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### 758 Responses to Open Thread 50.5

1. Oliver Lawrence says:

I became a libertarian the first time I read Nozick, though I think that I have always had a visceral skepticism of authority. When I was a kid, I used to seek out rules to flout or bend. It drove my parents and teachers up the wall. I think that libertarianism just chimes with my psychological profile and I think that other ideologies just chime with other ones (my meta-ethical position is Humean sentimentalism).

I’d really like to know if anyone else sees their relation to libertarianism in the same way that I see mine. There are quite a lot of libertarians on this blog. I wonder if having confidence in their analytical abilities also made it hard for them to obey rules when they were younger.

2. Corey says:

So, healthcare. Why can’t we have a free-ish market, and how bad is insurance making it?

In the context of the US system, insurers actually help with a dysfunction: they (including Uncle Sam via Medicare) are the only entities with enough clout to negotiate prices. Combine this with complete price opacity (for anything not considered completely “elective”) and you end up with the situation where an infinite-deductible insurance plan has nonzero value.

Bonus life tip for those not as familiar with the US system: never EVER go out-of-network for anything unless imminent death is the alternative. There’s no legal nor logical limit to what you can and will be billed. Also, all providers are independent contractors, so ones you don’t have a say in picking (e.g. anesthesiologists) are never in anyone’s network (there’s no upside for them), so try to negotiate a sane price (e.g. “the Medicare rate” if their practice accepts Medicare) beforehand.

As for why we can’t have a free-ish market:

– We haven’t the societal stomach to make healthcare excludable, e.g. EMTALA. (Rightly IMO)
– We make significant barriers to entry for safety and efficacy reasons (again mostly rightly IMO)
– Even if we got per-procedure price transparency, knowing what’s needed is pretty much the province of the doctor. Even if we were to regulate it like we do auto repair (mandating binding pre-treatment estimates) it wouldn’t work as well because of inherent complexity. So: principal-agent problems.
– Heavily asymmetric information due mostly to that complexity.

Solution: price controls (they’re observed to work well elsewhere, whether pure fiat like Singapore, or through monopsony buying power like Canada).

If we really do need to pay so much so that the rest of the world can free-ride on our innovation, then 1) that makes healthcare a textbook public good, and 2) we should just subsidize the innovation directly, rather than just pay insane prices and hope the innovation happens.

Discuss?

• onyomi says:

This person’s experience of getting back surgery in India seems relevant.

• Corey says:

Well, India’s starting a transition to universal HC, so we can see if that ruins it in a decade or two 🙂

• keranih says:

Gah. My suggestion would have been to hold this to the next OT, and then start with health metrics. Once we’ve established how we are measuring things, we can argue about how to make things better by those measurements.

But since you’ve started…

insurers actually help with a dysfunction: they are the only entities with enough clout to negotiate prices

Absolutely not true. Anyone can negotiate prices – all you have to do is be willing to take your business elsewhere when you don’t get a price you like. This action is what the healthcare businesses have glomed onto as their price fixing method – you don’t know that hospital X fixes broken arms for 3/4 the price (and 92% of the success rate) of hospital Y, so you never choose.

If people are arguing for price transparency, then I am for it, and I am willing to accept slow rolling other reforms while we work on that. But I refuse to accept opaque prices as built into the system when they aren’t in anything else, and aren’t even baked in for all of health care (see: vision correction, plastic surgery, veterinary medicine.)

(Before anyone tries to claim that health care is Special Because You Don’t Negotiate Price While You Are In the Ambulance With a Heart Attack – less than 5% of US health care expenses are emergency care.)

As for “we don’t have the stomach to make health care excludable” – sure we do. We have all sorts of ‘refuse to provide care’ right now. There is no reason that ratchet has to only work one way.

As for health and safety barriers – eh. Licensing is tricky, and MD licenses are pretty high up on the tree. If we get wide spread acceptance of deregulating a variety of professions, then I could see putting more effort on this. Lowering the cost of MD education and raising the number of MDs would *help*, but that’s not the primary driver of cost – nurses, blood tests and MRI machines are more so.

As for asymetrical info – sorry, this is going to get a huge eyeroll from me. Again – plastic surgery? Lasix? Car repair? Fridge repair? Home construction? And again – veterinary medicine? All asymmetrical info with a licensed professional. It is not different with an MD. You think your MD is trying to blink you, you get a second opinion.

Price controls are not working – ask anyone trying to get treatment off their insurance network. Or anyone on Medicaid. Or anyone who knows what the doc fix was. (And Canada’s medical system only works because the USA is here to take their overflow.)

And while we’re talking about examples – (serious question, not rhetorical) where else have price controls worked? ‘Cause I remember 70’s gas lines.

• Corey says:

Price controls don’t work when you can have competitive markets, and gasoline is the textbook example of perfect competition. (And indeed, as that model predicts, profits on retail gas sales are about zero – gas stations are loss leaders for convenience stores).

I did mention that car repair has a heavier regulation than medicine – mechanics must give you a binding estimate before work starts, and if they find more work than, say, 10% more, they have to give you the opportunity to back out. Ditto home construction.

Price opacity isn’t baked into healthcare, true, but just a dysfunction of the current US system. It’s a pretty sticky one though – go try to find out some hospital prices for common procedures (e.g. uncomplicated vaginal baby delivery) for non-insureds – unless you’re in Maryland where hospitals do indeed publish rates (and they’re regulated).

Trouble getting treatment off of an insurance network is because of the *lack* of price control – in-network, the insurer sets the price. Out of network, your liability is unlimited, an insurer will pay e.g. 60% of what they would have paid in-network, and the rest of the bill is yours. Any provider will be happy to treat you if you are willing to pay whatever they decide to bill you without knowing up front how much that will be.

There’s some savings to be had from expanding scopes of practice (e.g. letting nurse practitioners handle the low-hanging fruit of ear infections and the like).

• Skivverus says:

Again, though, that “lack of price control” is a result of lack of choice and opaque pricing/reputation: presumably one does not go out-of-network while the in-network options are acceptable, and, also presumably, if you have some way of finding out what those out-of-network options charge, you’ll pick the cheapest one that keeps you healthy.
Price controls in the sense of “the government/regulator/insurer defines the price for procedure X, instead of the people actually performing that procedure” run into the Local Knowledge Problem – when (not if; neither costs nor customers are static) the price is too low, X just doesn’t get done, and you have shortages (or it gets paid for under-the-table); when the price is too high, X is done instead of the more relevant Y (where “Y” might be “the doctor actually getting some sleep for once”).

Can’t speak to the relative burden of regulation of mechanics to medics; I’d have to see the number of pages of rules devoted to each.

• Corey says:

One of the solutions I favor is all-payer rate setting, which helps with (doesn’t eliminate) the Local Knowledge Problem (all the insurers and providers in an area get together and negotiate prices as one). Taking it nationwide makes things less local, OTOH throwing them all into a thunderdome every so often and having them equilibriate prices is… a market.

• keranih says:

(all the insurers and providers in an area get together and negotiate prices as one).

This is actual collusion, you know? and is in no way going to make things cheaper, because it removes all ability of the local providers to undercut each other.

We want the providers working *against* each other, to better please the consumer, not working together to collectively screw us!

• Corey says:

@keranih: Insurers are included in APRS negotiations, so there are countervailing forces to providers. It’s the PPO network model, except one network that everyone participates in.

• keranih says:

All that means is that the insurers know how much to charge their customers. It is still price fixing, and it is still not helping the consumer.

When the consumer gets to chose their treatment from an array of options, knowing that they will *directly* pay for what they are getting, then we will see prices fall.

Everything else is frosting.

• BBA says:

OTOH throwing them all into a thunderdome every so often and having them equilibriate prices is… a market.

Come on, can’t we just get beyond Thunderdome?

• keranih says:

Price opacity isn’t baked into healthcare, true, but just a dysfunction of the current US system.

YES! Houston, we have agreement!

So now can we agree that we need to get rid of price opacity, in order to make everything else work better? Because price opacity isn’t going to make anything about single-payer care easier, and it will keep price controls from working, and it’s in general a bad idea.

Because I see no reason why healthcare as a whole can’t be a fairly (*) competitive market, instead of just those (far, FAR cheaper and more efficient) subsectors that have already been named.

(*) We aren’t getting the government completely out of healthcare, because there are some public good aspects in terms of sewage, sanitary packaging, and infectious diseases. And because MD licenses are very close to being baked in. But we can do much, *much* better than we are doing now.

• Corey says:

Price transparency would indeed help quite a bit. To be fair, price controls also eliminate price opacity (the price is what it’s controlled to be) as a side effect 🙂

Drugs are one place where I could see that not working, because we grant monopolies, but that’s a somewhat different problem. Solutions to *that* one might be to fund drug R&D with prizes or just directly.

• Skivverus says:

Possible Law of Unintended Consequences warning: price opacity may well be something insurers want, by reasoning similar to “consumers will use price as a rule-of-thumb proxy measure for quality, and since they don’t have to actually pay for it, they’ll just go for the most expensive option instead of, say, checking the reviews. Bad For Profits.”

Still in favor of price transparency, but it’s likely to require additional hacks to mitigate the side effects in the existing system.

• John Schilling says:

Price transparency also means that if GloboMegaCare negotiates a price of $X per hip replacement from Bob’s Prosthetic Installation and Small Appliance Repair, everybody else gets to say “OK, so we know you’re willing to do hip replacements for$X, we want that deal too”. Neither Bob nor GMC really want to see that happen.

• The Nybbler says:

Seems to me that for each intervention, you cause another problem which you then try to solve with another intervention. People don’t have health care; subsidize healthcare. Prices increase as a result of subsidization, institute price controls. Price controls kill innovation, subsidize innovation. I expect that will cause another problem to arise.

• Corey says:

The Pure Free Market(tm) that these are “interventions” upon is… what?

• onyomi says:

Whatever would happen if the government were completely uninvolved in health care.

• Corey says:

The problem is that *that* option isn’t on the table, and envisioning a country where it is would be so different than any existing one that it’s probably useless except as a thought-clarifying model.

See the etymology of “snake oil” for details. (ETA: Also “The Market for Lemons” – useful healthcare would likely be completely outcompeted).

• “ETA: Also “The Market for Lemons” – useful healthcare would likely be completely outcompeted.

The market for lemons (aka adverse selection) depends on a situation where one party to a transaction has information about the value of the good that the other party has no way of getting. It’s hard to see why that would be the case here. There could be lots of expert middlemen providing information to the customers, as there are on other markets.

• Corey says:

@David Friedman: customer doesn’t know whether Real Medicine(tm) works, doesn’t know whether snake oil works, market converges on snake oil because it can undercut any Real Medicine on price, seems pretty straightforward to me. I could well be mis-nomer-ing the particular market failure. We may already be there in the “supplement” market.

If we do the usual libertarian handwave of “there’ll be competing private testing labs” you land somewhere between people not knowing which lab to trust (meta-ing the lemon problem a level), or replicating the FDA and we’re back where we started.

• Nornagest says:

Snake oil had a bad reputation long before the FDA. People still bought it, and some of them were no doubt foolish or desperate enough to believe it’d cure their cancer or tuberculosis or whatever, but that’s not far off what we have right now with the supplement market. Only difference is that supplement vendors have to add a thin veneer of disclaimer, which is understood by all parties to be there for legal reasons only.

(I was going to say that supplements wear a hippie sweater rather than a lab coat, too, but now that I think about it I’ve seen both.)

• @Corey:

There are lots of private goods whose quality is not obvious on inspection–cars, refrigerators, computers, anything where how long it lasts matters. Your argument appears to imply that all of them will be designed on the basis that it is not worth the producer bearing any cost to make them last longer than long enough for the purchaser to get them home. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

A private testing lab has different incentives than the FDA.

• Skivverus says:

@Corey Standard-ish libertarian response: it would be nice if we were allowed a reputable alternative to the FDA, now, wouldn’t it? Say, a “MedCert X” company, where Real Medicine companies could apply for MedCert X or FDA approval (or both!).
MedCert X would get its funding primarily through application fees, I suspect, but might alternatively or in tandem offer a website/app with up-to-date verdicts on Real Medicines for various ailments, tailored subscriptions available for a fee (and untailored subscriptions available for free).

• “but might alternatively or in tandem offer a website/app with up-to-date verdicts on Real Medicines for various ailments”

In fact, Mayo Clinic offers such a website. Of course, medicines still need FDA approval.

• “The problem is that *that* option isn’t on the table”

About fifty years ago, Ronald Coase proposed treating the radio spectrum as private property, auctioning it off instead of having frequencies allocated by the FCC. At the time, the option clearly wasn’t on the table. Currently a somewhat imperfect version is government policy.

More recently than that, gay marriage was clearly not on the table.

• Corey says:

@David Friedman: I work in the private sector, so I do actually believe that if any product lasts longer than the period of express or implied/legally-mandated warranties, that it’s purely accidental.

Brand reputation (the usual corrective) is now entirely decoupled from product manufacture, I think we are heading in a lemons-ish direction where people *assume* any brand, after building a good reputation, will cash it in quickly by wringing every last scrap of quality out of the product. Moloch demands it!

• Corey says:

@Skivverus: I’d expect such a scenario to devolve into, say, a dozen different certifiers, ten of whom are owned by snake-oil manufacturers and certify all their own products, and two who certify few things (because the market is flooded with snake oil), are continually smeared/sued by the other ten until they go out of business.

• “where people *assume* any brand, after building a good reputation, will cash it in quickly by wringing every last scrap of quality out of the product.”

Suppose that were true (it isn’t, because it’s often more profitable to continue benefiting by a continued good reputation). It still would not justify your “if any product lasts longer than the period of express or implied/legally-mandated warranties, that it’s purely accidental,” since some products would be produced by companies in the process of building up that good reputation.

But in fact, speaking as a consumer not a producer, I think your picture is wildly inconsistent with my routine experience. We are about to replace our refrigerator/freezer. It lasted for something over twenty years, which is far beyond any actual or implied warranty. I replaced my minivan a year or so ago, due to physical damage that was our fault (it was still running, but repairs to body damage would have cost more than they were worth)–I think I had had it more than ten years, probably more than fifteen.

Forty years ago, the rule of thumb was that a car would last about a hundred thousand miles. Currently it is considerably more–perhaps twice that. That isn’t the result of longer warranties, it’s the result of technological progress which only occurred because car companies knew that customers were more willing to buy their cars if they lasted longer.

Does your experience as a consumer contradict mine? Have you owned a car? Did its value decline to close to zero at about the point when the warranty ran out? A computer? A refrigerator?

• Skivverus says:

@Corey Well, aside from the snake-oil manufacturers suing the Real Medicine companies into actual oblivion (which seems to ignore the relative efficacy of countersuing for defamation – lawyers may well be sleazy, but they’re not exclusively contracted to the Forces of Evil), how is your scenario not already the case with alternative medicine?

• Dan T. says:

The “all providers are independent contractors” part is one of the things that makes things particularly aggravating to the consumer, where you get an unpredictable number of different bills from the same procedure, something that rarely happens in any other line of business (imagine if, to send a letter, you got separately billed by all the different postmen, mail sorters, truck drivers, airplane pilots, train engineers, etc. who handled it in-transit). It would be more consumer-friendly to make all of them subcontractors of your primary care provider (or the clinic or hospital they operate in), with them getting paid (and the amounts negotiated) by the primary provider and the costs thereof becoming overhead that is figured into the price on the single bill you would then get.

• Corey says:

Yep! I think that’s mostly driven by working with self-regulating professionals, and by liability concerns stemming from that.

There are a few places experimenting with such combination (e.g. Kaiser, which is well-liked among patients AFAIK) and of course NHSes don’t have that class of problem.

3. Corey says:

Pulling out a sub-thread about whether US government policy caused the 2000s housing bubble.

My arguments against:

If the Fed was keeping interest rates “artificially low”: compared to what counterfactual? Why/how would this overheat just the housing sector without also overheating other sectors?

If it was the Community Reinvestment Act: most of the problem was subprime loans, and most of those were made at institutions not subject to the CRA.

If it was Fannie and Freddie: they got into subprime way after everyone else did, around 2007.

My pet theory:

Conventional wisdom long ago (say, 1990) was that banks wanted to avoid foreclosures, because they lost money on them, so they had incentives to avoid sketchy loans. But when house prices started going up 5% a year, it got possible to have a loan foreclosed on in a year or two and still break even, or even come out ahead. Especially so if the loan was at a subprime (high) interest rate. Heads you (the bank) win with good interest income, tails you win after foreclosing.

Combine that with a separation of mortgage origination into separate companies from underwriting (the obvious “moral hazard” everyone talked about post-meltdown), and you get massive loan volumes with no regard as to whether they could be repaid.

So why would banks do this? There was lots of money to be made short-term. Everyone knew it would fall apart when houses stopped appreciating so rapidly. But Moloch frowns upon those who forgo short-term profits.

My anecdata: shopping for mortgages in 2000 at age 27, I was looking at 95% and 97% LTV. One lady (at a mortgage company I’ll, for the sake of anonymity, call “CTX”), quoted me 103% and 110%. I was appalled, and said “I’ve got 3-5% ready to put down” and she said, I’m not changing a word, “Wouldn’t it be nice to buy a big-screen TV with cash at closing?” I replied “not paying 8% interest on it for 30 years” and went elsewhere.

• keranih says:

If it was the Community Reinvestment Act: most of the problem was subprime loans, and most of those were made at institutions not subject to the CRA.

Which institutions were that, which were not subject to pressure for discriminating against minority lenders?

(Before I forget – how about some notice also for those rating agencies who didn’t do the research and didn’t do the appropriate ratings? They’re on my list also.)

And absolutely I agree that the banks were morons with their lending. From my own history – prior to 2007, I was in college, no job, living off student loans, beermug to hand to mouth. Ran up a five figure credit card bill. Literally, every time I was two-three months late paying the minimum, they would up my limit again.

Then I graduate, get a *good* job, multi year contract, paid off my credit card bills with a bit of scrimping, got a brand-new-to-me beater car, managing the student loans just fine.

Got a notice from the bank (same bank) that they were sending me a new credit card, and oh, btw, they were adjusting my credit limit. I shrugged, tossed the notice to one side, figured it was some sort of typo. I knew I was in one zillion percent better financial shape than I’d been in the year before. Had to fix the car, buy new winter clothes, and *something else I forget* all in the same two weeks. Smacked up against my new limit.

Called up the bank. “Hey, I need to up the limit another five hundred bucks.”

Bank: No can do.

Me: (politely) …sorry?

Bank: We’ve assessed your credit rating and that’s all that our standards allow us to lend you.

Me: (less politely) W. T. F???

Bank: ah. Well, you see, we looked at your credit history and your income and your bank balance and –

Me: AND ALL YOU’LL ALLOW ME IS ONE FIFTH THE MONEY YOU LENT ME ALL ON YOUR OWN LAST YEAR WHEN I HAD NO MONEY, MOST OF THESE STUDENT LOANS, NO JOB, AND IOU NOTES ALL OVER TOWN??? THEY SHUT OFF MY UTILITIES THREE TIMES IN THE LAST YEAR BEFORE I GRADUATED YOU IDIOTS.

Bank: We’re doing this to safe guard your funds, including your savings account –

Me: BY NOT LOANING MONEY WHEN I CAN FINALLY PAY IT BACK!?!? BUT LAST YEAR IT WAS PERFECTLY FINE??? You’re saying I can trust you NOW because you were idiots THEN and you learned your lesson FOR REALS???!!!?!

I do generally try to not be anything but very polite to waitstaff and phone people – I can and do ask for a supervisor when I want to get snippy. But that day I kinda went off on the poor gal on the other end of the line.

And then I hung up the phone and got a little scared about the financial situation.

• Corey says:

Credit card issuers get most profit from people who pay the minimums and occasionally pay late or miss one (not that long ago, they would raise your interest rate if you were late on unrelated bills – that got banned).

People who pay off the balance each month are less profitable, so they’d rather not keep your business.

• keranih says:

Well, credit cards are a tricksy tool, period. I don’t doubt that there are people who can manage them well, but I’ve met very few. I’m certainly not one, and by the stats, neither are most people.

Having said that – it’s not like you don’t get what it says on the tin.

• dndnrsn says:

I’ve found that having a banking app on my phone really, really helps. It makes it easy to quickly check the balance and pay it off, which means I pay it off several times a month.

• Corey says:

Which institutions were that, which were not subject to pressure for discriminating against minority lenders?

Lenders that were not depository banks not covered under CRA. Countrywide is a familiar example. The best counter-evidence I’ve been able to find is people saying “Countrywide made loans to Those People even though they weren’t legally required to so as to keep themselves from possibly being legally required to someday” which seems like quite a stretch.

I’m not sure lending to minorities was much of a problem for the subprime lenders anyway – they *chased* minority customers during the times one could profit on a foreclosure. Subprime loans were marketed in partnership with black churches, for example.

• Deiseach says:

This is how banks make their money.

I got so sick of being sent “hey, take out a credit card with us!” junk mail from my bank during the start of the Celtic Tiger years (when I had no job and fuck-all money, pardon the language) that I said “Okay, I’ll fill in this application, they’ll see I have fuck-all income, they’ll stop hassling me”.

They gave me a credit card.

After I got over “But – but – I have no money! Why did they do this?” my second thought was “Finally! Internet shopping where you need to have a credit card, here I come!” 🙂

But thanks to having been raised with a healthy (some might say irrational) fear of GETTING INTO DEBT, I have never hit my limit and always make sure to pay back the balance and end each month in credit. I’ve used it a couple of times over the years for big purchases where I spread out the repayments, but I always make sure to have it paid off by the end of the year.

Because I looked at the interest rates, calculated what the Annual Rate is, went “This is iniquitous, you’d get a better deal from your local loan shark and leg-breakers”, and realised This Is How Banks Make Money.

They want you to go into debt. College student with no income, racking up the debts? Best thing ever! Keep slapping on the interest – by the way, do you know your repayments go to paying the interest first and then the rest of the loan? And you end up paying interest on interest, because they don’t charge it “this is the interest on the loan figure for the year, divide it over twelve months”, they recalculate on the balance left outstanding every month? Because I think a lot of people (a) have no idea what the true APR is (b) don’t realise the interest goes on the outstanding amount which is “original plus interest” every month.

The more debt you owe them, the better. Because then you’re locked into paying back on a regular schedule and will never clear it off (unless, as you did, you get a good job and make a fixed effort to do so). That’s why they bumped up your limit every time – to encourage you to spend up to the new limit and go deeper into debt.

I vowed never to pay them a penny in interest if ever I could help doing so, which is why I’m a lousy customer (from the profit-making point of view): I’ve never taken out a bank loan for anything and I pay off my credit card in full every month.

• JBeshir says:

I got a phone call from my bank, asking me what the balance on my card was.

I told them I paid it off in full each month. They seemed kind of thrown off, and dutifully proceeded to recite how useful their credit card *would* have been, with its transfer offer, if I had a balance, then ended the conversation unusually quickly for a marketing call.

It’s part of the general scheme of things nowadays, where a major part of business is finding ways to bilk anyone who compares options less than optimally when buying things or managing their finances. Loyalty is weakness! And anyone not smart enough to realise that of course ‘deserves’ the poor financial straits they find themselves in…

(I did dip into debt for a little during the previous year- a whole bunch of expenses at once, coupled with only running a slim surplus- but running a tight budget for four months to increase that surplus fixed it and got savings underway again, and nowadays I have more income.)

• Zorgon says:

Being a student is something of a special case. I remember how precipitous the change in my bank’s behaviour seemed.

• God Damn John Jay says:

My Prediction:

Banks loan money to students with the understanding that their parents will bail them out if worst comes to worst.

They won’t loan to adults because they have no idea if they have wealthy parents who can bail them out.

• Eggoeggo says:

Mostly agreed, with the caveat that during the extended period of low interest rates there were (and still are) a lot of state/private pension funds chasing increasingly impractical returns to make up for deficits.

The states have been allowed to discount that future liability at an annual rate of 7.5%-8% on the assumption that they can earn such returns on their investment portfolios… Even when this dubious approach is used, the Centre for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College reckons that states’ pensions are 27% underfunded.

This gave a lot of pension fund managers a massive incentive not to question the AAA ratings of increasingly complex and sketchy structured MBSs. And there are two parties to every bubble or scam: the seller who is exuberant (or simply crooked) enough to sell, and the buyer who is greedy or desperate enough to buy.

• onyomi says:

“If the Fed was keeping interest rates “artificially low”: compared to what counterfactual? Why/how would this overheat just the housing sector without also overheating other sectors?”

“But when house prices started going up 5% a year, it got possible to have a loan foreclosed on in a year or two and still break even, or even come out ahead.”

2 is the answer to 1. Excess liquidity doesn’t flow evenly into the economy, it flows wherever it’s “hot” at the time. In the 90s it was dotcoms. The fed doesn’t create a mania (and there’s always SOME hot new trend where extra liquidity can flow), but it adds a lot of fuel to the fire.

The other big problem was the implicit guarantee, as well as the fact that the ratings agencies are strongly beholden (look what happened when one downgraded the US). When the government tries to insure people against risk, people end up taking bigger risks. It’s like football helmets causing more brain damage.

• Corey says:

What *did* happen when they downgraded the US? It was a bit paradoxical, but not unexpected: Treasury yields went *down*, because investors got skittish and rushed for their safe haven, the very Treasuries that had been downgraded. Did the ratings agency get retaliated against or something?

Schiff’s not reliable on this, he’s saying Fannie & Freddie inflated the bubble, though they were the last to get into subprime. If there weren’t subprime loans, the damage would have been *much* less.

There are indeed lots of government programs to encourage homeownership, but all of them had been basically unchanged for decades when the bubble hit. Subprime was new.

• onyomi says:

I was referring to how, in 2011, immediately after S&P announced a credit downgrade for the US, the president started publicly criticizing them. Two weeks later, the DoJ announced S&P was under investigation. I don’t know if this resulted in any negative longterm consequences for S&P, but the message, not only to S&P, but the other agencies, was clear.

• Corey says:

I missed that, but do believe it.

To be fair, I’m not sure what it would even mean to have a credit rating for a government who issues debt in their own currency. Then again, what such a rating would measure would be the probability of intentional default, which was a live issue at the time via debt ceiling clusterfucks.

Thinking about debt default: I assume that Obama had a trillion-dollar platinum coin in his pocket in case the debt ceiling got breached. It would have been the only legal way forward – he can’t raise taxes, issue new debt, nor fail to pay appropriated expenses, all of those things would be breaking the law. Silly? Yes, but so is having overdetermined laws such that it’s not possible to satisfy them all simultaneously.

• onyomi says:

Yeah, my point here is just that, being politically beholden, and given the long political tradition of shooting the messenger, ratings agencies could not be counted on to give objective assessments of other politically charged cases, such as the housing market.

But if we can’t have objective, truly independent ratings agencies because of the government, then I blame the government for that.

Related, none of these nominally private yet clearly political organizations like Fannie Mae and even the Fed itself can be counted on to be truly objective. The Fed chairman, for example, would get politically lambasted if she came out and said anything pessimistic about the US economy. In part this is fear of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it’s also just because the job of Fed chairman has become politicized as “cheerleader in chief” for the US economy (I blame Alan Greenspan, the first quasi-celebrity chair, to a significant extent here).

Arguably having these quasi-private agencies is better than just doing away with the pretense, but when politically beholden entities send investors bad information for political reasons then, again, I blame the government.

• Douglas Knight says:

The rule of thumb is that foreclosure recovers 50% of the value of the house, so, no, it is almost impossible to make a profit on a foreclosure.

• Corey says:

Interesting, it looks like this is an area where Fannie/Freddie-driven securitization harmed things. From here in 2009, they say servicers, who decide on whether to modify or foreclose on a loan, get their expenses paid in the latter case but not the former. The *lender* loses out, but the foreclosure decision isn’t up to them.

(The program they describe, I believe was HARP, which went on to be a dismal failure IIRC)

This was a moral hazard (separating servicer from lender) I hadn’t known about, as opposed to separating originator from lender that I mentioned upthread.

4. Ruprect says:

Early today I had to think of a word that ended with “g”, and I came up with “jug” in probably under a second.
Then I had to come up with a word that ended in “j”, and I’d say that within about five seconds, I was fairly certain that no such word existed. I spent a bit more time thinking about it, and came up with Minaj (as in Nicki) and Taj (as in Mahal).

How on earth does the brain do that? It can’t possibly be checking every possible word, behind the scenes, can it?

• Nornagest says:

Tej, a mead-like Ethiopian honey wine. Can’t think of anything else in English that isn’t a proper noun.

And your brain’s probably doing some kind of associational search, although the details are not well understood.

At least according to the scrabble players dictionary (second edition of course) there’s taj, haj, and raj. Perhaps others but those are the ones I can remember playing.

• Dániel says:

grep "^[a-z].*j$" /usr/share/dict/words benj gaj gunj hadj hajilij kharaj munj raj saj samaj swaraj taj • FeepingCreature says: My layman’s guess is that what happens is that there’s something like “encoded experience of hearing a word end in ‘j'” and your brain triggers that experience and looks what associated neurons light up in response. 5. Urstoff says: How good is a typical person’s autobiographical memory? As far as I can tell, while my semantic memory is pretty good, my autobiographical memory is pretty terrible. What I don’t know is what this means. Do I just think about my past less than others, so memories are less reinforced? Are other people better at confabulating than I am, so while it seems that their memory is better, they’re just better at constructing narratives about themselves (this seems less likely, because often I don’t remember things from just a few weeks ago)? Maybe my attention is generally not focused on the things around me, so memories don’t even get the chance to be formed. Or maybe I am just worse at remembering past events in my own life due to biological reasons. Have many studies on the individual differences in autobiographical memory been done? • Corey says: IMO people generally just overestimate the reliability of their autobiographical memory. It’s becoming conventional wisdom in the justice system that eyewitness testimony is horribly unreliable, because most people’s (everyone’s?) autobiographical memory is horribly unreliable. • onyomi says: For me, my personal memory consists of a bunch of vague impressions and scenes which are wholly separate from actual dates. The only way I know the actual month or year something happened is by inference: “I know I graduated from high school in x year and I know I spent my sophomore year of high school in Japan, so that year I spent in Japan must have been…,” etc. I had a friend who would often say to me things like, “yeah, Christmas of ’94 was a really special one for me.” And I’d be like “you know which Christmas was Christmas ’94???” To me there’s “the Christmas when I received Final Fantasy as a present” and “the Christmas where we had ham instead of turkey,” but no “Christmas ’94.” 6. onyomi says: Related to the question of whether or not future people will have any motivation to thaw cryogenically preserved people, I currently find it super interesting to talk to unusually old people whose brains are still working well. I would be even more interested if I could talk to someone born in say, 1850 or earlier whose brain was working well. I imagine there will be people like me in the future who want real life informants about the past. 7. onyomi says: If it’s going to be possible at some point in the future to live in a healthy flesh and blood body for more than say, 150 years, what is going to be the first technology or cluster of technologies that seems most likely to make it happen? Stem cells? Growing organs in jars and swapping them out? Nanobots? • keranih says: I’m assuming you mean ‘possible’ to mean something like how it is possible to live to 100 now – not common, but it happens. And I’m assuming you mean ‘healthy’ to be fairly relative. One hundred fifty years is about twice the current average lifespan. At about 35 to 40 years, however, there are definite signs of the body breaking down and not repairing itself optimally – and this happens at the cellular level. I suspect some version of retro-virus gene therapy in which an optimal cellular repair suite is applied to a young person, so that (in combination with vaccination, good diet, safe exercise and other risk management) the aging process is slowed through improving cellular repair. • Richard says: There is a book called “Long for this world” containing a chapter “Seven deadly things” that needs to be sorted for people to live significantly longer. I don’t think we know which of the seven are most important yet, but it’s an easy read and not actually wrong in any sense that I could see, despite being on one of the first rungs of Wittgensteins Ladder.* *: All of this is IIRC • There are ways of substantially increasing the life span of mice, such as caloric restriction. My guess is that getting people reasonably healthy to 150 will happen through something similar–some tweak to human activity, possibly as simple as pills, that modestly slows aging. I expect to be still healthy at 80–I think my father was still playing tennis at that age, and I’m in pretty good shape at 71–so that’s less than a doubling. The big breakthroughs would be stopping aging and, better yet, the ability to reverse it. Both ought to be doable, since the information for building (or rebuilding) the body is in every cell, so massively redundant, but it may turn out to be a very hard problem. • Anonymous says: The caloric restriction thing is interesting for me because it seems to conflict with our worship of exercise. Lifting weights twice a week is really good for you, but I recall reading that tibetan monks tend to live really long because their life is mostly prayer and taking walks, no strenuous activity. Those are pretty conflicting approaches. • Agronomous says: There are ways of substantially increasing the life span of mice, such as caloric restriction. There are also ways of substantially decreasing the life span of mice, including caloric restriction—applied to my cat. 8. in all but good taste says: Something i don’t know where to ask about, but here seems like a better place than most to ask: I was trying to figure out what the word “Nibelung” meant a while back, and most of the sources i found referenced Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, or to an old saga called the Nibelungenlied. There seems to be pretty strong consensus that “Nibelung” is a family name for some old Ostrogoth feudal lord. Where this gets a bit more interesting though, is on this wikipedia page there is a link to this slightly suspect webpage arguing the “truth” of who/where the Nibelungs were Now, my questions are, does anyone have any knowledge of these stories? I’m interested in how, if at all they relate to the Poetic Edda? Are there any more pertinent/recent discussions about this topic? And finally (also tangentially), i was discussing this with one of my friends, and they insinuated that Norse mythology and European folklore was highly racist. I honestly didn’t even know how to defend my interest other than to point out that if there were racist undertones, it was probably an artifact of people being generally xenophobic at the time of the stories inception, and that i was in no way looking for secret supremacy fairy tales. Could somebody please tell me that this stuff isn’t as racist as my friend thought so i can go back to reading it without trying to decide if everything is racist or not? • Dr Dealgood says: No knowledge of the poems, besides the fact that I’m reading an English translation of the Nibelungenlied at the moment (I strongly recommend it btw). Still, I wouldn’t try to treat it as a historical text any more than I would the Iliad. It’s a 13th century retelling of a story set around the fall of Rome, with all of the weirdness and symbolism that that implies. And finally (also tangentially), i was discussing this with one of my friends, and they insinuated that Norse mythology and European folklore was highly racist. I honestly didn’t even know how to defend my interest other than to point out that if there were racist undertones, it was probably an artifact of people being generally xenophobic at the time of the stories inception, and that i was in no way looking for secret supremacy fairy tales. Could somebody please tell me that this stuff isn’t as racist as my friend thought so i can go back to reading it without trying to decide if everything is racist or not? It’s not racist at all, even if you were to count Saxons or Burgundians as races. The real issue is whether being interested in it is racist. German mythology, particularly anything tied into Wagner or romantic nationalism, is automatically suspect. This has lessened recently but it’s still probably not wise to openly enjoy that stuff. That said, you should still read it discreetly. It’s well worth it. • in all but good taste says: I read a cliff-notes type digest of Nibelungenlied at the onset of my interest in these stories, and i definitely intend to go back for the full story when i get a chance. Thanks for the response • Sweeneyrod says: I think your friends are confusing Wagner holding dubious opinions, and the mythology his “music dramas” were based on. If they are serious, ask them what racist undertones they detect in Lord of the Rings. • in all but good taste says: that would go like “so do you think Lord of the Rings is racist?” “yeah dude, kinda, the orcs are a subjugated underclass being exploited as warrior slaves for the benefit of a literal white devil” “but he’s the bad guy” “then why do the good guys kill all of the orcs?” “uhhh… man ask Tolkien i haven’t read that book since highschool” • Deiseach says: ask them what racist undertones they detect in Lord of the Rings Please don’t. I just made the mistake the other day of reading a post about the racism in LoTR where they took a quote about the Orcs from the “Letters of JRR Tolkien” and built a whole superstructure upon it of him being a deliberate racist who made the Orcs, Easterlings and Southrons brown and black-skinned in contrast to the white Westerners and Northerners because he believed black people (etc.) were an inferior race and I don’t have the heart to plough through the rest of it. Long and the short of it, Tolkien apparently makes Lovecraft’s views look like nothing at all (and Lovecraft has some fairly straight-up “Jews, Poles, Italians, Blacks are ugly greedy horrible sub-humans” references in his work). This is definitely an idea that is gaining currency: that Tolkien was a racist who made all the Good Guys white and set them on a course of genocidal war against the non-white races in his invented world, because that’s what he wanted to see in the real world (colonial England and colonialist English values triumphant). You can throw in anti-Semitism if you like (because of the Dwarves and the Jews – the Dwarves are Jews, man, here’s a quote* where he says so, and they’re greedy literal gold-diggers!) *From 1955 letter to Naomi Mitchinson: I do think of the ‘Dwarves’ like Jews: at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue….. And elsewhere he says that Khuzdul was devised on a basis resembling Semitic languages (which, if the racism-seekers delved a tiny bit deeper, would not astound them: the language of the Valar is also based on Semitic languages, and since the Dwarves are the children of Aule, the language he devised for them will have a family resemblance. Though I have seen people arguing that this is just more anti-Semitism: his ‘Jewish’ race is a creation of a demi-god, not God like the Elves and Men, so is further evidence he thinks Jews Dwarves are lesser and inferior beings). • TheAncientGeek says: • Deiseach says: Oh, that doesn’t count. Yep, I’ve seen that argued as well: so what if he refused to prove he was Aryan? He was still a racist and anti-Semite! Sometimes I just want to stick my head in the sand because reality is just too damn much. • Eggoeggo says: “i was discussing this with one of my friends, and they insinuated that Norse mythology and European folklore was highly racist.” I suspect that very soon that friend will start telling all your other friends that you are racist. Because, of course, you have all the racial traits and phenotypes that cause racist thoughts. • in all but good taste says: hah. i think your probably being kindof crass or something but i’m not used to people suggesting that my interests are racially charged. • Nornagest says: Norse mythology isn’t remotely racist. If your friend wasn’t just pattern-matching to the Nazi fondness for North European myths (which was quite real, but should no more taint the stories than it does vegetarianism), they’re probably picking up on a bit in the Eddas where each of the classes of Norse society is associated with a color: fair for the nobility, ruddy for farmers, dark for slaves. That could look pretty racist to American eyes! But it’s not really talking about race at all. The color/class thing is an old, old Indo-European trope, and it probably points to some combination of observation (lower classes in an agricultural society spend more time outdoors, and so tan darker) and wishful thinking (fairness is associated with beauty in many cultures, including that one). Over in India, the Vedic word often translated as “caste” (varna) can also be translated as “color”. • in all but good taste says: I appreciate all of the comments here very much, but i think what you wrote was the reality check i needed to get over the guilt trip i was falling into. Also, thats an interesting tidbit about caste(varna) that i didn’t know. • Nita says: each of the classes of Norse society is associated with a color: fair for the nobility, ruddy for farmers, dark for slaves I’m no expert on Norse culture, but is there a particular reason why you’re so sure it was metaphorical? If thralls were – more likely to belong to foreign ethnic groups, – “darker” / less “fair” than Norsemen (the origin of the blond-and-blue-eyed genes is in Scandinavia, right?), – considered naturally inferior and suited to thralldom, what would make the attitude to them so different from modern racism? • Nornagest says: I didn’t say metaphorical, but: because they weren’t likely to belong to foreign ethnic groups, at the time that particular bit of myth evolved. During the Viking Age, the Norse did routinely take slaves from foreign cultures (and from their own), mostly Slavic and British. Our primary sources are from that era or later, except for Tacitus, who didn’t comment on this. But from several lines of evidence we can still be pretty confident in saying the color schema greatly predated it. Iron Age Scandinavia was a more provincial place: there was still plenty of fighting and an active slave trade, but we’re talking skirmishes between adjacent polities, not long raiding voyages. Actually, indications are that the native leadership in Scandinavia was conquered and replaced by Germanic invaders from the south sometime during the early Iron Age, which would likely mean the upper classes were less “fair” for a while. Comparatively; that still postdates the initial spread of the blond/blue-eyed genetic package. • Le Maistre Chat says: Actually, indications are that the native leadership in Scandinavia was conquered and replaced by Germanic invaders from the south sometime during the early Iron Age, which would likely mean the upper classes were less “fair” for a while. I like how Snorri ‘s prologue to the Prose Edda depicts the native elite of Scandinavia being fooled into worshiping more advanced Asians called the Aesir. • Le Maistre Chat says: Dyeus Pitar, don’t get them started on the Vedas! We’ll have to listen to how the Aryans were Bronze Age white supremacists who drove their chariots over the highest mountains on Earth and enslaved the good black natives, who they despised under the names “Mleccha”, “Dasyu” (actually an Iranian tribe) and “noseless”. Speaking of the Iranians, notice how the Aryans who didn’t cross into India became the good Persians who invented human rights and should have conquered Greece. • Deiseach says: You will get the “King Arthur isn’t POC so it’s racist!” types and really, you can’t win with them. Just ignore them. So long as you are not trying to read Pure Nordic Myths as a basis for your Pure Nordic Nordicness which is superior to all other varieties of Non-Nordicness, stuff ’em, it’s nobody’s business but yours. I Behold, my child, the Nordic man, And be as like him, as you can; His legs are long, his mind is slow, His hair is lank and made of tow. II And here we have the Alpine Race: Oh! What a broad and foolish face! His skin is of a dirty yellow. He is a most unpleasant fellow. III The most degraded of them all Mediterranean we call. His hair is crisp, and even curls, And he is saucy with the girls. – Hilaire Belloc • Anonymous says: There seems to be pretty strong consensus that “Nibelung” is a family name for some old Ostrogoth feudal lord. The -ung suffix basically means “child”, so there would have been a Nibel or Nifl of some fame who founded the family, as it were. (Sometimes it’s a god, as with the Ynglings, kings in Uppsala, who claimed their descent from Frey.) The Nibelungs were his lineal descendants. But they wouldn’t have been Ostrogoths, they’d probably be Franks what with the Burgundian thing. Where this gets a bit more interesting though, is on this wikipedia page there is a link to this slightly suspect webpage arguing the “truth” of who/where the Nibelungs were That’s more than slightly suspect; you can take it for granted that this is a “Templars hid the Merovingian family of Christ”-level kook. I’m interested in how, if at all they relate to the Poetic Edda? They relate to it in such a way that the Elder Edda contains several lays or poems about episodes in the narrative (which I think are the oldest testaments to the story). It can be suspected that were it not fragmentary, the Elder Edda would have contained a complete cycle of such poems, telling the whole thing. And finally (also tangentially), i was discussing this with one of my friends, and they insinuated that Norse mythology and European folklore was highly racist. This is a popular ridiculous belief, but ridiculous, like declaring the Swedish flag a symbol of racism, or love of Norwegian history, or anything else that happens to be the cultural heritage of the ghostface peoples. Laugh scornfully at your friend. Mock and barb him incessantly. • Agronomous says: Worshipping Nordic gods is racist, and therefore conservative. Also bad. Good, right-thinking people worship Nordic governments. • Le Maistre Chat says: Speak more reverently of that mortal god. • Corey says: Well played! • Douglas Knight says: It is ten times as racist as your friend thinks. Now you know and you can get back to reading it without the nagging question. • ThirteenthLetter says: This is not an argument you can win; you might as well go back to 1980 and try to convince the Moral Majority that Ritz crackers don’t have the word “SEX” written on them. I recommend you don’t worry about it or feel guilty, and just read what you want to read instead. 9. Deiseach says: This is a kick-the-cat comment, but I’m kind of steam coming out of my ears right now. My vegan brother has a shared or reblogged or whatever the heck you call it post up on Facebook that, once again, is all pro-vegan pro-animal rights nonsense. This contains a charming image (which I won’t link to here) about “the same pus that is in acne is also in dairy milk”. Now, what has me raging here (apart from the fact that he’s a goddamn science teacher and should know better; then again, he’s the maths/physics side and I’m the biologist in the family) is that this is not quite completely wrong, but only about 95% wrong (don’t take this as gospel estimations, I’m just guessing wildly). Also, it is BLATANT FUCKING HYPOCRISY, given that the same people who are trying to disgust humans into not drinking cow’s milk also chide humans with “Maybe you are lactose intolerant because you are not a baby cow” (another post courtesy of my brother). If cow’s milk is pus-filled disgustingness, then we shouldn’t be feeding calves on it either, as quite plainly it is just as unhealthy for them. So which is it, animal rights/veganism activists? Cow’s milk is meant for calves and is their healthy natural food, or cow’s milk is disease in liquid form and should not be given to anyone? (a) “Pus in acne is the same thing in milk” – now, this has a tenuous toe-hold in reality, in that I am going to assume what they are talking about is mastitis in cattle. To quote the medical definition “Pus consists of a buildup of dead leukocytes (white blood cells) from the body’s immune system in response to infection” and indeed, the response of the human immune system to acne and the bovine immune system to mastitis will be the same and result in the same end product. Human women get mastitis too, most commonly when breastfeeding but can get it if not lactating. And guess what the advice is? Breastfeeding your baby when you have mastitis, even if you have an infection, won’t harm your baby and can help improve your symptoms. So much for “disgusting pus-filled infected milk”! (b) Mastitis gets treated. No farmer wants cattle to have mastitis longer than necessary because it costs them money. I want you to look at the pictures of milk on this page, which was the one used in the post I’m raging about. THE ONE ON THE LEFT IS MILK FROM AN INFECTED COW, THE ONE ON THE RIGHT IS NORMAL MILK. So if you pour out a glass of milk and it looks like milk usually does, IT IS NOT FULL OF PUS, OKAY? (c) In my earlier career, I worked as a lab tech in laboratories in dairy co-operatives. They test for bacterial count in milk samples (among a whole range of tests*). If the count exceeds the limits, that milk is not used for anything, because the raw milk quality is important for processing the milk (say for cheese). THEY DO NOT PASTURISE IT, PUT IT INTO CARTONS, AND SELL IT TO YOU, THE CONSUMER. Recently, dairy product manufacturers have become very concerned about the impact of raw milk quality on finished dairy product quality. Most milk processors wish to purchase milk with low S[omatic] C[ell] C[ount] and offer financial incentives (either in the form of penalties or bonuses) to producers for high quality milk. A cow with mastitis not only produces milk with more somatic cells, she also produces milk containing less casein, less fat, more whey proteins, more salt and more damaging enzymes. Such milk is not desirable for processors because it reduces the shelf life of dairy products, diminishes the quality and reduces the yield of the product, particularly cheese. Even modest increases in individual cow SCC (>100,000 cells/ml) have been shown to reduce cheese yield. This is part of what has me completely turned off vegans/animal rights activism: THE GODDAMN FUCKING LYING. Either they really are so ignorant they have no idea about milk production (amongst a vast amount of other things to do with farming and food production) or they don’t care, IT’S ALL PROPAGANDA. YOU WANT TO CONVINCE PEOPLE TO STOP CONSUMING ANIMAL PRODUCTS? STOP FUCKING LYING WHEN PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHICH END OF A COW MILK COMES OUT CAN TELL YOU ARE FUCKING LYING! I now cease my rant, beet-red in the face and bosom heaving as I pant for breath after my foam-flecked diatribe. *Turn to page 87 in the linked booklet about added water in milk. There are tests for this as well, as some farmers will try adulterating their milk to increase the volume and get a higher price for bulk. I did this testing, too. One guy was so blatant that I couldn’t believe I was getting the right result, I asked the lab manager about it, and he and two suits came down to read the results I’d logged. I thought I’d get hauled over the coals for screwing up the test so badly but no, turns out they had their suspicions about this particular guy for a while and he’d finally gone so far over the line it was undeniably adulteration (and not “oh gosh I guess there must have been some water left in the lines after cleaning the milking machine”). • keranih says: At the risk of setting you off again…I am assuming you are aware of the differences in SCC between normal milk from cows and normal milk from goats? (Because of differences in how the milk secretion process works in the two species, healthy goats can have SCCs that are in far excess of the SCC of milk from infected cows. SCC is correlated with mastitis. SCC is not mastitis.) (And then there is the way one can’t really get butter from goat milk.) (And then there is how if God intended people to milk cows, He would have given us four hands.) *ahem* More to the point… Mastitis gets treated. No farmer wants cattle to have mastitis longer than necessary because it costs them money. To steelman the ‘horrible farmers don’t treat their cows and exploit them to make money’ argument… Mastitis (like nearly any infectious condition) is multifactorial, and far better to prevent than treat. There are infections from the environment, and infections from other cows, and infections which can come from either. The structure of the barns, the mud in the pastures, the pattern of cleaning, the mechanics of the milking systems, the quality and timing of cattle feeding, the level of nutrition in the feed and the stress from heat and cold – all of these affect the prevalence and types of infection. Because of the difficulty in changing barn design and the mechanics of milking systems, it can be very expensive to prevent some infections, and some farmers will choose to live with a certain level of infection because they don’t have the capital to make the needed changes. Unfortunately for those of use who have some preference for local/niche/’sustainable’/etc farm systems, it is easier for big farms with corporate backing to get funding to tear out suboptimal systems. Small family farms often don’t have this option. Stubborn old independent farmers sometimes don’t want to change, either. It’s always more complex than one thinks. • Deiseach says: Yep, I am aware cow’s milk and goat’s milk is different, I am surprised the vegans haven’t cottoned onto that yet as Horrible Unnatural Exploitation – and then I’ll be among the first stood up against a wall and shot, as when I was three years old a neighbour kept goats and used to give me goat’s milk 🙂 As you say, there’s a lot of complexity behind it all and animals do get sick even in the best conditions. But it’s cheap shock tactic trying to use the disgust reaction to turn people off milk: pus is whitish, milk is whitish, oh yuck I’m going to be sick… Pah! • Corey says: Probably most people just don’t know this stuff (I didn’t know about the pre-testing for example). As for the Facebook problem, just comment on all the vegan posts “You know who else was vegetarian?” until he unfriends you. (ETA: or makes a group and hides the pro-vegan stuff from you, while still letting you see baby pics and such) • Deiseach says: He’s my brother, I can’t avoid this kind of thing, and I try not to fight horribly with him for the sake of familial peace – I restrict myself to making snarky comments on these posts 🙂 • Anonymous says: Short and sweet, here’s my advice to you: look up the details on how soy sauce and tofu are made. • Deiseach says: But Lime-Green Anonymous, those are products derived from vegetable matter, they are pure and wholesome and sacredly free of suffering and torture and have nothing at all to do with fermentation and decay and bacterial by-products! 🙂 • Nita says: Well, yeah, it’s pretty likely that cows suffer when they have an infection, but soy beans don’t suffer when they’re being fermented. Also, fermentation has nothing to do with pus. (I’m not even veg*n or anything, but the circlejerk is getting a bit too intense.) • keranih says: Well, yeah, it’s pretty likely that cows suffer when they have an infection, but soy beans don’t suffer when they’re being fermented …defining pain in animals is hard enough, but in plants it is really difficult. But lack of evidence is not evidence of lack. I am willing to entertain the idea that plants can suffer from damage due to picking, grazing, etc, and that some portions of the plant (such as fruits, seeds, etc) retain some sensing function during storage. (Also – the level of mastitis at which we are talking about the farmer taking action is sub-clinical mastitis – there is neither a visually detectable change in the milk nor signs of illness in the cow. Compare this to being mashed and having microbes eating you bit by bit, like fermenting tofu…) • HeelBearCub says: I am willing to entertain the idea that plants can suffer from damage due to picking, grazing, etc, and that some portions of the plant (such as fruits, seeds, etc) retain some sensing function during storage. That makes no sense, from an evolutionary perspective, especially for agricultural products. It would be as if we (men, especially) had evolved to find sex painful. Fruiting is understand as a process whereby a plant encourages creatures which are something like infinitely more mobile to spread their progeny for them. • Corey says: • keranih says: HBC – to everything its season. I will point out that mammal parturition is pretty universally painful for the mother, and that intercourse can be pretty not fun for the female in non-rare circumstances. Picking apples and green beans before they are ripe and the seeds are mature is not the same as letting those seed capsules ripen, rot/dry, and fall. It may well be that one is painful, like getting your hair pulled out, and the other not, like natural hair shedding. • HeelBearCub says: I will point out that mammal parturition is pretty universally painful for the mother, and that intercourse can be pretty not fun for the female in non-rare circumstances. This is a good point (and one reason I made note of the male especially). Fruiting is much more akin to the production and distribution of spermatozoa than it is to the live birth of mammals. Fruiting is a strategy that favors generous distribution with comparatively few survivors. Picking apples and green beans before they are ripe and the seeds are mature is not the same as letting those seed capsules ripen, rot/dry, and fall. Having the fruit drop off and rot on the ground is generally a failure for the plant that produced it. Picking fruit before it is mature is picking fruit that tastes awful (and frequently makes you sick). That is how fruiting bodies encourage animals to wait until the seed is mature. You may have a point in that fruits are frequently picked before maturity (and subsequently forced to mature off the plant) in agriculture though. Still, pain is not particularly helpful to the plant here, as the plant can’t do anything to respond to the stimuli, as they can’t move or modify their behavior in any other way to respond. There are plants that produce various foul tasting substances in response to being eaten. That might be a forerunner to pain. But absent the ability to change behavior in response to pain, there is no incentive for it to be experienced as pain. • keranih says: @HBC – The fruiting process is *exactly* parturition, in that it is the dispersal of a fertilized new organism. Pollen on the wind is intercourse-equivalent. (It’s a lot more like most fish than mammals, come to think of it.) Having the fruit drop off and rot on the ground is generally a failure for the plant that produced it. I should have said soften and drop – as you say, it’s wanting the fruit attractiveness to match the seed maturity. But the fruit need not be picked – there are more critters which will eat fruit on the ground than can pluck it from trees. (A pause here to consider moose drunk on fermenting apples.) HAVING SAID ALL THAT – I agree that this needs more consideration: Still, pain is not particularly helpful to the plant here, as the plant can’t do anything to respond to the stimuli, as they can’t move or modify their behavior in any other way to respond. We should not assume there is pain in plants who are damaged just because ripping off parts of animals causes pain. To counter this, I wonder if pain is coded in higher up the chain, in free living bacteria, and so might have an analogy in plants that just never disappeared. Need more data. • HeelBearCub says: @kerinah: I would submit that neurons transmit data and brain cells sense this as pain, but that individual injured cells can’t be said to sense pain. There is ample evidence of this. Phantom limb pain, for instance. The fact that poking a brain isn’t felt as pain. Many other examples are available. I will revise my earlier statement though. If plants could be shown to feel pain, the picking of fruit might be painful merely because when that happens it is causes injury, which is painful. I still find it a highly dubious assertion, and especially the idea that the pain would be “stored” in the seed or fruit. • onyomi says: If cow’s milk were made of cow pus wouldn’t that imply babies are all drinking human pus? Also, I’m no biologist, but I’m pretty sure pus is white because of leukocytes. I don’t think that’s what makes milk white. • Deiseach says: That’s the whole point, onyomi: it has nothing to do with facts, it’s all to do with evoking the disgust reaction (ironic, since vegans lean liberal and it’s we conservatives who are supposed to base our dislike of progressive causes on “uggh, yucky!”) by linking false equivalences to emotional reactions. Focusing on System 1 rather than System 2, in other words, to make the swift, unconscious aversion due to the linkage and so bully persuade people to go animal product free in their lifestyle choices. • keranih says: I don’t think that’s what makes milk white. Lactose and milk fat. • Outis says: I don’t think that’s what makes milk white. It’s because the old white Republican men in Big Agro discriminate against milk of color. #MilkSoWhite 10. anonymous poster says: You may have seen it already, but in the spirit of exciting future scenarios like the one mister Hanson describes in Age of Em, I can’t let this semi-hidden open thread pass by without linking the greatest post ever written about our community. • Psmith says: >leaves out Cyborg David Friedman and his SCA buddies putting rambunctious LA Crips to the sword Seriously, is anon even trying? • zz says: That was quite amusing. Thanks for posting. • Anonymous says: This nearly killed me with laughter. It is, indeed, the greatest. • God Damn John Jay says: Making fun of Bryan Caplan is a bannable offense if I remember correctly. Also, the obvious comparison in this scenario would be Rhodesia and South Africa, states where a tiny white elite was able to hold up and live like kings while surrounded by impoverished masses. http://flashbak.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/PA-1291383-2.jpg (Picture is of a Rhodesian family showing off their firearms, might not be something you want in your browser history) Eventually both states collapsed, but I think there are still farmers in SA who defend their farms with rifles. • Eggoeggo says: Oh wow, is the mother holding a Rhodesian copy of the Sa vz. 48b? That’s an awesome historical photo, thanks! The poor little girl in back looks so pissed off nobody gave her a Webley 🙂 Why wouldn’t you want it in your browser history? • The_Dancing_Judge says: That is an….interesting description of Rhodesia and a *very* interesting implication that the reason for Rhodesia’s collapse was inequality. Of course that’s all nonsense. Subsequent history indicates that your description of Rhodesian history is quite wrong. Mmm the farmers have to use firearms because the state is encouraging their rape and murder. • Outis says: By the grace of this post, all anonymous posters are redeemed. 11. I want to write some blog posts which contain both code (in C++) and math. I’d much rather write the math in LaTeX than any other markup language. If I can make my code pretty with syntax highlighting that’d be great, but I’d be perfectly OK with just a way to do nice monospace blocks where I can indent properly. What’s the simplest way I can do this and have it look reasonably good? Double points if it works for a Tumblr-hosted blog, as that’s the platform I’m most comfortable with in general. • Eggoeggo says: On tumblr, you could always go with screencaps from a program with proper formatting options? • Andrew G. says: MathJax should be easy to install on anything that allows you to modify the HTML template (no idea about tumblr). • Anon says: MathJax is indeed the way to go, and works great on tumblr (except that it doesn’t render on the dashboard, so you’ll need to advise readers who don’t read TeX natively to click through). • MathJAX seems to work (after a lot of banging my head against dumb scripts.) Now I just want nice code blocks. In theory the markdown editor supports this, but it doesn’t work very well. In this snippet from the editor: http://imgur.com/Iw5E7w0 only the first codeblock actually renders properly; the second one is in courier properly, but gets stuck onto a single line, like this: http://imgur.com/i1Zss3x Anyone know what’s going on? Since I never want to have to add four spaces manually to every line I write, this sucks. • Nita says: What does it look like in HTML mode? 12. keranih says: Random thing: If someone made me pick out one thing about SSC that I liked, it would be the way that a person can post something to the effect of: and we know that kobolds are green and sour – like unripe citrus, or frankly any other unripe fruit – which is how we know they are unfinished, as the Lays of Old Timers tell us – note: nonsense example is nonsense – and just about right away, someone will step in and lay out the word about watermelons, Granny Smiths, and pomelos, and include tomatillos for good measure. The willingness to correct basic underlying factual assumptions is pretty good here, and I feel like I have learned a little bit of information (and not just how the rest of the world thinks but actual info) every time I visit. 13. I’m about to try psychedelics for the first time, hoping for some improvements in mindset and mood. Exciting and scary. • Psmith says: Good luck, brah, I’d be curious to hear how it goes. • Anonymous says: You probably shouldn’t post that under your real name with a social network link. Sure, the risk is low, but the reward is nil and the punishment can be pretty bad. A sort of reverse lottery. • Andrew Hunter says: Clearly I’m making up the whole story. 14. MugaSofer says: Well that worked. • Anonymous says: In reducing the size of open threads? • Scott Alexander says: I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not. The last open thread was only 600 comments, which is about half of normal. Also, there was a discussion a while ago about how building more lanes doesn’t reduce traffic much, because it just means people who otherwise wouldn’t have taken trips because the traffic was too bad now do take them. A lot of people said this was no argument against building more lanes, because it just meant that more people were getting the benefit of getting to take trips. I feel the same way about Open Threads. If there are an equal number of comments on each, it just means more people are getting to discuss topics they want. • zz says: I’ll add my voice in support of the new format, which I believe is an improvement via the mechanism you cite. • Forlorn Hopes says: I have on occasion felt discouraged from starting a topic on an open thread because I felt it was too far down and thus nobody would see it. • onyomi says: I don’t think it’s sarcasm. The higher frequency seems to have cut each one down to a more manageable size. Currently it seems to be a pretty good balance between having a lot of participants to make the discussion interesting, but not having so many that half the threads get lost in the shuffle. • JuanPeron says: One more vote for this being an improvement. Past open threads filled so heavily and quickly that arriving late meant it was impossible to get involved except deep in the existing discussions, this seems to open to the door to more democratized top-level content. 15. Forlorn Hopes says: So I’ve got a question for everybody. Is there any good data on who makes up the Trump coalition? I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether they’re working class or not. • suntzuanime says: My understanding is that his supporters are working class relative to the supporters of other candidates, but not relative to the populace at large (because working class people are less likely to support any candidate). This would account for conflicting reports, because it depends on your point of view. • swing says: • John Schilling says: As always for this sort of thing. 538 is the place to start. Trump voters seem to be almost entirely non-hispanic whites, with a median household income of$71k/yr, and 44% of them hold college degrees. Richer and better educated than the average American, richer and better educated than the average Democratic voter, poorer and less educated than the average non-Trump Republican voter.

But, Trump voters to date are by definition primary-election voters, and those skew substantially richer, better educated, and for that matter whiter than general-election voters. I don’t know that anybody has taken a really good look at where Trump’s general-election support is going to come from.

• anan says:

“Trump voters seem to be almost entirely non-hispanic whites, with a median household income of $71k/yr” Does this mean Deiseach’s series “Imaginary American Spaces: Leftists Spitting in Redneck Faces” will have to end? • Deiseach says: I can haz series? 🙂 Don’t worry, anan, I’m sure some nice liberal magazine-writer will churn out an article about how these voters are all showing their cracker roots. • HeelBearCub says: But, Trump voters to date are by definition primary-election voters I thought there was substantial polling data showing that Trump was pulling voters into the primaries. These voters did not usually vote in primaries before, but had usually voted in general elections, and were either Republican are “lean-Republican”. • John Schilling says: Trump (and Sanders) have increased voter turnout compared with recent primary elections, but A: on the GOP side, this was as much people driven to vote against Trump as people driven to vote for him and, B: even with the increase, we are still talking about less than 30% of registered voters showing up for the primaries. So these are still marginal primary voters, richer, more informed, and more involved than most, and not necessarily representative of general-election voters. If everybody who voted for Trump in the primary votes for him, and everybody who voted for any other candidate in the primary stays home in November, Trump still loses in a landslide against the people who very predictably skip every primary election but show up to vote straight-ticket Democratic in every (presidential) general election. If there are enough Trump supporters to make this election at all competitive, then most of them will have to be people who skipped the primaries, the exit polls for the primaries, and the “likely voter” telephone polling before the primaries. So we’re flying, if not blind, at least through severe haze here. • HeelBearCub says: So these are still marginal primary voters, richer, more informed, and more involved than most, and not necessarily representative of general-election voters. I thought of that point after I posted, and I agree. But isn’t that 538 article comparing Trump voters to other Republican primary voters this time around? So the evidence is that, on the margin, Trump voters make less than typical Republican voters and are less likely to be college educated. I agree that this isn’t particularly good for trying to compare to the general electorate as a whole. Once the general election comes around most Democrats will vote Democrat and most Republicans will vote Republican. But it does say something about how accurate perceptions are about where his support comes from within the Republican party. • John Schilling says: But isn’t that 538 article comparing Trump voters to other Republican primary voters this time around? So the evidence is that, on the margin, Trump voters make less than typical Republican voters and are less likely to be college educated. They seem to make less than typical Republican (primary) voters, but more than typical Democratic (primary) voters. If the Trump voters are the “working class”, who are the poorer-than-working-class voters that have been putting the Democrats within spitting distance of 50% in pretty much every recent election and arguing Clinton v. Sanders this time around? I can think of some possibilities, but at this point I want to see general-election polling first. • HeelBearCub says: If the Trump voters are the “working class”, who are the poorer-than-working-class voters that have been putting the Democrats within spitting distance of 50% Haven’t I seen you in other threads making the argument that “working class” is not merely defined by income? Or am I confusing you with someone else? For example, the average electric utility lineman seems to make about$70K. That seems like it is pretty clearly a working class job.

My father-in-law was the son of tobacco farmers in the (very) rural south, but went to college, was an officer in Vietnam and won a Silver Star, then sold electronic equipment to telcos. I have no idea how to classify him, but he sure has working class roots.

As far as what makes a Donald Trump supporting truck driver different than a Hillary Clinton supporting construction worker, well, I don’t think it’s that one is working class and the other isn’t. If that is your point, I agree with it.

I just think that there does seem to be some evidence, albeit slight, that Trump is doing better with what might be termed “working class Republican voters” than his rivals for the Republican nomination did. But it is only slight evidence, and, the objective numbers we have don’t indicate a massive spread between Trump supporters and, say, Kasich supporters.

What those numbers don’t suggest is that everyone making under $40K is going to see Trump favorably. The idea that Trump is going to have appeal for large numbers of “working class” blacks or hispanics in the general election doesn’t seem supported at all. • John Schilling says: Yes, absolutely “middle class” and “working class” have overlapping income levels. Unfortunately most pollsters and their customers don’t really understand that, so we don’t get the data we really need to make the distinction. Income + college education is probably the best proxy we are going to get for class at this point, and if someone is making$71K without a BS or BA it’s a pretty solid guess that they are successful working class. Unfortunately, 538 did not give and probably does not have the correlation matrices for those two, so we’re at the level of less-solid guesswork.

To the extent that the GOP has working-class members who show up at the primaries, I’m guessing they went heavily for Trump. But I don’t think they dominated and may not even have been a majority of Trump supporters. And the Democratic party has traditionally had a lock on minority and/or union working class, and it looks to me like those stayed mostly Democratic this time around.

We should get better, or at least broader and more diverse, polling data as we close in on the general election.

• Urstoff says:

How do Trump voters compare to non-hispanic white Democratic voters? I would bet the education/income average for Democratic voters gets pulled down by the large amount of minority support.

16. onyomi says:

Why did Trump back out of the proposed debate with Bernie? I totally agreed with Scott Adams that it was win-win-win for Trump, yet he seems to have a win-win-win situation and turned it into a mild negative?

My original thinking was:

Trump does well=Trump looks good; Bernie does well against Trump=adds to Bernie’s narrative that he’s the guy to beat Trump, weakening Trump’s real opponent, Hillary; they stay very nice and cordial and no one scores and knockout punches (what I would have expected)=optics says Trump and Bernie are the insurgents against Hillary the establishment.

Now he’s backed out, my initial reaction is to assume that someone told him, logistically, it’s not possible–maybe the Dem National Committee just won’t let it happen. But in that case, why not say “I’d love to debate Bernie, but the crooked Hillary establishment won’t let us”? But backing out with no real explanation just seems a little weak and anticlimactic, which is kind of the opposite of the Trump brand (though maybe now he’s already trying to rebrand himself as more serious and subdued for the general?)

The only way I can see it as some kind of diabolical mastermind move is if the idea is that backing out makes Bernie look strong, and really, almost anything Trump can do to help Bernie at this point, especially right before the CA primary, is indirectly helping himself, because it takes the wind out of the sails of his real opponent. But it seems like giving him the legitimacy of a debate and maybe letting score a few good hits would be a better way to do that.

Of course, Trump in general constantly gives off a vibe where you’re not sure if he’s just a really lucky loudmouth whose specific brand of bombast is unusually effective or else some kind of crazy media manipulation mastermind. Of course, my opinion has shifted more toward the latter as the campaign has gone on and we’ve all seen him do better than is easily explained by luck and bluster.

• God Damn John Jay says:

Trump doesn’t want to give Hillary a chance to learn what style he will take in a debate against a Democrat. If she knows what style he will take and what talking points he will pound, she will have an advantage over him.

• houseboatonstyxb says:

@ God Damn John Jay
Trump doesn’t want to give Hillary a chance to learn what style he will take in a debate against a Democrat.

Naw, it wouldn’t go like that. More like they’d debate what’s the worst thing about Hillary.

B: “AUMF … speeches”
T: “emails”
B: “AUMF … speeches”
T: “Cattle futures”
B: “AUMF … speeches”
T: “Benghazi”
B: “AUMF … speeches”

• onyomi says:

I think that sort of makes sense. You know if he debates a Democratic opponent now Team Hillary is going to go over that footage with a microscope trying to figure out how to counter whatever his approach turns out to be.

Trump is obviously better than Hillary at manipulating the media and signalling to the voting public through sneaky, off-hand comments. Debate may actually be a weak point, so it could possibly be smart to keep her guessing what general election Trump will do in a debate.

• Xeno of Citium says:

From the Republican primary debates I watched – which admittedly was only about a third of them, at some point I physically couldn’t take it – Donald Trump is a crappy debater. Really, truly crap. He’s okay at making attacks on people, whether those attacks make sense or not, but if he’s attacked he just folds. He has no ability to participate in a back-and-forth debate. He appeared much stronger than he was for a while because the field was so large and people inexplicably didn’t directly attack him much. He’s great at playing the media and at keeping the news cycle about Trump, Trump, Trump, but he’s not a debater.

I’m looking forward to seeing him debate Clinton. She’s one of the sharpest political minds of her generation. Trump is going to get verbally eviscerated and leave the stage with him linguistic entrails spilling out of his stomach.

I, uh, don’t plan on voting for Trump, in case that wasn’t clear. Not a big fan.

• Luke the CIA stooge says:

If you look at some of the sales people analyzing trump for charisma pretty much all of them agree that every speech he gives he’s A/B testing various talking points/ ways of branding himself and opponents and gauging crowd reaction in order to improve that message. My assumption is that this is concious as this is exactly the type of technique a sale person like trump would have been using his entire life.
That combined with his joker/8th grader ripping on his friends, instincts for establishing himself as dominant., and you have a formidable personality candidate (someone who could easily destroy a candidate like Hillary who has no personality (at least not one anyone could like)). Compare that with Bernie who has both personality and policy (his policies would get ripped apart by anyother republican candidate but Trump wouldn’t be able to pull that off). And what you get is a potent threat trump was wise not to debate in person.

Everyone would be watching a trump Bernie debate, and while trump can’t really lose against Clinton (all of his strengths strike perfectly at her weaknesses) a properly executed Bernie debate might just be able to significantly hurt him.

• Alejandro says:

I disagree that they would have stayed nice and cordial. Trump might have tried, but Bernie would have attacked Trump relentlessly; both because he geniunely despises what Trump stands for and because scoring hits against Trump would be the best course for convincing Dems on the fence between him and Hillary that he is the best candidate against Trump on the general.

What is the upside for Trump here? If he wins, he looks good for a news cycle, but it is meaningless in the end; the Dem nominee is certainly going to be Hillary and not Bernie, and she would be able to adapt her debate tactics to avoid whatever mistakes Bernie made. If he loses, he looks bad for a news cycle, and Hillary is not really weakened (at this stage there is no way Bernie can realistically win the primary, Hillary will be the nominee, so anything bad for Trump is good for her in a zero-sum way).

Moreover, the one thing Trump wants out of the Dem primary is an acrimonious battle in which many Sanders supporters end out believing they were cheated by a corrupt Dem establishment and stay out of the general election, even if they are ideologically much closer to Clinton than to Trump. Having Bernie attack him relentlessly in a public debate reminds these supporters that their “true” preference order (or at least Bernie’s, which most of them presumably follow) is Sanders > Cinton >> Trump, and this helps consolidate Dem unity. Better for Trump to lie low and hope Sanders supporters forget about him and just get more and more angry at Clinton as she wins.

17. Dan T. says:

So, the (US) Libertarian Party has made its nominations for president and vice president, and they’re both ex-governors. They’re already using the hashtag #TeamGov, which strikes me as really weird for libertarians… wouldn’t #TeamAntiGov be more in keeping with typical libertarian sentiment?

• Frog Do says:

They’re participating in a governmental system, one assumes they are in favor of it existing.

• suntzuanime says:

It’s legitimate to participate in a system you oppose, to try to mitigate its negative effects.

• I believe anarchists are still a minority of self-identified libertarians. I doubt Gary Johnson considers himself an anarchist.

• Corey says:

Probably just a good way of pointing out that they managed to nominate reasonably effective and sane politicians, unlike some Grand Old Parties we could mention.

• Urstoff says:

I am very impressed that the LP managed to not shoot itself in the foot and nominate Petersen.

18. Flame says:

Question: if you used to have one political ideology, but you now have a different one, what was it that caused your ideology to change and why? Example: I used to be libertarian. I think as a result of reading this book when I was a kid (and still a Christian–but the libertarianism lasted longer than the Christianity did). Then I read the LW politics posts, realized I wasn’t actually informed enough to have an opinion, and became apolitical. More recently I became conservative, I think as a result of living with a very conservative roommate who has a lot of sensible factual arguments to back up his views. (SlateStarCodex, right-leaning blogs, and leftists thinking it was fine to say nasty things about me because of my race, gender, and interests were probably also factors.)

• Anonymous says:

I used to be a stereotypical liberal because I was raised that way, and then as I came into my teens I started thinking more and more about my beliefs and realized that practically none of the arguments I’d heard for them held any water at all. And now I’m sort of… whatever it’s called when you think they got the Enlightenment right the first time, and all the cruft built up on it since say 1780 was just a bend away from what we should have kept doing forever. Hardly progressive, but not exactly traditionalist either, is it.

• suntzuanime says:

Classical liberal.

• Anonymous says:

Really? Do people normally associate “classical liberal” with things like opposition to women’s suffrage and rejecting the left-wing conception of transsexualism?

I mean really really literally believing that we spiked the Enlightenment the first time, not “extrapolating a bit less than the guys who just went entirely off the Enlightenment rails”.

• suntzuanime says:

I’m pretty sure the Enlightenment is silent on transgender, it was far, far away from a live issue at the time. There was a pretty strong push for women’s rights in the original Enlightenment, and women’s lib could have easily shown up a century and a half early. The movement was just set back by the discovery that the woman who had been the leader of the movement was secretly a gigantic harlot, which made people sort of think twice.

Like, how far does this go? Do you observe a ten day week and call the current month Prairial? The spirit of the Enlightenment is definitely in favor of at least limited women’s lib.

• Sweeneyrod says:

Opposition to women’s suffrage, not a traditionalist, pick one. What do you think about suffrage in general – opposing change since 1780 means not letting men without property vote as well as non-whites and women.

• Anonymous says:

I’m pretty sure the Enlightenment is silent on transgender, it was far, far away from a live issue at the time.

I feel reasonably convinced that most intellectuals of the time would have immediately recognized it as one in a known class of delusion, actually. Also society at the time had little tolerance even for crossdressers, outside of playing it for laughs in a comedy.

The movement was just set back by the discovery that the woman who had been the leader of the movement was secretly a gigantic harlot, which made people sort of think twice.

Say what? Wollstonecraft was? This one’s passed me by entirely, clue me in.

Do you observe a ten day week and call the current month Prairial?

I put the cutoff well before the Revolution very, very deliberately. That was the first (and arguably worst) wave of going apeshit.

The spirit of the Enlightenment is definitely in favor of at least limited women’s lib.

Agreed, and so am I. But liberation ≠ enfranchisement.

• Anonymous says:

What do you think about suffrage in general – opposing change since 1780 means not letting men without property vote

Correct in most historical cases. I broadly favor that. (I think it’s possible to also do it the Greek/Starship Troopers way and predicate it on military service. The essence is that the voters should have a palpable stake in the republic, not just inhabit it.)

as well as non-whites

No, I think that’s a US-specific quirk. By 1780 the English intellectuals had already been opposing slavery as an institution for like 150 years, and the French Enlightenment writers weren’t terribly keen on it either as far as I’ve seen. I don’t think you’ll find much Enlightenment writing in favor of color prejudice, and certainly none which endorses it in spirit even if the non-whites can be (as I’d argue they have been) proven to be the intellectual equals of whites.

Oh yeah, and

Opposition to women’s suffrage, not a traditionalist, pick one.

Naw, the traditionalists like monarchy and everything, don’t they? They seem to regard the Enlightenment as the cataclysm that started the downfall of society and so on.

• Sayre says:

I dunno about where you are from but women did have the vote in 1780 in the UK. Only lost it in 1832 with the unfortunately worded reform act. It wasn’t common by any stretch of the imagination but it was possible and it did happen. Hell, technically women in Scotland never lost the vote as far as I can tell.

• Alexp says:

Not supporting Women’s suffrage, but not supporting monarchy either puts you to the left of Curtis Yarvin, but to the right of 99% of the US and the rest of the Anglosphere. To extent that you can define political belief on a one dimensional axis.

• Anonymous says:

“Classical Liberal” usually means something like Bentham, who is a bit later than 1780. (Actually, people usually people say Mill, who is much later.)

• Joshua Hanley says:

Robert Nozick would be a good example of a classical liberal–one modern enough to actually need the “classical” appellation.

• MugaSofer says:

There’s no term for “people were right about everything in 1780”, since it’s a belief with almost no adherents. “Hardcore conservative” comes closest, though.

• Anonymous says:

“Liberal of 236 years ago”.

• Julie K says:

Certainly not “conservative of 236 years ago.” I’ve been reading Boswell, and damn, Johnson was *really* conservative. What we call “conservative” nowadays is quite different.

• Urstoff says:

George III?

• Alex Richard says:

Paleoconservatives?

• suntzuanime says:

There’s an important distinction: have your views changed, or just your allegiances? Like, you talk about having a conservative friend and being scorned by leftists, and that’s a pretty good reason for your allegiances to move towards conservatives, but it seems less relevant to questions of whether the poor should actually be left to die in the streets or whatever.

• Frog Do says:

I remember reading something about the original Dungeons and Dragons alignment system that was mostly this. That plus a lot of exposure to other viewpoints is why I went from sincere ideology to realizing that being part of a team is way more important, even if your ideology seems incoherent.

• bellisaurius says:

It can be, the next level of that is what happens if one of your teammates is bonkers, and you have to choose team or ideology. cf republican party circa 2016

• Mary says:

“questions of whether the poor should actually be left to die in the streets or whatever.”

Questions of whether you are allowed to smear anyone who disagrees with your view as wanting the poor to die in the streets, or such like hate-mongering, are views, not allegiance.

There are some real ideologies that says the government should leave people to die in the streets, but that private citizens should take care of them instead. One could argue that Objectivists would be opposed to even that, but most of the ones I know insist it doesn’t work that way. I have literally heard a prominent libertarian philosopher arguing in favour of legalizing child abandonment, though he was obviously uncomfortable with it, and the strongly libertarian crowd mostly rolled their eyes.

FWIW, I do still consider myself mostly-libertarian – I’m not trying to slam the movement here.

• JuanPeron says:

I remember one of the 2008 Republican debates included a question about whether uninsured people should be denied life-saving healthcare they couldn’t afford. Paul said yes to mass applause (with a “but community charity could pay” caveat. I don’t think there’s any straw man happening here, there are sincere and popular movements saying that the government should leave certain people to die (ill and broke, homeless and broke, etc.).

As I understand it, Objectivists justify charity on the basis of “if you enjoy spending your wealth that way, do it”. If John Galt has a friend who can’t afford chemotherapy or is homeless, he’d be justified in handing the guy money so that he could enjoy having his friend be not-dead. You side-step the selfishness commandment by citing your desire to have the person be helped, not some inherent obligation to help them.

I suspect that there are a lot of these things that come out if you push matters behind closed doors. We allow late-term abortions, infant abandonment, not spending arbitrary amounts on healthcare, and letting people be homeless. All of those issues offer ‘horrifying’ corollaries that you can get to just by adjusting the sliders a little bit further.

• TheAncientGeek says:

You yourself have charactètused the use of positive rights mechanisms to prevent people starving as slavery….so what is your acceptable alternative?

• suntzuanime says:

That is definitely not something I would say, except as part of an argument that slavery is sometimes good. I think my point must have gone over your head.

• TheAncientGeek says:

• I’m not Mary, but two obvious replies are:

1. Charity.

2. Not giving government the powers that, over the past century, have caused tens of millions of people to starve to death.

• Mary says:

The use of positive rights mechanisms has, for nearly a century, been the leading cause of people’s starving in the streets. Therefore, false dichotomy.

• JuanPeron says:

Not false dichotomy; even granting the “leading cause” claim, it’s certainly not the only cause of people starving in the streets. So we could say “it’d be net good to abandon positive rights mechanisms”, but the question “what would you do about non-positive-rights-induced starving in the streets?” is still worth trying to answer.

• blacktrance says:

I used to be a social democrat because that’s what most annoyed the conservatives around me, then I read some economics and became a utilitarian centrist, then I discovered Ayn Rand and moved in the libertarian direction, where I’ve been for the past several years.

• Scott Alexander says:

Does being a libertarian/Randian annoy the conservatives around you more or less than being a social democrat?

• blacktrance says:

Depends on how I present myself. If I play up the small government angle (low taxes, businesses serving whomever they want, cuts to the welfare state, etc), they strongly prefer it to social democracy – they see it as sensible, though dispassionate and usually unmotivating. If I emphasize the radical aspect (cosmopolitanism, cultural liberalism, anti-theism, etc), reactions range from curious engagement to annoyance, but in the latter case they don’t oppose it as vehemently because they don’t see it as an institutional long-term threat, unlike social democracy. In either case they’d much prefer an ideological libertarian to an ideological social democrat as a neighbor, and don’t mind it nearly as much when their children become vaguely libertarian than when they become vaguely progressive (shrugging and thinking “society marches on” vs anger at them joining the enemy tribe).

But when I was a social democrat, libertarianism wasn’t on my radar, so I didn’t consider it as an option.

• moridinamael says:

The majority of conservatives are actually libertarians by revealed preferences anyway.

• HeelBearCub says:

Libertarian for me, not for thee, maybe.

But definitely not libertarian for all.

• Nornagest says:

I used to be a generic West Coast leftist because my parents were.

Then I actually talked to some adult conservatives, and read a bunch of political philosophy, and became a libertarian. I’d like to say this is because that seemed to have the tightest reasoning behind it of anything that didn’t have its own weird flat-earth theory of everything, or demand the deaths of millions of people, or both, but realistically it might just have been out of some kind of unstoppable urge to appear contrarian.

Then I read a bunch of cognitive science and history and economics, and decided that skepticism towards strong and especially totalizing political philosophies, libertarianism included, was a safer approach given what we know about the tribal impulse and about how those sorts of things tend to work out when they’re given free rein. Now I’m kind of a political agnostic. I still tend to lean towards leaving cultures and markets alone, but more by default than out of any strong convictions in that direction.

• BBA says:

I was moderately libertarian until the crash of 2008 and the ensuing recession. At the time it struck me that a purely libertarian response to the crash would have meant a great deal more human suffering for almost no tangible benefit over the response we got. And that just leads to the guillotine – and if you think I’m exaggerating, read up on Andrew Mellon. So I ended up becoming a bog-standard center-left Democrat, or at least as much of one as someone who works in the financial industry can be.

• onyomi says:

Strange reaction, considering the fed, together with govmt housing policy caused the whole thing.

Also, how do you know a more libertarian reaction would not have led to a sharper decline in the very short run but a much more robust recovery in the long run? Right now it just feels like death by a thousand cuts.

• BBA says:

There’s always an election between now and the long run. Libertarianism and democracy are fundamentally incompatible and we’re stuck with democracy.

Or as we say on Wall Street, the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

• onyomi says:

No offense, but if you work on Wall Street you’re probably not the most objective on the question of whether or not the Fed should have bailed out Wall Street.

• TheAncientGeek says:

If it was caused by the US govt and fed, how did it spread?

• Corey says:

If you assume any economic problem is caused by the nearest government regulation (which AFAIK is the only way to come to the conclusion that policy (except, say, zoning) played a nontrivial role in the housing bubble) then of course you’re libertarian.

• onyomi says:

I don’t assume. I actually looked into it.

In fact, looking into the causes of the crisis is part of what turned me back towards libertarianism after a brief flirtation with mainstream leftism. I voted for Obama in 2008.

As for how it caused it: federal reserve inflating all through the 2000s, with the money disproportionately flowing into housing due to implicit guarantees that holders of subprime mortgages would be made whole.

Have you not seen Peter Schiff’s 2006 speech predicting not only that it would happen, but how it did, in fact, happen?

Of course, you may disagree with him on this and many other things–Peter Schiff gets rightly decried at times for being a “perma-bear” and thus far been wrong on the inflation aspect–but considering how well he described it two years in advance you’ve got to at least grant this interpretation some superficial plausibility, beyond just “oh you libertarians always just blame the government for everything.”

• Anonymous says:

It wasn’t just subprime mortgages and the fed had very little to do with. Making this about those damn liberals pushing banks to give mortgages to the blacks allows libertarians to play footsies with conservatives. But the distortions in the prime market were a much bigger problem because the prime market was and is a much bigger market.

So long as we have thirty year fixed rate mortgages with no prepayment penalty with allowable leverage of 5-20x all at less that 200 bps above the risk free rate everyone should be fully aware that the government is continuing to massively distort the housing market and we are going to have more crises. Admit that though and your conservative-libertarian alliance is out the window. Conservatives want to distort housing markets. They just want to make sure it is distorted to favor the right sort of people and the maintenance of the right sort of communities.

• keranih says:

@ Anon –

We had thirty-year mortgages for half a century without a crisis. But as soon as we pushed into subprime lending that was recharacterized as low risk – within a refinancing cycle – we had a crash.

You’re going to have to work a great deal harder to convince me that the 30 year was the necessary cause of the 2007 meltdown.

• onyomi says:

“those damn liberals pushing banks to give mortgages to the blacks allows libertarians to play footsies with conservatives.”

Well, I didn’t say anything like that, and in the linked video he is certainly not just blaming low income homeowners. He’s blaming middle class homeowners who treated houses like ATMs as well.

What does continue to perplex me is how the industries which seem to be most screwed up in the US–financial, housing, education, and health care–all happen to be the most heavily regulated and heavily subsidized (and yes, I consider fed policy to be a sop to the financial industry). Do people think this is just a coincidence? Or do they really think they would be even worse if not so heavily regulated?

• onyomi says:

I’m not sure what you’re implying here, or how it’s relevant to anything I said, but you’re being rude.

• John Schilling says:

You’re going to have to work a great deal harder to convince me that the 30 year was the necessary cause of the 2007 meltdown.

Or the 1980s S&L crisis, for that matter.

And if you do, all you’ll have shown is that the government meddled in the markets repeatedly and in different ways, leading to economic catastrophe, rather than “just” meddling in the market in one way, leading to economic catastrophe.

If this is just an argument as to which bit of government meddling was worse and most at fault for the catastrophe, I think onyomi wins and we start pushing the government out of the marketplace ASAP.

• Anonymous says:

onyomi
I’m implying the same thing you are — government distortions in the housing market caused the housing crisis and should be eliminated. I’m just not letting you get away with pointing to the fed and fair housing act boogiemen while ignoring the much much larger distortions that happen to be wildly popular.

• The Nybbler says:

Except you don’t seem to be able to point to the “other distortions”; you just threw out a word salad of financial terms. Most of that is the requirements for the GSE conforming loans, so I assume it’s the existence of Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae you’re objecting to?

The “200bps over the risk-free rate” is an odd objection. First of all, because there’s nothing magic about 200 basis points. Second, because interest rates on mortgages aren’t set by the government.

• keranih says:

@ Anony –

You’re being a shithead. Stop it.

The S&L crisis was, at best, marginally caused by government encouragement of homeownership through the 30 year mortgage. The difference between the trends in the national economy in the 70’s and that in the oughts is itself illuminating.

I am willing to entertain the idea that government involvement in the system caused long term systemic issues, but the proximate cause of the 2007 crisis was the issuing of bad loans to speculators, liars, and idiots who were willing to take on loans they could not pay. And a great deal of those loans were made under the penalty of government sanction if the loans were not made.

People who took loans they couldn’t repay are a part of the issue. Loan companies who made loans to people who couldn’t repay are part of the issue. But the normal ordinary greed and graft were actively encouraged by the actions of the government.

We can not expect the government to make angels of men. But we can expect that the government will not take deliberate action to turn them into demons.

• keranih says:

@ onyomi –

That Schiff video was…sobering, if only for the number of serious number crunching wonks who snort and told him to his face that the crash would never happen.

• Corey says:

@onyomi: Sorry, that was kind of mean, I realized after posting. I’ll do a top-level reply with actual info and we can argue from there if you like, and I’ll try to actually be constructive.

• HeelBearCub says:

@kerinah:

And a great deal of those loans were made under the penalty of government sanction if the loans were not made

I’m willing to put HUD, Fannie, Freddie and others under the cross hairs of pushing people to make a product available. But they aren’t the ones who inflated the bubble that made it into the worst crash since 1929.

Maybe in a counterfactual world where the word “quant” is never heard on Wall St. you get some failure of the sub-prime market, Fannie and Freddie have to go to congress hat in hand and everyone has to re-think those policies.

But the vast bulk of sub-prime loans, and all of the ones that were speculative ones that made Wall St. want to generate more and more bad loans, those were all created and held privately. Fannie and Freddie got caught in their failure, not the other way round.

Fannie and Freddie didn’t require D&B and others to rate those products AAA. HUD never told anyone to engage in credit default swaps. The Fed didn’t ask Lehman to push for more and more crappy mortgages to package and sell as gold.

I think that if these loans were all Fannie and Freddie, then there wouldn’t have been much market risk at all, because Fannie and Freddie wouldn’t have been allowed to fail. It’s all of the non Fannie and Freddie sub-prime loans that actually made the whole thing into a crash that could take down everything.

• Corey says:

@onyomi: as for government screwing up heavily-regulated industries, I can’t speak much to housing, education or non-insurance finance. But for healthcare and insurance (health and non-health), I actually do think the problem is not enough government. In those industries we can’t ever have a free or even free-ish market (healthcare for lots of reasons, insurance because insurers can always beat consumers at fine-print games).

I think public-private partnerships tend to give us the worst of both: the sluggish response and bad customer service of government, plus the rent-seeking, short-termism, and anti-consumer behavior of the private sector. Think regulated “natural monopolies”, such as everyone’s least favorite company, the cable company.

IMO we’d be better off to just socialize those things rather than half-ass it and get the worst of both worlds, but that’s mostly just my priors talking.

• onyomi says:

I have experienced something closer to a free market in health care (in China, ironically) and it is much better. I don’t really see why we can’t have a free market in health care.

I’m not sure why insurers pulling shenanigans would be any more of a problem in that realm than any other, though I predict in a really free market situation, most people would have health insurance for catastrophic illness and accident only, paying out of pocket for most routine expenses, which would be very cheap.

Right now “health insurance” functions for most people as a kind of prepaid medical care provided as a benefit of employment. The idea that insurance, for example, would cover something like routine childbirth–almost entirely under one’s own control, is strange. Insurance should cover the scenario where something terrible and unpredictable happens with your childbirth, not the routine $30,000 hospitals now charge just to deliver a baby without incident. Insurance for predictable things under your control is like having home owner’s insurance you call when you decide you need a new dishwasher. • bluto says: @ HeelBearCub Fannie and Freddie owned about$160 billion worth of sub prime securities in 2007, most of which was acquired to qualify for HUD housing goals.

In 2006, there were only about $400 billion in sub-prime securities issued, the enterprises were massive buyers of sub-prime securities (keep in mind the duration on these notes in the good times was very short–so they’d have had to be buying their portfolio every few years from the prepayments–til the good times ended). • Earthly Knight says: What does continue to perplex me is how the industries which seem to be most screwed up in the US–financial, housing, education, and health care–all happen to be the most heavily regulated and heavily subsidized (and yes, I consider fed policy to be a sop to the financial industry). Do people think this is just a coincidence? Or do they really think they would be even worse if not so heavily regulated? The best health care systems in the world are all single-payer. Ours, among the least government-controlled of all developed countries, also ranks among the worst. To me it seems like it would take an extraordinary amount of self-delusion to see this as evidence that deregulation would improve matters. Additionally, the prevailing view of the financial crisis was that it was caused in substantial part by inadequate government regulation of mortgages and financial institutions. Maybe the prevailing view is wrong. But I see no reason why anyone, including you, should trust your judgment on the matter. • Nita says: @ onyomi Insurance should cover the scenario where something terrible and unpredictable happens with your childbirth, not the routine$30,000 hospitals now charge just to deliver a baby without incident

The likeliest outcomes would be:
a) poor people, especially devout Christians, sliding deeper and deeper into debt,
b) home births instead of hospital births (to avoid outcome a) -> higher mortality and morbidity -> more dead babies, disabled kids, widowers and maternal orphans.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most people really don’t like seeing cases of preventable death and disability all around them, or dealing with the consequences.

Sure, a lot of health insurance works like a gift card / coupon combo with a low redemption rate priced in. So what? The primary purpose of mandatory vehicle insurance isn’t really to protect you from liability risk, either. It’s to protect others from the risk of taking damage from someone who can’t cover the costs. The fact that it says “insurance” on the tin doesn’t really determine the nature of the product.

• keranih says:

If you want to see what cheap childbirth looks like, check out the Brit version.

And there is a whole movement to push for cheaper home births and midwife centers.

I’m completely with omyomi here – we have subverted insurance into a pre-pay system, and disconnected the payer from the one choosing the service, and as a result costs have gone through the roof.

We have not seen this degree of change in car insurance costs, nor in home owners insurance.

(And yes, we do have a home owner’s version of “health care insurance” – it’s called a home warranty and it’s a rube’s game in that one pays in more than what one will get out, but it works very well to even out the costs of high dollar items. None of the reputable home warranty firms, however, have first dollar coverage.)

• Sweeneyrod says:

@keranih

By cheap British childbirth, you mean the system that has 70% the infant mortality rate of the US? I didn’t expect you would be such a fan of the NHS.

• keranih says:

The far right hand side of the comment thread is a lousy place to start this. I will limit myself to noting that if we’re going to be making public policy choices based on survival rates of infants I’m all for it, but based on previous conversations you many here won’t like it at all, and secondly that comparing the rate of deaths in the USA vs that anywhere else requires chewing down the data to compare apples to apples, and not pineapples.

For example, the infant mortality rate for African-American women’s children is twice that of the children of Caucasian women in the USA. In the UK, the rate for African-origin/Black Caribbean women is over three times that of ethnically British women. There are also issues of miscarriage vs premature birth deaths, and of comparing married women to unmarried women.

NHS is still excessively cheap (patient-tirated NO2) with their birthing procedures.

• Anonymous says:

@Earthly Knight

The best health care systems in the world are all single-payer.

We have good reason to believe that the most common measures used to make statements like this are biased by factors other than healthcare system.

• onyomi says:

“The best health care systems in the world are all single-payer. Ours, among the least government-controlled of all developed countries, also ranks among the worst.”

This is just flat-out wrong on multiple levels.

• Corey says:

@healthcare discussion: I’ll pull onto a top-level comment if nobody else has by the time I get through yesterday’s.

• Earthly Knight says:

We have good reason to believe that the most common measures used to make statements like this are biased by factors other than healthcare system.

We can cut out the middleman, if you like, and look straight at opinion surveys. Here are the 10 OECD countries whose populations are most satisfied with their health care:

1. Austria– 93% satisfaction, $5500 per capita 2. Switzerland– 92% satisfaction,$9600 per capita
3. Belgium– 91% satisfaction, $4800 per capita 4. Luxembourg– 90% satisfaction,$8100 per capita
5. Netherlands– 89% satisfaction, $5700 per capita 6. Germany– 88% satisfaction,$5400 per capita
7. Iceland– 88% satisfaction, $4600 per capita 8. Denmark– 86% satisfaction,$6400 per capita
9. UK– 85% satisfaction, $3900 per capita 10. France– 83% satisfaction,$4900 per capita

Of these, all are effectively single-payer except for Switzerland, which has (heavily-regulated) compulsory private insurance, and the Netherlands, where routine care is run by (heavily-regulated) private insurers while long-term care is administered by the state. For comparison:

US– 81% satisfaction, $9400 per capita • Anonymous says: @The Nybbler Except you don’t seem to be able to point to the “other distortions”; you just threw out a word salad of financial terms. Most of that is the requirements for the GSE conforming loans, so I assume it’s the existence of Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae you’re objecting to? The “200bps over the risk-free rate” is an odd objection. First of all, because there’s nothing magic about 200 basis points. Second, because interest rates on mortgages aren’t set by the government. Go into a bank and tell them that you make$60,000 a year, have good credit, and you want to borrow $200,000. You are going to use the money to invest in a diversified portfolio of domestic stocks and bonds and intend to put in$20,000 of your own money. They can have a lien on the portfolio but have no recourse other beyond it. Also, they aren’t allowed to make any margin calls, they can only call the loan if you fail to make a payment. And if they do want to call the loan they have to go through an expensive judicial seizure process that can easily take a year. You want a fixed rate for 30 years, with no prepayment penalty so that they bear all the interest rate risk and you bear none. Do you think they are going to give you that loan? And if they do, how many basis points above the 30 year bond are they going to want?

The U.S. homeowner is like the son of a mafia don that eats for free all over town, works at a high paying job where he doesn’t do much of anything, somehow managed to find a great deal on a house and cars, yet when questioned angrily insists that his father never did anything for him and everything he has he earned by the sweat of his brow.

Res ipsa loquitur.

• Anonymous says:

I think Germany isn’t single-payer either. We have multiple insurance providers (krankenkassen), some are state-owned but not all, and it’s mandatory to be insured with one. I’m not really familiar with the terminology but looking up single-payer in wikipedia it seemed a bit different.

• The Nybbler says:

@Anon with 4 white diamonds on a dark blue field

I also can’t get apple juice from an orange, so I’m not sure what your point is.

(on another subject, I think identicons need standardized heraldic descriptions)

• I am pretty sure France isn’t single payer–that a sizable chunk of health care is paid for by government, a sizable chunk isn’t.

Before Obamacare, about half of all U.S. healthcare expenditure was by governments.

• Anonymous says:

I’m not sure what your point is.

• houseboatonstyxb says:

I think public-private partnerships tend to give us the worst of both: the sluggish response and bad customer service of government, plus the rent-seeking, short-termism, and anti-consumer behavior of the private sector.

Seems likely. No competition, and you can’t vote the rascals out, either.

• The original Mr. X says:

We can cut out the middleman, if you like, and look straight at opinion surveys.

I’d take the UK surveys with a pinch of salt, if I were you: public opinion here seems to have been somehow convinced that the only two options are “the NHS as it is” and “poor people dying on the streets because they can’t afford medical treatment”, so I’d expect a fair few of the people putting “satisfied” to actually mean “I like the idea of having universal healthcare” instead of “I think the NHS is currently being run well”.

• John Schilling says:

One of the services provided by the US health care system seems to be making everyone else feel betterless abysmally bad about their own version. Unfortunately, we haven’t figured out how to monetize this. Yet.

• Earthly Knight says:

Under the strictest literal definition of single-payer (supplementary private insurance proscribed; no co-pays or deductibles; all health care paid for by the federal, as opposed to provincial or municipal, government) no country on the planet features single-payer health care. I’m using “single-payer” to mean “virtually all citizens are automatically enrolled in a state-run insurance program which guarantees basic coverage.” France qualifies, while Germany is a bit of a boundary case, as a small fraction of the population (11%) holds only private insurance.

• Anonymous says:

@Earthly Knight

We can cut out the middleman, if you like, and look straight at opinion surveys.

Usually, my solution to having flawed measures is to jump to even more obviously flawed measures, so this is great! …let’s just say that if I trusted opinion surveys to determine whether something objectively produces good outcomes, I’d have to reconsider some of my thoughts on that Donald fellow.

• Earthly Knight says:

I agree that all of these indicators are flawed in one respect or another, Anon– although a variety of flawed measures which all tell the same story can sometimes add up to powerful evidence. But look back: onyomi claimed that excessive regulation was obviously responsible for the faults in our health care system. All I’ve endeavored to show is that the evidence, imperfect as it is, points unmistakably in the opposite direction. And indeed it does.

• Samuel Skinner says:

That doesn’t follow. If I blame excessive regulation for problems in India, it doesn’t matter that South Korea has state run industries. You can in fact have government regulation make a sector less effective than state run or purely private- in fact it is really easy (reading about the Indian economy provides a large number of darkly humorous examples).

• Anonymous says:

look back

I just did. onyomi claimed nothing that was nearly as strong as you put it. You responded with rather irrelevant metrics. I remain, yawning.

It’s funny that you cite Mellon. You do know that Hoover was the original Keynesian, right? Between FY1929(Coolidge’s last budget, completed in full before the crash) to FY1933(Hoover’s last budget), federal spending rose 47%, which was roughly equal to the pre-war rate of spending growth FDR implemented. Mellon didn’t get his way when he said to purge everything, and Hoover’s policies were a big part of what caused the Depression. (Oddly, Mellon also later financed a massive protest to get the government to start a jobs program, so it’s not like he was even of one mind on the topic either)

• onyomi says:

I’ve almost always been some flavor of libertarian since I read Harry Browne’s book in high school, though it felt like a pretty big deal in my own head when I went from being a small-government libertarian to an anarcho-capitalist. I did also flirt with mainstream, Blue tribe Democrat support for a short while in grad school and even voted for Obama the first go round, but that was due to a combination of being surrounded almost exclusively by such, and also really disliking George W Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin.

The Bush administration had been so awful, it had lent some credence in my mind finally to the Democrats’ argument: “the Republicans say government doesn’t work, then they set out to prove it.” Of course, Obama’s promises to be different were… well, let’s just say mildly disappointing at best.

As far as how I went from minarchist to anarchist, I think reading the Tannehills pushed me over the edge, though I had been thinking about it for a long time. If I had my own way I’d have a libertarian tyrant ruling the world with an iron fist of not letting anybody pass any of the meddling, crappy, corrupt laws they are so very inclined to pass. But I realized that enforcing my particular vision of the ideal system on everyone else, even if it was a system which largely maximized their freedom, was antithetical to the reason I was a libertarian in the first place, which was because I thought nobody had the right to run anybody else’s life.

And there was also the fact that anarchy, perhaps by waves of secession, ironically seemed more practical than voting in the libertarian overlord.

But a big part of it, I’ll admit was a kind of reverse religious conversion: I grew up taking for granted government was necessary even though I didn’t like it. Reading about practical alternatives long enough, I finally could envision how it might not be necessary at all. I think that is a big status quo-related mental block for most people (and though I don’t describe myself as an atheist, I do think it is somewhat analogous to taking that final step from, say, weak deism to just plain atheism).

• Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

I used to be a progressive, but then I was informed that my views were no longer progressive. Nowadays my views are more or less described by the following meme.

• Zorgon says:

Same here, although I can point to the exact moment I was thrown in the pit with the rest of the shitlords. Inconvenient examples are not tolerated.

• Alex Zavoluk says:

I was conservative. I decided (largely through LW materials) that I would not want other people enforcing their beliefs on me, so even if I personally oppose e.g. gay marriage, I should support making it legal. Also, lots of rational/empirical arguments about God, the wars on drugs/poverty/terror, government failure, and economics. And poof, you have a libertarian (ok, being surrounded by liberals probably contributed).

• Dahlen says:

Meh. I always knew what I wanted out of a society, plus or minus a few details. At any given time, I was trying out different political orientations to try and see whether their application could somehow be shoehorned into outputting the kind of world that I had wanted all along. The ideologies in question have mostly been a function of my virtual peer group. I learned to rah-rah along with everyone for just long enough to fit in, then looked for their specific insights and respectively their failure modes, learned from that and moved on. After a while it became apparent that there’s nothing like what I was looking for out there in the wild, waiting for me to discover it, and that I must carve my own path. It’s lots of work, but it’s also rather liberating, too. Now I can approach weird stuff nobody else cares about without worrying that it goes against the local orthodoxy.

These days I’m mostly of the opinion that political ideologies should be treated like hard drugs. They are very addictive and distort your perception of reality quite a bit, and you should handle them carefully and avoid overdosing so that you don’t accidentally fry your brain on them irreversibly. I’ve seen it happen. So much that it’s sad. Some of the starkest examples can be found among you folks.

• Chiffewar says:

I’ve become much more conservative — small c, definitely — over the past eight months. Not coincidentally, I’m finishing up my first year at an intensely liberal college. Campus PC’s a bitch.

• Dahlen says:

It’s always baffling to see what’s going on on your college campuses, to the extent that it even makes me wonder whether people who try to stay out of that stuff are being forced into paying attention to it, or if it’s truly as bad as some say. Around here, college students are eminently apolitical, and there’s nothing you could say to them that would change that. The only unpleasantries of student life consist of romantic drama up the wazoo and fellow students being bitches to you because they couldn’t get you to do their homework for them. And academic failure, if you’re not a very bright bulb. You know, normal stuff. And the tuition is usually free!

• anon says:

Where is around here?

• ediguls says:

In Germany, it’s like this.

• Le Maistre Chat says:

I became a liberal in my late teens because I couldn’t believe in my mother’s fundamentalist Protestantism. Reading lots of arguments about Christianity led to Enlightenment philosophy, and I bought into it 100%.
I was a partisan Democrat, because I thought Democrats were liberals and Republicans wanted to make the US a Christian nation. However, the Blue circles I moved in made it forcibly clear that liking Islam was a litmus test for being accepted, something I could not even pretend to do without losing intellectual self-respect.
As I continued reading history and philosophy, I came to the conclusion that Blues hadn’t been liberals for a very long time, but were rather post-Communists ala Foucault.
Knowing that, I had to identify as a Red tribe liberal, but then I couldn’t act just like an 18th century philosophe because bashing Christianity would undermine the social cohesion required to defend the West. Realizing that social cohesion was important, I had to take a long skeptical look at the Enlightenment. So now I’m Catholic and have “Maistre” in my username.

• Cord Shirt says:

My circle dislikes Islam and I don’t expect that to change. It’s just not considered important or necessary to worry about Islam at this time.

IOW.

Re your comment there: Sorry to repeat myself, but see Kipling’s poem titled after that old line “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.” Respecting the current coalition, and/or simply being polite, isn’t the same thing as “meekly submitting.”

• Anonymous says:

It seems like a lot of these boomerang stories involve the person going to the extreme other side and then eventually being disgusted with that extremism.

• Corey says:

It’s a common trope amongst conservatives that liberals are required to love Islam. It’s how we’ll destroy the country, don’t’cha know, we’ll allow ragheads to immigrate and they’ll destroy our way of life because they’re evil mutants. (Or we *want* to destroy our way of life because *we’re* evil mutants). I don’t think there’s any more to it than that.

• keranih says:
• Corey says:

@keranih: There are leftists who support Palestinian independence, and even if we assumed arguendo that that was a majority, that’s not the same as liking Muslims because they’re Muslim or Islam because it’s Islam (or not Christianity). (Other than in the degenerate sense that if they were Jewish they wouldn’t be in the situation they’re in)

• Cerebral Paul Z. says:

Can’t say I’ve ever run across that particular trope. The one I’m used to is more like “Islam is practically a concentrate of everything liberals say they hate most; why is it so hard to get them to say so?” (To the extent this question is non-rhetorical, it’s answered pretty well in “I Can Tolerate Everything Except the Outgroup”.)

• I don’t think the trope is “liberals love Islam.” It’s more nearly “liberals are unwilling to oppose Islam as they obviously should because doing so is inconsistent with their poorly thought out principles.”

I haven’t seen any conservatives predict large scale liberal conversion to Islam or migration to Muslim countries, which are the sorts of actions suggested by “love Islam.”

• The original Mr. X says:

The one I’m used to is more like “Islam is practically a concentrate of everything liberals say they hate most; why is it so hard to get them to say so?”

Kinda reminds me of the planned gay pride parade through a Muslim area of Stockholm, which was panned as “provocative” and “racist” by the mainstream Swedish gay pride groups. Somehow I doubt there would have been such hand-wringing if the parade were going through a Catholic or Evangelical Protestant district.

• Cord Shirt says:

Puss in Boots / Le Maistre Chat is actually the second person I’ve encountered who says she left due to a “requirement to like Islam.” I’m sincerely interested in her response.

I’m wondering if this might be a difference between east coaster and Bay Aryan blues….or if, OTOH, perhaps because she was trying to join blue tribe from outside she wasn’t given the chance to see how ah Sidonius-like the position on Islam actually is.

Corey, I wish you wouldn’t comment just to preemptively tell me not to listen to the conservative.

keranih, that article is about Palestine vs. Israel, not Islam vs. anyone.

…rant ahoy!

(Also re this old comment of Scott’s–)

Universalists’ social structures are harmed by the presence of an unequal-before-the-law group right there in front of them.

And they are also, albeit to a lesser extent, harmed by knowledge of the existence of such a class anywhere in the world–so they will oppose it, regardless of the characteristics of its members.

I’m open to the argument that what other countries do is none of our business. However, in our own country, we have a right to oppose policies that harm us.

People have a right to create the kind of society they’re happy living in. (And here I thought *that* was the main Death Eater principle, Scott. Well, aside from the whole “opposing democracy” thing–I’m not a DE.)

• Le Maistre Chat says:

Hey guys, I just saw that this OT is still active.

@Cord Shirt: My circle dislikes Islam and I don’t expect that to change. It’s just not considered important or necessary to worry about Islam at this time.

Well, why not? What is the rational cause of feminists not worrying about Islam after Rotherham?
More broadly, if Western women are a historically oppressed class, why not stand up for ourselves instead of deferring to anti-racism and every other cause that successfully attaches itself to the leftist umbrella? Is there an understanding that justice requires a race to the bottom and Western women aren’t nearly as oppressed as men of some other identity groups?

@Corey: It’s a common trope amongst conservatives that liberals are required to love Islam. It’s how we’ll destroy the country, don’t’cha know, we’ll allow ragheads to immigrate and they’ll destroy our way of life because they’re evil mutants.

Not evil mutants, regular humans trapped in an evil religion through cunning social engineering mechanisms like the doctrine that the penalty for apostasy is death.

• Cord Shirt says:

You’re asking why American feminists don’t abandon their political coalition in response to one thing that happened in Europe?

Partly because it’s…one thing and happened elsewhere. Partly because, having joined in coalition with anti-racists long ago, they’ve become convinced that they may have picked up subtle biases against anyone who could be characterized as “brown” (or “black”), so they have decided to always correct their first, knee-jerk opinion to account for that supposed bias. Of course many also believe that reporters share that bias, so they mentally correct the reporting, too. Especially when the reporting comes from an outfit they’ve already decided is particularly biased.

All this adds up to great confusion and uncertainty about exactly what did happen in Rotherham. IOW, the well is poisoned (though IMO no bad actor actually set out to poison the well; things just evolved that way).

Of course, normally all the above is Stuff One Doesn’t Say. Many more people subtly evince awareness of such things than are willing to actually say them “right out in front of God and everybody.”

I’m not generally a fan of demands to “Break your tribe’s rules of politeness–on MY schedule yet–or else I’ll declare a win for my team, ha-HA!” The main reason I’m willing in this case is, well.

My question wasn’t rhetorical. I’d actually like to know what subculture of blues gave you the impression members were required to love Islam, so that I can avoid and/or argue with them (or decide it’s All A Misunderstanding I guess). I’m not asking for a town, just, like, east or west? Rural or urban? That kind of thing.

• Le Maistre Chat says:

@David Friedman: I don’t think the trope is “liberals love Islam.” It’s more nearly “liberals are unwilling to oppose Islam as they obviously should because doing so is inconsistent with their poorly thought out principles.”

Yes, that’s exactly what I’ve thought for most of my adult life. “In the sacred name of logic, don’t you see that you’re proudly supporting a concentrate of everything you say you oppose?”

• Cord Shirt says:

“Turn LBJ’s picture to the wall” is it? 😀

• Cord Shirt says:

…IOW this

In the sacred name of logic, don’t you see that you’re proudly supporting a concentrate of everything you say you oppose?

is *still* just basically saying “Abandon your coalition for a different one”…as the “Turn Lincoln’s picture to the wall” folks did.

OK, so why did it *work* for FDR? When it’s not working for you?

A proposed replacement coalition needs to offer something good–not just harp on about everything it claims is bad about the current coalition.

• Le Maistre Chat says:

@Mr. X: Kinda reminds me of the planned gay pride parade through a Muslim area of Stockholm, which was panned as “provocative” and “racist” by the mainstream Swedish gay pride groups. Somehow I doubt there would have been such hand-wringing if the parade were going through a Catholic or Evangelical Protestant district.

Yes, this is another one of those things that makes leftists incomprehensible. Why doesn’t the LGBT movement love Pim Fortuyn and fear Islam?

• Le Maistre Chat says:

@Cord Shirt: Puss in Boots / Le Maistre Chat is actually the second person I’ve encountered who says she left due to a “requirement to like Islam.”

Heh, that’s the first time someone’s called me Puss in Boots! Here, have a relevant photo.

Partly because it’s…one thing and happened elsewhere.

Cologne, New Year’s.
Is there a rational heuristic for estimating when progressives will ignore problems in other countries and when they’ll pay attention to them?
I’m not trying to be uncharitable here, but the only one I can come up with is “straight white men bad, other groups good to the extent they have no overlapping characteristics.” But that can’t be right either, because it implies that Muslim lesbians fighting their patriarchal societies would be the ultimate cause celebre.

I’m wondering if this might be a difference between east coaster and Bay Aryan blues….or if, OTOH, perhaps because she was trying to join blue tribe from outside she wasn’t given the chance to see how ah Sidonius-like the position on Islam actually is.

It’s happened face-to-face on the West Coast, and I’ve left online geek groups after seeing other members banned for criticizing Islam like it was Christianity or something.
Quick backstory: I was raised by lower middle class fundamentalist parents in a West Coast city that had started gentrifying Red people away before I was born. I stopped believing in Christianity at 14 over the issue of creationism. Reading the classic arguments against the Bible lead to Enlightenment philosophy in general, and I bought into it completely. Then I was the first in my family to go to college, and I was ready to buy into the tribal identity associated with it, be a feminist and yada yada.
Yet… the whole Richard Rorty line that professors and university administrators are “we Socratics, we lumieres” turned out to be a bald-faced lie. There was nothing liberal about college. There were speech codes, women in niqabs, plays about how anyone uncomfortable around niqabs is a bigot… I came to the conclusion that Blues hadn’t believed in liberalism for a long time. Rather they were post-Communists like their idol Foucault.

Now obviously not every Democrat on the West Coast and not every millenial online are as extreme as the irrational hegemony enforced at university. But they say nothing against it. All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been committed for fear of not looking sufficiently progressive.* And all that jazz.

*Charles Peguy, 19-oh-freaking-5.

• Cord Shirt says:

Well then…I don’t know how well this might apply to west coasters. But for east coasters…

I’m not trying to be uncharitable here, but the only one I can come up with is “straight white men bad, other groups good to the extent they have no overlapping characteristics.”

Nah it’s like I said, blues are sincerely concerned they may be biased, so they try to correct for it.

If they think they’re biased when they’re not, then sure, the opinion they end up with after unknowingly *over*correcting can look like “straight white men bad, other groups good to the extent they have no overlapping characteristics.” But that’s not what it *is*.

Walking the line between “actually being biased and failing to correct” and “trying so hard to correct for bias you overcorrect and render yourself vulnerable to liars/exploiters” is hard. I think they’re mostly making the second mistake right now, but how to convince them of that when the well’s been so thoroughly poisoned…

But that can’t be right either, because it implies that Muslim lesbians fighting their patriarchal societies would be the ultimate cause celebre.

Remember the “Gay Girl in Damascus” hoax?

But “she” wasn’t fighting Islam (just “her” “oppressive Syrian society”). Instead she “saw no conflict in being both gay and Muslim.” Since the hoax was basically a wish-fulfillment fantasy, you can see that there’s a wish for Islam not to be bad enough to *need* to be fought. The fantasy wouldn’t have included that detail if blues didn’t suspect that it might really *be* that bad.

But now we’re back to “but maybe I’m just biased”…

As for Christianity…the many blues whose families were once Christian assume they couldn’t be biased against a group they consider themselves part of (or at least descended from). So they don’t feel a need to correct for any such bias. The attitude they display toward Christianity, they also feel toward Islam; it’s just that with Islam, since they’re afraid part of the reason for those feelings might be racism, they try to rein them in as they don’t with Christianity. (Except that the same kind of pass goes to black churches–cf. Rev. Wright.)

(And as you know, I think the bias is sometimes real, since I’ve been on the other side of it as a woman. So I think it still has to be a tightrope walk–you don’t reach the truth, or manage genuinely just behavior, if you give up and resort to assuming you’re never biased.)

…when I was a kid, the joke the UU moms told us girls was that we would “grow up to marry a Muslim” and so “we’ll have to disown you.” Implication being of course we never would…because Islam was the epitome of all we opposed.

…another factor here is the way that religion is such a part of most people’s identity and thus it’s often better to “not be so damn literal”–to avoid just declaring someone’s whole identity group to be…”the epitome of all we oppose.” Even if, according to its official theology, it *is*. (Here again, blues feel like it’s OK to do that to a group they’re “from” and “still culturally affiliated with,” like Christianity…but not to one they’re not.)

I’m reminded of an essay I read online (and now can’t find again) by a Catholic discussing her relationship with Judaism. She tells the story of her parents’ Jewish friend and how, naive kid that she was, she asked them why they didn’t try to convert him? And they…just “looked at her as if she’d just picked her nose at the dinner table.” The very question was a faux pas…as is your question about Islam from the POV of today’s liberal coalition. One *respects* one’s friends’/allies’ identities; trying to convert them toward one’s own different beliefs on topics their religion touches is *rude*; etc.

(Personally, I think open discussion is better. Not a fan of this new hypersensitivity. How can you work out your differences if you can’t even discuss them?)

Wish I could say more but I have a not-completely-healed injured hand so I’m rationing my typing and this is about my limit for the day.

• The original Mr. X says:

Is there a rational heuristic for estimating when progressives will ignore problems in other countries and when they’ll pay attention to them?

When it helps advance their cause, they’ll pay attention. (“We totally need feminism in America because women in Saudi Arabia get flogged for not wearing burqas!”)

When it doesn’t, they won’t. (“Police in Yorkshire not investigating rape claims for fear of seeming Islamophobic? That’s a different country, no reason to think it would happen here, so shut up, you Islamophobic bigot!”)

• Anonymous says:

So extreme right wing, nearly instant volt face to extreme left wing, then quickly back to another corner of the far right.

I think maybe you have a distorted view of both tribes. Normal conservatives don’t care about Rotherham.

• herbert herbertson says:

This is old and maybe no one will read it, but the top comment was linked in the most recent post so maybe people will find it the same way I did, but: as a leftist, my refusal to condemn Islam has absolutely nothing to do with fear of bias. Instead, it flows from results-oriented analysis. The Western Right’s discourse around Islam supports two projects I oppose strongly. One of them is Western military interventions in MENA (which I oppose because it leads to death, suffering, and a waste of resources). The other is Salafist/Wahhabist Islam–the Western Right claims to oppose this, but their interventions tend to have the practical effect of empowering them, and their rhetoric (by highlighting the worst strains of Islam and tying those strains to Islam as a whole, and not infrequently outright calling them true Islam) ironically supports those Salafist/Wahhabists’ claims to be the truest form of Islam.

• Cord Shirt says:

herbert, I was definitely talking about the everyday blue triber, not the politically engaged leftist.

That said, I was also talking about the kind of stuff that a person normally doesn’t discuss or confront, and that if someone tries to bring it up openly, a person standardly denies. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. 😉

I agree with your two political positions, but they mostly aren’t relevant to the cultural issues I was talking about. To the extent that they are, they are also convenient excuses for someone to do what their culture is already pressing them to do anyway.

On the former issue, in reality there are plenty of ways to say, “This ideology is against everything we stand for, but also we’re pacifist/isolationist/against intervening in $place for$reasons.” Not just saying *that*, but instead refusing to admit the ideological conflict even exists, generally has an additional reason–a cultural one.

On the latter, I’m with Kenan Malik: The Western right’s narrative helps the most “regressive” forms of Islam…and so does the Western left’s.

When I was working on my book From Fatwa to Jihad, I interviewed Naser Khader, a Danish MP and one of the best known Muslims in the country. He recalled a conversation he had had at the time of the Danish cartoon controversy with Toger Seidenfaden, editor of the left-wing newspaper Politiken. ‘He said to me that the cartoons insulted all Muslims’, Khader remembers. ‘I said I was not insulted. And he said, “But you’re not a real Muslim”.’

The West’s idea of a “real Muslim” is not…to ref Biden…”articulate” and “clean.” The West’s idea of a “real Muslim” is “exotic” and extremist. For both the left and the right. (See also a similar popular attitude that a “real Christian” is a fundamentalist/evangelical or a “real Jew” is Orthodox/Conservative.)

• Cliff says:

Anyone with a heart cares about Rotherham

• Samuel Skinner says:

Just like the 1997-2003 war in Congo? Most people simply haven’t heard of either and won’t bother to look into it if they hear it.

• Anonymous says:

if you used to have one political ideology, but you now have a different one, what was it that caused your ideology to change and why

Used to call myself a “centrist”, for want of any clue what else I might be. Then I started participating in a politics discussion channel on IRC. I found myself in agreement with almost everything the local Death Eater was saying. So, without really changing my views, I changed my label. (I like maxims that don’t require behaviour modification. 🙂 )

• houseboatonstyxb says:

@ Flame
Question: if you used to have one political ideology, but you now have a different one, what was it that caused your ideology to change and why?

I began Red Tribe conservative, Goldwater Girl, Rand. In the sixties, said “Free love and drugs are great, but being able to run your business like you want to is more important” and voted against McGovern. Then the hippies came out for environmentalism and women’s lib, so I joined them in action. As time went on, I noticed that General Electric isn’t really Hank Rearden; all crony capitalism up there on the Right all sides. Now I call myself Far Left because I want to take my pet causes (same environmentalism and women’s lib) to extremes; also, before the .01% buys up everything, let’s grab as much good for ordinary people as we can. (Of course the Clintons back in the White House may turn things around again.)

Hank Rearden fixes my truck and jeep, delivers my propane, installed my generator, etc. I think he’s a fine person, just hasn’t seen the same political information I have.

Senpai, I had no idea you were so venerable! No offense intended, it’s just that I didn’t read you as an older person. Thought you were in your 30s!

• Jugemu Chousuke says:

Started out as a general naive “why can’t everyone just get along” type liberal. After that I became more libertarian as I became convinced by libertarian arguments about the inefficiency of government. After that I became more socially conservative after being convinced by right-wing arguments re social cohesion, HBD, and so forth, while simultaneously being repulsed by the increasing aggression and totalitarian attitude of modern progressives.

• szopeno says:

Almost the same with me – though, being from Poland, labels “liberals” and “conservatives” had to be changed to “left-wing”.

My parents were leftwing, so I was left-wing too without giving it much thought. Then I discovered Korwin-Mikke, which is sort of Nigel Farage mixed with Ron Paul mixed with ultra-conservative-monarchist. I found his arguments strangely appealing and I went full libertarian while in university. Then I went into few cases when I couldn’t logically state why I oppose some libertarian views or why some libertarian views are better than alternatives, went into a crisis and started going back to centre.

This march was stopped and reversed when I met my old western friends on facebook. They were mostly liberal (in US sense), and within a year they changed my views to almost ultra-conservative (yeah, being called “stupid cunt” for disagreeing with views on catcalling does that to man).

Right now I am small-statist, socially conservative nationalist.

• Teal says:

I was born and raised my deep blue parents, but had that contrarian streak of that a lot of us do, and so latched on to the politics of a cousin. Became a conservative and somewhat religious in high school. During this time I voted for GWB, even went to the national convention (boring AF). In retrospect it lead to some things I still regret twenty years latter, like having said some pretty bigoted things in front of people that turned out of have been in the closet.

Then in college I moved much more strongly in the libertarian direction. Partly it had to do with those friends from high school coming out, partly with not wanting to be religious any more, partly finding a group of like minded people. Never did get into Objectivism or AnCap or any of that. In ’04 I voted for Badnarik.

I stayed libertarian for a good long while. In law school I was involved with the federalist society, and boy was I a gunner in con law.

Since then though I’ve been drifting closer and closer to the mainstream left. I still have technocratic side that is influenced by my time as a libertarian and an intense dislike of labor unions, but I can read the New York Times without it raising my blood pressure much at all these days. The causes are many and not all clear. A part of it is that the tribe exerts enormous, if subtle, pressure on it’s members to conform and I am surrounded by Blues not Grays. Another is a decade and a half of arguing on the internet and being convinced by my opponents and unconvinced by my allies. Finally, just life experience — there are real tough problems out there and you can’t just magic them away with the one simple trick that statists don’t want you to know about. In the upcoming election I’ll be pulling the lever for Clinton.

• keranih says:

It might be just me, but I strongly resist the impulse to lump “libertarians” in with conservatives. Not the same critter. That this commentariant tends to do so is (to me) a sign of the still-present left-leaning majority.

Having said that…

I have shifted – and am aware of an ongoing shift – away from the firm social conservative stance of my youth and towards a more nebulous libertarian-ish right-leaning stance. I say this more because we’ve had people talk about shifting entire “tribes” but less about shifts within a ‘side’.

More specifically – I’ve shifted the sorts of things which I am willing to advocate for/against, vs the things I’m willing to legislate for/against, vs the things where I am more, meh.whateva. I’m more strongly against abortion, much less willing to legislate against homosexuality (and I largely think legislation is a waste of time) but willing to personally advocate against most modern free love. I am for far less regulation and government interference in the market period, but (and this is the change) far more willing to let people do as they like without feeling the need to comment on their choices. I am also now largely against capital punishment, and willing to discuss modifications of drug regulation at least in the abstract.

Most of this has come of getting more and more involved in my faith, where one draws firmer lines where necessary and (tries to) lead by example with love in all else. Also I’m getting older, and softer and lazier as I age.

• anan says:

“That this commentariant tends to do so is (to me) a sign of the still-present left-leaning majority.”

This whole drawn-out SSC-coming-out-of-the-right-wing-closet-while-denying-it-the-whole-way thing is just too wacky to be believed.

It’s like a Christopher Guest movie.

I cannot tell whether you mean this as “because it’s definitely happening” or “because it’s definitely not”

• Corey says:

Study of economics moved me from socialist (itself formed by experience in the workforce) to social-democrat. So now I’d rather leave industries that have meaningful competition up to private enterprise (where markets work very well), and socialize industries that can’t (e.g. healthcare, “natural monopolies” like electrical distribution).

• Philosophisticat says:

I was apolitical for a very long time, due at least in part to being a moral skeptic. Then I did some metaethics, decided that moral realism wasn’t all that implausible after all, and tried to put together a political view. Reading Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia, taking economics courses, being around relatively impressive people with a libertarian bent, and having a poor introduction to liberal ideas (from marxists, for instance) led me to become a libertarian. Then, gradually over a long span of time, I became much more aware of the kinds of social problems that concern liberals, saw holes in arguments that I used to think plausible, and generally came to appreciate how difficult certain moral questions were. Now I’m somewhere further left on the path between liberals and libertarians, and agnostic about a lot of things.

and having a poor introduction to liberal ideas (from marxists, for instance)

What, you mean… like this? /s

• I used to be a classical liberal, am now a libertarian anarchist. I think the two reasons were:

1. I didn’t see why there was any moral obligation to obey laws, but also didn’t see how a society could function well if there wasn’t. I eventually noticed that I was the only person I knew who acted as if the existence of a law was, all by itself, a reason to obey it (consider speed limits or drinking age laws), and the society I lived in hadn’t collapsed.

2. I thought the legal framework for market interactions had to be provided from the outside, then read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which gives a plausible picture of a society where it wasn’t, which suggested that the claim could not be true in general. That started me thinking about how a society where legal rules were endogenous might work.

• Ryan Beren says:

When I was a libertarian anarchist, it was largely on account of you. So thanks. That was a fun and intellectually stimulating period of my political life. 🙂

(edit: This is intended to be genuine, not any kind of “now I know better” snark — I have different opinions now but I can’t claim to know they’re better.)

• 57dimensions says:

I haven’t really had a big change in my political ideology, but one thing that I was thinking about is how differently young people (like me, and at least those around me) think of Republicans and Conservatism today. I’m 18, this is the first election cycle I’ve voted in, the first election cycle I remember any of was 2008 when I was 10, and of course that involved Sarah Palin. I remember Romney a bit better, but obviously this is the first presidential election where I’m of age, and the whole thing has been a mess for the Republicans especially. When I think of a Republican I think: very religious, very socially conservative, and says a lot of idiotic things. I mean, in all the years that I started to actually become aware of politics, that is the only archetype I’ve seen presented by Republican presidential candidates, members of congress, and even the local government in my town. In my entire life experience barely any Republicans have ever seemed remotely “reasonable”, except of course Charlie Baker, although he has to toe the line much more carefully here in Massachusetts. So yeah, that’s been my experience with the right wing in America.

I used to be somewhat libertarian and am leaning more and more towards the left.
Maybe it’s because my friends now tend to be mostly leftists and it’s easier to have similar political preferences that your friends, particularly if they feel very strongly about it (and leftists tend to be much less tolerant of divergent political views than others).

More charitably, I used to live in a upper class bubble and the realization that my own privileged condition was the exception rather than the rule made me interested in how to help poor people effectively and made me question the validity of libertarian morality.
The libertarian moral framerwork rests upon the idea that their is a state of nature that the intervention of the state distorts. I now think that this state of nature is mainly an illusion and that the free market doesn’t have any moral superiority upon other economic systems.
Robust libertarians arguments are mainly utilitarian ones but there is a strong case to be made against them. Anyway, most libertarians hypocriticaly shift from utilitarian to deontological arguments whenever it’s the more convenient.

I think most libertarians and conservatives come from the upper middle or upper class and because they lack an insider view of the working class they are unable to truly empathize with poor people on an emotional level and feel angry about it, and don’t have any incentive to honestly consider leftist arguments.

Still, I think far leftists are dangerous ideologues,who not only neglect liberty but even despise it, and completely screw up their country whenever they come to power, like it is the case in Venezuela right now.

I don’t understand how you can be a conservative but am not much interested in engaging with them since conservatives don’t exist in my country (and in any other western country than the United States actually).

• Flame says:

I think most libertarians and conservatives come from the upper middle or upper class and because they lack an insider view of the working class they are unable to truly empathize with poor people on an emotional level and feel angry about it, and don’t have any incentive to honestly consider leftist arguments.

My very conservative roommate comes from a lower class background, and this is one of the reasons I found his arguments compelling. His position is that liberalism is well-intentioned but ultimately backfires.

• Lesser Bull says:

I live in a Red Tribe area. The more petit the bourgeois, the more conservative. Upper Middle Class types tend to be liberals and leftists.

Used to be one of a wildly fluctuating set of revolutionaries (anarchist, libertarian, robotic-overlord-panopticonist), mostly because what else would you be if you’re the smartest person you’ve ever met? Then I went to university and just calmed down a hell of a lot. Still quite a revolutionary, still big on dramatic social change, but towards more simple goals (market liberalism).

Over the last 2 years I’ve been reading more English history, and more Roman history, and more American history, all of it through a lens of constitutional theory. (A history of the Supreme Court remains my only history of the us from the revolution to today).

Doing that has given me a much greater respect for the delicacies of constitutional history, made me far more reluctant to change things without understanding them. Given me *vastly* more respect for the Westminster system with all the pointless absurdities of it. And made me very very reluctant to endorse the “make this happen by just making it happen” school of politics.

• Logan says:

Three years ago I was a hardcore liberal, Berkeley undergrad. Exactly what you imagine. A few months ago I voted for Trump in the primary. I transitioned purposefully, as an experiment.

It started my senior year of college when I realized that not only was I gay, but I had been actively struggling with my identity for 8 years and repressed all memories of it. This made me a massive epistemological skeptic. If I don’t know myself, why should anyone know whether raising the minimum wage will help the working poor? Around this time I (a jewish militant atheist) became a born again christian. So I thought, everything is so topsy turvy, the best way to really prove to myself that all truth is relative would be to go all the way and become a hardcore Republican.

My method was basically to watch really trashy conservative youtube shows, and also the daily show. I would try to be as uncharitable as possible with Jon Stewart and as charitable as possible with the conservative comedians. Eventually it became second nature to look for flaws whenever I heard a liberal arguments and accept conservative arguments at face value. Then it was just a matter of living in the world, listening to both sides, and naturally realizing that Republicans were right about everything. About a year and a half into it it stopped being a game and I really and truly believe all of it now. Can’t tell the difference between this and truth.

The moral is that literally all “rational” arguments are bullshit. No one knows anything. You can convince yourself that 2 plus 2 is 5 by listening to comedians on youtube.

You need Orwell.

• Everyone knows the other side fool themselves.

• Flame says:

Wait is this actually true? Because if so it’s extremely fascinating. Can you share more? Did you experience any cognitive dissonance to start with? I feel like there must be some degree of sampling effect in this experiment because anyone who would try something like this on themselves probably didn’t have super firm political convictions to begin with… ?

• FeepingCreature says:

Can you just … keep doing this? Like, with other belief systems? Buddhism? Shinto? Mormons? Flat-Earthers?

I want to see what happens when you can read a manifesto and honestly believe it’s God’s Own Truth. I want to see what sticks.

• Yrro says:

I used to be a fairly stereotypical moderate liberal. Liberal beliefs on social issues, but with a conservative lean (eg, hurrah gay marriage, but also hurrah marriage as a social institution). “Good government” over “less government.” We need to control capitalism and guns, etc.

I’ll admit, my conversion to a version of libertarianism got started with Heinlein. He convinced me on the “free love/no jealousy” side of things first, and encouraged some of my natural skepticism with regard to man-made institutions.

I took another big steps when I started really researching gun control. Gun control is one of those areas where nearly everyone who is an expert on guns and violence is on one side of the debate, and nearly everyone who has no personal experience is on the other. The completely ignorance contained in the Assault Weapons Ban did a ton to convince me which side I should listen to on this issue.

I have since progressed to where I don’t know that libertopia would ever actually work, but I’m pretty convinced that some big steps in that direction could be an improvement. Libertarian critiques of regulatory capture especially have a lot going for them in my opinion, and are something that any ideology needs to address in their solutions.

My biggest problem as a libertarian is that almost all of my solutions to problems lie several inferential steps beyond the overton window, and so if I want to take place in office political debates as more than a socratic inquirer I end up having to lecture/prove more than fits into a comfortable conversation 🙁

Used to be a generic socialist type since I first learned about non-crazy non-Soviet-style socialism in high school. As time went on, I picked up more appreciation both for Marxist doctrine and generic libertarianism/free-market ideas. Now I dislike regulation and bureaucracy a lot more, but still disagree with the entire discourse of “property rights”, and feel pretty neutral about markets as a type of institution.

Also used to be a pretty militant feminist, now I’m annoyed a lot by a great deal of pop SJ bullshit, and am more quietly feminist unless I’m in this horrible comment section. + I came out as Officially Oppressed, and no longer feel such pressure to be seen as contributing to progress.

• Daniel Kokotajlo says:

I was raised typical US conservative. Catholic, military family, private catholic high school. I became agnostic and through political debates with my center-left friends I started to search for beliefs of my own, rather than the inherited ones I began with. I read and watched a lot of politics online and became fed up with the discourse; in college I went to the democrat, republican, and libertarian clubs to see what they were like and settled with the libertarians because they were the friendliest and least like a creepy political machine. I identified as libertarian for a while, then became more leftist towards the end of my college life due to the influence of radical leftist friends. (Really, it was just that they convinced me that libertarianism was too extreme; the state has an important role to play in a variety of areas.) Then rationalist stuff gave me a healthy dose of skepticism about all of these isms. I now consider myself a centrist, though I lean left on most social issues. I’m first and foremost a rationalist.

• ASharkInTheDot says:

My political affiliation has shifted a few times based on whichever ideological coalition seems most likely to safeguard the principles of individualism and meritocracy and to secure equal opportunity for every citizen. In high school and the beginning of college I was a pretty standard-issue neo-con; I remember being in a mock legislative session and being the only person in the room defending the Patriot Act in its entirety.

Then in college I got exposed to socialism by a couple of professors and joined a nationwide socialist student organization. I was very drawn to their anti-war advocacy and especially their criticism of the financial industry and Big Money. Unfortunately (or, I guess, fortunately) my affair with radicalism was cut pretty abruptly short when I attended a conference at my university where the presidential candidate for the American Socialist Party spoke. I realized that he didn’t seem to understand even basic economics nor to have any solid plan for what the country was gonna look like after we confiscate all the wealth from the bourgeoisie and tear down the structures of the capitalist system. I asked him a few questions and was totally unsatisfied with his answers, and I figured if the man that the American socialist movement elevated to the position of national spokesman and presidential candidate couldn’t even field softball questions from a college sophomore, the movement must not be worth my time.

At this point I still consider myself a person of the left – my emotional sympathies still get inflamed by the idea of working-class struggle, and my sensibilities, attitudes, and social network are all still Blue Tribe to the core – but above all I consider myself a staunch anti-revolutionary, and the increasing pervasiveness of identity politics and revolutionary language in the progressive movement have totally alienated me from left activism.

• Ghatanathoah says:

I’ve almost gone full circle.

I started life as sort of a moderate liberal. I held fairly typical liberal beliefs, but they were moderated by a strong belief in science, rationality, and individualism. Identity politics never appealed to me because I believed in judging people as individuals and was repulsed by the idea of collective guilt. I also grew up in a very Red area, and therefore ended up much more anti-gun control and climate-change skeptic than most liberals. I thought ev-psych was a cool idea that made lots of sense.

As I got older and learned more I started to lean more towards socialism. But it was a very technocratic socialism, ideas like class conflict were too collectivist towards me. I was very utopian and strongly believed in using the government to make the world a better place, although I did value checks and balances. I intuitively thought in a very utilitarian, consequentialist sort of way. I remember thinking Bush was lying about the WMDs in Iraq, but supporting the war anyway because I thought that destroying totalitarian governments and replacing them with liberal democracies was good.

Obviously this made me ripe for a conversion to libertarianism in college. I read a lot of Heinlein and Rand, and realized that libertarianism extended the moral standards I believed in to their logical conclusion. I became one of those annoying people who ask why it’s bad for mobsters to take people’s money, but good for governments to. I also became familiar with all the utilitarian arguments for libertarianism. During this period I also learned about postmodernism and the various “studies” and realized that the extreme left was even worse than I had thought, which helped push me even further towards libertarianism.

Eventually I got into rationalism and Less Wrong, and read Scott’s essay “The Worst Argument in the World” and realized what a colossal idiot I had been. I realized that all the “taxation is theft” type arguments that persuaded me to be a libertarian were based on the noncentral fallacy. Fortunately all the utilitarian arguments for libertarianism had left me a graceful line of retreat.

So now I’m back to being a consequentialist liberal. But all of my exposure to libertarian ideas made me much more skeptical of government power. I no longer believe in military nation-building and understand why free market economies are so productive. I concluded that my high-school self was mostly right all along, except that he had a few mistaken ideas about how effective at solving problems the government could be.

So I basically went Liberal->Technocratic Socialist->Libertarian->Liberaltarian. My one constant through all of it was my unwavering belief that identity politics are terrible.

• Ryan Beren says:

Fascinating, thanks for the post.

Was raised Conservative Republican. Was anti-“feminist”, also briefly anti-sjw (briefly because I only encountered the term a short time before my conversion)

The shift started with me reading and being convinced by a lot of arguments in favor of political correctness, a light bulb moment when I recognized my own racism (of the “oh, I’m color-blind” variety), etc.

I stopped being “anti-feminist” by meeting a lot of anti-feminists online. They were gross, terrible people. Also had some real life encounters with sexists from some previous century… I still roll my eyes at some of the more extreme things, but I am definitely a feminist now.

I became pro-choice when I became (by choice) pregnant. Up to a certain point, a fetus isn’t a baby, it’s just a creepy body horror parasite. I was okay with this because I wanted the baby, but being pregnant when you don’t want it is much more viscerally nightmarish and awful to me now, and the thought of forcing a woman to stay pregnant has become utterly dystopic to me… I actually feel sick contemplating it. Obviously I’d still prefer better BC provision and abortion to not come up at all, and I get increasingly more uncomfortable the older the fetus gets… But that’s just a reason to make it easy to get an abortion early.

As for economic stance – I’m not sure anymore. Kind of cynical of everything, I guess….

(since people are mentioning social circles fwiw basically all of my friends and family are right wing and I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut around most of them. And, ironically, the tiny amount of left-wingers are more left-wing than I am… So I keep quiet about that too… I think there’s maybe two people I openly discuss my politics with)

• JuanPeron says:

I was a bog-standard Progressive Democrat until a couple of years ago, for the usual reasons (and childhood inculcation).

At that point they pulled the rug out from under me on social issues (I back what progressives want to permit, but not what they want to mandate or forbid), and I learned a bunch more economics. Now I’m flatly libertarian socially, and something… strange… economically.

I back large government action in absolute terms: strong anti-trust laws, Pigouvian taxes, and Keynesian stimuli. But I’m strongly opposed to regulatory/bureaucratic overhead (tax, don’t ban), intellectual property laws, and non-Pigouvian distortions of markets. The Fed is great in principal (largely for international realpolitik) but a mixed bag in practice, and government stimuli should focus on infrastructure and WPA-style support of unprofitable goodness.

So the views haven’t changed that much, I’ve just gotten more cynical about people’s intentions and success rates. Now I want very limited action, but large and unapologetic movement when it does happen. Also, part of the left has redefined me as a rightist for the same views I held in 2010.

• Gravitas Shortfall says:

Hey, I just found this blog recently, and this is my first comment, be gentle! 🙂

I don’t know that I’ve yet completely changed my political ideology so much as I’m in the process of grasping for a better, more cohesive set of principles. I can say however that the behavior of both Bernie Sanders and his crew have done a really good job of alienating me from the socialist left, while other social media has frustrated me with the overeager, underempathetic youngsters taking over the civil rights movement. I feel myself becoming more center-left, and it’s a good thing, I think. Although maybe center-left is the wrong term. I still have sympathies for anarchists, socialists, civil rights activists, and other leftist concerns, but I’m scared the Left is creating its own Tea Party inspired by the Republicans’ madness. If 2018 features primaries on the Democratic side with the same dynamics as some of the 2010 primaries on the Republican side, this country’s going to be in a real shitstorm. If you want to get a vision of the future, imagine 50 Bernie Sanders and 50 Ted Cruzes screaming at each other from opposite sides of a room.

I suppose I’m changing in terms of my entire understanding of people, and it has quite a lot to do both with long talks I’ve had with my therapist, and courses I’ve taken in my psychology undergraduate program (getting my BA on Friday, woop-woop!). I’m committed to radical empathy now, which of course is an impossible ideal. The struggle towards it is worthwhile, though. People are people, whatever opinions they hold, whatever things they’ve done, and nothing gives anyone the right to recategorize someone as not a person, ever. Also, nothing is black and white, and there is no cosmic struggle between good and evil. That’s a cognitive trap, the urge to see the world in good-bad dichotomies. Actually rational people root out that kind of thinking from their headspace, and consider everyone in light of the fact that they are people.

I used to ask myself when people did something I disagreed with if they were stupid, crazy, or evil. Now I know there’s at least a fourth option: rational from their perspective. It doesn’t make them any less correct, but it allows for a kind of understanding that eluded me before. Although I disagree with some of the discussion here, including people using the extremes of the civil rights activists as an excuse to throw out the whole thing (was that an anti-suffrage person I saw, for chrissakes?!), there’s a great point being made, which is that liberals do preach tolerance and then deny it to people that it’s actually difficult for them to tolerate. I got into SSC through the “I Can Tolerate Anyone But…” post, which resonated with me as a member of the Blue Tribe trying to break out of a tribalistic mindset.

I still think libertarianism is pretty silly though, mostly because it suffers from the same sort of naive understandings about people and quaint just-so stories as socialism. Both belief systems are paradoxically too cynical and at the same time too optimistic about human nature, and both don’t really give a fuck about science except when it serves their points. Both are “-isms” that distort reality, making it more difficult to perceive the true state of the world, and getting in the way of basic human decency. All too often people are willing to do terrible shit in the name of their precious “-isms”. But I think the priority should always be on treating people well, not on lofty ideals.

One further point I’ve evolved on that I THINK may go over better than the prior paragraph: reality is more important than ideology. True, ideology is kind of inescapable, but it’s worth trying anyway. We can be more rational, we can be better perceivers, and we can act to increase our own happiness and that of everyone around us (and society in general).

Does this make sense?

• Eggoeggo says:

“creating its own Tea Party inspired by the Republicans’ madness.”

How many buildings did we burn down?

Cultivating empathy is dangerous when you’re faced with a movement that exploits and weaponizes the empathy of sympathizers. But it’s an excellent way to get swept back into the tribe without consciously intending to.

• anonymous says:

It makes sense for most people, but some people are too far gone. If someone is attacking someone in the street, it’s not just unnecessary to try to empthasise with them, it’s actively wrong, doing so could get you or someone else killed.

And there are people that are even worse than rabid animals.

Like Adolf eichman for example, who said (-in 1945)

“I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction”

If your empathy can handle that, I think *you’re* not human, you’re a god).

(And you ought to put your powers to better use, if so. And if no, -if you’re a human too, close your heart fast, and fast, to evil. -There’s nothing to be gained in exposiing yourself to it, there’s nothing to be learned, only lost, no secret there, no secret lair where justification lies, -only a lost soul that’s fallen off the edge of escalation, a soul that’s a soul no more, only the result of a trajectory.)

But there’s no shortage of people on this planet who could use your empathy. I think that’s a good litmus test, -to ask yourself, “am I burning emotional energy here such that I’m impairing myself in doing justice to people who’ve done nothing wrong, and are just as much in need, or more?”

-Tend to the crooked if you feel you’re up to it, or called to it, or whatever it is, but tend to them last.

I think there is less on the side of good to mirror the unfortunate empirical proof we have of mundane loss of humanity and radical evil, but I do think there is quite a lot. Imo the world is a cosmic battle between good and evil, (or between fidelity and “death spirals” -for lack of a better term). The kindness you show to people might be what keeps them going, or keeps them on the straight and narrow, or even lets them reach unprecedented heights. There’s no knowing what difference kindness makes, but we know the difference it can make.

Another argument against the idea that all humans are people: If we are to truly empthasise with all people, shouldn’t we give the people who aim to be monsters what they want? If it’s their goal and their purpose, isn’t it more respectful of their basic humanity, to recognise their right (and an individual’s right alone) to revoke it?

Anyway, here are a few things you might say have been good like Eichmann was evil. Not necessarily in their entirety, but I think you’ll find examples of good, in a cosmic sense, on these few (example-)pages:

I suppose simo hayha is the one where it’s most likely a mind might mistake it (in my not very humble opinion) for a “shades of grey” situation, so I’ll briefly explain why I think it isn’t (remotely)

-I think it’s good that one person defending their homeland can kill over 600 invaders, personally. If one person in a hundred was like this man, I don’t think we would have any problems in the world. And why shouldn’t one person in a hundred be? The only question is whether we’ll be wiped out before we reach a good and stable equilibrium or order, and if we are, whether it’s permanent. All bad orders must eventually fall. They can’t slot into each other properly, -they lack elegance. Pressure always builds, whether it takes 5 years or a thousand, no bad order can last.

I also think he’s an instantiation of the fact that good is ultimately the most suited to combat, but that’s a discussion for another post.

• AspiringRationalist says:

I used to be a libertarian – basically taking the non-aggression principles as far as it would go. Eventually I realized that it was unworkable due to pollution. Polluting harm’s other people and their property without their consent and is therefore immoral, but since some of our essential bodily functions pollute, being an absolutist about the non-aggression principle simply count couldn’t work.

Once it became clear to me that tradeoffs were necessary and I studied some economics, I came to the view that government should address externalities and other coordination failures. Because I still don’t trust governments to be competent, I prefer market based approaches like a carbon tax. Given the right incentive I expect the market to find an efficient solution.

While thinking about environmental issues shaped how I think about politics, I tried to apply the same sort of thinking to other issues – government should address coordination problems but stay out of the details as much as possible.

• Lesser Bull says:

I used to be a conservative until Mitt Romney lost. I woke up a Death Eater.

I wish I had a more palatable and intellectualized account, but I don’t.

• nydwracu says:

I was raised progressive. Then I went to public high school.

I was still a Blue-aligned cultural liberal until I saw the creepy Obama hivemind in ’08, went to college, ran into SJ, and started to realize that it didn’t make any sense for me to support a faction that wants to kill my family.

Then I read UR, which was the only thing at the time that pointed out that the Red/Blue conflict is a bizarre mashup of class war and Yugoslavia that simply can’t be solved by democratic means, but nowadays everyone worth paying attention to seems to have accepted very watered-down versions of those claims.

Eventually I realized that a collapse is likely and that the ideological landscape is set by large institutions that essentially can’t be influenced from outside, stopped caring, and decided to personally prepare for a slow civilizational decline. If catastrophe is inevitable, you want to be a cockroach.

• FranzDeEpinay says:

I was raised pretty apolitically, although I generally came down on the pro-business side of arguments thanks to my father’s profession. I was always taught that “reading between the lines” was much more important than taking rhetoric at face value.

I encountered fanatic progressives in both teachers and students throughout high-school whom would outright say that:
1. Only white people can be racist
2. All white people are racist by virtue of birth
3. You can never stop being racist except by becoming an ‘ally’ (voiceless slave) to our movement
4. Racism is completely evil and must be destroyed within our society
5. White people have “white privilege”, which is bad and must be stopped

Number 5. is what pretty much threw me over the edge. Privilege is effectively defined as job opportunities, educational opportunities, legal rights, political representation, property, capital, and anything else that contributes to my quality of life. What the fuck else was I working to get to college for but to secure my own privilege? “White privilege” means those things for my entire family, the majority of my friends, and probably for my children and their children. And for what reason did they want to take away my “white privilege”? Not to uplift the poorest of our society (whites make up the majority of the poor in the U.S.), but to fulfill some fetishistic desire to see every race equally represented.

I started by ridiculing and criticizing it from a meritocracy/libertarian perspective but eventually dropped the pretenses and accepted ethno-nationalism after seeing how “progressive” arguments were just being used as a vehicle for giving power to certain ethnic groups. I don’t see any large quantity of good-faith or liberal values in the tens of millions of minorities that progressives are letting flood the West that would make me otherwise comfortable with the currently inevitable transfer of democratic political power from whites to minorities, and I have grown increasingly bitter with the liberalism that has allowed my culture to be fragmented and attacked.

It’s also not hard to be taught throughout your entire left-wing education that it’s never been fun to be a minority throughout history, then do the math about the inevitable demographic destiny of your country, and put 2 and 2 together.

• Kevin says:

Growing up, my parents were politically moderate and not very religious (socially somewhat liberal, economically somewhat conservative, generally not too fanatical about any of it). It’s also relevant that I grew up in Maine, where the plurality of registered voters are Independents.

In high school, I became a libertarian for the usual reasons that teenagers adopt libertarianism: feeling smarter than everyone else, not wanting to be told what to do, general contrarianism.

In college, I had a professor who did his PhD under John Rawls and Robert Nozick. I started learning a lot more about political philosophy, realities of government, etc. I ended up as a Rawlsian liberal. (Interestingly, that professor himself is an anarchist.) This was also around the time of Obama’s first campaign, which itself was very inspiring for liberal values (regardless of the mixed bag of his actual presidency).

Nowadays, I still think of myself as a person with liberal values. But I’ve become more and more disenchanted with typical “liberal” (read: Democratic) policy proposals for achieving those values. (I never though of myself as a capitalist until I lived in France for a while.) I retain my general dislike of political parties, which tend to propagate stupid policy proposals based on what seems like little more than status quo bias and a general lack of courage or effort. The embrace of pop-social-justice thought-policing by the far left is also pretty gross.

In summary, my current views are probably best summarized as Rawlsian: liberal values with a recognition that both markets and government have their places and that, in general, simpler is better when it comes to policy.

• Ryan Beren says:

Religious conservative > right-libertarian > anarcho-capitalist > communist anarchist > apolitical > U.S.-style moderate Democrat with various leftover quirks

Whew! That was quite a ride.

1. I was a religious conservative because my parents were religious conservatives.

2. The summer after graduating high school I listened to Rush Limbaugh too much and realized it was inconsistent. I read a bunch of economic theory and became right-libertarian.

3. Via associating with libertarians, I was introduced to their debates over rights. In trying to pin down a consistent set of principles for my libertarianism, I was driven toward anarcho-capitalism.

4. Anarcho-capitalist theory explicitly presumes people will have different preferences for laws. That includes non-libertarian laws in general and alternative legal norms for property in particular. This lead me to think about the theoretical basis for property – and there basically isn’t any worth believing except the requirements of practicality. So what’s a radical libertarian to do who no longer believes in any natural right to property? Obviously I joined an anarchist collective. 🙂

5. HPMOR -> LessWrong -> skeptical movement. Anarchist proposals obviously lack adequate evidence that they’ll work, so I had to get rid of those. I needed to be apolitical for a while to detox from ideology.

6. Eventually the skeptical interest in science-based political proposals, combined with an Enlightenment attitude that the widest circle of empathy is best, drove me into affiliation with the Democratic party here in the US. But I don’t claim any specific ideology.

• Avery says:

This might be too late, and I apologize for the label-centric manner in which these eras are described, but here’s a narrative and my hind-sight reasoning.

In high-school, I was sci-fi legalize-it anti-conservative rabid-atheist Libertarian due to Heinlein, “Aint Nobodies Business If You Do”, and being alienated from the heavy LDS religious culture I grew up in.

Then in my early twenties I was a psychadelic anarcho-socialist radfem, due to “The Abolition Of Work”/other socialist literature, dating feminist women, and taking a lot of psylocibin.

Late twenties I was an apolitical polyamorous unschooling parent, due to disillusionment with the lumpenproletariat, wanting to fuck a bunch of people, “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” (though this book was an influence my entire post-highschool life), and having kids.

In my thirties I was/am a bright-green techno-progressive egalitarian elitist interested in creating walled gardens. I’ve recently been influenced by David Deutsch, Nassim Taleb, my personal experience with the systemic oppression of men and my own personal history of abuse, Friedrich Nietzsche, Alone, and Scott Alexander’s bridge-building conception of progress and his ideas about ethnography.

So: From rabid atheist libertarian to a weird kook. Maybe not so much has changed.

19. wigglewright says:

So there’s a new social site called Imzy, created by a fired reddit executive, that’s trying to be like reddit, but nicer. I got your invite codes right here:

(If you use an invite code, please consider generating more invite codes and putting them in this thread so other people can also take a look. It’s not that hard–just use the invite functionality to invite youremail+1@gmail.com, youremail+2@gmail.com, etc. and copy/paste the URLs.)

I know there have been complaints that the subreddit is under-moderated. It seems like Imzy’s philosophy is to be very heavily moderated, so it might be a good place for SSC readers who are looking for that kind of environment. I already created an Imzy group for SlateStarCodex here.

Caveat: it seems like Imzy’s founders may have a philosophy that’s more focused on moderating unacceptable ideas than moderating unacceptable conduct. So I could believe that if the community started having discussions about HBD or something like that, even if they were polite, thoughtful, discussions, we’d be in danger of getting booted. But I’m passing along invite codes in case you guys wanna take a look anyway.

• Anonymous says:

I am surprised to a small extent that someone looked at reddit, which has hidden comments in practically every thread (downvotes), and thought “man, this place sure needs more moderation”!

• in all but good taste says:

I took a brief look at it, and two things stood out to me:

This site is clearly pretty young, and has little content when compared to its predecessor. It seems like they may be trying to avoid some of the problems Voat had/has with a different moderation policy, but one can only shape public discourse so far before it smells like astroturf (not that the site seems to be pushing any agenda, just that seems ripe for that kind of interaction)

The layout is also different from what i’ve grown accustomed to. There’s almost always a large photo that accompanies any link to outside of Imzy, and even text posts have the post title AND the text of the post (along with the username, “subreddit name”, and “subreddit name” ICON. this is pretty bad signal/noise ratio in my opinion.

further with the layout, many posts have a donation button baked in (which i find weird, imagine a world where reddit power users were raking in $tips rather than reddit gold) and the share button that each post features only shares to other imzy pages. Since i took one of the codes (thanks, btw) here are 2 more (mine aren’t fancy hyperlinks) NOBOVE CEXIKO 20. dndnrsn says: What are folks’ opinions on government subsidy for arts that would not survive on the free market? In the sense of “grants to the orchestra” rather than something like tax credits to attract business. Not a means to an end, but the end in itself of supporting the arts. I support them, but for mainly irrational reasons, eg, liking the orchestra. I would like to see other people’s probably better rationales for their possibly better opinions. • Anonymous says: Strongly against it. I don’t suppose I have an elaborate rationale, I just can’t see why art that can’t pay for itself is somehow better than car manufacturing or leather goods that can’t pay for itself. Most of this art has that problem because it’s not even art but “art”, i.e. it doesn’t give any aesthetic experiences of any value to sufficiently many people. (I suppose strictly “of sufficient value that they want to pay the market price to consume it”.) Contrast something like medicine, where I think even most people who are against socialized medicine can clearly see the moral logic at work in being in favor of it. Art, on the other hand, is just a luxury good; subsidizing the orchestra is like subsidizing Hermés. Edit— it occurs to me that subsidizing the orchestra is actually worse than subsidizing eye-pleasing, high-quality clothing. Many, many people do like Hermés, but they can’t afford it on account of Veblen-good pricing; besides that, if the state subsidized something like bespoke tailoring, everyone would get better-fitting, better-looking, harder-wearing clothes, leading to more pleasure in one’s clothing long-term, less sweatshop labor to produce cheap shirts and sneakers, preservation of a traditional craft, and breaking the circle of manufacturers not wanting to compete on too-high quality in order to keep customers having to return. Art has none of these benefits, except perhaps the craft, depending on how one delimits one’s concepts; in some cases not even that, since contemporary art, for example, seems mainly to consist of gluing garbage or cubes together and writing a vapid essay about it. • dndnrsn says: How important would you say that you consider human cultural artifacts are? Both in the intangible sense like a style of music and in the physical sense. Should preserving them be a social priority, to any real extent? • Anonymous says: The ones that are pure art, like music, I consider almost perfectly irrelevant. Something which is also relevant to history or of some philosophical merit, like Palmyra or the Book of Job, I consider imperative to preserve. I admit this isn’t easily reconcilable logically. Edit again— I seem to have lost the ability to finish my thoughts before hitting Post: One thing I guess wasn’t clear from my first reply is that I don’t see how the orchestra is more of a cultural artifact than e.g. leather goods or car designs are, so I don’t understand what’s supposed to make orchestral music more worthy of preservation than the ’59 Cadillac Eldorado. Should that be available cheaply to purchase and drive? Why? Why not? • dndnrsn says: I’d draw a line between the orchestra and consumer goods – their value is not due to personal preference. There’s definitely public money at various points in the chain for cars and gasoline, but it’s a means to an end. However, the thought of examples of 19xx leather goods or cars being preserved in museums is one that I like. I will admit to being a sentimentalist on issues like this. The thought of just sort of losing elements of human culture of that kind upsets me. Of course, what I didn’t think of is that in some places probably public funding for the arts is like money to the auto industry. I can definitely imagine some places seeing tourism benefit the local economy more than was put into subsidies. So if all government subsidies still disappeared, somewhere like NYC would be likely to still have at least one orchestra, but a lot of places wouldn’t. • TheAncientGeek says: Supporting things that can’t pay for themselves is an effective way for a society to signal that it has spare resources. • dndnrsn says: Or, to put a positive spin on it, the point of having spare resources is that they can be spent on nice things. • If you have spare resources you can spend them on nice things. But the issue here is spending someone else’s “spare” resources on things you consider nice. • TheAncientGeek says: If there isa fact to the effect that all property is intriniscally private and owned by individuals, then all societal status projects are necessarily played for with private money. But there is no such fact, because ownership is not mentioned the laws of physics. • Skivverus says: ownership is not mentioned the laws of physics. True, but it is mentioned in human psychology. Also in business, for that matter – “design by committee” has not historically been a term of endearment. • Vitor says: For it. An orchestra requires a certain economy of scale to exist at all. It is not a divisible good, so if market interest would support say half an orchestra, the market fails to create one at all. If the market will fail anyway, I’d rather have it fail in the direction of warm fuzzy intangibles like culture. This line of thought grants the implicit premise that survival on the free market is the sole criterion separating things into “inherently worthy” and “inherently unworthy” categories, and that we should feel dirty about subsidies for stuff in the latter category. Otherwise, “I like the orchestra” is a sound reason :p for wanting it to exist. • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: Why would there be no substitution goods, like solists’ concerts? The premise is not that inherently worthy things are solely supported by the market, it’s that the market supports only inherenly worthy goods at a certain price, because people by definition care enough to pay for it. There are things that are difficult to support on the free market, but obviously still worthy like police or medicine. The question is rather: Why should my personal preference decide what happens with all the taxpayers’ money? Subsidies for art need to be justified because many people are very much not interested in the kind of art getting subsidies. Would you also support subsidies for adult hip hop dance crews in a wealthy neighborhood (i.e it’s not a project to keep the youth of the street or something related) • Vitor says: You’re right that many people are not interested in traditional art at all, but many people are interested. And even more people are glad that orchestras exist, even though they rarely or never attend concerts. Cultural values are complicated. Also, yes, I would support the hip-hop dance thing, I guess. In most societies there are funds you can apply to if you do anything related in any way to art or culture. I do concede that such institutions in practice often have a huge bias towards traditionalist, elitist values, but IMO they should keep existing, and we should debate what kind of thing they fund. • Anonymous X says: >This line of thought grants the implicit premise that survival on the free market is the sole criterion separating things into “inherently worthy” and “inherently unworthy” categories No, I don’t think it does. It’s sufficient, just for example, to deny the existence of a worthiness attribute; if nothing is inherently worthy, the free-market criterion is rational because there’s no reason to subsidize anything at all but still every reason to let people trade freely and according to their tastes and needs. Or for another example you might reason that hospitals and fire brigades are inherently worthy whereas art, which essentially boils down to amusement, is in the “no inherent value” category together with other consumer goods — scrunchies, cars, comic books, tubas and so on. • Vitor says: > It’s sufficient, just for example, to deny the existence of a worthiness attribute This is exactly what I was saying. We’re just labeling the categories a bit differently. And the point is I do think there are inherently worthy things outside of what the market will support. Also, I disagree that art is mere amusement. I don’t have much clarity about why I believe that, but I do. • Ptoliporthos says: Orchestras may not be divisible, but they could tour, just like pop musicians do. • “if market interest would support say half an orchestra, the market fails to create one at all. If the market will fail anyway …” That’s not market failure. That’s a case where the cost of something is greater than its value, with both being revealed in what prices people are willing to pay (for attending concerts) or accept (for playing in the orchestra). “This line of thought grants the implicit premise that survival on the free market is the sole criterion separating things into “inherently worthy” and “inherently unworthy” categories” That looks like a parody of an argument you don’t understand. Let me try to fill in the blanks. What people are willing to pay for something is a measure of its value to them. What people are willing to accept for doing something is a measure of the cost to them of doing it. If what you have to pay to produce a good or service is more than what people will pay for it, that is evidence–not proof, for various complicated reasons, but evidence–that the value to those who consume it is less than the cost of producing it to those who produce it. Producing things whose cost is greater than their value makes human beings on net worse off. That is undesirable. There are lots of complications I’m leaving out, since this is a blog post not a price theory textbook, but that’s a sketch of the argument, provided because you are treating a conclusion as if it were an assumption. • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: Steelmanned idea of a defense: A lot of art also has an implicit or sometimes very explicit purpose of education. Crtical docummentaries addressing yet not widely known political issues are important for education and progress, which is why they are subsidized in my country at least partially. Museums are an even better example. People might also not realize how valuable a certain piece of art is, i.e. be willing to pay more for the 12th Avengers movie but not for the challenging arthouse movie that provides new perspectives to them. But honestly, I fear what’s actually happening is that the groups with influence just ensures their art being produced. I see no reason why classical music is worthy of support but underground hip hop is not. • Alex Zavoluk says: So the arguments are: 1. Important and critical art should be under heavy influence from the government. I see no way this can go wrong. 2. Government knows what people want more than they do, because reasons. Is that correct? • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: 1. Important and critical art should be under heavy influence from the government. I see no way this can go wrong. I tend to agree with you, but at least here in Europe it does not go as bad as one thinks it would. Obviously no art critical of cultural liberalism is going to be funded, but nevertheless some movies like the Danish “The Hunt” do get support, a movie about a man’s ruined life after he gets wrongly accused of child molestation. The art or projects that manage to get funding are usually stuff most will agree is at the very least well intentioned, like promoting tolerance towards minorties. I myself took part in a small film project intended to foster understanding between Jews and Muslims. I am not saying that some positive effects outweigh the bad effects of intervening in a market, just that it’s not all bad. • Anonymous says: at least here in Europe it does not go as bad as one thinks it would. I disagree with you. Here in Sweden literally no art is produced on the government dime that isn’t shite. Avant garde identity politics, “creative” stagings of plays that manage to make people not want to go and see Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, this thing, and so on forever and amen. • houseboatonstyxb says: @ Alex Zavoluk 1. Important and critical art should be under heavy influence from the government. I see no way this can go wrong. Someone upthread had the key: give everyone time (eg by UBI), and maybe some means (eg instruments and equipment available to everyone), with no or little government influence over what kind of art they use it for. • Eggoeggo says: Keep in mind I said if you want authentic, lower-class artistic movements, which will by definition be both localized and extremely diverse. Subsidizing subnationalism is probably a less successful strategy for nations than is, say, building a “National Opera House For The Promotion of a Cohesive National Culture” in the national capitol. • Equinimity says: I recall an interview with a Australian actor* years ago who said that increasing restrictions on unemployment benefits was damaging Australia’s arts sector. He said that a number of actors, comedians and other artists of his generation had spent much of the seventies living off unemployment in share houses while working for next to nothing in each others artistic performances. Some of them referred to their dole cheques as ‘arts grants.’ * – Cannot recall his name, which is making it impossible to google for the interview to see if I’m remembering it right. • Alex Zavoluk says: “He said that a number of actors, comedians and other artists of his generation had spent much of the seventies living off unemployment in share houses while working for next to nothing in each others artistic performances.” So in other words, people working at actual productive jobs subsidized this man-child and his friends to fuck around for years and years and produce nothing anyone wanted to see strongly enough to pay for it? • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: Or as a friend once jokingly put it: The unemployment checks keep some legitimately crazy people from actually having to take part in society, which might reduce mass shootings by one or two in a given year. • Eggoeggo says: Calling back to the “Monty Python isn’t that great” discussion, this is another problem I had with them. These guys almost all went to Cambridge, then sat around living off english coal miners’ taxes for a decade doing sketch comedy about what silly accents english coal miners have. Considering living standards in the UK at the time, that use of public money seems downright criminal. • TheAncientGeek says: To put it yet another way, if you are not going to have full employment, you ,it as well have unemployed people who want to be unemployed. • Corey says: 2. Government knows what people want more than they do, because reasons. Government *is* the people. Not perfectly, of course, but society’s elected representatives decided that whatever art subsidies exist are a useful expenditure of society’s pooled resources. That’s not necessarily less legitimate than the unpooled disposable income of those who have disposable income deciding against it. • “but society’s elected representatives decided that whatever art subsidies exist are a useful expenditure of society’s pooled resources” Why do you believe that? It makes sense to say that if I am willing to pay ten dollars for something, that means I have decided that its value to me is at least ten dollars–because we have good reason to expect that people will act in their own interest. What reason do you have, beyond wishful thinking, to expect political actors to act to maximize value to the society? • Corey says: If lawmakers didn’t think the subsidies were worthwhile, why did they do them? Even if the lawmakers are acting purely in self-interest instead of a gods-eye view of what’s best for society, the electorate is electing them for the purpose of appropriating their tax dollars. Apologies if you live in a dictatorship and/or believe the concept of government is illegitimate (though in the latter case, saying that government expenses are useless is mere tautology). • Skivverus says: …because they necessarily have imperfect information on the preferences of their constituents? Especially considering Dunbar’s number, confirmation bias, gerrymandering, and the fact that most people just don’t spend all that much time at City Hall. • “Even if the lawmakers are acting purely in self-interest instead of a gods-eye view of what’s best for society, the electorate is electing them for the purpose of appropriating their tax dollars.” The lawmaker’s self interest has two relevant parts. They want a good image with the voters, to make reelection easier, and they want support by interest groups sufficiently interested in what they do to make donations, or provide other sorts of support, for or against them accordingly. The individual voter is rationally ignorant, since paying attention to what the politician is doing and whether it is or is not desirable requires a considerable investment of time and energy, and since one vote has a near zero chance of changing the outcome of an election in a large polity, the payoff of that investment is very close to zero. So the voter supports politicians who do things that sound good to someone who has made no effort to discover whether they are good. The special interest group affected by the law, on the other hand, can expect to influence the outcome so is not rationally ignorant, so will reward or punish the politician according to whether what he does serves its interest. That does not give the politician an incentive to spend “society’s pooled resources” in a useful way. My standard example is tariffs. The relevant economics were worked out about two hundred years ago and imply that, as a general rule, a tariff makes the country that imposes it worse off but benefits some groups within that country. Almost all countries impose tariffs. • Corey says: @David Friedman: How that turns out depends on the ratio of special-interest-group-membership to total citizens. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was actually greater than 1 but if you have data I’m happy to have it. Doing a quick Google with interest groups I know of: NRA 4.5 million, AARP 35 million, AAA (though their advocacy isn’t heavy) 55 million, NWF (“Ranger Rick”) 4 million, AFSCME 1.6 million, NEA 3 million. I’d assume as groups get smaller and narrower in scope there are more of them, so where that limit converges – good question. • “How that turns out depends on the ratio of special-interest-group-membership to total citizens.” I don’t think so. The non-special interest group citizens don’t know they are being injured, the special interest group members, or their agents, do know they are being helped. Nobody introduces a bill into Congress labeled “Bill to make farmers richer and city folk poorer,” although such bills are routinely passed. Nobody runs with the slogan “I’m the bad guy.” • Corey says: @David Friedman: If I understand your position, you’re saying that in a republic only special-interest groups are (approximately) represented, and representation of non-members of SIGs rounds down to zero. Right? And you’re using this to imply that most citizenry is effectively un-represented, right? (Otherwise the central argument of “public expenditures don’t correspond to the will of the citizenry” fails). Doesn’t that result depend on most citizens being non-members of SIGs? If most or all are members, then most or all citizens are getting good representation through their SIG. I feel like I must be missing something. • John Schilling says: And you’re using this to imply that most citizenry is effectively un-represented, right? Most citizens are probably members or beneficiaries of at least one special-interest group. Which makes them well-represented in those few areas, but effectively unrepresented in every other area. The net harm done to them by the many decisions made when other peoples’ special interests were calling the shots may well exceed the benefit from the few decisions where the legislature was paying attention to them, but they probably either won’t notice or notice only a vague sense that things don’t seem to be working right. • Corey says: @John Schilling: I can see that, we’re all low-information-voters in the sense that we don’t know all the details of what the government is doing. • @Corey: John basically got it right. Let me see if I can make it a little clearer. Imagine a society with very poorly enforced property rights, where everyone spends considerable time and effort stealing from everyone else and trying to prevent others from stealing from him. Everyone is sometimes successful in stealing, but everyone is worse off than if no stealing occurred. Almost everyone is sometimes a winner, just as almost everyone in our society is a member of a special interest group that succeeds in benefiting its members at the expense of others. Now replace private theft with the use of government to benefit your special interest group. Almost everyone is “represented” but the outcome does not correspond to “a useful expenditure of society’s pooled resources.” My group gets me ten dollars at a cost to everyone else of a hundred, so do all other groups, I end up ten dollars richer and a hundred dollars poorer. “And you’re using this to imply that most citizenry is effectively un-represented, right?” Where “effectively un-represented” doesn’t mean that the outcome is not affected by what people outside of special interest groups approve of, but that what they approve of is very weakly connected to what is in their interest, since they are rationally ignorant for the reason already explained. A politician is unlikely to propose a bill that says “tax everyone and gives the money to farmers” because it is too obvious to non-farmers that the bill hurts them. So instead he proposes a much more complicated and less efficient way of doing it, such as the biofuels program or crop parity, that can be plausibly represented to someone not paying much attention as in the general interest. Incidentally, this isn’t some novel analysis of mine. It’s conventional public choice theory–the sort of stuff Jim Buchanan got the Nobel Prize for quite a while back. • Dahlen says: I see no reason why classical music is worthy of support but underground hip hop is not. The important question is, are you familiar with either? • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: If there is a meaningful difference, you could have used your reply to educate not only me but also other people. Instead you just chose to be snarky. • Dahlen says: Whoa there with the defensiveness. In the hypothetical situation in which you actually answered my question instead of bypassing it, the next answer I was to give actually did depend on your answer. Then we could have gotten into an actual discussion concerning whether the aesthetic merit of a song was supervenient on its genre. FWIW, I myself am not familiar with either, and was hoping to debate someone who at least could bring some actual domain-specific information into the discussion, unlike me. I still think I used my reply damn well, for asking a question to which I didn’t know the answer. • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: I apologize, I indeed misread your reply. Just being on SSC instead of other places on the internet should have raised my prior for a charitable rather than a snarky reply. To address your question: I am not at all familiar with classical music, but I have a few friends who take part in rap battles and the like. Unlike the US, Germany’s market for rap music is far too small to produce anything other than the most simple minded gangster rap. Disenfranchised youth in Germany tends to listen to hip-hop, but while American adolescents are lucky to have a great story teller like Kendrick Lamar (not underground) capable of promoting a positive identity, the nationally famous rappers here never manage to convincingly tackle difficult issues or to provide a fresh perspective, instead focusing on espousing how many bitches they pimped out yesterday. Those German rappers actually trying to write meaningful texts have virtually no commercial appeal, which is why they continue their craft as hobbyists during open mic cyphers, or similar outlets. Which is really fine for them, but it’s sadly impossible to reach a broad audience with challenging texts. There are a lot of cultural fonds supporting the arts here in Germany, decidedly not just classical, but an honest act of self expression in a hip-hop genre would never be funded for a variety of reasons, not least of all on account of the swearing. • Dahlen says: Hmm. I also have some former classmates who are trying to get started as rappers (and have been for quite some time). Knowing them, I’m inclined to think the process of producing such songs can be something which a 17-year-old with access to a studio and no formal musical training can hope to pull off, with enough talent. From the passing familiarity I have with classical music, it’s much, much more complex and intricate than that. It takes years of study of many specialised notions, and a different and, I would say, inherently more difficult type of practice. I’d like to elaborate, but I’m afraid I can’t; my musical education stopped making sense about shortly after learning what the heck an octave was. I’ve practised singing, as well, with what I suppose might’ve been classical techniques rather than reciting, as rappers do, and all I can say is that it challenges the voice much more, you use a wider range of pitches, more techniques, you have to have higher pulmonary capacity… it’s very different from speaking voice. And that’s without even getting into composition, into the mathematical relations that govern pitch, rhythm etc. in a classical piece; it was spoken of these in Godel, Escher, Bach, as a presentation of the math in music in a form that was reasonably understandable for non-musicians. Besides, it’s also about the cultural significance of the aesthetics of each genre. Rap is basically music by and for tough lower-class young men, and while I’m certain that many of these have poignant stories to tell and thoughts to express, it’s not exactly the lot behind which the government is likely to throw its support and funding. Many of their woes share the specific theme of taboo, of lack of endorsement from the general society, and that’s what they play up, that’s part of what makes rap rap. Conflicts with authorities, poverty and the neglect thereof by basically everyone, the extremely cynical take on relationships with women, problems with substance abuse and how it’s tied in with lawbreaking and the attempt to earn a living on the black market, gaining respectability through street cred (often involving violence and crime) rather than the socially acceptable mechanisms like career success and good taste in consumer goods… The political class very justifiably sees all the stuff that rappers talk about as problems to be solved, and not as an aesthetic to be promoted. They’d be a bit in the PR situation of the ambiguity between “March For Child Abuse” or “March Against Child Abuse”. Is it a shining endorsement of the song as an artistic product, or of what it talks about? OTOH, classical music codes as upper class. More expensive to attend as an audience, requires more expensive equipment, and by its very sound it’s meant to be ‘ennobling’ for the spirit. It calls attention to the higher and more abstract things in life rather than the dreary realities of ghetto life. (I know I don’t want to seek more reminders of my shitty urban environment in the songs I listen to, on the contrary, I just want to get away from all that.) It’s older, too, by a few centuries, and associated with very respectable and impressive composers and performers. I think you can understand the difference yourself if we came to talk about Kanye West as an emblem of our civilisation the way we talk about Mozart. Just a few thoughts as to why these two genres might justifiably get treated differently. I asked my original question because it’s more likely for a non-musician to fail to notice and appreciate the differences, and I would have been indeed surprised to see a professional violinist or whatever express that opinion. (Then again, it would have been all the more interesting if that were the case here.) Okay, yeah, it’s snobbish, but to take the side opposite of snobbery in this particular situation just to avoid that particular smear also means to discount the validity of judgments of the specialists in this field, who presumably have thought about the aesthetics of it more than you and I might have, and not just from an angle of “it’s all subjective anyway” or “I couldn’t have been this wrong with my career choice”. • Eggoeggo says: If you subsidize it it’s not underground any more. If you want more lower-class cultural movements like hip-hop, a universal income that lets people hang out in living rooms and on street corners instead of working is probably the way to go. • houseboatonstyxb says: @ eggoeggo a universal income that lets people hang out in living rooms and on street corners instead of working is probably the way to go Right! Subsidizing music (or any art) involves de facto censorship and highly paid gatekeepers. For high overhead orchestral music, it’s worth it, especially since the people who pay the most tax like that kind*. For low overhead music, leave it and its creators free (in all several senses). * Disclaimer: I like orchestral too. • Anon says: Many people would prefer to belong to a culture which produces Culture even if they wouldn’t like to take on much of the time or monetary burden of funding and consuming it themselves. Charitably, this is the reason for government subsidies for the arts, which cost most people very little money and no time themselves. It’s a classic coordination problem, and thus, to my eye, a good example of something government should do because the market fails to. That said, Patreon makes it a little less necessary. • Alex Zavoluk says: No different from other subsidies. If it can’t support itself, let it fail. Politicians and bureaucrats aren’t magically able to decide what art is better or worse, they’re just dumb, biased humans like the rest of us, but with the ability to spend money that isn’t theirs. Also, it’s incredibly regressive, if you care about that sort of thing. • dndnrsn says: So is “better or worse” simply a question of popularity, then, regarding things intended for aesthetic purposes? • Alex Zavoluk says: No. The point was that they don’t have some magic divining rod to identify art which is “better” on any axis than what other people decide. • Eggoeggo says: • Cord Shirt says: • Eggoeggo says: Just replace “first world war” with “second”, and you’ve got my dad. But he just went to trade school and got his dose of culture from unsubsidised french films. He was lucky: the degeneracy wore off eventually, thanks to migration and congenital cynicism. The fun part of Yes Minister is that even when the characters are being used as transparent author mouthpieces, the other side still has a good argument. • Cord Shirt says: Haha yes, I remember when it came out when I was a kid. (…do I need to point out it was *on the BBC*? And not even BBC1. BBC2!) I’m…honestly not sure if you’re trying to say your dad’s “degeneracy” came from the slums or from the “culture”…? So your parents are British? What part of Britain?/you should comment on the Albion’s Seed thread. Why/when did he migrate? • Chiffewar says: I tend to think the government should stay out of the arts, but then my home city just blew eight million dollars on this misshapen play-doh penis. I may have a bit of a bias. • Deiseach says: Public art is generally awful and I have no idea why that is (trendiness, I suspect). Though I think that there should be some way state aid can subsidise art, if for no other reason than beauty. I don’t think art should have to earn its crust – “all this useless beauty”, to steal the Elvis Costello song title. The same way pure research should be funded, not because “it will enable us to make better widgets”. The True, the Good and the Beautiful – yes, I’m a hopeless conservative 🙂 • suntzuanime says: Don’t we fund pure research because we hope that, somewhere down the line, we’ll end up with better widgets? When you’re writing a grant proposal you’re definitely encouraged to lay out some way in which, at least in principle, your research could in some scenario benefit society, or at least the government. What we call “pure” research is research where the applications are hazier or require more causal links than “applied” research. We eventually do hope that the newborn child will grow up and make something of itself. Public funding of art is like public funding of the Air Force; the Cold War is over, we can probably chill out a little. Hollywood gives us cultural dominance to spare anyway. The reason public art is so awful is the same reason everything the government does is so awful. The government is not spending its own money, and it’s not buying things for itself, so there’s no incentive for anything to be anything other than awful. The linked article mentions a statute stating that 2% of every public construction budget has to be spent on art. The statute doesn’t specify that the art be good, but does specify that it has to cost a lot, so viola, bad and expensive art proliferates. • Deiseach says: Writing up your grant proposal to say “this will get us better widgets” is how you have to bait the hook. Saying “this will give us more knowledge of the workings of the universe” will no longer get you anything, it has to come with “and then you can make money out of it”. • CatCube says: @suntzuanime I don’t know if that explains it well, or at all. I’m speaking as a government employee (engineering), and while laziness and incompetence can certainly be problems, most people would rather be a part of something successful if they can. People do tend to be proud of their work, even in the government. Why would somebody charged with selecting art not just spend the time to find something that “looks good?” After all, if you can finagle selecting the art as part of the art budget, you can capture more of that budget for yourself as part of the search if you just take longer to look for better stuff. The answer is that they simply think that this stuff does look good–or at least, does what they think art should do. For whatever reason, there’s an avant-garde group that thinks that this is “good art” in the sense that some people like spicy food*. These people have gotten a foothold in art groups, both inside and outside the government, and use their tastes to pick what they like. De gustibus non est disputandum. Private architecture groups also seem to be infected with this bug, where “award winning” architecture is often the product of someone who apparently forgot they’re designing a building, and not a sculpture. *I don’t know why people like to spice their food until they blow up their taste buds, but many–or even most–people like doing that. • Joshua Hanley says: I think most art and pretty much everything at the avant garde cutting edge of “high” culture is awful these days, and this is the best(-sounding) explanation I’ve ever read as to why. As a result, there isn’t a lot of non-awful, actually beautiful art out there that is also good for signalling high status/high culture, so when you add that to the fact that it’s being paid for with someone else’s money, you get what we see in the publicly-funded art space today. • TheAncientGeek says: We have private patronage of the arts, and its also frequently awful, but in the direction of excessive blandness. That creates a case for govts to create balance by funding the spicy stuff. • onyomi says: I actually have really mixed feelings about this, because, more than bridges, health care, etc. I have the impression that we really might not get any ballet but for subsidies–and even then, we only get Nutcracker 5000 times for the most part. I think eliminating intellectual property law would help–maybe more of a patron-artist model would emerge, but not sure if that’s sufficient. In principle, I’m against the government and subsidies in general. But of the things it does, trying to preserve traditional arts with a weak public demand is, in my mind, one of the more genuinely valuable, and one which the pure free market might do quite a bit less of than I’d personally like. • dndnrsn says: Copyright law is going to affect some areas of art much harder than others, though. The bulk of the canon of orchestral works is, I’m pretty sure, out of copyright, and plenty of good recordings are or will be fairly soon. And copyright isn’t relevant to things like preserving paintings. A patron-artist model has certainly existed in various times and places, but it generally means art is far less accessible. • onyomi says: “art is far less accessible.” But maybe better? (At the risk of sounding elitist) And with the internet, I don’t see how weakening or eliminating intellectual property law could make art less accessible. • dndnrsn says: Most stuff in the “canon” is freely available one way or another – there are plenty of digital copies available online of most any remotely notable painting you could care to name, for instance. If all copyrights were gone, any orchestral recording would be available. Leaving aside the issue of “would an end to copyright remove reasons to produce new art”, if someone decided they only cared about stuff produced before, say, the mid-20th century, the recordings exist, the pictures exist. The internet isn’t going to go away. But let’s assume that without public subsidy, the statues are going to fall apart, the paintings are going to rot, and nobody will actually play the music live any more. Perhaps the very wealthy will maintain private art museums, orchestras, choirs, etc, which may or may not be open to the public. Is that an optimal situation? Everyone can access recordings and images, but the actual physical items and live performances either cease to exist or disappear into the collections and ballrooms of the highest elite? I dislike that idea, but again it’s for reasons that are emotional and not especially rational in their origin. • “But of the things it does, trying to preserve traditional arts with a weak public demand is, in my mind, one of the more genuinely valuable, and one which the pure free market might do quite a bit less of than I’d personally like.” Assuming that “the pure free market” includes private, non-governmental, non-commercial activity, I think it is likely to do a better job of preserving traditional arts. My wife and daughter attend a renaissance dance practice once a week. My daughter volunteers to teach classes in renaissance dance and her mother plays fiddle for the classes. I make medieval jewelry, cook from cookbooks back to the 10th century. I know people who make historically accurate armor. There’s a lot of that sort of thing out there. • keranih says: What are folks’ opinions on government subsidy for arts that would not survive on the free market? A government subsidy is tax payers funding something. Arts that would not survive on the free market are arts that are not supported by a majority of consumers at the price asked. Not all arts receive a subsidy – there are winners and losers in the grant contest. The decision is not made by the majority of tax payers but by a (self) selected group who really cares who gets money from the taxpayers. Ergo – government supported art is a means for artists – usually upperclass upper educated more-pwerful-than-average people from well-moneyed backgrounds – to extract funds from the run-of-the-mill taxpayer to pay the artists to produce art that is not well-loved by the average taxpayer, but is loved by the artists and that minority of “right-thinking” people who control the art subsidies. It’s bad, slightly evil, generally annoying, and well down on my list of windmills to tilt at. • workt says: Why? What’s wrong with what the market delivers? https://www.nashvillesymphony.org/tickets • Corey says: If it’s being government-subsidized, that means people DO want it. Assuming a reasonably well-functioning representative democracy (like these United States), half-ish or more of the electorate believes it’s a worthwhile use of pooled societal resources. • Anonymous says: At best it means a lot of people don’t care. If it meant half the electorate want it, you could use that to prove that no bill that would look like a bad idea to the average voter has ever passed, and that’s clearly false. Further, voter opinion is not all-mighty. At the extreme, losing the next election is a big deterrent, but that just means you need to provide a reward big enough to make taking a political vacation worth it. More realistically, if the evil artist lobby wants you to pass a an art stipend that 90% of voters are ambivalent about, 9% disagree and 1% agree, the lobby just needs to offer you enough money for campaign ads to offset the negative publicity hit. Point being, if it’s government subsidized that doesn’t mean people want it, it just means they don’t hate it enough to tell all their friends about it and try to get everyone to vote against you next time. • Corey says: Good point – low participation, finite voter attention, and a two-party system put a serious cap on how efficient that reflection of popular will can be. Say, if you agreed with Team D about everything but arts funding, instead of voting Team R to get less arts funding but also a bunch of stuff you’d rather not get, you’d have to work to convince anti-arts-funding candidates to run, and Team D primary voters to support them, which sounds like a pretty hard slog. • dndnrsn says: On the other hand, places with arguably more responsive electoral systems still have government subsidies for the arts. So either people do want it, or the inertia involved is stronger than just “well I hate orchestras, but I don’t want to vote Republican”. • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: In Germany, every household has to pay a monthly fee of 20 bucks to fund our state television. The universality of the collection of this fee is only dwarfed by the universality of the contept and hatred for this policy in the population. • zz says: My background is in classical cello. I’m not very good (mediocre dexterity, tone deaf), but I’ve gotten fairly deep into the community. I’ve participated in masterclasses lead by Gloria dePasquale and Yumi Kendall and been conducted by Richard Aaron. Without government subsidies, classical music would not be taught to a substantial degree in schools. Do the resulting classical musicians benefit society enough to justify the cost? I highly doubt it, although I haven’t run any numbers. Might it have weird externalities that make it important? I think so. Without public schools teaching classical music, it loses its importance on the college application (which is why most good high school musicians do it in the first place), and almost nobody is classically trained. This, I think, has negative effects on the other segments of music that draw from classical (which is most of them). For instance, James Hetfield was initially trained on classical piano and it shows. (Note: Metallica has written several of the best compositions of the last, say, 100 years. Also, I suspect that Master of Puppets alone has probably done more to keep kids off drugs than every direct government intervention combined.) My mom made me take piano lessons for three years and that’s where I think I learned a lot of melody and theory and stuff. (I’ve heard that math departments are largely kept around, even though they can’t produce enough professional mathematicians to justify their cost, because engineers need to learn math. The situation is analogous.) On the other hand, I also have a bunch of musician Facebook friends. Every now and then, I’ll get treated to a post about how, even though some musicians are willing to play for free as “exposure”, you should still pay them a lot because their instruments are expensive and they required a lot of training. Each time, I want to shake them while shouting about how the market is saying, very strongly, to make money by doing something other than playing music. I’m not sure exactly how much government subsidies enable conservatory, but we have a gross surfeit of classically-trained musicians. This isn’t to doom classical music. Even though something like one third of Julliard graduates wind up not being classical musicians, there are still some classically-trained musicians who are able to support themselves playing music without relying on government subsidies. (Yo-Yo Ma—who reportedly makes 5 figures an hour doesn’t fall into this category.) For instance, the cellists in Break of Reality and Apocalyptica seem to be able to support themselves without government subsidies. (Sidenote: This recent video from Break of Reality appears to be recorded in Troy Savings Bank Music Hall which I’ve played in and has absolutely heavenly acoustics—far better than anywhere else I’ve played. From what I can tell, it wouldn’t survive on an open market, but non-government patrons have kept open.) So, I think I’m supposed to come to a conclusion. Well, here it is: the government spends a lot on art subsidies, some of which I think are good and some of which I think are bad. Being a good classically-trained musician is incredibly mechanical, so unlike, say, visual arts, government can do a reasonable job of throwing money at the problem and generating useful results. (Over the course of the highly mechanical practice, any human with a reasonable IQ—which describes almost all good musicians in high schools—picks up things.) I think there’s a lot of merit for spending on music programs in primary and secondary schools. On the other hand, the market is stating “fewer classically-trained musicians” extremely clearly, so any subsidizing of music schools should be drastically, if not entirely, reduced. (Imagine if only 2/3 Stanford CS grads could find work as computer programmers; does it make any sense spending money training programmers less good than them?) The difference is that primary/secondary music training isn’t about training professional musicians, but keeping classical training around and teaching effective practice. (Until you reach elite levels, music is a skill that’s much more sensitive to hard work than innate ability, the results are immediately apparent, and you can make significant headway with little children whose brains are still developing. I won’t necessarily say “best”, but it’s certainly a very good way of instilling the idea of “hard work pays off.”) I don’t think orchestras should be subsidized. A reasonably good future I see for orchestras is a few elite ones (I think the big five are fine without subsidies), with a bunch of community orchestras consisting of amateur players (in whole or part), who can still generate near-professional sound. This becomes more plausible when the classical community, which cares deeply about efficient practice (musicians are paid for rehearsals; also, there’s a fairly low ceiling to how much practice you can do in a day, because otherwise your body starts self-destructing, so the more efficient practicer wins in a highly competitive industry), actually bothers to read the relevant cognitive psychology. (I swear, nobody’s heard about distributed practice—if they had, I’ve met musicians at high enough levels I’d have heard about it.) (You’d think that, if it were so competitive, someone would have exploited the inefficiencies of ignoring cognitive psychology. There’s a few reasons which are outside the scope of this already-too-long comment why this hasn’t happened but, hint: remember how rehearsals are paid? Having a lot of rehearsals is expensive, jumping around to different pieces wastes time while musicians physically rearrange their sheet music, etc. I watched Philly rehearse once: it was something like a 2-hour rehearsal for a 1.5-hour concert, and that was the only rehearsal for the concert. This is basically enough time to run every piece, with just enough time to stop and fix the one time the horns missed their entrance. Also, there’s strong musicians unions, and from what I’m told, musicians will literally walk off the stage as soon as rehearsal is over, regardless of whether they’re in the middle of a playing or need to do more work. Then again, everyone involved is a consummate professional, and since the musicians have made a credible precommitment, this doesn’t happen.) (It is also perhaps worthwhile to mention that every good classical musician I know from high school had a private teacher their parents paid for. This is perhaps evidence that classical training would continue just fine (at least, in the middle- to upper-class) without government intervention. The thing is, this was just part of a larger ecosystem that included, crucially, a youth orchestra, which took some skill to get into. (For reference, we got used as free child labor for a Christmastime fundraiser for cancer research. This should give you some idea of the bar you had to clear to get in—which demonstrates murnenfurm to colleges—and the plausibility of a future where most orchestras are largely or entirely amateur.) I have no idea whether they rely on government funds—it tentatively looks like my Alma Mater doesn’t—but they’re an important component in the ecosystem. As much as I personally disliked one of the conductors I worked with, if you buy my entire theory that I myself am skeptical of, and the youth orchestra wouldn’t exist without government funds, then it should have government funds. Youth orchestras are important. They’re vastly higher level than anything you’d get at a public school and keep students practicing because they have a bunch of friends there and a lot of social status is determined by how well you do in seating auditions. Without it, I wouldn’t have met most of the good musicians I did, and spending inordinate amounts of time in the practice room when you aren’t playing with anyone else is soul-sucking, no matter how much of an introvert you are.) • Eggoeggo says: All the music instruction where I grew up was private and un-subsidised, coming from a mix of retired old piano players and housewives who didn’t-quite-make-the-symphony. I had to save up to buy a “cheap” chinese cello, but other than that it was relatively inexpensive. Although the teachers themselves were a kind of indirect subsidy, really. Professional classical musicians are kind of the prime example of Baumol’s cost disease, but it seems like most of the advantages of playing come from that “learn to play pachelbel’s canon for the school christmas concert” stage, right? There’s not necessarily a need to subsidize a symphony orchestra in every town to get the benefits of musical education. … Although in my case the only lesson from playing Pachelbel over and over and over while the violinists kept fucking up was “holy shit, this is boooooring” • arbitrary_greay says: Against government subsidies. I’ve played for quite a few ensembles that are operating off of commercially-sponsored grants. Instead of government taking the lead, instead nurture a status culture that encourages businesses to support such things, on their own initiative. The only need for government subsidies would be for the cases where, like with zz’s examples in primary education, exposure to the kiddies is valuable, but there’s not enough incentive for commercial grants to cover poorer regions. My getting to play in several sponsored ensembles is because I live in a rich region that already values the arts. Not so likely for podunk town where a kid with Mozart levels of talent hears nothing but the abomination that is CCM. 21. Anonymous says: I posted this on the last OT but I think I was too late… Is there a place on the internet for mental-illness related discussion that does not forbids “medical advice”, discussion of unconventional approaches (Like psychedelics, going off meds, using drugs never meant for their illness or people in general, treating only specific symptoms, religion, weird lifestyles etc.), speculation and stuff like that? Every forum I’ve found is heavily moderated and limited in perspective, more like digital psych wards or advertisement boards… Also, anybody knows good sources regarding mass psychogenic illness? Particularily interested in so called laughter epidemics and everyday echopraxia-like behaviour like contagious yawning, ideally something hard-sciency. • Jiro says: “Medical advice” has legal consequences, so I doubt you will find any such place. • Anonymous says: Hmm. How is it any different from piracy? I imagine it would vary from place to place. There are pro anorexia forums, ISIS forums, and much much worse. I doubt law has much to do with it… • Nornagest says: I dunno, I’ve seen a lot of places that disclaim “medical advice” and proceed to dish out lots of de-facto medical advice. Can’t link any for mental illness specifically off the top of my head, though. • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: Really? I’d find it surprising, if I or the platform would be liable for damage if I proclaim here that modafinil is great for everything. 22. onyomi says: Not generally a huge New Yorker fan, and haven’t read the article itself (anybody know if it’s available free online somewhere?), but I find this New Yorker cover to be just brilliant and kind of devastating in all it says. • The Nybbler says: Suggested caption: “See, Philosophy grads CAN get a job”. There’s no real story associated with it, just a vignette http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/cover-story-2016-05-30 The 1996 and 1998 covers appear to be similarly themed. • Anonymous says: Damn, that guy’s degree got him a job?! #TheDream • anonymous poster says: So you got upset at that guy on Bleeding Heart Libertarians for being a tenured professor laughing at adjuncts, and now you, a tenured professor, are going to laugh at underemployed graduates? Nice work. • Held in Escrow says: Except it’s totally wrong and the premium for getting a college degree is still pretty damn good, but you know, facts 23. Ruprect says: If you can emulate a mind with a computer, presumably it means that an algorithm which we use to describe the mind, equals the mind. If it’s the algorithm which is important rather than the material, in what sense would we need to run the algorithm in order for the mind to exist? Isn’t running an algorithm more of a physical matter? • Two McMillion says: Greg Egan’s book Permutation City deals with this, somewhat. Also, it leads to an interesting argument against reductionism if you follow it long enough. 24. 57dimensions says: Does anyone here have a really bad procrastination problem? Or has had one? I’ve always been a good student and have never struggled with concepts, but I never do homework. It wasn’t always that way, it’s definitely at its worst point now as I’m about to graduate from high school. When I even think of the possibility of having to do homework I get an immediate spike in anxiety, and usually avoid doing the work endlessly because of the anxiety. I’m going to college in a few months and I am definitely worried about continuing this pattern. Anyone been through something similar? Or has managed to procrastinate less? • Ruprect says: Yep – I started out like that, and I’ve now reached the point where I don’t seem to do anything. I would definitely try to nip it in the bud, otherwise all of a sudden you’re forty and you haven’t done anything for twenty years. Related question – I feel like I should go to a psychiatrist because I just can’t bring myself to do anything. Doing *things* (work related and social to a lesser extent) makes me unhappy. I’m currently fairly content just bumming around, play the odd game of tennis, go to the park, watch tv, surf the internet, go swimming, though I feel a bit concerned about the lack of cachet that the lifestyle has (I’m thinking about pretending to have a job for the next ten years or so (since I have the wealth to fake it)). I’m not sure if that’s a legitimate psychological problem? • 57dimensions says: Hmm. Well lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy is one of the criteria of depression, do you feel like you don’t want to do things you used to like? Or just that the things you aren’t doing are things you never really enjoyed? Several of the things you listed involved physical activity and going outside, which is a good sign. Your “not doing anything” is my “actually doing things”, as my “not doing anything” consists of lying in bed with my laptop for days at a time. Idk if a psychiatrist would be that helpful, anti-depressants tend to have the greatest effect on severely depressed people, and it doesn’t sound like you would fit that category. But if you have the resources there isn’t that much harm of seeing some kind of mental health professional, whether that’s a psychiatrist or therapist, and getting their opinion. • Ruprect says: Never really enjoyed – I’ve always disliked socially intensive activities (and work), it’s just that now I’ve reached the stage where it is quite easy for me to avoid them. (I also can’t escape the feeling that society is stupid. I think I used to not feel that way, I thought it might all make sense, but now, when I see people in suits hurrying to work, it makes me feel slightly angry. Beardy baristas irritate me too.) Anyway, I think you’re right – I’m pretty sure I’m not depressed, but I suspect I have some kind of weird belief system or something that makes me anti-social. No harm in getting it checked out (though I think they’ll just think I’m wasting their time.) • 57dimensions says: It sounds to me like you’re just a fairly introverted person. I am as well. I like some kinds of social interaction, but usually that is one on one conversations with people I already know and like. I didn’t make a friend in high school until a few months ago, and while it was exciting at first, having someone want to spend time with me reinforced how much of an introvert I am. Not liking social interaction is ok, but American culture typically considers extroverts to be the standard. • Anonymous says: American culture typically considers extroverts to be the standard. Every culture does. I mean, if you think about it, that’s pretty inevitable: the social standards are set by the social people, not those who isolate themselves from society. • 57dimensions says: @Anon Not all cultures do. I’m reading Quiet by Susan Cain right now, and there is a chapter on different cultures I haven’t gotten there yet, but it is about the different standards of sociability in Asian cultures and Western ones. And I’m not sure where you get the idea that being introverted means “isolating yourself from society.” That’s a hermit, and they are far less common than introverts. Introversion has multiple definitions, but none require isolation. In general it means that excessive social interaction is tiring and you enjoy spending time alone. • Anonymous says: My impression of Quiet was that it was very much animated by the same kind of wishful thinking as, say, those books that claim that hunter-gatherer societies were all pacifistic, egalitarian and polyamorous before agriculture ruined everything. Maybe that’s not fair, but that was my takeaway. And I’m not sure where you get the idea that being introverted means “isolating yourself from society.” From being an unusually high-strength introvert, then, I guess. Not really surprising, I suppose. • onyomi says: I think a huge part of most people’s motivation to work is the need to work, if not literally to avoid starving, then at least to sort of keep up with the level of consumption one’s peers deem normal. There are some people who would feel a burning need to be productive even if they didn’t need money, but I think they’re very much in the minority. Most people probably would be happy to just bum around if they didn’t need to work. Though this raises the question of whether one is or is not ultimately happier having been forced by circumstances to “make something of yourself.” Honestly not sure. Worrying about being unemployed is really stressful, but that fear has also made me way more productive than I would have been otherwise, and I’m kind of proud of what little I have produced thus far and hope to produce in the future, though I also resent the amount of stress I’ve suffered as a result. If I were independently wealthy I’m not sure I’d see the need for a career per se, but I’d like to think I could get really good at practicing and appreciating a variety of arts, as well as learn a bunch more languages. Not sure if I would actually have the motivation to do those things, though. If by “don’t feel like doing things” you mean “I’d almost always rather stay home by myself than go out with friends or travel or try something new” then that sounds, potentially, pathological. If by “don’t feel like doing things” you mean, I have enough money not to need a career and don’t feel a burning passion to pursue one very seriously… well, if that’s a pathology, it’s probably one 90% of humanity shares with you. • 57dimensions says: On people who have a need to be productive, I think there are a good amount of people like that, but it’s more like: if I didn’t have to work to provide for myself I would probably enjoy it at first, but then become depressed. I would guess that I would be a person like that, being productive in some way and getting out of the house definitely helps my mental state. Most of the old ladies who work at my local supermarkets don’t have to work to support themselves, many were retired for a period, but they like to have the chance to get out of the house and socialize with people. My family’s housekeeper/my lifelong grandmother figure was just telling me the other day that she would rather keep working than not (her son thought she was crazy for still working), she would never feel that comfortable if she wasn’t working and that her depression would probably worsen. She’s in her mid 60s and works maybe three days a week for several hours in people’s homes. She says she enjoys it enough, the work isn’t backbreaking and she can move at her own pace, and of course she gets to watch her soap operas. Also, it means she has some time to herself for once, since she lives somewhat uncomfortably with some family members. • Anonymous says: There are some people who would feel a burning need to be productive even if they didn’t need money, but I think they’re very much in the minority. Most people probably would be happy to just bum around if they didn’t need to work. I would agree wholeheartedly with this except that the middle class has made a virtue of labor per se in almost the entire western world (and according to the last OT the same is true of the American upper class). This is one of those cases where the upper and working classes share ideas in opposition to the middle, in my experience: both upper-class and working-class people are perfectly clear that working sucks, but the middle class needs to maintain the idea that labor has innate value and confers moral character in order to keep from feeling inferior to the upper class and also to prevent mass defection into the welfare class. Half sour grapes, in other words; but the consequence is nevertheless that the typical middle-class person (by upbringing, not personal status or wealth) feels an innate need to work for work’s sake and wonders if he might suck if he actually just enjoys unburdened leisure more, an idea which is absurd when stated plainly. • Ruprect says: I’m too middle class. • houseboatonstyxb says: @ Ruprect (I’m thinking about pretending to have a job for the next ten years or so (since I have the wealth to fake it)) Depends on how much time and stress the pretend-job would require. A pretend-independent-research-project or something might be ideal. Researching (on spec or under a NDA) for a book might be safe; or of course working on the Great American Novel. • Anonymous says: I’m thinking about pretending to have a job for the next ten years or so (since I have the wealth to fake it) Bing! You are hereby an Aspiring Writer. You’ve Ducked Out Of The Rat Race to write your novel instead of being Ground Up By The Soulless Corporate Machine. Middle-class people will now admire you. Babies will hug you. Bims with cheaters will get starry peepers. I’m not sure if that’s a legitimate psychological problem? Probably, though, get it checked out. • Mary says: But people who actually aspire to write resent you, because people assume they are like you, not serious. • Anonymous says: So what? Those other writing people don’t have any status. They probably even have to work! • Corey says: That problem’s easily solvable: OP can write some stuff. • Flame says: Maybe go through boot camp? Or otherwise put yourself in a new context where you are forced to stretch your limits. Charles Duhigg (NYT science writer) recently wrote a new productivity book called *Smarter, Better, Faster*. The first chapter is about the experience of marines in boot camp. I found it really inspiring. Quintanilla finished boot camp in 2010 and served in the Corps for three years. He then left. He was finally ready, he felt, for real life. He got another job, but the lack of camaraderie among his colleagues was disappointing. No one seemed motivated to excel. So in 2015, he reenlisted. “I missed that constant reminder that I can do anything,” he told me. “I missed people pushing me to choose a better me.” • Frog Do says: You’re gonna want to solve that problem, I was the same way and it ended up costing me about 40,000 USD because I slacked off freshman and sophomore years of college. I solved it by forcing myself to not care about my emotional state and just do as much work as possible. This was really hard at first, but it gets easier the more you do it. Don’t get too discouraged with the amount of work you do at first, even a small amount will eventually grow. • 57dimensions says: Yeah I’m worried for the same reason, going to college is going to be a stretch financially, so when I do go I want to make sure I’m prepared. I’m still considering taking a gap year, but I need to have a good plan for what I would do. And that is the exact advice my psychologist gave me as well, not letting my emotional state control my actions, doing the work even though I feel anxious. Learning to endure the unpleasant feelings. Of course, easier said than done, but still possible. I’ve managed to make a bit of progress recently, but I know it will take a lot of exposure. • Björn Fratangelo says: I lost my first job out of college (computer programming) because I procrastinated too much, and I only barely made it through college in four years because I failed a bunch of classes due to procrastination. I would spend hours dicking around on the internet as deadlines came and went, progressively feeling worse and worse, so my experience might be similar. Try to avoid thinking about procrastination as a Moral Failing that You Must Overcome to Become a Functioning Adult. Homework isn’t fun, and it’s your right to not enjoy it. You just need to come up with some dirty tricks to let you plan to do it and then actually follow through. -If you’re feeling anxious about an assignment, air it out to someone. Go to your instructors’ office hours, if they have them. If not, send them e-mails. In my experience professors were ridiculously helpful when I brought homework to them with my questions. If you go to lectures and ask questions in class (well, if appropriate), they’ll assume you’re a bright student who cares about the material, not a lazy freeloader. -Do your homework in the library, not at home (whether you’re commuting or living there). Turn off data on your phone, don’t bring a laptop (if you have a print allocation, print out anything you need to read or refer to). I would write out my papers by hand for the first draft, then edit them as I typed them up. If you need a break, get up and take a walk. You’ll probably end up thinking about the assignment you’re working on, so you don’t really lose any time. I have no insight into procrastination in general, but that was what kind of worked for me in college. • 57dimensions says: Thanks for the advice! And yes, that first paragraph is pretty much my exact experience. • Julian R. says: Cal Newport’s books might be useful. • 57dimensions says: Thanks, I’ll check them out as well. • Eggoeggo says: -Do your homework in the library, not at home This was the only way I ever got any work done in college. Otherwise you start chatting with someone, go visit someone else, and six hours later you realize you’ve got a paper due in four. • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: I’d say that I am able to manage my procrastination tendencies most of the time pretty well, but in contrast to you I usually do not have to fight with anxiety, so take that into account. In high school, just like you, I was also struggling with procrastination pretty strongly. I somehow got by, but only at the cost of many all-nighters. Right now in college I am probably not the epitome of conscientousness but I get enough sleep and do not have to mentally fret over a looming assignment. Based on some research (book recommendation below), here’s what works for me: In a very simplified model, I usually need to do to one of two: Either start something that needs to be done, or continue doing it (i.e. resist another temptation). I found that my problem is usually the former, meaning that once I started doing my math homework I was fine, but browsing a whole night on reddit prevented me from even starting. Again simplified, but to start an activity you need a certain amount of willpower. How much willpower is determined by its mental appeal and the appeal of competeing activities. Thus we have two variables we can work on: Maximize you’re available willpower: Fairly common advice, but still important: do stuff that you dont enjoy when you are alert not tired, exercise (HIIT better than long cardio in my experience), and meditate (mindfullness). The last one is somewhat of a catch-22, sadly, because in the beginning meditation is rather strenous and not enjoyable, but if you can stick with it, the benefits are definitely worth it. Minimize willpower needed: If a task is particular unattractive, you obviously need a lot of willpower. When I am redditing on my bed while thinking about actually having to go over my math lectures for a few hours, my mental model of doing math is extremely negative. Because I am imagining all the difficulties associated with it, and the necessity to stop a very enjoyable activity for what seems like forever, it’s no wonder that my system 1 is not particularly excited about it. A trick that helps: Focus mentally on *starting* the activity: That means I just think about opening my notes, which suddenly does not seem so bad at all. Afterwards I am in a different state of mind, so now solving complicated equations is not even that strenous. Similarly with ending an activity: If I am browsing aimlessly for a long time, I focus on merely clicking the close button of firefox, telling myself that I can go back if I want to in a second. The closed window gives me the necessary moment of clarity to stop it alltogether. This has helped me considerably, but as usual, the difficult part is actually applying this, which took some time. If you are interested in related ideas and tips I can recommend the book The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. If it’s pop psychology, it’s definitely the good kind. If you just want to get the meat of it, here’s a very good summary: https://sivers.org/book/WillpowerInstinct • 57dimensions says: Thanks, this all definitely sounds very applicable to my problems! I’ll check out the book as well. • Chiffewar says: Try studying in public spaces. It’s not for everyone, and it’s absolutely possible to procrastinate as much in a library as in a dorm room, but I find that it really keeps me focused. I try to go to places with a connection to whatever I’m studying –– the Mathematics Collection, mostly. Red chairs for math. Blue for writing. (I have no idea if priming is now considered scientia non grata, post replication crisis, but it’s my routine and I’m sticking with it.) Also –– I know it’s useless to tell a worrier not to worry, but really: don’t worry so much. I’m at a college with a lot of stupid distributive requirements, but even so I’m taking courses I love. The assignments aren’t a chore. • Anonymous says: Right, the point of studying at the library is not reducing distractions, but building habits. Red chairs for math is not priming, but conditioning. • Flame says: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/07/13/things-that-sometimes-work-if-you-have-anxiety/ Maybe try https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exposure_therapy – every hour, for a few minutes, think about homework. See if you can develop the skill of being relaxed when you think about it (and eventually, bit by bit, start doing it). This isn’t something you have to try very hard at. If you are thinking about it a bit every hour, or even every ten minutes, over time it will become less of a big deal. • keranih says: I think it’s good that you are asking this question. You’re right to be concerned that this will be a problem for you. As others have said, oh hell yes this can be a serious, no-shit, fail out and seriously change your life issue. And it’s not something that you can make a choice on once. You have to repeatedly choose to do the right thing. Which is annoying and trying and even when you have gotten into the habit of doing the right thing you can get kicked off. Having said that – Lists. Things specifically written down. A good mental trick – at the start of the day or the study period, make a list of five things, which, if accomplished, will make you say at the end of the day, this was a successful day. A homework assignment done. A chapter read, a rough draft outlined. Then add two more “extras” and say, I’ll try to get these done, too, which would make today awesome. Give yourself permission to quit after the first five. And be sure to set (as people have mentioned) specific times for not working, and specific times for not screwing around. The list of five things has helped me work past the issue of oh my god all these things I can never accomplish all I have to do. Each (good) day starts with a new list of five priorities, two-three extras, and a floating list of other things. I can also write up the list the night before, or if it has been a stellar day, reset the list at lunch. Good luck. Work at this – people have faced this before, and with effort, managed. • 57dimensions says: Thanks for the advice, I really like the list of 5 things method, I’ll definitely have to try that one. I usually make lists, but then get overwhelmed because of all the stuff I have to do. And thanks, I know intellectually that people have had the same problems and worked through it, but from my perspective it seems impossible to change my habits. Having other people chime in really helps. • The original Mr. X says: Does anyone here have a really bad procrastination problem? That’s the reason I’m reading this thread in the first place… 25. Agronomous says: I’ve noticed that a common criticism of conservatives is that we “hate”, are “hateful”, are “haters”, and are full of “hatred”, and therefore shouldn’t be listened to or have our arguments taken seriously. It’s a standard failure mode to take the worst behavior of the other side and consider it typical; in the interests of me avoiding that mode, I’d like it if some non-conservatives (liberals, libertarians, Multi) could explain (a) whether they do indeed think of hate as a common characteristic of conservatives, (b) what their reasons for thinking that are, and (c) what other results fall out of that. • J says: Not just hate, but “bigot”, “homophobe”and “racist” are becoming so freely hurled that I’m predicting they’ll become generic insults over time, no more meaningful than “doodyhead”. • Luke the CIA stooge says: It’s funny: the end result of anti-racism might be a world where racism is perfectly acceptable because all the language to challenge it has been completely devalued. This could lead to a return of freedom of association (pretty much decimated by the civil rights act) if the hyperbole on the left is enough to complete turn people off identity politics more generally, and thus the major objection to freedom of association (that people then have the right to exclude minorities) no longer holds traction. • onyomi says: One can hope; though the end result of the Spanish inquisition wasn’t everyone being free to criticize the church. Or maybe it was (at least to a greater extent than before)? • Anonymous says: Contrary to popular stereotype, the Spanish Inquisition was essentially secular, though. It was established and controlled by the Spanish Crown, so if anything it should have fomented skepticism about the monarchy. • Winter Shaker says: Can I put in a vote for coming up with a different phrase for what you’re calling ‘freedom of association’ here? It is usually understood to mean something like ‘the right to to get together with like-minded people, in your own time, for the purposes of political discussion, religious ceremony, or whatever other potentially subversive topic, without the government kicking the door down and arresting you for being in the presence of those other people you’ve been warned not to get together with’. To claim that it is a violation of freedom of association if, when someone offers their services to the general public, they are obliged to offer those services to all comers regardless of whether those customers come from a demographic that the businessperson would rather not interact with, seems a much less persuasive claim, and at the very least is a sort of negative freedom of association that could be contrasted with the positive freedom of association in the paragraph above; it comes across very much as an attempt to pull a non-central fallacy. This is not to express judgement either way on whether it is good or bad for a government to impose an obligation of equal opportunity service at one’s place of business – I think it very much depends on the specifics – but this particular rhetorical conflation kind of grinds my gears. • suntzuanime says: It seems pretty analogous to attempts to interpret “freedom of religion” to mean “follow whatever sect of Christianity you want (well not Mormonism, ew)”. Freedom of association is freedom from association. • Psmith says: seems a much less persuasive claim To you, maybe. this particular rhetorical conflation kind of grinds my gears. And claiming that it is a conflation and not just the obvious interpretation of the phrase grinds mine. So here we are. • The Nybbler says: But they’re not offering their service to the general public. They’re offering their services to those members of the general public who have certain characteristics, the way Curves only admits women. The distinction isn’t negative versus positive. It’s commercial versus personal. Commercial freedom of association has pretty much been done away in the US with by anti-discrimination law. Unless you only wish to exclude acceptable targets. • Luke the CIA stooge says: This where economic freedom is a damn useful concept. It used to be assumed that all your freedoms still applied whether you were using them within the public sphere or private sphere, personally or for commerce. After all what would freedom of speech mean if it didn’t apply to for profit newspapers, what would freedom of religion mean if you couldn’t donate to a church or churches couldn’t be built. It seems it’s only since ww2-1960 that people have said: ” oh your a free person with all these rights, but as soon as a dollar changes hands those rights disappear” • onyomi says: “It seems it’s only since ww2-1960 that people have said: ‘oh your a free person with all these rights, but as soon as a dollar changes hands those rights disappear'” +1 Freedom of association includes freedom to do business with people you want to do business with and also freedom not to do business with people you do not want to do business with. It really “grinds my gears” the way it’s assumed that as soon as you open your doors for business now suddenly everybody gets a say in how you run your business, just because they get there on a public road or what have you. • Le Maistre Chat says: @suntzuanime: It seems pretty analogous to attempts to interpret “freedom of religion” to mean “follow whatever sect of Christianity you want (well not Mormonism, ew)”. Freedom of association is freedom from association. Tangent: I really love how long the Supreme Court upheld the interpretation you’re mocking, as it was the only way to A) keep Muslims out without doing it because we’re racists who think they’re a different race and B) keep clever evil men from gaming the system by founding new religions. Imagine how much things would suck if the US Constitution had been ratified before the Conquistadores had eradicated the belief that the sun needs freshly-extracted hearts sacrificed to it to subsist. • TheAncientGeek says: The worst case scenario of commercial freedom of association, AKA dscmination, is where a group is so systematically discriminated aghast that they cannot keep up a reasonable standard of living. Is that an acceptable sitation? • Nita says: To me as a non-American, “freedom of association” in this sense does sound like a euphemism. How about “the right to refuse service“? • TheAncientGeek says: @NITA I was biting my tongue quite hard then. I’m not at all a fan of calling something that most people disapprove of by the name of something that most people approve of. • onyomi says: “I was biting my tongue quite hard then. I’m not at all a fan of calling something that most people disapprove of by the name of something that most people approve of.” If you called freedom of speech “the right to say offensive things,” lots of people wouldn’t approve of that either. If you called freedom of religion “the right to believe in horrible cults” then people wouldn’t approve of that, either. • brad says: It seems it’s only since ww2-1960 that people have said: ” oh your a free person with all these rights, but as soon as a dollar changes hands those rights disappear” The notion that businesses were special entities with unique obligations and subject to extra attention from the government goes back to at least medieval England, probably back to Rome. An innkeeper or farrier was considered a position of public trust and responsibility, not just a freeman entitled to do whatever he liked whenever he felt like doing it. Later all limited liability companies required either an Act of Parliament or a Royal Charter because it was considered a dangerous tool whose uses had to be in the public interest. The relatively modern invention in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the idea that liberty of contract meant a laissez faire attitude towards business was not a matter of debatable policy but rather one of fundamental rights. The reining in of that doctrine during the New Deal was a reversion to the ordinary course of Anglo-American tradition, not a radical break. • Winter Shaker says: The Nybbler: The distinction isn’t negative versus positive. It’s commercial versus personal. Commercial freedom of association has pretty much been done away in the US with by anti-discrimination law Okay, I think you maybe pinned down the distinction better than I did. But am I typical-minding here? Do lots of people genuinely feel that [being required to serve anyone who turns up at your open-to-the-public place of business, unless they have some obviously-related-to-that-business characteristic that would justify keeping them out, such as they cannot pay, or are harassing the other customers, while still being free to exclude them from your private residence and not hang out with them on your own time] is just as great a violation of liberty or has no commensurate benefits greater than [being at risk of arrest simply for meeting up with the people you want to spend time with, assuming you are not meeting up with them for the purposes of genuinely victim-creating criminal activity]? Because it feels to me that the second of those would be a vastly greater imposition – certainly enough of a difference that trying to call them by the same term sounds wrong. Suntzuanime brings up freedom of religion, and I think that’s a good point – the idea that you should be free to choose any religion, but be obliged to have a religion, is a coherent one, if not a sensible one (if I remember rightly, I think Indonesia does something like a limited form of this – every citizen has the free choice of registering as a Muslim, a Protestant a Catholic, a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Confucian, but must choose one), and if we need to separate out freedom of religion and freedom of non-religion, then so be it. Would you consider that what you are arguing for here could reasonably be called freedom of non-association? • The Nybbler says: @Winter Shaker I think the typical case is the status quo (where businesses, even sole proprietorships, have very little freedom of association), but I think it’s typical _because_ it’s the status quo. The Overton Window has moved so far that businesses are being forced not just to associate with everyone, but to be non-discriminatory in the services they provide (e.g. the Colorado gay wedding cake, where the issue was not who was asking for the cake but what was on the cake) Personally I feel that being able to exclude arbitrary people as my customers is less of a violation of my right to freely associate than excluding arbitrary people from my home, but maybe I’m just affected by the status quo as well; also I’m not a proprietor myself. I don’t think there’s a useful distinction between freedom of association and freedom of non-association. Certainly there are multiple different ways my right to freely associate could be violated, including being forced to associate with people I’d rather not, and being forbidden to associate with people I would like to associate with. But it’s the same underlying right being stomped on. • Luke the CIA stooge says: Winter shaker Ecept then the entire coherence of that freedom is compromised. Freedom of religion isn’t just a thing the government allows you to do, it’s a sacred recognition that your concious is your own and your faith is your own and no government can EVER justly impose on that. From a hobbesian sense, the government may not impose any religion (or choice of religions) on you without either Deminshing it’s authority (as you will not obey them and will be less prone obey them in the future) or entering into war with you (if they really tried to force you, you would resist and war (limited or unlimited) would commence). The same thing happens with other freedoms the more the government unjustly imposes on your liberties the greater the decay of the order and wealth of a nation. The simple fact is it that it cannot be enforced that free people can’t do each other services (freedom to associate) and it can’t be enforced with any consistency that people cannot consider certain thing when deciding whether or not to associate with people (freedom of concious + freedom of association). Thus the only effect of trying to enforce these laws is to increase contempt for the law, increase the use of lawfare, decrease the trust and wealth within a society, and increase the amount of lawlessness in general (people blackmailing each other with threats of civil action, people resorting to criminal means to avoid costly litigation (counter blackmail, threats, extortion). And thus the general decay of the trust, wealth and order of a society. You cannot violate people’s rights without damaging the political order in which they live. And if I can think of one thing that’s destroying higher education, creating spiraling costs for businesses, and generally damaging the Commonwealth, it’s the false “right” that has been create to not have anyone else be mean to you. If a community wants to descriminate against people for illogical reasons so be it it will damage and ghettoize that community more than the “victim” party (Alabama and Mississippi are the most fucked up places in the union not because they let people descriminate but because they encoded it in rights violating laws) So ya I stand by the broad interpretation of freedom of association. not because it would let the family restaruants descriminate, but because if it was a part of law and applied to the economic realm, it would be immposible for trade association to capture the law and use it to lock uneducated and criminal record holding blacks out of trades like cab driver, hairdresser, electrician, plumber and pretty much every good job that now has a 1000 page stack of pretectionism behindnit. Which is worse for blacks and other minority groups: having people be mean to them and not let them shop in certain stores or having the government deny them freedom of association (in the economic sphere) and in doing so lock them out of every middle class job in America? • John Schilling says: Do lots of people genuinely feel that [being compelled to do business with people you don’t want to] is just as great a violation of liberty or has no commensurate benefits greater than [being prevented from socializing with people you do want to]? If you actually run a business (and I have), you are probably spending most of your waking hours doing so and so running that business is more important to you than the whole of your non-business social life. Possibly excluding your immediate family by blood and marriage. So, yeah, freedom of association in business matters is something people do care about at least as much as freedom of association in non-business matters. And impositions of the form, “you must associate with this person in this specific way” can be much worse than “you must not associate with that person in that way”, because the latter leaves you with freedom of action to associate with almost the whole of humanity for almost any purpose. The former leaves you with no freedom whatsoever until you have satisfied some loathsome stranger’s demands, except possibly to abandon a business in which one has invested a great portion of one’s life. Now, most people don’t own businesses and tend to view businesses as impersonal, inhuman things that exist to serve their demands. So businessmen and their rights will probably not elicit great sympathy. But the whole reason we have legally-defined rights is so that the electorate cannot simply vote into submission any unpopular minority. If, having considered that a thing ought to be considered a basic human right, you find yourself saying “…oh, but we never meant for them to have this right”, then think again. • keranih says: Do lots of people genuinely feel that [being required to serve anyone who turns up at your open-to-the-public place of business, unless they have some obviously-related-to-that-business characteristic that would justify keeping them out, such as they cannot pay, or are harassing the other customers, while still being free to exclude them from your private residence and not hang out with them on your own time] is just as great a violation of liberty or has no commensurate benefits greater than [being at risk of arrest simply for meeting up with the people you want to spend time with, assuming you are not meeting up with them for the purposes of genuinely victim-creating criminal activity]? To be clear – we’re not so much talking about the right of people to discriminate, as we are the right of people to be free from the requirement to demonstrate to the government that they aren’t discriminating. The discriminatory baker can deprive a customer of a cake, the likes of which could be purchased elsewhere. The customer who files a discrimination suit has the ability to use the government as a weapon to deprive the baker of their business, which is far less likely to be easily replaced. Any fair assessment of humanity would, I think, find unjust persons in equal numbers amongst the bakers and the buyers of cakes alike. But the consequences for bad faith actions are not equal. • BBA says: William Blackstone’s statement of English common law circa 1769: “If an inn-keeper, or other victualler, hangs out a sign and opens his house for travelers, it is an implied engagement to entertain all persons who travel that way; and upon this universal assumpsit an action on the case will lie against him for damages, if he without good reason refuses to admit a traveler.” I’d be really interested to see if anyone was talking about “freedom of association” in a commercial context prior to the Civil Rights Act, and whether this kind of traditional business regulation was seen as a violation. • On the question of whether non-discrimination law is as serious a violation of individual freedom as restrictions on political or social association, I think the answer is that it is a different sort of violation, and one that could be more or less serious depending on the details. The former compels you to do something–bake a cake for a same sex wedding in the standard example. The latter forbids you from doing something. Make the former category sufficiently broad and it becomes slavery. Imagine a law that says that if you are competent to teach algebra, you must teach it to anyone who asks unless you have a reason acceptable to the state not to do so. Make the latter sufficiently narrow and it becomes a trivial inconvenience. • onyomi says: “The reining in of that doctrine during the New Deal was a reversion to the ordinary course of Anglo-American tradition, not a radical break.” And the ordinary rate of medieval economic growth! • keranih says: William Blackstone’s statement of English common law circa 1769: I’m wondering how many Welsh and Roma stayed in those taverns. • brad says: And the ordinary rate of medieval economic growth! I don’t think 1897-1937 was an epoch of extraordinary economic growth as compared to what came before and after. • onyomi says: 1870 to 1910 was (I would go all the way into the 20s, but clearly the tail end of that, at least, was unsustainable). • John Schilling says: William Blackstone’s statement of English common law circa 1769… Is reasonable on false-advertising grounds if nothing else, provided one simply hangs out a sign saying “Tavern” or “Inn”. But then there’s the signs saying “This business reserves the right to refuse service to anyone” or some such, which would seem designed to counter that. When I try to look at the early history of this asserted right-to-refuse-service, when such signs started to appear and what legal status they might have held under what theory, I hit a dead end: I cannot (easily) find the search terms that don’t just lead to Google spamming me with results saying only that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 means nobody can refuse service to Protected Classes any more and that’s all that matters. I tentatively conclude from this that, between 1769 and 1964, a business could refuse service to anyone provided it gave fair warning that it might refuse service to someone, and that I am Evil Racist Scum for asking the question. I am still interested in whether discussion of this right might have invoked the freedom-of-association clause. • HeelBearCub says: Make the former category sufficiently broad and it becomes slavery. Imagine a law that says that if you are competent to teach algebra, you must teach it to anyone who asks unless you have a reason acceptable to the state not to do so. Make the latter sufficiently narrow and it becomes a trivial inconvenience. …and vice-versa. “You must stop for pedestrians crossing at the cross walk” “You may not engage in any job that is not on the official list of jobs” You can also you re-phrase positive as negative and vice versa: “You may not choose to eliminate arbitrary people from the public you claim to serve” These seem to me like pedantic and semantic arguments. Talk about actual policies with actual harms, not vague generalities that can be twisted to claim some putative higher ground. • The original Mr. X says: You can also you re-phrase positive as negative and vice versa: “You may not choose to eliminate arbitrary people from the public you claim to serve” So who gets to decide whether something counts as “arbitrary elimination” or not, and on what criteria? • brad says: 1870 to 1910 was (I would go all the way into the 20s, but clearly the tail end of that, at least, was unsustainable). From what I’m seeing for real GDP and GDP per captita that era’s growth looks pretty paltry compared to what came after, including the period following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Also I’m not sure why would would pick out those years in particular given that the first Supreme Court case to uphold liberty to contract was in 1897. Arguably the groundwork was laid in earlier decisions involving the interstate commerce clause but certainly not all the way back to 1870. In fact the famous Slaughter-House Cases which rejected an economic freedom argument rooted in the 14th amendment were in 1873. And as for the end point, Lochner was only in 1905, so ending in 1910 cuts off the lion’s share of the Lochner era. • onyomi says: “From what I’m seeing for real GDP and GDP per captita that era’s growth looks pretty paltry compared to what came after, including the period following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The growth of that era is not accurately captured by measures like GDP due to such measures’ bias in favor of inflation. This period was actually mildly deflationary, leading some to even describe it as a “long depression.” But it’s been realized lately that the “long depression” is an artifact of how we measure things, not a real economic downturn. What you need to know about this era is that, at the end of the Civil War, Americans rode horses or walked, used outhouses, burned whale oil, sent letters… by WWI, many Americans rode in cars, had indoor plumbing, had electric lights, had access to telephones, had invented vaccines for cholera… The change in American life between 1870 and 1910 was a much bigger improvement than between 1970 and 2010. • Hlynkacg says: The notion that businesses were special entities with unique obligations and subject to extra attention from the government goes back to at least medieval England, probably back to Rome. An innkeeper or farrier was considered a position of public trust and responsibility, not just a freeman entitled to do whatever he liked whenever he felt like doing it. I’m generally pro laissez-faire, but I see a fair bit of merit in this view and would actually like to see a bit more differentiation between publically and privately held business. In short it seems reasonable to me to say that Bob should be allowed to run Bobcorp however Bob pleases but if Bobcorp becomes a publicly traded company, Bob will be obliged to play by the public’s rules. This leads to a possible compromise/dichotomy where independent operators and local your local “mom-and-pop” type business are free to do as they please but larger corporate interests such as McDonalds or Wal-Mart are still required to follow antidiscrimination guidelines and the like. • Douglas Knight says: Hlynkacg, do you know that in America companies with under 25(?) employees are subject to much weaker employment regulations than bigger companies? Do you know the legal definition of a “public” company? Something like 1000 owners. For your purpose, would you prefer a definition based on employees, owners, or something else? Odd that employment as not been mentioned as an example of association. • LHN says: @onyomi Though none of those technologies had really achieved mass penetration by 1914. Most Americans were still walking or riding horses, though urbanites had access to streetcars, and in a few cases subways. 10% of Americans got electricity by 1910, 10% had cars by 1916, 10% had phones by 1914. The former two techs would reach 50% penetration in the 20s, the phone not till after WWII. Life for most Americans remained pretty 19th century until after WWI, sometimes well after. Which makes me wonder what prototypically 21st century household devices are currently luxury or industrial or hobbyist goods. I’d guess 3-D printers are the most obvious candidates, but what else? • Anonymous says: I don’t see it. An early car or phone was still obviously great — flawed and expensive but unquestionably useful. I wouldn’t take a 3D printer for free if I couldn’t resell it. I have zero desire to make my own small plastic parts. • TheAncientGeek says: @Luke You are doing a good job of showing that the right to freedom of association, qua discrimination follows from an assumption of the same. Of course its possible to pull the same trick with the assumption that people with money in their pockets have a right to buy the things they need to sustain their existence. @Mr X Courts and lawmakers are going to decide. That isn’t a fatal flaw. @Onyomi Calling discrimination freedom of association isn’t just putting positive spin on it, it is replacing the other meaning. People who approve of FoA think they have signed up for the right to hold meetings without the secret police breaking them up.. Its a form of bait and switch to tell them they have also signed up for discrimination. • The original Mr. X says: People who approve of FoA think they have signed up for the right to hold meetings without the secret police breaking them up.. Its a form of bait and switch to tell them they have also signed up for discrimination. Or alternatively, people who approve the right of holding meetings without approving the right to not associate with people you don’t want to just haven’t thought their position through properly. • The original Mr. X says: @Mr X Courts and lawmakers are going to decide. That isn’t a fatal flaw. Maybe not for you. Personally I’d rather not have the government liberalsplaining what my religion does and doesn’t require of me, which is what this sort of principle usually devolves into. • brad says: The growth of that era is not accurately captured by measures like GDP due to such measures’ bias in favor of inflation. Is there some alternate series you can point me to deflated by you preferred measure? • TheAncientGeek says: Speaking of thinking hangs through, about commenting on the worst case scenario of discrimation? @X Law can include private law, or is thus genuine law free libertarianism? • Deiseach says: I think “racist” and “fascist” have got to that stage already. Someone does something you don’t like/require you do to do something you don’t want to do – they’re a fascist. White? You’re a racist. No, don’t deny it, you can’t help it, but you have to acknowledge it. • onyomi says: I wonder if this is going to happen with “rapist.” I was reading something on so-called “rape culture” the other day–a more sophisticated take than I’d previously been exposed to: the idea being all men benefit from the ever-present threat of potential sexual violence against women, which helps keep women in their place. But of course, this isn’t rape. It may be a real problem in some cases, but it’s not rape. I doubt the people inventing such terms intended to make rape sound less bad, but that may have been the net effect. • Winter Shaker says: I can still vaguely remember a facebook conversation in which a friend-of-a-friend called me a ‘colonialist’ for expressing the opinion that cultural goods should be the common heritage of humanity, free for everyone to enjoy regardless of their racial origins 🙂 • Julie K says: Orwell said as much about the word “fascist” 60 years ago. • Julie K says: Correction- 70 years ago. • “become generic insults over time” That’s already happened with “gay,” a pattern I noticed watching WoW online chat. Particularly odd since it seems to have happened over a period when actual homosexuality became less stigmatized. • HeelBearCub says: That’s already happened with “gay,” a pattern I noticed watching WoW online chat. You are assuming that you didn’t just see an overall change in the composition of WoW users. • onyomi says: I’m a libertarian with conservative leanings, so I can’t fully give the opposing view, though a discussion in the last OT, I think, gave me a better perspective on how to steelman the “conservatives are hateful” meme, as well as the “conservatives are fascists” meme. Specifically, last time, I brought up the issue of how widespread awareness of the possibility of homosexuality has seemingly made it harder for straight men to be close to each other, since they’re afraid of being thought gay. I think this is a real problem, but I’m definitely not willing to go to the lengths many, somewhat to my surprise, were willing to suggest to address it, most of which seemed to amount to “we need to start stigmatizing homosexuality again.” “Hate” nowadays tends to be used rather more specifically, I think, than in the past, to mean not just “strongly dislike something” but rather “to disapprove of or discriminate against someone for something not under their control.” That is, “hate” has become another word for racism-sexism-homophobia-ableism and all those other -isms which seem to dominate so much public discourse lately. A bit further back, though not too long ago, the “were Nazis really right wing” discussion came up. After all, they were “National Socialists” and socialism is left wing, right? But the good point was brought up that a key part of fascism, beyond just nationalism, is not just the unity of the ethnic-cultural-national body, but also the expulsion of those who don’t fit in that body: Jews, Gypsies, gays, disabled, etc. One can understand why this might be called a “hateful” position. To my surprise many people were willing to say that the gay minority should, essentially, be expelled from the respectable social body (if not actually leave, then at least have the decency to go into hiding) for the good of the majority. This actually strikes me as simultaneously “conservative,” “fascist,” and “hateful,” so to the extent this view is common among conservatives (though I don’t think the average Fox News viewer has so sophisticated a view as the SSC commentariat defending such an idea), I can see why one might, on the other side, apply these labels. This also tends to reaffirm my sense that libertarianism just doesn’t fit on the usual left-right spectrum, because if extreme leftism results in unity of the international working class against the capitalist exploiters and extreme rightism results in unity of the respectable members of the nation/ethnicity against the deviants, then the “live and let live” part of libertarianism really makes it fundamentally different from both. • Ruprect says: It’s simply that libertarians think that different things are important. Not so ‘live and let live’ when it comes to their property. • onyomi says: “Live and let live” refers specifically to letting others go their own way and do their own thing so long as they aren’t bothering you. It doesn’t just mean “easygoing about everything.” • Ruprect says: Uh huh – and presumably the leftists are bothered by capitalists exploiting them. And rightists are bothered by societal decline. It’s just that you don’t think these things are important. • onyomi says: Non-libertarians are very interested to show that libertarian preferences for say, not being stolen from or beaten or extorted are no different from other people’s preference not to have to pay for health care or have gay neighbors. But they are, in fact, different, for all kinds of reasons I don’t feel like detailing. Also, even if we grant that leftists’ complaints about capitalist exploitation and conservatives’ complaints about deviants are fully analogous and equally valid as libertarians’ complaints about being forced to pay taxes, it still doesn’t render meaningless the distinction I was drawing, which was that left and right both focus on group unity in achieving some desired end, whereas libertarians think the best way for everyone to achieve their ends is to… let them freely pursue those ends. • Ruprect says: “whereas libertarians think the best way for everyone to achieve their ends is to… let them freely pursue those ends.” Within the preferred social structure. Presumably, for practical reasons, like minded libertarians would *have* to come together to enforce their version of property rights. Group unity is instrumental to social aims. • Murphy says: I think Ruprect is implying that libertarianism implies a fairly specific set of rules about property that not all humans/cultures share and it implies enforcing it against others with force. By amazing chance the people who seem most keen on enforcing that brand of rules about property often seem to be the people who would benefit most from it. Put another way, if libertarians managed to enforce their values on others and a bunch of them marched on the national parks with sledge hammers and fence posts in hand in order to “mix their labor” with the land and thus claim it and all the minerals under it as the “fruits of their labor” that would be dandy under libertarian principles and anyone who disagreed and tried to dislodge them from the public land they’ve decided to conquer would be fair game to be shot. • Jiro says: By amazing chance the people who seem most keen on enforcing that brand of rules about property often seem to be the people who would benefit most from it. Is that unexpected? I would guess that gays are the most in favor of gay marriage and black people the most in favor of civil rights measures. Also, families of murder victims are often the most fervent supporters of catching and punishing the murderer. • Anonymous says: As one of the people disputing that with you in the previous thread I feel like I should underscore that I am not actually a conservative, do not believe in those values, but do want to understand them in order to both work out whether I should switch sides, and if not, to have good arguments against them, for which purpose I don’t feel that things like “but it’s obvious that a tiny minority suffering a lot is better than everybody suffering moderately” is remotely sufficient. To my surprise, even in the SSC commentariat (in this, however, I do not include you personally, I should say. I thought you acquitted yourself well as far as I participated) a lot of people weren’t willing to discuss conservative ideas unjudgmentally at all even for a hypothetical exercise, and fed back mostly the usual baffled anger, so I eventually just gave up hope of a productive examination of the ideas and tapped out. To my surprise many people were willing to say that the gay minority should, essentially, be expelled from the respectable social body (if not actually leave, then at least have the decency to go into hiding) for the good of the majority. Note that one of them was apparently himself a gay man. He’s also not the first gay man I’ve seen suggest such a thing; describing the position as “hate” seems a bit strong in such circumstances. Is he really necessarily “self-hating” if he can suggest that from an outside perspective him getting everything he might want would still be harmful, and he’s prepared to act according to this understanding? (See, here I go again with the hypotheticals.) • Jiro says: But the good point was brought up that a key part of fascism, beyond just nationalism, is not just the unity of the ethnic-cultural-national body, but also the expulsion of those who don’t fit in that body: But a key part of dictatorships in general is to create an enemy, and expel or kill the enemy. Even “socialist” dictatorships do that; the enemy may be called kulaks or capitalists or counterrevolutionaries. If that’s all you need to be considered fascist, then you’re just defining “fascist” to mean “99% of all dictatorships”. • onyomi says: My point is precisely that there is a similarity between the socialists and the fascists insofar as they both want to unite good group (proletariat, upstanding citizens of the nation) against some common outgroup (capitalists, deviants). • Samuel Skinner says: But the good point was brought up that a key part of fascism, beyond just nationalism, is not just the unity of the ethnic-cultural-national body, but also the expulsion of those who don’t fit in that body: Jews, Gypsies, gays, disabled, etc. Nitpick- that technically isn’t fascism, but part of exclusionary ethno-nationalism. Fascism has the problem of lacking a universally agreed upon definition; for example, the Integralists identified as fascists and were supported by Mussolini. Notably they were against racism. This also tends to reaffirm my sense that libertarianism just doesn’t fit on the usual left-right spectrum, because if extreme leftism results in unity of the international working class against the capitalist exploiters and extreme rightism results in unity of the respectable members of the nation/ethnicity against the deviants, then the “live and let live” part of libertarianism really makes it fundamentally different from both. Libertarianism seems more pure ideology and less messy compromises; presumably this would change if libertarians got power. • Julie K says: I wonder how many libertarians are actually devoted to libertarian principles, rather than the results such principles currently would yield, or tribal loyalty. (I’m not saying this to knock libertarians, I think the same is true of other political groups.) • John Schilling says: Given that being a libertarian and not-stupid means pretty much giving up hope of seeing those principles implemented in this generation, I’m guessing mostly principled idealism. And a bit of tribal loyalty, but mostly ex post facto – the number of libertarians who were raised that way is tiny, so the libertarian-ish tribes are mostly ones people chose to join as teens or adults. • Skivverus says: As one of those tiny few raised libertarian (though in nigh-exclusively blue-tribe environments so far), I suspect I’ve a higher proportion of tribal loyalty as opposed to idealism than the ‘typical’ libertarian (the latter these days amounts in my case to an instinctive aversion to things resembling bureaucracy); the analogy that comes to mind is someone raised in a particular religion as opposed to someone who has converted. • TheAncientGeek says: Libettariansm is also an extreme position, because it is about 100% liberty and 0% equality. • Anonymous says: Are Libertarians disproportionately of Cavalier ancestry? • Luke the CIA stooge says: Libertarian is interesting in terms of political ideology because as far as I can tell it isn’t cultural. If you look at the moral foundation of the right, pretty much all six moral foundation are equally represented (caring, fairness as proportionality, group loyalty, respect for authority, sactity/purity, and liberty (negative)) while the left restricts themselves to (care, proportionality (redefined as equality (because capitalism is evil and arbitrary)), and liberty). Notice that in each of these cases the moral principles are going to conflict, the right regularly has strong divisions between liberty and sanctity (think abortion, flag burning) and proportionality and caring (welfare recipients who refuse to work, etc.) While the left is currently being devided between caring and liberty (free speech on campus) and equality and liberty (think of the hatred the radical left has for someone like Tony Blair (even without Iraq they would hate him for valuing Thatcher lime freedom over equality)). Thus both groups need strong cultural aspects to decide which value wins in tradeoffs and when. Compare that to libertarians who have ONE core value: liberty (defined as negative liberty). Libertarians don’t need a common culture to balance conflicting values and instead focus more on the intellectual tradition of classical liberalism (Hobbes (though he’s been somewhat abused), Locke, Smith, Mill, Ricardo, (and pretty much all classical economists and non-keynsian economists right up to Friedman) Thus libertarians from pretty much any corner of the globe, when thrown together, will share broadly the same values, even if their cultures are vastly different. Compare that to the conservative right who can’t go one country over with out thinking of their fellows as weird lizardmen (its worse in Canada where even in the same country Alberta social conservatives and Quebec social conservatives despise each other). Or compare the left where American socialist and Chinese socialists would never see eye to eye because Chinese socialists do not care one bit about oppressed ethnic groups. Compared to that libertarian values have very little to do with culture. And indeed where originally developed so that diverse people who don’t share any values could coexist without religious wars (the regime instituted after the English civil war, or the us constitution being a prime example). I once read the story of an Estonian communist party member (pre1989) who was given a copy of Milton Freidmans CAPITALISM AND FREEDOM so that he might know the enemy, with the result being he was completely convinced and became a secret capitalist, who, once the wall fell, helped rebuild Estonia into a pretty libertarian place. This story is really only possible with libertarianism as its the only ideology that largely for goes cultural and moral baggage. American conservatism or American left-liberalism would never have never jumped the cultural device. Incidentally this is also libertarianism’s greatest weakness, it doesn’t appeal to many cultural or moral values and so is highly counter intuitive. • blacktrance says: Not a representative sample, but I looked at the libertarians on my Facebook friends list whose ancestry I know of or can reasonably guess. My results: 5 German, 4 Irish, 2 Borderer, 2 Jewish, 2 Dutch, 2 Italian, 2 Hispanic, 1 French, 1 Indian, 1 Chinese, 1 Puritan. • Eggoeggo says: Influential libertarians are disproportionately Russian jews, and other immigrants from the kind of regimes that motivate people to restrain government power. • TheAncientGeek says: Libetarians are divided over intelectual property. • 0% equality of outcome. But libertarianism is very much about equality of rights. • The original Mr. X says: To my surprise many people were willing to say that the gay minority should, essentially, be expelled from the respectable social body (if not actually leave, then at least have the decency to go into hiding) for the good of the majority. This actually strikes me as simultaneously “conservative,” “fascist,” and “hateful,” Don’t forget “utilitarian”. 😉 • blacktrance says: I’m a culturally liberal libertarian, and the territory here is quite complicated. I don’t think conservatives are unusually hateful, but they’ve had the misfortune of being labeled as such – progressives are comparably bad, though they’ve managed to avoid the label, similarly to how progressive purity is forgotten and conservative purity is emphasized. One helpful model is that every popular ideology has an “elite” and “mass” version. For example, “Bailouts increase moral hazard and stimulus misallocates resources” vs “Obama is a Keynesian socialist!”, “People’s experiences are shaped by their circumstances and it’s important to take that into account” vs “Check your privilege [and shut up]!”, and so on. The mass version of most ideologies is at least moderately hateful, even if the elite version isn’t particularly such. So even if theoretical ideological conservatism isn’t that hateful, one should expect the conservative rank-and-file to be, and they’re the ones who get into the news. But this is further exacerbated by the collectivist aspects of the ideology, because they give more grounds to push for conformity and easier justification for hatred. And if you want to dismiss a side, it’s easy to find some unpleasant people on it – they’re likely to even be the majority. • Sweeneyrod says: I think that accusing Obama of Keynesianiam is still fairly elite in the grand scheme of things. • blacktrance says: Not when you’re the kind of person who thinks “Keynesian” basically means “big government”/”socialist”, as do the people who use it as an insult. • William Newman says: There might be a certain seductive tail-swallowing illogical perfection in sneering that people who use “Freudian” as a criticism do so because they are sexually repressed. But Keynesian woo doesn’t, as far as I know, give you a rhetorical excuse for pretending that you can read specific strawmen in the minds of your enemies. So what is your excuse? Criticizing woo which is hard to falsify in principle and which bears bad fruit in practice is ordinary sensible human behavior. Like many other ordinary human behaviors, this behavior can become politically charged, as when the woo happens to be fashionable in the in-group so the critics are found mostly in outgroups. This ordinary phenomenon doesn’t call for the extraordinary explanation that everyone doing this sensible ordinary thing is doing it for this particular reason that is not sensible, that conveniently for you reflects badly on them, and that would ordinarily be hard to detect if not for our trust in your ability to sniff out thoughts that reflect poorly on others. That said, I grant that as in most sides of most political arguments, people commonly misunderstand things they criticize, stupidly and/or willfully, so I expect your claim is true sometimes. But if you feel like defending your general claim because it is true sometimes, then please riddle me this: is there anything wrong with claiming “the people who collect goverment disability payments are dishonest and lazy.”? • BBA says: Not if you think it’s just a fancy way to say “Kenyan”. • Anonymous says: One helpful model is that every popular ideology has an “elite” and “mass” version. Hey, that’s actually pretty cool! Good model. • Luke the CIA stooge says: Looking at it this way it seems the modern culture wars and flame wars are an attempt by the elites of each side to reframe the mass (stupid) version of the other side as the only version of the other side (think of fox news presenting the same caricatures of the left over and over) or Vox and the Atlantic writing piece after piece about how white the right is (implying or outright saying that the only reason their opponent disagrees with them is because they are racist). Presumably anyone who even moderately understands part of the elite argument for their side (anyone who follows politics) can then have their ego stroked that their so smart and good, and that their political prejudices are a magic code to understand the world and what need be done. • Anonymous says: Not all conservatives are full of hatred and not all the people full of hate are conservative. Just look at Bernie Sanders, you never see the guy not pissed off about something and/or someone. But that said the three groups of people that are more or less content with how things are going, and so least like to be angry and looking for someone to hate, are business conservatives, solid liberals and the next generation left.* That’s about half the democratic coalition but only 20% of the Republican coalition. Hence the stereotype with a kernel of truth of the angry conservative. *Based on the pew political typology (http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/the-political-typology-beyond-red-vs-blue/) • onyomi says: I think part of it is that Hate has become a separate thing from just “hate.” For Blue Tribe, Hate seems now to mean specifically racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and anything else where you discriminate against people about things which Blue Tribe agrees they have no control over. A Blue Tribe member may “hate” conservatives in the colloquial sense. He very likely “hates” Fox News and Donald Trump and Westboro Baptist and… but Blue Tribe members do not Hate (at least that’s how they seem to see themselves and how I’ve come to understand the term to be used). • Mary says: It’s not things you have no control over they mind. It’s things they don’t mind. • MugaSofer says: +1 See, for example, pedophilia and (at the opposite end of the spectrum) kink and bisexuality. • Anonymous says: Eh, maybe. But the disparity in lower case hate I pointed out exists too. There are people out there that hate Fox News and Donald Trump but for many, not all, but many it is more contempt and dislike than the red faced, burning, over the top hate. Again if you are basically happy with how things are going you don’t generally get the same level of negative emotions. • onyomi says: “red faced, burning, over the top hate. Again if you are basically happy with how things are going you don’t generally get the same level of negative emotions.” On the one hand, I agree that Tribe Blue is more happy with the current status quo than Tribe Red and therefore, theoretically, has less to be angry about. But in terms of the stereotype you mention of the red-faced, screaming conservative, I just don’t see it. If anything, quite the opposite. Any time I turn on the tv and see someone really screaming at the top of their lungs it’s some sort of campus activist trying to shout down an un-pc speaker, or bml, or something like that. The kind of middle-aged, portly people who seem to attend all the tea party rallies–I rarely see any footage of them actually getting angry in that way. And I’m sure CNN and MSNBC would be showing it if they had it. • Anonymous says: If anything, quite the opposite. Agreed. I think the actual mechanism is that when one’s side is set against the status quo, one has to act with dignity and restraint to show that one isn’t insane; on the other hand, when you think you have your enemies in the palm of your hand and don’t understand why they haven’t been crushed already, you cut loose with venting your rage. • Anonymous says: The young on all sides are disproportionately likely to be visibly angry and since public protesting, at least in the US is a mostly left wing affair, that’s who you see on TV. And if you know any late teens early twentysomthings of any ideological stripe you are likely to be on the be on the receiving end of some got-it-all-figured-out diatribes. That’s the nature of the beast. But the co-worker or drunken uncle that is liable to go off on completely inappropriate angry, hateful rants is disproportionately likely to be a conservative. • onyomi says: “But the co-worker or drunken uncle that is liable to go off on completely inappropriate angry, hateful rants is disproportionately likely to be a conservative.” Again, there is this stereotype, but I’ve never witnessed it, personally. And I grew up in a Red state and currently live in a Red state. My uncles all belong to Red state culture. • Hlynkacg says: The assertion that this sort is disproportionately conservative doesn’t really square with my own experience either. For every not-so-closet racist, I know at least one person who will suggest that Obama ought to round up all the climate-deniers and shoot ’em. Likewise, my aunt’s “inappropriate angry, hateful rants” make Jezabel.com seem like a pillar of sober and restrained journalism. and she’d be deeply offended by the suggestion that there was anything “conservative” about her. • Anonymous says: It seems odd that I’m a liberal living in a liberal city and grew up in a liberal family but never heard anyone come close to saying that Obama ought to round up and kill climate change deniers, while you know more than one. Maybe there’s a confounder. Class perhaps? • Agronomous says: Just look at Bernie Sanders, you never see the guy not pissed off about something and/or someone. I think it’s very important to maintain the distinction between anger and hatred. My kids make me angry all the time; they’d have to literally murder someone before I’d have even a chance of hating them. Is it the expression of anger that makes people think Conservatives are full of hate? If so, why doesn’t anger from the left lead to the same inference? • Anonymous X says: > My kids make me angry all the time; they’d have to literally murder someone before I’d have even a chance of hating them. Weak! 😉 I think my reaction to one of my kids murdering someone would be more like “what have I told you a million times about getting rid of the body?!”. I don’t think I could possibly hate them with less than them exhibiting a pattern of tormenting the weak, or of using and betraying people who love them — if one of the boys made a habit of hooking up with girls who liked him but that he didn’t like much, then cheating on them and setting them up to find out under heartbreaking circumstances because he got a kick out of it, for instance, I’d probably start thinking “what is this viper I’ve nursed?” and find it very hard to even try to reform him (clearly all efforts to not make him be a sociopath in the first place had failed) rather than just deposit him unceremoniously in the garbage can. But everybody might need to whack someone at some point, so that, eh. • MugaSofer says: >Is it the expression of anger that makes people think Conservatives are full of hate? If so, why doesn’t anger from the left lead to the same inference? Perhaps it does. “Feminists hate men”, “Black Power = White Hate”, “man-hating dykes”, etc. • keranih says: Is it the expression of anger that makes people think Conservatives are full of hate? If so, why doesn’t anger from the left lead to the same inference? Thinking about the way people full of burning negative emotion are described in popular press… If a person is female, or African American, or poor, and they say negative things about something done by a man, or by a white person, or a rich person, or if someone is be presumed to be speaking on behalf of a person who who is female or AA or poor, against one of the above, then that person is angry. And their anger is righteous and it is going to make the world change for the better. If a person is male, Caucasian, and working class, and they say negative things about something a woman has done, or actions of an ethnic/racial minority…then they are hateful. Which is bad. • Corey says: In left/right conflicts I think some assumption of hatred comes from the disjoint realities we inhabit. So Marxist A sees Republican B ranting about Obama, claiming he “hates America” (what would that even mean for a sitting POTUS?), “is Muslim” (to which MA thinks “no evidence” and “so what if he was?”), “destroyed private enterprise” (MA looks at stock market, bewildered), etc. Lacking any other explanation that makes any sense, MA concludes that RB is motivated by anti-black animus. OTOH, in RB’s world, Muslims are a bloc who all want to destroy the USA, Obama is in league with them to eventually enable that destruction under the guide of religious tolerance, Obamacare made his insurance premiums go up, etc. Given those assumptions, it’s entirely rational to say such things about Obama, and likely if he cares about blackness at all it’s a vague sense of “foreign-ness” rather than the idea Obama would bust a cap in his ass. • The Nybbler says: (speaking as a slightly right-of-center libertarian; I’m to the right of most of the ants and to the left of the Sad Puppies) There’s certainly hate on the conservative side. You don’t have to look to far to find conservatives who hate blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, women, and liberals, and are loud about it. You’ll also find a whole lot of conservatives who don’t hate any of those groups; hatred of those groups is not part and parcel of being a conservative. But most of what is called ‘hate’ isn’t. It’s just culture-war stuff, and liberals have latched onto ‘hate’ the way politicians latch onto ‘child porn’; you can justify anything to stop it. So if a conservative disagrees with gay marriage, that’s ‘hate’. Or if they support cross-examination of rape accusers, that’s ‘hate’. Or if they want to limit immigration to protect American jobs, that’s ‘hate’. Or if they oppose an increase in the minimum wage, that’s ‘hate’. Basically opposing any leftist position becomes hate, because the position of the left is they’re the ones with decency and empathy who care about people, so if you oppose their policies it must be because you hate those the policies are intended to help • Agronomous says: You don’t have to look to far to find conservatives who hate blacks, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, women, and liberals, and are loud about it. Sincere questions: you mean you just have to drive across town, or you just have to flip the channel, or what? What’s a good example of a conservative who hates one of the above? Assuming they don’t just come out and say, “I hate Group E”, what makes you conclude they do? • The Nybbler says: Mostly I meant on the Internet; the reddit “chimpire”, Stormfront, some of Vox Day’s commentariat. In real life how far you have to look depends on where you are, I suppose. They talk about their hated using dehumanizing terms, or they claim the world would be better off without those groups (or sometimes, if every member of those groups is dead). Here’s a twofer from voxpopuli: “… was still a sacreligious limey that brags constantly about taking monkey dick up his ass. Watching foreign wannabe plague vectors shaking hands with the Trumpenator…” Calling a male homosexual a “plague vector” and referring to (black) men he likes to have sex with as “monkey” is a pretty strong indicator of hate in my book. • Samuel Skinner says: Those could just be contempt. “Brevik did nothing wrong” is a slightly better (and certainly creepier) indicator. • Mary says: “and to the left of the Sad Puppies” Not possible. There are Sad Puppies of all sorts of political persuasion. The central tenet of the Sad Puppies is Quality Story-telling over Message, which is not a political position. • The Nybbler says: To be more precise, to the left of the commentariat on monsterhunternation and accordingtohoyt. • Dr Dealgood says: I was brought up on that rhetoric, but it only really clicked for me when I was reading a Jezebel(?) article ~5 years ago. I was still nominally liberal, though increasingly on my path to the “dark side,” I think I was linked there from Mark Reads or some similar proto-SJ media criticism site. Anyway, the article was linking some innocuous-but-mildly-inconsiderate behavior like not making enough room walking on the sidewalk to a greater narrative of rape culture. I remember specifically the author describing a man who stepped in front of her, then did the Hallway Shuffle and smiled before stepping aside. Something that I’ve done inadvertently at least once a day nearly every day of my life. And then she laid out (her version of) his thought process. It was like she was describing a strange inhuman monster. I believe that process, where some guy awkwardly shuffling around in a tight hallway becomes a sadist exercising male power over a helpless woman, is a microcosm of the whole Hate phenomenon. At the risk of falling into the same trap, it seems like it’s about false empathy and projection. People who mistakenly believe they understand the motivations of those who have hurt them, possibly better than they do, but are really just projecting their own hurt back on those who hurt them. Everything done to you is personal from your perspective, but from the perspective of the other person there is no reason to assume they have any strong feelings about you whatsoever. • Anonymous says: At the risk of falling into the same trap, it seems like it’s about false empathy and projection. People who mistakenly believe they understand the motivations of those who have hurt them, possibly better than they do, but are really just projecting their own hurt back on those who hurt them. At the risk of falling into a common stereotype, my personal experience is definitely that women who believe this type of objectively crazy thing (the man in the hallway is out to get me; stare rape; manspreading; mansplaining; etc., not feminism in general) have serious self-esteem problems since adolescence. Basically from my personal interactions it seems like an extended failure mode of a traumatic puberty. • Nornagest says: I can’t believe I’m defending it, but I don’t think “mansplaining” belongs there. It seems to be less a case of inventing oppressions out of whole cloth and more a case of fitting real differences in interaction style (and occasionally even real condescension) into a rigid oppressor/oppressed framework. • suntzuanime says: And sometimes men in hallways really are out to get you. Sometimes being stared at can be unpleasant, sometimes assholes feel like they get to take up multiple seats even though the bus is crowded. It’s the over-sensitivity and shoehorning into their patriarchical framework that’s the insanity in every case. • Anonymous says: What he said. “Mansplaining” is really just regular old “condescension” or “someone having the gall to disagree with you even after you told them not to” (which isn’t really gendered at all, I should add). Deciding that Something Must Be Done About All These Men on that basis ain’t granola. Like being checked out or some dunce taking up a bit too much space, it’s not worthy of more than a “guh” in passing and to be forgotten ten minutes after the inconvenience is over; carrying it around like it was freshwater in the desert isn’t the sign of a sane mind. • The Nybbler says: Mansplaining does belong there, both on its own and at a meta level. On its own 1) Sometimes the guy being condescending to you is just condescending in general. It has nothing to do with gender. 2) Sometimes the guy is assuming you don’t know something because he has _good reason_ to believe it. For example, he may know you’re a neophyte at whatever you are attempting; you may happen to know the thing he’s explaining, but his assumption that you do not is reasonable given his knowledge. 3) He may not be condescending at all; you may just be wrong. Meta 1) If you attempt to explain that a guy who does the hallway shuffle or is attempting to explain something to you or smiles at you or doesn’t smile at you isn’t actually doing anything at all unreasonable, you will invariably get accused of “mansplaining” for attempting to justify his obviously misogynistic behavior. It’s a kafkatrap. • Deiseach says: On the other hand, Diane Duane has a story about Fake Geek Girl accusation leveled against her once: I had to do this once with Privateer II: The Darkening. It gained a bit when he said “I bet you didn’t play it through, I bet somebody just told you how…” and I was able to smile gently and say “God, possibly, since I wrote the game.” And plainly the Deity was with me that day, as I happened to be carrying docs from my UK agent (who’d done the deal) that showed not only that I was the writer, but the five-figure sum I had been paid. …It was a happy day for me. Not so much for him. I’d never had a referent for the word “slink” for a full grown male before. As in “slink away in utter dejection.” I smiled for at least three days without stopping. And am smiling now… (T)hat afternoon in Oriel (it was a nice bar/restaurant in Sloane Square, gone now alas), remembering the pains that work had cost me – to have some snotnosed baby-boy gamer in a shiny suit and a cheap tie come try to tell me that I did not understand the game structure that I can still remember whiteboarding for Erin Roberts and the rest of the team…? I. Think. Not. • Jiro says: On the third hand, pretty much any criticism can be misapplied. Are there cases where someone was told they don’t understand some game and they actually don’t understand the game? Perhaps even told this by someone of an inferior age and social class? • Anonymous says: @Deiseach: This isn’t even an attempt to disagree with you, just an effort to make sure we’re on the same page first and foremost: Do you you realize that these exact same chumps do the same thing to men all the time? Or is that news to you? Because they do. All the freakin’ time. And then we show them up, and laugh loudly at them and sneer at them for sucking, and shout epithets after them, and then forget them instead of going “oh my God, I got mansplained to” because it’s just part of the obnoxious background noise of the world, like mosquitoes. Or, if they’re funny enough, we remember them and tell them like anecdotes, like Duane in your quote. (For instance, I myself still recall pretty much ruining the in-class reputation and social status of a mouthy know-it-all classmate in high school this way. He never really managed to recover from making that big an ass of himself in public.) • Zorgon says: On the other hand, this does go some way to explaining why Privateer 2 was so amazingly terrible. • Eggoeggo says: And the Official X-COM tie-in novel! ouch Odd she’s not listed as part of the crew, either on IMBD or the wiki? • Corey says: Mansplaining is a real thing: men explaining things about the lived experiences of women, to women. There’s lots of variations (goysplaining to Jews, etc.) and it’s a useful set of terms. Now maybe it gets motte-and-bailey-ed all the time (I can never remember which is which) and gets applied inappropriately. In that case, flame away at the misusers. • dndnrsn says: @Corey: Wasn’t the original definition was a man assuming a woman doesn’t know about some (often stereotypically male) thing, often acting like he knows more than he does, talking over her, etc? There are various variants out there of “a guy told me about a comic book/astrophysics, not realizing I wrote the comic book/am an astrophysicist”. • Corey says: @dndnrsn: I just googled it and the first definition that comes up is “to explain something in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing”, and Wiki article’s second sentence quotes someone defining it as “explaining without regard that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often by a man to a woman”. So I was wrong, and/or usage has drifted, and/or there’s some confusion about the “real” meaning. So the anecdote upthread of “you couldn’t have played the game through, who told you how it goes?” “Myself, when I wrote it” would be “mansplaining” by that definition, where I would have thought of it as “gamersplaining” (explaining gaming to a gamer who knows more than you about what you’re explaining). Unfortunately I’m not the head of the Academie Anglaise (plus it doesn’t exist). • Chevalier Mal Fet says: On the third hand On the gripping hand, c’mon! • Sweeneyrod says: The trick is to point your head in one direction to signal which way you are going to walk. • Vitor says: What if you encounter someone from a culture where the trick is considered to be pointing your head in the direction you’re leaving open for your counterpart? “Look friend, I left room for you over there” The true trick, which is independent of your opponents strategy and solves the conundrum in an expected 2 rounds, is to memorize a sequence of random bits beforehand and attempt to walk in the direction the bit tells you to. Each bit is to be used once and then forgotten. I carry at least one scientifically accurate fair coin with me at all times, so I can resupply my random bit reservoir on the go if it ever gets too low. • SolipsisticUtilitarian says: Generally works like a charm, the failure mode (if the other person is following the same strategy) is catastrophic though. • Sweeneyrod says: Schelling point is the side of the road cars drive on in your country. • zz says: I’m apolitical*, but because of reasons, my FaceBook newsfeed is dominated by liberals who have probably never met a real conservative IRL, but post things to the effect of “if you don’t think about race ALL THE TIME you are INCREDIBLY RACIST.” (Example from today: someone said this woman, who hit a street preacher she disagreed with on the head with a baseball bat, was “awesome”, although they didn’t condone violence. What? The one thing that woman did differently than the many other people who debated the preacher was violence.) I recently spent a few months in Virginia, which is, relative to where I’d spent the rest of my life, super duper conservative. And I met some real conservatives in their natural environment. And they did some things kinda weird—I played pickup frisbee and they prayed before the game, they had a strong taboo against swearing—but I just didn’t bring up my lack of belief in God, and they were all super nice to me. Even though some of them were creationists and I believe that not-evolution is so vanishingly unlikely as to not be worthy of consideration (although I didn’t bring this up). So, for what it’s worth, I find the liberals I’ve met a lot more hateful than the conservatives I’ve met. I suspect this is a function of knowing super liberal liberals (at least one of whom seriously believes there should be a free speech exception for hate speech because they want racist speech banned) and relatively moderate conservatives. I wouldn’t be surprised that, if I met conservatives as partisan as the liberals I know, I’d find them at least as hateful, if not more. (I did grow up in a pretty liberal bubble.) —- *Specifically, I believe that, unless you’re a subject-matter expert, participating in politics is actively making things worse. The Democrat and Republican parties could go splitsies on closing the funding gaps of GiveWell-recommended charities, thereby causing the same exact people to be elected but a whole bunch fewer malaria-infected/parasite-infected/poor Africans/Indians. I tentatively blame partisan academics for making it virtually impossible to find solid answers to purely empirical questions such as “what effects will tariffs/minimum wages/immigration policy have?” and “why the gender ratio in STEM?” I support very few policies, and the ones I do support tend to be direct applications of science that’s sufficiently apolitical that nobody cares about it. For instance, I think that drugs like LSD, cannabis, MDMA, and psilocybin should be made schedule II. And then I bemoan that such an obviously one-sided sensible policy would never be opposed, so nobody gets angry at an outgroup, and so there will be no political will to shift the status quo. Instead, the fight’s over legalizing marijuana, which isn’t a policy with one-sided tradeoffs, despite what both sides would have you think. • Anonymous says: MDMA… should be made schedule II I have no beef with anything else you said, including the other drugs, but you might want to look into the long-term effects of rolling more than say 3-4 times annually before you equate MDMA with cannabis. • zz says: I’ve looked at the long-term effects of MDMA, cross-referencing my psychopharmacology textbook with Wikipedia. It certainly indicted the system that placed MDMA and {LSD, psilocybin, cannabis} in the same category. And, while I still suspect that making MDMA schedule II would be, on average, a positive development (simply because it would facilitate research on a promising drug), I have to conclude that it is not as one-sided as I previously believed. It’s extremely plausible that MDMA adverse effects might outweigh its benefits, rendering it therapeutically unsuitable, and in the course of finding this out, we screw up a bunch of test subjects. Thank you for changing my mind! • Same Anon, Different Email says: Glad I could help! I used to have the exact same idea myself, until someone pointed it out to me. Passing the favor along seems only fair. • Eggoeggo says: I’m not a typical conservative, in that I’m an immigrant who worked for extreme left-wing politicians as a boy, before “converting” during college. Most conservatives probably didn’t volunteer at a screening of Bowling for Columbine as kids. But I can share my experience and see if other people have similar ones. Careful: it’s late and I’m long-winded. Politics and history courses in college had me reading a lot of Old Books and modern authors who respected historical thinkers. Arendt in class led to a summer reading Tocqueville, Montesquieu, Machiavelli, the federalist papers—the usual random walk you get from following up on authors quoting each other. I’m definitely no intellectual, or well-read, but the dignity with which they treated writers a thousand years dead gave me a much broader perspective on political theory. The slogans I’d been brought up with seemed petty and provincial by comparison. Of course, this meant the actual classes were a huge letdown that left me completely disillusioned with the left. At one point we took a class trip to the Reagan presidential library, where, surrounded by the kind of middle-americans who visit the Reagan library on vacation, one of my classmates started cheering at the footage of Hinckley shooting Reagan. The girl next to him elbowed him quickly, but a room full of Americans was already staring at us, and judging. That was the first time I felt outright hatred for a leftist. Cringing embarrassment first, slowly building frustration, betrayal, contempt and spite. How dare this slovenly, glassy-eyed creature embarrass us so badly in front of them? But… who was “us”, anyway? I was an American by blood, and I loved my country. This brainless thing obviously had nothing but jeering hatred for us. Why should I keep calling myself one of them? Well–I rationalized after coming down–he was from Pitzer, and you can’t really stay angry at your retarded little brother, right? It was just an isolated incident, and he was probably just really high. Then this happened. Smashing the car of a woman speaking out for Social Justice? Racial slurs? Obviously the work of them—those awful bigots in white hoods hiding behind every bush even in this liberal arts utopia—and by this time I was starting to accept my place as one of them. When it turned out she faked the whole thing, I expected the university to, you know, apologize for denouncing us. But no–the final “bias incident report” email simply restated how seriously “hate crimes” need to be taken, and how we need to be ever vigilant against their bigotry. And that’s when the hatred got generalized to all leftists. And also when, coincidentally, I had my first inkling of what people have come to call the “cathedral” of leftism. Now, every time I see articles with titles like “Universities have always been a safe space for straight, white men: ‘censorship’ just evens the playing field”, or “White America must be made to PAY!”, or “brogressive “logic-fetishist” neckbeards running misoggynistic assault missions on women in tech”, the hatred gets stronger. And stronger, and stronger. When I see leftists say things like “his rhetorical violence affected many. Her physical violence affects only him, and may serve as a potential deterrent to him”, I start losing my last principled inhibitions against political violence. It’s increasingly the same “red faced, burning, over the top hate” Anon mentioned. Last thanksgiving dinner the son of a family friend mocked his sister’s “white privilege” (she’d taken a vacation in South America), and played a Young Turks video about evil genocidal white people on his phone during dinner. I didn’t stop snarling at him all evening, and if he hadn’t disowned his parents shortly afterwards, my attitude probably would have ruined my relationship with the family. I don’t hang out on the parts of the internet where people say “Brevik did nothing wrong”, or talk about cleansing our country of traitorous shitlibs. But, I’m increasingly starting to ask myself. But… TL;DR I merely adopted the hate. Ask a trueborn conservative who was born in it, molded by it. • Dahlen says: Funny how all the rest of the right-wingers answering this question are doing their best to disavow themselves of the accusation, and make a good case for why hatred is is no way specific to their side and how the other side has plenty of hateful stuff to answer for, and then a guy like you comes along and stomps all over that endeavour and owns up to the accusation. Good job. So, tell us. Do you, on occasion, have second thoughts about this whole hatred thing? Maybe there’s some remnant of some moral intuition in there who occasionally whispers in a little voice that hatred is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die from it? Maybe your doctor is warning you about high blood pressure? Goodness, it can’t be entirely ego-syntonic, I refuse to believe such a thing. • Mary says: how shameless can you get? You know perfectly well that that is the not “Hate” that leftists accuse conservatives of • Dahlen says: I do? I thought I was doing the right thing, taking a man at his word. There’s that fighting spirit again. Sigh… @Anon: LOL, I’m not even a regular. “Basis of experience” my Harry S. Truman. • Dahlen says: Lime anon: Okay, but don’t be mean. That’s what the whole thread is about, that’s how we win this. Unfurrowed brow, polite smile, never say anything more negative than your opponents. 😛 • Mary says: “I do? I thought I was doing the right thing, taking a man at his word.” Then you should have noticed the unmistakable and enormous gap between his word and what leftists say about “hatred.” • Mary says: “you are supposed to read Mary’s little mind and confirm her biases about those dastardly LEFTISTS, ” If you’re under the impression that that was anything other than what I often see from leftists, you are being silly. The arrogance of “some remnant of some moral intuition in there” for instance. • Agronomous says: @Dahlen: Thanks for your answer below, but you do come off as a real dick in the above—mostly through a combative, crowing, “gotcha” tone in the first paragraph, followed by psychologizing criticism of Eggoeggo, who really put himself out there answering with deeply-felt personal experiences. Given that you’ve also (apparently unintentionally) ruffled feathers elsewhere in this OT, you should probably ask yourself if it’s you. (Are you by any chance Dutch?) Eggoeggo is talking about why he hates the left, which he came out of. My impression is that when people say conservatives are “full of hate”, they mean hate for gays or immigrants or blacks, not the left. This is kind of important, since (1) you can always stop being leftist, but you can’t help being gay or an immigrant or black, and (2) it’s obviously symmetrical, insofar as large parts of the left admittedly hate conservatives (and think they should stop being conservative). If you have a different impression, it would help if you explained it. @Mary: I broadly agree with your comment’s content, but matching the tone of its parent comment was counterproductive. @Shit-Posting Anons on both “sides”: There’s a whole wide world of discussion forums out there for you to pollute. Spread the guano around a little: give Daily Kos and Daily Caller a try. • Dahlen says: @Agronomous: Yes, very possibly I came off as a dick. It’s not my default mode of communication, though. The reason I’ve been nasty to Eggo was that, well, I don’t know how you can admit to being very hateful towards someone, particularly when they form part of your audience, but even when they don’t, and expect that to be treated as a perfectly socially acceptable attitude to express. You’re emphasizing how his response was genuine and heartfelt and an effortpost, but that doesn’t change the fact that, in terms of content, it was an unapologetic declaration of enmity towards lots of people defined as broadly half of everyone with a political orientation. Normally I’d expect that, when people harbour such feelings knowingly, they at least have an inkling that it’s Not Okay and they try to heal themselves of it, for their own good and for the benefit of the relationships they establish with people. But his reply read like proudly embracing the toxicity. I don’t see in what universe this is defensible, and don’t know what kind of person you’d have to be to defend this. So I didn’t feel at all hesitant to express my disapproval of this. Heck, I don’t even know to which extent I can call myself a leftist, and since I mostly kept silent on my beliefs, I’m sure as hell that you folks know even less of that. I do know that I tend to get butthurt along with them, though. So when someone comes out and says he hates with a fervour a group he’d probably include me in, what, are you expecting me to just stand there and take it? “Yeah, sure, whatever, you’re entitled to your hate, I guess I’ll just try to make myself suck less and cross over to your side as a conciliatory gesture…” No. My interpretation of the hate in question (which I’ll explain to you because you were civil, and didn’t explain to Mary because she wasn’t) was that it didn’t only target minorities, but that it was something more akin to a personality trait, that came before conservatism and made susceptible people adopt conservative beliefs. Under this model, if someone comes out and says he really really hates leftists, while mentioning no particular feelings for minority groups, that doesn’t exempt him from the accusation of being a “conservative hater”, if anything it constitutes proof towards it being true. I don’t see how that kind of hatred is pure and good and defensible because it targets a group you join voluntarily rather than by birth. Where I come from, any kind of rabid hatred is bad. It’s genuinely a different perspective. It’s not something I espouse because I’m a shameless liar, I don’t actually “know” in my heart of hearts that obviously the accusation was only geared towards anti-minority bigotry and I’m just trying to obfuscate things by calling a hater of leftists a hater in general, and Mary could have toned down the accusations of bad faith. Given that you’ve also (apparently unintentionally) ruffled feathers elsewhere in this OT, you should probably ask yourself if it’s you. Dunno, I often seem to ruffle feathers unintentionally, and then people leave a lot of hostile replies and I’m like, “whaaa’, did I say anything wrong?”. Lack of social graces, perhaps. Also, I’ll admit I’ve come to not like some of you folks much over time. I can’t put my finger on why that is, mostly incompatibilities of personality, though being in an ideologically polarised space such as this certainly helps bring out the worst in everyone. I only stick around because it’s one of the few crowds on the web where I can assume a lot of common background knowledge from commenters, and there’s little teaching of 101 topics involved in most discussions of interest to me. But on a personal level, yeah, there are few people from around here I’d like to share a beer with. This sometimes shows. • ” I thought I was doing the right thing, taking a man at his word.” Really? You think that what leftists think is wrong with conservatives is that they hate leftists? Just filling out Mary’s point, which I thought was obvious. “and how the other side has plenty of hateful stuff to answer for, and then a guy like you comes along and stomps all over that endeavour and owns up to the accusation. ” Reading his post, he obviously believes that leftists hate people on the right, hence, if that’s the relevant “hateful stuff,” he believes that the other side has plenty of it. Reading your contribution to this subthread, I can’t tell if you are unable to follow the argument or prefer scoring points to engaging with it. • Anonymous says: Eggoeggo, who really put himself out there answering with deeply-felt personal experiences. There’s such a thing as ignoring the object level too much. The heartfelt sharing that you want us to applaud consists of a self described “blood and soil” conservative talking about how he came to shred to his last “inhibitions against political violence”. Sorry, I have no interest in playing sympathetic audience to a budding fascist because he sooo in touch with his feelings. You shouldn’t either. • HeelBearCub says: @David Friedman: Just a reminder on Eggo’s actual words: I don’t hang out on the parts of the internet where people say “Brevik did nothing wrong”, or talk about cleansing our country of traitorous shitlibs. But, I’m increasingly starting to ask myself. But… Brevik, Rudolph, McVeigh, Roeder, Michael Page, Dylan Roof … you don’t think liberals accuse conservatives of fomenting this kind of hate? That it is not part of the narrative that informs accusation of hatefulness? • Dahlen says: @David Friedman: Really? You think that what leftists think is wrong with conservatives is that they hate leftists? I don’t care what leftists think, I can very well draw my own judgments and use my own frame (I daresay, the default one) for understanding what counts as hatefulness. I see a guy foaming at the mouth about someone or something, I am faced with the question of whether his general category of people is hateful, I update a little towards that hypothesis being true. I see other people of his category backing away from that accusation and trying to not look particularly hateful, I point out he’s kind of ruining a group effort. Not that hard to understand. I’ll say it in short: you folks rush to the defense of unseemly behaviour or people on the flimsiest of excuses. What Eggo said was questionable on its own merits. What were you all thinking? “Oh, he hates leftists, he gets a pass, that’s not the kind of hate that counts, not what we were talking about here anyway…” Reading his post, he obviously believes that leftists hate people on the right, hence, if that’s the relevant “hateful stuff,” he believes that the other side has plenty of it. … And the right response, when you encounter something you disapprove of, is to become the mirror image of it. I can understand defensiveness, but that goes above and beyond it; two wrongs don’t make a right, etc. Reading your contribution to this subthread, I can’t tell if you are unable to follow the argument or prefer scoring points to engaging with it. Or some other thing that reflects poorly on me, no? I understand the argument. I just think that it’s tangential to the main point and that your position is in a sorry state indeed if you insist so much on it. • Eggoeggo says: >there are few people from around here I’d like to share a beer with Try being the kind of person who is fun to share a beer with. Do not be like this , or people might end up hating you and everyone like you! I’ve just spent a weekend watching my people being beaten and spat on while leftists in the media laugh and scream that they should be beaten to death. Not to mention writing articles justifying political violence, as long as it’s committed against my people by theirs! I am in absolutely no mood to humour your claim that it is somehow wrong to be angry about this. • Dahlen says: Is this the time when I should quote again what I said above that none of you have an inkling as to what my positions are? Or below, when I said that I don’t even approve much of all this ideological divisiveness and that least of all I have a crowd that I could call my own? All this lumping people together into one ingroup and one outgroup is getting tiresome. Also, who the fuck even is that? A teen and all of her 268 (gasp! There are dozens of us! Dozens!) followers, which in the grand scheme of the internet really does not amount to much? I’ll grant that there are lots of idiots on the internet, but realistically, she’s not going to be a threat to you and you have better things to do than getting worked up about every stupid tweet, every teenage radicalism that people eventually grow out of, every ill-conceived fad that by definition comes and goes. Chances are, she’ll read that in 10 or 15 years and be embarrassed, and that’s all that will ever come out of it. I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m advising you to ignore the imminent SJW apocalypse, to stay passive in the face of these things until it blows up to global proportions while the circle of sanity narrows into insignificance, because I actually rub my hands in glee waiting for it to happen or something. You think I’m asking you to disarm while me and mine (me and who???) are busy stockpiling nukes. I’ve seen SJWism gain ground too in your part of the world, I know something of the kind is happening. I also estimate it as being orders of magnitude less of a danger than 20th century communism, for reasons intrinsic to it. Calm. Down. It doesn’t warrant the response you think it warrants, and I’m in fact worried that this kind of backlash is at risk of rolling back the positive changes which social justice movements have brought into the world. The fact that you spent an entire weekend hatewatching (there must be some sort of visual media equivalent to hatereading…?) is a telltale sign that you’re letting your preoccupation with this gain mastery over you. For every condemnable occurrence out there, there is a wise response and a condemnable response. An example of a wise response is people coalescing to form an intellectually defensible school of thought of their own. An example of the latter is putting a lot of negative emotions into it and reading stupid books. Or, at the extreme, going full Breivik. Try to be the better man, pick your battles (e.g. learn to pay no heed to stupid teens on Twitter or Tumblr), and don’t become the mirror image of the things you don’t like. If you wanted the cordial version of my response, this is it. As an addendum, learn to incorporate a bit more nuance in your view of what you dub “leftists”. Seriously, sometimes I think that whoever came up with terms denoting arbitrary directions on an axis to map all political positions onto it was trying to play a joke upon posterity, so that we all fight meaninglessly about who belongs on what side. P.S. In case of violence, how about calling the police and/or hiring security teams, which are, you know, the default actions anyone takes in these situations? • Eggoeggo says: “In case of violence, how about calling the police or hiring security teams” So they can watch and be told to stand down? That must be a deliberate jokey reference to current events, right? Also, how “normal” people react to violence committed against them is rather different here. • Eggoeggo says: Listening to my moral intuition is what led me to hate in the first place. My blood pressure and overall health are excellent, thanks for insinuating asking. Interesting coincidence, actually. Around the time of the first incident was when I started lifting before classes, right as the gym opened. Seeing him slouch into class every morning, unwashed, unkempt, and having done none of the reading, was part of what first kindled contempt into actual hatred. Why do you think hatred is poison? It doesn’t make me sick, or weak, or simple-minded. It doesn’t convince me I’m “healthy at any size”, or make me consume ever-increasing varieties and quantities of recreational drugs just to feel human. Most importantly, hate doesn’t stop me feeling other wholesome emotions. Love for my boyfriend and family. Shame at the state of my neglected garden. Respect when people guide my work and gratitude when they compliment it. Bliss standing in my field surrounded by frolicking baby lambs (my favourite has freckles now, running all up her little muzzle. Just when I thought she couldn’t get any cuter!) So “drinking poison and expecting my enemy to die from it”? Definitely not. Making them harmless will take work—coordinated work, like removing slugs or voles from the garden—and there’s currently no consensus on the right way to go about it. Maybe some coming cold, passivist technocracy will have no use for my hatred or agrarian blood-and-soil populism. That would probably be best for everyone, don’t you think? But if things keep going the way they are… Have a good memorial day. I’ll be spending the rest of it in the garden; I let the perimeter provide far too much habitat for slugs, and they’re doing a number on my strawberries. You can’t serve slug-eaten strawberries and cream to guests, can you? God, I hate those disgusting, slimy creatures. • Sweeneyrod says: Yes, Hitler liked animals and children too. I feel Godwin’s law doesn’t apply when someone has referred to their “blood-and-soil populism”. • Eggoeggo says: Feel free to call me whatever you want, but keep a few things in mind before you use me to bash typical american conservatives. My mother was an english, Hite-report-reading Montessori early education teacher. In fifth grade, my (Quaker) American History teacher taught us that the american revolution was wrong, and that the colonists should have only used non-violent resistance. My middle school science teacher worked for Sea Shepherd (they were based in our town), and our textbook was called “chemistry in the community” (about how corporations destroy the environment). In high school I volunteered for the democratic party, and helped at a showing of Bowling for Columbine, jeering at a senile Charlton Heston’s ambush interview with the rest of the crowd. I’ve been to church twice. Once for an Anglican wedding, and once for a sociology paper. I’m not a product of american conservatism—I’m a byproduct of leftism. If you hate conservatives, your ideology produced me. I’m what you get when you try to raise an immigrant as a good little leftist, offering no political alternatives because you’ve driven out every conservative voice… and it still doesn’t stick. Keep that in mind when you’re discussing ideology and social policy. Also, Hitler didn’t lift, and did many other bad things too. • Anonymous says: @Eggoeggo: Can we also assume from your mention of your boyfriend just upthread that you’re either a woman or non-straight? I.e. either way, a “natural constituent” for the left? Sorry if this trespasses local anonymity norm, but it seems pretty related, and you did mention the boyfriend explicitly. • Eggoeggo says: @Anon gay, yeah. Bog standard Nydwracu fanboy. And you’re right, I’ve dropped too many bio details already. Luckily I’ll probably be banned by tomorrow 🙂 • Garden? Raising lambs? Any chance you do any brewing? You sound like a cool person to hang out with, although I doubt you’re in the Midwest from the sounds of it. • Eggoeggo says: Some of my friends make great beer, but all I’ve made is a cider that… well, it probably would have been faster to just pee in the bottle. Going to be rolling in honey soon—do you have any tips on mead? Northwest, but if there’s ever a seattle meetup thing I’d love to grab a beer with folks. • @eggoeggo No tips whatsoever on mead, I’d be interested to hear how it goes though. I’m mostly doing liqueurs and some easy beer recipes so far. You also have some hives, I take it? If so, what are your thoughts on the flow hive? • Eggoeggo says: Oh awesome! Have you blogged about it? It’s always fun to read about people’s experiments, and I’ve got fond memories of an old french friend’s amazing fruit liqueurs, so I’d love to learn more. Until recently you needed a special permit to buy high-proof alcohol here (I don’t see why civilians need to own 200% proof assault liquor on our streets!), but it’d be really cool to try now. Oh god, the flow hive. The list of publicisers is as hilarious as the design. They’re going to make so much money selling those to hipsters in Seattle, like all those$5000 compost tumblrs and “urban chicken coops” from a few years ago!
Wish I’d have thought of it 🙂

I’ll stick with tradition; the more new research I read (Thomas Seeley esp.), the more the traditional design makes sense. Funny how that works.
I’m dashing back to do a mite count & inspection in a bit—will try to grab a few pics.

• “do you have any tips on mead?”

My favorite is Kenelm Digby’s “Weak Honey Drink” (17th century), which I usually call “small mead.” It doesn’t take long, is fizzy and only mildly alcoholic.

9 pints water 1 pint honey = 1 lb
1 T fresh ginger 1/2 T fresh orange peel
1/2 t yeast

Dissolve the honey in the water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let it boil down to ⅔ the original volume (6 ⅔ pints), skimming periodically. This will take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours; by the end it should be clear. About 15 minutes before it is done, add the ginger, sliced and peeled. Peel an orange to get only the yellow part, not the white; a potato peeler works well for this. At the end of the boiling, add the orange peel, let it boil a minute or so, 65 and remove from the heat. Let the mead cool to lukewarm, then add the yeast. The original recipe appears to use a top fermenting ale yeast, but dried bread yeast works. Cover and let sit 24-36 hours. Bottle it, using sturdy bottles; the fermentation builds up considerable pressure. Refrigerate after three or four days. Beware of exploding bottles. The mead will be drinkable in a week, but better if you leave it longer.

That’s my worked out recipe from the Miscellany, which also gives the original.

• This is my second year of making Umeshu (Japanese Plum Liqueur), and I am also going to try to make some strawberry liqueur, cherry liqueur, and cranberry liqueur in the same fashion. I haven’t needed to deal with high-proof alcohols, as vodka from Costco is more than enough (traditional umeshu is made with 20-30% abv rice or potato alcohol). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umeshu This stuff is delicious over the rocks, so I’m hoping to get the same sort of drinkability with the strawberries, cherries, and cranberries rather than something in the line of a flavored vodka. I have some pictures that I can post, but it is basically fruit + sugar + vodka + let it sit for at least three months (a year is better, but my last 5ish gallons didn’t make it that long…).

I’m always wary about super-hyped gadgets like the flow-hive. I don’t have a hive, but its something that sounds like an interesting hobby to work at. Just curious if it was a garbage product like that water-breather or water from the air water-bottle, just based on the hype. Good to know my skeptical meter is still calibrated well.

@david An extensive medieval cook book too? Is there anything you haven’t done?

• dndnrsn says:

I suppose one of the positives of this commenting system is that it leads to amusing juxtapositions when there are 2 or 3 different conversations happening at the last level.

@Eggoeggo: I’m curious, did your move to the right happen around the same time you started lifting?

• “Is there anything you haven’t done?”

Many things. I’m not fluent in any foreign language. I cannot carry a tune or play any musical instrument. I don’t dance and my wife, who does, thinks that’s lack of ability not just lack of experience. I am strikingly ignorant of popular culture. Many other things.

But I do write novels and poems.

• @Eggoeggo I don’t have a how to guide of my own, but here is a picture of the finished product of two glasses over the rocks or one of three 2 gal. jars.

I followed this recipe at ibelieveicanfry.

• Eggoeggo says:

Hey all, gotta dash and make dinner, but tried to restart the discussion chain in the current open thread.

Reckon there’s a bunch of interesting stuff to share still, and the lack of indenting in this thread was awkward.

• “I let the perimeter provide far too much habitat for slugs, and they’re doing a number on my strawberries. ”

My daughter grinds up eggshells and sprinkles them around plants that appear to be taking damage from snails or slugs. The theory is that they don’t like crawling over them. Insufficient data to be sure if it works.

• Mary says:

“When it turned out she faked the whole thing, I expected the university to, you know, apologize for denouncing us. But no–the final “bias incident report” email simply restated how seriously “hate crimes” need to be taken, and how we need to be ever vigilant against their bigotry.”

You notice it WAS a hate crime — it was intended to foment hatred.

• Eggoeggo says:

Yes, but not the kind they wanted us to remain vigilant for. It was the klanmen always lurking around the next korner we were supposed to be afraid of, not histrionic propagandists who were—of course—only trying to raise awareness.

• Cord Shirt says:

Young sir,

I wish to attribute your hatred to your subethnicity and its affiliated subculture, developing and/or reinforcing an “Albion’s Seed style” stereotype thereof. Therefore I demand that you tell me precisely whence you and yours immigrated. No one ever lies about that on the internet, surely?

😉

…but I *am* curious. (Most of *my* folks came to America from East Anglia…um, sorry about that whole “appeasing the Great Heathen Army” thing. Or, um…that “being *part of* the Great Heathen Army” thing!)

• MugaSofer says:

While it could be argued that liberals are “really” just as xenophobic as usual towards conservatives, they’re nevertheless marked ideologically by a distinct xenophilia – generally speaking, conservatives believe that many groups and behaviors are wrong and evil, whereas liberals believe that only a subset of these are bad, in addition to believing that objecting to those they don’t consider bad is itself evil. (A belief shared by conservatives toward those more “liberal” on this axis than they are.)

Since conservatives are distinguished from liberals, ideologically, by their opposition to and dislike of more and larger groups, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to describe this opposition as “hatred” – we hate that which we consider wrong, after all.

(Of course, this model breaks down in a few places – some liberals’ opposition to anything vaguely related to “oppression” seems more conservative than liberal in this model, while some “conservative” positions, like opposition to abortion, certain kinds of religious freedom, or opposing censorship of conservatives could be framed as “liberal”. And arguments over economics are orthogonal to this axis. But those aren’t true Scotsmen, IMO.)

• Mary says:

what a mism-mash of stereotypes. Leftists believe many behaviors wrong that the conservatives don’t. For instance, conservatives don’t think blacks being leftists means they are vile scum, whereas leftists pull out all their viciousness for blacks being conservative.

• TheAncientGeek says:

So conservatives don’t mind wealthy leftists “champagne socialsts” , and don’t suggest to them that a good start by giving away all their stuff.? ‘Cos I’ve seen that happen.

• The Nybbler says:

One is calling out hypocrisy based on actions (or inaction), the other is claiming that one’s skin color obliges one to a political viewpoint. Those are not similar.

• Cord Shirt says:

They’re both accusations of insincerity based on the assumption/implication that the person’s political positions disagree with their interests.

• The original Mr. X says:

They’re both accusations of insincerity based on the assumption/implication that the person’s political positions disagree with their interests.

The champagne socialist thing is an accusation of insincerity based on the fact that their actual behaviour is at variance with their stated principles. It’s not about whether these principles disagree with their interests, and people who actually follow through with their principles (say, by giving up their comfortable lifestyle so they can give more to the poor) don’t get called champagne socialists.

• houseboatonstyxb says:

@ Cord Shirt
They’re both accusations of insincerity based on the assumption/implication that the person’s political positions disagree with their interests.

This might be a good place for “the person’s political positions disagree with zis interests”.

• Mary says:

No. One is a pointing of blatant hypocrisy, and the other is a blatant racist demand that a black not think for himself but let his leftist betters think for him.

• Cord Shirt says:

Sorry, houseboat, I’m a they-user all the way. 🙂

…both accusations also depend on hidden assumptions that their targets are likely to disagree with:

The “champagne socialist” accusation depends on a Thatcher-style “there’s no such thing as society” type of assumption–that is, the accuser doesn’t distinguish between wanting a society with a certain setup on the one hand, and trying to achieve the goal as an individual even if no one else is doing the same thing, on the other. The target probably really does see those as two different things, and one as not requiring the other.

And the “sellout”/”Uncle Tom” accusation depends on the assumption that no one could ever believe conservative policies were better for [the “sellout’s” group] than liberal ones, therefore the “sellout” must be getting a corrupt personal reward for taking their position and must have betrayed their group to get it. The target OTOH obviously thinks conservative policies actually are better for their group (and/or for the society in general).

• houseboatonstyxb says:

@ Cord Shirt
Sorry, houseboat, I’m a they-user all the way.

No deep issue intended, just pointing out a minor parsing consequence of lack of a dedicated singular non-gendered pronoun. Normally singular they/their is fine, but here I had to read the sentence a couple of times to settle on ‘person’s as the probable antecedent of ‘their’.

• Dahlen says:

*clears throat* As the first creature who resembles liberals more than conservatives to post an answer in this thread (which, btw, constitutes another reason to disbelieve that SSC survey results actually say much about its everyday realities wrt its political makeup), here’s what I think. I found myself jumping through mental hoops trying to answer the question of whether “conservatives are hateful”, which made me suspect framing issues and a more complicated underlying reality.

I’ve examined a few arguments and then discarded them since they couldn’t hold water (details available upon demand, I’ve cut them off from here since they were tl;dr and ultimately irrelevant); the conclusions were that it wasn’t exclusive to conservatives, it wasn’t a feature of mainstream conservatism but rather of the far right, and it’s disputable how much of it is inherent to right-wing ideologies in particular. But I still had an inkling that maybe there’s something to the thesis.

Most of the right-wing worldview is unpalatable to me, but I don’t want to risk wrongness because of bias, so I went out of my way to read right-wing thought until my conscience or intellect would scream “no more!”. I’ve noticed that the moment when I couldn’t take the BS anymore was when all the arguments that could have been made from an emotional state similar to mine have been exhausted, and to go along with the author any further would require a whole slew of negative emotions against someone or other, which I couldn’t and wouldn’t muster. All the more so when the tirade was directed against me and mine, and it made all sorts of negative and frankly venomous assumptions about me and mine which I knew, from having lived life as myself, to be fake as well as harmful (if people started acting on them). And I knew that I could get any given sane person around me to agree with my version of the story, and the author’s version of it didn’t make sense unless you assumed that he arrived to them through hatred. To be frank, all the slurs and the words with negative connotations and expressed desire to do people harm were a bit of a giveaway. I generally came out of reading all that stuff wishing that I could prescribe them some chill pills and a nice vacation on a beach somewhere.

By contrast — I’ve also spent some time around far lefties. And the point where my agreement with them hit rock bottom was always some factual claim about reality. The kind of thing to which the natural answer is “but that’s wrong, you dunce, your economic system runs on wishful thinking / your anarchist commune would be overtaken through superior force in day two / obviously there’s such a thing as dumb people and smart people, just look around you” etc. Perhaps the only fundamentally moral disagreement was the whole bit about the desirability of a Great Revolution, and even so I would bet my inheritance on the fact that the great majority of them wouldn’t have the guts to pull it off (we live in peaceful times, or as the alt-right likes to say, “pussified”) and don’t have much of a burning, personal hatred for any given member of the ruling class as it is, they may dislike them in the abstract. Bottom line is, I could see that they weren’t bad people if only they were willing to turn on their brains. Disclaimer: I’m talking the Old Left, I haven’t spent more time than strictly necessary around SJWs. The situation there might be different.

• Mary says:

How impossible to engage with.

Given that you state neither who you were reading, nor what topics you were reading about, nor what occasioned “my conscience or intellect would scream ‘no more!’. “, nor what “sorts of negative and frankly venomous assumptions about me and mine” are made — what can be said in response? No one knows what your issues with them are.

• Dahlen says:

It’s alright, I don’t want engagement from someone who is pre-emptively angry with me before knowing where the heck I even stand.

It’s all vague because 1) my impression was formed in response to hundreds of websites along many years, ranging from Yahoo! Answers and some subreddits to the blogosphere of our local Internet Ideology That Shall Not Be Named, and I just can’t remember all of that and I’m rather grateful that I don’t remember it vividly, and 2) there’s personal info about me in there which I’d rather not reveal. Thanks for understanding.

• Mary says:

Notice that Dahlen resorts to insults rather than give a response to my pointing out that that comment doesn’t describe the issue.

• Dahlen says:

That is quite enough. It’s clear that you dislike me in disproportion to the reasons I gave you for disliking me, and when I point this out and mention repeatedly that I don’t find these conditions of interaction acceptable, you complain of being insulted of all things! As if I could possibly mean it as an insult when I say to somebody that they dislike me! You had a way out by de-escalating and proving that you weren’t as pissed off about me as I assumed, because I could totally see this kind of response coming regardless of what I said and that’s why I chose to disengage, but since you just dished out another hostile reply, then I don’t see how my expectation of hostility from you was (a) wrong, (b) insulting, (c) something you could plausibly deny by this point. And yes, I tried to de-escalate the conflict myself. Whoosh.

And I even responded to the substance of your comment, albeit with an unsatisfying excuse rather than what you were out to get, but apparently that doesn’t matter, does it?

Reported. See you again after you get friendlier.

• HeelBearCub says:

I’d say ignore Mary, because being corrosively disagreeable is sort of her thing, especially if the “left” gets brought up, but I don’t know if that is any solution.

Mary, like Lieutenant Dan, you have no leg to stand on. Dahlen posted the first attempt at an actual reply to the OPs question. He indicated he knew he wasn’t speaking with clarity, as the problem space is difficult to map.

• houseboatonstyxb says:

@ anone
the internet is the greatest arena for the practice of verbal abuse mankind has ever known.

I’ll disagree with that. Any cliche Thanksgiving family dinner can be worse. Or any other meatspace gathering where you need a realtime reply and there’s pressure against just walking out (or you’re hungry).

And Mary isn’t that bad. Her avatar is beautiful, and she has a lot of art like that on her own blog. Catholics have something so beautiful of their own, that … I dunno … it seems to make them waspish about everything else.

What does puzzle me is, with such cosmic grandeur beliefs of their own, why they get upset about us mayflies’ earthly behaviors.

• Eggoeggo says:

The same reason I get upset at slug-ridden lettuce, maybe?

• Mary says:

“As if I could possibly mean it as an insult when I say to somebody that they dislike me!”

Under what conceivable circumstances could it not be an insult to make a personal and false remark when asked to substantiate a claim?

• Dr Dealgood says:

I swear this isn’t a “gotcha,” truly. I want to express agreement and then point to a parallel experience.

I’ve noticed that the moment when I couldn’t take the BS anymore was when all the arguments that could have been made from an emotional state similar to mine have been exhausted, and to go along with the author any further would require a whole slew of negative emotions against someone or other, which I couldn’t and wouldn’t muster. All the more so when the tirade was directed against me and mine, and it made all sorts of negative and frankly venomous assumptions about me and mine which I knew, from having lived life as myself, to be fake as well as harmful (if people started acting on them). And I knew that I could get any given sane person around me to agree with my version of the story, and the author’s version of it didn’t make sense unless you assumed that he arrived to them through hatred. To be frank, all the slurs and the words with negative connotations and expressed desire to do people harm were a bit of a giveaway. I generally came out of reading all that stuff wishing that I could prescribe them some chill pills and a nice vacation on a beach somewhere.

I feel exactly the same way whenever I read feminist and antiracist writings online. Your thoughts here are precisely my thoughts when I read that stuff.

And not just the new ones either. Black liberation and second wave feminism stuff that has managed to percolate up to me reads exactly the same way. I get past a certain point and realize that, beyond factual disagreements, I don’t dislike myself enough to be able to keep reading.

• Dahlen says:

Understandably. I’d probably feel similarly at some point if I read stuff coming from that side, only I don’t. That’s what first set me off about SJWery when I first encountered it, I thought we were all supposed to be universalist now and look past our corresponding demographics, but some of that stuff very nearly constitutes a mirror image to the extreme right. (“Nearly” because they’d need some influx of uncharacteristically right-wing militarism / disciplined aggression in order to inspire fear. This is one of the substantive differences in what these factions espouse that I believe to be important.)

But I think they wouldn’t be the same without the intellectual foundation of the theory of privilege, which is, in principle, disprovable rationally, and not the sort of thing that has a natural tendency to re-emerge spontaneously in people’s minds. It may well be mostly a fad.

• Dr Dealgood says:

Well I mentioned seeing the same stuff from “old” (mid 20th century) works as well, I don’t think you can blame this entirely on privilege and other such innovations.

And personally, I share Scott’s preference for disciplined aggression over undisciplined aggression. If a militarist movement targeting people like me is building power, I can just get the hell out of dodge when it looks like they have the numbers and armament to make a move. If a criminal movement targeting people like me is building power, there’s a ‘frog boiling’ effect where I can’t be sure exactly when the right time to bail out is. I’m not sure the ‘escape from New York’ era Manhattan my parents grew up in was better than Klan-controlled Mississippi two decades earlier, just because the violence wasn’t centrally controlled.

• dndnrsn says:

Surely the frog boiling effect happens with organized violence or repression, too?

• Dahlen says:

Hmm. Maybe I was overestimating just how old privilege theory is; will have to check. (EDIT: Yep, you were right. Late 1980s.)

Also, when I said “disciplined aggression”, it was not to contrast it to violent criminality, with which I think has more in common, but to legal action, firings, media smearing, boycotts, protests and the like. Things that don’t involve physical violence, or if they do, it’s rare, haphazard, easily kept under control by the police, and comes from small and weak people who don’t lift and can’t be expected to do serious damage.

• Dr Dealgood says:

@Dahlen,

Also, when I said “disciplined aggression”, it was not to contrast it to violent criminality, with which I think has more in common, but to legal action, firings, media smearing, boycotts, protests and the like. Things that don’t involve physical violence, or if they do, it’s rare, haphazard, easily kept under control by the police, and comes from small and weak people who don’t lift and can’t be expected to do serious damage.

I think the difference you highlight here comes from the fact that you’re comparing the behavior of upper-class leftists with that of lower-class rightists.

You won’t find the staff of your local right-wing talk radio station heading out innawoods to shoot off illegally-converted assault rifles or at home prepping for black helicopters, just the same way that you won’t find your NPR affiliate out holding up corner drug stores or pimping out little girls. But in both cases the groups are symbiotic: the more legitimate upper-class face of the movement provides legal and social cover for the lower-class street action which advances their ends.

The mainstream left overwhelmingly, openly, apologizes for (if not outright supports) criminal violence and rioting. Once you get out to the radical fringe, that includes support for outright terrorism. That violence belongs to the left just as much as white supremacist militias and lone-wolf domestic terrorists do to the right.

• The original Mr. X says:

legal action, firings, media smearing, boycotts, protests and the like. Things that don’t involve physical violence, or if they do, it’s rare, haphazard, easily kept under control by the police, and comes from small and weak people who don’t lift and can’t be expected to do serious damage.

If you limit your definition of “damage” to physical assault, maybe. Personally I think that getting fired from my job, having my face plastered over the international media, and being forced to go into hiding sounds pretty damaging.

• Corey says:

@Dr Dealgood:

The mainstream left overwhelmingly, openly, apologizes for (if not outright supports) criminal violence and rioting.

This was news to me, but I’ll immediately inform Comrade Soros so he can distribute the required talking points, and we’ll all be on the same page as of the next Two Minutes Hate. Thanks!

• The original Mr. X says:

The mainstream left overwhelmingly, openly, apologizes for (if not outright supports) criminal violence and rioting.

This was news to me, but I’ll immediately inform Comrade Soros so he can distribute the required talking points, and we’ll all be on the same page as of the next Two Minutes Hate. Thanks!

I remember a few years ago, when angry mobs were rioting in the streets of London, the Guardian published a string of agonised (and agonising) editorials about how these riots were all the fault of the Tory government, and about how the “violence” (in scare quotes) of a few smashed windows was nothing compared to the violence of not being able to go to university for free or whatever. I’m sure I can dig up a few examples if you want.

• Eggoeggo says:

The articles “in defense of rioting”, and “in defense of looting” are an interesting case study here, don’t you think?

• The original Mr. X says:

Not to mention, Jeremy Corbyn, currently head of the British Labour Party, is on record as referring to “our friends in Hamas” and defending the IRA’s terrorism campaign.

• Eggoeggo says:

Ooh, and this

Ready for the two minutes hate now?

• The original Mr. X says:

Focusing on damage to buildings usefully distracts attention from the much more far-reaching and systematic violence now being visited upon our education system and society more widely. It is as if we are being asked to believe that reparable damage to windows matters more than the lasting decimation of the nation’s public property – schools, universities, public transport and hospitals; or that young people in search of social justice will undermine the fabric of Britain more viciously than those who would systematically degrade this country’s welfare system, employment prospects, wages and pensions. — http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/nov/13/student-fees-protest-the-real-vandals

There are also some more such quotes linked to here, my personal favourite being Laurie Penny’s “Smashing windows is property damage. That’s not the same thing as violence.”

• The original Mr. X says:

And as for Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition (not sure you can get much more “mainstream” than that):

I suppose it is possible few people under 35 have much of an idea about the IRA. Unfortunately, of course, most of the people who vote are over 35 and they remember the IRA all too well. And I am not sure they will take kindly to the fact the Labour party is now led by people who wanted the IRA to win.

This is no exaggeration. Jeremy Corbyn spent much of the 1980s speaking at Troops Out rallies. Given the choice between standing with Irish nationalists in the SDLP or Irish republicans in Sinn Fein and the IRA, Jeremy Corbyn chose the latter path. Perhaps someone will now ask him why. Perhaps they’ll ask him why he’s been happy to ‘honour’ IRA members shot by the British Army but disinclined to shed too many tears for those murdered by the IRA.

Then again, why should Ireland be any different from anywhere else? Corbyn is chairman of the so-called Stop the War coalition (which should really be named Lose the War), an organisation that supported the Iraqi ‘resistance’ in the years after Saddam Hussein was removed from power. If that meant cheering the deaths of British soldiers then so be it. The resistance should use ‘any means necessary’ .

And Corbyn is hardly alone. As his new Shadow Chancellor put it:

It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.

This is a point of view but it’s the point of view typically held by the kind of people who wanted the IRA to win. The war we had was kinda due to the action of the IRA too.

Again, it is important to note that there was always a constitutional alternative to Sinn Fein and the IRA. The republicans were a minority within the wider nationalist movement. The tragedy of the peace process has been the hollowing out of what passed for Northern Ireland’s moderate centre and its replacement by a carve-up between extremists on both sides of the dispute.

But, still, it was never hard to distinguish between the decent and the abhorrent. On the one hand lay the SDLP on the other Sinn Fein and the IRA. It is revealing that Jeremy Corbyn and his most senior comrade each chose to take the side of the IRA.

Remember, too, that just two weeks after the Brighton bombing Corbyn invited IRA bombers to the House of Commons. Remember that as you contemplate the fact McDonnell is on record saying he’d “cheerfully go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher”.

For those of you who don’t know, the “Brighton bombing” was an attempt back in 1984 to murder the Prime Minister and Cabinet by blowing up a hotel they were staying in.

• houseboatonstyxb says:

@ Dr. Dealgood
second wave feminism stuff that has managed to percolate up to me

“Second wave”? That’s us from the 1970s: Steinem, Friedan, Marlo Thomas, e