about status. Saying “I support our fine men and women in the military, and that’s why I’m proposing a an across-the board increase in military spending, because our soldiers deserve the best” is. The politician wants the voter to feel: “that politician thinks soldiers deserve high status. I support soldiers too. That politician and I have similar values and I will vote for him.”
Regarding your second paragraph, I explicitly said “not that the status arguments are the *only* reason for these positions” which frankly I thought was too obvious to dwell on. But dwell away if you think there’s someone who doesn’t get it.
seems to me like someone started by thinking “Republicans stupid” and everything after that was a rationalization.
Voters don’t analyze or care about policy detail. I don’t think this is controversial nor is it the same thing as saying that they are stupid. And while the example given was about Republicans because the subthread is about Republicans, I explicitly said that “the same largely holds for Democrats too.”
If you’re going to insist on politically balanced examples you have lots of thread policing ahead of you.
Spending on the F-35 isn’t about status. Saying “I support our fine men and women in the military, and that’s why I’m proposing a an across-the board increase in military spending, because our soldiers deserve the best” is.
But that’s not what politicians actually say; that’s a caricature of what you think they are saying. Whenever I hear politicians talking about defense spending, even in sound bites, they are more nuanced than that and they usually steer clear of “…across the board” style blank checks. They are also, in my experience, at least as likely to justify spending on the basis of threats and/or capabilities than “soldiers deserving the best”.
The Republican electorate cares about the status of soldiers, but it also cares about defending the United States and its allies against their numerous and frightening (to Republicans at least) enemies abroad. I believe that most of the “status of soldiers” stuff in practice manifests w/re veterans(*). I believe that most of the politics surrounding DoD issues like budgeting, is about the threat stuff. The overlap between the two is not trivial, but I doubt it is more than a third of the total and I do believe you are greatly distorting things by trying to condense the politics of national defense into that framework.
* Often with a poor match to the actual interests of veterans
A good place to start is the Green Book published by the DoD Comptroller, but R&D isn’t actually a very big part of the defense budget, in spite of the spectacular total costs incurred by these long-running programs. You’ll see Procurement (which refers to intermediate-term needs expected to be consumed within five years) and Operations and Maintenance (which is immediate needs expected to be consumed within a year) are the bulk of expenses, with Personnel right behind. Much of procurement and O&M is just ammo, fuel, and repair parts. Developing mil tech isn’t cheap, but operating it and keeping it working once it’s been developed is quite a bit less cheap.
I don’t know what the exact breakdown is, but I can say from experience that a brigade-level combined arms gunnery event, which is executed twice annually by every heavy brigade in the force, costs about $4-5 million for about a two-week event, and that doesn’t include ammunition. I only ever paid for fuel and repair parts. Ammo comes from the Procurement appropriation and division-level budget people only control O&M.
EDIT: Since there’s a bit of a combative tone above, I should add that I’m not countering or augmenting any points anyone else has made, just adding information. I don’t care about the politics of this. I’m just stating the reality that just keeping our current military operational and trained is extremely expensive, regardless of the future direction Congress decides to take it in. Changing that would require drastic cuts. Congress already made pretty large personnel cuts. In fact, Personnel was the single largest appropriation just a few years ago. Truly cutting expenses would require not just cutting manpower, but permanently selling off equipment without replacing it and reducing actual activity, too. So far they mostly cut civilian support and got rid of a whole bunch of mid-level officers and NCOs serving in staff positions, without asking the front-line force to actually do any less.
Yes of course it is a caricature, indeed my 40ish words did not capture all the nuance that a politician might have included.
Let’s try again. The electorate may care about issues, but does not understand them nor does it care to. It therefore judges politicians largely on values. To the extent that a politician seeking votes talks about issues, it is in order to project values. A very great deal of values is about who you hold to be deserving of status and who you do not, and this cuts across almost all political issues. In any specific political issue, there are going to be other considerations as well – e.g. in the specific case of national defense, there is of a component of who you think needs to be deterred/killed/befriended/etc (though that ties back to values). So the details of each issue differ, but in almost any political issue, “whose status are we reinforcing” is going to a productive thing to consider.
I agree with you entirely that *policy* doesn’t really get set this way. “Politics isn’t about policy,” goes the Hansonian refrain. Conversely, often policy isn’t about politics. What happens when you actually are in congress and negotiating with other politicians over the details of funding is a different ballgame entirely – voters are basically going to be oblivious to the details of how a funding bill gets written, so other considerations will tend to dominate.
I’m not a Republican myself, technically still registered as a Democrat, but I’m reasonably socially conservative and know a lot of rural Republican types personally. I’d wager a guess that this,
, gets things almost entirely backwards.
Republicans generally think those places are functioning pretty well and that they should be allowed to continue functioning well. Aside from Neocons, who are a different kettle of fish, it seems like Republicans mostly don’t care about people being weird in distant places until there’s a risk of that weirdness spreading.
For example: NY state is solid blue on the electoral map, but Upstate New York is extremely rural and very red. Upstate folks love their guns and their God as much as anyone in Alabama. And the Republicans have controlled the state senate here continuously since the end of world war two, with two one-year upsets.
Yet you won’t really find much support, in the sense of actually being willing to push the issue, for making the city more like Upstate. The city is (in)famous for it’s libertine culture, dangerous streets, de facto gun ban and generally being the American Babylon. But so long as that stuff stays in the city and nobody starts coming after their Big Gulps or extended magazines the people up here couldn’t care less.
If there was a realistic offer of a Culture War ceasefire, a sort of ‘cuius regio eius religio’ where the States could do their own thing and the Fed mostly stayed out of local affairs, my feeling is that Republicans would jump at it and the Democrats would balk. That might just be because they’re losing at the moment, but it also seems sincere on the parts of people I talk to personally.
That sounds about right.
You accurately describe one half of the ceasefire demand, no input by a majority of citizens in how much of the state is run. The second half is the continued flow of tremendous amounts of money from the productive parts of the state to the non-productive parts. Upstaters sure hate NYC but they love spending its money. The demand is also that this flow of money be accompanied by silence so that upstate voters can continue to believe that they are being taxed to pay for NYC welfare queens instead of the other way around. In fact, in general it seems to a Red Tribe thing to be all in favor of government programs to benefit themselves and their areas but really offended by anyone that dares mention that in public.
Which programs do you have in mind?
Because yes, I’m pretty sure rural areas are going to be a lot more concerned with, and spend a whole lot more per capita on things like roads, power, and water infrastructure.
But then roads and power are not what most people are talking about when they talk about cutting government programs.
What the Right doesn’t take into account is that this sort of cultural ceasefire would also preserve Jim Crow in perpetuity if it were enacted circa 1950.
What the Left doesn’t take into account is that not every cultural disagreement is Jim Crow.
This is important and fixing it is a nontrivial problem since everyone wants to make their problem the most important in the world/minimize things that make them look bad.
“Leftists from the big city should stop interfering with how country folk want to live” sounds reasonable.
“Leftists from the big city should stop interfering with the way some country folk want to tell other country folk how to live, such as by cracking down on abortion” doesn’t sound so obvious.
A request for Scott: Can you ban Anonymous?
No, I don’t mean it like that. What I mean is, given that we’re obviously not going to get full anonymity back, can you at least forbid “Anonymous” as a name to comment with. As it is right now, even if you’re anonymous, you’re recognizable by your Gravatar (unless you change your Email every time ,which no one does, because, really, who has the time?), but it’s still kind of annoying when several Anons are commenting at the same time.
Ideally, I’d want full anonymity back, but like with the free market, these kind of half measures don’t make anyone happy.
I don’t want to have to choose a non-Anonymous name that will make it easy for people to remember me across threads.
But they will remember, and it’ll be increasingly easy as long as your opinions are not an incoherent mess and/or you have a distinct writing pattern. If anything, you could chose different handles for every thread, which would make conversation more convenient while making it actually more difficult for people to track you from thread to thread.
That being said, my preferred solution would be going back to not requiring an email (and therefore having people be mostly anonymous for realsies), but I assume there’s a good reason for it not to be that way.
Without the email entry I can’t comment from any of the local public wifi spots thanks to one of my neighbors being fond of posting stormfront copypasta from them.
I’m skeptical; do you really remember what I’ve posted before under this gravatar?
I could go back and search your posts, but I’ll admit I do not. However:
>I do remember your Gravatar.
>I think (and if I’m wrong, do correct me), that you’ve started posting here fairly recently.
>I am not a very smart person (unlike the average commenter), which means I probably haven’t participated in conversations you were in (since I mostly post memes and pray Scott doesn’t get fed up and bans me), and also probably skimmed over most of your comments.
Having to track someone’s mindspace using their gravatar, rather than their name, is a trivial inconvenience. It is an even greater inconvenience if they make up new fake email address every thread or whatever, and you have to track it by commonality of opinion.
>or you have a distinct writing pattern.
This is somewhat ameliorated in that most (almost everyone!) people here write with correct spelling and punctuation. You’d have to some kind of linguist to pick apart different people based on their writing style alone, barring the extreme cases of people who do have idiosyncratic styles (like Sidles – but he’s banned, largely for that reason).
I dunno, I feel like I could still pick out a post by Vox or Deiseach fairly easily.
“Gosh, where are all these references to local Irish politics coming from? And that Chesterton quote!”
“Surely, there must be another Liverpool fan among SSC commenters”
“Why is this anon writing usernames in bold?”
I dunno, I feel like I could still pick out a post by Vox or Deiseach fairly easily.
True, but those are very much not the target demographic of self-imposed anonymization. Additionally, posting under an anonymous handle is just part of the discipline to remove identifying data from one’s posts – it is often not sufficient. Ceasing to be a narcissist may well be required.
Note to self: curses! my cunning plan has been foiled by these pesky kids and their flea-ridden mutt! How they penetrated my disguise I have no idea, it must simply have been dumb luck.
I must adopt a different tone in order to blend in successfully with the others on this site. Ah! I have it!
Hey, fellow Americans since we are all Americans here! Golly gosh and gee whilikers, ain’t HPMOR the most rooting-tootingest finest work of fiction anyone ever produced anywhere ever, yee-haw?
There – they will never see through that! 🙂
Uh oh, I think Deiseach’s account has been hacked, this doesn’t sound like her at all!
‘Pseudoanonymity for me, not for thee’
There could just be a generic email that everyone who wants to be fully anonymous uses. I’m currently using email@example.com which is not my real email address, and I’ve seen someone else with the same Gravatar posting as ‘me’ so I guess it’s a Schelling point.
Hey, that’s a neat idea. If enough people adopt it, it’d be useful to deflect identification.
That sounds like a good way to make SSC less anon-friendly.
1. Many anons become indistinguishable.
2. One of the indistinguishable anons misbehaves.
3. Other users, unable to restrict their ire to a specific individual, dislike all indistinguishable anons a little more.
4. The 2-3 cycle repeats until the problem attracts Scott’s all-seeing eye.
5. Scott starts demanding real email addresses / unique names.
(Theoretically, the cycle can also go the other way — good anon posts resulting in diffuse positive regard, but it’s less likely in practice, as anon comments often contain “unpleasant truths” and drive-by snark.)
Anonymous misbehaviour doesn’t seem to be a big problem. There are only two in the banlist otherwise filled with uniques.
I change my email fairly often. Just type gibberish in the email box and delete a character every now and then.
Only reason I dont do it for every post is that when someone responds to me I prefer to not have to specify which previous posts were mine when participating multiple times in the same subthread.
I used to do this, but I think Full-Anon Mode (use of firstname.lastname@example.org) is mildly preferable.
Anyone else looking at the thread above, and wondering if “Whatever Happened to Anonymous” is repeatedly logging in under different addresses and having a conversation with himself just to have a little fun with us?
Is that not what’s happening?
Alas, at this point I must admit that I’m the one behind the sockpuppets.
Actually, most of the site is my sock puppets arguing with each other for Scott’s amusement.* I create new ones every couple of weeks to keep things interesting. No one has yet cottoned on!
*Except for David Friedman. He’s a real human being, I suspect.
Can confirm, I am one of your sock puppets.
Can confirm. I’m not.
Since it’s an open thread, I have a question for anyone involved in polyamory:
Is polyamory more like an open marriage or more like polygamy?
My view of the subject is based on reading the polyamory Usenet group many years ago, and the impression I got was the latter alternative–a reasonably stable network of a small number of individuals, with new members added rarely. A recent conversation with someone whose opinions were formed more recently portrayed it as the former alternative—a small number of people who have romantic relationships with each other but have sex with people outside that group whenever they feel like it.
Is monogamy more like dating or more like marriage? Polyamory is an umbrella term for a) the ability and desire to maintain romantic relationships with more than one person, and b) the various relationship arrangements set up by polyamorous people.
“the ability and desire to maintain romantic relationships with more than one person”
If all relationships are being maintained—long term rather than a one night stand or something close to it—it’s more like polygamy, less like open marriage.
If anything but one-night-stands is forbidden, the arrangement is lacking the “amory” part. But if the marriage is open to lovers or friends-with-benefits, it is a form of polyamory.
“the ability and desire to maintain romantic relationships with more than one person”
Of the people I know or have known well enough to bring this up in conversation I cannot remember a single one, who did not express this desire to some degree.
Wow. I do know a few mono people, myself.
Oh, and I probably should’ve included the ability to be OK with your partner having other partners. Relationship rules like “polyamory for me, but not for thee” are kind of a no-no.
One thing i wonder about is the effect of leaving your life open to destabilizing additions to the cast of characters around you. What happens when someone you love brings an asshole or a bitch into your life?
Also, if one of the partners starts hanging out with a new person, there’s always the potential that they will be converted back to monogamy. Since hidden preferences are unknowable, it seems there would have to be some associated anxiety?
When one poly seems to be falling deeper in love than they ever planned or wanted to, do the remaining partners band together as a matter of self-interest to shoo, or conversationally liquidate, the threat away? Or does it happen that the unjealous one instead alerts the potentially lovesick one that the third is making trouble?
What if your monogamous partner’s new best friend or long-lost brother is an asshole? What if your partner gets a random crush and decides that it must mean they don’t really love you?
IMO, the best thing about the polyamory community is the culture of open communication — if something is bothering you, the poly-approved thing to do is to bring it up in a non-confrontational manner. Sadly, the mainstream relationship culture (or the lack of it) often results in people either suffering in silence or going straight to accusations and demands.
Another thing poly people do is try to consider potential issues in advance, and think of realistic ways to avoid them or limit their consequences.
The general mindset required is a willingness to both accept your feelings and manage them, without either suppressing or blindly obeying them. E.g., “falling in love” with a new partner is referred to as “new relationship energy“, which helps everyone keep in mind that it’s a pleasant, but unsustainable feeling, which should be tempered with more long-term concerns.
Exactly. The desire was there. The ability, in terms of lets say emotional requirements, often was not.
To be fair, I would count concepts like “I imagine that it would be too much effort to make it work, so I’m not interesed in such things” as lack of ability, not lack of desire. It, to me, seems like an obvious ex-post rationalisation.
“I cannot remember a single one, who did not express this desire to some degree.”
I think it depends on what you mean by “desire.”
I’ve been married to my present wife for thirty years ago and have not slept with anyone else over that time. There is a sense in which I desire to—certainly I find younger women attractive and I occasionally imagine having an affair with one. But when I appeared to have the opportunity I did not take it, so in the economist’s sense of revealed preference I did not desire it.
I expect that most men, with the exception of those who are asexual, find the thought of sexual partners other than the one they have attractive. Is that all you mean?
“But when I appeared to have the opportunity I did not take it, so in the economist’s sense of revealed preference I did not desire it.”
Hm. You surely are more familiar with revealed preferences than me. My understanding is that you revealed an upper bound for what you are willing to pay for such an opportunity (in terms of expected negative consequences).
My point was more like that there is a non-zero willingness to pay in the first place. I. e. we approximately can translate desire into willingness to pay and strength of the desire into its magnitude (as measured in utils, naturally).
E. g. some people when faced with such an oppertunity might react like you did, but in the same scenario, if it were guaranteed that their spouse never found out might react differently.
“find the thought of sexual partners other than the one they have attractive. Is that all you mean?”
Assuming you imply [but would never act on such thought], I guess that is a subset of what I mean, but certainly not “all”. You might say that this is the lower bound to your upper bound, so yes, maybe I tricked my statement into being true by including the lower bound. But what I really meant to say is that in my sample the mean strength of the desire (by above definition) is way above the lower bound.
Now I’m writing it down this sounds equally trivial. The interesting point seems to be that the social standard of acceptable desires is very near to the lower bound.
I’m not sure how you get a clean division between cost and benefit.
You could say that the benefit of an affair is sensual pleasure plus a boost to the ego, the cost is the feeling of guilt and long run effects on the stability of a currently successful marriage.
Or you could say the benefit is sensual pleasure, ego boost, minus feelings of guilt, the cost … .
Taking your approach, you could say that I desire to jump out of an airplane without a parachute. It would be such fun for the first thirty seconds. That’s the benefit, everything else is cost.
My revealed preference shows that benefit minus cost is negative. That’s all revealed preference ever shows (or that it’s positive).
Like you said I depends on what one means by “desire”. On reflection. my conception of desires allows for a desire to be present but never revealed (i. e. intentionally kept secret) whicht admittedly collides with my own attempt to construct a more quantitative model.
What differenciates this from the skydiving without a parachute example is that it would come up more easily when queried for desires. (In the mind of the inquieree).
There is a difference between desiring something for its inherent properties, but not wishing to pursue it due to the package that something comes in, and not wishing to pursue that something because we do not want that something.
I want to eat this tub of ice-cream, but I don’t want to get fat, and I don’t want to get fat more than I want to eat it.
I don’t want to get cholera, because that’s awful in itself.
Recalling a previous monogamy discussion on this blog, I think that is the main point.
Is e. g. $hurting your partner$ an inherent property of $cheating$ or is it a side-effect that has more to do with the specific partner than with the abstract idea of cheating.
The line between these options seems to be closely corelated to the line between “mono” and “poly”.
“Cheating” is called that because it involves an ethical transgression — breaking the rules of the relationship, betraying your partner’s trust. Therefore, hurting your partner is an inherent property of cheating, but whether getting involved with another person is cheating depends on your relationship(s) with your current partner(s).
I’d say it is an inherent property. It’s not cheating if there’s no expectation of monogamous fidelity, like say, with a fuck-buddy, or within the confines of a polygamous marriage, or when not having a partner to begin with.
Tangentially, I’m somewhat surprised how mild that sounds in English – “cheating”. In my language it’s called “treason”.
But that is a semantics game you are playing there, and please be so kind to keep in mind that I’m not communicating in my first language here.
What I got from the previous monogamy discussion is that some people believe that if someone says e. g. “Go have relationships with other people, I’m happy for you” in his heart of hearts that someone has to be lying because being hurt is an inherent property of a partner having a relationship with someone else. The latter I shortened to cheating, not wanting to type it out, but it really does not matter how you call it.
Maybe I misunderstood, misremember or overinterpreted what people said there.
Well, back when a wife killing her husband was called “petty treason“, calling infidelity “treason” might have been rather confusing.
Sure — neither am I 🙂
I have seen such people, of course, but they are only a subset of all mono people — namely, those mono people who don’t know/believe that poly people exist.
So what you’re saying is the issue whether it will always hurt your partner when you have sex with someone else, regardless of circumstances?
“So what you’re saying is the issue whether it will always hurt your partner when you have sex with someone else, regardless of circumstances?”
Yes, in the light of what you or some other Anonymous wrote above about “inherent properties”.
“I have seen such people, of course, but they are only a subset of all mono people — namely, those mono people who don’t know/believe that poly people exist.”
A bit of a hyperbole, but: What I (somewhat) fail to see is how one could fully acknowledge the possibility that one loves their partner and be ok with the partner having other relationships and not immediately adopt that stance for themselves. (Thus becoming “poly”?)
The again I read up on Aumann’s theorem recently so maybe I’m shiny new hammering here.
I guess the missing premise is that people can be substantially different? Some love salmiakki, others don’t. Asexuals know that most people enjoy sex, but that doesn’t change their own sexuality. Parenthood makes some people happy, and others miserable.
Or, in rationalist lingo, “the utility function is not up for grabs“.
“I guess the missing premise is that people can be substantially different? Some love salmiakki, others don’t.
Or, in rationalist lingo, “the utility function is not up for grabs“.”
Nah. I’m aware of this and have preached it to others (in other places).
The philosophical question, very much related to our discussion, is, is there a limit to my (or human) awareness. Is the “typical mind fallacy” really a fallacy in the sense of the “post hoc fallacy”, i. e. we can reason correctly if we only try, or is it a fundamental limit to human resoning.
“Asexuals know that most people enjoy sex, but that doesn’t change their own sexuality. Parenthood makes some people happy, and others miserable.”
Point is, not being a parent, I can neither intellectually nor emotionally grasp the merits of parenthood, even though I am abstractly aware that some like it. This idea of course has a long history along the lines of “explaining color to a blind person”. I assume its similar for asexuals. More to the point, I was assuming that someone for whom the partner having other relation just isn’t ok will have a similar problem grasping how for some it is ok.
And again you might call my observation trivial. But the conclusion I was leap of faithing to, was that the difference between “mono” and “poly” is less about whether one desires other relationships (for an admittedly very loose definition of desire) and more about whether one can fully appreciate that this could ever be “not harmful”.
Ah, now I understand what you’re getting at.
I do think that “typical mind fallacy” is caused by a fundamental limitation of human — well, not reasoning, but intuitive understanding of others.
Basically, we intuitively evaluate the preferences and perceptions of others in three ways:
a) typical — “essentially like mine”
b) analogical — “they feel about X like I feel about Y”
c) alien — “I don’t get it”
a) “being mocked hurts, so mocking Scott would hurt his feelings”
b) “Scott loves Tom Swifties, like I love anti-jokes”
c) “Scott likes women, but not sex — I don’t get it”
However, although we can’t grasp what it’s like to be a person with substantially different preferences, we can still reason about it on an intellectual level, if we accept the self-reports of others as valid input.
(Even (b) is only semi-intuitive, as it uses low-level reasoning to get halfway from (c) to (a).)
The wiki says:
The utility function is not up for grabs
The constraints of decision theory are only there to help you win; they don’t specify what constitutes a win. Rationality in and of itself cannot constrain what you want, except insofar as what you thought you wanted failed to reflect what you actually wanted (or was just plain inconsistent). Hence the saying: the utility function is not up for grabs.
I Googled “up for grabs” but … what does “up for grabs” mean here?
“if we accept the self-reports of others as valid input.”
I’d like to add “self-report as opposed to revealed preferences”. Because that distinction got us into this subthread in the first place.
– I get self-reports of people desireing, by their own respective definitions of desire, relationships (mostly sexual) outside their current relationship not only in the abstract but often with specific others.
– David correctly objects that these self-reports do not match revealed preferences.
– However, I did never get any self reports about the desire to go skydiving without a parachute. So maybe there is something to the reports.
– Also, but this seems to be a sampling problem (cf. Adam below), I did not get self-reports about expressedly not desiring extra relationships as opposed to the negative effects.
– I did get such negative self-reports on the basis of “associated negative consequences”, and while I cannot distinguish this from the parachute case (that point goes to David), Anonymous’ concept of “inherent properties” tempted me to leap of faith to the conclusion that the line between “poly” and “mono” relates to whether one intuitively (for lack of a better word) thinks about the problem in terms of separable costs and benefits (like me) or in terms of an inherently connected “package” (like David, cf. parachuting example).
Is English not your first language?
Anyway, “up for grabs” normally means “available, obtainable, unclaimed”, as in “I’ve got three tickets to the ball game up for grabs!”
Yudkowsky is apparently using it in a slightly different sense to mean “debatable, negotiable, indeterminate”. It probably would have been more technically correct to say “up for debate”.
Interestingly, I have probably fantasized about skydiving (or BASE jumping) without a parachute about as much or more than I have fantasized about having sex outside my marriage.
The skydiving fantasy goes along the lines “if for some reason I was really certain that I wanted to die, throwing myself off a really high cliff would be a pretty fun way to die.” I am about as confident as I can be that I will never actually want to kill myself, but I can at least imagine a scenario in which I would jump without a parachute
On the other hand, while I find fantasies about having sex with other partners arousing, I cannot imagine a scenario in which I would ever do it. And this reticence is a property of me, not of my marriage! If in the future I marry a different partner (God protect us!) I am pretty sure I would still not want to have sex outside marriage even if they were into it.
The point being, how you ask the question might be important. If you were to ask me “do you fantasize about/find arousing sex with other people” my answer would be “of course,” but if you ask “do you desire sex with other people” my answer would be “never.”
Interstingly indeed. Well there goes my theory then 🙂
“There is a difference between desiring something for its inherent properties, but…”
What makes properties inherent? Why, in your example, isn’t the fact that ice cream contains calories which make you fat (and eating a whole tub will probably give you a stomach ache as well) an inherent property?
Doing something has effects, some positive and some negative. If your division is between positive and negative, than you “desire” anything with any positive effect, which doesn’t seem right. You want to make the division between inherent and not inherent, but it isn’t clear to me what that means.
The fact that cheating on my wife would make me feel guilty is, in my view, just as inherent a feature as the fact that a desirable woman wanting to make love to me would boost my ego.
” More to the point, I was assuming that someone for whom the partner having other relation just isn’t ok will have a similar problem grasping how for some it is ok.”
I don’t think that describes me. I have read fictional accounts of non-exclusive relationships that sounded attractive. And I’ve known people in non-exclusive relationships and not found it particularly puzzling.
I’m not even sure I couldn’t have enjoyed being part of a polygynous or polyandrous or polyamorous set of relationships. But I am in an exclusive relationship with a woman I love, I have a self-image which includes honesty, so there isn’t any way I could sleep with another woman that wouldn’t have very serious emotional costs for me, even if she never found out.
One consequence of which is that, in order to enjoy fantasies of sex with other women, I have to imagine myself as someone else, or in an alternate history where I’m not married, or set them before I was married.
What makes properties inherent?
The degree to which it is possible to separate them from the act/object while retaining what the act/object is.
For example, if you steal something, but don’t actually take or appropriate anything from someone else – is it still stealing?
Why, in your example, isn’t the fact that ice cream contains calories which make you fat (and eating a whole tub will probably give you a stomach ache as well) an inherent property?
The “getting fat” part is not only dependent on the ice cream and its consumption. It is also dependent on one’s metabolism and level of exercise. If you’re genetically predisposed for thinness and work in the mines all day, they’re not likely to get fat, even with a whole tub. Therefore, it is possible to separate the consequence of fatness from the consumption of the ice cream, making that a non-inherent property.
If the ice cream is some sort of advanced “no calorie food” that tastes good but doesn’t fatten you up (or cause diabeetus), then the negative consequence is removed from the equation.
Doing something has effects, some positive and some negative.
If your division is between positive and negative, than you “desire” anything with any positive effect, which doesn’t seem right.
Why not? Why shouldn’t one be an IRL munchkin?
Can we define “desire” [of an act] as the (irrational) ability to forget the negative consequences of said act while thinking of it?
There are times when you want to be a munchkin. But when you don’t, it’s usually because of opportunity costs.
Maybe I’m late in adding this and I sort of already said it below, but I’m not even monogamous and still have no desire to maintain romantic relationships with more than one person. I barely have the desire to maintain such a relationship with one person and it largely works because she’s just as asocial as I am and travels for work 25-50% of any given month. I’m fairly convinced at this point this is why my previous marriages ultimately failed. They wanted a lot more out of it than I did.
Depends on the person. I’ve seen both options within a single network — even within a single couple. There isn’t as far as I know any community-wide consensus on the subject, although as with all relationship questions you’ll usually get five strong opinions if you ask three poly people about it. There might be a slight bias towards the more stable model in practice, though, and a stronger one in theory and rhetoric.
I think age has a lot to do with this — the younger poly folks I know tend to have less stable networks, but relationships between younger people are less stable in general.
I think it encompasses both. Once you open up any part of a relationship I think the complexity of human emotions and behaviors makes it harder to categorize polyamory as one or the other.
I’m in an open marriage. ‘Open’ just means literally that, we’re open to the idea of having sex with other people, maybe together, maybe separate. So far, it’s only been separate and only a couple times. We’ve half-heartedly talked about going to sex parties, but we’re not very social and hardly go out at all anywhere.
I don’t in any way identity as poly and consider those people very different. I have absolutely no desire to maintain multiple ongoing relationships that involve some sort of actual obligation to a person. One is more than enough. It’s just that neither she nor I care about maintaining complete sexual exclusivity for 60 years.
It varies with the people involved. The same person might at the same time have a relationship to which they’re strongly committed, another more casual relationship, and have sex with other people without any kind of attachment. People have from 0 to a few primary relationships (0 and 1 being the most common) that are similar to serious monogamous relationships, 0 to several <a href="https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/secondary-partnerships/"secondary relationships, and some or no casual sex. To give some examples, some of them based on people I know:
* A, B, and C are strongly committed to each other. They intend to spend much of their lives together and raise their children together. C is also interested in less committed relationships on the side, but A and B are not. None of them are interested in sex outside of relationships.
* A and B are strongly committed to each other. They marry and intend to raise children together. Both of them also have more casual relationships and sometimes casual sex, but they’re only interested in one serious long-term relationship.
* A has secondary relationships with B and C and has no interest in forming a primary relationship in general.
* A is in a primary relationship with B. A is interested in forming secondary relationships (but doesn’t currently have any), and B already has several. Neither of them is interested in sex outside relationships.
Too late to edit, but fixed link.
Bryan Caplan offers a few updates on Myth of the Rational Voter for 2016. Highlights:
(3) totally ignores Trump’s attitude. Whatever his actual policy proposals, every time he opens his mouth, he obviously places himself in opposition to Blue Tribe political correctness norms. Being against illegal immigration is definitely important, but I think being against political correctness is far more important to the average Trump voter.
If the hispanic version of Trump is interpreted as a banana republic style strongman, it’s only because there are actual banana republics and actual strongmen in Latin America. So I don’t understand Caplan’s last point, the one Vox quotes in bold.
The nastiest server for Minecraft
One of the odder micro-nations.
This sounds very interesting. I may just have to check this out myself.
Scott, how did you get your super-lovely blog layout? I want a layout just like it.
Based on WordPress theme Pujugama, with a lot of modifications by me and Michael Keenan.
If you want the code or have questions about it, contact me at michael [dot] keenan [at] gmail [dot] com
Oliver’s … thing about Trump was rather nice in that it pointed out an excellent social class metaphor for Trump. The gold sharpie.
Much like a gold sharpie Trump is what poor people think rich people look like. So much tacky gold, talking about how rich he is, casually insulting people as a status symbol. It’s a very very lower class way to be rich. (Heck, change his skin colour and the difference between him and a gangland druglord covered in gold chains is what exactly?)
If you want a perfect definition of high social class just take The Donald and reverse every single trait. To all the liberals confused that the working class is voting for this billionaire: he’s one of them, you aren’t.
Gun control might still work, even though Vox says it does
A quick Google shows some debunkings of statistics. (Disclaimer: Fox News, but then they are one of the few outlets with a motive to debunk such statistics). link “While it is true that the murder rate in Missouri rose 17 percent relative to the rest of the U.S. in the five years after 2007, it had actually increased by 32 percent during the previous five years. The question is why the Missouri murder rate was increasing relative to the rest of the United States at a slower rate after the change in the law than it did prior to it.”
The Vox post also points out that the study included automatic weapon bans, and then refers to “assault weapons”. Of course, automatic weapons have been defacto banned in the US since 1934.
“Using the female-pronouns for the collective/gender neutral makes this clear; there’s no real reason we shouldn’t speak of, for example, “Womankind” as much as “Mankind” to mean “Humanity”, or that our hypothetical reader, customer, man in the street should be the woman in the street instead. So we get our default-neutral-inclusive terms are female, not male, gendered.”
Well, there is a reason. “Mankind” has its etymological roots from back when man was gender-neutral (the term for a male human was “wer”). We could start using “womankind”, but it would be artificial and pointless.
“But if in a story set in such a world you read a sentence like “The ruler hurried out to her waiting carriage”, you begin to visualise the person described as a woman. Then it hits you: wait, I have no reason to think that the ruler is female, the only thing I’ve been told about them so far is “her carriage”. Then you realise that if the sentence read “his waiting carriage”, you’d automatically think of them as a man. And then you realise that all the ostensibly neutral or inclusive usages, where “he, his, man” and so forth were the default, were having an effect on you, were making you unconsciously both accept and expect that the people who do, make, buy, consume, act, etc. in the world are men not women.”
Yes, I would automatically assume gender because that’s what happens when you use a gendered pronoun for a specific person. That’s totally distinct from a “neutral” usage and the only reason you’re able to compare it here is because the world is set up specifically to use pronouns incorrectly according to English grammar. Do people really think that intentionally misusing language to confuse others is the same as challenging their beliefs?
“And cue feminism”
Hmm. Fair enough.
Hmm, somehow this ended up not being in reply to the person it was supposed to be. Could whoever has the ability delete this?
A less USA-centric view of parties and tribes: Australian left-wing economist John Quiggin describes a three party system that defines politics in most of the advanced world. Quiggin’s “parties” don’t usually correspond to the formal political parties, but to factions within them, usually crossing party lines.
I have one big issue. Quiggin thinks the neoliberal slogan, “There Is No Alternative”, was a falsehood used to shut down the left. My read is that there really was no alternative – fascism, communism, and midcentury welfare statism were all thoroughly discredited leaving neoliberalism as the last system standing. Then the crash of 2008 discredited neoliberalism, leaving us with nothing.
As per the second paragraph, agreed. I think this is an argument in favor of centrism — in effect, none of the pure political philosophies actually work, and severe social and economic dysfunction occurs when a society comes too close to one extreme. So, take the best elements of each and blend.
What it means for an ideology to work and which components are the best are also questions for political philosophy. Taking the “best” pieces from various ideologies requires an ideology itself, albeit one that’s been pushed under the rug.
You said what I was thinking, but in a much shorter form. 😉
Not to mention Steven Kaas’s answer to so many forms of “just going by the facts”: “Why idly theorize when you can JUST CHECK and find out the ACTUAL ANSWER to a superficially similar-sounding question SCIENTIFICALLY?”
Centrism is basically the circa 40s-70s system displaced by neoliberalism. I called it “midcentury welfare statism” which was obviously a mistake because now half the subthread is arguing about welfare. Note to self: never say the W-word again.
(Funny, I didn’t notice Alejandro linked the same article above, but he referred to the group blog’s name while I referred to the author’s name so we didn’t catch each other. And he didn’t mention the W-word and only got a couple of replies.)
You had markets, competition, private property, but also powerful labor unions, high taxes, some redistribution, and in Britain (but not America) there was substantial state-owned industry. I don’t know what to call this – it’s not quite social democracy but it certainly isn’t neoliberalism either.
Anyway, whatever it was, it worked for a while but hit its failure mode of stagflation in the 1970s. Now I wasn’t around in the ’70s and I can’t say whether stagflation was worse than the Great Recession, but they seem comparably disastrous. So if the moderate leftism of Jimmy Carter and Harold Wilson is discredited, I’d say that neoliberalism is too.
Sometimes, the radical centrist inside me wonders if we americans aren’t just too far to the neoliberal side of the neo-liberal/social democratic divide.
I don’t think we should think about it as a divide at all. It’s a lot more multipolar than that.
The US went neoliberal, and Western Europe went social democratic. Both have been highly successful — the US a bit more, economically, Europe a bit more by a variety of fluffy metrics that NGOs like to throw around.
Socioeconomic models in the rest of the world are quite different. A few of them — especially the Asian ones — deserve more attention than they’re getting, but a lot more are obscure because they suck. The point is that it’s not a spectrum, it’s a high-dimensional configuration space, and most of the points in it appear less successful than what we’ve got.
Stagflation discredited the “we can beat unemployment with inflation”. The 1945-1970 model was discredited by poor economic growth; neoliberalism was an attempt to get it back.
Some forms of welfare-statism are going strong, so there is an alternative.
Welfare statism works fine in a small, homogenous society. Actually, it seems that a fairly wide range of political systems work well if you have a society with high median IQ and high social trust – and such societies are almost invariably quite ethnically homogenous. The U.S. came closest to this in the post-WWII era, when we had low immigration levels and a common culture strongly focused on unification and downplaying regional/ethnic/subcultural differences.
What really failed was diversity and multiculturalism, but no one in mainstream politics or academia is willing to admit this.
Welfare statism will also be absolutely necessary given the technological unemployment produced as we approach a more and more automated society (Luddite’s Fallacy not so fallacious). This is why I propose (relatively) free markets + basic income + borders. You need a free market™ to be the goose laying the golden eggs, but as capitalism automates itself, you need to start artificially supplying a wage to all of the redundant elements, meaning a basic income becomes necessary, but as a basic income guarantee becomes necessary, you need to have strong border control in place to avoid concentrating more unemployed workers into the same system. Incidentally, an argument used to bolster multiculturalism™ was that we needed new workers to save an aging economy, but with technological unemployment that argument falls down, since you are just adding more welfare recipients to the same tax base.
The only other alternative is outright socialism or state capitalism of some sort.
If robots are poised to take all of our jobs, then why has productivity growth been slower over the past decade than it was in the decades prior?
Well, according to many of the posters here, we already have all the wealth we need, but it’s being wasted on zero-sum status games. So we just need to set a 10-hour national workweek (maybe ban women from working, too), and it will solve all our problems. We have to decrease productivity.
That article rebuts the claim that automation is an issue right now, not that it won’t be an issue as the capacities of artificial intelligence increase. We’re essentially in the Model T phase of worker substitution with stuff like Baxter.
However, when considering automation, technological unemployment isn’t going to start being an issue until technology begins substituting for more workers than are redistributed to new work.
Various reports – such as this one – suggest this will be a problem in the next 20 years:
Are you talking about automation causing a) temporary unemployment, or b) permanent unemployment?
Because while, yes, automation has the potential to make people temporarily unemployed as they find new jobs, there is no reason for it to reduce the number of jobs. If there are fewer jobs than willing workers, that is a government-caused problem.
It’s just a simple application of the law of comparative advantage: no matter how superior robots are to human workers, even if they are superior in every field, human workers will be employed in the fields where they are comparatively equal.
Right, the robot apocalypse is just around the corner, just like fusion power and colonies on Mars.
That paper seems to display all of the same fallacies present in most alarmist writing about this subject. Most obviously, it assumes that truck driving will be fully automated in the near future, despite the enormous counter-examples of air travel, where full automation has been technically possible for decades (hence the old joke among airline pilots that the standard flight crew will soon be replaced by a man and a dog: the man to feed the dog and the dog to bite the man’s hand when he tries to touch the controls) yet virtually all planes still have pilots, and rail travel, where full automation has been technically possible for more than 50 years yet virtually all trains still have drivers except a handful of subways and elevated trains which still have manual override brake buttons that staff can use. If humans demonstrably aren’t willing to let a computer drive a freight train across the countryside, I have a hard time believing that they will let a computer drive a car on streets that kids play in any time in the foreseeable future (as opposed to letting computers aid human drivers with increasingly advanced “collision avoidance” features, similar to the role of autopilot systems in modern air travel).
You can see this kind of thinking all the time when people talk about this issue. Some novelty restaurant in Japan has customers make their orders using touchscreens instead of talking to a human being, therefore every restaurant on Earth will soon fire all of their waiters and replace them with touchscreens! But wait, we’ve already had the technology to do that for decades, as demonstrated by ATMs, so maybe there’s some reason (for example, perhaps being served food by human beings is part of the inherent appeal of going to a restaurant for many people) why this hasn’t already happened?
Beyond that, there’s little to no consideration of how technology will affect jobs beyond “everyone will keep doing what they’ve already been doing, except with some of the tasks previously done by humans now being done by machines.” No one ever seems to wonder, for example, whether the decreased costs due to automating certain tasks might actually lead to an expansion in the number of jobs in that field, as seems to have happened with ATMs and bank tellers.
Take restaurants, for instance. Say we managed to automate half the tasks in a restaurant. That will decrease costs, but will it “decrease jobs”? It’s not apparent that it will do so even in the context of the restaurant industry.
For instance, maybe it leads to people ordering more five- or seven-course meals. I would like to eat at fancy restaurants every week, but I don’t because I can’t afford it (in fact, I hardly ever eat at one). I don’t order as many drinks as I could, I usually don’t get an appetizer, and I usually don’t get a dessert. I never get some kind of ridiculously expensive “cheese platter”. If all of these things became as cheap as a sandwich from a deli is now, I would go for them.
Not to mention, if my money went a lot further because of automation, maybe I would take a ninety-minute lunch break so that I could have a “three-martini lunch”. Maybe I would work only four hours a day and go home after lunch.
The point is, if automation made everything cheaper, that very fact would lead me to desire more things.
NN, Wawa (a local chain of convenience stores– better than most, ignore the funny name) has touchscreen ordering and payment for sandwiches that have a bunch of options Human beings put the sandwiches together.
For whatever reason, most fast food places around here (Philadelphia) don’t do it that way. The roboapocalypse is moving very slowly.
Because the price of labor has been deliberately held down to keep it cheaper than investment in machine-capital.
Here’s an illustration of how wage-level and innovation-rate might interact.
Well, I’d actually recommend a 20-hour or 21-hour workweek rather than a 10-hour workweek, since that seems closest to the amount of time hunter-gatherers worked and is therefore more likely to lead to a eudaimonic life, and there is at least one wealth-wasting zero-sum game (land) which is not about status, but other than that, yeah, pretty much.
What good is increased productivity if you can’t capture the gains?
Is there any particular reason to think that our genetically determined happiness bits would interpret the amount of work we actually did in the past as optimal, rather than some other, greater or smaller amount? I can easily make up a just-so story for either one.
Might also be worth noting that the kinds of work we do are in many cases quite different.
Also, why have job fields that have seen significant automation of certain tasks, such as bank tellers (due to ATMs) and paralegals (due to automated “discovery” software) seen an increase, not a decrease in their job numbers?
When you look at the actual numbers, it’s starting to look like the Luddite Fallacy is a fallacy after all.
An increase in absolute numbers means nothing.
That “common culture” broadly excluded the roughly 10% of the American population that was black, most visibly in the South but also in the North through things like red-lining, sundown towns, and other forms of de-facto segregation. So holding up that period of American history as especially unified, let alone “ethnically homogenous,” is at best a selective reading of history.
It also seems strange to hold up 1950s America as an example of a “society with a high median IQ,” because due to the Flynn Effect the average American IQ back then was about 18 points lower than it is today.
How did the crash of 2008 discredit neoliberalism (which, I’m assuming, is some kind of broadly market-based economy)?
I don’t see how the crash discredited neoliberalism. The U.S. recovered perfectly well, with the worst long-range outcome I can see being new college grads might have to wait five to ten years longer than they used to have to wait to become proper yuppies. It’s also harder to qualify for a mortgage, but the prices aren’t running away stupid crazy any more, either (except in San Francisco). People might be complaining a lot more now than they were in 2004, but that doesn’t mean the world is actually worse.
The claim (I’m not sure its true and would like to see any counterexamples) is that no neoliberal economist predicted the crash while economists from other economic schools did, theoretically more predictive models are more correct (but this is also a single data point).
I’d also say that delaying college grads income stream is likely to be a long term disaster. The problem is that 20-somehtings can’t afford to have kids anymore. This both creates a disgenic effect (people not smart enough to avoid kids they can’t afford will have more) and has dropped the US birth rate to a dangerously low level (it was basically hovering at replenishment rate before).
As the old saw goes, economists predicted nine of the last five recessions [although the original joke was about stock indices, not economists]. Or, more simply, a broken clock is still right twice a day. I’m suspicious of any claims about the prediction records of major economic events. How often were they right? How often were they wrong? Were they just lucky or were their predictions based on an accurate causal model of the world?
Mainstream macro may be pretty bad at making predictions, but I see no reason to believe that heterodox macro is any better.
Economics is not in the business of predicting crashes. Saying that economists failed because they did not predict the ’08 recession is like saying pigs fail because they don’t fly.
Why not? They seem like quite an economic matter.
Maybe more to the point, any mainstream economist would almost certainly have predicted the housing market would crash if they had actually known the extent to which the entire thing was an edifice of mis-rated asset-backed bundles based on people trying to forever refinance NINJA ARMs. Failing to predict something because you lack accurate information is different from having a bad model.
Well it’s too bad we’ll likely both be dead before we can find out, but I personally very strongly doubt there is any long-term disaster lurking in low 20-something birth rates. But notably, the U.S. would have to actually fail at some point to confirm the failure of neoliberalism.
Does anyone have any data on “real” voting blocks? Data driven analysis of, e.g., do Latinos actually vote as a bloc, are Southern whites more aligned with Southern blacks or Northern whites, does Trump’s success with evangelicals mean he’s winning “the evangelical vote” or does such a thing not even exist? Obviously this is highly relevant to reading exit polls and predicting e.g. if Sanders stands a chance against Clinton.
does Trump’s success with evangelicals mean he’s winning “the evangelical vote” or does such a thing not even exist?
Re: “the evangelical vote”, I find the GetReligion site very helpful because they look at the coverage of religion in the news from the angle of the journalism (a distinction not often appreciated by commenters, who sometimes get more caught up in arguing over the doctrine in the story rather than ‘was this a good story?’), they’re journalists themselves and they’re conservative (I hate using that term but it’ll have to do) Christians of various denominations, so they know the facts on the ground.
There is no more monolithic “evangelical vote”. There’s a distinction, which the mainstream national media don’t seem to get, between the church-going, involved, practicing Evangelicals – who seem to be going for Cruz and Rubio – and the ‘cultural’ Evangelicals who don’t have a church they regularly visit, or would describe themselves as ‘Christian’ but are not particularly involved in the practice of the faith, who support Trump. The view is that if Cruz and Rubio manage to split “the evangelical vote”, Trump will pick up the undecided and do best out of it. From a post about East Tennessee, which is heavily Republican and heavily Evangelical:
I’ve noticed there’s no way to give a reason for why you’re reporting a comment, just a confirmation notice. Do you think report messages are not desirable, or is that just not a feature anyone has implemented on the site?
Thoughts on this Crooked Timber post on the current political situation?
TLDR: The three major political forces in developed world are neoliberalism, leftism, tribalism. For decades and up to recently, politics was dominated by neoliberal parties, typically in each country coming in slightly a slightly more left wing opposed to a slightly more right wing variety. (Tribalists generally supporting the right wing, leftists supporting the left wing, in both cases contributing votes but being shut out of actual power). Stability of this arrengement is now unraveling with tribalists making explicit bids for power (Trump, anti-immigration parties in Europe) as well as true leftism making a comeback (Corbyn, to an extent Sanders).
I think his trichotomy would be more interesting if he examined the idea of Tribalism more. The definition he gives,
, should sweep up plenty of nominally left-aligned racial / ethnic blocs as well. He brushes that off by saying that they’re not “politically potent” but that seems odd given that these minority groups often seem punch above their weight classes. His ‘Neoliberals’ still run the show but leveraging various Tribes has been key to that.
It would also show that the beneficiaries of mass immigration themselves have, often literal, tribal interests of their own. Inter-ethnic conflict is a big driver of anti-immigration sentiment, whether the conflict is primarily economic as it is here or literal violent conflict as in Europe or between American Blacks and Hispanics.
I hate the idea of Trump being described as “explicit” anything. Does he say things that are easily interpreted as dog-whistles? Yes. But when push comes to shove, does he talk about how great minorities are and how legal immigration is fine and how we all need to be tolerant? Yes, just like everybody else. Same with Sanders – yeah, he’ll use the name “democratic socialism”, but the real Left doesn’t mistake him for one of them. AFAICT they’re just more neoliberals who are bowing slightly more in the direction of their respective tribes.
But Crooked Timber is firewalled from my work computer (for some reason) so maybe I’ll be more sympathetic when I can read the article.
Whom are you identifying as the “real Left”? Common Dreams has been 100% behind him from the get-go, and I think of them as the clearest voice of the modern American left.
Two strains in my own social media friends groups. First is the true extreme social justice activists that justify the caricature treatment they get in these comments. Second is actual communists and anarchists. Neither of these groups supports Bernie Sanders. They don’t support political candidates at all.
I was paraphrasing my understanding of the article; the idea is not that Trump is explicitly tribalist, but that (once the three-way typology is accepted) his political coalition is clearly on the tribalistic side without a neoliberal component.
As for Sanders, Quiggin defines leftism broadly as encompassing “anyone critical of the current economic and social order on the grounds that is unfair, unequal and environmentally destructive”. This describes Sanders fairly well. (It might match Clinton and other neoliberal Dems in rhetoric too, but I take the deciding difference is whether the flawed existing order should be radically changed or incrementally reformed, and clearly they fall on the other side of this divide.)
Under that standard of ‘Left’, an-caps would be considered left, even though they (I) tend to see the government as adding to existing problems and causing others while Berne or HRC would see the failures as the current system not having enough of their brand of governance.
An-Caps are a minuscule fraction of voters. The three-way typology is not proposed as exhausting all the logically consistent political philosophies, but as a rough classification of the main components of the actually existing electorate. In this context it is clear that what Quiggin means by “unfair and unequal” is what leftism understand by this (something like “giving too much power to the rich”) and not what an an-cap understands by it.
Fair enough, I got a giggle out of the vague ‘left’ definition and then tried to tack on clarification so I wouldn’t seem like I’m taking cheap shots. I have clearly failed on both counts, I shall return to the wilderness of writing up D&D nonsense. =D
I searched around for some negative opinions of Worm, and didn’t find much. I’d like to register for those keen to start enjoying it – I certainly didn’t like it. I stumbled through a LOT of it, because it’s popular with other HPMOR fans – but I found it boring, slow and uninspired. YMMV obviously.
Literally Moloch. (News from Uganda)
Ohh boy. You are in for a ride with Worm. I’d recommend skipping Pact (the author’s second web serial) and going straight to Twig once you finish. It’s a more well-paced story than Pact, which is often regarded as being escalation after escalation, and as being too dark (coming from Worm’s fan base, that’s saying something).
Twig is a biopunk story set in the 1920s, in a timeline that diverged from ours some time in the early 19th century. Their medical abilities greatly surpass ours, but are mostly not used to heal. The protagonist is a boy raised on a drug which makes him an adept social manipulator.
It has many of the same features as Worm- characters with unique abilities, intelligent use of those abilities, and genuinely frightening villains, but it also has a lot else going for it- More realistic dialogue, and a protagonist with a unique perspective.
Scott is already writing a better Pact anyways.
I want to discuss “Public Relations” and “Werdness points.”
There is a consensus that Elizier Yudkowsky is bad at PR. Elizier is very public about being extremely weird. For example he is public about his BDSM. Elizier’s writings in “the sequences” contain many blatant references to how brilliant elizier is. He writes Harry Potter fanfic. And his most recent story is even weirder, imo, than Harry Potter and the methods of rationality. Also there is a publicly accessable essay written by younger Yudkowsky where Yudkowsky proposes to build a seed AI and take over the fate of humanity. (“So you want to be a seed AI Programmer.”)
Yet it seems to me that Elziier has had tremendous, borderline incredible success, in spreading his ideas. In the recent past Elizier/Bostrom’s* specific ideas (hard take off, difficulties of boxing etc) on Ai where very niche. Currently they welll ithin the overton window of AI discussions. If you convince Bill Gates and Elon Musk to tak about your ideas than you ideas will spread very widely. Gates and musk have huge audiences. And Gates/Musk have defintitely been influenced heavily by Elizier/Bostrom. Many other important people have been convinced the Elizier/bostrom framework is worth taing very seriously (Sam Altman, Peter Thiel, Stuart armstrong). These ideas have even made it into a major Ai textbook. Some people argue that the ideas are not widespread outide of silicone Valley. I disagree with this since Msuk/Gates have big audiences. but its also not particularly relevant. The ideas have already spread to many people who may need to hear them. For example Google’s Ai researchers are msotly familiar with the elizier/bostrom framework (even if many disagree with it).
This suggests to me that Elizier’s extreme weirdness has not sunk his PR efforts.
*Its very hard to say which ideas come from Bostrom and which from Yudkowsky.
Let me give another quicker example. The Feminist movement. It is very hard to argue that feminism was not a rather sucessful movement in the 70s-90s (though it was not monotonically sucessful). However many prominent important Feminists had rather extreme views. And these views where not hidden, they were published in their books. Some important feminists seemed concerned about their weirdness points. But man spent their weirdness points almost as freely as Elizier (or more freely!).
I am very skeptical of claims that movements/people need to be “less wierd” if they want to be sucessful. Reducing weirdness is a big cost for many people. And the “benefits” of reduced wierdness can be very murky.
It works if you consider his original goal to have been influence other weird people, but remember that in the Sequences he repeatedly states that the point of rationalism is to ‘raise the sanity waterline,’ which means actually getting normal people to become more rational, injecting more evidence based policy into government, etc, something I have yet to see evidence of.
Personally Elizer’s behavior has always given me the impression that he’s a con artist or cult leader, an impression which has only gotten stronger over time. But given his success with other Silicon Valley types it’s obvious I’m not the demographic he really cares about convincing.
I think the lesson is that no matter how weird you are, some people will still be receptive to your message if you push the right buttons. And if those people are also weird and have lots of money that they’d be willing to give you…
I strongly dislike every push I have seen to aid income for singularity groups. I mean good god, Kurzweil is the engineering president of google, and there’s no damned way in hell he doesn’t have enough money.
Like, Kurzweil, Gates, and Musk and all the other tech billionaires have more then enough money to fund places for discussion. Shitty groups don’t need to ask for money from commoners.
As for the guy being a weirdo, nah. There’s plenty of hollywood celebrities known to be weirdos on the side, he just doesn’t give a sexy face to it. Like all sex things, it becomes weird and gross if you don’t look like a Hollywood celebrity, and OK if you do. Dude isn’t running for office.
Its impossible to not appreciate Less Wrong in its prime, and that’s mainly the source of his praist. Its withered away as a site by now, and my guess is due to a lack of quality pruning of the site.
Eliezer wants to spread his rationality ideas (insofar as they’re his) to normal people, but he’s not very good at it. I think part of this does come from the trappings of cult leader/supervillain/Dark Conspirator, which he obviously enjoys even as he tries to avoid their substance.
I think PR success and PR failure are two separate quantities, not just opposites of each other.
Consider L. Ron Hubbard and Scientologists. They’ve had a lot of success, in that there are millions of Scientologists around the world. They’ve also had a lot of failure, in that almost everyone hates or mistrusts them.
Or consider John Kasich. Nobody particularly dislikes him as far as I know. But nobody is particularly excited about him either.
The trick is to get positive buzz while generating as little unnecessary negative buzz as possible. I don’t think Eliezer’s good at the second part. Which is not meant as a criticism of him – nobody is obligated to be perfectly normal/socially acceptable in order to make people like them.
” in that there are millions of Scientologists around the world”
This is a bogus Scientology propaganda claim (counting anyone who has ever picked up a Hubbard book or filled out a ‘free personality test’ or otherwise had any interaction with Scientology in any way). Independent estimates of actual members, including from former Scientology officials, give numbers under 50,000.
50,000 seems low given the number of places I’ve seen Scientologist… churches? temples? in, but maybe they recruit from the same demographics I belong to. Millions is high, certainly.
Given their naked attempt to sound sciencey, I’m disappointed they don’t call them laboratories 🙂
There was one across the street from me until I moved downtown last month. It was called a ‘life improvement center.’
Agreed with your conclusion. Reminder that Jack Parsons, who essentially made solid rocket fuels a thing, was openly Satanist. That, and his generally enormous weirdness, put him in a much tighter spot during the Second Red Scare than BDSM would in modern times – and yet his legacy was greatly successful.
Parsons was a Thelemite, a follower of Aleister Crowley. They’re weird, occult, and often self-consciously transgressive (Crowley liked to call himself “The Great Beast 666”) but aren’t Satanist — the religion bears a rough resemblance to LaVeyan Satanism, but that’s mainly because LaVey (who was active a decade or so after Parsons) cobbled his religion together from Thelema and Objectivism before giving it a Satanic coat of paint.
Thelemites are a pretty eclectic bunch. A lot of its trappings are Egyptian or kabbalistic, but it has its roots in Christian esotericism.
In times of change, weirdnesses become wildcards for vacant hegemonic thrones. When the old normal -which mastered everything outside its finicky delineation- begins to lose its universal legitimacy…
In the cluster of things that are good in some of the ways Worm is, I’ve recently discovered Sam Hughes’ online SF. The stories are incredibly inventive, mind-bending and just sheer fun to read. I especially recommend Fine Structure (scroll down for downloadable ebooks), which starts out as series of well-written but apparently unconnected vignettes that don’t even seem to be set in the same universe, and then gradually and incredibly ties them all together. Also recommended is an older collection “Ed Stories”, and newer Ra, which is similar to Worm in the way its plot spirals from bad to worse, upping the stakes at each revelation (this isn’t necessarily good – I liked the first half better in either book).
Sam Hughes is in my opinion by far the better action-scene writer – I often found myself thinking “get on with it, it’s a fight scene not a chess match” during Worm. However, Wildbow’s characters are more likeable, and it really shouts its themes clearly. Ra in particular was thematically just not really up there; Fine Structure was better but a bit wobbly, or maybe just too subtly-does-it for my tastes. Both stellar writers, though, recommendation firmly seconded.
I second Sam Hughes. I prefer his short stories to Ra and Fine Structure, which are a bit…Grimdark. His SCP short stories are especially good- he’s contributed something to the site in a permanent way.
Another book I would highly recommend to most SSC readers (except Nita) who haven’t read it is Blindsight (published, but made available online by the author after a dispute with the publisher, as I recall). It’s very good hard sci-fi about the nature of consciousness.
Well, I wouldn’t say “very good”, but it was good enough. Probably would’ve worked better for me as a (long) short story, though.
Both Ra and Fine Structure were good, but I didn’t like the ending of either. The former introduced an object with such absurd power that all the other characters suddenly lost agency (plus it made it impossible to tell if characters were actually doomed or if they were going to cleverly leverage the toolbox they had to get out of it), and the latter made a rather jarring shift in a character I previously liked and the finale was sort of just a blur of meaningless action.
The Irish general election was held on Friday and counting is still ongoing. There are 10 seats for our national parliament left to be filled.
The big news (though no real surprise to anyone) is how the coalition parties of the last (or, as they are rather desperately reminding us in every media interview I’ve heard, the current government – “we’re still in government until the new one is formed!”) government lost their share of the vote.
In 2011, due to national fury with the then-Fianna Fáil government and its perceived mishandling of the economic meltdown (and I’m Fianna Fáil myself, and I shared it) Fine Gael and Labour swept to power. This time round, despite our amazing (ahem) economic recovery (as our Taoiseach Enda Kenny keeps reminding us), they lost their share.
Fine Gael went from 76 seats to 47 (to date; the last 10, as I’ve said, remain to be filled). Labour went from 37 to 6 and are desperately hoping to win at least one more seat so they will have 7 and thus qualify for speaking rights in the Dáil.
Fianna Fáil are slowly recovering, though not near their glory days; up to 43 from 21. Sinn Féin (which everyone has been using as the boogeyman party in their campaigning) have done reasonably well; 22 seats now from 14 before.
Lots of Independents (16 seats) and various small parties/groupings – some of which are hilariously incongrous (e.g. the Independent Alliance which manages to find room for both Shane Ross, former Fine Gael grandee, ex-stockbroker, and often referred to, for his airs and accent, as “Lord Ross” by our national satirical magazine and John Halligan, former member of the Workers’ Party which evolved out of Official Sinn Féin* which was Marxist-Leninist and were very much Socialist at their inception, and I don’t mean Bernie Sanders-style Socialism).
Now, the really interesting thing here is, because nobody is in a position to form a majority government without cobbling together some kind of coalition from diverse elements, and because before the election every party swore up, down and sideways they would not enter into any pacts or promises of going into coalition with any other party, we are faced with two choices (allegedly):
(1) Call another election to get somebody elected with enough seats to form a government
(2) What the media seem to be pushing for very strongly – a grand coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Now this second is a very big deal because, even though both are more or less centre-right parties (Fine Gael, depending on the times and members, being slightly more to the right than Fianna Fáil), these are our Civil War parties, who arose out of the 1922 Civil War and its aftermath, and they have been at one another’s throats down the years. Some Fianna Fáil candidates/party higher-ups have been murmuring that this is not on because this would leave Sinn Féin as the major party in opposition, and That Would Never Do. Other party members from both sides have been murmuring that, of course, in the national interest and the people have shown that they don’t want any one majority government, so they’ll bravely make the sacrifice of returning to power to serve the nation.
On the other hand, it’s not at all certain that the people have voted for a grand alliance. Plenty of voters for both parties would find it intolerable.
This is like suggesting that, for the national interest, the Republicans and Democrats should come together in your election with a Republican (or Democrat) president and a Democrat (or Republican) vice-president, in order to keep Trump from getting anywhere near in power.
I have no idea what is going to happen (I’d love, for the sheer cognitive dissonance, if Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin went into coalition, even though that would need a good smattering of Independents to agree in order to make it possible) but it’s damn amusing in the meantime listening to Labour ex-ministers and ex-TDs denying reality as to why their share of the vote collapsed, and Our Taoiseach (who managed, in his own county, days before the election to make a peevish comment about “All-Ireland [standard] whingers” then had to furiously back-pedal about how he didn’t mean the local voters, no not at all, he was talking about political opponents) who previously could not be kept off the airwaves suddenly going all silent (apart from the desperate “I’m still Taoiseach until the new government is formed”).
*They split at the same time as the IRA split, and into the same Official versus Provisional divisions.
I wish I knew how to pronounce any of the terms in your comment. 😉
Just substitute “Member of Parliament” for TD, “Prime Minister” for Taoiseach, “lower house of our bicameral national parliament” for Dáil, and “corrupt greedy incompetent snouts in the trough yahoos” for the names of the political parties you can’t pronounce 🙂
This is pretty much how I translate all your posts about Irish politics.
Advice for any budding politicians based on personal knowledge of local politics in my own town: if you are starting out small, as say a local town councillor, do not accept bribes from developers to alter planning permission. This will wreck your life and career and get you a jail sentence.
If you absolutely must accept bribes and inducements, try not to have an affair and walk out on your wife and family for your new squeeze at the same time. Vindictive and vengeful ex-spouses can wash an extraordinary amount of dirty linen in public giving court testimony at your trial for bribery 😉
I’ve always pronounced “Dáil” as “DAY-ell”, and “Sinn Féin” as “sin fayn”. How much am I mangling things?
“Sinn” is “Shinn”
Sinn is pronounced like shin as in the part of your leg.
Fein is pronounced feign like “feign(pretend) interest”
Dail is pronounced like “ball” but with a d.
I was in Ireland during the Brian Cowen and Fianna Fail years. I eventually learned not to pronounce it like the English word “fail”, but every time someone corrected me they’d add “not that it’s not appropriate”. It’s hard for me to imagine people voting them back into power.
Surprised that people hate Fine Gael and Labor so much since, as you say, the recovery was pretty impressive. What exactly has people mad? Or is it just the zeitgeist?
Think of it as more of a case of “We’ve had some time to calm down, please don’t hurt us again because we miss you”.
How do you imagine FF and FG can be compared to Democrats and Republicans in the US? Maybe I’m underestimating the closeness of the US analogue, however, to me having grown up in Ireland, FG and FF are almost indistinguishable in culture and policy, except that FF have had more of an opportunity to show their misgivings (firmly supported by the culture/mind set of the Irish people I’m sad to say). The most eye opening thing about this election is how detached and out of touch I am from the rest of the country and how little my philosophical outlook counts. I’m a stranger in my own land, it’s quite lonely, the election has been very eye opening (and very troubling).
youtube video is dead for me. What was it?
It’s Ayreon’s “Elected”.
The video is up, but is blocked for most countries. Using Tor with exit node in the US worked for me.
FWIW these embedded videos seem to often crash mobile safari and make a thread with one of them unreadable on an iphone or ipad.
So I’ve been mulling over the red tribe vs. blue tribe thing for a while now and I’m convinced there’s actually another tribe. Maybe it only exists in the northeast or something (I’m from Connecticut) but it’s definitely distinct from the red tribe. My parents and all their friends belong to this tribe.
They are baby boomers and they vote republican. They drive minivans and Lexuses. They listen to classic rock and top 40 radio. They drink Michelob Ultra and Beringer’s White Zinfandel. They have kitchy little plaques in their kitchen about drinking wine but don’t actually know anything about wine. They strongly identify with a religion, but never go to church and feel vaguely guilty about it. They live in nice neighborhoods and are decidedly upper middle class but have the sense that they deserve more. They value hard work and strongly believe that “inner city” people are the cause of all of our problems, but they believe they arrived at that conclusion rationally and are careful not to appear racist when talking about it (that would be gauche).
I guess they share some characteristics of the red tribe (e.g. the hard work thing), so I guess you could maybe argue they’re a sub-tribe, but they certainly don’t seem to relate to them and culturally they could not be more distinct.
Can someone confirm that this is a thing and not just an artifact of my small sample size?
No 2.5 group typology will accurately describe 300 million people. Those folks sound like pretty stereotypical New England conservatives – they’re culturally Blue(though on the fuzzy edge of it, far from the hipsters), but they quietly vote with the Reds, usually because of some sense of right-wing economics. They’re the people who were actually enthusiastic about Mitt Romney, instead of grudgingly tolerating him, and they’re the reason Kasich did so well in New Hampshire. (The GOP NH primary is mostly a poll of those types of people, much like how Iowa and South Carolina are polls of the much harder Red Tribe types)
>They’re the people who were actually enthusiastic about Mitt Romney.
That’s a good way to put them. Certainly valuing education is a large factor, and Romney was the most educated republican front runner in recent years, and won the “Meritocracy” argument i’m fond of in politics.
Maybe it only exists in the northeast or something (I’m from Connecticut) but it’s definitely distinct from the red tribe.
Cerise Tribe? 🙂 (If Violet Tribe can be a thing, why not?)
Heh, I actually had to look up what “cerise” is. I’ve been thinking of them as the orange tribe because they’re kind of red but not really.
I was thinking cerise because it’s kind of pinkish and is on the bluer side of the red tonal scale (if I’m using that correctly), but not verging on the purplish itself 🙂
These people definitely don’t just exist in the Northeast.
I’m from Alabama, and these are my people! I don’t know about the specific drink choices, but it’s not too far off. It’s my parents (or, specifically, my father: my mother is originally from a lower-class family) and their friends who are doctors and business owners.
What you’re basically talking about are educated, wealthy Republicans. Some of whom may be more on the religious side in Alabama (though not my parents), but still not extremely worked up about social issues like gay marriage. Their main political issue is taxes on people making over $200,000 a year because they make over $200,000 a year.
Also, yeah, they generally disapprove of “black culture”, but not because they think black people are racially inferior.
Also, I think this is a common phenomenon, but I noticed support for the Republican and Democratic parties breaking down on income / social class lines roughly like this:
— The poor, especially poor minorities, who support the Democratic Party because it stands for increasing social welfare to the poor. They may be conservative on social issues, but it’s secondary for them.
— Poor to lower-middle-class whites who support the Republican Party because of its stance on supporting “traditional values” and opposition to immigration. They don’t want taxes raised, either, but they’re mainly thinking of taxes on the lower end of the income distribution.
— Professors, teachers, and other members of academia who support the Democrats for social and cultural reasons, e.g. not wanting to support creationists and those who want to ban abortion, as well as “altruistic” (with other people’s money) social welfare the poor. Of course, they also value Democratic support for more education funding.
— The middle to upper-middle class of the non-academic world, even including certain members of the “1%”, who worked hard to attain success and support the Republicans because they don’t want their money taken away by means of taxes on the “rich” to spend on welfare programs, and want to protect their retirement investments. They may not be left-wing on the social issues, but they’re mostly moderate (with some exceptions, of course).
— The upper class, born into wealth, who support the Democrats because they’re so rich money doesn’t matter, and who want to fund more social welfare for the poor and support social liberalism.
To tie this in with my own experience growing up in Alabama:
Group 1: I can’t say I had much personal interaction with people in this category growing up. but it includes most African Americans.
Group 2: this was my mother’s family, lower-class, rural whites.
Group 3: this described the professors and their children whom I knew. Some of the schoolteachers fell into this category, usually if they were part of a couple, both of whom taught. Other teachers were wives of men in group four and more conservative.
Group 4: this describes my father and most of the other doctors and small business owners, mostly the group whose children I went to private school with.
Group 5: this described the richest family in town, who own a huge paper company started several generations ago by a guy who invented the modern paper bag (or something like that).
I’m familiar with the general archetype so it’s not just you, nor is it a Northeastern thing. That said, here in the South West they are less of a distinct group and more the centrist / moderate (see “reasonable”) wing of the red tribe, rather than as a distinct group.
You’ll find the Southern California variety clustered around Orange County. Not quite the same, but close. And I agree, they are Red Tribe moderates, close enough for cultural diffusion from Blue.
That’s middle class Red, in a blue state mate, nothing more!
I know lots of people like this. They are definitely common in the suburban Northeast, where I grew up. (Can’t speak for other regions.)
They are Red, albeit on the Blue-ish edge of Red, and they may even vote Democrat sometimes. Here are some other characteristics of them:
-They are often, though not always, somewhat less bombastic about their politics than hardcore Reds. This is especially true in certain regions and social classes, where expressing Red political sympathies could be ostracizing.
-They tend to be moderate-to-liberal on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, but these are usually not deciding factors in how they vote.
-They are often somewhat uncomfortable with the more extreme and/or overtly “hick” elements of the Red tribe.
A lot of these people are in class that I like to call “Aspirational Labor.” They’re nurses, low-level or blue-collar civil servants, pink-collar professionals. Some of the wealthier and/or better-educated ones may be in other classes, though.
Low-information voters in the group are very often Trump supporters, believe it or not. Higher-information types typically support Kasich.
Apropos the side conversation in a recent thread concerning bookmarks, I bumped across an example recently that I wanted to highlight.
This paper is a response to a dissent authored by John Roberts in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. Now, I understand it is a scholarly paper, and a legal one at that, but … The first page of the paper contains only one sentence, the second page can only muster a single sentence fragment, the bulk being taken up by footnotes.
I am quite curious as to the results of this site on tests of politics.
How does this place vote? This is a pretty well-known voting site, and personally I view it as the best online politics test I have seen so far. Lots of sites ask you some 1-5-rank question of an issue that is fundamentally binary. Or, even (annoyingly) asks you vague questions, like how much do you support the free-market. This site actually breaks down the questions. Instead of asking you a “How much do you support illegal immigrants” it breaks it down into several specific questions.
You can post your results.
With the internets love of Sanders, i’m mildly amused the top scorer I had was Hilary. I support Bernie on quite a few of the big issues I support, like free* college tuition, along with free* healthcare.
And more amusingly, I guess I hate libertarians.
*free college would probably have to have a system that excludes a good deal of people to keep the cost down. Has there been a very very Spartan-esque college system tried? Basic cheap healthy foods, high quality, yet paper textbooks (or now just online text), regulated shower periods, renewable-energy oriented dorming?
It seems I got nearly the inverse of what you got.
Another interesting one (I think a better one) is the Pew Research Center’s “Political Typology Quiz”. I may create an SSC group for that one in a little while, but for now I’ll just say that I come down as a “Business Conservative”: i.e. in favor of both economic and social freedom.
Okay, done: if you want to compare your results to other posters here, follow this link to the Pew Quiz. (Original link also changed.)
“Next Generation Left
along with 12% of the public.”
Also, I was left to the average of the new generation left.
Business Conservative, by the way, is 10% of the population. And I am to the right of the average of them.
(Also, no single category is more than 15% on this quiz.)
Most surprising result from this: only 36% of SSC respondents agreed with me that “It IS NOT necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.”
It’s *necessary* to believe in God in order to be moral? I’m not sure any of the most religious conservatives I know would agree with that.
It depends on how getting to heaven is classified, doesn’t it? If that is ‘good values’, and it requires faith, by definition nonbelievers fail.
Where did that show up for you?
The results page isn’t displaying the formatting right, but it comes up as 91% saying “It IS NOT necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values.” That’s more in line with what I’d expect here, if not a little low.
However, that website is known to be buggy. I had a mini-PR disaster when I gave it to some of my friends in college, as somehow it displayed to everyone a very different percentage of how many people “think homosexuality should be accepted by society”. So this lesbian couple had it displayed to them that like 90% of their friends didn’t think they should be accepted. Awkward…
I ended up emailing the Pew people for the raw data results.
As far as I know, though, the overall percentages for the categories are accurate.
I suppose it depends on how you interpret “being moral and having good values”. If the highest human purpose is to serve God, then ipso facto you can’t be moral if you don’t believe in him.
However, I truly think a large number of religious people believe that you cannot be conventionally moral without believing in God. It’s a stupid position, but they believe it.
I think the website is bugged, on refreshing the page most of the stats changed.
I wouldn’t say God specifically, but I do believe that morality requires some sort of metaphysical framework.
Otherwise your either a nihilist or a utility monster.
The utility monster isn’t a problem because it wants to maximize its utility, it’s a problem because its scale breaks the assumptions of utilitarianism.
It also has some pretty weird preferences. But, while human preferences probably don’t cover that kind of territory in real life, utilitarianism should ideally be able to accommodate some weird ones.
(I’m not a utilitarian, by way of disclaimer, but I’m closer to being a utilitarian than I am to being a moral supernaturalist.)
That still doesn’t seem right. You’re saying it’s necessary to have a coherent conception of why one should be moral and have good values, but none of that is necessary to just behave morally and actually have good values. A person can have exactly the same values as you and behave in a roughly identical manner for whatever reason they please, including for no reason at all.
Maybe the question should be re-phrased as one of probability rather than necessity. As phrased, it is clearly incorrect.
It’s *necessary* to believe in God in order to be moral?
C.S. Lewis certainly thought morality was possible without belief in God. He argued that the moral system he called ‘the Tao’ was standalone*, and God was to be judged by it!**
* _The Abolition of Man_
** _Reflections on the Psalms_
If I have already taken the quiz, and don’t want to do so again, is there a way I can get to the SSC results to see how they have changed since I took it?
See if this link works
Business Conservative, right near the peak of the distribution of them.
I love the Pew Center one because I consistently get results completely opposite to what I would expect. Part of this is me answering from an Irish rather than American perspective (well, it does ask “What comes closest to your view?”) but part of it must be genuine differences in what makes up political/social classes between the USA and Europe.
Anyway this time round I am a Solid Liberal (not even Faith and Family Left, which I would have expected) along with 15% of my fellow Americans and 20% of my fellow commenters on here 🙂
I would have answered some questions differently (especially No. 18) if the alternatives were worded differently, e.g. for No. 18 I think government aid programmes do more harm than good because they permit businesses to avoid their responsibilities to pay their workers a just wage; if the government is picking up the tab for medical cards, family income support, rent supplement, etc. then that is a direct subsidy to the cost of employment which the business may contribute towards in taxes, but the burden also falls on other tax payers, and so the business unfairly gets advantage.
I’m also wary of questions like the sample ones in the “Religion and Society” section – “Which comes closer to your views: Your religion’s holy book is the Word of God OR Your religion’s holy book is a book written by men and is not the word of God?”. There’s a bit more nuance there, e.g. the Catholic view of the Bible is not the same as the Islamic view of the Koran (which has a much higher and inerrantist in the autograph view), but to be on the safe side I’d answer “Word of God”, not “is written by men” there simply in case the “written by men” answer was interpreted as “is only a human document limited by the knowledge and prejudices of its time and has no divine content or inspiration” (the Bronze Age mythology notion).
To get “Faith and Family Left”, you should say (with 93% of them!) that it is not possible “to be moral and have good values” without believing in God. Also, you should say that homosexuality should not be accepted, and that marriage and children should be people’s highest priority.
That isn’t how it works. The worker’s medical care, family support, and rent are not “costs of employment”, and welfare to pay for those things is not a subsidy to employment.
As I wrote a couple of threads ago:
First of all, [this argument] assumes that the minimum wage is truly less than minimum subsistence. But that is ludicrous. Sure, if you faced a choice between starving and working or starving while not working, I suppose you’d choose the latter. But if welfare did not exist, that is not the position minimum-wage workers would be in; they would just be poorer. The American poverty line is nowhere near minimum subsistence.
But suppose that the minimum wage really were less than minimum subsistence. Welfare given to those workers still wouldn’t be “corporate welfare”. If no one could live on less than $10 an hour, and we removed all welfare, then anyone incapable of producing $10 an hour or more would starve. If the government gives them all $2 an hour, sure, Wal-Mart benefits because it can hire people at $8 an hour who otherwise would have died. But everyone else benefits, too: by being able to hire more workers at lower wages, Wal-Mart and other minimum-wage employers spread lower prices throughout the economy.
If the workers who otherwise would have died cost less to support than they produce, then everyone benefits from supporting them. Their employers don’t get a special benefit. (Of course, if they cost less to support than they produce, it doesn’t make sense that the market wage is less than subsistence in the first place.)
The only case where something like this might apply is in places like Manhattan or San Francisco, where if there were no welfare subsidizing people’s choice to live there, they would have to move somewhere else. This would decrease the supply of low-skilled labor, raising the price. So the people who remained (in the much smaller number of job openings) would make more.
But the overall effect of eliminating welfare, even in this case, would be to cause the income of poor workers to fall, not to rise or stay the same.
The problem with this reasoning is that it’s not as simple as paying Wal-Mart workers $2 each and everyone benefiting in an amount exactly equal to $2 * number of workers. The money affects the supply/demand curves for Wal-Mart hiring workers and setting pay scales, and the curves for prices based on total cost of production including worker pay.
Because the effect is so indirect, there’s no reason to believe that the benefits are exactly linear with the government money. It is possible that they benefit less and Wal-Mart benefits more. And if so, you could describe that as the government giving Wal-Mart an unfair advantage.
Who are “they”? I don’t mean that rhetorically; I just am not clear about who you are referring to. The workers? I can’t see how.
If the government gives welfare that somehow enables a large number of people to work who otherwise would have died (reminder: a ridiculous scenario!), the effect of that will be to increase the supply of low-wage labor. That will increase the size of the sector of the economy that depends on low-wage labor, so these companies will benefit. But everyone else gains from the goods and services made available by these workers.
In any case, it seems especially weird to describe this as a form of “corporate welfare”, since at best this is only the incidental effect, with the primary and overwhelming effect being to raise the living standards of the poor welfare recipients. (In the extreme example I gave, from death to life.)
It can’t possibly work out that way.
Imagine a limiting case: the government pays the Wal-Mart workers $10, and Wal-Mart pays them nothing. In that limiting case, does the general public benefit by an amount greater than what the government pays out?
If you answer “yes”, then you’re not a libertarian, because you just claimed that the government can buy things (workers), give them away, and the average person will benefit from this activity.
If you answer “no”, then the general public has a net loss when the government pays the workers $10 and Wal-Mart pays them nothing. Because the net loss/gain to the public is a continuous function of the amount the government pays, and it is a net loss at the limit, then there is also an amount X, X<10, where the government pays people $X, Wal-Mart pays them $10-X, and the public still has a net loss.
It ought to be mentioned that those $10 dollars an hour are likely to cost the government $15 – $20 once the IRS agents and the administrative folk have taken their cut.
Of course I say the answer is “no”.
I think the amount is any amount where 0 < X, because I don't think that the general public benefits from welfare spending. Of course the general public loses. But the people who gain are the welfare recipients! They're the ones who benefit at the expense of everyone else, not their employers.
The point of the cases of Manhattan and San Francisco is like this: there is a certain amount that it costs to live there, which is maybe above the federal minimum wage (or at least it theoretically could be). If the government eliminated all forms of welfare and subsidized housing, many low-wage workers would have to move. As a result, the supply of low-wage labor would go down, and the price would rise accordingly.
So in some sense welfare is responsible for the economy in those places being tilted more towards low-wage labor than it otherwise would be. Maybe there are more McDonald’s or Starbuck’s restaurants there, and fewer high-end restaurants.
But it still seems crazy to call this “corporate welfare”, when this effect is entirely mediated through the effect of allowing people to live in those areas who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. Which is pretty much the stated purpose by its proponents, not a secret hidden effect.
And none of this is to argue that the general public benefits from such welfare payments, even in Manhattan and San Francisco. I already made this point in the original post, where I was talking about the below-subsistence scenario:
If they cost less to support than they produce, and if despite this the market wage is less than subsistence, then welfare to support them has a general benefit. Which I don’t think is or conceivably would be the case.
Or, to extend this to the other case: if a worker can produce more in Manhattan than it costs to live in Manhattan, but he isn’t being paid that much, then welfare would have a general benefit. But that is no more likely a scenario.
In this hypothetical, the government is paying people who would otherwise have been paid the same amount by Wal-Mart. So the recipients don’t gain at all except to the extent that being able to pay people less means that Wal-Mart has more money and can hire more employees. If the only way other people than Wal-Mart gain is via gains to Wal-Mart, then it’s fair to describe this as Wal-Mart gaining a special benefit.
Furthermore, if that’s what you mean, then your claim becomes pretty trivial. The point of the criticism is that “the burden also falls on other tax payers, and so the business unfairly gets advantage”. If you are not claiming that the general public benefits from welfare spending, your claim isn’t really responsive to that point.
No, I don’t know where you’re getting this from. They would not be paid the same amount by Wal-Mart. If the market wage is $8 an hour, then Wal-Mart pays them $8 an hour. It doesn’t matter how much money on top of that the workers get from the government. That doesn’t factor into the amount Wal-Mart pays.
Being paid more money by the government doesn’t make you more willing to work at Wal-Mart. It makes you less willing, if anything. Your whole scenario where the government pays people $10 and Wal-Mart pays them nothing doesn’t make sense. If you’re already getting the $10, why work at Wal-Mart for free? If you’re already getting $8, why work at Wal-Mart for $2 instead of being blissfully unemployed?
Unless we’re literally saying the government gives people a wage subsidy only on the condition that they work at Wal-Mart. That would be a special benefit to Wal-Mart, but that’s not what anyone is talking about.
The whole reason I brought up the subsistence scenario—an unrealistic distraction, most likely!—is that this is the only case where welfare would actually increase the supply of labor and thereby benefit low-wage employers. An effect which, I state again, is entirely mediated through the benefits it provides to low-wage workers.
I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.
How is the idea that general public doesn’t benefit from welfare spending incompatible with the idea that Wal-Mart gets a special benefit? I mean, I don’t think they do get a special benefit, but the two just aren’t related.
The hypothetical is not that they’re paid the same amount by Wal-Mart. The hypothetical is that the total of government subsidy + Wal-Mart paycheck remains constant. Your own example says that in the hypothetical, $10 pay is required to survive, and then mentions Wal-Mart having to pay $10, and then has the government giving $2 and Wal-Mart capable of hiring people at $8. $2 + $8 = $10.
Because in your own hypothetical, they would starve at $8: “If no one could live on less than $10 an hour…”
He said almost the opposite: He said the burden also falls on other tax payers, and so the business unfairly gets advantage. In other words, he said that “the general public doesn’t benefit” is 1) true and 2) implies Wal-Mart getting a special benefit, not that it’s inconsistent with Wal-Mart getting a special benefit.
If you weren’t denying either 1) or 2), you weren’t being responsive.
I feel like there is a serious miscommunication going on somewhere.
The idea that “the total of government subsidy + Wal-Mart paycheck remains constant” is precisely the part that doesn’t make sense.
But to go back to the hypothetical scenario: if the lowest wage at which one can survive is $10 an hour, but a worker is only worth $8 an hour, he doesn’t get hired by Wal-Mart at $10 an hour just because that’s what it costs to sustain him. He doesn’t get hired at all! He dies.
The government giving people $2 an hour increases the supply of labor because it moves people from dying to not dying. Maybe it benefits Wal-Mart, but only as entirely mediated through the benefit it provides to the worker.
Nowhere in this does the total of government subsidy plus the paycheck remain constant.
And to return to Deiseach‘s original mistaken point, this subsidy does not somehow relieve Wal-Mart of the responsibility of paying a “just wage”. It doesn’t do so in the real world because workers in the US are nowhere near subsistence. And this was my main point.
Neither does it do so in hypothetical subsistence world. If a worker’s subsistence wage is higher than his productivity, they’re just not going to pay any wage at all. (Assuming that, if the worker is going to die, he’d rather not do it while working at Wal-Mart. If he would work at Wal-Mart at a starvation wage anyway, then the welfare has no effect at all on the employer; the subsistence case would be the same as the regular case.)
There is no scenario in which employers were sitting prepared to pay a “just wage” but don’t do so because of welfare programs.
In this case, I was referring to the real world, where workers are not going to starve at $8 an hour. Sorry if it was unclear.
Deiseach (who is female, by the way), as I understand, believes that the general public benefits from these welfare programs, i.e. they produce more value than they cost. However, she seems to think that the same benefits would be provided by employers if they weren’t being provided by the government—but instead of employers bearing the costs, now the taxpayer is bearing the costs.
I was arguing that no, it is not true that these benefits would be provided by employers if there were no welfare. The welfare is not in any way subsidizing employment. It is just making the workers less poor.
In other words, Deisearch is arguing that welfare is shifting the costs of employment from employers to the taxpayer. I am arguing that it does no such thing, and is rather giving poor workers an increase in wealth at taxpayer expense, with no effect to employers’ bottom line.
Without a government subsidy, in this hypothetical, Wal-Mart has to pay $10 to get workers because workers will starve on anything less and dead workers are useless to Wal-Mart. With a government subsidy, the government is paying $2, and Wal-Mart hires them at $8. 2 + 8 = 10.
It is true that some workers go from not being hired to hired in this hypothetical. However, the total of government subsidy + Wal-Mart paycheck conditional on being an employee remains constant, even if the number of employees varies. I recognized that the number of employees changes and already said so above: “except to the extent that being able to pay people less means that Wal-Mart has more money and can hire more employees”.
It could be described the other way around: It benefits the employee, but only as mediated through the benefit to Wal-Mart–it benefits the employee only as a result of the fact that Wal-Mart can get cheaper employees and so hires more of them, and the employee may be part of that larger batch.
The total conditional on being an employee remains constant.
Yes, there is, although that scenario isn’t one. Here’s one that is:
Assume that it takes some time for the employee to die from a below-subsistence wage, so Wal-Mart is still willing to hire such employees even though they will die eventually. Also assume that Wal-Mart needs X employees, there are more potential employees than X, and all potential employees have the same productivity which is greater than subsistence wage. Also assume that the number of employees willing to work for wage W decreases based on W.
In the absence of government programs, Wal-Mart hires X of the potential employees at a wage W1 which is just low enough that the number of employees willing to work at W1 has decreased to exactly X.
In the presence of government programs that produce a subsidy of $2, Wal-Mart hires X of the potential employees at a wage W2 which is just low enough that the number of employees willing to work at W2+2 has decreased to exactly X.
In this scenario, W2 = W1 – 2, so W2 is necessarily lower than W1. And it’s certainly possible that W1 is above subsistence wage and W2 is below.
(Of course, “Wal-Mart wants to hire X employees” is a simplification since they would want to hire more employees if the rate is cheaper, but you can assume a relatively, but not entirely, flat curve for X instead of X being 100% constant, and it still works.)
I disagree with basically everything in your comment.
If workers refuse to work for less than $10 (because anything less is a starvation wage), that causes Wal-Mart to hire fewer workers until the value of the marginal worker is $10 an hour. The result is that any worker whose marginal value is less than $10 an hour dies.
If the government gives an unconditional $2 an hour to everyone, they become willing to work for as little as $8 an hour. But this is not a special benefit to Wal-Mart; it applies to any employer they might choose, whether it’s Wal-Mart or mom-and-pop stores, or whatever.
The workers’ income conditional on being a Wal-Mart employee is an irrelevant and misleading figure. If the welfare is eliminated and they quit working because they earn less than subsistence, the unemployed share of the income drops to $0. If they keep working anyway, it drops from $10 to $8.
Either way, worker income doesn’t remain constant.
What do you mean that Wal-Mart “can get” cheaper employees?
What we’re talking about here workers who previously were unable to earn their subsistence now being able to do so, and as a result now being willing to work at all. Obviously, that is primarily a benefit to those workers. And it’s not a special benefit to Wal-Mart or whatever because they can take that subsidy and work for anyone who wishes to hire them. If the subsidy only applied conditional upon working at Wal-Mart, then it would be a special benefit to Wal-Mart, sure.
Again, why would you use the figure conditional upon being an employee?
If the workers face starvation wages and quit, their “paycheck” falls to zero. If they face starvation wages and don’t quit, their paycheck falls by the reduction of the subsidy. Either way, it falls.
First of all, your scenario doesn’t make sense because it’s the other way around. The less people make, the more they are willing to work, assuming that they place a very high value on, you know, remaining alive. That’s why people worked 14-hour days and 6-day weeks in the Industrial Revolution but very rarely do so today.
Or to look at it another way, $8 an hour is worth a lot less when you already have a trust fund paying you $100,000 a year than when it’s between that and starvation.
Unless they make an amount less than minimum subsistence, at which point willingness to work presumably falls to zero (in the unrealistic assumption that they don’t expect things to get better).
The other problem is that they get the $2 either way. It has no effect on the size of wage they get, which is determined by market competition among employers. If the market wage is $8 an hour without welfare, it’s still $8 an hour with welfare. (If anything, the welfare causes wages to rise because it discourages people from working; for instance, if they get paid $7 an hour in welfare and you can live on that, you could work for Wal-Mart and make a total of $15 an hour, or you could just have the leisure instead.)
The only difference with the imaginary subsistence scenario is that there is a hard floor at $10 an hour, below which no one is willing to work. And I already addressed the consequences of that above.
It also happens to be what most people mean when they say that Wal-Mart doesn’t have to pay a living wage because the government makes up the difference.
I mean that if Wal-Mart wants an employee, they don’t have to pay as much with government subsidy as they do without government subsidy.
Benefits to people that result as a consequence of this are benefits that come to Wal-Mart first, and to other people secondarily as a consequence of the benefit to Wal-Mart.
In order for a worker to be able to do that without displacing another worker, Wal-Mart has to have an extra job available. Wal-Mart has extra jobs available because not having to pay as much for the jobs it already had available saves it money.
We are not talking about the same thing. When I say “the more they are willing to work” I mean “the more likely they are to prefer working at that job to neither working nor earning money” The meaning you are using is “the more hours in the job they are willing to work”, which isn’t the same thing.
Given a job that is barely below subsistence and leaves the worker dead by starvation after 10 years, and comparing it to a job that pays a lot less than even that and leaves the worker dead by starvation tomorrow, it’s obvious that more workers would accept the former job than the latter job.
We are not talking about the same thing. When I say “the less people make”, I mean “the less people make at the job that we’re asking them about”, not “the less people make total”.
This particular scenario is an example of “Wal-Mart doesn’t have to pay a living wage because the government makes up for it”. The value that makes it an example is the amount that Wal-Mart pays, not the amount that the employees receive.
Then what they are talking about is completely irrelevant and misleading as relates to the question of whether welfare “subsidizes employers”. It’s also completely disconnected from reality, since the market wage for low-skilled workers, even where it is below the minimum wage, is nowhere close to an actual subsistence wage.
And if so, then the welfare makes no difference at all to the amount Wal-Mart has to pay. which is determined solely by competition among employers for the limited workforce available. The only difference is in how much total income the workers take home.
Anyway, I’m tired of discussing the minutiae of the ridiculous subsistence scenario.
Maybe you could consider it as subsidizing Wal-Mart, since you would be increasing the size of the labor pool and thereby lowering wages. But regardless, that is a ridiculous way to put things, since the reason the size of the labor pool is increasing is that more workers are living.
The market wage for low-skilled workers is more like the below subsistence wage that kills you in 10 years, if you have above median expenses (need medical care, have to support a family, etc.)
Note that the analysis is actually simpler in that case, since we no longer have the problem “Wal-Mart won’t hire them because dead workers are no use”.
The “below subsistence wage that kills you in 10 years” (seems almost like a contradiction in terms to me), is just the same economically as the above-subsistence wage. The welfare has no effect of decreasing wages in this case, because increasing the welfare does not increase the supply of labor. I can’t tell if you disagree with that or not.
Got “Young Outsider”. The questions on this one weren’t that great. There were many on which I wanted to answer “both”, “neither”, or “my answer doesn’t imply what it normally does”.
Ditto, on both counts.
I was very pleased to get “Hard pressed skeptic.” This seemed like an accurate description of my general worldview. I am skeptical of government. But I am also very skeptical of people’s ability to get ahead via hard work and such. I do, in fact, dislike both parties but generally side with the Democrats.
I like the Pew quiz, but some of the questions show a serious lack of nuance. The one about poor people, for example, breaks along an axis that has almost nothing to do with my views; welfare fraud exists (I’ve seen a couple of scams in the wild), and so does hard luck of various kinds, but from an incentive point of view neither one comes close to the problems created by the structure of our welfare system and especially by its reliance on hard cutoffs for means testing. I went with the more conservative options, because they at least don’t imply new interventions that I wouldn’t be in favor of, but I’m not happy with the implications.
(I scored as “Young Outsider”, and I think I got “Hard-Pressed Skeptic” the last time I took this quiz. I’ve probably gotten more cynical in the interim; this election cycle has been having that effect.)
My ranking right now is Rubio > Cruz > influenza > Clinton > bubonic plague > Trump > Sanders.
I’m against Sanders, but if it came down to it I’d much rather have him than Trump.
I’m against Sanders on the economy and Supreme Court nominations, but Sanders wouldn’t get his way on the economy. And who knows what Trump would do, either in the economy, or who he would put on the Supreme Court?
This is exactly my position. I disagree with just about everything Sanders says or does, but, if it came right down to it between him and Trump, I trust the Republicans in Congress to stonewall Sanders much more than I trust them to stonewall Trump. Praise Madison for separation of powers, even it’s not quite working out like he hoped…
I trust the media to call out Trump more than I trust them to call out Sanders.
If this presidential campaign has taught us anything, it is that the media calling out Trump only makes him stronger.
“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Donald Trump?
Honestly, I don’t even see much of a difference between the two. Trump is more of a dick, Sanders is more of a commie, but they’re cut from the same populist whiny cloth. I don’t think either of them is likely to get their way on very much, but Sanders’ platform would be worse if he somehow did manage, whereas Trump is more likely to destroy the less-intolerable party in the current system.
That said, Chevalier has the best Sanders-over-Trump argument I’ve seen, so that might change my mind.
At the very bottom of the candidates, I have
Carly Fiorina < Carson < Rubio < Cruz < Trump < Everyone else
As in, you’d take Trump over Rubio? Also, Fiorina dropped weeks ago.
Meh, its what the poll said.
But that’s a tough sell. I would absolutely take Cruz over Trump, but its hard to say about Rubio.
Looks like that decisions been made by the general public, with Cruz the only current person with the status to possibly stop Trump from taking the nomination here on out, at least out of the current other runners.
Kasich is my current IRL leading choice. Then Cruz. I *wish* Romney decided to not run against Obama the last election, since he seems like he would be both a competent moderate president, and a soft to a hard counter to Trumps personal advertisements (Also rich, more international experience, better school performance, visibly physically healthier, and no blatant scams like Trump University)
…Cruz the only current person with the status to possibly stop Trump from taking the nomination here on out
How are you defining and measuring “status” here?
If it is the election results to date, note that those come mostly from states with a disproportionate fraction of the evangelical Christian voters who favor Cruz. Across the GOP electorate as a whole, Cruz and Rubio have comparable poll numbers, and the delegate math favors Rubio going forward (winner-take-all vs proportional representation).
On the other hand, early wins will give Cruz a momentum effect. It is not obvious to me which will dominate, and I think dismissing either of them as not having the “status” to win is premature.
Kasich, doesn’t have the status to win. The only question is who he hurts most by staying in the race, and that also is unclear.
Well, from what I have read now, its seems to have boiled down to either a contested convention, with delegates switching sides, or everyone else dropping out of the race to support Cruz. It might be to early to call support for Cruz. But if its too early, its *probably* a contested convention.
There’s only a slim chance of everybody else dropping out to support Cruz, and there’s an equally slim chance of everybody dropping out to support Rubio.
But it doesn’t matter whether this goes to the convention or is settled later in primary season. Each of Trump, Cruz, and Rubio has enough support to deny victory to anything less than an alliance of the other two(*). Each has enough support that they can morally claim to be equal partners in the alliance; it isn’t a 45-45-10 split where Mr. 10% gets to be junior partner in the coalition. Yes, right now Rubio is in third place in the delegates but everybody who is doing the math expects that to even out – and the support of the party establishment and donor base comes into this calculation as well.
Cruz and Rubio have roughly equal status in the anti-Trump campaign. Which is perhaps unfortunate, because if it really were a 45-45-10 thing we’d expect this to settle out fairly quickly instead of dragging out to the convention.
*More precisely, an alliance of the supporters of the other two
I’m unfamiliar with the structure of US primaries, but if both Cruz and Rubio stick it out to the convention, and one of them ends up with the delegates of both, does that mean voters who rank Cruz > Trump > Rubio or Rubio > Trump > Cruz both wind up supporting not-Trump? That seems like the best case scenario for Trump opponents.
The delegates are legally bound to vote for the candidate they pledged on the first floor vote of the convention. So if anyone has an absolute majority, they win.
After that, the delegates are free to vote their individual consciences. At that point, it starts to matter how each candidate actually selects their delegates. Obviously, a politician benefits from selecting delegates who will vote the way he wants them to, so that if e.g. Kasich isn’t going to be the nominee he can at least make deals on the basis of “If you give me [X], I’ll tell my delegates to vote for you”. The party benefits from this level of discipline as well, and has the means to enforce it where the delegates are political insiders.
Rubio’s delegates, and Kasich’s, will almost certainly vote for whomever Marco Rubio tells them to, and that almost certainly won’t be Donald Trump.
Cruz’s delegation will probably vote the way he tells them to, but he’s unpopular enough with the GOP establishment that he might not be able to get the same class of insiders as Rubio et al and he may not be in as strong a position to enforce discipline himself. So it’s possible that Cruz would offer his delegates to Trump in exchange for a vice-presidency and they’d go along with it, and it’s possible that Trump could win on the basis of defecting Cruz delegates, but those aren’t good bets I think. There’s a fair number of Cruz voters who’d favor Trump under those circumstances, but it’s not in Cruz’s interest to have them in his actual delegation.
Trump’s delegates are a wild card. I haven’t seen any good information about how he is selecting them, and his campaign has been generally weak at the level of nuts-and-bolts retail politics. If Trump isn’t going to be the nominee, he has no means of rewarding or punishing any delegate who plans to continue in politics. If he’s nominating complete outsiders, they won’t have the connections to build a network beyond the Trump delegation and they will be babes in the woods for the cutthroat negotiations to come.
Should be entertaining to watch, at least.
On the Republican side many state rules allow the state party infrastructure to pick the delegates rather than the campaigns. These recent rule changes happened because Romney picked many of his supporters instead of local power brokers and said local power brokers were upset to miss out on a free junket.
Here’s an article about how it played out in NY, but I understand the phenomenon to be widespread: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/06/8569091/after-scuffle-state-gop-change-delegate-rules-2016
Are Gary Johnson (libertarian) and Jill Stein (green) mostly interchangeable? Because apparently I side with Johnson “on foreign policy, domestic policy, immigration, social, environmental, electoral, and science issues” but I also side with Jill Stein “on foreign policy, domestic policy, immigration, social, healthcare, and criminal issues”.
I’m dubious of the merits of the exercise.
They have a lot of the same positions on many of those issues.
The big differences are going to be in taxes, economic regulation, healthcare, and environmental regulation, the latter two of which come out in those descriptions.
These test tends to group policy preferences together as “similar answers” where the two answers aren’t actually similar at all. For example on one of the global warming questions “no, institute a carbon tax” and “no, global warming is a natural occurrence” are treated as similar, when they’re exact opposites
I got 96% agreement with Johnson but only 66% with Stein which seems like a roughly accurate result to me.
Johnson >> Sanders/Clinton >> Rubio/Cruz >>>>>>>>> Trump
Sort of matches my preferences, although I don’t think Bernie/Hilary would have been as highly rated had there been better questions about economic policy (I value reducing the size of the regulatory state very highly, and I’m pretty sure Bernie/Hilary do not). I do take solace in that Trump is my least matched candidate (even of those that dropped out).
This quiz (which I’ve seen before, and now just looked at again) has always seemed absurd to me.
For most of these questions, my answer is “I have no idea. I am not nearly informed enough, nor have thought about it enough, to have an opinion on this topic.” The closest I have to a “position” on many of these topics is “well, if there’s a consensus among professionals in the relevant field, then we should probably go with that”. Even for the most “pure values” questions, my answer is “I really would have to delve much deeper into the arguments for all sides, and give it a good deal more thought than I have time or interest for, to have any kind of strongly held opinion”.
I’m supposed to side with Clinton or Bush or Eisenhower or whoever the heck the presidential candidates are this year, on the basis of what position they take on these specific object-level issues?? That’s insane, quite frankly. (And it makes the whole thing seem that much more like elaborate theater.)
Edit: Oh, and that’s not even getting into the fact that having to pick just one answer out of the provided choices (especially given the fact that a lot of the answers are laughably simplistic/dogmatic versions of what could plausibly be reasonable views) makes the entire quiz into a farce.
I can’t imagine not having an opinion on every single one of these questions, or at the very least most of them.
Ok, let’s go through them (or at least, as many of them as I can stomach before getting bored):
Abortion: Pro-choice, sure. But one of the choices is a claim: “… providing birth control, sex education, and more social services will help reduce the number of abortions”. Well, will it? How should I know? I’m sure I could look into it and figure it out, but I don’t really want to.
Same-sex marriage: I certainly have an ethical opinion, but in terms of policy? It’s a complex issue. What will result in the best outcomes, even given some fixed set of values? I’m not sure.
Funding for Planned Parenthood: Uh, I don’t know enough about this issue to have an opinion. I certainly know what the “standard liberal view” is. Is that the right one? I’d have to look into the facts a lot more, and the arguments, and give it thought…
Businesses denying service etc.: I’d go with “yes”, but I’ve seen the case made that this has consequences that don’t align with my values. More thought is certainly required.
Health insurance providers / free birth control: You expect me to have an opinion on health insurance regulation?? Don’t be ridiculous. I don’t even have an opinion on whether we should have free public health care! This is exactly the sort of thing that people are way too quick to form views on in the absence of expertise or domain knowledge.
Ok, I’m beat. Honestly, though, the above were some of the easiest ones. Other questions on the quiz concern national parks (how much do I know about the national parks system??), GMOs, term limits for Congresspeople, etc. It would be even more absurd for me to have opinions on object-level questions in those subjects.
Here’s a useful heuristic:
How easily can you imagine reading an SSC post explaining how any given opinion (the consensus opinion, your opinion, or any other) on a subject actually doesn’t take into account a whole slew of surprising things, how the issue at hand doesn’t work like most people think it does, and how actually, if we do this obviously-sensible-seeming thing, catastrophe results?
Because I can easily imagine it, for pretty much all of the topics on the quiz. I wouldn’t be surprised by such a post one bit, about any of these things. And that signals to me that I don’t know nearly enough about them to choose a president on the basis of what their opinion is. Really, I know next to nothing about them.
Which means that the only sensible opinion is no opinion.
My position is: I don’t care if it does or not. It’s irrelevant.
How are you separating the “ethical” question from the “policy” question? What is the dividing line for you?
Anyway, my prior here is to support more freedom and toleration, particularly when it’s opposed by religious dogmatism. And I haven’t seen anything like sufficient evidence to make me even consider changing my opinion.
I don’t support funding Planned Parenthood because I am opposed in principle to having the government fund all private charitable organizations and to having it involved in healthcare.
I say “yes” for the same reasons that I support private property rights in general. I can’t imagine “more thought” changing my opinion on this without completely overturning all of my political beliefs.
I think healthcare should be left to the free market. There is no good reason why it shouldn’t be: it’s not a public good, etc.
I know I don’t want my tax money going to national parks because I know I don’t care much about them and I know it’s unconstitutional. I know that GMO panic is spread by the same sorts of people who spread panic about every other kind of scientific advancement. And I know I don’t like career politicians serving in the House and Senate forever.
I can’t really imagine changing my opinion about any of these issues from something I read on SSC. Certainly not from some grab-bad of empirical studies.
I think it’s all a matter of basic political philosophy because I don’t trust the “latest empirical studies” on one side of the issue or the other. I don’t think the president has access to super secret information in making these decisions that I don’t have; and even if he did, I don’t think he’d be politically able to use it.
What I saw when taking that survey, is fairly little room for nuance. The questions were just a bunch of applause lights.
“Social Issues”: On abortion I answered in the pro-choice way, but gave it low priority. That’s pretty much my opinion on that matter, I find the whole abortion issue to be a rather trivial distraction. The other social issue questions lacked any nuance. On the equal pay one — it was worded so broadly that, if taken literally, a negative response would suggest the repeal of 70s civil rights legislation. In context it was probably referring to some of the more dubious proposals with the aim of providing equal pay (on which I’m mixed).
Environment: Very little nuance here. The options seem to swing from your choice of tree-hugger or anti-environmentalist. My real world opinion, an eco-modernism that favors both 1)environmental protection , and 2) the full utilization of modern technology (including nuclear energy, and biotech) is not on the list of available options. And my preference for nuclear energy, and GMOs is very strong , and puts me in strong contrast to the typical environmentalist.
Economic Issues: No way on those question to simultaneously support a strong government role in economic policy, while disavowing the economically illiterate elements of the left who refuse to acknowledge the presence of economic takeoffs (hello, Bernie Sanders).
I could go on here. The net result of this was to probably make me come out on that test as a solid left winger, when in reality I have a number of centrist sympathies. Or maybe centrist isn’t the right word. I think the left is about 70% correct, but on the issues where I think the American left is wrong, I think its very wrong in an extremely dangerous way. During the election I’m voting for Clinton — not so much because of strong policy agreement, but because I think she is the least likely to do anything very irresponsible.
Ranking: Cruz > Rubio > Christie = Johnson = Carson > Trump >> Clinton > Sanders.
Not surprising at all. My actual positions have Trump and Sanders up higher, but that’s because they’ll widen the Overton Window rather than because I actually agree with them on policy matters.
Cruz is higher than he should be, but other than that it seems mostly accurate.
Of the semiplausible candidates I got Cruz > Trump > Rubio > Sanders > Clinton > Kasich. But of course the test only looks at claimed positions on the issues, and doesn’t take into account things like integrity and symbolism.
100% match for Sanders, 95% for Clinton. Also 70% for Gary Johnson, so apparently I don’t hate libertarians, which is comforting, as I didn’t think I did. The highest for any Republican for me was 31% (Kasich). Pretty much what I expected. But despite that I’m also skeptical of the value of these tests. There’s always a big gap between stated positions and which policies actually get enacted, and a further gap between how the policies are written and how they are implemented in practice. Not only do I distrust the stated positions of Republicans, I also tend to fear that they’re most likely to do what they promise in the cases where I wish they wouldn’t, rather than in the cases where I actually want them to, and I expect them to mismanage implementation in such a way as to make things still worse. Conversely, while I don’t exactly trust Democrats to do those things right, I don’t expect them to mess up as badly. As a result, even if a Republican had come up higher than Clinton, I’d probably still be planning to vote for Clinton ahead of even that Republican in November. And I can’t help but suspect that many Republicans have the mirror image of my feelings about how things would work out, and are probably more motivated by that than any policy positions. People in my tribe will think like me, so they won’t do anything too crazy (regardless of their rhetoric), but who knows what those people from the other tribe might do with power!
I’m a moderate libertarian according to this scale, just barely leaning right
It actually predicts my view of the candidates fairly accurately. Interestingly, I got a 52% match with Sanders, but only a 35% match with Clinton.
That’s funny: somehow I “agree” with Gary Johnson on 93% of issues; you “agree” with him on 86% of issues; but I only “agree” with you on 44% of issues. (I suspect this is because the candidates’ answers are not filled in on all issues.)
Also, there’s many “partially similar” answers that are not similar at all.
My link: http://www.isidewith.com/elections/2016-presidential/2006896254
Also Gary Johnson highest
but I only agree with Sastan 34% while I agree 75% with vox. The wierdest thing though, is that the anonymous long time lurker below has the first 4 candidates the same as mine and in the same order (Johnson, Sanders, Stein, Clinton) while only agreeing 23% with me.
My political views are pretty changeable and might be different tomorrow.
for the Pew poll:
I got “business conservative” like vox but am not convinced that’s very accurate, it came down to a lot of tough choices between views both of which were very far from mine.
(long-time lurker here)
Seems like I am moderately libertarian and moderately left-wing:
That my two highest politician are a libertarian and bernie sanders might explain why I feel confused and unsure who I would vote for if I were in the US.
Apparently I’m Johnson > Cruz > Trump > Stein > Sanders > others. I took this test some time ago and had about 70% agreement with Cruz and Sanders (which was more than anyone else save Rand Paul); now I have 82% agreement with Cruz and 69% with Sanders. I probably answered some questions I’m of two minds about differently this time, or perhaps they asked different questions.
Of the 47 Slatestar readers who’ve taken the quiz we seem to have a pretty even split between Liberal and Conservative.
Yes, I’ve been noticing the same thing. So the commentariat, or at least the fraction of it answering the poll, is pretty balanced.
However, I suspect that overall it is more right-leaning than its demographics would predict (assuming that most of the people here are in their 20s and 30s). For instance, when I was in college I gave this poll out to some of my friends, and it was much more left-wing. Almost no “steadfast conservatives”, a few “business conservatives” like myself. The biggest difference is that there are relatively few “next generation left” people here; in college, it was the opposite, with few “solid liberals” and much more of the “next generation”.
There are virtually no “faith and family left” here, but that’s no shocker.
This site claimed Trump does not support “space travel” because of this tweet but that is wrong.
I got Bernie > Hillary > Cruz > Bloomberg > Trump. But actually, although I may vote for Hillary, I am also thinking of Trump because of his foreign policy ideas and nationalism. Trump’s foreign policy seems pretty nuanced and did not seem to be captured here. Does anyone have an opinion on it?
Trump’s foreign policy is probably the best reason to vote for him. He is the most anti-interventionist of any of the candidates other than Sanders. He is also less stridently pro-Israel than all the other candidates (which isn’t hard).
On the other hand, he has also said that we should kill the families of terrorists. I suspect that Trump is less likely to violate jus ad bellum than most of the other candidates, but more likely to violate jus in bello — that is, he’s less likely to start a war, but more likely to use immoral means once we’re in one. But, although both are bad, the alarming willingness of most of the other candidates to start wars is probably more dangerous.
I got Bernie 98% > Hillary 96% > Stein 95 > Bloomberg 76 > Johnson 55% > Trump 16% >>
So, as I’ve been suspecting, Trump might be my most compatible Republican candidate.
I think the blantatly stupidly worded statements of keep the muslims out and Mexicans are terrorists will have obvious negative international reverberations that will outweigh any possible national security benefits along with tarnishing Americas image and fundemtally offending several of our biggest trade partners.
There are good reasons to believe that there should be stringent immigration rules, especially for individuals in a region where there exist otherwise functional memetic traditions that are difficult to reconcile with western liberties. And there are worries of cartel crime and drug trafficking that may warrant an object similar to a wall being built. Lastly, there’s the issue of how automation is affecting American jobs which is another argument for restricting immigration.
But this is like, a few steps away from WW3 rhetoric. Its fundamentally aggressive. Stupidly combative and paranoid towards China, a country where it should be a #1 priority to not repeat the masculine stupidities of the cold war. Its blatantly unconstitutional too. And stoking negative religious passions is how what percentage of wars and massacres have been started?
Also, its not good on America’s economy. Tariffs with the intention of protecting inefficient national industries tend to lead to deadweight losses and inefficiencies, and greater prices with utterly no benefit to the typical American consumer. It also unfairly takes away jobs from developing Chinese sectors in areas where the ability to fund necessary social services may not be as adequate. I’m pretty sure I literally learned that when I took ECON 101. As in, ECON 101 in real life. If there was a strong justified environmental angle to add tariffs to Chinese goods, that’s a real valid reason, but I only see mindless protectionism of the backfiring sort.
He supports legalizing torture, which is probably the best thing you can do if you want even more fear and international and multigenerational hatred of America.
Its also idiotic to simply say “I agree with candidate X on issues ABC” while ignoring the rhetoric of national leaders and not thinking it will alter the national psyche of the inhabitants and mass-group actions of other nations.
I mean, George W. Bush was legendary at times for poorly worded bushisms. But in comparison to Trump, its as if Bush was gifted by the muses of literature.
There are a few parts of what you said on WW3 and torture that seem like hyperbole. But maybe you are right overall-but if so, then so what? Because maybe we offend trading partners and move to a more militarized world. America has the largest most advanced military in the world. If the world moves in that direction, I would guess that we will hold the advantage. War has been in decline for the past half century; I am not that concerned about WW3. At this point that seems like speculation.
There do seem to be pretty deep issues here of, What are your priorities? I totally admit that I am not neutral; my inclination is toward more nationalism and citizenism.
Trump’s policies may be bad for trade but the global economy right now is not in good shape, and we don’t really know why-so maybe we should make a change. I’m definitely not an expert, but according to Chomsky, there is a long history of countries violating free trade principles and growing as a result.
I could be convinced this was a bad idea if (1) it would not lead to more economic growth in the long run AND (2) the current world order was stable and any shift to a different one was not inevitable. Basically I have a feeling and I don’t see why it’s counterproductive. So I’m going with it.
I’m definitely not an expert, but according to Chomsky, there is a long history of countries violating free trade principles and growing as a result.
Wait, so Chomsky is an expert on international trade and macroeconomics now?
Is there any field Chomsky isn’t an expert in?
His linguistics work does see some use in theoretical CS, but he’s never weighed in himself as far as I know.
How about this? Also there seem to be problems in the global economic system that nobody can figure out. Perhaps it would be better to cut this Gordian knot.
I do think free trade is usually good. I hope that Trump isn’t going to gratuitously slap on tariffs, but I wonder how much you can consider gratuitous. Values and the environment probably co-evolve, so if your goal is more nationalist and citizenist values, a good strategy might be tariffs and restricting immigration. Because if you take a different direction from neighboring countries and relations go sour, and there are many immigrants from those neighbors, then (I speculate that) the immigrants may not be loyal. If trade is high, constituencies benefiting from trade will exist. International tensions will lower trade and whoever is benefiting from trade will demand fewer tensions. Pinker agrees trade helps keep the peace.
It comes back to whether more nationalism is adaptive. The US is a big enough country that maybe it growing more nationalist would tip the whole global system toward more nationalism or it’s already moving in that direction. At the other extreme, it could also be that we become more nationalist, but it just hurts us. Mexico links up with (say) China, everybody just re-routes around the truculent USA and business goes on as usual. We take big long-run hits to economic growth, the free-trading countries prosper and we are left behind. I agree this would be bad. Would it happen?
“How about this?”
There is only two claims they reference
— The free flow of financing across borders, Bhagwati says, is a source of dangerous instability.—
This is true in regards to certain types of panics; this does not really apply to the US or other major economies. It is mostly a worry in countries that have just opened up because investors tend to be more skittish.
“A landmark 2013 study by David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson found that competition from China has destroyed jobs and lowered wages in many U.S. industries, especially manufacturing. ”
That isn’t showing free trade is wrong. That is showing the US economy is not flexible; we should expect trade to cause creative destruction. If the economy isn’t producing more jobs (and we know it can since it does for new technologies) we are either excee