Friday assorted links

by on January 22, 2016 at 11:15 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Joan January 22, 2016 at 11:47 am

#5. Is this.an example of # 2

2 Alain January 22, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Agreed. That a team of economists would have to work tirelessly to produce metrics that socialism is harmful when the results are plainly visible is a shame. But there are ideologues who continue to espouse the view that it is somehow beneficial.

3 Arjun January 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Well, given that “socialism” is a very diverse set of theories and practices and schools of thought, it does in fact make a lot of sense to try to study individual cases and analyze results.

4 JWatts January 22, 2016 at 1:15 pm

“it does in fact make a lot of sense to try to study individual cases and analyze results.”

Ok.

“5. “We conclude that the overall economic consequences of the Chavez administration were bleak.”

It looks like they studied and individual case and analyzed the result. It was a failure. Who could have predicted that?

5 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 5:55 pm

Chavez could have tried the Norwegian model of resource management, which is also quite socialst.

This is about Chavez in particular, not socialism per se.

6 JWatts January 22, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Norway ranks 27th in the world on the Free Market index.

Venezuela is third from the bottom at 176th. It beats out Cuba and North Korea. Norway is a free market paradise compared to Chavezism.

7 MC January 22, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Typical leftist dodge to point to their rainbow of thought, which, when applied, manages to produce hideous monochromatic results.

8 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Monochromatic? Like comparing Pol Pot and Sweden?

Yes, let’s group all things with socialist flavour into one box and call them identical. Because Pol Pot, Sweden and Chavez have so much in common.

9 Chip January 22, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Why do socialists always point to Sweden? The Swedes rank pretty high on the economic freedom index and have been experimenting with privately run education and health that would frighten Sanders’ fans.

Heritage ranks it the 23rd freest economy in the world.

They have historically had a robust free market mentality. Socialism reared its head in the 70s and it was abysmal.

10 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Why do anti-socialists think that there is necessarily an antithesis between socialism and economic freedom?

The fact is, that there is an awful lot of economic freedom in many countries with strongly socialist components.

11 Ricardo January 23, 2016 at 3:48 am

“Why do socialists always point to Sweden? The Swedes rank pretty high on the economic freedom index…”

This is trying to have it both ways. Sweden, for instance, has a health care system which is largely government-funded and run and a top marginal tax rate that tops out at 59.7%. If this is consistent with a high degree of economic freedom, then you should inform Republican politicians and their voter base of this fact as America’s much lower tax rates and more market-oriented health care system are routinely denounced as socialist or worse. And if they aren’t consistent with economic freedom in your view, then one wonders if taking a concept as contested and complex as “economic freedom” and distilling it into a single number is really a good approach.

12 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 4:34 am

Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Yes, let’s group all things with socialist flavour into one box and call them identical. Because Pol Pot, Sweden and Chavez have so much in common.

Sweden is not a socialist country. It may have been run by socialists for a long time but it has made no effort to take over the means of production. Sweden is a Classically Liberal country that has taken Mill to heart – they allow the market to produce and then the state distributes large parts of it. You can see this with their car industry. Supposedly free market America could not let GM go bust. Sweden sold Volvo to the Chinese.

Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Why do anti-socialists think that there is necessarily an antithesis between socialism and economic freedom?

Experience. There is nowhere in the world that is trying socialism that is not unfree. There is little to no freedom in socialist countries. The more socialism, the less freedom.

13 Ricardo January 23, 2016 at 11:02 am

“Sweden is a Classically Liberal country that has taken Mill to heart – they allow the market to produce and then the state distributes large parts of it.”

Which is perfectly fine by me. I am glad to hear that conservatives no longer object to marginal tax rates of over 50% and a system where 80% of health spending comes from the government. So we can agree to stop calling these “socialist,” right?

14 So Much For Subtlety January 22, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Arjun January 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Well, given that “socialism” is a very diverse set of theories and practices and schools of thought, it does in fact make a lot of sense to try to study individual cases and analyze results.

Actually the diversity of the socialist movement is small and has been getting smaller for a long time. You only have to read Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia to see a vastly more diverse socialist world. Now we are reduced to 1. Stalinists, 2. Stalinists who accept democracy as a useful path to power, 3. neo-liberals who for historical reasons keep the old names. Even Venezuela could not think of anything other than a sort of soft-Stalinism. Even though they must have known this would lead to toilet paper shortages.

What would be interesting would be if the Left actually stood back and did not focus on individual cases. If they stood back and tried to say where socialism as a whole went wrong. Every single time someone tries to implement real actual concrete socialism, they end up with Gulags and mass graves. Something the Left rationalizes away but does not explain.

15 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Where are the mass graves in Scandanavia?

There’s a HUGE difference between Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism,. etc., and democratic socialism as practiced in many countries in post-WWII Europe.

16 JWatts January 22, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Nathan W has a good point. Chavez could have tried to emulate the democratic socialist model of Europe. Instead, he chose something much closer to Cuba. Granted, the Left would be smart to denounce Chavez and his idiocy at every turn, but many on the Left insist on defending him.

17 JWatts January 22, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Courtney Love, etc

18 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 4:38 am

Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Where are the mass graves in Scandanavia?

Finland. But the Scandanavians have not made the slightest effort to implement socialism.

There’s a HUGE difference between Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism,. etc., and democratic socialism as practiced in many countries in post-WWII Europe.

Many countries in Europe *tried* to implement a socialist program. Sweden and Norway not being among them. Those efforts failed and they have all retreated from them. Which leaves us, as I said, with an intellectually stunted Left made up mainly of neo-liberals using the old names.

19 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:17 am

SMFS – I think part of the issue is that we’re using the word “socialism” differently.

Of course, the traditional definition is state control over the means of production. But in America, high taxes, public health care and moderate social security are often referred to as socialism. What I refer to as “socialism” here is perhaps more accurately referred to as the “modern welfare state”, but many Americans consider that as “socialism”.

The problem with Chavez was not “socialism” in the sense that you are using the word, but rather in the sense of “socialism” as used in more common parlance in the USA. Namely, a) unproductive social transfers beyond the means of an economy with no non-resource sources of long term growth, and b) distorting price signals in ways which led supply and demand to go way out of whack.

Of course, I agree that Europe is not “socialist” according to the definition of controlling the means of production. I use the word in the common usage of the USA, where “socialism” refers to key issues such as highly progressive taxes, redistribution (social security), and public health care.

20 John L. January 23, 2016 at 11:27 am

“Finland. But the Scandanavians have not made the slightest effort to implement socialism.”
Yet, we heard a lot that Obama was a Socialist (or a Fascist, whatever makes more money for the talk radio host).

21 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:17 am

Of course, the traditional definition is state control over the means of production.

So we are agreed, Sweden is not a socialist country.

But in America, high taxes, public health care and moderate social security are often referred to as socialism.

I don’t think they are. Obamacare is often referred to as socialism because it is an attempt to impose such rigid controls on what the health care industry does, it is a de facto nationalization. But it is only a first step on that path. Bernie Sanders would go much further.

What I refer to as “socialism” here is perhaps more accurately referred to as the “modern welfare state”, but many Americans consider that as “socialism”.

So you are misusing language for political gain and erecting strawmen as far as the eye can see.

The problem with Chavez was not “socialism” in the sense that you are using the word, but rather in the sense of “socialism” as used in more common parlance in the USA.

Taking over the oil industry and the healthcare system did not help.

Namely, a) unproductive social transfers beyond the means of an economy with no non-resource sources of long term growth, and b) distorting price signals in ways which led supply and demand to go way out of whack.

If you mean controlling prices and introducing rationing then I think most people would call that socialism, as it is on the road to Serfdom but it has nothing to do with the US.

John L. January 23, 2016 at 11:27 am

Yet, we heard a lot that Obama was a Socialist

Well he almost certainly is.

22 Darden January 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Facts are ultimately unimportant to idealists. They view current and past reality as a distortion of a much better world that is achievable. Most religious and political ideologies adhere to this, especially collectivists such as socialists and American Progressives.

“All mass movements strive to impose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world.” –Eric Hoffer

23 Rock Lobster January 22, 2016 at 1:29 pm

But definitely not libertarians.

BTW did you know that all the Republican candidates’ tax plans will pay for themselves with the tidal wave of enterprise that they will unleash? Let me introduce you to my good friend Mr. Dynamic Scoring.

24 Brian Donohue January 22, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Libertarianism is not a mass movement. How is that not obvious?

25 JWatts January 22, 2016 at 6:21 pm

“How is that not obvious?”

I think the phrase that Darden quoted answers that question: “a fact-proof screen”

26 Jan January 22, 2016 at 7:00 pm

You can pretend libertarianism isn’t a mass movement or that every little L libertarian is a unique snowflake only linked to other little L libertarians by very high level principles, but that isn’t the case. It’s very popular to be a libertarian these days, even if not yet as popular as other political identities. I especially notice this on the East Coast. The joiners talk about it as if the libertarian is a respectable version of a Republican. “Gay people and drugs are ok with us, and fuck taxes to help poor people!”

http://fee.org/freeman/rise-of-the-libertarians/

27 Rock Lobster January 22, 2016 at 7:52 pm

What difference does it make if it’s a mass movement or not? Delusional is delusional, and it’s a charge just as reasonably leveled at hardcore libertarians as hardcore leftists.

In any case, libertarianism fails to be a mass movement insofar as it’s unpopular, not because libertarians are lacking in evangelical zest.

28 Scott H. January 22, 2016 at 1:58 pm

The issue is that the measures of overall economic performance are not agreed upon across different ideologies. When people can look you straight in the eye and say “at least they have health insurance” when discussing economic life in North Korea, you know you’ve got some intractable problems.

29 John L. January 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Indeed, when the USA is the most violent country among the rich ones, but it is OK because at least Americans can bear guns, (as opposed to those poor, oppressed British) there is a big problem.

30 Dreft January 22, 2016 at 12:07 pm

#3. Not sure why #3 would be considered an excellent review. The pox on both their houses approach is merely bigotry and “there’s no good guy left in the history book” is both wrong and harmful.

31 Iluvtacos January 22, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Very true. Doesn’t this silly writer realise that my guy is the good guy? So obvious.

32 Dreft January 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Early opponents of eugenics such as Friedrich Hertz, Oscar Hertwig and others were indeed the good guys and it is wrong to disparage their legacy. See: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=XUNI11mfSdoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA263&dq=Frederick+Hertz+eugenics&ots=8NQNMQNdWT&sig=sl0g60z6OYFZYcMARM2ltshGkuM#v=onepage&q&f=false

33 JWatts January 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

“and “there’s no good guy left in the history book” is both wrong and harmful.”

I agree with that, but it never hurts to look at the shades of gray.

34 Brian Donohue January 22, 2016 at 4:13 pm

I was impressed by how vigorously some tenets of early 20th century progressivism have been taken up by right-wingers nowadays.

They deserve each other.

35 Alain January 22, 2016 at 4:26 pm

It was excellent since it was TNR and it showed the disgusting base of the progressive movement for what it is.

It was the TNR so it needed to soften the blow by saying it didn’t see how it applied to today’s movement and that both sides are dirty (although there was no basis for either claim). But it isn’t like they could avoid softening such a devastating message.

36 Alain January 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm

I also appreciate how the title of the book is buried in the 6th paragraph.

TNR you never fail to deliver.

37 Virginia Postrel January 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm

My earlier take (a column pegged to news, not a straight review) on the Leonard book: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-08/woodrow-wilson-wasn-t-the-only-progressive-racist

You can find nearly every damning quote in its original context via Google Books.

38 Adrian Ratnapala January 23, 2016 at 3:52 am

Both claims are easily justifiable.

Progressives today abhor racialist theories and eugenics. If we must find a fault, it is that they are now more likely to ignore or suppress science relating genes to outcomes than they are to over-interpret or abuse it.

As for the second claim, it can hardly be controversial that some on the right were racists back then.

39 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 4:55 am

Adrian Ratnapala January 23, 2016 at 3:52 am

Progressives today abhor racialist theories and eugenics.

Do they? It looks to me like the Progressives abandoned the White racists in favor of pandering to minorities on racial grounds. They are just as racist as they ever used to be, they are just anti-White instead of anti-Black because the anti-White vote is so much bigger than the anti-Black.

As for the second claim, it can hardly be controversial that some on the right were racists back then.

I think it can be. Unless you are defining “the Democrats” as on the Right. The Republicans are the party of Lincoln and the NAACP and have never been the party of racism. The Democrats have always been the party of racial resentment. Back then racism was mainly from the Democrats. Almost entirely in fact.

40 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:18 am

SMFS – you’ve been reading too much White Supremacist propaganda. I can tell because you’re calling people “anti-white”.

41 Thomas January 23, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Thank you for taking time out of your day to remind everyone that the regressive left that has taken hold of the Democrat party believes in a strict racial and gender based apartheid which inevitably leads to bizarre claims like no one can dislike white people by virtue of their skin color.

42 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 6:22 pm

People associated with the Democrats have come out in favor of lynching Afro-Peruvians and the occasional White police officer. No Democrat of note is challenging them.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to call that anti-White – or anti-Afro-Peruvian.

43 Jeff R. January 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

#6: this type of thing has sort of become its own genre. Urban Lifestyle-Stunt Journalism, you might call it, like the so-called “No Impact Man:”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/garden/22impact.html?_r=0

44 Ray Lopez January 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

It should be pointed out that roughly two-thirds of food (from the time it is planted until the time it ends up in your stomach, and that includes time in your refrigerator where it can spoil) is “wasted”. This is in line with the laws of entropy. For example, roughly two thirds of any heat engine (steam, fossil fuel) is wasted, again consistent with the laws of entropy. It also explains (entropy does) why your office or room is a mess, or your hard drive is cluttered. In the Soviet Union, the figure was not 66% waste but 90% waste, due to lack of farming incentives.

45 carlolspln January 22, 2016 at 11:16 pm

No. 1: The Kamasi Washington piece was good [just got the record]. Thanks for posting

46 Doug S January 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm

#6: Actually, (Canadian), as per the link.

47 Dude January 22, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Yeah, perhaps “American” in the broader sense.

48 Urstoff January 22, 2016 at 12:39 pm
49 Arjun January 22, 2016 at 12:51 pm

#5 Uh, the methodology doesn’t really make much sense to me, but I can’t look deeper because of the paywall.

Which countries were the control cases? How was it judged whether a “similar country” was actually similar in terms of historical trajectory and political dynamics? Did the control cases have similar economic and political chaos in the ’80s and ’90s, and undergo a similar process of deep political transition in the late ’90s and early ’00s? And are the control cases based on similar “pink tide” countries, whose governments were run by groups very similar to the PSUV (if so, does it really make much sense to try to cast them as all that different from the chavistas, given their ideological convergence?)

This is definitely one of those cases where a lot is lost by tossing aside political and social analysis in favor of contextless numbers (if that is indeed what is happening–again, I’m not sure since I can’t access the paper).

50 Art Deco January 22, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Presumably the control countries had different political dynamics, leading to different outcomes. (It’s not a surprise that the Chavez era was a loss from every angle).

51 CW January 22, 2016 at 2:01 pm

On #4: can we call this new era of student activism the “new student authoritarianism”? These groups all seem to want to be mini-oligarchies (and if you disagree with them, just “shut up!!”). I doubt they’re capable of seeing any irony in that though. I just finished rereading Didion’s essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” now that her books are available on Kindle. I have to say, we could really use someone like her now to so perfectly chronicle the inherent absurdity of movements like this.

52 Ed January 22, 2016 at 3:05 pm

At least, we finally have a college president who is showing some backbone and has politely declined to engage with the black students and their list of “demands”. Perhaps all the ridicule that school received over the cafeteria General Tso’s Chicken as Cultural Imperialism (or causing some students to feel “unsafe”, or whatever) has finally caused some administrators to wake up.

53 FredR January 22, 2016 at 2:15 pm

#3: “Read between the twin specters of human engineering, The Holocaust and the American slave-breeding industry…”

?

54 frosted January 22, 2016 at 7:52 pm

I’d lay 10 to 1 the author was a US public school graduate and has never heard of the Arab slave trade. US public schools teach that the US was the only country in which slavery existed. Only about 1 in 100 US citizens are even aware that the vast majority of African slaves in the Atlantic trade never stepped foot in the US but were rather taken to the islands or South America. You’ll never lose money betting on the ignorance of “progressives.”

55 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 9:08 pm

“US public schools teach that the US was the only country in which slavery existed”

Maybe you just went to a really bad school?

56 Thomas January 23, 2016 at 2:46 pm

How is that possible? All teachers are hard-working, underpaid, liberal progressives.

57 Douglas2 January 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm

#6:
I wonder if the whole dumpster full of no-where-near-sell-by-date “President’s Choice” brand Hummus had something to do with the Staphylococcus aureus recall?

In the USA, there are now many non-profits that exist solely to make it easy for supermarkets, manufacturers, and distributors to donate their excess, short-date, and unsightly food to food-banks and soup-kitchens:
https://www.chicagobooth.edu/magazine/spr06/YJ_34-39_Front.pdf

58 collin January 22, 2016 at 2:46 pm

3. I am with Kevin Drum on the Progressive and eugenics of yesteryear. It is not any kind of secret history or anything.

Anyway, it appears the developed world has designed the best eugenics policy which is make it to expensive for the working classes to have families.

59 Art Deco January 22, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Total fertility rates have bounced around a set point of about 1.93 since around about 1978. They were higher ca. 1957, but at that time, fertility was not correlated with years of education.

60 collin January 22, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Yes the US has been around 1.9 since 1978 but most other developed nations in Europe and East Asia have significantly lower birth rates.

I find it significant that the most functional nation, Singapore, beloved by Garrett Jones and all libertarians also has some of the lowest birth rates in the globe.

61 Roy LC January 22, 2016 at 2:51 pm

6. Free country, I am referring to Canada, it is nice that rich societies can indulge all sorts of odd lifestyle choices.

62 Art Deco January 22, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Canada qualifies as a ‘free country’ only if you do not dissent from the legal profession’s consensus on certain contentious issues. If you do dissent, it’s agents provacateurs, lawfare, star chamber proceedings, and ruinous legal expenses (rather like Singapore, ca. 1984).

63 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Which hate speech do you think Canadians should be allowed to engage in?

Which discrimination and harassment do you think Canadians should be allowed to engage in?

64 TMC January 22, 2016 at 10:55 pm

And the thinking of wrong thoughts will also be eliminated.

65 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:23 am

Tolerating hate speech makes people think it’s OK.

66 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:23 am

Tolerating hate speech makes people think it’s OK.

As does tolerating adultery. Come on Nathan, tell us all what else you think should be illegal just to send a message? Adultery and what? Homosexuality? Abortion? Masturbation? Gambling? Maybe obesity? Being mean in the play ground? Although that may well already be illegal in Canada. Driving a pick up? Tasteless clothes? Too much gold jewelry? Shirts open to the navel? The Home Shopping Channel?

Conservatives think it is not the job of the state to micromanage other people’s lives. Why do you?

67 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 4:19 am

All of them

68 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:22 am

You think the law should protect the right of people to make life hell for someone, rather than protecting the person whose live has been made hell?

How about a system where it’s OK to kill harassers who make life less than worth living for the targets of harassment?

69 Thomas January 23, 2016 at 3:09 pm

You think the law should protect the right of people to make life hell for someone, rather than protecting the person whose live has been made hell?

Well that depends on the person whose life is made hell, right Nathan? I mean, surely you wouldn’t punish the LGBTQQIP2SAA or feminist community for harassing a cis hetero white male, right?

70 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:22 am

Now you are switching the goal posts. No one in Canada has ever been arrested or even harassed by the authorities under the new anti-Conservative laws for making someone’s life hell. They have been persecuted for comments well within community norms.

People on the Left simply do not like open political debate and want to shut down their opponents. There is no other justification.

71 Dan Weber January 23, 2016 at 9:36 pm

I hate Canada. Their whole culture sucks.

72 Lance January 23, 2016 at 4:28 am

Canadian Comic, Guy Earle should have been able to harrass a heckling lesbian at his show without a “Human Rights Tribunal” awarding her $15,000 out of his pocket. Like most PC culture made law, the punishment is vastly in excess of the crime, and in time this will have a negative effect on comedy and free speech, as you can imagine the egg shells Canadians will have to walk on.

http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/06/20/comedian-dinged-for-homophobic-rant-loses-constitutional-challenge-to-human-rights-code/

73 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:20 am

Seems excessive. But eventually gays will be able to live free of harassment, so it’s worth it to set examples.

Hardly any more draconian than years in prison for smoking plants that don’t harm anyone.

74 J1 January 23, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Who decides which speech is hate speech?

75 Thomas January 23, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Nathan W does.

76 Thomas January 23, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Well this case, which was brought by one of your political allies, should never have resulted in an arrest, a ban on internet usage, or a trial, but it did:

http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/toronto-man-found-not-guilty-in-twitter-harassment-trial-widely-viewed-as-a-canadian-first

If you object to feminists doxxing a game creator, sending slanderous mail to everyone around him, and threatening violence against him (for which she faced no penalty), and your objection is on the internet for the feminist to see (by her own volition), there is a significant portion of the left – Nathan W included presumably – who thinks that you are a criminal. It makes sense, though, when juxtaposed to Nathan’s earlier mockery of the idea that someone could be anti-white, it all makes sense. Hate speech is about who does the speaking and to whom, not necessarily the content. His opposition to hate speech therefore, is really an opposition to people he doesn’t like being mean to people he does like. Juxtapose that with his demonstrated disinterest in freedom, and, yes, of course he would support authoritarianism to shut up people he doesn’t like – that’s the fundamental nature of the regressive left.

77 Albigensian January 22, 2016 at 2:58 pm

So, how evil and anti-social is it to reach to the back of the cooler to snag the milk that’s farthest from its sell-by date?

78 Donald Pretari January 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm

#3…Recently, I came upon this article dealing with Cesare Lombroso: The Return of Lombroso? Ethical Aspects of (Visions of) Preventive Forensic Screening http://phe.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/3/270.full.pdf+html

Was Lombroso good or evil? Some say this should be an easy question. As for the Scopes Trial, it was Mencken who was most responsible for making Bryant a buffoon and Darrow a genius, as far as I know. I’ve never been able to categorize Mencken, even after reading thousands of pages over the years.

79 Go Kings Go! January 22, 2016 at 5:25 pm

I characterize Mencken as effing awesome, as fine a writer as America has ever produced.

80 Joël January 22, 2016 at 3:57 pm

Arjun, for GDP, the control basket was as follows: Brazil 7.25%, Canada 20.35%, Iran 42.24%, Mexico 12.67%, Peru 17.49%. These countries and number were obtained by minimizing the difference of GDP between Venezuela and the basket over a period preceding Chavez’s coming to power, and among a larger set of 20 countries, mostly of Latin America or member of the OPEP plus Canada and Norway.

What is a little strange is that they recompute the basket for each of the variables they consider, and the results are completely different. For instance, for life expectancy: Argentina 0.99%, El Salvador 6.27%, Nigeria 8.46%, Norway 18.86%, Panama 44.53%, Uruguay 20.89%. Intuitively this seems to suggest to me that there are a lot of ways to very well approximate the behavior of a given economic variable of Venezuela by a basket of other countries over the test period, and it would have made more sense to compare that variable over the Chavez period with all of those baskets rather than just one. Arguably, whatever the basket, the result would have been the same concerning GDP per capita because on this level Venezuela did worse than any other countries among the 20 countries considered. But then, no need to make such a sophisticated analysis to observe that.

81 Joël January 22, 2016 at 3:58 pm

That was on #5, and supposed to be an answer to Arjun above.

82 DanC January 22, 2016 at 4:00 pm

Oberlin should fire their entire admissions office. They clearly did not inform prospective students about what a horrible place Oberlin is. Indeed the students might sue for fraud.

I would also fire the admissions office because I question the judgement of an admissions office which selected so many self centered, immature children who are causing serious damage to the schools reputation.

How does Oberlin recruit students? What are they looking for in a student? What do they ask prospective students?

Do you have a narcissistic personality disorder? How about borderline personality disorder? Do you want to hang out with others who suffer from the same disorders? Apply to Oberlin.

I don’t think the president of Oberlin went far enough. I would advise theses students that they can have the greatest positive impact on the school by withdrawing and finding a school (or start a school) that better meets their needs. Oberlin may not be the best environment for young people dealing with serious personality disorders or the immature. Perhaps working in the real world, with real problems, will give them a sense or perspective. (I doubt it, but one can hope.) I would DEMAND that they leave a place that they clearly despise.

If these students truly believe that Oberlin is such an awful place, they should refuse to send their money (or have money directed to) an institution that so oppresses them and others. They should return to school, gather up their belongings and march out. The president should hire workers to help these students leave as quickly and easily as possible. It is the best path for all involved.

83 Joël January 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm

I wish my president (at Brandeis) were as courageous as Oberlin’s, and said clearly she refused the students’ demand (which in my university were slightly less outrageous than in Oberlin).

On the other hand, I do not agree with you that Oberlin’s president did not go far enough.

Those students say incredibly stupid (and mean) things. On many grounds this ought to be tolerated: freedom of speech, of course, but also the fact that they are very young, and that one progress by making mistakes. To say just “No” to them is exactly the right answer.

Of course, if they begin to use violence to push for their agenda (as they more or less threaten to do at the end of their demands text) then I would completely support exercising a greater violence against them. But for the moment that is not necessary, nor justified.

84 Joël January 22, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Again this was supposed to be addressed at DanC’s comment above. Don’t know what happens today…

85 DanC January 23, 2016 at 9:03 am

My use of DEMAND was to make fun of it’s constant use in the 16 page list of demands. The president could remind the students that they can always vote with their feet but I would not demand their expulsion (even if they are harming the schools reputation).

The author or authors of the demands shows the classic signs of a a narcissistic personality disorder. They use the cloak of racial outrage to cover their core issue. However the use of race is a hot button that gets the authors the attention they crave. Regretfully I also got sucked into it.

Hitler was a megalomaniac (with a narcissistic personality disorder) who played on the fears and anger of Germans. The author of this 16 page manifesto at Oberlin is doing the same (on a smaller scale). You could easily cut and paste any group into the document as a target. It is a boilerplate for aggrieved narcissists.

One could hope that this would be a wonderful skit on SNL with guest host Kanye West. Except the racial element makes it toxic.

The president of Oberlin has, no doubt, dealt with narcissists before. I would suspect that as a leading school for the arts it may be an attractive destination for narcissists. The fact that these particular narcissists are using race gives them undue attention. Such is our society today.

86 Joël January 23, 2016 at 10:13 am

I agree.

87 JWatts January 22, 2016 at 6:26 pm

“Those students say incredibly stupid (and mean) things. On many grounds this ought to be tolerated: freedom of speech, of course, but also the fact that they are very young, and that one progress by making mistakes. To say just “No” to them is exactly the right answer.”

+1, that seems about right to me

88 Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

3) I’m not sure of the use of tying early eugenics thought to “progressives” or “liberals”. It’s an interesting piece of history, and certainly do not wish do disregard it. But I’ve seen many obvious right wingers use this history to paint “progressives” and “liberals” as evil, for the fact of some loose ties nearly 100 years past. This is a sort of intellectual fraud because it is very obvious that racism and pro-eugenics perspectives are, in the present day, almost exclusively represented on some extremes of the right wing.

6) I once met a bunch of avid dumpster divers while hitchhiking and travelling on the east coast of Canada. I remember one night where about 20 people ate fine steaks scavenged from grocery store dumpsters in the dead heat of summer. No one got sick, but anyways, I did not partake except for the non-perishable stuff like cookies. If I was very short on cash, I think I would dumpster dive before going to the food bank.

89 asdf January 23, 2016 at 12:42 am

The Christian perspective on why eugenics is wrong is intellectually and spiritually coherent. You can disagree with it, but at least its a consistent moral philosophy. They are ok even with it being suicidal on this earth, if that’s what Christ desires.

However, if your a utilitarian materialist, which seems to be the implied base philosophy of much of the modern left (yes, I know its not that coherent, but that’s what they say they believe in most of the time), there aren’t many strong arguments against eugenics. At either the societal or personal level. I can construct a few, but they are pretty weak and circumstantial, they only really hold up when holding them up isn’t that difficult.

What it comes down to is that the 1920s progressives took their ideas seriously, and 2016 progressives don’t. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with the 1920 model, but at least it was honest and had some kind of clear and factual plan. Outside of the science behind eugenics (which hasn’t changed) there was a lot not to like about their conclusions and methods (many of which weren’t scientific), which aren’t nearly as defensible. But modern progressives like the parts they got really wrong (like a tyrannical managerial state run by “experts”) and don’t like the racism part.

My own view is that eugenics is something that we shouldn’t have the deal with in our lives, but trying to completely not deal with it makes it impossible to not deal with it. Seems circular I suppose, but if it makes it simply I’m more interested in preventing dysgenics, especially the rapid kind, then I am with using eugenics to achieve some non-existent utopia (as the 1920s progressives were). That seems like the best path to not having to make genes the centerpiece of everything in the long run.

90 Ricardo January 23, 2016 at 4:36 am

A simple argument against eugenics. We already practice eugenics — we just call it selective breeding and apply it to non-human animals. This requires keeping animals in cages and rigorously enforcing segregation in order to prevent any cross-breeding and needs several generations to start showing results. We can’t and don’t selectively breed all animals become some refuse to breed in captivity. Additionally, it is well known that there are stark trade-offs in biology and that breeding in favor of one trait can lead to degraded abilities in other traits — this really just a nice way of saying it leads to chronic health problems, lower life expectancy, and birth defects. So it stands to reason that a eugenics program for humans that would actually lead to tangible results would require gross violations of human rights that only a totalitarian regime would be able to get away with and could lead to all sorts of unintended health consequences. The eugenics advocates of past generations didn’t understand the basics of biology and thought you could breed for intelligence, physical strength, attractiveness, a strong immune system, and lack of susceptibility to chronic health problems all at the same time. That’s not how it works.

91 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 4:49 am

Ricardo January 23, 2016 at 4:36 am

A simple argument against eugenics. We already practice eugenics — we just call it selective breeding and apply it to non-human animals. This requires keeping animals in cages and rigorously enforcing segregation in order to prevent any cross-breeding and needs several generations to start showing results.

I am sorry but this is an argument against selective breeding of humans? We can explain to people why they need to make the decisions they do. And most people do, in fact, marry for eugenic reasons. They seek out the healthiest, strongest male who will sleep with them or the youngest, most pretty, most fertile female they can persuade to have their children.

We can’t and don’t selectively breed all animals become some refuse to breed in captivity.

We may be reducing the size of the world’s fish by always taking the largest. Leaving only the small to reproduce.

So it stands to reason that a eugenics program for humans that would actually lead to tangible results would require gross violations of human rights that only a totalitarian regime would be able to get away with and could lead to all sorts of unintended health consequences.

I agree with the unintended health consequences. Some people argue that Ashkewnazi Jews have been engaged in a eugenic program to breed for intelligence. With the result of more genetic diseases related to spine and brain tissue. But there is no need for the sort of human rights violations totalitarian governments get away with. We all make eugenic decisions for ourselves. We can “nudge” people to make better ones.

The eugenics advocates of past generations didn’t understand the basics of biology and thought you could breed for intelligence, physical strength, attractiveness, a strong immune system, and lack of susceptibility to chronic health problems all at the same time. That’s not how it works.

I am not sure that is not how it works. Why do you think that is not how it works? I think you can breed for all those things at once. You might just get Tay Sachs too.

92 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:29 am

SMFS – most people don’t have children with the same kind of people they want to pick up from the bar/club. You may be correct about raw sex appeal, but the vast majority of people select for very different things when looking for a partner to make babies.

93 Ricardo January 23, 2016 at 11:43 am

“They seek out the healthiest, strongest male who will sleep with them or the youngest, most pretty, most fertile female they can persuade to have their children.”

This isn’t eugenics. In the animal kingdom, It is called sexual selection, every biology student learns about it and one of the key points is that sexual selection doesn’t always produce offspring that are necessarily that great at survival (or much of anything aside from spreading their seed far and wide).

“You might just get Tay Sachs too.”

I would call that a “chronic health problem.”

To address the main point I think you were making, evolution takes place on a very long time-scale and in response to selective pressures applied to multiple generations. Eugencists don’t seem to have understood this fact. “Nudges” may cause some changes to human genetics if they are consistently applied over the course of the next 10,000 years. That isn’t really what most self-proclaimed eugenics advocates had in mind, though.

94 Boonton January 23, 2016 at 2:21 pm

I think you addressed Ricardo’s objection about the human rights aspect of eugenics. It is probably true we could have a eugenics program that doesn’t have forced breeding, massive human rights problems etc. We could ‘nudge’ people.

However this doesn’t address Ricardo’s other observation that the ‘benefits’ of a eugenics program are unlikely to be all that great. Selecting for a particular genetic trait tends to create other problems. If you read what the early advocates of eugenics were saying, they really didn’t have any actual positive traits they could select for. Once you get beyond the fact that they thought being white was a good trait and not having a serious developmental disability, what positive traits did they offer as criteria for genetic selection? What are the ‘good traits’ you’d select for to make a better human? Animal breeders are not looking to create ‘better cows’ or ‘better chickens’, they are seeking to increase particular traits for their needs (more meat, more eggs, etc.). The lack of a serious positive program is a real objection a utterly materialist/utilitarian progressive could mount against a eugenics program that consists of either soft ‘nudges’ or harsh policies of forced sterilizations.

Another utilitarian objection against eugenics is that any program would only yield benefits long after those who implement the program are dead. Some eugenic goals are ones that might be expected to be shared over many future generations (such as wiping out a horrible genetic disease). But if a goal is simply subjective or fashionable (people who are good at track and field, blonde hair and blue eyes) then there is no utilitarian reason to support eugenics since one will never live to see the benefits and those that do are just as likely to not share the tastes of the long dead generation that started the program.

95 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:29 am

That seems to be both untrue, sad if true, and irrelevant.

Ricardo January 23, 2016 at 11:43 am

This isn’t eugenics. In the animal kingdom, It is called sexual selection

Of course it is eugenics. But on the individual level. They are seeking the best genes for their offspring.

“Nudges” may cause some changes to human genetics if they are consistently applied over the course of the next 10,000 years. That isn’t really what most self-proclaimed eugenics advocates had in mind, though.

That may be true although Ashkenazi Jews have been doing it for a lot less than that. But we can make a big difference in a few generations if we try. We could eliminate some genetic diseases in a single generation if we had a consistent policy of screening and testing.

Boonton January 23, 2016 at 2:21 pm

However this doesn’t address Ricardo’s other observation that the ‘benefits’ of a eugenics program are unlikely to be all that great.

I am dubious about the benefits of doing so too. But then I am not exactly a Progressive. Either way, it makes it hard for me to speak of the benefits.

The benefits might be shared by future generations. But that is not a reason not to do them. A lot of things we do we do for the sake of the future.

Off topic a little, one of the side effects of increased eugenic programs is likely to be the spread of blue eyes and other signs of Aryanism. Already places like Denmark export a lot of male sperm because of the demand overseas. I expect that right across the West, blue eyed donors command a premium.

96 Boonton January 23, 2016 at 1:47 pm

“However, if your a utilitarian materialist, which seems to be the implied base philosophy of much of the modern left (yes, I know its not that coherent, but that’s what they say they believe in most of the time), there aren’t many strong arguments against eugenics.”

What exactly are the strong arguments for eugenics? We’ve had multiple examples of rapid economic growth (Industrial Revolution, post WWII boom, China, Japan). Was a single one driven by any type of eugenic policy?

The only positive examples I can think of are very limited cases where you have genetic counseling for horrible conditions driven by recessive genes but that’s a stretch and even if you give eugenicists that you have no larger example of it working plus no positives (yes perhaps some horrible genetic diseases can be stopped with some eugenic planning but no one has shown they can grow ‘super babies’ with eugenics….this despite the fact that sperm and egg banks could make such an enterprise possible in the free market without an overbearing gov’t trying to play matchmaker).

97 Asdf January 23, 2016 at 6:40 pm

All of those examples you listed took place in countries with high IQ races, namely they are mostly white or Asian. Their eugenics program took place organically over a thousand years. See Gregory Clark and others for an explanation.

98 Boonton January 23, 2016 at 7:51 pm

That doesn’t make much sense. China was backward for generations, so was Japan. Nothing major changed about the genetics of their populations in the 1900’s for Japan or the 2000’s for China. No genetic traits suddenly dominated the population to bring on the Industrial Revolution.

If you can’t link genes to rapid economic growth or even sustained economic growth, then what is the possible benefit of any mass eugenics program?

99 Asdf January 24, 2016 at 12:02 am

Truly bad govenrnment, the totalitarian kind, can keep high IQ down temporarily, but not permanately. Once freed from disaster governments, Asian societies shined. This is also true of Asian minorities in other countries like Malaysia.

Genetics aren’t enough to bring on an industrial revolution. Places like Asia had too many people. Labor was too cheap to make labor saving devices effective, amongst other factors. However, once the industrial revolution happened it was inevitable that high IQ races would join the ranks of the first world once they went through the appropriate translation.

100 Boonton January 24, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Too many people? That doesn’t make any sense. More people means more workers and more customers. There’s no reason an economy of 1 billion people can’t grow at a pace as fast as an economy of 0.1 billion.

As for your list of other factors like bad governments messing things up or getting things right. That just adds to the list of reasons why eugenics is not a sensible approach even for an entirely amoral, utilitarian minded person. Since the benefits of a eugenics program would require many generations to accomplish, the fact that some random factor like the creation and fall of a tyrannical gov’t in future history could mess things up so badly is all the more reason not to bother to even try a eugenics program.

101 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 4:14 am

Nathan W January 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

3) I’m not sure of the use of tying early eugenics thought to “progressives” or “liberals”.

As I have pointed out before, it is not 100 years ago. The leftist utopia you so admire, Sweden, was compulsorily sterilizing people until 2011. That is not yesterday but it is pretty close. What is more eugenics is inherently part of the progressive movement – what do you do about free riders? The Right may be happy to let them sleep in the gutter, but the Left needs to reduce the burden they place on the productive. By killing them for instance.

This is a sort of intellectual fraud because it is very obvious that racism and pro-eugenics perspectives are, in the present day, almost exclusively represented on some extremes of the right wing.

That is merely a statement of hatred, not of fact. The Left remains utterly obsessed with race. Indeed they can talk of little else. As for eugenics, the mainstream of the Right is still happy to let the poor sleep in the gutter. And the Left hides what it thinks, but given the eagerness with which they push abortion on the ghetto, I don’t think they have given up on eugenics yet.

102 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:37 am

The only specific thing I like about Sweden is that you get a monthly stipend while in university. I always found it to be a great disadvantage to have to compete with people who didn’t have to work, while I had to work 15-20 hours in dead end jobs to pay the bills. I’m big on equal opportunity, but not so concerned about equal outcomes.

Anyways, you’re being inconsistent. You’re denying that Sweden is socialist when it is suitable to disagreeing with my points, and then turn around and call it socialist when it is suitable to disagreeing with my points.

Is Sweden, socialist, not socialist, or are you just in the habit of looking for any old thing you can come up with because you generally don’t like the gist of what I have to say?

“it is very obvious that racism and pro-eugenics perspectives are, in the present day, almost exclusively represented on some extremes of the right wing.”
I repeat myself. If this is not obvious truth to you, then you have allowed yourself to be deluded on this matter. Yes, the left is more concerned with issues of race, ethnicity, etc., but it is absolutely clear that the hate emanates from the right (but please, I do not mean to draw such broad strokes, as it is clear that there are many right wingers who are not racist.)

Just consider yourself, SMFS. There is not an issue on the planet where you do not epitomize the (American) right wing. You also believe that blacks are genetically inferior. There are a lot like you in your tribe. You are not the anecdote, you are the stereotype.

103 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:37 am

So let’s see. Where is there something relevant worth replying to?

Anyways, you’re being inconsistent. You’re denying that Sweden is socialist when it is suitable to disagreeing with my points, and then turn around and call it socialist when it is suitable to disagreeing with my points.

Not relevant, and it is wrong to reward someone who is merely trying to distract attention. But a non-socialist country run by socialist parties is likely to have some socialist policies. But it is irrelevant because the term being used here – by you, I note – is progressive or Leftist. Not socialist.

I repeat myself. If this is not obvious truth to you, then you have allowed yourself to be deluded on this matter.

And if you say it three times does it become true? The fact is the Right is happy to let race go. The Republicans were always the party of racial equality. It was the Democrats that opposed the end of segregation. The Left continues to be utterly obsessed by race. While the Republicans happily vote for Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal – and would have picked Ben Carson if he had been a bit more prepared.

You also believe that blacks are genetically inferior. There are a lot like you in your tribe. You are not the anecdote, you are the stereotype.

So nothing relevant to say at all? I have never said that Blacks are genetically inferior. Or inferior at all. The Left also needs to pretend their enemies are the spawn of Satan otherwise they wouldn’t be such special little snowflakes who always fight on the side of the Good and the Just.

104 Boonton January 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_sterilisation_in_Sweden

Compulsory sterilization never exceeded 8,000 people per year in a country with a population that is nearly 10 million. Absolutely zero relevance when it comes to the social welfare state or the need to deal with ‘free riders’.

BTW, I hope you aren’t one of the more stupid Americans who assume that Europe just equals “The Left”, you perhaps just play one in the comments sections.

105 So Much For Subtlety January 23, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Boonton January 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Compulsory sterilization never exceeded 8,000 people per year in a country with a population that is nearly 10 million. Absolutely zero relevance when it comes to the social welfare state or the need to deal with ‘free riders’.

Lynching in America affected roughly half that many people over the course of an entire century. In a country with a population twenty times as big. No doubt you will now accept that lynching could have had no impact on the people of the United States because it effected so few?

106 Boonton January 23, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Lynching, of course, intimidates many people who are not lynched.

A eugenics policy of sterilization would not ‘intimidate’ genes of the unsterilized from being passed on. It is not going to make any major demographic change to a large population unless it is done on a large scale.

107 So Much For Subtlety January 24, 2016 at 1:45 am

So, for the record, you are claiming that punishing anti-social behavior, as defined by middle class whites, by what amounts to castration, does not actually deter? No one is afraid of it? No one would make sure that they are not feckless work shy asocial types (or that no one would think they are) in order to avoid having their penis operated on?

By all means them, let’s bring castration, or the nearest thing to it, back. You would not object, right?

108 Boonton January 24, 2016 at 10:15 am

Castration is very different from sterilization and I don’t think you have the slightest bit of evidence that Swedes were afraid to go on welfare or tap gov’t benefits because a few thousand were sterilized every year out of a population of 9+ million.

Once again the burden of proof is on you to establish that Sweden’s sterilization was needed for its welfare state as opposed to being motivated by other concerns (mistaken public health theories, European racism etc.)

109 Mike January 23, 2016 at 4:04 am

#6 Would be nice to know how much time they spent collecting all the food. Did it only take them as long as normal grocery shopping? If longer, what value to put on this extra time?

110 LR January 23, 2016 at 9:58 am

The eugenics thing is not so interesting in itself, but rather as an example of the progressive elite “better than thou” mindset, which has not changed much over the years. Progressivism is still elitism masquerading as empathy.

111 Nathan W January 23, 2016 at 10:41 am

Most progressives just want everyone to have a roughly equal chance and for people to not be treated like garbage because of their skin colour, etc.

Elitism, in the sense of regarding certain groups as inferior and certain groups as superior, is far more common on the right these days.

Don’t let the historical positions of Ds and Rs 100 years ago fool you on where the current trends are. The parties basically switched places with regard to racism and big/small government in the last century.

112 Explaining simple things to people who try hard not to understand them January 23, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Most progressives just want everyone to [do what progressives command because progressives believe they know better than everyone who isn’t progressive, hence they are elitists].

113 LR January 23, 2016 at 11:18 am

Elitism in the sense of telling people what they can say (see campus pc activism) and taking over large swaths of the economy because you believe you can run it better than the rest of the country and turning them into massive under-performers (see education and healthcare)

114 Thomas January 23, 2016 at 3:07 pm

He knew what you were saying. Leftist is rooted in “the ends justify the means” because of their moral relativist philosophy. He ‘misunderstood’ what you said because lying is appropriate when the cause is just.

115 Boonton January 23, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Ends justify the means leftism? Hmmm

Decades ago a Conservative President sold weapons to a terrorist nation (Iran) whose proxies were holding American citizens hostage. He then used those funds, which technically belonged to the American taxpayers since they were the ones who paid for the weapons to begin with, to support the contras because Congress, which the Constitution vests with the power to spend government money, had decided they did not want to provide them with taxpayer funds.

The current front runner for the Republican nomination said he would ‘suspend’ the Bill of Rights in order to fight terrorism (but he would feel very bad about doing it).

Assorted right wingers applaud when a town clerk decides that her religious beliefs trump the actual law and her ‘right to a job’ is more important than actually following the laws of the job.

Numerous right wingers support torture despite the Constitution banning cruel and unusual punishments as well as banning punishments issued without due process.

The previous Republican nominee for VP recently declared that her son should be excused for beating his girlfriend because the President supposedly did something to offend returning vets.

So what I’m a bit confused about is when did non-leftists decide the end does not justify the means? When did they say “this thing will produce an end we think would be really great, but since these means are wrong we have to reject it!”?

116 Roger Sweeny January 23, 2016 at 6:36 pm

3. Anyone who was shocked that the Progressives didn’t like civil liberties, or just wants an interesting history of the modern law in that area should check out Ken Kersch’s Constructing Civil Liberties: Discontinuities in the Development of American Constitutional Law (Cambridge, 2004)

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