Open Thread 155.75

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2,535 Responses to Open Thread 155.75

  1. Vitor says:

    I’m looking for English fixed expressions / idioms of the form “foo or bar”, such as “dead or alive”. This has turned out surprisingly hard to google for, as I mostly found shallow resources for complete beginners, with very bad search capabilities.

    The reason I want this is that I’m thinking about the design for a card game where you run missions. The players can choose to fulfill some of those missions in one of two possible ways (basically there’s an OR condition printed on the card), and I want some clever names for this type of card.

    • andrewflicker says:

      Not many of these in wide use, I think. Obviously you can come up with thousands if you just take random pairings that are sometimes used, but in terms of actual fixed expressions, not nearly as many.

      Some thoughts:
      “more or less”
      You could pull all the ones from weddings- “in sickness or in health” (usually and, but sometimes or), “for richer or poorer”, “for better or worse”, etc.
      “love it or hate it”
      “happy or not” (and variations)
      “up or out”
      “swim or sink”

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      win or lose, do or die, ride or die, fish or cut bait, sh*t or get off the pot, sink or swim, hell or high water.

    • SamChevre says:

      Just quickly, off the top of my head:
      By hook or by crook – in any way you can
      The devil or the deep blue sea (more commonly, “between the devil and the deep blue sea”) – a situation with no good options
      With a live boy or a dead girl (Impossible in normal circumstances–from a very powerful machine politician who said he would only lose his seat if caught in bed with one of the two.)

    • achenx says:

      Live free or die?

    • souleater says:

      shit or get off the pot
      Fight or Flight

      Not English, but common enough that I could see it in a game:
      Plata O Plomo

      • bullseye says:

        Plata O Plomo

        I believe the English would be “your money or your life”.

        • Erusian says:

          I’ve heard “paid up or paid back” used. Or for a more silly version, trick or treat is kind of a threat.

        • souleater says:

          I actually don’t think Plata O Plomo and your money or your life are the same thing, The first one is offering a bribe, and a threat, and the second option is making a demand and a threat.

          “Your money or your life” is something a thief would say to intimidate me into giving him my wallet

          “Plata O Plomo” is something someone would say if they are trying to bribe you

          Also
          The easy way or the hard way

          • albatross11 says:

            “Silver or lead” sounds pretty much like a demand for money in exchange for not shooting you. That’s how I’ve always understood “plata o plomo” to be used, but I’m not a native Spanish speaker so maybe I’m missing something.

          • SamChevre says:

            “Silver or lead” to me indicates an offer to a government official to either accept a bribe or be shot

          • Erusian says:

            It’s contextual. It’s a threat in all cases, but it can mean “take the bribe or die” or it can mean “give me money or die”. That said, people worth bribing tend to write more books so that’s the meaning that’s more broadly understood.

            (And minor note: plata is a general term for “money” in the area the slang originated. So plata o plomo would sound like someone saying… I don’t know, bucks or buckshot. The pun is obvious but it’s not an archaic or criminal way to say ‘money’.)

          • anon-e-moose says:

            Plata o plomo is simply saying “I’ll give you silver, or lead.” i.e. “take the bribe or I’ll kill you, and bribe your replacement”

    • Fahundo says:

      soup or salad

    • johan_larson says:

      Love it or leave it.

    • Randy M says:

      Now or Later
      Hit or Miss
      In or Out
      Plate or Platter

      • Fahundo says:

        Hit or Miss

        I have it on good authority that they never miss.

      • Nick says:

        In or Out

        I thought it was called In-N-Out.

        • Randy M says:

          The restaurant is indeed so, but picture a heist movie or something, and Reluctant Guy is wondering if he should join up. Then, Pushy Guy turns to him as says, “All right, enough bullshit, are you in or out?”

    • Noah says:

      publish or perish
      heads or tails
      double or nothing

    • mendax says:

      Most EDIT: Some of these would work.

      • Tarpitz says:

        Hard disagree: the Aftermath cards are all “X to Y”, the older Ravnica ones are mostly “X and Y” and the GRN/RNA ones aren’t fixed expressions at all at all.

        You could have “boom or bust”, but that’s about it.

      • Jake R says:

        That was my first thought too but I don’t think it works. Most of these were meant to be joined by “and.” The newer ones from Amonkhet were “to”, and the latest ones just share a first syllable.

        Edit: Ninjad by Tarpitz, didn’t mean to pile on.
        Edited again: There are some magic cards that work though. Some that I don’t think I’ve seen here yet:

        Bend or Break
        Fact or Fiction
        Stand or Fall
        Truth or Tale

    • JayT says:

      Give me liberty or give me death is a pretty famous one.

    • J Mann says:

      Guns or butter

      Fish nor fowl

      Rain or shine

    • bullseye says:

      Right or Wrong
      Paper or Plastic
      A Gun in Your Pocket or Just Happy to See Me

      • albatross11 says:

        Sooner or later
        feast or famine
        for better or worse
        rain or shine
        come hell or high water

        • Noah says:

          for better or worse

          I think I’ve usually seen it as “for better or for worse”

          • Nick says:

            In the US this is the name of a newspaper comic, and I swear more often than not it was misspelled “for better of for worse.”

    • steb says:

      I used Antidote, a language software that includes dictionaries, and got the following list of 58 entries, not all of which are relevant:
      more or less
      sooner or later
      win or lose
      once or twice
      make or break
      rightly or wrongly
      do or die
      now or never
      hit or miss
      trick or treat
      sink or swim
      plus or minus
      come hell or high water
      feast or famine
      kill or cure
      put up or shut up
      sale or return
      Publish or perish.
      Shape up or ship out!
      come rain or shine
      whether or not
      by hook or by crook
      give or take
      without rhyme or reason
      Are you a man or a mouse?
      Funny weird or funny ha-ha?
      I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry
      Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England
      a […] or two
      a thing or two
      all or nothing
      beg, borrow or steal
      by fair means or foul
      double or quits
      fish or cut bait
      for better or for worse
      friend or foe
      in any way, shape or form
      like it or lump it
      neck or nought
      not know whether to laugh or cry
      one […] or another
      shit or get off the pot
      some way or other
      something or other
      use it or lose it
      with no ifs, ands or buts
      without any let or hindrance
      without fear or favor
      ride or die
      double or nothing
      without rhyme or reason
      use it or lose it
      be no good to man or beast
      be of no use to man or beast
      matter of life or death
      not for love or money
      neck or nothing

    • thasvaddef says:

      Rhyme or reason
      True or false
      With this shield or upon it
      Put up or shut up
      Your place or mine?

    • sidereal says:

      You should ask the english stack exchange community

    • AG says:

      to be or not to be
      FMK
      take it or leave it
      ready or not

      Alternatively, you could have a “false binary” category and all of the choices are based on common “foo and bar” expressions. Salt and pepper, cats and dogs, swords and sandals, rock and roll, sweet and sour, etc.

    • William James Kirk says:

      Hang together or hang separately

      • Gerry Quinn says:

        Life or death
        Truth or dare
        Kiss, marry or kill (that’s three if you pick two)

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      So, what did you wind up picking?

  2. Vermillion says:

    Calling @John Schilling and other rocket nerds, I recently watched this video from Isaac Arthur on Power Satellites, and it made me think, is that going to be Space X’s next thing after Starlink? I imagine they’d want the Starship or something up and running to give them more heavy lift capacity, but is that a logical evolution of their business model?

    More fundamentally, is space generated solar power as potentially revolutionary as Isaac (and me now) suspect?

    • Filareta says:

      China already has a plan to do it.

    • Eric T says:

      My understanding is they will be working on Starlink for a long, long time.

      They’ve pulled off about 10 launches in a year. Let’s be charitable and say Musk gets really good at deploying satellites, and is able to get that number up to 50 a year, an impressive feat – and probably possible as they already are planning 24 next year. That would get them 3000 in space every year at their current 60/rocket capacity.

      Even at that breakneck pace they’re going to be launching satellites for 10 years at least.

      By then, who the hell knows how much money SpaceX will have for new proects? I think it really hinges on if Starship is a success or not – that seems to be the big thing right now.

      • Eric Rall says:

        My understanding is they will be working on Starlink for a long, long time.

        I strongly suspect that’s the main point of Starlink. It gives SpaceX a large steady stream of launch missions that should last for years, making the business case much easier for building out launch capacity to exploit economies of scale. Starlink missions are also probably fairly flexible in terms of when they need to go up, so SpaceX can schedule them for launch slots that would otherwise go idle, or even for filling up unsold payload capacity on an existing mission.

    • tossrock says:

      Space-based solar with microwave transmission to ground stations has been speculated about for quite some time – one of the highest tiers of power plant in Sim City 2000 was a microwave receiving station. However, I don’t think the better power generation properties in space are going to overcome the dramatically increased cost and complexity of putting said objects into space in the near (2 decades) future. Ground based solar and storage is just way, way simpler. The guy in the video even says that he’s thinking more on 100 year time scales than 10 year time scales. So, no, I don’t expect SpaceX to get into power beaming any time soon.

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      https://newatlas.com/lightest-thinnest-solar-cells-mit/42092/ 6 watt per gram of solar thin-film cell.

      I am going to handwave really, really hard, and assume that since this is manufactured in vacuum chambers, and vacuum is one thing space has in abundance, you can just launch the raw materials, and manufacture the film in-situ, which makes all sorts of problems with deployment and packaging go away.

      This needs to be at geostationary altitude because it has to be stationary with relation to the ground, or power beaming becomes a nightmare. (also, the enormous surface-to-weight ratio means it needs to be very, very high to not get deorbited by the exo-atmosphere anyway). Since the array is more or less a solar sail, it does not have to be in actual geo-stationary orbit – you can offset it a lot and use light-pressure to station-keep.

      Further, assume 30 percent of an orbital arrays mass is wires and micro-wave antenna.

      This means one ariane 6 launch gets you just about 42 megawatts of solar satellite. Assuming 50% beam efficiency, 21 megawatts at the ground station.

      The ariane needs 181 tonnes of lox + hydrogen and another 575 tonnes of solid rocket propellant.

      The hydrogen and lox will cost 941 MWH to produce (and a good chunk more to chill)
      The solid rocket fuel is 19 percent alunimum by weight : 1365 MWH.
      The remainder is ammonium perchlorate and binder. The ammonium perchlorate is also just basically electricity, though I cant find a good reference for how much the total synthesis runs per tonne, and the binder is not quite as amenable to brute electro-chemistry.
      I am going to take a wild stab and call it twice the electric input of ammonia synthesis: 20 mwh/tonne; 9000 and change mwhs.

      So, grand total of roughly 11500 mwh, or 22 days of sattelite output. That is pretty good.

      Of course, this all depends on the piece of lab-wizardry I just linked working. Actually currently existing solar cells weigh in at 400 times that much per power output, which makes it 25 years to energy break even.

      • JayT says:

        Wouldn’t that get torn apart by all the micrometeoroids flying around space?

        • Thomas Jorgensen says:

          Holed. I would not expect the film cell to have the structural integrity to propagate an impact – this is basically a cling film threaded with copper wire (to collect current) anything hitting it will just go right through.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      I recall that the power receiving antennae on the ground could only pull in about 2x or 4x the energy of an equivalent square-footage of really good solar cells. They require a large area because you are transmitting from geocentric orbit. But I don’t remember the math well enough to spot-check.

      • John Schilling says:

        The ground antenna is also more akin to a big field of old-style TV antennas than solar panels. Much cheaper, and not opaque so you can put them on poles and use the land beneath for at least some other purposes.

    • John Schilling says:

      Sorry to come late to the party, actually busy building spaceships today. Well, looking over the shoulder of other people building spaceships and saying “No, you fools!”. Not solar power satellites, unfortunately.

      So, this is an idea that has been around since the 1970s, and it’s as valid now as it was in the 1970s. I’m not going to watch 20+ minutes of youtube on it, but assuming Arthur is giving the standard presentation, it should work about as advertised. Cheap, clean, abundant energy for the human race, and incidentally the economic basis for cities in the sky.

      The problem is, it only reallly works at scale. The satellites basically have to be in geostationary orbit, or they’ll spend most of their time in places where there’s no receiving antenna to accept their beam – particularly in the early stages where only one nation is building the things. The mathematics of microwave beaming mean that if you’re in GEO, your antennas in space and on the ground have to have kilometer-plus dimensions, which makes the whole thing wasteful if you’re not also deploying many square kilometers of solar cells on orbit. So, a structure the size of a small city and the mass of a large battleship, generating billions of watts of power. And a whole lot of specialized infrastructure and technology development that’s kind of wasted if you build just one.

      Particularly if you build just one entirely on the ground and try to launch and assemble it in pieces, so you really want a whole lot of in-space resource assembly infrastructure and preferably also mining and processing and some manufacturing. You don’t need to have all of that in place for your very first powersat, but you want some of it in place and the rest being demonstrated by serious proof-of-concept testbeds.

      So, probably a hundred billion dollars in startup costs if you don’t want to be stuck with the sort of unprofitable white elephant that will convince everyone that solar power satellites are a bad idea. Elon Musk doesn’t have a hundred billion dollars (and some of the billions he does have are tied up in a ground-based solar firm that he’s not going to want to put out of business).

      The suits who run the electric power industry have always had the ability to raise a hundred billion dollars for something like this, and there’s always been the hope that they will recognize that this is their best path forward. But there’s always been less costly, less risky paths for them to take instead. Or, if not actually less risky, perceived as less risky by people who have little understanding of literal rocket science but extensive expertise in other sorts of power generation.

      So it keeps not happening, and is likely to keep not happening for some time to come.

      There’s been some tinkering with concepts that wouldn’t have quite the startup costs, like small low-altitude powersats optimized for delivering power to forward operating bases in Afghanistan (ridiculously inefficient but so are most of the alternatives there). But they’re all pretty marginal.

      There’s the persistent hope, as Filareta notes, that someone like the Chinese will do it and then we’ll have to do it or we’ll look bad, but that also keeps not happening and isn’t likely to happen any time soon. Note in particular: nine times out of ten, “China has a plan” means about as much as “The Cylons have a plan”. Really some ministry talking head says “we have this plan and we’re going to do it”, but he doesn’t have the budget for it and his hope that the publicity will force Beijing to cough up the money isn’t going to happen. For something of this scale, unless it is literally Xi Jinping saying “this is our plan and we’re going to do it”, it isn’t really their plan.

      There’s also a political/PR problem similar to the one facing nuclear power. The Greens aren’t going to like it because it means lots of concentrated heavy industry, and that’s not what they’re about. Lots of other people aren’t going to like it because they’re afraid the big microwave power beam will be used as a Death Ray(tm). That’s as physically implausible as nuclear reactors blowing up like atomic bombs, but if people believe it then you’ve got a big problem. And lots of people will encourage each other to believe it.

      So, good idea, fingers crossed, but very unlikely to happen any time soon.

      • Eric T says:

        I did not know you worked with spaceships John, I am immensely jealous. To this day I occasionally regret wimping out of STEM and pursuing teaching/law. Space is my one true love.

    • cakins says:

      The latest USAF secret mission is supposed to have hosted an experiment in beamed power for drone applications: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/33339

      • John Schilling says:

        The “for drone applications” part, at least, appears to be the invention of the drive article’s author, and he’s citing what seems to be a random list of factoids that you’d get if you googled “beamed power” and “drone” and didn’t bother trying to understand any of them. The inclusion of Leik Myrabo’s lightcraft pretty much destroys his credibility in my eyes; that’s a completely different application using completely different technology.

        • bean says:

          That does seem atypically bad for The Drive, which is usually pretty solid. I’d also point out that it’s a Navy experiment, and the navy operates platforms which are more of a scale with beamed power receivers.

  3. mlafayette says:

    At a LW meetup about a year ago, I was talking to somebody about a way of structuring Kickstarter-esque fundraising and coordination in such a way where you can avoid free riders and better incentivize projects actually getting completed.

    I’ve since forgotten the name of the concept and exactly how it worked (something about payouts to early backers if a project isn’t completed). Sorry to be so vague, but does anybody happen to know the name of the idea I’m talking about?

    • jamierumbelow says:

      I think you’re thinking of ‘dominant assurance contracts‘, from Alex Tabarrock at Marginal Revolution / GMU.

    • Erusian says:

      I’ve never been to a LW meetup but I’ve thought about this idea. The problem is that crowdfunding incentives are backloaded. Imagine you are the first investor in three projects. One doesn’t get funded, you get your money back, which is actually a negative transaction. You definitionally valued the project more than your investment (and lost the utility of the money while it was invested). The other one meets its goal exactly. You get your item, usually at a discount, which is an alright but not amazing outcome. The last project gets 10x the funding it needs, you get the item plus a bunch of bonus goodies plus prestige all for much less than most people paid. This is the best outcome.

      So the best outcome is done by being an early backer in projects that will go on to be successful. Which means it’s a prediction game. It also creates a huge collective action problem, as you can easily see from the coordination parts.

      My thought for an ecosystem would be a platform where refunds go backwards. If a project fails, everyone doesn’t get their money back: the first backers get more money back than they put in and the last investors get less. For example, imagine a project that needs $10k. The person who gives the first dollar will get a message that says, “If this project doesn’t get funded, you’ll get $10 back.” or something. This incentivizes them to bring in more people, something I’d encourage through some sort of affiliate functionality. I’d add in time gated rewards (you have to do it by the first week to get X, by the second week to get Y, etc) to leverage FOMO and people waiting to the last minute to sign up. And boom, you have something where people are more incentivized to sign up early than late (but signing up late is less risky and is rewarded by increased return on investment over less time).

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Where does the $10 come from?

        • Erusian says:

          Other people who’ll get less, with maybe a seed amount the latest giver gets. For example, let’s say the seed is $10 and 6 people give and it doesn’t get funded:

          Person 1 Gives $10
          Person 2 Gives $20
          Person 3 Gives $10
          Person 4 Gives $50
          Person 5 Gives $40
          Person 6 Gives $20
          Total: $150

          The goal isn’t met. Person 6 gets $10 (the seed) plus $0. Person 5 gets $4 back (1/36th). Person 4 gets $8.30 back (1/18th). Person 3 gets $17 back (1/9th). Person 2 gets $50 back (1/3rd). Person 1 gets $70 back (the remainder). Or something like this. So the latest people lose money but the early backers actually gain money, incentivizing becoming an early backer (and then getting people in the queue behind you).

          • Jake R says:

            Maybe I’m misunderstanding but how does this incentivize getting people in the queue behind me? I’m literally getting paid if the project is not funded.

          • Erusian says:

            No, you’re getting paid if the project isn’t funded and there are more people behind you than in front of you. This means it’s always in the interest of half the people (who are the most recent sign ups) to get more people into queue. There are three states: project funded, in which case you get the reward. Project funded and you’re in the first half, in which case you get paid. Project funded and you’re in the second half, in which case you lose money.

          • AG says:

            Isn’t this a pyramid scheme mechanism?

          • Erusian says:

            Isn’t this a pyramid scheme mechanism?

            The incentives are similar, though legally, practically, and morally it isn’t. The biggest difference is that you’re not tricking people into giving money so it can be redistributed to you: in an ideal case, nobody gets any money back. They get the product that’s being crowdfunded. There are others as well in terms of organizational structure.

          • Gerry Quinn says:

            Crowd-funding’s rep is iffy enough without the MLM factor…

  4. Well... says:

    I’ve been using the free version of ProtonVPN on my Macbook and it’s really slow and unstable. Can anyone recommend a better free VPN?

  5. J Mann says:

    What do we currently know about Sweden and Japan regarding Covid?

    (1) If I recall correctly, Sweden now has a much per capita death total than Finland, Norway, and Denmark. Is it continuing to pull away? My understanding of exponential growth is that we thought that uncontrolled spread meant that all countries were just a few weeks from being Lombardy, but Sweden seems to be “somewhat worse than its neighbors.”

    Possibilities: (a) Sweden’s lesser lockdown have slowed the rate of increase, but it’s still likely that either Sweden will change its practices or the spread between Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries (and eventually the rest of Europe) will continue to increase, or (b) there’s something else going on.

    (2) Japan seems close to beating the virus with a much smaller lockdown than most countries. Some credit public cooperation and/or masks – do we know anything else?

    • Tarpitz says:

      It just doesn’t look like sustained exponential growth is a thing, anywhere. SSC’s favourite neuroscientist posits a large population who are – for reasons unknown – not susceptible to CoViD-19 despite not having antibodies.

      • Aftagley says:

        To be clear, having read that article, he’s positing that 50-80% of the populace isn’t susceptible to it.

        How possible is that theory? Are there any other examples of diseases that just randomly don’t touch huge swaths of the population?

        • Anteros says:

          Are there any other examples of diseases that just randomly don’t touch huge swaths of the population?

          It seems more appropriate to ask if there are any diseases that do infect most of the population. I often hear people talking as if unchecked, Covid would infect essentially everybody in the world. If that were likely, why did Spanish Flu only infect a quarter of the population? Why did Swine Flu only manage 10%? Seasonal Flu less than 5%?

          I don’t know the reasons why infectious diseases don’t infect large proportions of populations, but surely the starting point should be that they don’t.

          • Loriot says:

            The various diseases the Spanish brought over are estimated to have wiped out 95% of the native population.

          • Randy M says:

            Yes, but isn’t being “various diseases” a big difference than looking at one?

            For that matter, how many old world diseases did the sailors and settlers bring over with them? I can only name small pox off hand but surely there were many, right?

          • FLWAB says:

            For that matter, how many old world diseases did the sailors and settlers bring over with them?

            Off the top of my head: smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis and….maybe cholera? Probably not cholera.

          • Clutzy says:

            The various diseases the Spanish brought over are estimated to have wiped out 95% of the native population.

            Only by the most extreme estimations. The 95% figure creates a big problem because its pretty clear that given their agricultural practices (and lack thereof), such a large population would starve to death immediately.

            See, e.g. https://sci-hub.tw/10.7183/0002-7316.75.4.707

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            And measles.

            ” The most deadly were smallpox, malaria, viral influenza, yellow fever, measles, typhus, bubonic plague, typhoid fever, cholera, and pertussis (whooping cough). Among these, half appeared in epidemic form in Oregon during the first century of contact, from the late 1700s through the mid-1800s. ”

            https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/disease_epidemics_1770s-1850s/#.XuE-MGhKhPY

          • IIRC chickenpox affects virtually everybody who doesn’t get vaccinated at some point or other, and usually causes significant, unpleasant, though not usually serious symptoms (and remains latent ever after, occasionally flaring up in later life as shingles).

        • Purplehermann says:

          Similar to asymptomatic, but the body kills the virus off before they become contagious?

      • Scott Alexander says:

        It was a thing in Wuhan and Milan.

        My guess is that voluntary social distancing plus summer decreases R0 by a lot, so that after the first round of cities were clobbered, nowhere else was able to get that bad.

        Brazil and India have been growing exponentially recently though, still have to look into how and why.

        • AG says:

          I don’t know about India, but Brazil would be in winter now, right?

          • Lillian says:

            The majority of Brazil is in the tropics, with the only exception being the three states of the South Region (Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul), which account for 13.8% of the population. Just a bit further north, the temperature highs in Sao Paolo over the next few days are in the low 80s, then on Sunday the high drops to 67, but it climbs back up to 80 degrees by next Wednesday. Rio de Janeiro is similar but running about five degrees hotter. Those two are the most densely populated metropolises in the country, and together with their eponymous states account for 30% of Brazil’s population. The remaining half of the population is further north, and thus around the Equator. So to the extent that Brazil is in winter, I do not think it makes much of a difference.

      • JayT says:

        I’ve been wondering if there is a biological reasons that certain ethnicities seem to get hit harder than others, but I’ve had a hard time squaring that with the fact that African Americans have been hit particularly hard, while Africans have (so far) seemed to fair pretty well.

        • Eric T says:

          How much of that might be because of lower population densities and a lack of testing though?

          • JayT says:

            I’m sure this is part of it, but a place like Lagos has comparable density to Western big cities, and, I would assume, a lower quality healthcare system. If they really were having a big outbreak I think people would notice.
            Age is obviously another factor too. African countries tend to skew younger. Again though, it sure seems like you’d still be seeing a lot more problems.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          Vitamin D would do this. Black people have black skin to block UV, because they’re from Africa where there’s too much UV and if you block most of it you still get enough Vitamin D. African-Americans have the same skin color in an environment with much less UV, and so are at high risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

          • FLWAB says:

            If that’s the case, we might expect more northerly counties to also be hit harder, though perhaps not the the same magnitude. Alaska has high rates of vitamin D deficiency, for instance, though it looks like Covid hasn’t taken root there yet to any significant extent.

        • Lambert says:

          I’m not convinced that studies on the effect of ethnicity on COVID-19 are good enough at controling for SES and urban-ness.

          The study I saw in the UK used a rural-urban classification scheme that made no attempt to differentiate between a medium-sized town and inner-city London.

          Not that I think vitamin D or some other factor is prima-facie implausible.

        • The same question applies to the fact that males seem to be hit about twice as hard as females, at least in the figures I’ve seen.

          • Clutzy says:

            Perhaps that is because in the population that is being severely hit (last stat I heard is the average age of death is 82), males are already generally closer to death.

    • Loriot says:

      It’s not like people in Sweden are doing nothing. Everybody knows about how the virus works now, and that wearing masks is important, and to maintain social distancing, etc. They may not be following the rules strictly, or have strict rules in the first place, but they’re still doing something. I don’t think there’s anywhere in the developed world now which is as susceptible to spread as Lombardy was in February.

    • Purplehermann says:

      Exponential growth is only big picture.

      If Alice is part of group X and only group X, she doesn’t help the disease spread nearly as much (unless superspreader event) as Bob or Carl, who are part of X,Y and X,Z respectively (,who aren’t as much an issue as Dimitri, who is part of S,T,U,V,W, and X).

      Once someone in X gets it, it should spread exponentially inside the group until the group realizes.
      Exponential growth (if I’m not being stupid) simplified is
      Infections = Base × Rate ^ Cycles.

      Let’s assume no one except Bob and Carl are connected to Y or Z.

      Group X gets fully infected after a few cycles. Now Bob and Carl each start the infection cycle anew.
      Base doesn’t equal |X|, it equals 1 for each of these new groups.

      As people become more careful the virus spreads through X slower, X may be functionally smaller, and people are on the lookout, raising the likelyhood that X finds out before Bob or Carl become contagious, or hang out with the other group after becoming contagious. (And maybe Dimitri left X)

      If schools are closed, then that’s like closing group “=/” that usually brings a TON of people into course quarters indoors for long periods of time, who all have other groups, and a bunch of them might otherwise be very far away group-overlap-wize

    • LesHapablap says:

      I’ll just copy and paste my post on Sweden from the last open thread:

      Sweden has had a transmission rate below 1 for two months or so with voluntary social distancing. Also, every country including Sweden had exponential growth for the first several weeks of infections, even with voluntary social distancing. Any model for how the virus works has to explain both these facts.

      My suspicion is that herd immunity is reached much faster than the initial estimates for a few reasons:
      -estimates of R0 were based on data from the inital stages of spread, where superspreaders dominate. So ‘actual’ R is much less than 3 (I don’t have any data to support this)
      -dispersion factor (heterogeniety of transmission rate among the population) is high and the simple herd immunity threshold formula 1-1/R0 is based on homogeneity (Judith Curry analysis,
      -Voluntary social distancing reduces transmission rates a whole lot

      This explains why Sweden’s cases have been dropping off when they probably only had 10-15% who had had covid in Stockholm. Which is an extremely important thing for any model of covid to explain.

      It also explains why initial growth in every country was completely out of control, sparking lockdowns: superspreaders were over represented at the start of each country’s epidemic.

      As far as strategy goes:
      It means that you’d expect any place that had more than say 10% of their population infected, they can maintain R<1 with lockdowns lifted. Which is an anti-lockdown argument looking at things now.

      What about if you were a country with your first 1000 confirmed cases, what would this model above give as the best strategy? I suppose it would mean an initial very hard lockdown followed by quick reopening once reaching a threshold of lowish case numbers while protecting vulnerable superspreaders. Or a Sweden style strategy with protection for the elderly, anticipating herd immunity at 20% infected. Which of those saves more lives and helps the economy depends on some unknowns. The worst strategy would be the UK and US strategies with this model, which gives you a punishing lockdown without saving lives.

      Tangentially, I think the estimates for IFR were higher partly for bias reasons but also because initial superspreader events were disproportionally affecting vulnerable groups, that is nursing homes. I don't have any data to support that though.

  6. johan_larson says:

    The Globe and Mail, a major Canadian national newspaper, is calling for body cameras for police and having most police work without guns, following the British model.

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-fewer-guns-more-cameras-better-police/

    • TimG says:

      Does the “British model” make as much sense in a country with a legal system that includes something like our Second Amendment?

      • johan_larson says:

        There are probably some police duties that can realistically be done by police without firearms, even in the US. I could see myself as a US traffic cop without a sidearm. I don’t think I would want to investigate a reported break-in or a domestic disturbance without a firearm.

        • I think one change that might improve things a little would be to separate the job of traffic cop from the rest of policing, as I think is done in parts of Europe. As a driver, my instinctive reaction to seeing a cop car is negative — it’s there to find me doing something wrong and give me a ticket. That’s not the reaction I should have to cops more generally, since they are more likely to be protecting me than harming me, although the latter is not impossible.

          • Matt M says:

            I had this thought a few OTs back. Why not have two separate services, the “violent cops” and the “non-violent cops.” And I mean completely and entirely separate, they report up two entirely different chains of command all the way up to the mayor or city council or whoever. There is no cross between them.

            For any given situation, we evaluate whether violence is likely to be needed or not, and if not, we send the non-violent cops. Perhaps in situations where the answer is “we’re not really sure” we send a partner-pair of one violent and one non-violent cop, and the working plan is “non violent cop starts out non-violent but the violent cop is there to provide quick backup if needed.”

            The notion that the same general people who hand out parking tickets are also the ones who kick down doors and shoot drug dealers seems absurd to me. These are entirely different skillsets and should fall under entirely different organizations.

          • Christophe Biocca says:

            I think the biggest “downside” of this policy or Matt M’s variant, is that there’s a pipeline from traffic-stops-and-petty-law-breaking to drug-and-other-victimless-felony-arrests, which would disappear.

            Which sounds great to us libertarians but is probably a non-starter politically?

      • Filareta says:

        For most of history of “British model” there was less gun control in UK then USA.

    • MilesM says:

      Does anyone know of a good source comparing violence inflicted on the police in various countries?

      It’s something all the talk of changing how the US police operate made me think about.

      I tried to see if I could dig up some stats for the UK and US myself, and after back-of-envelope calculations based on official sources (Home Office and the FBI) ended up with a UK rate of “assault of an officer resulting in injury” 3-4 times higher than the US one. With no breakdown by type or severity of injury. (I compared the reported number of assaults per year to number of officers, assaults not resulting in injury followed the same pattern and accounted for ~ 2/3rd of reported assaults in both countries.)

      I don’t have extremely high confidence in this estimate, mind you.

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        Assuming the UK list of police killings is accurate, I get the US rate being 2-3 orders of magnitude higher.

        • MilesM says:

          That seems… completely wrong.

          And also not really what I was talking about, since I wasn’t looking at police killed but police assaulted/injured. (Or are you talking about shootings by the police?)

          The UK seems to average 2-3 cops killed a year directly as a result of crime, and has ~ 1/5th the number of cops. (and also roughly 1/5th the population)

          Most US sources list ~150 cops killed in the line of duty per year, but that’s including everything – traffic accidents, heart attacks, 9/11 related cancers, etc. Cops actually killed by criminals are maybe 1/3rd of that?

          Not even in the neighborhood of 2-3 orders of magnitude.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            Yes sorry, didn’t read your comment properly. I meant killings by the police.

  7. JayT says:

    Way back in March everyone was going on and on about how great Governor Cuomo was doing, and how they wished he was running for president, etc. Even at the time I thought it was weird because to my eye Newsom in California was taking it seriously earlier than Cuomo.

    Obviously, the talk of Cuomo’s great job has died down quite a bit since New York did far worse than any other state. That said, what could he have realistically done to not be in the position he’s currently in?

    New York shut down March 22nd, compared to California’s March 20th shutdown. Surely two extra days open doesn’t explain the 13 fold difference in deaths/million, does it? Did Cuomo make some major errors that lead to New York’s current predicament, or was it just luck of the draw that he was in the densest cold-weather city in the country?

    • albatross11 says:

      Yes, Cuomo and DeBlasio made some disastrous calls relative to Newsome and Breed, and the result is likely measured in thousands of deaths[1]. Along with minimizing the risks from C19 while it was spreading, Cuomo also implemented a policy to force nursing homes to take C19-positive patients back from the hospital, basically ensuring that there would be huge numbers of additional cases among the most vulnerable people.

      This article from pro publica gives a nice description of what went on. Neither Cuomo nor DeBlasio come out looking at all good here.

      [1] Though it’s possible this will just mean those deaths are moved later, if we simply can’t get it together enough to get on top of C19 even given several months of headstart via a super-expensive lockdown.

      • Atlas says:

        At least according to Steve Sailer, Cuomo made such use of nursing homes because all the experts were telling him at the time that a spike was coming that would overwhelm the hospitals. It turned out to be the wrong call, but, at least as Steve presented it, not an unreasonable one given what was known at the time.

        • John Schilling says:

          At least according to Steve Sailer, Cuomo made such use of nursing homes because all the experts were telling him at the time that a spike was coming that would overwhelm the hospitals.

          I’m not clear on how this was supposed to work. Was the plan that the people who became severely ill in the nursing homes would be left to die there without ever seeing the inside of a hospital?

          If so, that’s trolley-problem level consequentialist efficiency, but not something you’re going to want to let the other 95% of the population hear about.

          Otherwise, the “coming spike” is just going to be multiplied by infection within the target-rich nursing home environment, and the resulting super-spike sent back to the hospitals to even more thoroughly overwhelm them.

          I don’t think either of these are really very good plans.

    • SamChevre says:

      Requiring nursing homes to take COVID patients seems to have been a significant contributor to the death toll in New York-see the mention of the March 25 order in this article.

    • Well... says:

      Not about New York state but New York City and others: I wonder if some cities showed increased rates of infection/death/etc. because of a boiling-off effect where the people who would have been most able to stay and shelter in place largely overlapped with those who were able to just leave and go somewhere else.

    • TimG says:

      One thing I remember:

      The first known case in Manhattan was from a woman who’d just flown in from Iran. The two leaders promised they’d contact-trace the people who were on the flight with her. Instead, they did nothing.

      In retrospect, the virus had already been running wild. But at the time, we didn’t know that. And these two did literally nothing.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      People were talking about how great Cuomo was doing long after New York had obviously bungled their response and was having lots of surplus COVID deaths. I think it was just mass psychosis or something. I’m glad to hear people have stopped doing that – that’s more self-correction than I expected.

      I agree that differences in Cuomo/de Blasio’s bad policies and eg California’s good policies were not responsible for the majority of death toll difference between New York and California. I still think New York’s policies were very bad and made things worse along the margins. The most notable missteps were failing to shut down NYC more quickly, de Blasio actively encouraging people to go out and do things to show some kind of civic pride and non-panickedness, and Cuomo’s requirement that nursing homes accept COVID patients. These probably only changed the death toll by a few percent, but they were monumentally stupid and easy to avoid, so I think it’s fair to blame them.

    • Atlas says:

      The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature. One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing. Hence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future. Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: ‘if only’, they love to think, ‘if only people wouldn’t talk about it, it probably wouldn’t happen’. Perhaps this habit goes back to the primitive belief that the word and the thing, the name and the object, are identical. At all events, the discussion of future grave but, with effort now, avoidable evils is the most unpopular and at the same time the most necessary occupation for the politician. Those who knowingly shirk it, deserve, and not infrequently receive, the curses of those who come after.

  8. Freddie deBoer says:

    Yesterday I posted this excerpt from my forthcoming book on the SSC subreddit and I thought I’d do so here as well. Excited to see what the SSC community thinks of the book when it comes out.

    https://medium.com/@freddiedeboer/the-educational-standardization-trap-25aca6c0121

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      That all seems reasonable.

      And I think the world would be better place if more people knew something about statistics, though that may be missing your point.

    • albatross11 says:

      It seems like there’s an underlying question there of what a high school or college degree should mean. If the goal is that basically everyone who is somewhere within a standard deviation or so of the average should be able to get through high school by showing up to class every day and doing their homework, then it makes sense to set a lower bar for getting through high school than mastery of algebra.

      At some level, you can imagine trying to set the percent of people you want to graduate given reasonable dilligence in doing their work[1]. Should graduating from high school be something we expect of the top 50% of kids, or 80%, or 90%, or 99%? Each of those answers gives you a different set of requirements. But if you make a high school diploma something available to the top 99%, then you’re also making it not very meaningful for signaling ability or education to employers or colleges.

      My not-very-informed impression is that high school graduation criteria got less meaningful between, say, 1940 and now, and that this is one thing that has led to the requirement for a college degree to get entry level positions that used to require a high school diploma. If the high school diploma just means you weren’t so dumb or disabled or lazy or nonfunctional that you ended up in the bottom 1% of students (or even 10%), then it’s probably not much good for an employer to use to screen whether or not you’re a reasonably bright and dilligent person who can do the work of a file clerk or whatever.

      [1] Obviously, people with a little less ability can graduate by working harder, and even brilliant people may not graduate if they won’t do any work.

      • Freddie deBoer says:

        Yes, what these degrees are meant to signal is something I get into a little bit in the book. One core argument is that a college degree’s value is dependent in part on its rarity – BLS data from 2006 showed that the college wage premium in the 20th century was mostly the product of a simple ratio between number of jobs requiring a college degree and number of people with that degree. (And, I mean, duh, right?) So if the ed reformers get their way and everyone gets a college diploma, the economic value of the diploma will drop to near zero.

    • Uribe says:

      The excerpt is well-written and well-argued.

    • Walter says:

      I feel like you need to address the obvious counterpoint.

      Like, the stuff you say tracks. Students struggle with some stuff, and if that stuff is mandatory, then students who can’t do it will struggle to graduate. Students who graduate experience better life outcomes, therefore (because we value student life outcomes) we should remove the stuff they struggle with from the mandatory graduation requirements.

      But, like, you are turning the engine off to save fuel, yeah? Like, the reason students who graduate experience better life outcomes is that they are trusted by employers. Employers trust them because they have a piece of paper saying that they are smart enough to do hard stuff. If you fix the problem of students being humiliated by being too dumb to do hard stuff by making the piece of paper no longer mean that a student is smart enough to do hard stuff then what is going to happen is not what you want to happen.

      You want the dumb kids to get the better life outcomes of the smart ones, because they’ll be treated like they are smart by employers. After all, they have the same piece of paper. But it will work in precisely the opposite direction from how you want it to, because the employers incentive is getting smart workers, not being double fair. You won’t lift the dumb kids up, you will pull the smart ones down, because the employers will no longer be able to trust the piece of paper, and they’ll just fall back on another signal.

      I feel like this is probably just a subcase of the fight you had with the commentariat in the targetting meritocracy post, so you’ve heard this before, and you answered by calling the poster a motherfucker, so I expect I’m in for it. But what can I do? It’s the actual answer. If you got your way it would go just like did when they stopped employers from asking about jail times.

      • Freddie deBoer says:

        This is all well-taken. But in the context of the book it’s a bit tangential because the last third of the book is about how to mitigate harm to those who can’t succeed in the academic arms race.

        The employers will no longer be able to trust the piece of paper, and they’ll just fall back on another signal

        True. I have some sympathy towards those who advocate for badging systems where, in addition to the one aggregate piece of paper (the diploma), you give badges for much more specific and limited skill sets that students have acquired. I also think that abstract math skills are not meaningful to employers looking only for a high school diploma – those employers are typically looking for the degree in order to see if the applicant has at least minimal dedication to getting out of bed, doing work they don’t want to, comporting themselves with some social decorum, etc. Does that make sense?

        • JayT says:

          I also think that abstract math skills are not meaningful to employers looking only for a high school diploma – those employers are typically looking for the degree in order to see if the applicant has at least minimal dedication to getting out of bed, doing work they don’t want to, comporting themselves with some social decorum, etc.

          Wouldn’t removing the math requirement make it easier to get a high school diploma, and therefore lessen the signal that the person with the diploma has minimal dedication to doing work they don’t want to?

        • Walter says:

          Hrrm, you have a point here that I didn’t see at first. Sorry about that.

          You are right that jobs that ask for degrees almost never want you to do calculus. They (we) are using it as a proxy for ‘will you be here on time, can you not get stoned when you have to’, and that kind of thing.

          I guess, in my mind, people who can answer yes to that stuff can also pass algebra. Like, both questions (‘will you be here’, and ‘can you pass this algebra test’) are really asking the deep question ‘can you do what grown ups tell you?’. If the answer to that is yes, then you read the stuff, study the stuff, spit it back up onto the paper and collect your credential. If it isn’t, then you goof off and fail.

          I didn’t realize that I was thinking that way until you said that, though. I guess, in the light of that, you must not share that assumption? Like, you think that there are people who are able to follow directions, but not able to learn to do algebra.

          If you are right about that, then the rest of what you say tracks to me. Even if someone can’t learn algebra, if they have the rest of the ‘do what you are told’ skill, then they can do almost every job. I don’t use algebra, trig, geometry or calculus in my white collar job, and I don’t know anyone else who does. We ask for degrees though, when we are hiring, because having one means they are sometimes not stoned.

          (If, on the other hand, you share my belief, but just want to help people who don’t take directions out anyway, because you roll mad benevolent, then I suspect we part ways here. I don’t think that there’s a way to help those who won’t/can’t help themselves, and I expect that fire will burn up all the money anyone can shovel at it.)

          I’m skeptical that you are right about our disagreement, mind. I think people who fail algebra mostly do it because we aren’t their real dad. But if you are correct about disciplined people who can’t do algebra being numerous enough to bother about then I expect no great harm would come from letting them earn degrees.

        • Hoopdawg says:

          I have some sympathy towards those who advocate for badging systems where, in addition to the one aggregate piece of paper (the diploma), you give badges for much more specific and limited skill sets that students have acquired.

          Ooh, I was not aware of those people, could you point me towards some of them?

          (I’m hardly an education expert, more of an education hater in fact, constantly finding myself arguing against its current institutionalized form. This forces me to keep thinking about ways to reform or replace it, and I’ve essentially settled at “skill trees, like in video games” as my preferred alternative to the current stilted grading structure. Finding like-minded experts and insiders would be a windfall.)

      • Christophe Biocca says:

        Signalling theory of education, to the extent that it is true, does predict that making it easier to graduate will simply cause employer’s degree expectations to increase. Hence why we have ever-increasing demand for credentials for occupations that didn’t require them before. Next thing you know you need a PhD to work as a bartender.

        On a side note I’d highly recommend Caplan’s “The case against education”, even though his recommendations are drastically different, just because it tackles questions like “as a weaker student considering going to university, how does the risk of failing out affect the expected ROI”.

        But there’s ways to help those people who wouldn’t graduate under the current system, even if the returns to education are 80% signalling:

        – More granular signalling: Having something for completing 10th grade splits high school completion into two parts. This is important because there’s a massive sheepskin effect (completing grade 12 is worth ~2x as much as completing one of the other 3 high school years, because it comes with a credential). Associate degrees would also be helpful for much the same reason (especially if people automatically earned them while on the Bachelor track, making it easier to gauge what they mean).
        – Make graduation AND skipping grades both easier. This is just another variant of more granularity, with the advantage that letting strong students graduate faster saves resources that can be spent on the remainder.
        – Vocational education has a smaller percentage of signalling than traditional, so ensuring people can finish enough high school to transition into such programs (and encouraging them to do so) actually raises total skill, avoiding credential inflation concerns.

        • Purplehermann says:

          Why not make high school way harder to finish.
          Tenth grade diplomas very easy to get.

          College stops becoming a necessary signal.

          At all levels actual learning gets more focus (9-10 because everyone who shows up passes, you just have to worry about teaching kids who aren’t going to get more education.
          11-12 because you’re making it hard to pass on purpose anyway, might as well teach at what is now college level or similar.)

          College because you’ve already proved yourself

          • Christophe Biocca says:

            Why not make high school way harder to finish. Tenth grade diplomas very easy to get.

            There’s value in that one assuming people who are struggling after 10th grade:

            – Can legally drop out.
            – Can legally work full time.

            At all levels actual learning gets more focus

            It’s not clear that you automatically get that. We don’t have a good understanding of why, but attempts to measure them say that skill acquisition and (especially) retention from school subject are very low.

    • AG says:

      Will the book be examining how rates compare in other nations, and what those nations are doing differently, in education and outcomes?

    • MPG says:

      It certainly sounds like an interesting book. To push back against one aspect of your case, however: I really doubt that offering a course in Excel would be a meaningful replacement for study either of algebra or of statistics. Both of those are valid mathematical subjects and need to be studied. I’d still regret omission of algebra, as it will mean that some students are unable to pursue a career in any scientific or engineering subject, which is unlikely to be the right outcome for all of them. It’s not just a matter of having failed to jump through one hoop, either. If you haven’t done algebra, you can’t even understand the language by which those subjects work. Biology might remain possible, but only if you aren’t required to do any classical physics or chemistry–in other words, if you study biology without context. Remedial college instruction will help, but you don’t want those who got improperly strained out by some miscalibrated screening mechanism in ninth grade to face further obstacles to advanced study later on. That’s a practical matter, however, which can be solved (one hopes!) through better curricula and screening measures, and your point that many students simply aren’t passing algebra and so need something else is well-taken.

      Study of Excel, by contrast, will only teach students to … use Excel. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s no more a replacement for study of an actual mathematical subject than a course on the rest of the MS Office suite is a replacement for study of English composition. Are you proposing, then, to replace post-8th grade mathematical study, for many students, with purely vocational training on vaguely math-related subjects? Too many people bemoan the uselessness of their study of algebra and the like for me to exclude the idea off-hand, but I’d be worried that, without some theoretical understanding of the math involved, students would really only be learning tricks to make a particular program work. Woe betide them if Excel is ever phased out.

      • SamChevre says:

        Are you proposing, then, to replace post-8th grade mathematical study, for many students, with purely vocational training on vaguely math-related subjects?

        This is relatively close to what I did. I didn’t attend school after 8th grade,and worked as a fine carpenter and in construction–so all the math I learned was vocational. When I went back to school in my 20’s, all the algebra I knew was that the same letter represented the same number within the problem: that was enough to get me placed into pre-calculus algebra, which was among the classes in college I struggled with most.

        I graduated in 4 years with a math minor, and have worked in a math-heavy field since.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        MPG, is there a point where it’s reasonable to tell a student that they’re not doing well enough in a subject for some career paths, but they can and should be learning other things? Perhaps at some point, if they care a lot, they should take another crack at the subject.

      • as it will mean that some students are unable to pursue a career in any scientific or engineering subject, which is unlikely to be the right outcome for all of them.

        Whatever you choose to teach, in the limited space of K-12, there are going to be things you don’t teach that are essential to some careers that some people might end up with. The best you can do is to steer the people who seem likely to end up with those careers — in this case, people reasonably good at math — into learning those things.

        You will miss some but those, like SamChevre, can discover what they need to learn and learn it at some later point in their life.

        • Matt M says:

          What percentage of the population in general has a career in scientific or engineering subjects? It can’t be more than 10%, right?

          “The vast majority of students are unsuited for careers in science and engineering and should be discouraged from pursuing such” seems literally true, as far as I can tell.

          The median American high-school student is quite likely to be a low-skilled service industry employee or gig economy worker. So what’s the point in making everyone at-or-below median suffer through a bunch of science and algebra courses that they’re literally never going to use…

        • MPG says:

          @David Friedman

          I actually agree. I was something fairly close to unschooled as a child, and went to college early. I’m certainly not hidebound to the ordinary American K-12 schooling model, and I’m well aware that bright children will study all kinds of things in and out of school. What I worry about is that some number of students will be suited to mathematical study, be shunted out of it at a decisive point, and lack either the opportunities SamChevre had to do serious work in a productive trade (with what must have been a good deal of practical mathematics) or, on the other hand, opportunities like the ones I had. Those students could well end up seriously wasting time in high school, and not being able due to other responsibilities to make up for it later. I know, lots of people do so already, but at least a system that feigns to impose a higher bar on everyone will in fact (EDIT: well, at least pretend to) give every particular person a higher bar to clear.

          That’s only an attempt to identify a downside to a reasonable policy that is just a variation on what one inevitably does anyway. (So I think that answers your question, Nancy Lebovitz). My main point was that replacing mathematical instruction with instruction in a specific computer program is a bad idea. I’d stand behind that one, too, unless the instruction was part of some vocational training with a job at the other end. But why not, in that case, just do it as an apprenticeship? The German half of me is dubious.

          @Matt M

          My objection applies only to those shunted out of a math-and-science track who should not have been.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m surprised you consider this an argument for lower standards. It seems like, if anything, it’s an argument for not having standards at all.

      Suppose only 60% of students pass their algebra requirement. We can argue that this does a disservice to the remaining 40% of the students who may be good hard-working people but just not skilled at math.

      If we replace it with an easier statistics requirement that 80% of students can pass – then it still seems equally unfair to the 20% who can’t.

      It seems like either we should have maximally easy requirements that 100% of students can meet (in which case, what’s the point of calling it a “requirement”?) or we’re just looking at this totally the wrong way.

      As other commenters have pointed out, it seems like the problem is we’re combining high school degree as generic coming-of-age ritual and social validation as an acceptable person, and high school degree as certification that you have attained some specific level of proficiency which not everyone is able to attain.

      Maybe graduate everyone from high school, but some people graduate with As in advanced algebra, and other people graduate with Fs in remedial math, and that’s okay? I feel bad about that, because that’s making “graduation” into a meaningless signal, but maybe it’s better than introducing an artificial cutoff point that we know people are going to use to say “this group is okay, this other group is a failure”.

      • Freddie deBoer says:

        This is (sort of) addressed in the book – the last third is about how to lower the stakes of failing in school to the point that minimal harm is done to those who do. In other words, maybe not eliminating all standards but reducing the costs of failing to meet them to as little as possible.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        It seems like either we should have maximally easy requirements that 100% of students can meet

        Assuming away the mentally retarded students,

        I can imagine a curriculum that everyone can pass. That does not mean everyone will pass. If you refuse to show up and do the work, you do not pass.

        Say we required everyone to walk 8 miles, and they could take all day to do it. Again assuming away the handicapped, everyone can meet that requirement. But not everyone will.

        I don’t know if this is the goal. It would also be hard to establish and maintain that threshold, because lots of teenagers are lazy and will work to push the threshold of success down. I also don’t know if we’d be able to hold the threshold against “well, we all agreed already that some people just don’t have the smarts for algebra; now, isn’t it obvious that some people just don’t have the conscientiousness to do the work?”

        • Purplehermann says:

          Doing work is what highschool is selecting for.

          College is necessary to show you have maths too

    • Doctor Mist says:

      I keep hearing about how algebra is this big hurdle. My memory of high-school algebra is that it’s what lets me say, “This recipe calls for a cup of pasta and 2/3 of a cup of onion, but I have a cup and two-thirds of pasta and hungry guests; how much onion should I use?” Is that what you’re talking about, or has high school algebra changed since my day? If the former, is that really so hard for somebody to master?

      I gotta say, I’m not sanguine about the life prospects of somebody who cannot.

      • Freddie deBoer says:

        I’m afraid my perception of the degree of the algebra problem is largely dependent on Andrew Hacker. His book is quite persuasive.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        Knowing some algebra is useful, but a lot of people (maybe a large majority) seem to manage well enough without it.

        • Matt M says:

          The amount of algebra that is useful for the average person to know is essentially what is covered in the first 1-2 weeks of a standard high-school Algebra 1 course. Everything beyond that is basically superfluous.

          Understanding intuitively how to set up a basic linear equation is sometimes useful in day to day life. Not often, but occasionally. Quadratic factoring isn’t.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          You need to be able to solve

          30x + 20 = 340

          Like, “I have 340 square feet of wall to paint. 20 square feet are already painted. One can of paint covers 30 square feet. How many cans of paint do I need?”

          Being able to multiply (10x + 2) times (5x - 10) is not needed for most adults.

        • Randy M says:

          You guys are probably right. I bet you could get a couple semesters of coursework by taking the most universally useful portions of algebra, geometry, statistics, and maybe trigonometry, and letting most students bypass the advanced parts or focus on them later.

          • Matt M says:

            I’m not sure there are any universally useful parts of geometry and trig at all. Not for the average person at least.

            Very basic statistics. Teach people what a standard deviation is and what it means. Nothing beyond that is really needed.

          • AG says:

            Not universally, but geometry and trig are arguably more useful in blue collar work than white collar.

          • Plumber says:

            @AG,
            I never took a trigonometry class in High School but n old steamfitter taught me trig for one of my plumbing apprenticeship classes ’cause it was useful in estimating needed pipe lengths, most of the older plumbers and steamfitters had “cheat books” that were pages of “If dimension A is x, and dimension y than dimension y will be….”.

          • AG says:

            I mean, all sin/cos/tan/h tables are technically cheat books.

      • It’s surprising to me that you have that reaction. My primary intellectual specialization is in mathematics, so I’ve long since mastered high-school algebra. But I remember what a struggle it was to learn, and it seems entirely natural to me that people would have trouble learning it, especially if they have less of a keen interest in the subject than me.

    • What is your view of unschooling, which takes the approach you are suggesting much farther? I’ve argued for a long time that very few of the things in the K-12 curriculum are things everyone should learn, and that there are many more things that some people should learn that are not included in that curriculum.

      • Freddie deBoer says:

        I think in the abstract it’s intriguing and worthy of further exploration; in the specific I think any conclusions we would want to draw right now would be hopelessly confounded by the fact that a very specific sort of parent would unschool their kid right now.

        • What specific sort of parent is that? Are you including unschooling in a school, such as Sudbury Valley, as well as at home?

          And what are the sorts of conclusions you can’t draw? You won’t be able to conclude that it works well for everyone, since it’s a small and nonrandom sample, but there can be a lot of useful conclusions short of that, such as that it does (or doesn’t) work well for certain sorts of kids.

      • Matt M says:

        I’ve argued for a long time that very few of the things in the K-12 curriculum are things everyone should learn, and that there are many more things that some people should learn that are not included in that curriculum.

        I agree with the first part of this, but not so much the second. Which is why I’m generally fine with unschooling. I think the vast majority of things you attempt to teach children will be quickly forgotten unless you continually drill/refresh them on it, or unless they happen to be particularly interested in the topic.

        If this is true, the vast majority of education is a giant waste of time. So if it doesn’t do any particular good anyway, why not just let the kids frolic in a field or play baseball or play video games all day? Why not let them have fun and enjoy life more?

        • or unless they happen to be particularly interested in the topic.

          That is why, educationally speaking, it isn’t a waste of time. Kids can quite easily get interested in things — but not always the things adults tell them to get interested in.

          • Matt M says:

            Right… but in the average public school, what percentage of time would you estimate is spent on “things the kids themselves picked that they’re interested in” versus “things the adults tell them they should be interested in?”

          • Very little. That’s part of the reason I’m arguing for unschooling, where that is practically all kids spend time on.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Unschooling is basically the Polgar method right? I think that is viable with very smart parents and/or small class sizes but the percentage of parents/teachers who can handle unschooling is super low.

          • I don’t think it’s the Polgar method. Polgar, as I understand it, decided that his daughters should learn to be chess players.

            Unschooling, as we practiced it, meant the kids were free to spend their time as they liked. We encouraged them to get interested in things, tried to help them pursue things they were interested in. Both of them read a lot, did stuff online a lot, largely things like WoW and Starcraft, talked with us a lot.

            There were no classes, hence no class size, when we did it at home, occasional classes when the kids asked for them earlier, when they were in a Sudbury style school.

            They were very bright kids, but I gather the Sudbury people claim to have had success with a fairly wide range of kids.

            I’ve discussed the subject at some length on my blog, if you are interested.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @DavidFriedman: “Unschooling” makes it sound like the children are allowed to remain illiterate and innumerate if they don’t show interest. I don’t believe that’s how it actually works… but the name perhaps scares people.
            The more conventional homeschooling movement has overlapping Venn circles with conservative Christians, and a commonly reported pattern is that Mom stays home with the children while Dad works and they get the children literate by age 4 at the latest, using stepping stones like Dr Seuss -> Aesop -> the Little House books. Numeracy is achieved somewhat later through dependence on various publishers’s textbooks.

          • “Unschooling” makes it sound like the children are allowed to remain illiterate and innumerate if they don’t show interest.

            Not impossible, but more likely if you send them to school. Kids like to read, and sensible parents help them to learn.

            As I said, we encouraged them to get interested in things. That would have included reading if they hadn’t shown an interest in it for themselves.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Polgar picked chess as a test because it was a relatively easy skill to measure talent in. As far as I am aware they didn’t really “force” anything and their daughters reported not feeling forced. They were highly intelligent adults with other skills.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Minor editing problem, but the footnote links don’t work right. You don’t have the same names (at least the footnote I tested) in the links as in the anchors.

  9. albatross11 says:

    Random media comment/speculation:

    Opinion and factual reporting journalism don’t have much natural connection. There is no reason to think that an organization or individual that’s a good source for one is a good source for the other, and the economics of producing them is so different that there’s not much natural overlap. It’s just a historical accident that newspapers routinely came to do both.

    Since the advent of blogs, I’ve rarely been interested in newspaper columnists’ opinions as written in editorials or op-eds. They were inferior to stuff I could find on the internet. That’s largely still true, though sometimes the prestige news sources hired the bloggers to write columns for them–think of Radley Balko and Megan McArdle as examples.

    I rather suspect that the most valuable services provided by news sources are the least glamorous and least profitable. Probably the most important kind of news for actually making the world better is good accurate reporting on what the local government is up to; that’s mostly died off because it’s economically unsustainable. And so all kinds of local corruption probably goes on with nobody watching. In general, national-level politics seems to swamp local-level politics, even though most of us have no realistic say in what happens at a national level. (I live in Maryland. There is zero chance that our state will be sending its electors to put Trump back into office in 2020. Yet that will be like 90%+ of all the news coverage available even locally, and far more than 90% of the political discussion around the water cooler or on Facebook among local friends. Perhaps I’ll hear a couple people commenting on the decisions of the county council or the school board, but probably not–that stuff is mostly boring and unsexy, even though my vote might actually have an impact there, and even though the quality of my local government matters way more in most ways for my family’s well-being than the quality of the federal government. (Note the different trajectories of California and New York w.r.t. C19–same inept federal response, but very different state/local responses. Most issues are much *more* local than that.)

    I have no idea how to fix this, but having nobody watching allows local government to get up to endless mischief, both in terms of waste and fraud and in terms of goofy policies nobody really likes but somehow nobody hears about until they’re underway.

    • Aftagley says:

      I have no idea how to fix this, but having nobody watching allows local government to get up to endless mischie

      What you hear all the time is “buy a subscription to your local paper.” They are really the only organization that could possibly have the incentive structures in place to monitor your local government. I’m not sure how true this advice is anymore. I think if everyone had done it 10 years ago, we might be in better shape, but I think most local news is pretty close to dead at this point.

      Maybe crowd-source local independent journalism? Set up patreon-esque arrangements where towns will all collectively chip in to pay for reporters to write about their local issues without all the overhead of printing and publishing physical copy?

      • albatross11 says:

        Our local (free) paper went out of business a decade ago. It wasn’t great, but it was *something.* Various online sites have tried to colonize the local-news niche, but don’t seem to have gotten very far. For big news stories, we get coverage by DC or Baltimore media, or by a couple more local radio stations that still have some journalists on staff, but that doesn’t seem to extend to figuring out where the money from some boondoggle project of the county school board wound up, or what’s going on with the local speeding/red light cameras, or….

      • Eric T says:

        Maybe crowd-source local independent journalism? Set up patreon-esque arrangements where towns will all collectively chip in to pay for reporters to write about their local issues without all the overhead of printing and publishing physical copy?

        I mean if all of us spent the time we spend quibbling with each other over the internet doing investigative journalism, the SSC comments may have won a Pulitzer by now!

        Serious response: I like the idea of supporting local independent journalism, but there is definitely a major barrier to entry we need to crest. Journalism is a low-paying, low-demand career and few people are very excited by the prospect of doing local stories for a pittance. We would need to raise enough money not just to fund journalist, but to entice good ones. Source: my ex is now a senior staff writer and has been in journalism since college.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          And if we want good coverage for local journalism, there are a lot of localities.

    • Randy M says:

      Opinion and factual reporting journalism don’t have much natural connection.

      Presumably the editors of a newspaper are very well informed, so there’s that. They also have a platform where they can promote their views at cost. Alternatively, if opinion pages are popular and sell papers, it may be subsidizing the more costly investigation.

      That said, like you I prefer to get opinion pieces from specific individuals I can know about, and free on-line, rather than the back page of the paper.

    • Well... says:

      I rather suspect that the most valuable services provided by news sources are the least glamorous and least profitable.

      I’ve said before that, leaving aside the matter of how worthwhile it actually is for any given person to be “informed” about the kinds of things the news tends to cover, the more universally momentous (“important”) a news story is the less likely it is that any audience member will be able to practically use the information in it. At the other end, news stories about local Christmas tree stands being low on inventory would be pretty useful (“valuable”) to someone who’s thinking about going out and buying a Christmas tree this weekend.

      But still, the more valuable information actually is to you, the more likely you are to get it directly from the source.

    • mtl1882 says:

      Opinion and factual reporting journalism don’t have much natural connection. There is no reason to think that an organization or individual that’s a good source for one is a good source for the other, and the economics of producing them is so different that there’s not much natural overlap. It’s just a historical accident that newspapers routinely came to do both.

      Sort of, but originally they weren’t considered separate. Basic facts (rainfall, crops, town meetings) didn’t require anyone with editorial talent—your local officials or whoever could take care of that and post it in the town center. If you were going to pay for wider, more socially-relevant information, you needed some level of context and judgement in the selection. There are definitely different ways to do it, and yes, local journalism is key to doing it more functionally—national concentration has degraded all coverage. But people who know how to root it the most relevant factual information often are able to provide the best commentary as well, because they know the context. I think there’s a connection there. It’s just now no one is really getting to the bottom of anything—everything is sort of surface-y and decoupled from concrete, immediate interests. In the early days, it was common for one editor to author the entire edition of his own paper.

    • John Schilling says:

      Since the advent of blogs, I’ve rarely been interested in newspaper columnists’ opinions as written in editorials or op-eds. They were inferior to stuff I could find on the internet. That’s largely still true, though sometimes the prestige news sources hired the bloggers to write columns for them–think of Radley Balko and Megan McArdle as examples.

      That’s rapidly ceasing to be true, as “blogs” become as much of an anachronism as “usenet”. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet, but the golden age of blogging is past and the discourse is moving towards Reddit and Twitter and the rest of social media. I do hope our host manages to keep this garden well-cultivated for many years to come, but I do not think we can expect bloggers to replace newspapers in this area.

      Indeed, I think newspapers (albeit mostly online) will largely outlast blogs, and the model of the most esteemed bloggers becoming newspaper columnists may be the best we can hope for in preserving what was good about the blogosphere in any influential way.

      • AG says:

        Nonsense, unless you stipulate that blogs must be primarily text based. Instagram and Tumblr still count as blogs, even if they favor image formats.

        • John Schilling says:

          If we’re expecting blogs to be the replacement for newspaper op-eds (and even more so for newspaper journalism), the I stipulate that they must be primarily text-based. And that is the context at hand.

          The kind of information and argument we are concerned with here, is poorly suited to image-based formats, and it’s not what I’m seeing on Instagram and Tumblr.

  10. Matt M says:

    I apologize in advance, this is gonna be a bit longer than my typical CW post, but this has me really upset to the point where I’m losing sleep over it, so I just have to get it out of my system…

    The one thing about all of these protests (and similar such protests in the past) that bothers me the most is the destruction/defacement/removal of historical monuments. The media focuses in on “confederate monuments” which seem to be the most egregious offenders, but nobody is immune. Monuments to northern founding fathers have been vandalized. I’m seeing accounts that Belgium has removed a statue of a former King, and a statue of Winston Churchill in London has been continually defaced. The current zeitgeist on the left seems to be that pretty much any white person born before 1960 was almost certainly despicably evil and does not deserve to be honored in any way.

    Putting aside how odd this is in general (most societies tend to revere and worship their ancestors, not vilify them), the destruction of cultural monuments (many of which have artistic merits) just seems like it should be considered beyond the pale. Even if we concede that the thing being “honored” doesn’t necessarily measure up to current moral standards.

    I remember the first time I really thought about this… it was back in like 2001 and it was when the news push was regarding how we had to go into Afghanistan and remove the Taliban. The Taliban was accused of all sorts of evils: torture, oppression, murder, sexism, and the destruction of ancient Buddhist statues and relics. And everyone agreed that the last one was a very very bad thing that only very very evil people would do. Ancient works of art need to be protected. Even if you didn’t believe in Buddhism yourself. Even if you thought Buddhists committed a lot of crimes. Even if you accept that in Islam, making a giant gold statue of a man you worship as a Godlike figure is the epitome of blasphemy. This was still wrong, and all right-thinking people acknowledged it was wrong.

    This is the most egregious example that maybe we’re most familiar with, but it’s hardly the only one. Anyone who has visited eastern Europe and marveled at the beautiful frescos, only to be annoyed that Jesus’ eyes were gouged out by iconoclasts, has felt the same sort of anger or disappointment. Why did they have to do that? A momentary and immediate act of religious fervor (which may well be entirely justified depending on your interpretation of the Bible) damaged something that would eventually be considered to be a priceless work of art and valuable cultural memento of a bygone era. We can’t really “restore” them. It’s gone forever. I also remember touring Munich, and how the guides would constantly tell me about beautiful buildings that used to exist, but were destroyed in the allied bombing campaign of WW2. You could see the looks on the faces – disappointment from the Americans, and “I’m disappointed but I’m probably not allowed to look like I am” on the faces of the Germans. We can be disappointed these buildings were destroyed without siding with the Nazis in WW2. We can say “This is tragic and I wish they could have found another way.”

    And on the other side of the coin, we can appreciate all the examples of this not happening. I’m really glad that the Pyramids and Stonehenge and Chicen Itza and the Mona Lisa all still exist for me to view and experience. Not just me, countless millions of people have derived great satisfaction from getting to see these cultural monuments (putting aside the academic benefit they provide to historians and anthropologists). I’m really glad that it seemingly never occurred to William the Conqueror or any of the Tudors to knock down what was clearly and obviously a Pagan worship site. I’m really glad that for whatever reason, 8th century Muslims didn’t decide to disassemble the Pyramids or deface the Sphinx or pull down the statues of the pagan God-King Rameses at Abu Simbel. I’m really glad that the Spanish didn’t see the need to tear apart a pyramid whose primary and express purpose was to provide a location for ritual human sacrifice (I don’t know what bad opinion Winston Churchill is alleged to have held, but can we all not agree it’s surely less offensive than ripping out a person’s still-beating heart?). I’m really glad that the French revolutionaries and the Italian fascists didn’t take it upon themselves to burn every renaissance painting located in Paris or Rome. Even though all of those people disagreed strongly with the cultural values those monuments and objects expressed. Even though their personal religions and belief systems would have justified it. They still had a certain level of respect for what came before.

    And look, I get it. A statue of Robert E. Lee erected in the 1960s isn’t ancient. But the only way things get to become ancient is if you don’t destroy them when they’re modern. And a lot of these statues aren’t “artistic” in the sense that they provide a simple and realistic depiction of a man. And they aren’t particularly momentous in terms of being difficult or costly for society to erect the way that the Pyramids or Notre Dame are. But they’re still cultural monuments, and we should still keep them. Not even in spite of the fact that they don’t reflect our current values, but maybe even because they don’t reflect our current values. You want today’s schoolchildren to understand that at one point, people fought a war to keep slaves and that as recently as the 1960s, many people thought the people who did so were worthy of honor and respect? Take them to see a statue of Robert E. Lee. Tell them he was evil if you want, but leave the damn statue alone. It’s a part of our history and a part of our culture. For better or for worse.

    This sounds a little icky and awkward to say, but the destruction of cultural monuments might outrage me even more than actual murder. I know I’m supposed to value “people” above “things,” but every person dies. The average person lives less than 100 years. And while a life unnecessarily being cut short is tragic…. Part of me feels like this is more tragic. A momentary impulse, based in anger and hatred, can destroy something that could have lasted for hundreds or thousands of years, bringing great joy to many. There aren’t any Mayans anymore, but Chichen Itza still stands. It is through their cultural monuments that they’re still relevant, still with us, and in a certain sense, their legacy lives on. Maybe 1,000 years from now there won’t be any white southerners anymore. Maybe Borderer culture will be completely and entirely extinct, and maybe we will look upon slaveowning societies much how today we look on human-sacrifice societies. But that doesn’t mean the entire culture needs to be wiped out. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still have a few monuments to remember them by.

    I feel so passionately about this that I’m willing to change my previously held positions about statues and other monuments dedicated to people I consider tyrants and mass-murderers. Seattle can keep its statue of Lenin. Berlin can keep KarlMarxStrasse. If China ever democratizes, I hope they don’t destroy and burn every last portrait of Mao or little red book. These things are monuments to modern society, and modern culture. Some for the better, some for the worse. And just as we can look on Chichen Itza today without personally endorsing ritual human sacrifice, surely our descendants 500 years from now could look at a statue of George Washington without personally endorsing owning slaves.

    OK, that’s about all I have here… my one request is that you please don’t reply with something like “yeah it’s outgroup vs fargroup.” I know that’s what’s driving a lot of this. The question is – does anyone else here feel the same about this as I do, and if so, what can we do about it?

    • SamChevre says:

      I am beyond furious at the destruction of memorials to the Confederate leaders.

    • Eric T says:

      I agree with you in principal: but as you pointed out, some of these statues were built during reconstruction or the civil rights era with the express intention to intimidate people of color or show support for the KKK. I think I am fine with removing these statues and these statues alone. They make up a small minority of the damage however, so your anger is 100% justified. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I value statues over people, but know that this lefty largely agrees with you.

      • AG says:

        I would stipulate that “removing” doesn’t mean destruction.

        Art in the public space is no longer just art, the choice of what art is allowed in the public space is political. So when the public no longer supports the ideal that the public art represents, move it out of the public.
        Architecture is a more difficult issue, but in that it has a function outside of art, it is much more easily moved to a neutral association. People of all sorts of ideologies have lived in the White House, for example. Much easier to claim that “this building is ours, now” than a direct artistic representation of the enemy. This is why the Pyramids and Stone Henge and even grand cathedrals don’t carry the same kinds of political association as a statue.

        • Matt M says:

          Fair and true enough. I’m still somewhat libertarian, so yes, I acknowledge there are practical concerns with the notion that if I erect a statue of Robert E. Lee in location X, that statue must remain there for all time and can never be removed for any reason.

          If local authorities want to remove these statues, I’d be okay with it if they sold the statue to a private buyer (under the condition it not be defaced or destroyed), re-located to a different location (even if it’s way out in the middle of nowhere), or donated to a museum (so long as the museum agrees to display it occasionally, it can’t just sit in the warehouse forever).

          If I had a billion dollars, I’d probably start some sort of “cancelled statues museum” out in the middle of nowhere. I would buy up all of these things and put them in a giant field in Nebraska to preserve them, let people come view them if they want, etc. And I’d be totally viewpoint neutral. I’d buy the Robert E. Lee statues and the Stalin statues.

          • Randy M says:

            Maybe you could put it next to the “banned books library” to get traffic from both sides.

          • achenx says:

            Hungary has a park of removed communist-era statues. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_Park

            “This park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described, built, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship.”

          • Eric T says:

            Hungary has a park of removed communist-era statues. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_Park

            “This park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described, built, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship.”

            I love the idea but I’m not sure Hungary is the best example of a democracy right now.

          • albatross11 says:

            Call it the rogues gallery museum and I bet you’d even get a substantial number of tourists coming to visit it. “Get your picture taken with Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mao all on the same day!”

          • achenx says:

            I love the idea but I’m not sure Hungary is the best example of a democracy right now.

            Well, yeah, but the park’s been there awhile.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            “cancelled statues museum”

            That would actually be pretty awesome. Can we do that?

            After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship.”

            I love the idea but I’m not sure Hungary is the best example of a democracy right now.

            I guess they thought too hard about it?

          • AG says:

            If I had a billion dollars, I would start a museum of such statues, but attach googly eyes and glorious handlebar mustaches to every one, and run “fabulous accessory of the week” bid wars per statue.

      • Eric Rall says:

        In addition, a lot of the 1960-era statues were mass produced. I’m completely fine with removing the vast majority of those from public display, since each individual statue of this type has little or no unique artistic or historical value. And if a run of statues has significant artistic or historical value, then I’d expect at least a few people to be willing to put their money where their mouth is (or take up a collection) and outbid scrap-metal merchants to buy up one or two of them for preservation in private collections.

        • Jiro says:

          Statues have value as part of the commons. Expecting people to buy discarded statues is like expecting people to pay companies not to pollute; most of the benefits of the statue existing won’t go to the purchaser.

          • Aftagley says:

            Unless the statues are commemorating a person/idea that has minority support from the public. In this case the majority gets 0 utility out of the statue either way, but now at least the minority gets to have a statue at all.

      • SamChevre says:

        Note:I don’t think any statues of Confederate leaders were put up DURING the military occupation of the South (“Reconstruction”)–all those I can think of were put up post-Redemption.

        It’s kind of like a statue in Ireland commemorating James Connolly–it gets put up after the British aren’t ruling anymore. (I put the Redeemers in the same anti-colonialist category as Sinn Fein.)

        • Eric T says:

          I think I meant to write Post-Reconstruction because this sounds correct to me and also was what I was thinking.

    • MisterA says:

      Belgium has removed a statue of a former King

      It’s unclear if you aware of this, but the king in question is arguably in the running for having committed the greatest genocide in human history – at high estimates the guy is Double Hitler.

      And I know you say you’re in favor of even keeping the statues of the bad guys, but do you bite that bullet? Should Germany have kept its Hitler statues? Because it’s really hard to argue for a coherent position where you keep King Leopold II’s monuments but you don’t keep Hitler’s.

      And if there’s some threshold of ‘too bad to keep the statues’ then now we’re just dickering about where the line is.

      • Eric T says:

        Counterpoint: Leave them up, let people draw rude/funny things on them.

        • Randy M says:

          Counter-counter point–now you just have an ugly public square.

          • Eric T says:

            Counter-counter-counter point: Having an ugly public square will make people stay at home, reducing the spread of disease and carbon emissions.

          • Matt M says:

            Agreed. But I’m the guy who thinks “lots of the Berlin wall is still there just covered in horrible graffiti” is a major downgrade. I get the symbolism, but it’s ugly as hell…

          • Randy M says:

            C^4: Nah, people are all too busy on their phones to notice the semi-destroyed monuments anyway.

          • Simultan says:

            @Matt M, nearly all of the 185 kms of wall have been torn down. I wasn’t able to find any numbers for how much remains, but I don’t think it’s more than some 5 km in toto. East Side Gallery is around 1 km. And not all of what remains is covered in graffiti. (In parts, rows of cobblestone have been put down to mark the places where it used to stand – one such line runs just outside my apartment.) I find it difficult to see how the graffitied remnants are in any way a major downgrade to the cityscape – you’d really have to seek them out to be annoyed by them!

      • Matt M says:

        I’ll bite your bullet and say yes. We should have allowed some non-zero amount of statues of Hitler to remain. As a reminder.

        At the very least it should be acknowledged that the context in which they were removed was following a military defeat, in which Germany had literally been conquered by foreign invaders. If we can agree that tearing down monuments is a behavior normally attributed to conquering foreign armies, and anyone engaging in tearing down monuments should be identified and treated as such, then fine.

        • MisterA says:

          So in your mind, there’s no threshold at which a society can decide “Wow, we really fucked up, we shouldn’t be honoring those people anymore?” Put another way – if the Allies hadn’t torn down the Hitler statues, do you really think modern day Germans would still want those statues standing in the public square? And if they don’t, who are we to tell them they have to keep them?

          And if it’s OK for Germans to decide they’re not actually cool with Nazi imagery, what principle says that is an OK choice for them to make, but Belgians have to continue honoring their own nation’s greatest genocidal sociopath?

          • Eric T says:

            Ok I’ll try to hit a more nuanced view here:

            I think it’s fine if society wants to collectively decide to remove a historical monument. If there’s a referendum or if its just polling insanely highly, go for it!

            I think where I have an issue, and I don’t want to speak for him, but what I read out Matt M’s post may be his issue too – protestors who aren’t necessarily representative of their society destroying monuments isn’t good.

            I also prefer storage over destruction but I’m a history nerd who likes old stuff.

          • Fahundo says:

            I lack context on the Belgian example maybe. Generally when I hear of statues being taken down I assume an angry mob complained or vandalized it enough to get it moved. I dislike that, but would be fine with some poll of the community or something resulting in it being moved off public land.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Eric T

            OK, but what defines your definition of society?

            My hometown has a confederate statue. Over the last few decades, the town transformed into a strong blue-tribe area with a significant minority population. We want the statue gone. We’ve had several referendums on getting rid of it; the local paper has done polling – a vast majority of us want it gone.

            But, the state government had a law that made it impossible for a city to remove such a statue – that had to be done by the state government or (more likely) not at all. Since confederate statues poll well in the rest of the state, should we have to keep it?

          • Matt M says:

            I lack context on the Belgian example maybe. Generally when I hear of statues being taken down I assume an angry mob complained or vandalized it enough to get it moved.

            And that’s exactly how it goes in 99% of these cases. The statue of Leopold was removed a few days ago. We didn’t learn anything new about Leopold in the last week. The only thing that changed was that a violent and angry mob assembled and demanded it be removed. So it was.

            This is categorically different from a normal process of societal debate wherein we decide that actually, this space should be used for a different purpose that’s more useful for current citizens.

          • MisterA says:

            Sure, I am all for putting it in a museum if a museum wants it. Or a private gallery or whatever.

            Much what is going on right now is indeed the proper authorities, though. The statue of Robert E. Lee is coming down because the democratically elected government of the state has decided it should maybe not be honoring a traitor who fought for the right to keep humans as chattel, not because antifa dynamited it. And they aren’t planning to destroy it, so if the voters of Virginia disagree, there’s a clear way to express that and get the decision reversed.

          • Matt M says:

            The statue of Robert E. Lee is coming down because the democratically elected government of the state has decided it should maybe not be honoring a traitor who fought for the right to keep humans as chattel, not because antifa dynamited it.

            And you think the fact that they made this decision this week, rather than six months ago, has nothing to do with the fact that Antifa dynamited it?

            What a remarkable coincidence that all around the world, during the middle of violent mobs forming in every major city, local officials are suddenly updating their priors regarding Robert E. Lee, King Leopold, and Winston Churchill! What are the odds?

          • MisterA says:

            Of course it’s not a coincidence. But the fact that the government is responding to the situation doesn’t mean it’s not still the actual local government deciding what to do about it.

            There’s a pretty big difference in my mind between protesters pulling down a statue, and the government of the state looking at the protests and deciding it may be a bad idea to keep a place of honor for statues that were explicitly erected to send a message to black people that they better stay in their place.

          • Eric T says:

            all around the world, during the middle of violent mobs forming in every major city

            Man I was on your side and everything! That’s not even close to the truth, most cities didn’t have violent mobs in America, let alone the rest of the world!

          • J.R. says:

            @Eric T

            I think it’s fine if society wants to collectively decide to remove a historical monument. If there’s a referendum or if its just polling insanely highly, go for it!

            I think where I have an issue, and I don’t want to speak for him, but what I read out Matt M’s post may be his issue too – protestors who aren’t necessarily representative of their society destroying monuments isn’t good.

            Let’s say the removal question gets put to a municipal referendum. Since local elections have very low turnout, it’s likely that the angry mob will win since removing a statue of Man on the Wrong Side of History is an easy thing to gin up support for. And it’s hard for me to oppose democracy here – surely Berliners can decide for themselves whether they want a statue of Hitler in front of the Bundestag.

            You might answer that that is settled, then – if it gets put to a vote, and the mob wins, then the mob wins. Case closed. If the Statue Remainers wanted the statue to stay so badly, they should have organized and voted, the conventional thinking goes.

            But what I’m interested in interrogating is why I instinctively think the mob would win. The fact is that angry mobs in local politics are a cliche. (Parks and Rec was a popular TV show that got lots of comedic mileage out of the types of cranks and oddballs that get super invested in local politics) The fact is, though, that these calls to remove these monuments didn’t gain traction in the past but they are now. So why now?

            I think two things about our culture play a role:

            1. The ubiquity of the politics of negation (much easier to be against something than for something). See also Martin Gurri’s Revolt of the Public (blog post here)

            2. Lack of appreciation for historical context

            ETA: I don’t have time to fully flesh this out, but may do so in a future OT

          • Since confederate statues poll well in the rest of the state, should we have to keep it?

            Would state law prevent you from putting a high wall around it?

          • Aftagley says:

            Would state law prevent you from putting a high wall around it?

            I think we’re not allowed to modify it in any way; and it’s in a pretty awkward spot for a random 40 foot wall.

          • Garrett says:

            @Aftagley:

            Why did you (and the other folks) move to an area with something you dislike so much? This seems to be a continual pattern of blue tribe/red-tribe problems. Blue-tribe people move into a red-tribe space and then complain about all of the things that the red-tribe likes and works to get rid of them.

            This also includes other things like subdivisions getting built next to a pig farm or shooting range and then attempting to get rid of the pre-existing operations shut-down because of the smell or noise.

      • Fahundo says:

        I’ll be the one to go ahead and say I’d prefer if we kept even the statues of double-hitlers around.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        When I visited Brussels I was surprised that they have a statue of him in the centre of the city.

    • Noah says:

      ETA: MisterA beat me to the point.

      Belgium has removed a statue of a former King

      I think this is burying the lede somewhat. Assuming this is Leopold II, I would put him on my shortlist of history’s greatest villains alongside Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Genghis Khan. He ruled the Congo as his personal domain and was incredibly brutal (the figure I recall is 10 million dead due to his rule in a population of 20 million, though estimates vary widely).

      Of course, what to do about statues to evil people is a separate question.

      • Matt M says:

        Several statues of Stalin still remain in Eastern Europe. I got a cool photo of myself giving the finger to one outside of a Stalin museum located in Georgia. I’m glad it was there so I could express my disapproval of his actions to a giant facsimile of him rather than just to a gravestone or whatever.

        Edit: And there are countless American restaurants directly named after Genghis Khan, and nobody bats an eye… I’m pretty sure ideology plays a major role in which of these genocidal maniacs need to be made totally taboo, and which can be used for marketing purposes if we feel like it.

    • Aftagley says:

      Do you also object to moving statues out of positions of prominence? Take the statue of Robert E Lee in Richmond – it’s not set to get dynamited; the governor’s plan calls for it to be taken out of it’s current, incredibly prominent location and put into storage. What has happened previously when this was done is that, eventually, some private group will take ownership of the statue and re-erect it on private land.

      To me, this seems perfectly fine. The citizenry that has to look at the stupid thing every day gets it’s will recognized in having the statue be removed from a position of state-acknowledged respect while the people who care about preserving it have the option to do so.

      • Matt M says:

        What has happened previously when this was done is that, eventually, some private group will take ownership of the statue and re-erect it on private land.

        I am OK with this solution if that indeed is what happens. That said, up to the moment where the proper government authority actually removes the statue, it should be protected from vandalism and defacement.

    • Anteros says:

      @Matt M

      I was thinking something similar earlier today, perhaps without quite the same emotional involvement. And I specifically had in mind the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.

      Surely it’s like the free speech thing – it’s only worth something if people are free to say something that infuriates you.

      The reason I started thinking about it was because a mob in Bristol (UK) tore down a statue and threw it in the harbor. The stature was of an MP and public benefactor who made some of his money from the slave trade. My problem with this is that at the time afaik there were a total of zero MPs who were anti-slave. It would be similar to destroying the statues of any eugenicists from the 20s – that would include a large number of left wing establishment figures. Soon enough there would be no statues of anybody.

    • Chalid says:

      I condemn unlawful destruction of property.

      That out of the way, there has to be a process to get rid of old stuff that we don’t want anymore. At the extreme you get cities designating every building as being of historical significance and no one getting to build anything new. On statues, they are taking up visible and valuable public space; we shouldn’t feel bound to continue to use the center of a town square for the things that people who have been dead for generations decided were important. Ship confederate statues off to the Museum of the Confederacy; send the statue of King Leopold to a genocide museum, etc.

      And yes, if the community doesn’t want a statue and no one will take it off their hands and pay for its upkeep, then it should be lawfully destroyed. It’s better than having it be maintained at the public’s expense in public places against the public’s wishes.

      • Randy M says:

        This seems reasonable to me, although I would hope that there’s a bias for preserving older things on the chance the current whims were fads, you do have to allow the present to take ownership.

      • SamChevre says:

        here has to be a process to get rid of old stuff that we don’t want anymore.

        I don’t disagree, but I don’t think this applies well in the cases where I’m most familiar. I do not think that “51% of us, mostly new arrivals, don’t want it anymore” translates well to “we don’t want it anymore.”

        If 95% of us don’t want it, it’s an easier call than if 20% really value it, 20% hate it, and the other 60% is split between “I don’t mind the status quo” and “I wouldn’t mind change.”

        • StableTrace says:

          What exactly do you mean by “new arrivals”? Why is this at all relevant to anything?

          • SamChevre says:

            Basically (and this is vague), if “people from here” want to continue to commemorate their local history, but “people who just moved here from somewhere else” find that history irrelevant–I think there’s some extra weight that goes to the “people from here”. This is true whether it’s Southerners and Northerners, Tibetans and Han, or Navajo and whites.

          • StableTrace says:

            Sorry, I’m asking because if the line isn’t drawn very carefully for something like this, it can lead to extremely sketchy situations.

            In particular, the “just moved here” seems really important. Otherwise you get things like people being treated as second-class citizens for something completely out of their control and underserved: their ancestry in a location not being deep enough. You can also get a situation where people are frozen into the location they grew up in since they’ll never be able to truly become part of anywhere else.

        • SamChevre says:

          moved to reply

      • ana53294 says:

        Some places declare the dirt on their historical building or statues as valuable. See the controversy about the black madonna (NYT).

      • Matt M says:

        I suspect that at various points in history, Victorian England may well have voted to tear down Stonehenge. I’m much more confident that Taliban-era Afghanistan would have voted to blow up the Bhuddist statues.

        Does that make it okay? Is that what we were really mad about regarding the Taliban? That they didn’t bother to hold a vote on whether or not to destroy the priceless ancient religious works of art?

        • Eric T says:

          Does that make it okay? Is that what we were really mad about regarding the Taliban? That they didn’t bother to hold a vote on whether or not to destroy the priceless ancient religious works of art?

          I mean had the Taliban been open to holding votes about things they probably wouldn’t have looked so much like the Taliban right?

          I don’t think comparing functioning democratic states to the Taliban is the most charitable way to approach this argument?

          • Matt M says:

            Well, if “functioning Democratic states” don’t want me comparing them to the Taliban, maybe they should stop engaging in Taliban-like behaviors (such as destroying cultural monuments solely because they are blasphemous to the majority-dominant religion.)

            That’s kind of my point here. In this specific instance, western states are looking very much like the Taliban from my point of view… and the biggest problem with the Taliban wasn’t “not enough voting.” If there’s one thing we should have learned from all of our recent middle-eastern adventurism, it’s that a lot of these countries with tyrannical Islamists governments had them because that’s the type of government those people wanted to have.

          • albatross11 says:

            Or at least, that’s the kind of government that can get a stable coalition of men with guns behind it. Even if most of the population hates it, if the Taliban can get the guys with guns to support them and the rest of the population can’t, then the Taliban wins the “who gets to rule Afghanistan” sweepstakes.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Victorians put up small fake ruins for the fun of it.

          Why do you think they would have voted to tear down Stonehenge?

        • Chalid says:

          A couple differences.

          I think there is a difference between art that’s out in the middle of nowhere vs art which is in the middle of a city. You should be constantly reevaluating your art and indeed all your land use in a city – if you don’t get rid of stuff in cities you’ll eventually be unable to build anything new. (Historic preservation arguments are a major tool of NIMBYs in some cities.) There is a high opportunity cost to keeping a large piece of public art around (and often direct costs too, people need to maintain these statues, which means taxes). And in the city you may be forced to see the art whether you want to or not. This doesn’t really apply in the countryside.

          Culturally, I don’t know much about the Buddha statues, but my understanding is that they were pretty unique? Whereas there are lots and lots of confederate statues.

          I also want to comment that our reverence for old art is partly based on the fact that the vast majority of old art did not survive. Old art that did survive exceptionally good in some way, because people made more of an effort to preserve good stuff than bad stuff. And it is likely to be more unique.

    • ECD says:

      I’m tempted to say something unkind about how the market has spoken, but putting that aside, for the most part, I’m not sure how based on libertarian principles you can get to a solution. On my principles, some sort of protection for cultural or historical resources is certainly possible, but the problem is you have to define what that is, or else you end up unable to do anything, or unable to protect anything.

      After all, whose to say that the suburb you want to rebuild won’t be as important to future generations as those lost buildings in Munich?

      The current standards for the federal government depend on a couple of points, the Visual Artist Rights Act might provide some right for the creator (or maybe their heirs, don’t know haven’t investigated) to have some right to prevent mutilation or destruction of their work.

      The other main one is the National Historic Preservation Act, which does not actually preserve anything, but does require you to evaluate your effects and try to find ways to mitigate or avoid them, if you can. However, to the best of my knowledge, the actual actions most of the owners of the relevant statues are taking is removing and not exhibiting them further, which is unlikely to be viewed as problematic under either, nor am I convinced it should be.

      As I work with the NHPA all the time, it has its issues, but it does a fairly good job of protecting national historic landmarks. (ETA: Which is a much narrower category than just historic properties, hence my slightly sarcastic comment about it not preserving anything, above).

      I’m sympathetic, but at the same time, no we can’t preserve everything, especially not on public display and no, confederate monuments put up in the 1960s in an effort to oppress and intimidate American citizens would not make my list, at least not without a much bigger statue of Ulysses Grant or Fredrick Douglass right next to them, giving them the finger.

      • SamChevre says:

        It seems like on libertarian principles, something like the Monument Avenue statues–initially privately funded, on previously private land, deeded to the state to “guard and protect”–is about as clean as you can get for historical preservation.

    • Nick says:

      I think one way to understand cases like Leopold II or the relatively recent Confederate memorials is that it’s a sign of the strength and power of liberal democracy that it can tolerate such things. By the same token, it is a sign of weakness that lately everyone feels the need to tear them down.

      The one that really got my blood boiling earlier was this. “Tell people how to cause irreversible damage to works of art” should be on a shortlist of things a museum curator never fucking does.

      • Matt M says:

        I heard that in Nashville, in the process of trying to destroy a federal courthouse, rioters smashed a plaque that was in honor of a bunch of black students who engaged in a sit-in to protest for civil rights in the 1960s.

        Almost surely an accident, but still, maybe let this serve as a reminder to actually think and look before you just break stuff?

        • SamChevre says:

          In Boston, the protesters defaced the memorial to the Robert Gould Shaw 54th Massachusetts Regiment – the second black regiment in the Union Army.

    • TimG says:

      I’m a bit annoyed by this myself. I think it makes sense to remove statues in some (maybe even most) cases. I just don’t think that sort of thing should be done by a mob.

      One thought that crossed my mind: Had anyone ever asked MLK if he was pro-gay-marriage (or even gay rights.) As a minister — particularly at the time he had been active — I’d guess that he wasn’t (but I have no idea.)

      In that case, I don’t think anyone would approve of tearing down MLK statues during gay-rights protests.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        An obvious difference is that MLK is not famous mostly for his opposition to gay marriage; indeed, as you say, you have no idea what his opinion on the matter was.
        In contrast, Confederate generals and Leopold II are famous entirely because of their rebellion in defense of slavery, and monstrous genocide in the Congo respectively.

        A harder case is someone like Columbus: famous for more than his crimes, but his crimes were serious enough to attract attention even in his own day, to the point of being recalled as governor, investigated by the new governor, and briefly incarcerated.

        • Tenacious D says:

          And then there’s statues of Churchill and former Canadian PM John A MacDonald that some people want to tear down. They both were involved in harmful treatment of people of other races, but are famous for other reasons.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Yes, those are more like Columbus. John A especially is a tricky one since he is literally the founder of the nation, a status that usually deserves some recognition.
            About two years ago I visited the Royal Chapel in Granada, the burial place of Ferdinand and Isabella, the monarchs who basically founded modern Spain, but who are also responsible for the expulsion of the Jews and the Spanish Inquisition. I was annoyed that I could not find any acknowledgment of the terrible things they had done; all the plaques and posters were very positive about their legacy. On the other hand, I think it would be insane to tear down a historical monument like that.
            I think in cases like that, history is best served by leaving the monument up, but at the same time making sure a record of the person’s crimes is put up prominently, to avoid the monument being a whitewash.

          • Matt M says:

            Eugene,

            I think I disagree with your assertion. At the time the statue of Robert E. Lee was erected, I’d say he was best known as an excellent general who fought well and honorably in a war that most people viewed as rather complex, to the extent they thought about “what it was for” at all (which wasn’t much). He wasn’t viewed as “a guy who fought for slavery” by himself, by his contemporaries, or even by his enemies. Presidents as liberal and as recent as FDR and JFK gave speeches declaring their personal opinion as such.

            What someone is known for can change, and it can change based on mob mentality and continuous propaganda. You’re right that today MLK is known as a civil rights hero that maybe happened to be a fundamentalist Christian also. But who’s to say that 30 years from now he won’t be known as a fundamentalist Christian who opposed gay rights oh and maybe also he did some civil rights stuff but who really cares?

            If red-tribe were to start a campaign to constantly emphasize MLK’s faults and ignore his virtues, and if it worked such that decades from now, people saw him as mostly bad and not mostly good, would that justify tearing down his statues? Removing his holiday and celebrating “victims of Christian oppression of gays” instead?

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            But who’s to say that 30 years from now he won’t be known as a fundamentalist Christian who opposed gay rights oh and maybe also he did some civil rights stuff but who really cares?

            I will consider this point if you find me evidence that MLK opposed gay rights; I will concede it if you find me evidence that MLK opposed gay marriage with anything even approaching the dedication with which he devoted himself to the cause of Civil Rights.

            If your argument is that under an assault of lies and propaganda, people might come to believe something false about MLK, then sure, but the relevant question is then: is it false to believe that Robert E Lee is most famous for his service to a pro-slavery rebellion? If anything, the view of Lee that prevailed in the time of FDR is the view that is a result of propaganda and dishonesty.

          • @Eugene Dawn:

            I will consider this point if you find me evidence that MLK

            (did various bad things currently unpopular with the left)

            Does evidence that he plagiarized his PhD thesis qualify?

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I don’t understand your question: are you asking if MLK plagiarising his thesis is evidence that he was anti-gay?

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            Point of order. I don’t know MLK Jr.’s opinions on gay rights, but he was unambiguously not a fundamentalist or anything remotely akin to one. His theological views were very liberal, calling into question things like the literal truth of the Resurrection, the virgin birth, Biblical inerrancy, etc. He criticized Fundamentalists for not being open to social change. In fact, among actual Fundamentalists, there’s some debate about whether he should be counted as a Christian at all.

          • MisterA says:

            At the time the statue of Robert E. Lee was erected, I’d say he was best known as an excellent general who fought well and honorably in a war that most people viewed as rather complex, to the extent they thought about “what it was for” at all (which wasn’t much). He wasn’t viewed as “a guy who fought for slavery” by himself, by his contemporaries, or even by his enemies.

            Oh, come now – this old canard? Are we going to start calling it the War of Northern Aggression, too?

            The leaders of the confederacy wrote at great, detailed length on the fact that the reason for the rebellion was in solely in defense of slavery and of the superiority of the white race; these quotes are regurgitated on command so often online it’s become a cliche, so I’m not going to recapitulate it here like someone having an old creationism vs. evolution argument, but a ten second Googling can find them all.

            The statues were put up in honor of the values of the Confederacy – the supremacy of the white race and the oppression of the black one being the primary value on behalf of which they fought, a fact which they themselves proclaimed at great length.

            This particular statue being erected in 1890 does put it on somewhat better footing than most Confederate statues, which were erected in the 1960s specifically to advance the cause of segregation. But to say that they didn’t know exactly what Lee stood for in 1890 is ridiculous.

            It’s one thing to say we should keep the statues even of our monsters; it’s something else to try to claim they weren’t monsters.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Me Too would have some beefs with MLK.

            The article, based on FBI reports summarizing the bureau’s audio surveillance of King, makes for uncomfortable reading, to say the least.

            The most shocking claim Garrow relates is that King was present in a hotel room when a friend of his, Baltimore pastor Logan Kearse, raped a woman who resisted participating in unspecified sexual acts. The FBI agent who surveilled the room asserted that King “looked on, laughed and offered advice.”

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @MisterA: The Confederates fought for a liberal representative democracy with black letter Constitutional law to check and balance states’s power vs. the central government… where the voters were white men and black people were slaves.
            What bothers me is when the Left treats that as functionally identical to the Nazis.
            The CSA deservedly lost to Evangelical Protestants who wanted to kill and die for the freedom of souls in black bodies, but people need to maintain perspective.

          • MisterA says:

            What bothers me is when the Left treats that as functionally identical to the Nazis.

            Yeah. Pretty much. I’ll count myself in that camp – I really do consider the Confederacy to be about on par with the Nazis, morally speaking. The fact that the Confederacy was a pseudo-democracy (everyone gets to vote except those who disagree with the state!) and Nazi Germany was a totalitarian state is interesting but does not make me rate the confederates any higher morally.

            It also doesn’t change what they were fighting on behalf of. The secession documents, the speeches, the letters, they all keep saying over and over again, “We are seceding because we want to keep our slaves.” The democracy part doesn’t even get a mention.

            (Well, except for one of the states’ declaration of secession, where they were mad that the North let black people participate in democracy, which they considered a crime against the law of God.)

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @MisterA: I feel like the SJ tribe has different ontological categories from everyone else. I understand “Jews can be elected to the Senate by universal white male suffrage or appointed to the elected President’s cabinet” as a big ontological difference from “Jews gets crowded into unsanitary conditions as a bureaucratic procedure before gassing them.”

          • MisterA says:

            “Lack of access to high public office” seems to rather understate the Confederate position on the status of black people.

            Whether eternal consignment to the status of livestock for a whole race is better or worse than their summary extermination is a difficult question – I’m not sure of the answer. But the fact that it’s a difficult question is sort of the point. I’m honestly not sure which of the two is worse, they are both so bad it breaks the scale, so I am comfortable rounding off to “unspeakable atrocity” for both and deciding we probably shouldn’t be honoring the legacy of either.

            And the fact that white people in the Confederacy got to vote about other matters of law elevates the moral status of their nation not one whit. If the Germans had remained a democracy after electing Hitler, but still committed all the same atrocities, would they have been a more moral nation?

          • Noah says:

            Since the Nazi comparison has been made here, I’ve been thinking about how I would react to statues of German WWII generals, since the Holocaust feels much more personal to me than slavery. I think I would be mostly fine with them as long as they weren’t themselves overly involved in various war crimes (e.g. Rommel).

          • I don’t understand your question

            Sorry if I was unclear.

            My point was that you were assuming that the only reason MLK could go from being seen as a hero to being seen as a villain was if he had violated current left wing norms.

            He in fact did at least two other things that violated norms strongly held by some people at present, norms that could conceivably be more widespread at some time in the future. He plagiarized his doctoral thesis, copied sizable chunks of it without credit from the earlier doctoral thesis of another student of the same professor. And he was extensively unfaithful to his wife.

            King was an impressive orator and his overall effect on the world, as best I can tell, was positive. But I am not comfortable with people having the status of “official hero, can do no wrong.”

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            My point was that you were assuming that the only reason MLK could go from being seen as a hero to being seen as a villain was if he had violated current left wing norms

            What? No, this is a misunderstanding. Matt M asked, what if in the future people decide MLK is a villian because the focus on some other aspect of him; he’s the one who chose a left-wing norm.

            The point I am making is that, regardless of what bad things someone has done, whether things that would annoy the left, the right, or both (see Jaskologist’s post for an MLK-relevant example), it would not change the reason why a public figure is notable.

            There is basically no world where an MLK statue is reasonably regarded as “a statue to a guy most notable for plagiarising a thesis”, or “a statue to a guy most famous for laughing while his friend committed a rape”–even the most committed King opponents understand that the reason MLK is notable is that he led the movement that ended segregation and gave black people voting rights in Amerca.

            The point is not to decide whether he is a hero or a villain, it is to decide what he is notable for.

          • albatross11 says:

            Next, do Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Winston Churchill.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            @albatross

            Is this directed at me? You can see my thoughts on Churchill and John A MacDonald at the start of the thread; I think pretty similar considerations apply to Washington and Jefferson.

          • albatross11 says:

            Eugene:

            I’m sorry, that comment was a lot more “checkmate, fundies” than useful. I’d delete it if the time hadn’t already expired.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            No worries, I think it’s a fair question.

          • The point is not to decide whether he is a hero or a villain, it is to decide what he is notable for.

            I don’t think that works for statues people actually want torn down. Columbus is notable for discovering America, not for mistreating the people he found there. Lee is notable mostly for being a brilliant commander in a difficult military situation, not for which side he was fighting on.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            This conversation started with me making that exact point about Columbus.

      • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

        Bayard Rustin helped found the SCLC with MLK and was openly gay. He thinks MLK was /would be sympathetic and Coretta Scott King agreed.

    • ana53294 says:

      I get it, but I think society should be able to move on.

      While I don’t think statues should be destroyed, and moving bones seems like a silly idea, I think we have to acknowledge that cities have limited space for memorials nowadays.

      I really don’t mind the Spanish Valley of the Fallen, even though it’s a fucking ugly concrete monstrosity built with convict labor. Thankfully, it’s in the middle of nowhere and the only people who see it are the people who seek it.

      But I firmly believe that the Red Square in Moscow would be much improved by removing the mummy. Put a memorial to all the victims of the oppression, add some flowers, but just get rid of the ugly thing. All the buildings around it are much older and beautiful, and the mausoleum is just plain wrong. I’m not even saying it should be destroyed; just move it out of the very center of the historical city, and put it somewhere near the brutalist ugly buildings where it belongs.

      Also, there are still just so many statues of Lenin in Russia (and Pushkin, but he’s a nice chap). It’s annoying. Sure, keep some of them, the ones with artistic significance, but sell the rest of them. If somebody wants them, they can outbid the scrap metal price.

      My understanding is that the US has a lot of statues of Robert E. Lee, a lot of them mass manufactured and with no artistic value.

      For the naming of the streets, I don’t see why we should have people living in streets named after mass murderers if they don’t want to. I think the people living in a street (not even the city) should get to decide whether to rename it.

      My personal policy is, other than the significance of the thing, a very important question is: Is it beautiful? If it is, we can keep it. If it’s an eyesore, and it has all that undertone, put it in a museum or sell it.

      • Matt M says:

        I think we have to acknowledge that cities have limited space for memorials nowadays.

        Sure. But “not enough space” has absolutely nothing to do with the huge surge in monument removals that are happening this week, and let’s not pretend otherwise…

        These things are being removed because an angry mob has declared that they are blasphemous. That’s the literal only reason. If there was any other reason, it wouldn’t be happening right now, at this exact moment in time.

      • albatross11 says:

        Street names, who’s on the currency, who gets holidays, whose statues are in the park–those are all ultimately symbolic, and it’s inevitable that someone’s going to choose the symbols based on their values. I share Matt’s dislike for airbrushing people out of history and horror at destroying art for symbolic reasons, but I also think the current residents of the city should be able to get rid of a statue they don’t like in the park and replace it with one they like better, whether that’s a statue of Jefferson Davis or Vladimir Lenin or Mickey Mouse. Similarly, they should be able to rename Jefferson Davis Boulevard to Martin Luther King Drive or something. It’s symbolic, and these are their symbols.

      • Noah says:

        but he’s a nice chap

        On the contrary, Pushkin was a huge jerk, including (probably) sleeping with the governor’s wife while writing and publicizing verses mocking said governor, and constantly provoking duels. A lot of society let him get away with this behavior because he was a great poet, until someone didn’t and he got killed in a duel.

        This is not to say that any of this has any bearing on whether he deserves statues; he undoubtedly does, but he wasn’t a “nice chap”.

        • ana53294 says:

          Compared to everybody else who gets statues in Russia, he’s as nice as it gets. I struggle coming up with a name of a Russian who’d get statues who would be less controversial than Pushkin.

          • albatross11 says:

            To quote Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly:

            It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another.

    • FLWAB says:

      I’m really glad that for whatever reason, 8th century Muslims didn’t decide to disassemble the Pyramids

      One of them did! And he tried his best. But it turns out that pyramids, being organized piles of heavy stones, are just about as hard to destroy as they are to build. Al-Malek al-Aziz Othman ben Yusuf, one of Saladin’s sons, decided to destroy all the pyramids at giza and stared with the Pyramid of Menkaure. His men spent a lot of time and effort and only managed to put a vertical gash into one side before they all decided it was a waste of time and money and gave up.

      The moral of the story: if you want something that will last, build a pyramid.

      • Jake R says:

        The moral of the story: if you want something that will last, build a pyramid.

        That’s true as far as it goes, but 8th century Muslims didn’t have ANFO.

        • FLWAB says:

          That leads to the question: if you wanted to build a monument today that would be the biggest pain in the ass to remove or destroy, what would your design be?

          • achenx says:

            The Pioneer plaque?

          • albatross11 says:

            Build your re-enforced concrete cask sealing tons of nuclear waste, but shape it into some statue of a figure likely to be cancelled in the future.

          • FLWAB says:

            The Pioneer plaque?

            Very hard to destroy, but I’d say it has effectively removed itself.

          • Lambert says:

            Imagine being a 27th century archaeologist excavating Yucca Mountain and discovering a Terracotta Army of vitrified, transuranic Robert E. Lees.

          • Eric T says:

            You could carve it into a giant piece of granite.

            Stone Mountain has to be the stupidest name for a mountain I’ve ever seen. Can we destroy Stone Mountain entirely for its crime against decent naming schemes?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Imagine being a 27th century archaeologist excavating Yucca Mountain and discovering a Terracotta Army of vitrified, transuranic Robert E. Lees.

            OK y’all: would this work better as a horror movie or a video game?

      • Eric T says:

        The moral of the story: if you want something that will last, build a pyramid.

        Better plan: send it to space! One day in the future when we decide that Elon Musk was E.V.I.L it’s going to be really hard to track down that damn car…

        • FLWAB says:

          On the other hand, nobody has to look at it on their daily commute. I smell a perfect compromise: send all controversial monuments into space!

          • Randy M says:

            Maybe we could recreate them instead.

            And thus was born our practice of designing satellites to resemble our most contraversial figures.

            Man those aliens are going to be confused.

      • Matt M says:

        I added the parts about the Sphinx and Abu Simbel anticipating this exact objection!

        And it seems to me that the Pharaohs probably considered this too. “Nobody will be able to get rid of this” was almost certainly a huge point in favor of constructing a large and elaborate (but structurally sound) tomb.

    • Etoile says:

      I also feel a visceral anger about this sort of thing — it’s brazen narrative-rewriting; it’s erasing the past, tampering with archives, in real time. I feel the same when I read little language-policing comments on the internet – “can we please stop referring to ‘cat-fights’? It’s too gendered.” Netflix using “life’s a dick” instead of “life’s a bitch”. I mean, these are tiny things; I don’t have any particular love for the word “bitch” or “catfight”, or John C. Calhoun (though I do for Churchill). It makes me want to homeschool and never touch public school again. It makes me want to throw something at someone. It makes me truly, viscerally angry when I see people do that.

      It’s like, this feeling of being brazenly left off, bamboozled, and you’re powerless to stop it.

      So you’re not alone.

    • FLWAB says:

      It’s funny, because I should agree with you.

      I’m a traditionalist, I’m a sentimentalist, I’m a romantic. I like old things, I like art, I like history. Logically I should be on your side.

      And yet when I really ask myself whether I think it’s wrong to tear down statues of evil men, my heart loudly yells back “Yes! 100 times yes!”

      When I first read about the Lenin statue in Seattle, I burned with rage. Even after I found out that it’s the most innocuous statue of Lenin you could have: bought by an art dealer from the former Soviet Union in the hopes of flipping it for a profit, currently sitting on private property in front of a shopping center. And yet my heart still burned. I applaud the people who regularly paint the statue’s hands red. If a mob threw ropes around it and toppled it, I would join them. And I approve of the fact that the US Army destroyed all the Nazi symbols they could find, even chiseling them out of the architecture. I’m proud that we did it! And my heart sings with joy whenever I see footage of newly freed people pulling down statues of Stalin, or Hussein, or any other dictator who is toppled.

      My mind tells me that I should really disapprove of these things, but my heart just isn’t in it. The fact is, I am angry when people want to take down statues of people I like, and I’m happy when they pull down statues of people I think are evil. The only reason I’m cautious about confederate statues is that I’m worried the mob will come for statues I like next.

      It’s funny when your head and heart disagree.

    • How do you feel about the destruction of statues of Stalin in eastern European countries after the fall of the Soviet Union?

    • One pope had his predecessor’s body dug up in order to mistreat it.

      I don’t think we’ve done that. Yet.

      • Deiseach says:

        One pope had his predecessor’s body dug up in order to mistreat it.

        The Corpse Synod of Pope Formosus!

        On the other necromantic hand, we have the romantic if unsettlingly obsessive story of Inês de Castro:

        Some sources say that after Peter became king of Portugal, he had Inês’ body exhumed from her grave and forced the entire court to swear allegiance to their new queen: “The king [Peter] caused the body of his beloved Inês to be disinterred, and placed on a throne, adorned with the diadem and royal robes. and required all the nobility of the kingdom to approach and kiss the hem of her garment, rendering her when dead that homage which she had not received in her life…” Some modern sources characterize the story of the Inês’ post-mortem coronation is a “legend.” and it is most likely a myth, since the story only appeared in 1577 in Jerónimo Bermúdez’ play Nise Laureada. She was later buried at the Monastery of Alcobaça where her coffin can still be seen, opposite Peter’s so that, according to the legend, at the Last Judgment Peter and Inês can look at each other as they rise from their graves. Both marble coffins are exquisitely sculpted with scenes from their lives and a promise by Peter that they would be together até ao fim do mundo (until the end of the world).

        And the equally romantic but not as disturbing impetus behind the Eleanor Crosses:

        King Edward turned his attention to Scotland. The King wrote to his Queen asking her to join him in the north, but she was taken ill on the journey. Eleanor died in the little village of Harby, Nottinghamshire, around 7 miles from Lincoln, on 28 November 1290, aged 48.

        Edward was desolate. He rushed back south and ordered that Eleanor’s body should travel back to London for burial in Westminster Abbey. She was first taken to St Catherine’s Priory, Lincoln for embalming and her viscera were buried in Lincoln Cathedral. It was also Eleanor’s wish that her heart be buried at Blackfriars Monastery in London (now under the station).

        Eleanor’s embalmed body was borne in great state on the long journey from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey, accompanied by Edward and a substantial cortege of mourners. In a devastatingly romantic gesture Edward soon gave orders that a beautiful memorial cross be erected at the site of each overnight stop of the funeral procession. The purpose of the crosses was to remind passers-by to stop and pray for the soul of the dead person.

    • It occurs to me that part of what bother me about these cases is that the dead are helpless, cannot defend themselves. So attacking a dead man feels wrong.

    • rahien.din says:

      The statue of Lee is particularly interesting. Lee would have welcomed its removal. He utterly opposed any monuments commemorating the civil war. For instance, he was invited to participate in the efforts to preserve the Gettysburg battlefield. He declined, writing “I think it well, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.” He opposed a memorial to Stonewall Jackson. When a woman showed him the artillery-battered remains of a tree in her Lexington yard, Lee’s response was “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.”

      Lee’s belief was that commemorating that strife would perpetuate it. I feel he was correct. Moreover, we must consider who is being reminded of what. Permanence is not itself a virtue – it only amplifies the virtue/evil inherent in the thing. I would not erect a statue of Sherman in Atlanta, and I would listen carefully when black people say they want these statues torn down.

      And they are only old bronzes. Nothing about these statues is as profound as the Mona Lisa, nor as ingenious as the pyramids, nor as beguiling as Stonehenge. The only value they have is in their resemblance to their subjects, and few people alive can even discern that. Cut them down, my dear Sir, and forget them.

      • Matt M says:

        Thanks for this reply. I find the argument compelling. So much so that you’ve probably already convinced me that “no new monuments celebrating wars or soldiers” is a good idea. That said, I’m not sure it justifies tearing down such monuments that already exist. Or if it does, it might apply to more than you think. Should we tear down the giant statues of Ramses? Michelangelo’s David? Should Saving Private Ryan be removed from HBO ala Gone With The Wind?

        Nor am I sure how this particular example relates to a statue of Thomas Jefferson, or Winston Churchill, or Christopher Columbus.

        • mtl1882 says:

          So much so that you’ve probably already convinced me that “no new monuments celebrating wars or soldiers” is a good idea.

          I agree with this, although it seems impossible to prevent people from erecting them.

          Personally, I don’t have strong feelings about statues/monuments and therefore would be fine with leaving them up, especially for the historical interest. But on a societal level, they seem to be divisive in various ways, and distracting. We talk more about the Lee statutes than about Lee. (Also aggravating but unsurprising is the lengths people will go to in order to preserve the exterior of houses of famous people, while taking no interest in the papers or possessions of these people that might shed more light on them). And they become targets for selfie-takers and general tourism in a way that really detracts from their purpose. People also fight over what the statue should look like, who should pay for it, who should be included, etc. This isn’t an issue for most war memorials, but it’s always seemed a problem to me that it’s harder to make commanding statues of people that aren’t very physically fit men, which makes them more associated with discriminatory history. It’s possible to find someone to pull off something like the Lincoln memorial, but rare. So women rarely get memorialized, etc.

          It reminds me of how Charles Sumner and other abolitionists argued against having battle-flags on uniforms after the Civil War, which understandably upset some Union veterans. But poor Sumner, of all people, being denounced as pro-Confederacy and opposed to Massachusetts’ interests. The infighting is nothing new, nor the urge to “cancel” someone for something done ten years earlier and ignored.

          In December 1872, he introduced a Senate resolution providing that Civil War battle names should not appear as “battle honors” on the regimental flags of the U.S. Army. The proposal was not new: Sumner had offered a similar resolution on May 8, 1862, and in 1865 he had proposed that no painting hanging in the Capitol portray scenes from the Civil War, because, as he saw it, keeping alive the memories of a war between a people was barbarous. His proposal did not affect the vast majority of battle-flags, as nearly all the regiments that fought had been state regiments, and these were not covered. But Sumner’s idea was that any United States regiment, that would in the future enlist southerners as well as northerners, should not carry on its ensigns any insult to those who joined it. His resolution had no chance of passing, but its presentation offended Union army veterans. The Massachusetts legislature censured Sumner for giving “an insult to the loyal soldiery of the nation” and as “meeting the unqualified condemnation of the people of the Commonwealth.” Poet John Greenleaf Whittier led an effort to rescind that censure the following year. He succeeded early in 1874 with the help of abolitionist Joshua Bowen Smith, who happened to be serving in the legislature that year.Sumner was able to hear the rescinding resolution presented to the Senate on the last day he was there. He died the following afternoon.

        • rahien.din says:

          Hi Matt M,

          That’s very kind of you to say, and I am humbled.

          Your guess is as good as mine regarding these other artworks. I would preserve Ramses and David, as they are magnificent in their own right, and not themselves bones of contention. (But then, I am not a Hittite.)

          I suspect that Saving Private Ryan is a keeper, but I’m not sure what to do with Gone With The Wind. And the comparison between those two is interesting.

          • Matt M says:

            but I’m not sure what to do with Gone With The Wind.

            I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Our betters have already decided for us.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Matt M: The HBO Max launch was a bad joke on non-ideological levels.
            T still looks like a high and safe dividend stock but what I’d really like to do is buy it the day before they get a new CEO.

          • rahien.din says:

            You should be more cynical. HBO outsourced the decision to the market.

            If DVD copies of Gone With The Wind increase in value, it reveals a preference that we keep that artwork. And HBO will decide whether to put it back. If DVD copies of Gone With The Wind do not increase in value, the HBO absolutely made the correct decision.

            There are other ways to assess this response. So maybe it’s a short-term advantageous political statement that comes with a market research consultation.

            I have to ask : HBO is a private enterprise and free to do as they wish. Why denigrate them as “our betters”?

          • AG says:

            If there is any decrease in access to Gone With The Wind, the problem is the consolidation of the entertainment industry into massive blocks, which should be trustbusted with great prejudice, and also an indictment of IP/copyright law.

          • Matt M says:

            I don’t see how trust-busting would help. Unless you’re proposing of eliminating IP entirely, there would still be one company (whether it’s a big one or a small one doesn’t seem relevant) who owns the rights to Gone With the Wind and who can decide that people are no longer allowed to watch it because it’s “problematic.”

            In theory you might say that if there were more companies, there would be more diversity when it comes to viewpoints about how this sort of thing works. But recent events would seem to prove this obviously wrong. AT&T isn’t any more woke than Comcast or Verizon or CBS or Netflix or anyone else. On social issues, every company is the same. They all agree. This is how/why Milo gets banned from five different social media platforms within the span of 12-hours. It wouldn’t matter if there was one more – they’d ban him too. It wouldn’t matter if the rights to Gone With The Wind were owned by Amazon Prime, they’d ban it too.

          • AG says:

            Trustbusting helps because smaller companies can appeal to smaller customer bases. Bluechecks can yell at Classic Problematic Movies Company all they want, and if DVD sales are good enough, CPMC can ignore them.

            The ridiculously large companies that exist today have to pander to the mainstream. Or China. Small AntiPolice Movies Company can make as many pro-Hong Kong films as they want, as long as the ticket and DVD sales within America are enough to cover their costs. Disney, on the other hand is licking those boots as hard as they can. The more theater and DVD-making companies there are out there, the less likely it is that the mob can make every single one of them leave money on the table.

            Smaller companies accept smaller offers. It’s easier for someone to buy the rights to GWTW from a small company who is gatekeeping it.

          • Matt M says:

            Bluechecks can yell at Classic Problematic Movies Company all they want, and if DVD sales are good enough, CPMC can ignore them.

            So where’s the social media network that’s itching to gain a competitive advantage by allowing Alex Jones and Milo and Nick Fuentes?

            Where’s the fast food joint that says “Nah, we’re not going to fire someone just because they went to a right-wing protest and a lot of blue-checks complained?”

          • Fahundo says:

            Where’s the fast food joint that says “Nah, we’re not going to fire someone just because they went to a right-wing protest and a lot of blue-checks complained?”

            Chick-fil-A?

          • rahien.din says:

            So where’s the social media network that’s itching to gain a competitive advantage by allowing Alex Jones and Milo and Nick Fuentes?

            Prima facie, there is no competitive advantage to be had by hosting them. This is simply the market at work.

          • AG says:

            Milo and Alex and Nick are not products being sold the way Gone With the Wind is, and neither are social media networks. I am only responding to the specific case of “Wow, this corporation gatekeeping this movie from streaming sure sucks!”

            In fact, Milo and Alex and Nick and buy servers to host videos, create the Archive of The Right’s Own (AORTO), and if they can still make a living by selling T-shirt merch, good for them. I am against banks and PayPal and Patreon and such gatekeeping financial transactions. But hey, if financial institutions were much smaller and plentiful, etc. etc.

          • Matt M says:

            Milo and Alex and Nick are not products being sold the way Gone With the Wind is, and neither are social media networks.

            Not as directly, but in a certain way they sort of are.

            Twitter makes money selling ads. The amount of money it can charge for ads is proportional to the amount of users on its site. The amount of users on its site depends heavily on network effects, such as “my favorite political commentators post to that site.” By removing such people, they decrease their appeal to users, which therefore decreases their appeal to advertisers.

            There are also more direct examples. Prager U (as standard, boring, mainstream as conservatism gets) tried to buy ads on Twitter, and was denied.

          • AG says:

            The indirectness of the transaction in the case of free social media warps the incentives, which is why solutions that would work for Gone With the Wind do not necessarily apply to social media.

            But hey, if we went back to the days where one signed up for a myriad of smaller forums instead of allowing consolidation to a centralized 5 networks…

      • Jiro says:

        In a monument version of ‘your rules fairly’, it’s perfectly consistent to believe “no monuments” > “monuments for everyone” > “monuments for one side”. So you can’t really conclude that because Lee disliked monuments in general, he would be okay with tearing down these monuments, since it is not part of a plan to tear down monuments in general.

    • John Schilling says:

      I see tearing down statues as roughly equivalent to book-burning. It’s not as specifically offensive to nerdy grey-tribers, because we’re mostly bibliophiles or bibliophile-adjacent whereas statues are aimed at a more neurotypical audience.

      And you can argue that the reason book-burning is such a heinous crime is that it destroys precious information, but people don’t burn books to deny scholars the ability to read [X] in the original. They do it for the sheer joy of destroying that which is precious to their enemy, and the hope that this will weaken the cohesion of their enemy’s culture.

      Carefully removing statues and putting them in warehouses, is akin to systematically removing books from library shelves. And should be viewed with the same level of suspicion.

      • FLWAB says:

        It’s funny: when I learned about how the United States pulped a lot of Nazi books and propaganda in West Germany after the war, the fact the books were pulped instead of burned made all the difference in the world in how I felt about it. Of course, in a classic book burning you would have a whole get together with the community throwing in the books in question so that’s probably why pulping feels less bad.

        I suppose the US Army pulping Nazi books also seems less bad because it was the army doing it in a systematic fashion. On the other hand, the fact that it was the army doing it kind of makes it worse. Over 30,000 book titles were banned, confiscated, and pulped, with possession of banned books a punishable offence. Its really not at all different from what the Nazi’s did (regarding books). The main difference (besides the severity of punishment, I assume) is that I genuinely believe that Nazi books are evil.

        • John Schilling says:

          Having it done invisibly by a bureaucracy at least takes away the part where one side is visibly celebrating the destruction of the other’s culture; I agree that this will make a difference in how it will likely be perceived.

          It also helps that we had everyone we thought might be a Nazi locked up in a prison camp(*) on “we think you’re probably a Nazi and we don’t care about that ‘due process’ crap over here” grounds. We skipped that step when we e.g. pulled down all the statues of Saddam Hussein, and spent the next decade paying for it.

          * Or building rockets in Alabama

          • Matt M says:

            Having it done invisibly by a bureaucracy at least takes away the part where one side is visibly celebrating the destruction of the other’s culture; I agree that this will make a difference in how it will likely be perceived.

            It’s not just a bureaucracy, it’s literally a conquering army. As I said previously, regarding Hitler statues, if we’re willing to admit that the relationship between the mobs of protesters in the streets and the regular red tribe folks who like confederate statues is similar to a conquering foreign army… that they have defeated us and are partaking in their allowable victory dance and enjoying their rightfully-earned spoils of conquest and we better shut up and tolerate it or they’ll make it a whole lot worse… then fine. I think that’s mostly true. Ask Steve Sailer about his “defeated peoples” theory the next time he’s around…

          • John Schilling says:

            It’s not just a bureaucracy, it’s literally a conquering army.

            These are not mutually exclusive, and that does matter.

    • BBA says:

      Funny, I’ve moved in the opposite direction. There is nobody good enough to be commemorated with a statue. We should tear them all down.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands

        — Romans 3:9-10

        Welcome to Christianity, BBA. We have cookies.

  11. Loriot says:

    I recently tried roasting broccoli (tossed in oil and vinegar), and while it wasn’t offensive, it didn’t really taste *good* either. It pretty much didn’t taste like anything except the salt I sprinkled on it afterwards. I was surprised since I saw references to the florets caramelizing online, so I thought there would be some sweetness or the like.

    Is this expected? What are the best practices for cooking broccoli?

    • herbert herberson says:

      Dice the more stemmy parts into small bits. Saute those with garlic, onion, and (a generous amount of) olive oil. Keep the garlic separate until the last few minutes, it doesn’t need as long as the stems and unlike onion can be pretty easily burned/overcooked. Add salt somewhere along the line (don’t think it matters when). Then blanch (cook a couple minutes on a high boil then rinse with cold water) the florettes. Toss the florettes with the rest, and serve.

      You could probably roast broccoli and/or include vinegar as an ingredient if you really knew what you were doing, because that’s absolutely the way to go for a lot of its cousins, but imo it doesn’t lend itself to that flavor profile as much as, say, brussel sprouts or kale

    • achenx says:

      I only tolerate broccoli at most. IMO the best practice is to roast brussels sprouts instead.

    • albatross11 says:

      My technique is to roast it with olive oil, spices, and a bit of lemon juice for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree (F) oven or 20 minutes in a 400 degree (F) one. Broccoli is easy to overcook, and also if mixed with other vegetables tends to make a kind of oil-and-spice-sponge that soaks up a lot of seasoning, so you may want to coat it last.

      I’m only roasting the florets and a little of the stem, I don’t like the big stems much.

      ETA: Brussels sprouts are great when prepared this way. Just cut off the stem and peel off the loose leaves, coat, and roast.

    • Clutzy says:

      I’d say its expected. The purpose of broccoli is as a sauce delivery mechanism.

    • Dog says:

      It’s possible to get the caramelizing effect you’re talking about by roasting, but frying the broccoli works better and more consistently. Also caramelizing isn’t really right, it gets a sort of nutty roasted flavor, not sweet. The broccoli needs to be pretty aggressively browned to get the proper flavor. It should look about like this (this is maybe a bit farther than I would take it): https://i2.wp.com/gimmedelicious.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/10-Minute-Crispy-Air-Fryer-Broccoli-2.jpg

      To fry, separate the broccoli into florets, then cut each floret length-wise into quarters. Fill a pan with maybe 1-2 mm of oil, and heat it on medium high. When it’s hot, put in the broccoli and spread it out evenly so it’s sitting flat in the pan. A full head will probably require 2 batches. Then just let it sit (important – don’t stir) until the bottoms of the pieces are quite brown but not black. Tip them up periodically to check. Once they are brown, flip them and wait again for the other side to brown. Once brown, stab them with a fork or something to see if they’re soft enough, if not turn down the heat and now start stirring a bit until they’re soft. Add salt and spices near the end of the process and stir to coat. If you fry the spices the whole time they’ll loose their flavor. I usually spice with some turmeric or cumin or black pepper. You could add lemon juice at the end if you use cumin or pepper.

    • SamChevre says:

      I love cabbage-family vegetables, but I do not like them roasted–to me, they taste like burnt matches smell when roasted.

      Three good ways to cook broccoli:
      Steam or boil it in florets until bright green, then chill. Serve with salad dressing/dip (ranch is good, blue cheese is great, aioli is nice, even good-quality mayo is quite good.)
      Steam or boil until tender, serve with hollandaise sauce, white sauce with mushrooms, cheese sauce, butter, or olive oil
      Stir-fry: either in olive oil with garlic and black pepper, or in neutral oil with a bit of sesame oil with some soy sauce and/or oyster sauce. Add water a bit at a time so it steams rather than browning.

    • Deiseach says:

      What are the best practices for cooking broccoli?

      Adapt the Dr Johnson quote about cucumbers to broccoli (since I like cucumbers):

      It has been a common saying of physicians in England, that a cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.

    • Lord Nelson says:

      I just steam it in the microwave and add salt. Best thing ever.

      Either that or I’m insane. (bean, care to weigh in?)

      • bean says:

        I can confirm that she does seriously believe that broccoli is the best thing ever. More than that, I cannot say.

    • CatCube says:

      I’ve never tried roasting broccoli, but I really like to flash-boil it (I always just used the directions on the package of store-brand frozen broccoli).

      Of course, I have very Finnish(-American?) tastes, and will always order my meals at a Thai place as “mild”, so calibrate my recommendations accordingly.

    • AG says:

      No one mentioned tempura in this thread yet. So here’s a comment that batter-fried broccoli is some good shit.

    • Gerry Quinn says:

      I think I like it best raw, or close to raw. It adds a nice crunch to a stir-fry.

    • Eric T says:

      Put some broccoli in with your steak the next time you pan-sear it. Don’t forget to add plenty of butter.

      Broccoli also makes a great addition to chicken parm if you’re trying to cut carbs. Have it as a side/under the dish instead of pasta.

  12. AG says:

    Imagine a world where sound bites are banned.

    The policy is that all quotes or clips must include a minimum time or word count from the person being quoted/excerpted. Say, 3 minutes for audio and video, and 500 words for text. (Interviews count under audio/video, unless it was, like a text chat or email exchange.)
    Unless the thing being quoted is the very first or very last thing the person said, the quote must also be centered within that time.

    Let us hand-wave the fact that getting such a policy passed and enforced would require an extremely authoritarian government. Let us also hand-wave outright defiance of the policy. Journalists can develop tricks to try and point people towards the bit they really want to focus on, but don’t just openly flaunt the rule.

    What kind of effects does this have on society?
    For one big one, the length of any given news story inherently increases, which reduces the number of stories that can be reported on per day, for audio-visual formats. There would be large IP law consequences to be wrestled with. Does a search engine blurb count as a quote? Are hot takes less compelling when they’re constantly interrupted by huge paragraphs of quote or chunks of audio/visual excerpt? Do people finally just read the original AP Reuters release? What sort of tricks would writers and pundits develop in response?
    And should the policy apply to demonetized/unmonetized productions? (Let us once again hand-wave enforcement if it does.)

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Modification: either the quote is complete or at least as long as your minimum.

      • AG says:

        Yes. If the speech was less than 3 minutes total, the clip is allowed to be the length of the speech. However, in the case of an interview, “speech” is not bounded by questions. If the answer to a single question is less than 3 minutes, the clip must include the partial answers and questions surrounding the pull quote. And let’s add one more interview format stipulation that any included questions and answers must contain the full question and answer. So if the pull quote is in the middle and less than 3 minutes, then the quote must include the entirety of the preceding and following questions and answers.

    • Aftagley says:

      For one big one, the length of any given news story inherently increases, which reduces the number of stories that can be reported on per day, for audio-visual formats.

      Hard disagree – news media would just pivot more towards summaries or restatements of what was said rather than the actual quote itself. Ex:

      “In a speech today, Hillary Clinton alleged that a large base of Donald Trump’s supporters are awful people.”

      “During a private event, Govenor Romney revealed that he believes almost half of his opponent’s base only” votes for him because they want handouts from the government.”

      If people care, they can look the actual quotes up themselves.

      • AG says:

        Does such a format still have credibility? The fact-checker sites would have a field day over how all paraphrases are “mostly false.”

        • Aftagley says:

          I mean, I’m sure norms would develop pretty quickly around how to paraphrase accurately. And if that’s the only way of getting bite-sized news snippets I think we’d all manage.

          • AG says:

            The question is if the market would support it. Would people still flock to the few outlets who are putting out the longer quotes, or would they really be content with only hearing the paraphrase?

    • TimG says:

      Imagine a world where sound[s]… are banned.

      That’s just silly on it’s face. I didn’t bother reading the rest.

    • Etoile says:

      Man, imagine the amount of new case law around whether a video with the same clip on loop for 5 minutes violates teh ban. What about 10 hours of Gandalf head-banging to techno music?

      • AG says:

        Hence the last question about whether or not the policy should only apply to monetized content. If so, then sites can simply not run ads on videos with such loops. (However, this might incentivize hosting sites to have TOSs penalizing such parasitic content, then, which in turn creates more of an ecosystem where people own their own servers develop more distributed-hosting software.)

        Music sampling, on the other hand…

  13. AlesZiegler says:

    I´d like to return to this thread, from which I gathered an impression that many regular commenters here sincerely believe that “the blue tribe” (or something roughly similar, nomenclature is not settled) is attempting to turn USA into a totalitarian country. Personally I find this hypothesis rather wild, which has been reflected in my last rather uncharitable comment about tinfoil hats. I temporarily lost my balance and know I wish to apologize. Unfortunately I cannot delete that comment since window for that has passed.

    You are invited to state your best arguments for that proposition here.

    (yes I am very well aware that this might end very badly, but it is nagging me so much that I am not willing that go).

    • rocoulm says:

      Take, for example, a few of what I would consider typical “Blue Tribe” talking points:
      1) Gun control
      2) Anti-hate speech legislation
      3) Larger welfare state
      The first two are, to me, clearly restrictions on personal liberty. The third could be described as either “too much taxation” or “government-mandated charity”, both of which can also be viewed as anti-liberty. So clearly, Blue Tribe-ism has an interest in expanding government power.

      Beyond that, the leap from “the left wants more government” to “the left wants an autocratic dictatorship” is probably partly an uncharitable strawman of your opponent’s views and partly genuine worry about a slippery slope that’ll never end.

      • Space Hobo from Hobospace says:

        Are autocratic and totalitarian synonyms? Autocracy implies existence of one person in charge, like a king, right. I think bureaucracy-powered welfare totalitarianism can be thing.

        • rocoulm says:

          Probably not, but when I think of the accusation @AlesZiegler is talking about, it’s been directed at the presidency. “King Obama” and whatnot.

        • Randy M says:

          How I understand it is that autocratic means you have no say in the government. Totalitarian means you have no say in your life.
          But it’s a spectrum.

        • 10240 says:

          Totalitarianism is usually used to describe a subset of dictatorships, specifically the harshest ones. Describing things like increased bureaucracy or limited restrictions on liberty in a democracy as totalitarianism are simply attempts to use the strong negative affect associated with totalitarian dictatorships to tar policies most people find orders of magnitude less objectionable (if objectionable at all) when described in neutral terms.

          • Bergil says:

            Maybe I’m using the word wrong, but I’ve always viewed totalitarianism as a trait of ideologies, rather than governments- specifically ideologies that place stringent limitations on even the smallest detail of how someone lives their life (I.E., they demand total obedience). As such, a literal Puritan society would be totalitarian even if it was a democracy and Puritanism was enforced entirely through social pressure, such as “cancelling”

            I tend to distinguish this from Absolutism, which is where the ruler holds all the power. I admit that the two concepts are very entangled in the common understanding, possibly because the 20th Century’s two big baddies were totalitarian absolutist polities. Or maybe this is just a distinction unique to me.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Bergil:

            Maybe I’m using the word wrong, but I’ve always viewed totalitarianism as a trait of ideologies, rather than governments- specifically ideologies that place stringent limitations on even the smallest detail of how someone lives their life (I.E., they demand total obedience).

            And “we will use law enforcement to stop you leaving your home for unauthorized reasons” plus “Silence is not an option” appear to add up to a totalitarian ideology.

        • Garrett says:

          > Are autocratic and totalitarian synonyms?

          No. As others have noted, autocratic means rule by a single person. But this could be anything from an enlightened philosopher-king to Stalin.

          Then you need to separate authoritarian from totalitarian.

          Authoritarian regimes are ones where the main goal is the preservation of the existing authority. They don’t care what you do as long as you don’t speak up against the authority itself. So they may be apathetic to the religion, commercial activities or hobbies of the general population, so long as there is no challenge to them remaining in power. Saddam Hussein’s regime was a go-to example here.

          Totalitarian regimes are ones which impose not only a particular authority, but an all-encompassing ideology. The Italian Fascist party was a classic example, but the current North Korean regime is probably another good one. In these cases, almost every element of daily life is substantially impacted by state control and ideology. The control the totality of your life.

      • Aftagley says:

        Take, for example, a few of what I would consider typical “Red Tribe” talking points:
        1) Drug Prohibition
        2) Immigration Control
        3) Larger Corporate Welfare State
        The first two are, to me, clearly restrictions on personal liberty. The third could be described as either “too little taxation” or “government-mandated charity”, both of which can also be viewed as anti-liberty. So clearly, Red Tribe-ism has an interest in expanding government power.

        Beyond that, the leap from “the right wants more government” to “the right wants an theocratic dictatorship” is probably partly an uncharitable strawman of your opponent’s views and partly genuine worry about a slippery slope that’ll never end.

        • rocoulm says:

          Don’t worry, I’m not here to defend Republicans.

        • Erusian says:

          1) Drug Prohibition
          2) Immigration Control
          3) Larger Corporate Welfare State

          I’ll grant you the first two, but I don’t think corporate welfare is a right wing thing. It wasn’t Republicans that put in place the Agricultural Adjustment Act or other New Deal policies.

          • Aftagley says:

            Eh, I’m still pissed about Citizens United and Trump’s tax cuts. At best, both sides are way too guilty of this.

            That being said, I’ll grant that it wasn’t the best fit, but I wanted something that mirrored the structure of the original post.

          • achenx says:

            Citizen’s United was fine IMO but as far as “corporate welfare” I still haven’t gotten over Kelo v New London..

          • You are arguing that having low taxes is the same thing as having a welfare state? I would have said that they correlate negatively. The Scandinavian welfare states have much higher taxes than the U.S., and the modern U.S. much higher than the 19th century U.S. or Britain, which were much farther from being welfare states.

            Citizens United has nothing to do with a welfare state.

            You are definitely far agley on these ones.

          • Anteros says:

            You are definitely far agley on these ones.

            It took me a while to parse that, but 😀

          • Aftagley says:

            You are definitely far agley on these ones.

            Hey, someone finally got this!

            You are arguing that having low taxes is the same thing as having a welfare state?

            What? No. I’m saying it’s an example of Corporate welfare. Am I misusing that term? Basic google-ing seems to back up my usage.

          • JayT says:

            I don’t think lower taxes can be considered corporate welfare. It’s just…lower taxes. Corporate welfare would be stuff like farm subsidies or bailouts, where it’s direct payments to a specific corporation. Tax breaks for a specific business or sector could probably fall under this banner, but across the board lower taxes shouldn’t be considered corporate welfare. It’s just…lower taxes.

          • Aftagley says:

            Sure, if you cut taxes X percent across the board it’s just cutting taxes. But if you cut taxes X percent for most individuals and 5X for corporations, I’d call that taking action that disproportionately benefits the corporations.

          • I’d call that taking action that disproportionately benefits the corporations.

            So you would argue that if tax rates are cut for low income taxpayers, that counts as welfare? Currently the bottom half of the income distribution pays close to zero federal income tax — does that make the U.S. a welfare state?

            Corporations are legal persons but not real persons, so they can’t pay taxes by reducing how much they eat or how nice their clothes are. The tax is ultimately paid by human beings, some mix of customers, employees, and stockholders.

          • Etoile says:

            I would take issue with #2. Unless it’s restrictions on Emigration, i.e. leaving the country, or Internal Migration, i.e. moving cities or states (both things the USSR did), I don’t see preventing the ability of new people to settle permanently – or even restricting access of newcomers to citizenship -as infringing the liberty of citizens or those already under protection of the government. I think it’s implicit that in protecting liberties, or rights, or well-being, a country is responsible first to its citizens and (perhaps) permanent residents, and then – if the citizens choose – contribute something towards the well-being of others.

          • Aftagley says:

            So you would argue that if tax rates are cut for low income taxpayers, that counts as welfare?

            No, because like you say, cutting taxes on an entity that already pays little to no taxes will have little to no effect on the amount of money they have access to. That’s why we focus on giving resources to the poor instead of cutting taxes, since we want them to have access to more money/food/whatever.

            On the other hand, if an entity does pay a semi-substantial amount in taxes then yes, I’d argue that cutting their taxes could be considered giving them welfare since, as a result of state action, they will now have more money.

            The tax is ultimately paid by human beings, some mix of customers, employees, and stockholders.

            Fine, but they are doing so in the form of a corporation. I’m equally fine with “this mix of customers, employees and stockholders” paying more in taxes, but my way of saying it seems quicker.

          • So you would argue that if tax rates are cut for low income taxpayers, that counts as welfare?

            No, because like you say, cutting taxes on an entity that already pays little to no taxes will have little to no effect on the amount of money they have access to.

            So in your view, when the tax code was changed in the way that resulted in the bottom half of the income distribution paying almost no federal income tax, that was welfare to low income taxpayers?

            If so, isn’t continuing to keep it low the continuation of such welfare?

        • Fahundo says:

          Not sure this is how you intended it to be taken, but it is my unironic belief that both tribes want to turn the country into slightly different totalitarian hellholes and only selectively bring up issues like personal liberty when they think they’re losing on a particular front.

          • Aftagley says:

            Yeah, that was my point.

          • DinoNerd says:

            This. There’s a lot of desire to force bad People (TM) to do what you believe to be right, regardless of what they believe. Many people reach for whatever stick is handy to accomplish this self-evidentally worthy goal, and the government stick sure is handy – at least for whichever group currently holds power in that particular government.

            Some people believe that when this is taken too far, particularly with the technologies we now have, some kind of hell hole inevitably results. But then we disagree on how far is too far.

            Most of us – except perhaps extreme anarchists and libertarians – believe that there are some things so bad that they should be prevented or punished by any sane society. And AFAICT, this has been true as long as there have been human societies, long before anything like government existed.

            Human nature means that many people who can’t wield the government stick at a particular time/place/issue, find themselves defending a much broader idea of “taken too far” than most of those who can.

          • Most of us – except perhaps extreme anarchists and libertarians – believe that there are some things so bad that they should be prevented or punished by any sane society.

            Why do you consider anarchists and libertarians an exception to that?

          • DinoNerd says:

            Why do you consider anarchists and libertarians an exception to that?

            I don’t know whether any of them are, but I’ve seen enough ideology-motivated posts that go beyond my idea of common sense, that I’d be unsurprised to read a post claiming that “anything goes” from somewhere in that viewpoint, and would not immediately assume the poster was an agent provacateur trolling.

        • I don’t think the right is more supportive of drug prohibition than the left. If you look at something like the Drug Policy Alliance, you see people identified with both right and left. On both sides, most people are for prohibition, a minority against. The only group consistently against are libertarians, some of whom are red tribe, some blue. Personally, I think I am purple. Or, better, grey.

          On immigration, the right is currently much more against it than the left, but I don’t think that has been generally true.

          And on the welfare state, if I understand you correctly, you have it backwards. It’s the left that admires the Scandinavian welfare states, the right that criticizes them.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Democrats are quite a bit more likely to support legalizing marijuana, a trend that has held for at least 20 years. For harder drugs, 69% of Democrats favour decriminalization, as compared to 40% of Republicans.
            I can’t find partisan breakdown of polling on legalizing hard drugs; there is a Vox/Morning Consult poll that I can’t seem to get access to, but I see no reason why it should differ from the trend above.

          • Noah says:

            I think the correct parsing of Aftagley’s third point is Larger ((Corporate Welfare) State).

            “corporate welfare” as a concept is distinct form “welfare” as a concept.

        • AlexOfUrals says:

          2) Immigration Control

          How’s that a restriction on personal liberty? None seriously believes that the guarantees of the constitution or the obligations of the state are equally applied to foreigners as well as citizens. You can’t be blamed for taking away a liberty that you didn’t guarantee in the first place, and was never expected to guarantee by literally anyone (speaking as an immigrant here). Emigration control is definitely a totalitarian trait, but luckily it’s way outside the Overtone window in the US and nobody’s hasting to bring it in.

          • Randy M says:

            None seriously believes that the guarantees of the constitution or the obligations of the state are equally applied to foreigners as well as citizens.

            Careful there with absolutes. I’m pretty sure what “everyone” believes will be beyond the pale in a generation.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        It is not an uncharitable strawman since people in that thread are literally using T word. I found it rather surprising and startling.

        • rocoulm says:

          It is not an uncharitable strawman since people in that thread are literally using T word

          I meant that some people using the T-word are strawmanning the Blue Tribe. Not necessarily the people in the thread you linked, just people in the larger Culture War generally.

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        If your hypothesised outcome resembles Berlin in 2020 much more than Berlin in 1980 or 1940 then it is very silly to call it totalitarian.

    • Randy M says:

      I didn’t really participate in that thread and wouldn’t agree with a straight reading of your thesis.
      What I would say is that blue tribe is the one more comfortable with centralization of power, deference to technocratic authority. They will look more favorably on precedents that expand federal power. Whereas the right/red tribe is more in favor of an emergent order and suspicious of people in power having unique competence. Who the current occupant of the white house or governors office is may shift this but these are trends.

      In general, just as the left is going to be more sensitive to matters of minority injustice (perhaps over sensitive, at times) the right is more sensitive to matters of expanding federal/governmental power. Well, except for all the grifters, hypocrites, or simply non-ideological party members who get into power and enjoy it’s expansion, or appreciate a state that occasionally steps on the toes of their foes.

      In the current crisis (no, the other one), I think the widely held goal minimizing death and suffering exists in some law-makers/enforcers along with a bias that “if we let the people do what they want, they are going to do stupid stuff.” Which, sure, is true in some cases, but that assumption colors their estimation of the value of the trade-offs.

    • Loriot says:

      I don’t think either party is against “expanding federal government”. They just want it to do different things.

      Republicans often complain about “government overreach”, but their actual actions in power belie that concern.

      • Randy M says:

        This may be a case where a “tribe”/”party” distinction is useful.

        • Loriot says:

          I don’t believe there *is* a “tribe/party distinction”. Nobody seems to agree on what exactly the tribes mean anyway, and in practice, they’re just used as an esoteric stand in for “my side’s supporters” and “the other side’s supporters”.

          • Randy M says:

            But there is a difference between what the supporters want and what the elected officials do in office, for both parties.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Loriot:

            I don’t believe there *is* a “tribe/party distinction”. Nobody seems to agree on what exactly the tribes mean anyway, and in practice, they’re just used as an esoteric stand in for “my side’s supporters” and “the other side’s supporters”.

            Hopefully this will help clarify:

            Ted Turner is a (rich) Southern white man. That codes Red tribe (regardless of income). He’s a Democrat who found “being famous for speaking in favor of Communist regimes” attractive in a wife. He made things in the entertainment industry that code as both Red tribe (WCW pro rasslin’) and Blue tribe (Captain Planet).
            His politics didn’t change every time he code switched between Blue and Red mannerisms or entertainment.

            Bill Clinton was also a master of this. Jimmy Carter got heckled by the media for not being a master of code switching into their culture.

    • cassander says:

      I would argue that the there is a core aspiration of blue tribe that can be charitably described as “ordered liberty”, and uncharitably described as “anything not approved should be forbidden.” I think this tendency is dangerous, and I think that there are plenty of people out there pushing visions that would lead to, if not outright totalitarianism, at least deeply oppressive and unpleasant regimes.

      I don’t think that means most people pushing those ideas are looking forward to setting up death squads. I just think they’re wrong about how people work or grabbing for power without really considering the long run consequences. That doesn’t mean they are less dangerous, however.

      • Aftagley says:

        People in the blue tribe have these same fear of people on the right. The only difference is that when it’s stuff your tribe wants, you don’t see it as a dangerous expansion and march towards totalitarianism.

        • Jacobethan says:

          In terms of the argument from symmetry of sides (which is generally a form of argument I like), I’d see it as a series of layers:

          1. There’s the age-old eternal hypocrisy where parties are formalists (power-limiting) when out of power and pragmatists (power-expanding) when in it. No party can claim a shred of virtue in this regard.

          2. At present, polarization, distrust, media silo-ing, etc., have increased incentives to defect against traditional rules and limiting principles. Again, goes for both sides. I would argue for various sociological reasons (e.g., age) that the right’s long-term status-quo-bias might be slightly higher, though admittedly this is somewhat belied by Trump.

          3. But the left controls many more of the relevant non-governmental institutions (media, academia, tech), particularly those responsible for the formation and gatekeeping of elites. If either side wanted to try for a major restructuring of the rules of engagement, it’s much easier to imagine the avenues by which the left could actually pull it off.

          • Wency says:

            All good points. I especially emphasize the third point — when the left is in charge of the government, it really controls all the levers of power (note, also, the left-leaning nature of the bureaucracy). When the right is in charge, it probably doesn’t even control
            half the levers of power.

            One one other point I’d add is that all Republican politics is conducted under a sense of doom amidst the evident inevitability of the emerging Democratic majority. Yes, some people try to say “it never emerged”, but it did: thanks to demographic change, the Democrats do have an apparently permanent and growing majority of the popular vote. We’re currently in the late stages of a transitional period where the non-majoritarian features of the Constitution (and the possibility of uneven turnout) make Republican wins in Congress and the Electoral College narrowly possible.

            As long as American democracy remains healthy, at some point after perhaps 10-20 years of total defeat, the Republicans will re-organize into a viable second party, or a new party will emerge. It happened before. Maybe the Republicans can even organize into a viable form before that happens.

            But with all the breakdown in our system at this point, we can also easily imagine the Democratic Party becoming a permanent “party of power”, like United Russia, Fidesz, the PRI, etc., with consequent breakdown in democratic norms and liberties.

      • Loriot says:

        @cassander

        I don’t think that tendency is correlated to political affiliation. At best, it just manifests in different policy preferences on any particular issue based on where that happens to fall on the partisan divide.

      • cassander says:

        @Aftagley & Loriot

        I think, objectively, they’re wrong. The old joke goes “Fear the libertarian conspiracy, they’re going to take over the world and then leave everyone alone!” Red tribe is not libertarian, or even close to it, but their aspirations are more limited than that of blue tribe, which makes them less dangerous. Ask yourself, if we picked a god emperor, who would change things more, McConnell or Pelosi? Or to quote Ambrose Bierce, “CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils of the world, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.”

        But then, I think the world we have is pretty good, and that there are a lot more ways to make it worse than better, so of course I’d think that.

        • Jake R says:

          As a libertarian, I’d rather have the world the Republicans say they want than the world the Democrats say they want. If you made me actually pick one for God-Emperor though, it would be a much tougher choice.

      • Eric Rall says:

        I would argue that the there is a core aspiration of blue tribe that can be charitably described as “ordered liberty”, and uncharitably described as “anything not approved should be forbidden.”

        I had a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of “ordered liberty” as the term was used in Albion’s Seed, but it eventually clicked when I put together the formulation “Liberty is a condition which a society has when its rules are fair and equitable and its leaders are virtuous”. The same formulation seems to describe much of the modern Blue Tribe’s attitudes as well, with the important caveat that “fair”, “equitable”, and “virtuous” mean radically different things to modern Blue Tribers than to 17th Century Puritans.

        I expect my formulation still needs a bit of work to pass an Ideological Turing Test: in particular, I don’t think “virtuous” quite the right term a modern Blue Triber would use to describe their ideal political leader.

        • cassander says:

          H.L. Mencken described puritanism as the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy. But loathe as I am to disagree with the sage of Baltimore, but what haunts puritans isn’t a fear of happiness, it’s a fear that someone might be enjoying something sinful. The definition of sin has shifted over time, but not the attitude towards stamping it out.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      You can’t by freaking contact lenses without a prescription, how’s that not totalitarian?!

      More seriously though, at least for me what gives most of the totalitarian feel is that certain opinions and ideas are not allowed to be even hinted on. Yes it’s not the government’s action, but nobody’s seriously claiming that the US is totalitarian – just that it’s where the left wants it to go. And if they are committed to only using public shaming against wrongspeech, and never put it in law even given a chance, they definitely don’t show any signs of such commitment.

      Not further than the last open thread Eric T (sorry for possible misinterpretation but that was my reading) mentioned the fact that cautious supporters of SJ ideas are not usually considered as enemies by the SJW crowd as evidence for the left being tolerant to other ideas. When the range of permitted opinions varies between “furious up-to-11 support of our cause” and “cautious support of our cause” and that fact is quoted as a sign of tolerance, that’s very much totalitarian on my book.

      Another example, my girlfriend is a PhD of political sciences in a . She told how when she attended a workshop about teaching, they spoke about what to do if there’s a person in the class who makes everyone (!) feel uncomfortable. What was an example of such a person the tutor used? A Republican. Again, if making someone who supports a major, perfectly legal, widely popular political party into such an example is considered a-OK when you’re teaching a workshop on bloody inclusion, that doesn’t exactly signal your willingness to tolerate political opposition, does it? And a government unwilling to tolerate a political opposition is what people call totalitarian.

      • Eric T says:

        Not further than the last open thread Eric T (sorry for possible misinterpretation but that was my reading) mentioned the fact that cautious supporters of SJ ideas are not usually considered as enemies by the SJW crowd as evidence for the left being tolerant to other ideas. When the range of permitted opinions varies between “furious up-to-11 support of our cause” and “cautious support of our cause” and that fact is quoted as a sign of tolerance, that’s very much totalitarian on my book.

        That I think is an uncharitable reading of what I said – context was important. There are certainly extremists who view anything less than total support as intolerance, but I’ve consistently maintained they are a vocal minority – I’ve run into many of the “God King Trump” types, and I don’t think that the Right is structurally intolerant. I’ve literally seen people I respect be put on a “traitors to america list” for supporting BLM, soooooo….

        Also please remember what Guy in TN said last OT

        Inferring positive claims from the absence of claims is always a risky move.

        A: “I support black people, Hispanic people, and white people to live in harmony together!”
        Headline: “Person A says Native Americans Are Excluded From Harmonious Living”

        The fact I didn’t also mention conservative views was because Beans’s thread wasn’t about them.

        Within the same OT I commented on how I and most of my friends have conservative friends, and how even my actual best friend in the world is a conservative. I know this is kind of the inverse of the “I have a black friend argument” but it still feels like you took me out of context here.

        • AlexOfUrals says:

          Yeah I definitely took your words out of context and apologize for that. To my defense, I was using them as a graphic illustration of my experience, rather than a proof of anything. Also, my point wasn’t about extremists, it was about “non-extremists” who think that it’s OK to agree with us just moderately – as long as you don’t actually disagree with us.

          E.g. in our startup, someone posted just today a link to an article about ShutDownSTEM and ShutDownAcademia (not with implication that we should shut down ourselves, but still as something definitely positive). Not a single person out of a dozen in the team mentioned anything about that you know, large parts of academia and STEM are working on problems more important and urgent than mistreatment of black people in the US (not to mention those who work on the problems of said US black people), and maybe it’s not such a great idea to shut down them? And no the article wasn’t making any exception for them, I checked, it only excluded COVID-related work. Did it not occur to anyone but me? Or were they just like myself not willing to check just how tolerant to contrary opinions our company is? No idea, but neither option feels good to me.

          Just flip it around and imagine that there were anti-immigration protests across the country and you would feel unsafe to say at your workplace that yeah sure we need less immigrants here, but maybe there’s sooome downsides to having less of them? Would you feel a bit totaletarian-ish in such an environment? Would it help if people told you that hey, you don’t have to vocally advocate for deporting every single non-American, if you just cautiously support more immigration restrictions that’s also fine? Or imagine after Obama’s election the employees of one of the top-3 largest US companies were all invited to hug and cry on each other’s shoulder on their monthly meeting, to help them cope with this horrible event (referring to a somewhat-famous episode at Google after Trump election). Would you feel that the right-leaning leadership of that company is very committed to the ideals of democracy? And mind that my examples come from the tech companies, which (in the real world) are absolutely hated by the left and considered to be the den of prejudice and bigotry.

          people I respect be put on a “traitors to america list”

          Did it damage their career or public image, or was it someone’s personal (or online community’s) list?

          Inferring positive claims from the absence of claims is always a risky move.

          Not sure what this refers to, but my words about the left “not showing signs of commitment” etc were a figure of speech. I actually think they show plenty of signs of determination to use political power to limit their opponents’ right to speak where possible.

          • BlackboardBinaryBook says:

            Not a single person out of a dozen in the team mentioned anything about that you know, large parts of academia and STEM are working on problems more important and urgent than mistreatment of black people in the US (not to mention those who work on the problems of said US black people), and maybe it’s not such a great idea to shut down them?

            I work in an intensely SJW department of an intensely SJW university in an intensely SJW city. We had this conversation (although no one said “our work is more important than the mistreatment of black people”) and almost all of us stayed at work. I think maybe it’s because I don’t do Twitter or Facebook, but sometimes it seems like I live in a different reality than the other commenters here when it comes to the ubiquity & power of the SJW WrongThink Police. To be clear, I don’t mean to dismiss your fear, just explain why it’s hard for me to grasp.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        I cannot resist pointing out that I can and regularly do buy contact lenses without a prescription. But I live in Czechia.

        • AlexOfUrals says:

          That’s exactly my point. A bought a supply for the next 1-2 years on my visit to Russia.

        • MilesM says:

          Another completely tangential comment: Do you actually like the name “Czechia?”

          (I’m not under the illusion that my opinion matters, but something about it sets my teeth of edge.)

          • AlesZiegler says:

            Yes, I do. “Czech republic” sounds awful.

          • Wency says:

            I agree that it’s somewhat cacophonic to English ears, but still better than Czech Republic. I feel like we should have called it Bohemia, which is alike to calling the Netherlands “Holland”. Technically wrong or misleading, but it has a historical basis and sounds good. If the Czechs had been consistently independent for a longer span of history, this is almost surely what we would be calling the country.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Wency, as I understand it, some variant of “Czechia” was always the local name used in Czech; “Bohemia” was the exonym given by the Romans that persisted in medieval Latin.

            (AlesZiegler, feel free to correct me if I’m misunderstanding.)

          • Wency says:

            @Evan:
            My understanding is you are correct that it’s an exonym, but we prominently call next-door Germany by an exonym. We would probably call the Czech lands by one too, if the name had evolved in English more naturally.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            @Evan Þ

            You are correct that Czech variant of Czechia has been in use long before its internationaly announced pseudofficial translation, but it is NOT a historic name – it developed after the division of Czechoslovakia and was somewhat controversial.

            But there is no realistic alternative. Bohemia is a nonstarter as a name of the whole country since almost half of it is not historic Bohemia and many Moravians would be offended if they would get etymologically annexed like that.

          • BBA says:

            To my American ears “Czechland” sounds slightly better but maybe it’s too Germanic for the Czechs.

    • I don’t think members of the blue tribe believe they are trying to turn America into a totalitarian country. I do think the changes many of them support could lead in that direction by strengthening the power of government, weakening private institutions.

    • Erusian says:

      Personally, my model is that there is a small-to-maybe-midsized group mostly on the right who care about democracy qua democracy and the Constitution qua the Constitution. And that these are the only people who care: nobody on the left does and the vast majority of people on the right don’t either. Everyone else just has policy preferences and is willing to accept broad abridgments of the constitutional order to get them. (These Constitutionalists are not necessarily good people, by the way. There is a good argument to be made against privileging procedure, though I don’t find it ultimately convincing.)

      I’d argue the mainstream left is “closer” to totalitarianism because it has more elite and institutional support. (It’s also closer than radical leftism, like Sanders, who has more institutional barriers than right or left. Though Sanders in turn is closer than a radical far rightist like someone who openly declares themselves a Fascist.) This means it would meet less resistance, while the right would have to basically deconstruct or subvert the majority of major American institutions to get to a totalitarian state. But this is incidental to the ideology itself. You could equally well imagine a conservative order that was closer, it’s just not the current situation.

      But do I think it’s an active goal of the Democratic Party? No. I could see a future where we stumble into dictatorship as the Democrats and Republicans increasingly compromise rights in order to make short term policy or electoral goals. Or I could see a future where polarization gets so extreme that neither side is willing to accept even minor defeats and one of them tries to do something dramatic. But I don’t think either side has a leadership that sits around thinking, “Soon, soon we will do away with this sham called democracy and put a bullet in my colleague over there!”

      • John Schilling says:

        Personally, my model is that there is a small-to-maybe-midsized group mostly on the right who care about democracy qua democracy and the Constitution qua the Constitution. And that these are the only people who care: nobody on the left does and the vast majority of people on the right don’t either.

        This is about right. There used to also be a strong contingent of civil libertarians mostly on the left, and that made for a much more robust coalition, but it’s fading fast.

        But another significant factor is that the right is less confident that it will always be in power, and is therefore more cautious about power that will likely be used against them when the other side is in power. Which,

        I’d argue the mainstream left is “closer” to totalitarianism because it has more elite and institutional support.

        Factors into this correct observation. If your coalition’s power is based on voters and elected officials, then what is yours today is the other side’s tomorrow. But if you’re an Elite or a Bureaucrat, you’ll still be an Elite or a Bureaucrat five years from now when the other side has elected a new batch of politicians. So if you can solve the problem du jour by increasing your power locally, that power is both useful for solving the problem du jour and yours to use in the future. What’s not to love?

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Factors into this correct observation. If your coalition’s power is based on voters and elected officials, then what is yours today is the other side’s tomorrow. But if you’re an Elite or a Bureaucrat, you’ll still be an Elite or a Bureaucrat five years from now when the other side has elected a new batch of politicians. So if you can solve the problem du jour by increasing your power locally, that power is both useful for solving the problem du jour and yours to use in the future. What’s not to love?

          I have this idea that in a democracy it would be possible to fire all the bureaucrats when your side wins federal elections: every single unelected federal employee and the administrators of public universities.
          That would leave the corporate Elites who hate you, but a Communist Revolution by ballot box would be pants-on-head irrational given the historical record. Oh well.

          • zero says:

            Something like the spoils system in 19th century America?

          • John Schilling says:

            We tried that; it resulted in horribly corrupt and incompetent political appointees staffing all the federal agencies and trying desperately to exploit their power for all it was worth while they had it. With effectively no accountability because their fellow party hacks weren’t going to turn against them while it was their collective turn in office, and they’re damned the moment the other side wins even if you were scrupulously honest all the while.

            It was barely tolerably bad with the weak sort of government we had in the 19th century; I do not want to try it in the 21st.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @John Schilling: But then the faction that succeeded in making the bureaucracy an ideological monoculture is the permanent ruling class. Under such a government, universal suffrage elections happen but accomplish nothing. So why not have the bureaucracy under a monarch?
            Calling such a system democracy is a Lie, and Zoroaster says we have an ethical duty to combat the Lie.

          • John Schilling says:

            The bureaucracy does not wield absolute power; Jim Hacker managed to win a round every once in a while, and the elected government still controls the budget. And appoints the judges.

            So a permanent bureaucracy under a congress or a parliament, is almost strictly superior to a permanent bureaucracy under a king.

          • Christophe Biocca says:

            But then the faction that succeeded in making the bureaucracy an ideological monoculture is the permanent ruling class.

            Only to the extent that the other side isn’t willing to use legislative measures to shrink/abolish the bureaucracy. As I understand it all of these protections only really bind the executive. If the republicans are worried about the EPA being a cesspool of hippies they can legislate the entire thing out of existence with one bill, and bring back a smaller/different workforce into an agency with a more narrow focus with another bill the next day.

            The fact that congress has lost most of its control is largely due to its own willingness to give it up/delegate it and never ask for it back.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Only to the extent that the other side isn’t willing to use legislative measures to shrink/abolish the bureaucracy. As I understand it all of these protections only really bind the executive. If the republicans are worried about the EPA being a cesspool of hippies they can legislate the entire thing out of existence with one bill, and bring back a smaller/different workforce into an agency with a more narrow focus with another bill the next day.

            Thank you, that sounds wonderful. So the constructive way to address this issue of lack of democracy would be to join a movement that supports legislative majorities abolishing government agencies in order of how hostile their staffs are.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The actual constructive way appears to be rioting.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Jaskologist: Could you unpack that?
            “We riot until you abolish the police [who kill people]” being a rational strategy doesn’t mean “We riot until you abolish the bureaucrats [who are enormously bigoted against us but not homicidal]” would constitute the art of winning.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I don’t think most of you/them actively want a totalitarian dictatorship. Just:

      -Robust and pervasive policing and criminalization of vaguely defined categories of speech.

      -A disarmed populace.

      -A strong central government who can get grand plans implemented quickly, without all the petty partisan bickering. You know, like China. C.F. “Why Can’t We Be More Like China” thinkpieces.

      -Indefinite One Ideology/One Party rule via a permanent Democratic Party majority shored up by changing demographics.

      -Radical reform to the military and police to dismantle their (currently strongly red tribe at the enlisted/beat cop level) cultures and bring them more in line.

      Or, when you add all of those up, a powerful central government with effective one-party (or at least one ideology) rule, an ideologically loyal and biddable military and police, a disarmed public, and laws to control the public dissemination of ideas and criminalize speech the state decides shouldn’t be protected.

      Again, I don’t think this is deliberate for the most part, for all the “Man isn’t China’s ability to make sweeping government programs happen quickly COOL?!” and idolization of Lenin, Che, etc. I think there’s just a fundamental disconnect where most of the people arguing for these various changes A) don’t see how they dovetail with one another and B) know they PERSONALLY aren’t about to put on jackboots and go kicking in doors to drag the counter-revolutionary elements away for re-education, so obviously such a system as they invision won’t have any problems with abuse of power or slippery slopes. The OTHER side has all the bad actors, after all! More power in the hands of good people is always good, less power in the hands of bad people is always bad, and we know our people are good people, so there’s no problem with more power as long as we make sure they hold the reins.

      EDIT: I think another factor is that most genuinely believe they have a robust majority, or would if they could just get control of the narrative, and that once they have that permanent majority, it legitimizes anything and everything done in its name. If the majority supports it, it can’t be tyranny!

      • Eric T says:

        -Indefinite One Ideology/One Party rule via a permanent Democratic Party majority shored up by changing demographics.

        This is an interesting way to say “we would like more people to vote for us”

        As a whole I think your post while getting at a real issue among leftist politics hits kind of aggressive/reductive for my tastes.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          I may have gotten a bit overly snarky, and to be fair I think that the American Left being more guilty of this than the right at this moment in history is almost exclusively a function of current cultural momentum and not innate virtue or lack thereof. As I said, I don’t think there is deliberate yearning for an authoritarian state on the part of most people. The Democratic campaign worker talking about re-education camps is the outlier here.

          However, that said, I think your reframing my bullet point about indefinite one party rule and ideological unoty as “we want people to vote for us more” is incorrect. I meant exactly what I said: long term one party, one ideology rule. There is a powerful theme in left wing discourse on electoral demographics that basically sums up as “Once we have enough people in office and control enough to block the Republicans efforts at partisan redistricting and voter suppression, Conservatism will be be relegated to the dustbin of history. We can soon anticipate the day the last Republican ever is elected, and look forward to a future where the only question is between Democrats and a true Left alternative.”

          I’m at work on my phone ATM, but if you’d like when I get home I can try and provide examples of this sort of “end of political history”/”triumphalist” thinking.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            If the Democrats are actually right about Republicans being more prone to partisan redistricting and voter suppression, then it rather suggests that there is a party illegitimately aiming for one-party rule, but…

            “If we had fair elections, we would win them” might not be true, but it’s not an expression of a desire for one-party rule unless “fair elections” is being defined in a bad way. If it’s being defined reasonably, then the lack of fair elections functions more as an indictment of the other party.

          • Desrbwb says:

            A lot of that just sounds like what every political party or movement ultimately hopes for though. Nobody ever goes ‘great we got elected this time, but maybe we should lose the next election’.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            The key point is “once we have the right kind of electoral process, we win forever“. The narrative is that it’s only illegitimate Republican tactics preventing a neverending blue majority.

            I find it grimly amusing that your response is “yeah, so?”

            Edit: When I’m back at a keyboard I apparently need to explain why high ideological conformity and one party rule is a bad thing and heavily indicative of a slide towards authoritarian governance.

          • Wency says:

            Nobody ever goes ‘great we got elected this time, but maybe we should lose the next election’.

            The difference here seems to be that Republican politicians never tried very hard to resist the demographic change that is abolishing their party from existence. This is really where a lot of angst exists, and is partly why Trump is President. We can debate why this is the case, but a large part of the reason seems to be that the corporate side of the Republican coalition likes immigration, and restricting it causes an intra-party debate.

            Restricting people from voting doesn’t actually cause an intra-party debate, because although it looks ugly to Democrats, to Republicans it looks enough like law and order (tougher requirements to prevent fraud, and banning criminals from having a say on their punishments) that cognitive dissonance doesn’t really come into play.

            The Democrats once had an anti-immigration faction, known as organized labor, but it’s toast. Plus Democrats are better at coordinating ideological uniformity, perhaps due to their control of culture. And possibly just due to the way that leftism works and its psychological raison d’etre.

          • baconbits9 says:

            The difference here seems to be that Republican politicians never tried very hard to resist the demographic change that is abolishing their party from existence.

            The party being abolished from existence that in the last 6 years has 4 years of control of the White House, 6 years of control of the senate and 4 years of control of the HoR?

    • Jacobethan says:

      So, I am very much in the “starting to get very scared” camp — Tribe Tinfoil — I guess. I go back and forth on my assessment of how rational those fears are, but the “totalitarian” word has definitely come to my lips over the last week.

      There’s a lot I could say to try to contextualize where that fear is coming from for those who feel bewildered by it. But for now on that front I’ll just point out as a very general background condition that we’ve just witnessed an extraordinary episode of norm-violation — in the sense of civil unrest and in-the-streets political violence of a kind unprecedented within most of our lifetimes. And such an event is, I think, naturally going to widen the margin of uncertainty about just how committed others are to the established rules of engagement, just how far they might be willing to go. If distrust is already high and lines of communication already frayed, it may be very hard to get a clear sense of what kind of limiting principles you can be absolutely sure your opponents will abide by.

      That uncertainty then combines with three further developments that are fairly well documented. (1) A generational shift on the left away from civil libertarianism and toward an explicit embrace of speech-restrictive policies, generally of an ideologically-weighted kind. (2) An increasing tendency — visible, to be sure, on both sides — to present the opposing political party’s policies and rhetoric as not rationally misguided but rather fundamentally illegitimate, i.e., just the sort of thing a speech ban might prohibit. (3) A rapid consolidation of left-liberal control within prestige media, academia, major industry, tech, etc., such that a left inclined to impose a truly mandatory ideological monoculture would have very few barriers to doing so at the commanding heights of the culture.

      All three of these trends are very much on display in the recent blow-up at the NYT over the Cotton op-ed. The issue here is not the merits of the op-ed itself so much as the realization — terrifying, to some of us — of how rapidly a basic philosophical approach to the social control of expression previously associated mainly with college campuses had acquired veto power over the nation’s most important press organ. In that light, we might add to the three I’d mentioned another factor: (4) the fact that in every case the trend is far more pronounced among the young, leading to the concern that cohort replacement will only continue to accelerate it.

      I’m not sure if you’ll find any of that persuasive, but keep it in mind when we turn to a more concrete example of something that’s just happened in the protests’ wake.

      This is an ordinance proposed a couple days ago by the City of Newark:
      https://newark.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4555294&GUID=772B0D6D-03DD-4C53-801A-51B546A7D3D8&FullText=1

      A news article explaining the proposal is here:
      https://www.nj.com/essex/2020/06/nj-city-to-outlaw-white-supremacy-groups.html

      Under our current legal regime, such a law is patently unconstitutional. Indeed, it’s apparent from the Newark officials’ comments (“have the courage to take on the legal challenges an ordinance such as this will attract”) that they know it’s unconstitutional, but see an opening to start moving the legal and cultural goalposts in a quite overt way. “You can’t enjoy free speech when you can’t breathe,” says the city’s counsel.

      So we know what it is they’re willing to sacrifice. To what end, exactly? The ordinance’s ostensible purpose is to address the so-far-as-I-can-tell-nonexistent problem of Klan violence in Newark. To the extent we can agree that “present-day activity by the literal KKK” is at most a trivial contributor to black oppression, the expected gains to black welfare from achieving the ordinance’s nominal aims should be approximately zero. But what, in service of that goal, does the ordinance actually do?

      We see that the city is going to establish an Office of Violence Prevention, to be headed by the Violence Prevention Coordinator. The VPC will be responsible for unilaterally determining a list of groups which, being judged to express “hostility” toward “members of a race, ethnicity, nation, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” are legally banned from existing in Newark in any form. Note that, under a not-implausible reading of some of Black Lives Matter’s assertions about whites, BLM itself could be considered an illicit hate group under this standard. Note also that the Republican Party, under an interpretation of its rhetoric and policies sincerely held by many liberals, could also be put on the banned list. These determinations are to be made by a single unelected bureaucrat, with no procedural protections and no provisions for appeal. The right to coordinate one’s entirely nonviolent expressions of opinion through an organized group in the city of Newark would exist entirely at the pleasure of the Office of Violence Prevention.

      What else does the Violence Prevention Coordinator do? See the following section:

      2:5-24.5. Anti-Violence Policies.

      a. All employees of the City of Newark have a duty to immediately intervene and report the following acts to the Violence Prevention Coordinator:

      1. When they are a witness to wrongful conduct by fellow employees;

      2. When they are a witness to blatant civil rights violations being committed by other employees.

      b. All acts of racism or racial discrimination by City of Newark employees will not be tolerated, and will result in automatic termination; said employee shall be prohibited from working for the City of Newark in any capacity.

      c. All employees who fail to take action in subsection (a) above will result in automatic termination and said employee shall be prohibited from working for the City of Newark in any capacity.

      So essentially the Violence Prevention Coordinator will be able to summarily fire any City employee found to have engaged in “acts of racism.” Given the extraordinarily wide variation in belief in the country today about what sorts of action or expression should count as racist even in principle, to say nothing of the now-ubiquitous phenomenon of public disagreement over whether racism was or was not a motivating factor in a particular interaction, it is virtually impossible to anticipate in any concrete way what types of conduct might actually be proscribed. Nonetheless, employees would need to police themselves constantly in any activity with even the remotest bearing on race, in light of the drastic risks of being judged unfavorably by the Violence Prevention Coordinator. It is far from clear to me that this would result on net in improved provision of City services for black citizens. What is unequivocally clear is that it represents a drastic expansion of administrative, bureaucratic power over a huge portion of Newark’s workforce.

      (Note that the Violence Prevention Coordinator’s powers are enormous in scope, but have only the most tenuous and incidental relationship to actual violence.)

      Actually, it’s worse than that, since the ordinance combines a nebulous, endlessly-subject-to-interpretation standard with an unlimited third-party duty to report violations of that standard. In fact, third parties who fail to make such reports are treated as just as guilty as the actual offenders! Take a second to imagine what it would be like to work in such a place.

      Say you’re in the cafeteria and you overhear a snatch of somebody else’s conversation. The little bit you catch sounds — well, it’s hard to tell out of context, it sounds like maybe the sort of thing a reasonable person might consider racist, but it’s ambiguous given that you didn’t hear the whole conversation; maybe it’s not obvious whether the person is speaking for himself or summarizing something another person said, or maybe you just can’t quite parse his tone. What do you do? What if somebody else was listening in, heard the whole exchange, and it turns out it was racist as heck and they reported it to the VPC? Are you willing to risk being held accountable as a witness who failed to report (remember, that means automatic termination)? Or do you go ahead and report your co-worker based on an interpretation that you yourself aren’t really sure of, knowing it might well get him fired? And how does it affect your own conversations to know that same dynamic might be playing out with other people overhearing you?

      This, to me, is a terrible law. And under our present constitutional regime it has essentially zero chance of being upheld by the courts. But I suspect that’s not really the point; this is something to run up the flagpole and see who salutes. And I fear that there will be a lot of liberals who’ll do so, coming out in favor of this censorious approach out of a misguided sense that that’s what “support Black Lives Matter” is all about. I also fear that there will be other spaces — in the corporate world, or in academia — where similar kinds of things will be tried, where there’s more legal leeway to do so.

      That’s the best concrete example I can give you, from where I sit, of what the “totalitarianism” anxiety is all about.

      • Jake R says:

        +1
        I think this is very well-written while doing a good job of keeping a tense topic civil.

      • Eric T says:

        Hmm I respect this take a lot. I have a big effort-post in the moderation queue that hopefully gets approved about racism broadly so I’m pretty wiped rn, but I’ll have to try to write up another one that’s been on my mind about “Fear”

        My understanding is that this isn’t super different from what we have gone through a hundred times before – people have been complaining about terms and ideas being censored for as long as we’ve had freedom of speech. Usually new terms and ideas just rise to take their place. Society’s norms and mores change and whatnot.

        I’m not confident enough in this take to argue it right now, as I’m still compiling research for said “against fear” post – but thank you for the read. It definitely will help me organize my thoughts.

        • Randy M says:

          … we have a moderation queue? Are you sure your post just didn’t get eaten for using the wrong terms?

          • Eric T says:

            Maybe? Idk man it says its awaiting moderation, I’m fairly new here.

            ETA: I assume its because it has like 25 links and 4000 words or something of that nature. I looked at the comment policy and I don’t think I used any of the banned words?

          • Nick says:

            For the future, always, always save what you wrote before posting. You never know when you post is going to be lost.

          • Eric T says:

            @Nick – I did! It’s on my computer as a word document rn.

          • Atlas says:

            +1 to what Nick said, just as a general rule of writing long posts on the Internet.

            I think having a lot of links is more likely to be an issue than having banned words, but I’m not 100% sure.

          • Eric T says:

            I think having a lot of links is more likely to be an issue than having banned words, but I’m not 100% sure.

            And here I thought the link per word count was on the low end! I wasn’t aware that was a site rule or something, I genuinely just wanted to make sure all my points were backed by evidence hahaha. I guess that makes sense though – link dumps aren’t great for forums.

          • Nick says:

            I don’t think it’s down to site rules; I think it’s automatic spam detection. Those systems are just awesome, especially when they’re unaccountable.

        • CatCube says:

          Oooof. I hope you have a copy of that post. There’s not necessarily a “moderation queue” here.

          Things that have too many links get queued until Scott gets around to releasing them. Things that use a banned term disappear into the aether with no chance of recovery. I don’t think you can tell which one you fall into from what happens when you clicked “Post Comment”

          • Eric T says:

            I do but I don’t want to just try reposting it and end up getting banned for spamming or something.

            I think its in the queue. I can still see it and it says “this post is awaiting moderation”

          • SamChevre says:

            Calling Scott Alexander – I want to see that post.

          • Eric T says:

            I broke it up into pieces and just posted the damn thing. I promise you Scott I’ll stop posting for a while, pls no ban for spam XD

          • CatCube says:

            @Eric T

            We have a long tradition here of effortposts that get broken up across posts. I was doing a series on structural engineering that I should probably resurrect, and I often had to break them up in to two or three.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        +1, thank you for this effortpost. This is exactly the kind of totalitarianism I am worried about.

        I feel like we desperately need truth and reconciliation out of the Democratic Party and BLM right now. We need to clear the air with factual statements of belief like:

        1) Do you believe hate speech laws violate the First Amendment and that the First Amendment is sacrosanct rather than an obstacle to a state you consider more just?
        (We could go further with “If the government punishing speech is Unconstitutional, isn’t it Unconstitutional for publicly-funded universities to punish insufficiently progressive speech?”)
        2) Do you believe in property rights? If yes, have you been speaking out against looting in conjunction with your movement’s protests?
        3) Do you reject violence as a way to achieve your policy goals? If not, have you been condemning your side’s assaults et al?
        4) Does the government have extremely broad legitimate powers to control individual movement during an infectious disease crisis? If yes, do you support churches being closed while Democrats in office encourage your protests?
        5) Do you support the right of corporate employers to fire employees for espousing Republican views at work? What about progressive views at work? Fired for social media posts off the clock ditto?

        • Eric T says:

          I mean I don’t speak for the entire Democratic Party but I’ll take a whack at this if you want!

          1) Do you believe hate speech laws violate the First Amendment and that the First Amendment is sacrosanct rather than an obstacle to a state you consider more just?

          When done well, no. I think plenty of modern states have had hate speech laws for a while and maintain very free platforms of speech, though maybe that’s my inner German Exceptionalist coming out? Certainly the SC has, for decades, argued fairly convincingly that the 1st Amendment isn’t 100% “all free speech all the time” [ETA: My bad english had me write “legitimate” here, and that gave a SUPER bad impression]. When I think of “hate speech” I’m not thinking of “I would like to have guns” though I’m thinking of “I think we should round up the black people” or “Hispanics should all get run out of america” – as I’ve said before I am fine drawing the bright line at calls for violence or making threats – and I’m fairly certain that historically the SC has agreed with me on that.

          I personally don’t think anything is “sacrosanct” – I consider myself something of a pragmatic guy. I think that laws and rules are very valuable, but there are exceptional times, which themselves call for exceptional measures. Suspending 1st Amendment rights in a broad way would be such an exceptional measure I suspect I wouldn’t support it save like… an Alien Invasion. Or World War 3.

          Furthermore I think the 1st Amendment rightfully only applies to the Federal Government (and I guess State Governments if you fancy the incorporation doctrine). Private, or even semi-public institutions like Twitter, Colleges, and companies are under no obligation to follow it, save that I think they have an obligation to do Good Things, and usually Free Speech is a Good Thing.

          2) Do you believe in property rights? If yes, have you been speaking out against looting in conjunction with your movement’s protests?

          Yes, several times on this site too in fact. I do however value property rights and property damage lower than some do, as I’m not very materialistic. I’d rather the protestors burn 20 targets to the ground than kill a cop. I mean I’d rather they do neither but, ya know, I’m making a point here not writing policy.

          Do you reject violence as a way to achieve your policy goals? If not, have you been condemning your side’s assaults et al?

          I do, and as long as we also condemn what has been flagrant police assaults on peaceful protestors and the Media I hope we will keep the small portion of maniacs who use violence to hijack our politics on both sides in check. No Isolated Demands for Rigor/Fairness/Peace right, both sides need some degree of de-escalation. Fortunately it seems like its happening.

          Does the government have extremely broad legitimate powers to control individual movement during an infectious disease crisis?

          Yes

          If yes, do you support churches being closed while Democrats in office encourage your protests?

          Churches should have been closed. Protests shouldn’t have been encouraged. Violent force should not have been used to enforce either order unless it was absolutely necessary.

          • John Schilling says:

            Churches should have been closed. Protests shouldn’t have been encouraged. Violent force should not have been used to enforce either order unless it was absolutely necessary.

            What do you mean “either order”? I only see one order here, and a giant double standard.

            Churches were closed, in the sense of men with guns coming to shut them down (but they won’t use the guns unless absolutely necessary so that’s OK). They were closed absolutely even if they implemented social distancing protocols that made the most disciplined protests look like an orgy pit.

            And, if I understand you correctly, the orgy pits protests “shouldn’t have been encouraged”. You’re not even willing to say “should have been discouraged”; it’s the full three-monkey treatment.

            If you’ve got content-neutral social distancing requirements like “no singing, shouting, or chanting in organized public gatherings”, uniformly enforced, fine. If churches are being shut down across the board because someone’s impression of the modal church is that lots of people sing, and protests are being tolerated even when lots of people are clearly shouting, not fine.

            On the subject at hand, if I’m planning to impose authoritarian rule but don’t want to use the standard-issue early 20th century authoritarian toolkit that everyone is on guard against, this sort of selective enforcement is my friend. I can shut down Other Tribe’s gathering places, and leave my own in place, on vague “public health and safety” grounds belied by the adversely selective enforcement.

            This works particularly well because I don’t even have to meet anyone in a smoke-filled room and say “this is how we’re going to defeat the Other Tribe”. All I have to do is not hold the meeting where I order that it not be done this way. Or hold that meeting and let my body language slip that I don’t really care that much. For anyone in the position to decide which gathering places to be shut down, and without scrupulous attention to fairness, “This must be done by mechanistic content-neutral rules” is always going to lose out to “I shall exercise my best judgement”. And it again takes implausible commitment to fairness for that “best judgement” to be applied fairly to ingroup and outgroup.

            You’re one of the most scrupulously fair proponents of Social Justice we’ve seen in this generally tolerant and thoughtful community, and even you carelessly slipped up on this one. So, yeah, we’re going to assume the bureaucracy is consistently going to “slip up” in approximately the same way and approximately the same direction.

          • m.alex.matt says:

            Private, or even semi-public institutions like Twitter, Colleges, and companies are under no obligation to follow it, save that I think they have an obligation to do Good Things, and usually Free Speech is a Good Thing.

            It has been ruled several times that colleges which take Federal money are subject to the First Amendment, public or private.

            It makes sense. Otherwise the entire panoply of rights could be side stepped by just outsourcing government functions.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            @John Schilling

            From what I have read, indoor gatherings are far more dangerous than outdoor gatherings, given the same number of participants. Banning large indoor gatherings while allowing outdoor activities of all kinds is not necessarily a hypocrisy, it might be a reasonable tradeoff.

            Also of course religious rituals involving specially close contact between people are extremely dangerous.

            I genuinely do not know whether outdoor religious services were banned in the US during lockdowns.

          • Eric T says:

            What do you mean “either order”? I only see one order here, and a giant double standard.

            I mean here in NYC there was a curfew that was very forcefully enforced by dudes with guns, so I don’t actually think it was that much of a double standard.

            And, if I understand you correctly, the orgy pits protests “shouldn’t have been encouraged”. You’re not even willing to say “should have been discouraged”; it’s the full three-monkey treatment.

            I… said it that way because that’s the way the question was asked?

            If yes, do you support churches being closed while Democrats in office encourage your protests?

            Like the question was literally Do you Support X and Y and my response was I support X and Not Y, and apparently this is proof of some broader issue with my line of thinking? In case you are curious I absolutely think the government of NYC should have issued a “hey don’t protest order”

            I also think, as I mentioned above, neither protestors or anyone breaking the church close down should have been violently ejected. If peaceful means (de-escalaltion of protests or moving pastors/congregations out of churches) wouldn’t have worked I’d rather the police just not beat people up to enforce a quarantine order designed to keep them safe.

            Other Tribe’s gathering places, and leave my own in place, on vague “public health and safety” grounds belied by the adversely selective enforcement.

            I think this is a bit much. Liberal/leftist gathering places were also shut down. Libraries, Colleges, and Starbucks all got shutdown too. The protests were probably just allowed out of simple rational calculus: ie do you want to be to politician who pisses off millions of angry protestors calling for mass change? Whether or not its a good thing that they’re giving into the protestors is a very fair debate, I don’t think claiming that they’re closing Red Tribe meeting spots but not Blue Tribe is accurate.

          • Theodoric says:

            @AlesZiegler

            Outdoor religious funeral services have been shut down in NYC, and they mayor has made statements indicating he will treat the BLM protests more leniently than other large outdoor events.

          • SamChevre says:

            @AlesZiegler

            I genuinely do not know whether outdoor religious services were banned in the US during lockdowns.

            They were: even Adoration where all the participants stayed in their cars were banned at my church in Massachusetts (admittedly, by the Bishop, but it was his interpretation of state guidelines) and there was a lawsuit over a ban on outdoor services with people in their cars in Louisville.

          • John Schilling says:

            Drive-in church services, not merely outdoors but with the participants further isolated by being in separate automobiles, were explicitly banned in parts of Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Nevada and Kentucky. At least until federal judges intervened.

            And I don’t know of any church-lockdown order that distinguished between indoor and outdoor services; those are just the ones where local officials noticed people holding outdoor drive-in services and said “No, we really explicitly meant to ban those as well”.

            Also, this whole “indoor gatherings are far more dangerous” thing looks a lot like a retcon invented to justify the double standard. Indoor v. outdoor is clearly only one of several variables, and I’m skeptical of anyone who claims that a quiet indoor church service with proper social distancing is more dangerous than a typical street protest just because the latter is outdoors. And I note that outdoor farmers’ markets were and often still are closed even though indoor grocery stores have been open (and often crowded) from the start. Among other things. “Indoor bad, outdoor good” seems to be very selectively applied.

        • Orion says:

          I’m a non-religious person who tends to end up defending the party-line Democrat position on SSC, so I feel like I should come out here and say I think it’s absurd that churches are still closed by legal order in so much of the country. I think there was probably a degree of emergency that would have justified ordering churches to close for about two weeks in March, but we should have immediately started set to work developing recommendations for safer worship. Any office-holder who works harder to re-open restaurants than churches is betraying their constitutional oaths.

      • Uribe says:

        Newark. Where’s Philip Roth when you need him?

    • Clutzy says:

      I was mostly arguing tactics in that thread. But from my POV, much of the current proposals of my Democratic Mayor and Governor are, more or less, akin to criminalizing normal life. Obviously since such things can’t be uniformly enforced (because we’d all be fined every day), I see this as a massive opportunity for selective enforcement. And that is the basis for a soft tyranny.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I just want to say that this is going far better than I expected. Thank you all for reasonable arguments.

    • WoollyAI says:

      Alright, here’s a steelman to the “soft totalitarianism” you hear Dreher et al talk about.

      For the right, California is a totalitarian state. This might seem mad unless you’ve lived in a totalitarian state. We have this mental image of totalitarianism as an active, horrific dystopia but there are numerous totalitarian states with large expat communities where American and other foreign nationals work and live: China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, arguably Singapore, etc. I’ll use China as my reference, since that’s where I have the most experience. Daily life in China is not a dystopia, by and large everyone goes to work, pays taxes, plays video games, and otherwise lives life. It’s not until you begin to take political action or ask awkward questions that you could even notice that you’re in an undemocratic state. This isn’t to ignore that the Chinese government can take more extreme action against dissidents, and does, but that these actions are rare and mostly unknown to urban educated workers and others.

      So let us compare California to China, not at the extremes of a totalitarian state, but for the normal daily life of the average “red triber”.

      In both California and China the red triber has no political power. Technically, in China, he could become a citizen and a party member and then vote for an alternative to the Communist Party (they kind of exist) or reform the party from within but these aren’t very realistic. In California, there’s a supermajority of Democrats and the demographic trends make any electoral success highly unlikely. There will not be another Reagan coming from California and it’s unclear in what way the red triber’s vote matters.

      In China, you can discuss anything except Taiwan, Tibet, and Tiananmen. The red triber in California has a similar list of verboten topics.

      In China, you can’t really trust the news or official reports; there’s an obvious bias. Comparisons to US/CA media from a red triber’s perspective are trivial.

      In China, high-level positions are bared for people without ties to the party. Red tribers have similar beliefs about high-level positions in California and would point to Brendan Eich et al as examples of prominent people purged for voicing “wrong beliefs” or point to the overwhelming liberal bent of government, academia, media, and tech.

      In China, there are real social consequences to being disruptive and not supporting government positions, see the social credit system. In California, and leftist spaces in general, there severe and ever changing consequences to unpopular opinions, including the loss of your job and widespread social shaming.

      The guts of this is that while harsh totalitarian crackdowns draw attention and a clear dividing line between free/totalitarian systems, the levers of totalitarian control extend far beyond that and the smart totalitarians, like the Chinese, are moving away from harsh repression to “soft” controls like political dis-empowerment and economic/social consequences. At this “soft” level it’s harder to draw clear distinctions between the systems, especially for people who aren’t active radicals. After all, anyone can keep their head down, do their job, keep their mouth shut, and follow the law in order the live a quiet life; the point is you can do that in totalitarian systems and free systems. The daily life for the average person who just isn’t that political is the same in either system.

      And if that doesn’t sound representative of America as a whole, it’s worth remembering that most of these writers are in deep “blue” areas or fields: tech, journalism, education. Moldbug is/was a programmer in the Bay, Dreher is a lifelong journalist, etc. Their experiences are not representative of the average American. But I think when you hear “leftist totalitarians”, at least among the smart right, you should probably think of how the average “red triber” feels in San Francisco: their vote doesn’t matter, their opinions are “evil”, and numerous people above them would shun/fire them if they learned the truth. And while we might quibble over whether that’s “totalitarian”, I don’t think there’s any surprise “red tribers” want to avoid that fate.

      • Matt M says:

        +1

        An excellent point, and well written…

      • AlesZiegler says:

        I do not think that current China is a totalitarian state. It has an oppresive and awful regime, that however does not have a degree of control over society which I associate with the T-word.

        Also, I was born in communist Czechoslovakia, and that really was a totalitarian country.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        + 1.

        Also, when non-conforming political actors come to California, like Milo Y at Berkley or a Trump rally in San Jose they can reliably expect threats, harassment, and physical assault from those aligned with the power structure, but those conducting the violence will be almost entirely ignored by the authorities. The party doesn’t have an official Red Guard, but it’s outsourced and even less accountable.

        • Matt M says:

          The party doesn’t have an official Red Guard, but it’s outsourced and even less accountable.

      • MilesM says:

        I grew up in a totalitarian state.

        It struck me recently that I once again find myself living in a world where publicly repeating things my (not really red tribe, but definitely anti-blue tribe) parents say at the dinner table would be a very, very bad idea.

        The stakes are definitely not as high, especially on the far end – the chances of getting killed or jailed are essentially zero – but the median outcomes (loss of livelihood, social shaming) would be disturbingly similar.

      • Clutzy says:

        What is really important to note, is that the average person in a place like America has so much to lose. This means the government has lots of ways to threaten them, and they can do so loudly or quietly. How many people can come out unscathed after their bank account was frozen for 3 months?

        • Matt M says:

          What is really important to note, is that the average person in a place like America has so much to lose.

          I think this is really important and is the primary answer to “Why we haven’t/won’t have a civil war anytime soon.”

          It’s a common meme on the right to say something like “The founding fathers rebelled over less tyranny than we face today.” And I think that’s quite literally true.

          So why aren’t people rebelling today? Why am *I* not rebelling today? Because my life is so comfortable! Even after putting up with all the various tyrannies that I think I’m subject to, I’m still super comfortable. I can eat an endless variety of tasty food whenever I want. I live in a large house that is kept at a constant comfortable temperature. All forms of entertainment are available in huge variety at a moment’s notice. I can afford to take trips all around the world. And I reasonably expect to live another 40+ years in similar such comfort (if not better, thanks to technological advancements). That’s a lot to give up. And it’s not worth risking in exchange for 30-round magazines or the right to yell racial slurs without consequence or whatever else the government does that is technically infringing on my freedom.

          Contrast this to the typical soldier as recently as 200 years ago…. life for them was, to borrow a phrase, “nasty brutish and short.” They lived a meager existence of hard labor and virtually zero access to luxuries, with little to no prospect that things would ever improve. If they didn’t die in a war, they might very well die of some disease in short order. George Washington himself nearly died of malaria already, before the fighting even started. Oh, and they also nearly universally believed that if you died fighting for a just cause, your Earthly suffering would end and you’d spend the rest of your days in eternal paradise.

          Is it any wonder they were much more willing to fight and die?

          There’s still a lot of room left for the government to oppress me further such that “risk my life by picking up a rifle” looks like a winning option.

      • 10240 says:

        In both California and China the red triber has no political power.

        He does. In a democracy, policy tends largely towards the median of the voters’ preferences. If right-wingers were removed from California, the median would shift further left.

        In your view, what could California be like if it was to not be totalitarian (for the right), as long as the right (by nationwide standards) is a minority, far from the median views?

        In China, you can’t really trust the news or official reports; there’s an obvious bias. Comparisons to US/CA media from a red triber’s perspective are trivial.

        They aren’t. In the US/CA, media of all sorts of political alignments exist legally. That the left-wing media are slanted towards the left is not especially remarkable.

      • Aftagley says:

        Just so I’m reading you correctly, you’re basic statement is that since your personal beliefs don’t align with the part of the country you’ve chosen to live, that means that the entire left side of the political spectrum is equivilent to communist China?

        Just for the sake of comparison, let’s imagine a liberal that lives in a random conservative stronghold. You’ll also have no ability to affect the overall vote, your local news will be heavily skewed and if you start talking about stuff like trans rights people are definitely going to think you’re evil. Same amount of job risks or social shaming if you rock the boat.

        I just find this limited perspective so annoying and I see it all the time on this board. If you’re a conservative living in a liberal bubble – that doesn’t mean you’re not still in a bubble. Your perspective on what’s wrong and what needs to change and what the risks are still just as limited as everyone elses. Just ’cause you’re constantly the opposition doesn’t mean you’ve got a better take on anything.

        • WoollyAI says:

          I just find this limited perspective so annoying and I see it all the time on this board. If you’re a conservative living in a liberal bubble – that doesn’t mean you’re not still in a bubble. Your perspective on what’s wrong and what needs to change and what the risks are still just as limited as everyone elses. Just ’cause you’re constantly the opposition doesn’t mean you’ve got a better take on anything.

          Yeah, I basically agree with this.

          The main issue with what I wrote above is that it generalizes to most minority groups. Most minority groups have little political power, have few positions within elite institutions, and would have severe socioeconomic punishment for openly voicing their honestly held political beliefs. “Red tribers” are a minority in California but it’s hard to distinguish between…I wish I had a better phrase, “real oppression” and the normal travails of minority status. There’s a lot of truth to the “blue tribe” saying that a loss of privilege feels like discrimination to the privileged.

          EDIT: There’s a deeper point on legal/social protections for minorities, which definitely vary between cultures and nations, but this would be very hard to quantify.

          Just for the sake of comparison, let’s imagine a liberal that lives in a random conservative stronghold. You’ll also have no ability to affect the overall vote, your local news will be heavily skewed and if you start talking about stuff like trans rights people are definitely going to think you’re evil. Same amount of job risks or social shaming if you rock the boat.

          Yes, and that’s bad. People being fired for their political opinions is bad, be it in China, San Francisco, or Alabama. We all agree, yes? I don’t think that one person’s pain or fear diminishes another’s and each can be suffering.

          I don’t think “soft totalitarianism” is an accurate representation of America, anymore than “ACAB” is an accurate description of all police officers, but I can empathize with the subjective viewpoint of people in that situation. It’s their daily “lived experience”, even if it’s not representative of the general public. So yea, I see a small minority group without legal or social protection constantly complaining of discrimination and that sounds about right and I see people with power over them dismissing their complaints and even doubling down on it and that also sounds about right.

        • oldman says:

          I’ve been an outsider in “red tribe” space (or it’s UK equivalent) – when working on a power plant, and an outsider in “blue tribe” space (or it’s UK equivalent) when working in the city of London. On the power plant people thought it was odd that I thought trans rights are a good idea, but I never worried about voicing it. In blue tribe space there are definitely things I couldn’t say.

          It’s really hard for me to prove this to strangers on the internet, but my experience of having both “red” and “blue” beliefs in “blue” and “red” spaces is that “blue” spaces are much much more oppressive.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Canceling people is sport. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/case-for-liberalism-tom-cotton-new-york-times-james-bennet.html

            tldr: Highly respected African-American researcher does analysis of protests in the 1960s, finds that violence protests create pushback. Jewish Social Democrat alumni of Obama campaign tweets excerpt. Jewish guy gets fired with a literal “come get your boy” tweeted to his boss from a 🌹account.

            I mean, I get it. Smashing other people is fun. Destroying some guy’s career who tries to apologize for doing nothing wrong just because you can is fun. Hunting down a black jogger with your rifles and pick-up trucks as he runs for his life is fun. The power-rush is exhilarating. Holy shit, the abhorrent things that human being will do for fun could fill a library. We build up society to say, “no, stop having fun like that, stop destroying other people.”

            EDIT: To both-sides a bit, https://www.sacbee.com/community/folsom-el-dorado/article243339696.html, black people tour a white neighborhood, white people freak out because black people.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            The pollster getting fired seems much more on employer than on the rose-emoji account: “come get your boy” seems pretty innocuous, all things considered; it’s the employer who has the responsibility to ignore stuff like that.

            FWIW, that one seems unpopular even among the SJ crowd.

      • rahien.din says:

        This is liberal boilerplate with the names changed!

      • Uribe says:

        I’m not seeing how this is so different from being a blue triber in a deep red state.

        • Clutzy says:

          Most the stuff they want to do they can pretty easily do unmolested no? The right also doesn’t have cancel power at most employers in red states.

    • rahien.din says:

      My impressions :

      The red tribe seem to think of action concretely. They rely on what they can accomplish themselves by concrete action. Similar concrete actions by others are similarly permissible. EG : I have a gun which I use for the purpose of self-defense. Other people should be able to do the same. If the mugger uses a gun, the problem is not that he is taking that specific concrete action, it is that he is a mugger. Furthermore, I would be justified taking concrete action against him – shooting him. The military and the police take similar concrete actions, so they are doing a good job, too.

      This also seems to manifest in the distinction between action and inaction. The red tribe seem to feel that these are totally different things. I get this impression because it is invariably the red triber who says “We shouldn’t do that because we don’t know the long-term consequences” – just as you must always know what is downrange of your bullet, you must understand the nature of the concrete action before you perform it. But inaction is not subject to the same standards, because it is a totally different thing. If you are not going to shoot a gun, the term “downrange” has no meaning. This even emerges in discussion of ethics among Christians. My conservative Christian friends claim that to lie is specifically to speak untruths, but that to omit truths is not to lie – even if the intent of the omission is to induce untrue beliefs.

      My intuition is that these beliefs regarding action and inaction inform the red tribe’s relationship to the state. To the red tribe, the state’s primary purpose is to reduce the number of available concrete actions, usually for some abstract reason. For some actions, this is okay, as by their very nature those actions are abhorrent. But for the most part, the state’s primary function is philosophically intolerable. So naturally, almost any activity by the state would drive toward totalitarianism.

      Moreover, the absence of the state is the absence of the state’s concrete actions – a nonexistence cannot take concrete action, and in the absence of the state, there is no thing to perform those adverse concrete actions. Thus the bad things that happen due to the state are on a different footing from the bad things that happen in the absence of the state.

      It is thus very different for a red triber to accuse the state of totalitarianism than for the blue triber to accuse the state of various -ocracies.

      (Certainly, the blue tribe have some similar platforms regarding the state’s pruning of available actions. But philosophically this seems to come from a very different place.)

    • Wrong Species says:

      Do people on the left think we don’t understand the way they talk about us? They think we are literal Nazis. Pure evil. Anything we say is just beyond the pale. How exactly did you guys think this messaging was going to be interpreted?

      • Uribe says:

        Seems reductive. Not sure all of us Sleepy Joe liberals think conservatives are “literal Nazis”.

        • Wrong Species says:

          Maybe not, but I’ve never heard a “Sleep Joe Liberal” admonish someone on the left for calling us Nazis.

          • Aftagley says:

            Yeah, and I’ve never heard a low-energy Jeb supporter admonish someone on the right for calling us communists. Maybe this is less an indictment of the left and more just evidence that people don’t like calling out ideological allies?

          • Clutzy says:

            What? Communist (sadly) isn’t 1/10th the slur that Facsist/Nazi is. And people on the right do call out the far right for their extreme rhetoric. Or do you think Milo Yiabopolis actually spoke at that one CPAC?

          • Wrong Species says:

            Oh please, that’s barely even an insult today. Would you be afraid of losing your job if someone accused you of being a communist?

          • MilesM says:

            @Aftagley

            Are you sure leftists really want or need Jeb Bush’s supporters defending them from charges of being communists?

            It might jeopardize their chances of getting tenure.

          • Aftagley says:

            ok, cool.

            It’s nice to know that when you and your ingroup are being insulted it’s a travesty, but when it’s happening to me and mine it’s totally normal, not even slightly a problem and likely helpful to our future careers.

            I guess we’re done here?

          • Wrong Species says:

            @Aftagley

            You really don’t know what it’s like from our side. Being accused of being a communist is funny, almost quaint. I can’t honestly imagined you would be that insulted. Being accused of racism is a potential career killer, it’s definitely a status killer, and everyone to the right of Obama has that target on their back.

          • AlesZiegler says:

            Just to be clear, I do think that comparing rightwingers to Nazis is bad.

          • Aftagley says:

            @wrong species

            Maybe I don’t, but I spent pretty much the first 10 years of my adult life living in heavily conservative spaces as a pretty far out liberal. I’ve had multiple people, in professional settings, say shit like, “Aftagley, you seem so smart, how can you be one of those f*cking brainless liberals?” I have also been called a communist to my face. People felt free to make Stalin comparisons because I thought higher taxes were justified.

            My political views also led to people calling me a baby-killer, a traitor (when people were saying the Hillary would somehow lead to the destruction of our country) and just a host of other stuff that wasn’t great.

            Now true, I can’t judge your subjective feelings of being called a Nazi against my subjective feelings of being called a communist, but I can assure you that I didn’t find it pleasant.

          • rumham says:

            @Aftagley

            My political views also led to people calling me a baby-killer, a traitor

            Perhaps because I’ve been on both shitlists, I can provide a bit of perspective.

            I grew up in a solid red town and I too have been called both of those for my beliefs. I had no fear that it would lead to me losing my job or friends. Nazi is quite different. There is video evidence of it being used to direct physical attacks.

          • I’ve had multiple people, in professional settings, say shit like, “Aftagley, you seem so smart, how can you be one of those f*cking brainless liberals?”

            And I, as a Harvard undergraduate in 1964, had a civil conversation with someone in which I offered defenses for various of Goldwater’s position, argument he clearly had never heard and had no immediate rebuttal for. At the end of which, he asked me if perhaps I was taking all of these positions as a joke.

            That sounds like the equivalent of your experience, minus the obscenity. I have generally described it as the intellectual equivalent of “what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” How could I be smart enough to make arguments he couldn’t readily rebut and stupid enough to believe in arguments he knew had to be wrong.

          • Clutzy says:

            My political views also led to people calling me a baby-killer, a traitor (when people were saying the Hillary would somehow lead to the destruction of our country) and just a host of other stuff that wasn’t great.

            Babykiller is one that is probably the equivalent. If you use that one the center right does shun you and you certainly won’t be getting published in the WSJ or NRO.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            If you use that one the center right does shun you and you certainly won’t be getting published in the WSJ or NRO.

            In fact, you can call the left Nazis and be a contributing editor to NRO.

          • albatross11 says:

            If you play your cards right, you can even get people on one side to call you a commie while the other side is calling you a nazi.

            Idiots gonna idiot, nothing to be done about it.

          • Aftagley says:

            @David Friedman

            I have generally described it as the intellectual equivalent of “what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

            Can I steal this line? I mean, I’m going to steal this line, but I’d like to know I was doing it with your blessing.

            @Meh
            Biggest belly-laugh I’ve had all week. Thank you.

          • When you are young, you are afraid people will steal your ideas. When you are old, you are afraid they won’t.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Sleepy Joe told black voters that Republicans were “gonna put y’all back in chains.” Slavers aren’t much better than Nazis.

      • AG says:

        The left is more focused on rallying the troops than convincing the enemy to defect.
        Similarly, Christians should theoretically be all about persuading people to convert, but how exactly did they think hellfire and brimstone messaging about the Whores of Babylon and Sodom were going to go over?

  14. anon-e-moose says:

    A few threads ago, several commentators helped me game-plan our wedding, specifically how to put the shindig on with ‘rona, riots etc. I didn’t have time to thank each of you for your input, so I thought I’d provide an update and a belated “thank you!”

    We’re cancelling the ceremony for November, and eloping next Friday with a simple family-only ceremony at a local park. We decided on this for a few reasons, but the primary driver was a mortgage-banker friend offered us a ridiculously good refi rate, but we’d need her credit score to qualify. (romantic, I know) She’s 100% on board with this (seriously!)

    That said, your comments about the relative risks influenced our decision. At the end of the day, the risk of the ceremony being degraded by politics or ‘rona was too great, given the (significant) financial outlay. I think this situation was a really nice real-world application of Utilitarianism and I believe that the rationalist/adjacent community’s framework was the most optimal way to approach the problem. So, uh, thanks!

    • Randy M says:

      I’m glad you are going ahead and getting married rather than putting off the commitment. I wouldn’t consider it eloping if your families are informed and involved. Best wishes to you.

    • I’m not sure it’s proper having your family present if you are eloping. You are supposed to be doing it in secret and against their strong opposition. Ideally with your wife-to-be climbing out a window in the middle of the night.

      • Lambert says:

        Shame there’s a quarantine coming into the UK so you can’t get to Gretna Green quickly. It’s still a popular place to get married.

      • anon-e-moose says:

        As an aside I’m surprised at how low-quality the wiki entry on “elopement” is. I would figure that the topic would be of scholarly interest with the gender dynamics and long history. Their “modern definition” is just a blog link.

    • achenx says:

      “Hey Hobbes, want to see an antelope?”

      (my first post got eaten, probably because it was just a link?)

    • Etoile says:

      That’s a great decision, and in this climate, you won’t offend anyone!
      I don’t see anything wrong with “eloping” if you were planning to anyway. Shotgun weddings are more of an issue if you weren’t intending on getting hitched….

      • anon-e-moose says:

        Apparently, never having done this before, I was unaware the elope had such a specific description. I was under the impression that it was a more polite way to say shotgun wedding. (which still really isn’t the case!)

        • John Schilling says:

          Shotgun wedding and elopement are traditionally close to polar opposites. With elopment, the groom enthusiastically favors the marriage, the bride either shares the enthusiasm or has been talked into going along with it by the groom, and the bride’s father is violently opposed to the whole thing. With a shotgun wedding, the bride’s father enthusiastically and violently favors the marriage, the bride either shares the enthusiasm or has been talked into going along with it by the father, and the groom wants nothing to do with it. Hence the father’s shotgun.

          A classic elopement would be a shotgun not-wedding if not for the bride sneaking out through the window while the guy with the shotgun is sleeping.

    • Deiseach says:

      We’re cancelling the ceremony for November, and eloping next Friday with a simple family-only ceremony at a local park.

      Clandestine marriages were all the rage in the 17th and 18th centuries 🙂 You need your father-in-law to rush up shaking his fist in ineffectual (fake) anger once the vows have been pronounced to give the proper flavour to the whole affair!

    • Ventrue Capital says:

      Mazel tov on your wedding! And sheva brachot for your marriage!

      And as Miss Manners mentioned decades ago, you can hold a sequel wedding or a recommitment ceremony later, whenever you have time and cash, and when society isn’t having a ride-through by the First Horseman of the Apocalypse.

  15. Bobobob says:

    Anyone here a fan of Hate comics? I’m currently rereading the Buddy Bradley strips for the fourth (or fifth) time, and I think Peter Bagge is a genius.

    I’m surprised Bagge isn’t mentioned on this forum more often. He used to contribute libertarian comic strips to Reason magazine, collected in the book Everybody is Stupid Except for Me (which I also highly recommend).

    • MilesM says:

      I just Googled it, and noped the hell out of there.

      For whatever reason, I have a very visceral, extremely negative reaction to certain styles of cartoon art. Crumb, for example, really creeps me out. So do Ren and Stimpy.

      Literally stuff of nightmares, as far as I’m concerned. 🙂

  16. Algon33 says:

    Got a request for psychological help from SSC’s commenteriat regarding a family member. They want help, but are picky about what therapists to talk to. They refuse to read self help books, or even go through some worksheets with me. I’m unsure about what to do. How can I help them?

    Some details may help. They have been suffering from what seems like anxiety to me, with a touch of depression and anger issuess. They lost their home a few years ago during their studies because their father got scammed. They lost their house, and nearly no income. My relative had to start working frantically after graduating in jobs they hated, but found a stable position in a field that’s close to what they initially wanted.

    But their mental state has become worse over the years, and their personality and values have changed. This would be fine, but they are unhappy about how they’ve changed. They’ve become prone to outbursts, more confrontational with close family members. Their relationship with their father has deteriorated, viewing their actions and words in a negative light. They want to help people with their career, but have become unwilling to help out others when it would cost them something. They’re worried about finances, though they’re not in any risk. Their self esteem has plummeted and worry about their future prospects. They are unsatisfied with their job but think they’re never going to get something better. Often, they’ll think nothing matters or burst into tears over their lost current situation.

    • AG says:

      Have they been able to go on a long break at all during these years, or has it all been a hustle to regain stability and then wealth?
      Has anyone sponsored a vacation abroad where they have zero responsibilities for several days in a row, and don’t have to worry about taking a hit to their finances to do so?

      • Algon33 says:

        Yes, they have been taking breaks where they had zero responsibility. Last vacation abroad was 6 months ago and family covered the cost after the vaction ended.

        The hustle… its hard to say. They’ve gotten a new job, which they say is an improvement. Looking at them working from home, their interactions with colleagues are pleasent, but they work long hours and even over the weekend. Though they were doing that before, too.

        Honestly, the shift in personality and stress wouldn’t be so worrying if it wasn’t getting worse, even when situation has been improving steadily.

        Also, thanks for replying!

    • Simulated Knave says:

      It is a cliche, but you can’t help people who don’t want to help themselves.

      Does this person see these things as a problem? Because if they don’t, there’s nothing to be done until that’s fixed.

      • Algon33 says:

        They acknowledge its a problem and have tried to get help, but gave up due to a relatively small issue (they said their assigned therapist was the wrong culture and didn’t get them). I’m just trying to think of a way to route around that, like talking them through a self help book, or finding a good app or so forth.

    • Gerry Quinn says:

      From your description they don’t have a psychiatric issue so much as something that might be helped by religion or philosophy or some other means of taking the view from 30,000 ft.

      They have a bunch of anger and resentment that’s poisoning them, but only they can spit it out.

      • Algon33 says:

        They are fairly religious, their mother is convinced religion is the cure and pushes them towards it. It hasn’t been working.

  17. Anteros says:

    Following on from the discussion on the previous thread about Elon Musk and his Starship. When do you expect the first successful return trip to Mars? As in, at least one human being making it back to Earth, alive?

    I often find myself thinking that there was barely half a century between the Wright brothers getting a few feet off the ground, and men walking around on the Moon. So, getting to Mars is just a further-away version of the Moon problem, right?

    Except that the the particular problems of a Mars trip haven’t actually been solved by the technology of getting to the Moon and back. I’m thinking duration – people coming back from three months on the Space Station can barely stand up when they get back. Two years or more in a weightless environment? Maybe human beings simply can’t manage that. The Radiation problem?

    As a result I wouldn’t bet on it happening in the next 50 years. Anybody more optimistic?

    • Lambert says:

      We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because we can’t see the future and don’t know the Outer Space Treaty is the best way forwards; because the goal might give us technological superiority in what might be the next theatre of the cold war.

    • AlesZiegler says:

      I agree with Lambert. If the first person walking on the surface of Mars will be Chinese, boost for the global prestige of China will be massive. Which is why they will try to do it as fast as possible.

      • Anteros says:

        Doesn’t that increase the probability of there being missions that go pear shaped – lots of dead astronauts? A couple of failed attempts would likely erode a lot of enthusiasm for the whole project.

        • AlesZiegler says:

          During the Cold War, there were also dead astronauts and cosmonauts, That did not stop the Space race.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Radiation won’t be a problem for the first mission, unless someone decides they don’t want to do it anyway and tries to make it the problem. Radiation will be an issue for colonization, but not the first trip.

      Gravity may be a bigger issue. People have been able to get back on their feet, although shakily, after a year in zero-g if they kept up with exercise. Current plans seem to be ignoring any attempt at artificial gravity. And we don’t really have a way of finding out besides subjecting someone to it.

    • Purplehermann says:

      Is there a reason that wearing weights and using resistance bands for weight training isn’t enough?

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Scott Kelly was stumbling around after his year in space. And he was disciplined about his exercise.

        The effects of zero-gravity are often overstated. But they are real and may be actual mission stoppers if the unknown unknowns are bad enough.

  18. albatross11 says:

    Conservatives have been at least as enthusiastic as liberals in the US about using the police and justice systems to punish people for using drugs not approved by the state, or for engaging in transactions like prostitution which are mutually agreeable to the parties involved but forbidden by the state. Conservatives seem to have been at least as big on the huge increase in prison population in the US as liberals. And at least as big supporters of mass surveillance on the public.

    This makes me think that conservatives overall are at least as big a threat to people just trying to live their lives in peace, or to the continuation of individual liberty, as liberals are. I mean, when I was growing up, the definition of living in a police state was that jackbooted thugs in black would kick in your door in the middle of the night, kill anyone who looked like resisting, etc. In the US these days, that’s just a pleasant Thursday evening in lots of big cities (hell, sometimes they even get the right address), and it’s mostly done to try to prevent adults from putting the wrong chemicals in their bodies. Similarly, as a kid, the image I had of a police state was where you had to show an internal passport to travel and where armed agents of the state went around demanding your papers all the time. Indeed, I grew up thinking that kind of police-state shit was not workable in the US because of our high gun ownership. Turns out I was mistaken about that.

    I see zero reason to think that the right is less a threat to my freedom than the left. They’ve just got different parts of the growing police state they prefer to support than the liberals.

    • Erusian says:

      In the US these days, that’s just a pleasant Thursday evening in lots of big cities (hell, sometimes they even get the right address), and it’s mostly done to try to prevent adults from putting the wrong chemicals in their bodies.

      This is wrong. Drug arrests make up, at most, a sixth of all arrests (and that’s excluding certain kinds of crimes like traffic violations). And of those, 25% were for driving under the influence, which has massive potential externalities. Drug crimes are a small part of the problem, albeit an egregious one.

      The most common reasons for arrest are petty crimes like disturbing the peace or minor larceny. This includes a lot of those no-knock raids, often chasing down some petty thief or another.

      With all that said, I broadly agree that there’s been a creeping intrusion of police power into victimless crimes and an increasing acceptance the government can do things like break into your home or round people up. I find it all very disturbing, honestly. But I’m not sure either side really wants to solve it, rather than weaponize it.

    • Well... says:

      it’s mostly done to try to prevent adults from putting the wrong chemicals in their bodies.

      Ostensibly that’s right, but if you look at the details it’s easy to get the impression it’s done because the government gets to keep whatever they plunder in the name of preventing adults from putting the wrong chemicals in their bodies. And for that we can largely thank Joe Biden, who found a dusty old civil asset forfeiture bill in (I think) the 1970s, picked it up, dusted it off, and blasted it through congress so he could look tougher on crime.

      I hate on Joe Biden a lot for this (and he deserves every bit of it and a lot more) but it’s worth nothing here that the war on drugs has a long history of progressive support — sometimes almost exclusively progressive support — going back long before even alcohol prohibition.

      I see zero reason to think that the right is less a threat to my freedom than the left. They’ve just got different parts of the growing police state they prefer to support than the liberals.

      But yeah, blue and gray tribe people have been saying this since forever.

    • Wency says:

      All of the things you describe as liberty don’t sound remotely appealing to me. Doing drugs, visiting prostitutes. Receiving lighter sentences for petty crimes that I don’t want to commit.

      From where I’m sitting (which is obviously not where everyone is sitting), a crackdown on crime FEELS like increased liberty. Freedom to walk around alone at night. For my wife to run errands unescorted. I’m old enough to remember the crack epidemic, the feeling that my city’s downtown was a warzone, a place you absolutely did not go after dark. And I remember a few very scary near-misses my family had when we violated that rule under special circumstances, such as leaving a baseball game, never to be repeated. I enjoy feeling free to bring my family to a baseball game in that same city nowadays, this time without the fear.

      Now, perhaps there are better ways to reduce crime than what we’re doing. My point isn’t to debate that, but just to observe that what we’re doing doesn’t FEEL like decreased liberty to me; I would have to put a lot of effort trying to get into a particular headspace for it to feel that way.

      • Lodore says:

        From where I’m sitting (which is obviously not where everyone is sitting), a crackdown on crime FEELS like increased liberty. Freedom to walk around alone at night. For my wife to run errands unescorted.

        Fair enough, you acknowledge that you’re speaking from how you feel about this. But when you think about it, you should also see that your right to go about your business unmolested should not trump my right to drop some LSD unmolested in the privacy of my own home. For the fact is, we can both get what we want without either of us impinging on the other.

        Is defending someone’s right to take crack ever doing them a favour? Absolutely not, but neither is turning crack addicts into criminals so that even if they do recover, they’re dogged by criminal records. Crack, like heroin, is a drug of desperation: the problem is endemic poverty and hopelessness, not the legality of the drug. Disenfranchised people are going to take it whether it’s legal or not.

        All of which is to say (1) not all drugs are the same, and (2) don’t confuse the symptom with the underlying pathology.

      • Eugene Dawn says:

        All of the things you describe as liberty don’t sound remotely appealing to me. Doing drugs, visiting prostitutes. Receiving lighter sentences for petty crimes that I don’t want to commit.

        To many people, owning guns isn’t remotely appealing. Can we now agree to cross of “banning guns” from the list of freedoms liberals are against?

    • SamChevre says:

      Just flagging that I absolutely do NOT agree that employers should not be able to discriminate by race/age/sex: I think they should be free to do so, and in some cases should do so.

    • Lodore says:

      The thread before last, I made the (to me) unobjectionable remark that calling the cops on some 16 year old peddling drugs was uncharitable, on account of the possibility that it could ruin the kid’s life. (The context was a post by Nancy Leibowitz, where she related a story that some busybody wanted to call the cops on some black kid in a clinic when she saw him with a wad of cash and assumed him to be a drug dealer. My point was that even if he was a drug dealer, so long as he wasn’t dealing drugs there and then it’s no one’s business.)

      I was dismayed by the hang-’em-and-flog-’em response from participants in a rationalist forum. No attempt to get beyond tabloid caricatures, no effort to inhabit the perspective of someone else, no attempt to not be led by a media narrative, no appreciation that different values are not wrong values.

      All of which is to say, I agree: the threat to liberty comes far more plausibly from the paternalistic attempt to condemn (and thereby facilitate control of) private behaviours. Liberals, to be sure, have their own authoritarian streak, but liberal pieties don’t (yet) land you in prison––conservative ones do.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I was shocked, too, though more from seeing the lack of concern for doing damage to someone who wasn’t a drug dealer.

        Once the fear of drug dealer’s was set off, it seemed like there were people who weren’t thinking about other possibilities.

      • Deiseach says:

        No attempt to get beyond tabloid caricatures, no effort to inhabit the perspective of someone else, no attempt to not be led by a media narrative, no appreciation that different values are not wrong values.

        Yeah! How very awful of me to base my opinion on the actual 16 year old druggies, drop outs and petty criminals I interacted with (thankfully for a very limited time as I’m no longer involved in that particular field of education provision)!

        I should totally be cheerleading the kinds of little scumbags who got a vulnerable girl on the path of drug addiction which eventually led her to picking up a heroin habit, becoming a single mother and then proceeding on to a jail sentence for stabbing someone.

        It’s okay for them to run other people’s lives but nobody should make them face the consequences of their deeds by calling the cops, how very terrible that would be!

        The original post asked should people make assumptions about 16 year olds, and the answer to that plainly is “no”.

        But your question was “what kind of horrible person would call the cops on a real 16 year old drug dealer and ruin their life” and well, here I am. If the whole bloody question was confined to “drugs are only indulged in by nice middle-class kids when they go to college and spend four years sowing their wild oats, then they graduate, get a good job and sober up – or at least maintain a discreet habit of not-very-hard fun substances that they can afford out of their good job and indulgence in which is not at a level which renders them unable to function”, then we’d all be happy to say “good luck and good bye”.

        But the situtation is not like that. A lot of junkies are going to wreck their lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of anyone they come into contact with, and the same with the drug dealers. What the fuck do you think all the complaints about anti-social behaviour on housing estates are about? And such criminal families really do instigate reigns of terror where the other tenants are afraid of physical harm to themselves and their own houses if they ever come out and make a formal complaint to the police or the local authority, which makes it very hard to deal with the whole problem because you can’t evict people with nothing to go on but hearsay.

        Anti-social behaviour is defined in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 as:

        “(a) the manufacture, production, preparation, importation, exportation, sale, supply, possession for the purposes of sale or supply or distribution of a controlled drug (within the meaning of the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984),

        Or

        (b) any behaviour which causes or is likely to cause any significant or persistent danger, injury, damage, alarm, loss or fear to any person living, working or otherwise lawfully in or in the vicinity of a house provided by a housing authority under the Housing Acts 1966 to 2009 or Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, or a housing estate in which the house is situate or a site and, without prejudice to the foregoing, includes;

        i. violence, threats, intimidation, coercion, harassment or serious obstruction of any person,

        ii. behaviour which causes any significant or persistent impairment of a person’s use or enjoyment of his or her home, or

        iii. Damage to or defacement by writing or other marks of any property, including a person’s home.”

        And if a 16 year old idiot thinks drug dealing is the way to easy money and the good life, I am plenty happy to let the police and courts get involved before they clamber up the ranks of criminal gangs like we have in my own country and start murdering each other in turf and trade control wars and vendettas.

        • AG says:

          So the issue isn’t that American police are treating blacks too harshly compared to whites, it’s that they aren’t treating whites nearly harshly enough to be equal to their treatment of blacks?

        • DinoNerd says:

          Yes, basing your opinion of random 16 year olds on actual 16 year old druggies is the height of rationality.

          If you believe that e.g. 90% of 16 year olds are druggies, and have some evidence to support it.

          Otherwise your logic seems to suggest that you should be punished for whatever crime(s) anyone in your demographic has ever committed.

          • CatCube says:

            Where on earth are you getting this expansion to “random 16 year olds?” The hypothetical posed by @Lodore was that the 16 year old was a known drug dealer.

          • DinoNerd says:

            I was under this impression this thread started with a 16 year old carrying lots of cash, at something like an eye doctor’s office.

          • CatCube says:

            The original thread was about a 16 year old who had done nothing other than flash some cash. In that case, I agree that calling the cops is unreasonable. There are plenty of examples of people with lots of cash and good reasons to have lots of cash where the cops go “Yoink! Ours now!

            @Lodore then posited that it shouldn’t matter if you *knew* the kid was a drug dealer:
            (From the post last OT)

            Let’s the say the kid was a drug dealer.

            (From Lodore’s post above this one, second deep, emphasis mine to show that it was stated outright the kid was selling drugs, and not an assumption based on possession of cash)

            I made the (to me) unobjectionable remark that calling the cops on some 16 year old peddling drugs was uncharitable

            That’s the one to which @Deiseach responded. I agree with her that in that case, you should call the cops.

        • Lodore says:

          So let me get this straight: for a period, you were involved in education provision for a cohort that you are happy to describe as “little scumbags” and “16 year old idiot[s]”, for whom you are “happy calling the cops even if that does ruin [their] life”. OK. I’m going to suggest that you have a think about attitudes that might be helpful in working with troubled kids and attitudes that aren’t. Even allowing everything you say (and I don’t), troubled kids don’t all (or even mostly) manifest as bad poetry and self-harm. Teenagers explode, not implode, and in ways that can hurt others. A charitable (dunno, maybe even Christian?) response is to understand the human motivation for the behaviour, while working to change the behaviour. Love the sinner, hate the sin–right?

          A lot of junkies are going to wreck their lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of anyone they come into contact with, and the same with the drug dealers.

          Getting addicted to drugs is hard. You need to have poor interpersonal relationships and/or mental health, lots of free time, and no hope in the future. There are practically no addicts who would not have presented with psychosocial and addiction issues anyway had they not been exposed to illegal drugs. This is particularly true of junkies: as a proportion of drug users, heroin users are small.

          As for drug dealers, I think you need to understand that it’s not so simple as “evil drug dealers terrorise otherwise delightful neighbourhood”. Usually, there are cross-cutting webs of loyalty, enmity, and involvement, with a general animus against involving the police in anything being the real issue in preventing crimes getting reported. But I’m probably wrong, because the tabloids say it’s like Mad Max, and everything printed in a newspaper is true.

          What the fuck do you think all the complaints about anti-social behaviour on housing estates are about?

          What the fuck I think it’s about is underage drinking, groups of teenagers making fusspots feel unsafe while they take Tiddles for a walk, and curtain twitchers getting afrit when an unfamiliar car parks twice on the street. Sometimes the aforementioned teenagers will have a spliff with their cider, creating a funny smell. (This has the salutary effect of sending them to sleep.) Most kids with behavioural issues take drugs; not all kids who take drugs have behavioural issues.

          Drug gangs really are not the problem, except in a tiny handful of estates, where the police usually roll them over in few years anyway.

          Look, here’s how this works. A kid sells some week or coke for the social cachet when they’re 16. A small proportion, who probably have links to organised crime to begin with, graduate to becoming professional dealers. The 99% who don’t get jobs, raise families, pay the mortgage, and occasionally enjoy the odd joint or pill. There are not enough drugs in the world to keep all the 16 year old dealers employed. Do you really think your anxiety merits blighting people’s lives?

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            “Getting addicted to drugs is hard. You need to have poor interpersonal relationships and/or mental health, lots of free time, and no hope in the future.”

            This is just not true considering the number of celebrities and doctors who get addicted.

            I also think drug dealing can make neighborhoods dangerous. It’s not *just* horrible adults who hate teenagers, though horrible adults who hate teenagers are also a factor.

            Have a theory just for the fun of it: what if some of the hatred of teenagers is an aftereffect of having been bullied by teenagers when one was much younger?

          • Deiseach says:

            Lodore, if you’re happy to let 16 year olds run around peddling drugs to get cash for consumer goods, go you.

            If I see some 16 year old with a pile of cash but I don’t know where they got it, I won’t bother my head about it.

            If I know the 16 year old is selling drugs, I am very much extremely calling the rozzers.

            I don’t know who you know or where you live. I worked in a school where a 15 year old girl died from sniffing glue because she was hanging around with kids who thought that was how you have fun, where 12 year olds were bargaining with the principal about “okay, you can smoke your cigarettes at the school gate but not on the school grounds” and where kids were coming from backgrounds where we had a pair of sisters who were lovely girls – and all the teachers were notified to be on alert because they had attempted suicide before and were at-risk of the same.

            When those kids dropped out, they went on to another programme that I also worked at, where some of them did make efforts to turn their lives around but some just kept on sinking. The weaker ones who were overly influenced by the scumbags didn’t get any benefits out of associating with “16 year old drug dealers how uncharitable to ruin their lives”. Those little bastards – and yes, I’m unapologetic about using this language – were ruining the lives of others without any care about the harm they were doing.

            So if all the social workers and intervention programmes and co-operation with the local Police Drug Officer doesn’t help, then the last resort is to minimise the harm and that means calling the cops or other relevant authorities on the gangsters, be they 16 or 60. I would prefer that they get help and turn their lives around, but when they are offered help and refuse it, snickering up their sleeves at the stupid people being bleeding-hearts, and they put their feet on the path of crime and deeper involvement with crime, then I prefer that they don’t go on to a successful career as drug gang enforcers, and if that means “ruining” their lives by calling the police, so be it.

            My own opinion is that I think they are ruining their own lives and that not calling the cops isn’t doing much because they see they can get away with it on account of “oh my circumstances are so hard”.

            I don’t know your 16 year olds who do a little amateur peddling of soft recreational substances then go on to have productive lives as good citizens. I do know the people who drop through the cracks and sink down further and further, and who are not benefited at all by 16 year old schoolmates selling them drugs and getting them contacts for the harder stuff.

            I don’t know university kids who played around with fun party substances but never developed a habit that would interfere with their later careers and lives because I never went to university and the people I saw in my work didn’t go to university; they were kids from vulnerable and broken families attending a school formally classified as DEIS, adults with low to no literacy levels, school drop outs (including the kids enticed into petty crime as catspaws by the lure of easy cash), and people in need of social housing and various other government assistance programmes. And they were all white, if that makes any bloody difference.

            Seeing ruined lives every day I went to work made me, already conservative socially, very much hard-line on things like “legalise drugs”.

        • rumham says:

          I should totally be cheerleading the kinds of little scumbags who got a vulnerable girl on the path of drug addiction which eventually led her to picking up a heroin habit,

          I’m sorry to pile on, but no one seems to have asked this: Why does the boy have agency here and not the girl?

          • Deiseach says:

            Lodore’s boy is not to be blamed or chided because that would ruin his life. The girl I knew was vulnerable – not very intellectually able, from an unstable home, easily influenced – the kind of “falling into bad company” that we old fogies warn about.

            If Lodore’s boy is vulnerable then yes, get him help. But from Lodore’s tone, I took it that it’s a case of “who the hell cares, let him make money fast and easy whatever way he can”.

        • Fahundo says:

          It’s okay for them to run other people’s lives but nobody should make them face the consequences of their deeds by calling the cops

          At least the scumbags can be assed to ruin someone’s life themselves, rather than hiding behind the state.

          • CatCube says:

            I don’t want people dealing drugs out of my apartment complex. Period. Point blank. Either I can appeal to the law, or I can be “assed to ruin their lives [myself]” by getting with the other neighbors to put on ski masks, burn their car, and break into their house in the dead of night to threaten them.

            Since the whole point of ceding power to a lawful authority is to eliminate mob rule, calling the cops is strictly better than this solution. After all, if you call the cops the kid at least gets a lawyer to make sure there’s some evidence he’s dealing drugs, while mobs are famously loose with their standards of proof.

            N.B.: While I’m not necessarily in favor of drug legalization (I’m not convinced it won’t just change the distribution of problems rather than solve them, though I’m only weakly against legalization), if we did that I don’t have any objection to somebody opening a storefront to sell drugs…as long as it’s somewhere else, away from where I live. I mean, I object in some general sense, but I recognize that if it’s been legalized then they have a legal right to open a storefront and wouldn’t put up a zoning fight if it’s not in my neighborhood. And at least a storefront would likely be some blocks away. But yeah, running drugs out of a home next to mine? Nope.

          • Eric T says:

            I don’t want people dealing drugs out of my apartment complex. Period. Point blank.

            Out of curiosity, is it the drug dealing you have an issue with, or all the things that come with it (crime, noise, loitering, potential violence)?

            Would you have an issue if it was like some 20-something high school dropout who occasionally sells weed but is otherwise harmless living next to you?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Eric T: I used to live in Portland, Oregon. I see a big difference between reducing the red tape around marijuana from “a felony to possess” all the way to “legal to sell out your residentially-zoned house” vs letting people get away with shooting heroin at all. Homeless addicts stealing for their next fix when they were functional and making biohazards by discarding their used needles and defecating on public and other people’s private property when not was a daily nightmare.

          • albatross11 says:

            CatCube:

            Isn’t that just zoning? I mean, I want alcohol and gambling to be legal, but I don’t want a bar, liquor store, or casino next door to me either.

          • CatCube says:

            @Eric T

            Out of curiosity, is it the drug dealing you have an issue with, or all the things that come with it (crime, noise, loitering, potential violence)?

            I guess I’d say 80/20 the petty crime, though note I have a visceral hatred for thievery, especially the kind of thievery where somebody does vast amounts of very expensive damage for piddling monetary gain. (Or even death to bystanders, like manhole theft.)

            However, I don’t know that it’s actually possible to separate “dealing drugs” from “petty crime” like that. If you’ve got a tweaker smashing car windows–costing hundreds of dollars each–to get $10 for his meth, I can’t see how he’s not going to be smashing those windows because the meth is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb vs. a bald guy named “Cheeto.”

            Would you have an issue if it was like some 20-something high school dropout who occasionally sells weed but is otherwise harmless living next to you?

            I guess technically I’d have an issue with it, but I’m also not going around doing detective work to find this, either. If he’s so low-key I don’t notice it, by definition I guess it’s “harmless”, but if it starts to become noticeable, I think you’re starting to get real danger of the harms discussed above. At that point, yeah, I’m dropping a dime.

            Of course, I live in nice neighborhoods where an obvious drug house would get quickly hemmed up by the cops. If you let something like that fester to where the cops go, “Eh, that’s just this neighborhood” then it’s too late. You have to keep your neighborhood nice, because once that plate is smashed you can’t put it back together.

            Think of it in relation to the problems with cops we’re having. If the cops never got the opportunity to be doing stuff like kneeling on Floyd’s neck on a routine basis, it’d be easy to convince everybody, including police unions, to throw people who do this against a wall. However, once it becomes “normal” actually enforcing this prohibition means hemming up a higher percentage of cops that starts to turn it into a problem where the union leaders can’t just agree with you, because of the problems it’ll cause with their own constituency, as everybody in the union feels like they’re getting juked by their leadership.

            Problems are always easier to fix early rather than letting them fester. That’s what leads to the expression, “A few bad apples spoil the barrel.” Note that that statement is literally true–try it with a bowl of fruit if you don’t believe me. If you have an apple that’s starting to rot, put it in a bowl with a few fresh apples and watch how apples you would have expected to last a week or more turn rotten in days, radiating out from the bad one. You have to get rid of the bad apples when you find them, because the problems can get away from you fast.

          • CatCube says:

            @albatross11

            Yup. I was more trying to preempt the obvious response to my comment of “well, what if drug dealing was legal?”

            As my comment above shows, I’m prone to rambling which often obscures my point.

          • Jake R says:

            @CatCube

            You probably know this but some studies have shown that meth is about as addictive as nicotine. There’s a lot of person to person variance and it wouldn’t surprise me if meth ended up being more addictive, but I think they’re in the same ballpark. Remarkably few people break windows to steal $10 to buy cigarettes.

            We also have the “natural” experiment of prohibition in the US, which showed a pretty clear relationship between legality of the substance and associated crime.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Jake R: If meth heads and crack heads are just much less romantic versions of 1920s bootleggers, that doesn’t change my position on how heroin should be illegal with strong enforcement.

          • CatCube says:

            @Jake R

            And yet, it’s the tweakers and not the people buying cigarettes for whom I need to design conduit encasements to guard against their copper theft.

            (I didn’t like thieves before I got this job, but I really started to dislike them once I realized just how much extra money it costs to defensively deal with these fuckers.)

          • Jake R says:

            @CatCube
            I should have been more clear. You said:

            If you’ve got a tweaker smashing car windows–costing hundreds of dollars each–to get $10 for his meth, I can’t see how he’s not going to be smashing those windows because the meth is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb vs. a bald guy named “Cheeto.”

            My point is there are some pretty good reasons to believe he would not be smashing those windows if the meth was manufactured by Bristol Myers Squibb. The strongest evidence is that poor nicotine addicts don’t smash windows or steal copper to buy cigarettes.

          • CatCube says:

            @Jake R

            You’re going to have to articulate these “pretty good reasons”, because you can wibble all you want about how “studies” show that meth is only as addictive as cigarettes, but the fact is that there seems to be a significant difference between the behaviors of the two. I’ve seen people going through nicotine withdrawal be kind of a pain in the ass, but I’ve never seen one of them mug somebody to buy smokes.

          • Jake R says:

            @CatCube

            the fact is that there seems to be a significant difference between the behaviors of the two.

            Yes, there is a big difference in the observed behavior of meth addicts and nicotine addicts. The logical next step is to look at what differences in their circumstances might account for the difference in behavior.

            The popular account is that meth is just that much worse than nicotine. Nicotine makes ordinary people more of a pain to deal with, but meth turns ordinary people into monsters. But if it turns out that meth is not more addictive than nicotine (and this is still an “if”), then this explanation seems insufficient. So what other difference of circumstance could account for the difference in behavior?

            I am proposing that the difference is that meth is illegal and nicotine is not. There are a couple of ways in which this could make the meth addict more likely to commit other criminal acts. For one, the restriction of supply by law enforcement serves to increase the price. In fact, law enforcement agencies measure their success at drug interdiction by the street price of the drug. When the price goes up, they’re doing a better job of keeping drugs off the streets. On the one hand, this increased price reduces demand, at least to the extent that a drug addict is a rational economic actor. On the other hand, it’s not a stretch to see how this might lead to meth addicts committing theft to pay for their habit more often than nicotine addicts.

            Another possible cause is the effect of the norm violation. A nicotine addict is a law-abiding citizen. If he were to break into a car or steal copper, that would make him a criminal. The meth addict is already a criminal, so what’s a little more crime? The deterrent effect of punishment is already hanging over his head. It seems plausible to me that the risks of criminal prosecution become more salient to someone going from 0 crimes to 1 compared to someone going from 1 crime to 2. If a nicotine addict turned to petty theft, he’d be risking his entire lifestyle. For the meth addict, that ship has already sailed.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Jake R:

            I am proposing that the difference is that meth is illegal and nicotine is not.

            Did alcohol consumers turn into dangerous people who stole bits of copper for their next fix during Prohibition, or did all the new violent and property crime come from the dapper men with Thompson guns, i.e. suppliers?

          • Jake R says:

            @LMC
            I tried to find information on petty crime during prohibition, but any search terms I try just turn up articles about the massive increase in organized crime. I’m willing to accept that it probably wasn’t very significant. This is a very good point and I should update my confidence accordingly.

            That said I’m now going to try to weasel out. According to this article alcohol prices during prohibition increased by a factor of 3-4. Several states apparently just didn’t bother to enforce prohibition. The ones that did carved out lots of exceptions like drug stores being able to sell alcohol as medicine. Most of all, though, the police were just utterly outclassed by the rise of organized crime. These things added up to a much weaker interdiction effort than we see with illegal substances today.

            I don’t know what heroin, cocaine, or meth would cost in a world where they were legal. Hell I don’t even know what they cost now. My guess would be that the difference is at least an order of magnitude. It seems like drug lords smuggling cocaine across the border are willing to tolerate massive losses and still remain very profitable. I’d love to see a comparison of how hard it was to get alcohol during prohibition vs how hard it is to obtain illegal drugs today.

            I’ll admit that even if I’m wrong about all of this I think I’d still be in favor of legalizing drugs. If you want people to stop committing theft, crack down on theft. This whole argument boils down to “people who do thing X are more likely to do illegal thing Y, so we should make X illegal too.” That seems like a precedent we might regret setting. And we’ve barely even gotten into the costs and efficacy of enforcement. The drug war could pay for a lot of broken car windows.

          • ana53294 says:

            One of the reasons nicotine addicts don’t go around smashing car windows to get 10$ to buy a pack of cigarettes, is because nicotine addicts can afford 10$ a day worth of nicotine. Because they have jobs.

            I don’t think it’s the illegallity of meth that makes crack or meth heads unreliable, untrustworthy agressive workers nobody in their right mind would want to hire. I think if we made nicotine illegal, and you could only buy contraband nicotine, employers would still hire nicotine addicts, only demanding they don’t smoke on the premises (like they do currently).

            Many employers, including the feds, currently kinda ignore employees who smoke pot even in places where it’s illegal. Why? Because a worker who gets stoned every evening can be functional like the guy who gets smashed every evening, but the crack addict can’t.

          • Garrett says:

            > Because a worker who gets stoned every evening can be functional like the guy who gets smashed every evening, but the crack addict can’t.

            Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

            Another set of possibilities is that the circumstances which made someone turn to meth are the same which made them unemployable in the first place. Poor job/life prospects, poor impulse control, whatever.
            For poor job/life prospects, this could be remedied by having decent employment opportunities in the first place. Note that the places which seem to be ravaged the worst are those which are poor in the first place. For poor impulse control or whatever (funny, since it’s in the same category of drugs used to treat ADHD), they’re still going to be non-productive members of society. Perhaps they’ll punch in fewer car windows, but they’ll still be miserable and unproductive members of society.

          • ana53294 says:

            The idea that people were screwed up before they started taking drugs, that’s why they started taking drugs, seems reasonable.

            But the thing is, drugs will make any situation worse.

            Nicotine, despite all its addictiveness, doesn’t seem to affect people that much, except making them jittery and more active.

            Pot makes people stupid.

            Alcohol affects impulse control.

            And stronger drugs destroy people even more than these softer drugs. I have seen what happened to people who started taking drugs. It’s horrible. These weren’t the worst, or even the stupidest people I’ve met. But what they turned into… Much worse than the stupider, worse people around them who didn’t take those drugs (everybody in those circles was drinking, smoking pot and tobacco; not everybody took harder drugs).

            I’m totally not convinced that drugs do bad things to people because they’re illegal. The guys whose life I’ve seen ruined haven’t faced any legal consequences because of their drug consumption. Their lives are still ruined. It’s not the law that destroyed their lives; it’s the drugs.

          • SamChevre says:

            I think there’s a very important difference between ‘addictiveness’ and ‘impairs judgment/perception’. Caffeine and nicotine are very addictive, but most people can drive safely and climb safely after having several cups of coffee. Alcohol is not very addictive, but very few people can drive or climb safely after several drinks.

          • AG says:

            Wait, is caffeine really that addictive? I read that caffeine sensitivity can basically recover in 72 hours, so someone can basically stop over a weekend.
            And while people have talked about getting withdrawal symptoms from coffee, you rarely see any stories from tea, even though some strains of green and black have the same caffeine content per cup as coffee.

          • ana53294 says:

            And there was a time and place when some of these drugs were legal, and they still ruined lives in ways nicotine or alcohol didn’t.

            The Opium wars were about the British being allowed to sell opium to China (I know it’s more complicated than this, but that’s not the topic). So producing, selling and manufacturing opium became legal. The lives of Chinese consumers of opium were ruined by the consumption.

            And the fact is, the tobacco industry was also evil, they even employed slaves, but consumption of tobacco did not ruin their lives.

            For a literary example of the life of a person ruined by opium despite it being legal, you’ve got Anna Karenina.

          • John Schilling says:

            I don’t think it’s the illegallity of meth that makes crack or meth heads unreliable, untrustworthy agressive workers nobody in their right mind would want to hire.

            But lots of people hire adderall users, even when there is only a nod and a wink to any medical need for it. And adderall is basically Upper Middle Class meth.

            Possibly middle-class mores enable one to be a functional drug addict, whereas the same or similar drug used by someone who never internalized things like “I need to actually be at work on time every day, and be polite to that jerk who thinks he’s the boss of me” amplifies existing dysfunctional behavior.

            If we thought it mattered, we could demand that legal meth be formulated like adderall. But I’m not sure it would matter.

          • ana53294 says:

            I haven’t heard of much issues with adderal users becoming aggressive or problematic workers.

            It could be middle class culture, it could be that the dose is carefully selected and there are many incentives not to take more than one pill (if your prescription runs out before the next one, you can’t legally purchase more pills), so you need to keep control of the dose.

            Opiates are, ISTM, more of a problem than anphetamines. Even legally produced ones create a lot of problems.

            I just disagree with the idea that the problems from drugs come from their illegality. Drugs are bad on their own, even if they are legal. Like the opiates. They can also be good, but they are pretty bad.

            Now, I favor decriminalization, but my problem with legalization is that I don’t want to be living in a world where drugs are an accepted social norm. And ISTM that legalization of marihuana led to social acceptance.

          • Matt M says:

            I mean, one other key difference is that since Adderall is a legal/prescription drug, this means that if you already have a job (with decent insurance) you can get it basically for free (or at least heavily subsidized). Even if you’d just as soon take meth, there aren’t any employers who will provide it to you at little-to-no-cost as a perk of employment.

            And then, once you do start taking it, you become consciously aware of the fact that your continued supply is contingent upon your keeping your job, which definitely adds to your motivation to show up to work on time.

          • Fahundo says:

            And ISTM that legalization of marihuana led to social acceptance.

            It was pretty socially acceptable before it was legal.

          • John Schilling says:

            And then, once you do start taking it, you become consciously aware of the fact that your continued supply is contingent upon your keeping your job,

            How so? There’s no requirement that one be employed to purchase adderall, and at fifty cents a pill I’m pretty sure any middle-class unemployed is going to be able to find the money.

          • Lambert says:

            > there aren’t any employers who will provide it to you at little-to-no-cost as a perk of employment.

            Not since VE day, at least

          • Garrett says:

            A key element of pharmacology involves administration. If you want “legal meth” it’s available as Desoxyn, used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. But that’s taking it orally whereas most meth-heads are smoking it which impacts the rate of onset. This has a significant impact on the “high” achieved as well as the risk of addiction. Scott would be in a better position to explain the details as it involves brains and medicine which is kinda what he does.

            Also note, this is one of the reasons why the black/white crack vs. cocaine issue is less obvious than people think. Crack, since it’s smoked, has much greater risks for drug abuse even though it’s the “same” drug being absorbed buccally or intranasally.

            Also, alcohol withdrawal (along with benzos) can be fatal. Not so with opiate withdrawl, though it may wish you were dead.

          • albatross11 says:

            Smoking probably makes you a little more productive and functional (other than the smell) in the short-term. I think meth might have a somewhat different sort of effect. OTOH, a hell of a lot of people are on very similar drugs for ADHD, so it’s not obvious to me what’s going on.

            Crack was and is associated with a hell of a lot of low-level crime and dependency, but cocaine (same drug, different price point and social context) seems not to be. It’s an interesting question why not….

          • Clutzy says:

            Crack was and is associated with a hell of a lot of low-level crime and dependency, but cocaine (same drug, different price point and social context) seems not to be. It’s an interesting question why not….

            Crack and Cocaine are, in fact, not the same drug. By reacting cocaine with a base (typically baking soda) it is converted to its free base form which has a different boiling point allowing it to be smoked instead of ingested or snorted. Smoking increases the uptake compared to snorting (making it similar to the speed of absorption for injecting cocaine) resulting in an intense but short lived (5-10 minutes) high. Whereas use of the HCl form through snorting results in a much longer high, being 30-60 minutes generally.

          • DinoNerd says:

            Wait, is caffeine really that addictive? I read that caffeine sensitivity can basically recover in 72 hours, so someone can basically stop over a weekend.

            My experience, when I was overusing caffeine in a big way, was that I could taper off caffeine without headaches, at a taper rate I could have quoted exactly at the time (=? one cup per day less per week?) when I anticipated circumstances where needing coffee would be inconvenient (vacations in the back woods) and/or I’d be forced to drink it in forms I didn’t enjoy. Quitting cold turkey was miserable; I never found out how long it would take to get rid of the headaches, because I was never forced to persist.

            But this is strictly anecdata – one person, at one stage of their life.

          • Deiseach says:

            Do you mean that I am hiding behind the state? I thought we, the people are the state which derives its legitmacy from the consent of the governed.

            But hey Fahundo, you don’t want the pigs hassling you, I understand. I can recommend several housing estates here for you to move into where the self-motivated scumbags will be willing to fuck your life up completely without the forces of the state getting involved in any way. Enjoy living under the tyranny of the feral!

    • teneditica says:

      Discussions about whether “the right” or “the left” is worse are completely worthless.

  19. Simultan says:

    I didn’t see this posted here yet, but forgive me if it’s old news.

    Last October, as the Bolivian election results were being counted, the Organization of American States published a statement that cast strong doubts on that election’s fairness, which ultimately stoked protests resulting in Evo Morales’s removal from power. But last Sunday the New York Times wrote:

    Now, a study by independent researchers, using data obtained by The New York Times from the Bolivian electoral authorities, has found that the Organization of American States’ statistical analysis was itself flawed.

    The conclusion that Mr. Morales’s share of the vote jumped inexplicably in the final ballots relied on incorrect data and inappropriate statistical techniques, the researchers found.

    “We took a hard look at the O.A.S.’s statistical evidence and found problems with their methods,” said Francisco Rodríguez, an economist who teaches Latin American studies at Tulane University. “Once we correct those problems, the O.A.S.’s results go away, leaving no statistical evidence of fraud.”

    […]

    The O.A.S. consultant who conducted their statistical analysis, Professor Irfan Nooruddin of Georgetown University, said the new study misrepresented his work and was wrong. He did not provide details and did not share his methods or data with the authors of the study, despite repeated requests.

    Here and here (and here from last year) are Andrew Gelman’s takes:

    I took a look [in November] and, without trying to judge the integrity of the election as a whole […], I agreed that the OAS report was flawed: as I put it, one of their analyses was “a joke, maybe suitable for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences but I wouldn’t expect to see it any serious report.”

    The final official tally gave Morales 47.08 percent and his closest competitor 36.51 percent. As of right now, the interim government led by Jeanine Añez Chavez is still in power, and has yet to oversee the new elections that were promised (she has previously stated that Morales will be stopped from participating in any future elections).

    • Atlas says:

      Glenn Greenwald had a column discussing this recently.

    • Aftagley says:

      You’re presenting a very flawed and biased picture of this election. Ignoring the unconstitutional shit that got Morales even in the election in the first place, here’s how it happened:

      1. During the election, early voting totals made it look like Morales was not doing anywhere near as well as expected. He was winning, but it looked like he would face a mandatory runoff election.

      2. For some reason, the electoral board decided to stop counting votes or processing votes. This was incredibly out of the ordinary; it’d be like if the US election stopped counting electoral college votes at 225 or something.

      3. People in Bolivia protested

      4. The electoral board resumed counting votes, but the new votes returned went almost entirely to Morales.

      5. The OAS released a study claiming that these new results were highly unlikely and were evidence of fraud. This initial result is what’s currently being challenged.

      6. More protests happened. To quell the protests, Bolivia asked OAS to conduct a full audit of the election. They did, and released a damning report, indicating parallel shadow IT networks that processed voting data as well as more standard voting issues such as stuffed ballot boxes. This report hasn’t been challenged at all and showed the election was fatally compromised by Morales’ party/government.

      So, when people say that the statistical analysis was bad, that doesn’t mean the election was good. Even the NYT article you linked points this out:

      The resulting 100-page report, published in December, contained evidence of errors, irregularities and “a series of malicious operations” aimed at altering the results. These included hidden data servers, manipulated voting receipts and forged signatures, which the organization said made it impossible for it to validate the election’s results.

      The O.A.S. found evidence of tampering with at least 38,000 votes. Mr. Morales claimed outright victory by a margin of 35,000 votes.

      “There was fraud — we just don’t know where and how much,” said Calla Hummel, a Bolivia expert at the University of Miami who witnessed the election and analyzed the O.A.S.’s findings.

      • Simultan says:

        Well, it’s more complicated than that. There are two counts, so I’m not sure the Electoral College comparison holds. Quoting Gelman quoting Long, Kharrazian and Cashman:

        The TSE has two vote-counting systems. The first is a quick count known as the Transmisión de Resultados Electorales Preliminares (TREP, hereafter referred to as the quick count). This is a system that Bolivia and several other Latin American countries have implemented following OAS recommendations […] and is designed to deliver a swift — but incomplete and not definitive — result on the night of the elections to give the media an indication of the voting tendency and to inform the public. […]

        The second vote-counting system is the official count (or cómputo), which is legally binding under Bolivian law. The official count is more thorough and precise and takes longer. It is the only valid vote tallying system, and the TSE uses it to determine and announce the final election results. […]

        In these elections, the results of the official count generally coincided with those of the quick count, which ended once 95.63 percent of tally sheets were counted, with Morales having a lead of 46.86 percent to Mesa’s 36.72. The final official count, with 100 percent of votes counted, resulted in Morales winning the election in the first round with 47.08 percent, to Mesa’s 36.51 percent.

        Gelman writes:

        Neither the quick count nor the official count exhibit significant changes in voting trends in the final results; rather, the same well-known trend, explainable by differences in voter preferences in different geographical areas, is evident in both counts . . .

        The official count was never interrupted and was regularly updated online without any significant interruption. Any potential irregularity would have had to affect the official count and not only the quick count in order to affect the final result.

        I’ll also note that O.A.S. didn’t just get involved after Morales asked them to do a full audit, but also released a statement early on. Quoting the NYT article:

        The organization’s statement, which cited “an inexplicable change” that “drastically modifies the fate of the election,” heightened doubts about the fairness of the vote and fueled a chain of events that changed the South American nation’s history. The opposition seized on the claim to escalate protests, gather international support, and push Mr. Morales from power with military support weeks later.

        But yeah, I am only relying on second-hand interpretations – I haven’t looked at the data myself.

        • Aftagley says:

          I’ll also note that O.A.S. didn’t just get involved after Morales asked them to do a full audit, but also released a statement early on. Quoting the NYT article:

          Yeah, this is what I was trying to say in my point 5. They were originally there as election monitors, released their statement after TREP resumed reporting and then were asked to conduct a study.

          There are two counts, so I’m not sure the Electoral College comparison holds.

          Yeah, the metaphore is kind of strained, but the TREP is the unofficial “quick” count that gets reported to the public while the official count is still being officially counted/certified. It’s the same effect you’d get watching the election the night of as electoral points were being tallied, but I’ll concede that it’s not a great comparison.

          But yeah, I am only relying on second-hand interpretations – I haven’t looked at the data myself.

          Well, the OAS and the current Bolivian government’s position is that there is no good data. All of it was affected by rampant vote tampering. That being said, they totally need to hold a new election.

          • Simultan says:

            Yeah, this is what I was trying to say in my point 5. They were originally there as election monitors, released their statement after TREP resumed reporting and then were asked to conduct a study.

            I see – I was confused as you referred to a “study” whereas I understood from the Times article that it was only a statement, and that the actual study wasn’t released until much later.

            Well, the OAS and the current Bolivian government’s position is that there is no good data.

            I understood that the central argument was: votes seemed to go against Morales until the break in the quick count, after which they went in favour of Morales. That suggests he or his allies saw that the election was going the wrong way, stopped the count and made sure to fake the rest of the count.

            That’s also how I remember it being reported in most news media last fall. But the linked studies suggest that the official count happened orderly and without interruption, and that both counts in fact showed the same voting trend (quoting Gelman, “explainable by differences in voter preferences in different geographical areas”) throughout. That seems to invalidate that central argument for the votes having been rampantly tampered with.

            That being said, they totally need to hold a new election.

            I agree, and eventually so did Morales, who after weeks of protest offered new elections (on the morning of the day that the military asked him to resign). Let’s hope Añez Chavez announces new elections and allows Morales to run.

          • Aftagley says:

            I see – I was confused as you referred to a “study”

            Study was a poor word choice IIRC, it was a few-page analysis of the data with their conclusions attached. It wasn’t just a tweet, or something, they explained their findings. If you really care I can try and dig up the original document.

            But the linked studies suggest that the official count happened orderly and without interruption, and that both counts in fact showed the same voting trend (quoting Gelman, “explainable by differences in voter preferences in different geographical areas”) throughout. That seems to invalidate that central argument for the votes having been rampantly tampered with.

            No, all the linked study says is that the post-count reopening swing towards Morales was statistically explainable and not in and of itself evidence of tampering.

            None of that matters though, if the votes themselves that were being counted were tampered with, which OAS strongly maintains they were.

            Let’s hope Añez Chavez announces new elections and allows Morales to run.

            Yes for new elections, no for Morales, he’s done. Constitutionally he’s had his limit.

          • Simultan says:

            No, all the linked study says is that the post-count reopening swing towards Morales was statistically explainable and not in and of itself evidence of tampering.

            None of that matters though, if the votes themselves that were being counted were tampered with, which OAS strongly maintains they were.

            I’m not 100 % sure which study you refer to – the one by Long, Kharrazian and Cashman or the one by Idrobo, Kronick and Rodríguez (mentioned by the Times) – but the latter says:

            The OAS and other researchers have used three quantitative results to question the integrity of the Bolivian presidential election of October, 2019: (1) an apparent jump in the incumbent’s vote share after 95% of the vote had been counted, (2) comparisons across voting booths within the same precinct, and (3) acceleration in the growth of the incumbent’s lead after 7:40 p.m. on election night, when the government stopped publishing updated results. We revisit the evidence, finding that: (1) the jump does not exist; (2) a secular trend explains the within-precinct results; and (3) we can predict the post-7:40-p.m. results almost exactly using data from the previous poll, which the OAS endorsed.

            Our analysis does not establish the absence of fraud in this election; that could never be determined on the basis of quantitative analysis alone. The quantitative results that we revisit formed just one part of the OAS’s case against the integrity of the Bolivian election. Their team presented evidence of secret servers, improperly completed tally sheets, undisclosed late-night software modifications, and myriad other
            reasons for suspicion.

            But while quantitative evidence was merely one of the findings of the OAS audit report, it played—and continues to play—an outsize role in Bolivia’s political crisis. It helped convict Morales of fraud in the court of public opinion. We find that this key piece of evidence is faulty and should be excluded.

            Iow, it addresses more than the post-break swing, but not everything flagged by OAS. I had a look at the later OAS report and, as a professional programmer, reading it made me shudder. But I don’t see any great evidence of fraud at the level needed to dramatically change the results. Possibly there would have had to have been a second round.

            Here’s the original statement by OAS on the day after the elections. An excerpt:

            The OAS Mission expresses its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results revealed after the closing of the polls.

            At 19:40 on Sunday, October 20, the TSE disseminated the results of the TREP. These figures clearly indicated a second round, a trend that coincided with the only authorized quick count and the statistical exercise of the Mission. Our information was shared today with the TSE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

            At 20:10, the TSE stopped disclosing preliminary results, by decision of the plenary, with more than 80% of the votes counted. 24 hours later, the TSE presented data with an inexplicable change in trend that drastically modifies the fate of the election and generates a loss of confidence in the electoral process.

            At an appropriate time, the Mission will issue a report with recommendations ahead of a second round.

            So that early statement which led to the ousting of Morales only mentions that one piece of evidence which is now under criticism. I wasn’t able to find the analysis that came with it, though – maybe it’s more nuanced than the statement.

    • It was a right-wing coup, pure and simple. Good luck seeing any fair elections in Bolivia any time soon…or any elections at all, as long as the COVID excuse hangs around.

      And by “fair elections,” I mean that, if not Morales (because of a constitutional term limit ruling that is in dispute), then at least someone else from his party, “Movement Towards Socialism” or MAS should be allowed to run.

  20. Aapje says:

    Keep your distance while using Dutch fixed expressions…for your own safety

    ‘Haar op de tanden hebben’ = Having hair on the teeth

    Being assertive. Probably comes from the idea that masculinity correlates with body hair, so the most masculine person doesn’t merely have lots of body hair, but even has hair on their teeth.

    ‘Er geen gras over laten groeien’ = Not letting gras grow over it

    Not wasting any time.

    ‘Iemand de les lezen’ = Reading the lesson to someone

    Setting someone straight.

    ‘Onder de wol kruipen’ = Crawling under the wool

    Going to bed. It’s not necessary for the blanket to actually be made of wool.

    ‘Op de voet volgen’ = Following someone on foot

    Tracking someone’s every move. For example, reading all the news about a celebrity you stalk like.

    ‘Op rozen zitten’ = Sitting on roses

    Everything is going great.

    ‘Open kaart spelen’ = Playing open card

    Telling the truth or divulging your (actual) motives. Not playing games.

    ‘Boventoon voeren’ = Carrying the overtone

    Being so loud that in a group, everyone can hear what you say.

    ‘Het hoogste woord’ = The highest word

    The same as the previous.

  21. Atlas says:

    (Ok, things have calmed down a bit even in the Blue Tribe and I’ve mostly gotten it out of my system without publicly exposing myself as a heretic. Probably my last post on these issues, or if not at least I will posting about them much less than on the previous couple threads.)

    There was an NYT article recently about how books on race relations have rocketed up the best-seller lists, likely as a result of admonitions on social media to “educate yourself” about what’s going on. And, you know, I agree, you do have to read careful analysis of the broader context to understand just what the heck is going on right now.

    Despite being published in 1997, my top recommendation would be Why Race Matters by Michael Levin. Professor Levin, an academic philosopher, thoroughly and carefully examines the relevant empirical evidence and moral issues at stake in debates over race in America, which are remarkably similar now to his description of them 20+ years ago. The only difference seems to be that the public debate is continuously moving closer to the contours he identified.

    As you might expect, much of it is devoted to thoroughly dissecting left-wing arguments, but I think one of its most important contributions, among many, is explaining on a deep level why mainstream conservative answers like “I just don’t see race,” “We’re all Americans under the same flag,” “It would be too complicated to figure out how exactly to implement reparations,” “The problem is a culture of fatherlessness,” etc. keep losing ground on this issue to more and more radical left-wing ideas.

    We see this dynamic at this very moment with e.g. AG Barr’s statements that: “I don’t think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist…I think we have to recognize that for most of our history, our institutions were explicitly racist.” Or in President Trump’s recent statements in which he responded to allegations of racial bias in policing by asserting that “99%+” of police officers are good people. (Remember, this is the Donald Trump who both left and right claim is constantly willing to say outrageous, shocking things that defy media norms, especially on CW issues.)

    It somewhat puzzled me as a Zoomer why Murray and Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve became such a touchstone of debate on this issue, given that it doesn’t, as its defenders have often since noted, really deal much with racial issues except to note them in passing. (My understanding is that the small section that did was excerpted in The New Republic before the book’s publication.) I would describe Why Race Matters as a sequel or addendum to The Bell Curve that explores the implications of the kind of social science it discusses for debates on public policy on this issue.

  22. Edward Scizorhands says:

    There are two coronavirus links I’m trying to find again. My browser crashed and lost it.

    First is one that shows the estimated number of people who are infected at the current time in each state. It updated about once a week.

    Second is a map that breaks down the country into red-yellow-green regions based on the worry about cases there.

    I forget if I posted either of them here.

  23. Eric T says:

    Alright this is my third attempt to post this. I’m REALLY sorry if this breaks any rules but I just want to get this damn thing on the site and be done with it -_-

    In an effort to dodge the spam filter, I’ve broken it into parts and posted the following as replies.

    Effort Post: On Systemic Racism

    I’ve made a lot of posts about Systemic Racism across this and the last two OTs – I thought for the purposes of ease of engagement it might help me to organize all of my thoughts, buff them up with some more evidence, and lay it down in a way that is easy to read/search through so that I can refer back to it without much hassle.

    What this post is: I’m going to break down a couple dimensions of what us SJ-types mean when we talk about Systemic Racism, going from (what I think) the least controversial views on the topic I hold to the most controversial ones.

    What this post isn’t: I’m not going to discuss solutions or policy proposals in this post. I know y’all have a common critique of SJW-types, which is that they don’t present cogent policy proposals to solve their issues – I’m acknowledging that. However, I’ve always been of the “it’s better to convince people there is a problem BEFORE trying to sell them on the solution” school of argumentative thought.

    1. Black/Hispanic people suffer worse outcomes – I don’t think it can be explained away only by culture and genetics.

    Before we begin I want to be very clear – I am not claiming that there is no cultural explanation. Merely that it is insufficient to completely to completely explain away the evidence of Blacks suffering worse outcomes. Absent that as a complete explanation, I’m hopeful that you will agree that something else must be making up the difference.

    If “culture” was a perfect indicator of this kind of difference, we would expect large variations in largely different cultures. We do not see that: rural blacks underperform rural Whites around the same rate that urban blacks do. African Americans living in Atlanta underperform White Atlanteans around the same rate as NYC. Per the 2017 American Community survey, the vast majority of cities see average African American income as a percentage of that citiy’s average White income between the 40 and 65% range – regardless of region. The WaPo (yes I know) ran an article where they made the data into a nice graph if you want to look at it, or just go play around w/ the census data yourself [Warning – WaPo’s adblock detector is unusually aggressive, as in I can’t open this link on Firefox even if I disable my adblocking]. I don’t have any way of proving this next bit over the internet, so you’ll just have to take my word for it: there is a large, obvious, and clear cultural difference between Rural Black Culture and Urban Black Culture. There is a similarly large, obvious, and clear cultural difference between Northern Black Culture and Southern Black Culture. There is different history, different culture, different housing arrangements.
    It may be the case that all of these cultures align such that Black People consistently underperform White People across the board – there are undoubtably commonalities that could contribute – but the issue is that you wouldn’t expect it to have such a consistent impact, and always have Black People come up short? I at least hope you’ll see that Culture isn’t a clean catch-all for what is happening here.

    Okay maybe Culture isn’t the right example, what about genetics? Now, I am no geneticist, and so I concede there is some chance I am just wrong here: but is it not the case that “Black” Americans are comprised of a massively diverse set of origins and genetics. Some are from Sub-Saharan Africa, some from Northern Africa, some from the Middle East, some from the Caribbean – now I understand similar arguments can apply to White People or Asians for example, but that you DO see expected variation (ie: western Europeans have better educational outcomes when they travel abroad than Slavs or Greeks, Chinese and Japanese immigrants do better than Uighurs or Malaysians). I’ve tried searching for data on Black differences by their National Origin – I haven’t found anything sadly, but based on Anecdotal evidence, I can say the situation that my Nigerian friends and their families face in the US seems pretty much exactly the same as what my South African friends face in the US.

    I’ll concede that this isn’t the greatest argument, appealing more to my own lived experience than evidence, but the evidence is scarce. I think in order to definitively prove that there is a major racial component I would like to see something that answers the simple question: why do people of races as different as say Irish people and Russian have outcomes eerily similar to one another if Race is the driving factor. Certainly at least this means we can’t just fall back on Race, especially if I have evidence for something else that is stronger. I believe I do. I want to make this clear – even if you are able to prove there is a culture/genetic factor that doesn’t mean there can’t also be a structural one.

    • Eric T says:

      2. Racism Happened Guys – and it still impacts us today

      Historical Racism has been the thrust of my argument here for a simple reason: It’s really easy to prove, and I find the logic behind it compelling. The major point I’ve made underlining is that America has a history of Racist policies – these policies have materially hurt the outcomes of the modern generations of Black kids and their parents, which contribute to the worse outcomes seen above. We could talk forever about what did what, but I would like to pull a couple of specific examples to better illustrate the point.

      School Segregation: The way you would be taught in School would make you think that post Brown v. Board we all just got to work desegregating and all was well, but we all know this is wrong. This NYT post [warning: paywall – defeated by incognito mode] goes further into detail about how schools are separated than I ever could, but a common issue I hear is “well that’s just racial self-segregation, not racism!” and I would like to address that argument now. First, some of this segregation is self-imposed for sure, but don’t forget that in the 70s and 80s there was a concerted effort to stop integration done by White people using redistricting laws to prevent Blacks from entering “good” schools [Note: these two are book citations because they are the books that convinced me of this point. There is are plenty of freely available online writing about the state of segregation of schools post Brown v. Board of ed, but if I can convince at least one of you to read one of these two books it will be a win for me].

      Secondly, even if it is racially self-segregated, we’re still not meeting even a “separate but equal” standard here. Majority Black and Hispanic schools get less funding, in part due to simple taxation math (black folks are poorer ergo property taxes are lower)and in part due to some lingering BS policies from the 60s (see NYT article for more reading and specifics). Here in NYC it’s so bad that we’re basically investing in a completely alternate form of education so that Black Kids can get to HS and college. (And it barely works, the amount of Black Kids who get into specialized High Schools in NYC is pitifully low).

      The impact of School Discrimination is obvious and clear – Students who go to worse schools, regardless of Race, overwhelmingly do worse on Standardized Testing than those who go to richer or more elite schools. The quality of your education has been linked to everything from your health, to your job success, to your chance of incarceration. If Black People are, through no fault of their own, getting worse education opportunities than White People are, they will do worse in life. This is what I mean by systemic racism – nobody in this system is trying to make life harder for Black People, but it is.

      Redlining: Redlining, or the policy of using Housing Acts, mortgages, or other tools to manipulate or force minorities into worse communities, is pretty well understood. I haven’t run into many SSC people arguing that it didn’t happen, so I’m not going to waste time proving that it did, instead I’m interested in discussing what effect it still has on the modern lives of African Americans or Hispanics.

      First, it should be materially obvious that if your parents grew up in a terrible neighborhood and lacked the means to move out of it by the time you were born, you’re going to be starting at a disadvantage. The biggest predictor for if you will be successful in your life is not being born poor and redlining helped ensure minorities would be more likely to be born poor – born in areas with high crime, bad schools, and low-paying jobs.

      None of this is to say escaping Redlining is impossible, it certainly is not, but that redlining made the life of the average Urban Minority harder, and still does. Redlined districts were worse impacted by public health crises like COVID-19 are linked to increased gerrymandering [Warning: Academic Paywall. I know some of you are able to bypass said things so I included this link, but Its not necessary for my overall point] and a whole host of other issues.

      Voting: So y’all remember when minorities just weren’t allowed to vote? Well that didn’t go away as completely as we all would hope. The USCCR finds that efforts to make voting harder have outsized impacts on Minorities than they do on white people. Minorities are also prevented from meaningfully actualizing their democratic rights in other ways like having to travel further to get to a polling station or living in non-representative areas at higher rates. All of this isn’t some crazy plot by conservatives to wipe out Minority Voting Rights as Mother Jones would have you believe – the explanation is much simpler. Legal methods to deny voting access to minorities have existed since we as a nation started letting them vote, and while we’ve done a great job of eliminating them, we haven’t finished said job.

      Jim Crow Laws/General Racism/Pre-Civil Rights Era Policies: Finally, a catch-all category that shouldn’t even require evidence. There were dramatically racist policies that existed in the country over various periods of time. These policies materially harmed the ability of Black Americans to become wealthy and pass said wealth onto their children. They hurt the ability of Black people to move to nice areas, to own a home, to own a business, to do whatever shitty thing they did. What people often forget is the victims of those policies are still alive now. My Gramma went to a segregated school, my friend Ray has parents who lived in the Pre-Civil Rights era. Black communities had their wealth accrual ability meaningfully harmed until but a few generations ago: it should come as no surprise that they haven’t caught up to the rest of the country.

      My family had a house become my Grandad had the funds to build one. My mom was able to go to college because her parents were well-off enough to be able to send her to a nice school and help her afford a car. This generational passing of wealth does matter, and in Black communities the time simply hasn’t passed for it to be as effective as it should be.

      What’s all this mean? The short version is this: bad shit happened and it makes life harder if you are a minority. I cannot definitively prove that the achievement gap is caused by this instead of say genetics, but I think I have shown you why the evidence is such that I choose to believe it at least plays a significant role.

      2a. What about the Asians? They also had discrimination and they’re doing pretty good!

      Good question! They did also suffer from legalized discrimination and yet they seem to be doing quite well. I have some theories, but I openly concede this as a weakspot in my argument:

      First, Asian American discrimination was substantially shorter and less targeted at wealth/community destruction than Black discrimination was. As far as I can tell, there wasn’t a concerted effort to ensure Asian Americans didn’t start businesses like in the post-reconstruction South for Blacks.
      Second, Asian Americans also had, and still have, the benefit of coming from countries where they can first gain an education, wealth, status, or other advantages, before coming over to America. Given that the majority of African Americans were brought over as slaves, this option simply doesn’t exist for them.
      Third, the when/where they arrived was quite different: predominately the West and during the industrial era mainly. I suspect this has a major impact in how their communities grew and developed, but I am still researching this.

      Overall I find What about Asians? compelling evidence that there is likely way more going on then systemic racism – but I am not compelled that it is evidence there is no systemic racism.

      2b. Okay but what about X other race/ethnicity that does alright?

      I mean look, at the end of the day there are a variety of issues we could talk about that are specific to each race/ethnicity. Some may literally just have had more “luck” than others. I could counter by asking “what about native Americans?” or something similar but I think that if we do this we miss the point – my argument is the evidence is there. I think the issue at play isn’t “are there other factors” but instead “is systemic racism a factor that materially impacts the lives of minorities?”

      2c. Okay but Eric, this all just seems like classism. Isn’t the real issue that Poor people are harmed more?

      So I’m going to talk later in my section on Implicit and Explicit Biases why I think taking a race-blind attempt to solve these issues (ie: only help the poor regardless of race) will leave us liable to make the same kinds of mistakes that got us in this mess to begin with. But I think that even if you don’t buy that we’re kind of missing the forest for the trees here: the fact that minorities are more likely to be poor is systemic racism in it of itself. If you “control for class” as some advocate doing, you’re going to miss many of the dynamics that perpetuate the system, as I discussed above.

      But also there are just issues that still impact minorities despite their class. Wealthy Black people are still disproportionately underrepresented in political office, as CEOs, and in the highest paying/most prestigious professions. There are fewer Black doctors, lawyers, surgeons, engineers, etc. than population dynamics tell us there should be. This indicates that something other than strict classism is occurring here.

      ETA: Every SJW I know also wants to help poor people too by the way!

      • cassander says:

        First, some of this segregation is self-imposed for sure, but don’t forget that in the 70s and 80s there was a concerted effort to stop integration done by White people using redistricting laws to prevent Blacks from entering “good” schools

        First, There was an effort to stop busing, NOT an effort to keep blacks out of good schools. And there certainly wasn’t an effort to make the urban schools (which are better funded than the suburban) from being good.

        Secondly, even if it is racially self-segregated, we’re still not meeting even a “separate but equal” standard here. Majority Black and Hispanic schools get less funding, in part due to simple taxation math (black folks are poorer ergo property taxes are lower)

        First, this is not accurate. Every state I’m aware of allocates funding school funding either at the state level or has state spending top up local funding. local property tax revenues don’t matter.

        Your cited article on the matter isn’t particularly convincing, because it ignores state level spending differences, which are considerable (much more than outcomes). Classic simpson’s paradox problem.

        First, Asian American discrimination was substantially shorter and less targeted and wealth/community destruction than White discrimination was. As far as I can tell, there wasn’t a concerted effort to ensure Asian Americans didn’t start businesses like in the post-reconstruction South for Blacks.

        (A) there absolutely was. and (B) it was only shorter because Asians didn’t start coming in numbers until later.

        Second, Asian Americans also had, and still have, the benefit of coming from countries where they can first gain an education, wealth, status, or other advantages, before coming over to America.

        Asserting facts not in evidence. the Asian immigrants of the time were rather like Hispanic immigrants today, not the people learning confuscian classics.

        I could go on, but I think the point has been made. These arguments are just so stories that sound plausible, but don’t stand up to scrutiny when you dive down into them, and they certainly aren’t strong enough to justify ignoring all solutions that aren’t assuming racism, much less shouting down (not that you’re doing that!) people who bring up genetics, IQ, or culture.

        • Eric T says:

          First, this is not accurate. Every state I’m aware of allocates funding school funding either at the state level or has state spending top up local funding. local property tax revenues don’t matter.

          Schools in NYC aren’t funded by the State mainly at all.

          And while equalized funding is true NOW – it wasn’t always true: Otherwise Serrano v. Priest wouldn’t have been a thing, for example. The timeline of this shift – happening around the 70s and 80s (and even the early 2000s in some states, looking at you Vermont!) actually supports my version of events.

          I could go on, but I think the point has been made. These arguments are just so stories that sound plausible, but don’t stand up to scrutiny when you dive down into them.

          Bit rude, but I mean I feel like I had a lot more arguments, and I think you attacked like one dimension of my post, so “point has been made” i think is far from the case?

          • cassander says:

            Schools in NYC aren’t funded by the State mainly at all.

            I originally mentioned an exception for big urban districts, but took it out as being rather pointless, because everyone knows that. yes, big urban districts have retained local control of schools, but they are invariably MORE lavishly funded than the non-urban schools, not less. the problems with black schools have nothing to do with funding.

            And while equalized funding is true NOW – it wasn’t always true: Otherwise Serrano v. Priest wouldn’t have been a thing, for example.

            Yep, that was 50 years ago. People starting school when it happened are starting to think about retirement now.

            Bit rude, but I mean I feel like I had a lot more arguments, and I think you attacked like one dimension of my post, so “point has been made” i think is far from the case?

            Sorry, I was trying to avoid making a laundry list because I didn’t want you to feel like I was hammering on the same point over and over. My basic point remains what I said before, that none of these arguments is unproblematic. Many were true only decades ago, if ever, and even if correct there’s there’s not nearly certainty to justify chasing all non racism based arguments out of the public sphere over them.

          • Eric T says:

            Yep, that was 50 years ago. People starting school when it happened are starting to think about retirement now.

            Yes and as per my historical racism point – those people have kids who are entering school now.

            Their communities have higher crime rates, more vandalism, and are just worse in prestige, so even if the schools are better funded, good teachers dont work there. I work as a teacher in the Bronx – I can speak to this from firsthand experience.

            Furthermore, these soon-to-be-retirees are the ones who help pay for their kids college, need to afford tutors for SAT, etc. That’s what I’m saying, not that the system still exists, but the echos of the old system hit us to this very day.

            Many were true only decades ago, if ever, and they are not strong enough arguments to justify chasing all non racism based arguments out of the public sphere.

            I have explicitly NOT advocated for that. My stated position is very clearly: I think there are several factors, some not racism. I think racism is one of the factors though.

          • cassander says:

            Their communities have higher crime rates, more vandalism, and are just worse in prestige, so even if the schools are better funded, good teachers dont work there. I work as a teacher in the Bronx – I can speak to this from firsthand experience.

            Great, so solve THOSE problems.

            Furthermore, these soon-to-be-retirees are the ones who help pay for their kids college, need to afford tutors for SAT, etc. That’s what I’m saying, not that the system still exists, but the echos of the old system hit us to this very day.

            Funny how they don’t seem to hit the Asian community. But again, if the problem is money, then focus on poverty reduction.

            I think racism is one of the factors though.

            Except every issue we’ve discussed you’ve admitted it isn’t about racism. It’s about the fact that blacks are poorer today so can’t afford tutors, or how the communities black schools are in have higher crime and are less desirable to teach at. Everywhere I push, it seems, you fall back on “well people definitely used to be racist, and there’s a legacy of that.” but by definition, that means the problem isn’t racism.

            So why keep making it about race? My answer is that a lot of political and ideological infrastructure that got built up around race, and that stuff doesn’t just vanish overnight. Thus, whatever your issue is, it’s easier to get attention if you make it about race, and we have a huge industry of people motivated to find more racial issues so they can avoid packing up and going home. And so they look, and they find, and because identity is always a powerful tool in politics, they continue to succeed (in the sense of perpetuating themselves, if not actually correcting problems) but at long term damage to the health of the polity, because identity politics is toxic.

          • Eric T says:

            Everywhere I push, it seems, you fall back on “well people definitely used to be racist, and there’s a legacy of that.” but by definition, that means the problem isn’t racism.

            Yeah because you are only attacking me on the parts of my post literally about the legacy of racism and not on say – the studies I posted on implicit bias, or non-class based forms of discrimination that people face in promotion or political appointment, or the conversation about the way Racists still influence policy, or the discussion about how a lack of self-awareness of racial bias will cause race-blind policies to just repeat past mistakes. Ya know – all of the stuff i SPECIFICALLY flagged wasn’t about the history.

            I had a whole other half of my post that was about those things, and it honestly feels really weird that you are attacking me for advocating for the thing I said I was going to advocate for?

          • cassander says:

            @Eric T

            I had a whole other half of my post that was about those things, and it honestly feels really weird that you are attacking me for advocating for the thing I said I was going to advocate for?

            (A) I’m talking about those with you separately.

            (B) I would still think that pointing out how flawed one of your three legs is would have an effect on your thinking. the legacy of racism argument , even if true, frankly isn’t relevant to the discussion because it’s manifestly not about conditions in the present.

          • Eric T says:

            I would still think that knocking out a substantial number of your arguments should have an effect on your thinking.

            Except you haven’t! The points you are talking about and saying “current racism has nothing to do with this” were the points I SAID CURRENT RACISM HAD LITTLE TO DO WITH.

            Take the school funding example I posited above – you talked about modern funding, when my entire point was about funding and segregation post Brown v. Board.

            Even your invocation of Classism is pre-empted in my post: I acknowledge that race and class are tied up together, but if you’re not even going to deal with the things I said make it the reason we have to think about all of this different then I don’t know why you expect me to debate you?

          • cassander says:

            @Eric T says:

            Take the school funding example I posited above – you talked about modern funding, when my entire point was about funding and segregation post Brown v. Board.

            Well, no. You posted a link about how MODERN funding is disparate. and it’s not.

            But you keep dodging my more fundamental point which is, if you admit these things are not about modern racism, then why are you bringing them up in a conversation about modern racism? And it’s not just you. You are commendably willing to admit that racism 50 years ago is not necessarily racism today, but the vast majority of your ideological compatriots are not, and if I asked them a question like “if we are still dealing with the legacy of past racism, does that make modern society racist even if no one in it has a racist thought?” they’d almost all say yes.

      • FLWAB says:

        First, Asian American discrimination was substantially shorter and less targeted at wealth/community destruction than Black discrimination was. As far as I can tell, there wasn’t a concerted effort to ensure Asian Americans didn’t start businesses like in the post-reconstruction South for Blacks.

        Untrue. Asian immigrants, particularly on the West Coast, were often regulated out of business whenever the whites thought they were getting too prosperous. For instance, after finding it hard to find work in more lucrative jobs, Chinese immigrants found a niche they could fill in the laundry business (probably because it’s “women’s work” that didn’t threaten anybody with the vote).. By the 1870s Chinese laundries were quite widespread, and it led to some backlash. In particular in 1890 San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring all laundries working out of wooden buildings to get a permit (at a time when the vast majority of the cities buildings were made of wood). Every single Chinese owned laundry was denied a permit, while all other laundries except one were given one. This kind of local regulation was not atypical.

        While this is anecdotal, I once read a little local history book about a town in Washington that went over it’s founding. In one of the chapters it mention that there was one Chinese man in town who ran an inn and was doing good business. He was found shot to death in the woods one day, and the general consensus was the the killers followed him to his money stash, did him in, and absconded with the loot. Naturally there was no investigation: nobody was going to go to that much bother investigating the murder of a coolie. And that seems to have been a general consensus across the west. Samuel Bowes, who wrote a travel memoir about his time in the West during the late 1800s, had this to say about the treatment of the Chinese:

        To abuse a Chinaman; to rob him; to kick and cuff him; even to kill him, have been things not only done with impunity by mean and wicked men, but even with vain glory. Had ‘John’–here and in China alike the English and Americans nickname every Chinaman ‘John’–a good claim, original or improved, he was ordered to ‘move on’–it belonged to someone else. Had he hoarded a pile, he was ordered to disgorge; and, if he resisted, he was killed. Worse crimes even are known against them; they have been wantonly assaulted and shot down or stabbed by bad men, as sportsmen would surprise and shoot their game in the woods. There was no risk in such barbarity; if “John” survived to tell the tale, the law would not hear him or believe him. No one was so low, so miserable, that he did not despise the Chinaman, and could not outrage him

        • Eric T says:

          For instance, after finding it hard to find work in more lucrative jobs, Chinese immigrants found a niche they could fill in the laundry business (probably because it’s “women’s work” that didn’t threaten anybody with the vote).. By the 1870s Chinese laundries were quite widespread, and it led to some backlash. In particular in 1890 San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring all laundries working out of wooden buildings to get a permit (at a time when the vast majority of the cities buildings were made of wood). Every single Chinese owned laundry was denied a permit, while all other laundries except one were given one. This kind of local regulation was not atypical.

          Hmm this is good to know! I admit what I know of Chinese immigration is mostly post-fall of Qing Dynasty-era stuff, so this is something that slipped my radar entirely. As I said in my original post, those are just theories I’m working on (hence the lack of evidence) and I openly concede Asian American success as a weakness of my stated view.

          • JayT says:

            I mean, there’s also the whole internment thing. That was arguably the worst thing the American government has done to a group of people on it’s land since slavery.

          • Eric T says:

            I mean, there’s also the whole internment thing. That was arguably the worst thing the American government has done to a group of people on it’s land since slavery.

            Yeah that’s why I said “length” and not “degree of badness”

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Untrue. Asian immigrants, particularly on the West Coast, were often regulated out of business whenever the whites thought they were getting too prosperous. For instance, after finding it hard to find work in more lucrative jobs, Chinese immigrants found a niche they could fill in the laundry business (probably because it’s “women’s work” that didn’t threaten anybody with the vote).. By the 1870s Chinese laundries were quite widespread, and it led to some backlash. In particular in 1890 San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring all laundries working out of wooden buildings to get a permit (at a time when the vast majority of the cities buildings were made of wood). Every single Chinese owned laundry was denied a permit, while all other laundries except one were given one. This kind of local regulation was not atypical.

          +1
          White Americans used to be very openly racist to both blacks and Asians. SJ seems a particularly bad model for figuring out their dramatically disparate outcomes.

      • J Mann says:

        2b. Okay but what about X other race/ethnicity that does alright?

        IMHO, one interesting question would be “how do 1st and 2nd generation African and Afro-Caribbean immigrants do relative to (a) African Americans generally; (b) other immigrant groups, (c) Caucasian Americans?” I don’t know the answer, but would give it some weight, whether it supported/challenged your hypothesis.

        • Eric T says:

          I tried to find basically exactly this when I was writing Part 1! Consider this a plea for this kind of evidence.

        • AG says:

          This is also relevant to the conversation on why Asian Americans appear to have bounced back. The swaths of model minority Asians are almost all 1st or 2nd generation kids of parents who often had enough money and smarts to get a Phd in the homeland. We would have to look at the descendants of those with a longer American heritage to better compare.

        • DinoNerd says:

          IIRC, it was at one point (1980s?) common knowledge that Afro-Caribbean immigrants to the US did better on average than African Americans of long term US ancestry. The reason given was a culture valuing education; people referred to them as “black Jews”, and they weren’t referring to religion.

          Also, FWIW, a lot of the Asian immigrants who’ve done well in the US, collectively, also had (and have) a strong tendency to value education. When I was younger, my peers in the top half of STEM talent were disproportionately Jewish; now they are disproportinately Asian – and more recently South East Asian (from India).

          I don’t think this disproves structural racism in any way. But it certainly adds complexity and nuance.

          [Also – the above is also consistent with an explanation involving entering the US with valuable credentials, wealth, or both, as in AG’s comment.]

      • Robert Liguori says:

        There are more Jewish doctors, lawyers, engineers, surgeons, etc. than population dymanics says there should be. Does this mean that there is systemic racism in America in favor of Jews?

        I respect the effort that you have put into these replies, but they are very, very, just-so-y. We do not have general evidence that hardship done to ancestors impoverishes a minority group for generations; we do have several minority groups who keep showing up, keep getting oppressed, and keep accomplishing things the moment the oppression is lifted to the not-actually-mass-murder level. We have ethnic groups who have been historically enslaved (most obviously the eponymous one) who, while not experiencing great outcomes in the ranking of minority ethnic groups, do not bottom out entirely.

        If you want to argue that Historical Factor X applied to Group Y causes Z outcomes, you need to do more than establish that X happened to Y. Can you quantify exactly what kinds of oppression cause what outcomes, and for how long? Can you point to a sub-population of Group Y who did not suffer X in the listed timeframe and who have wildly divergent outcomes?

        And, since you brought it up, how much impact do you estimate that culture and genetics have relative to historic discrimination in group outcomes? Presumably, you think that we can rank all of the various ethnic groups by intelligence, life outcomes, etc. If we were to do so, how do you think the various groups would line up? How much divergence do you think is possible without the explanation of systemic racism?

        • Eric T says:

          There are more Jewish doctors, lawyers, engineers, surgeons, etc. than population dymanics says there should be. Does this mean that there is systemic racism in America in favor of Jews?

          Not sure, but fairly confident that it is “no.” In another thread I posited that above-average performing groups who were discriminated against would do even better. Hence why i am willing to accept a cultural and a genetic factor,

          If you want to argue that Historical Factor X applied to Group Y causes Z outcomes, you need to do more than establish that X happened to Y. Can you quantify exactly what kinds of oppression cause what outcomes, and for how long?

          I can’t EXACTLY [edited this for clarity], and I doubt anyone ever could, but what I thought I attempted to do is show how specific policies are causing or at least contributing to, specific outcomes, which was basically the entire point of part 2. In particular I think its hard to argue that Redlining didn’t fuck shit up for minorities who suffered from it, though I guess we can disagree about how long the “fucking up” lasts. I’d say the impacts are still felt today, and I think I’ve outlined why.

          And, since you brought it up, how much impact do you estimate that culture and genetics have relative to historic discrimination in group outcomes? Presumably, you think that we can rank all of the various ethnic groups by intelligence, life outcomes, etc. If we were to do so, how do you think the various groups would line up? How much divergence do you think is possible without the explanation of systemic racism?

          Gonna be honest, I don’t feel qualified to give numbers given a dirth of data about genetic and cultural difference. I feel like before we get into is it 80-10-10 or 30-40-30 or whatever, I have to first convince you that one of the numbers isn’t 0 – that was the point of this post.

          • Robert Liguori says:

            In particular I think its hard to argue that Redlining didn’t fuck shit up for minorities who suffered from it, though I guess we can disagree about how long the “fucking up” lasts. I’d say the impacts are still felt today, and I think I’ve outlined why.

            Are you aware that Asians and Jews also suffered from redlining? I am not a historical expert, and I freely concede that there was a whole hierarchy of racially-disfavorable conditions and that black people were at the bottom of the list, but I feel like you are ignoring the very real and very harmful discrimination that people went through in early-20th-century America, because the people going through that suffering were the wrong race.

            Gonna be honest, I don’t feel qualified to give numbers given a dearth of data about genetic and cultural difference. I feel like before we get into is it 80-10-10 or 30-40-30 or whatever, I have to first convince you that one of the numbers isn’t 0 – that was the point of this post.

            That is fair. And I think that all reasonable people agree that there absolutely is a level of societal discrimination which hard-stops you as a group from contributing at a meaningful level to society, and that black people in America experienced that level of discrimination historically.

            But if that number is <5%, if we can prove that systemic racism is not the meaningful driver in outcomes of black people in the same way it's not the meaningful driver in the lives of market-dominant minority groups, what does that mean for you?

            Is this about justice for historic wrongs, or equality today?

          • gbdub says:

            How do you square your confidence in the statement “there is no systemic racism in favor of Jews” with your previous assertion:

            the fact that minorities are more likely to be poor is systemic racism in it of itself.

            Apologies if this comes off as nit picking. I actually think it’s one of my biggest issues with most SJ commentary, so I’d appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

            Far too often, in my mind, an SJ advocate will assert that racism / sexism / Xphobia exists. To prove this, they will show statistics that demonstrate some disparity between the supposedly favored group and the supposedly oppressed group. And then they are done. And it is often strongly implied that all or most of the disparity MUST be due to discrimination (e.g. the oft-cited “women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn”). Disparity equals discrimination, QED.

            But they never apply this consistently. Does the disparity of Asian American or Ashkenazi Jewish success relative to other white people prove discrimination against non-Jewish white people?

            Does the lack of men in nursing and teaching prove anti-male discrimination in those fields?

            Does the fact that men are arrested at a much higher rate than women prove discrimination against Men? What about the fact that they die earlier (note that both of these disparities, identified between black and white people, are frequently cited by SJ advocates as evidence of anti-black racism).

            Clearly, there is a lot going on in all these scenarios that can’t be explained as simple discrimination. But any attempt to probe these (at least for the disparities that SJ advocates selectively apply disparity = discrimination to) is liable to get one accused of “denying America