U.S. Economic Ills are Cultural, Too

by on December 22, 2016 at 4:17 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion | Permalink

That is the title and topic of my latest Bloomberg column.

1 Alain December 22, 2016 at 4:27 pm

One of your best.

2 JWatts December 22, 2016 at 5:21 pm

+1

3 Ray Lopez December 22, 2016 at 8:08 pm

A weak column by TC. Seems he was holding an olive branch to the deplorables, but they don’t read his column anyway. There’s no truce between the classes. If you’re on the 1% you must fight for your rights or you’ll soon end up in the 99%.

4 Lanigram December 23, 2016 at 3:15 am

Ray Lopez,

I’m a deplorable and I read it. I thought it was pretty good. Who can argue with the idea of an open mind? Oh wait, thar’s right, the know-it-all elites that are never wrong but always arogant and self-assured….

5 Thiago Ribeiro December 23, 2016 at 5:26 am

As opposed to Donald Trump, a man plagued by self-doubt and self-criticism? America has become a dysfunctional nightmare where a desperate populace has finally learned that their so-called American Dream is a lie.

6 Alain December 23, 2016 at 9:24 am

America was becoming a dysfunctional nightmare, but we grew up and elected the person who was running and the heir apparent.

I kid. The US is not, and never had been, a dysfunctional nightmare.

7 Thiago Ribeiro December 23, 2016 at 9:44 am

Yes, it is.

8 Christiano Ronaldo December 23, 2016 at 12:21 pm

Nuh uh!

9 Jeff December 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm

+1

10 FYI December 22, 2016 at 11:03 pm

++;

11 Ray Lopez December 22, 2016 at 11:54 pm

// ++ += — is functionally a zero?

12 Nicholas Weininger December 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm

One reason secular intellectuals don’t speak more positively of religion is that they, or their friends and relatives, have fled religious tyranny. It is not clear that one could raise the cultural status of traditional religion without women and gay people, for example, risking serious loss of liberty.

13 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Excellent point. A more general statement of that specific concern might be: Even pushing people toward religion decreases drug addiction and another problem or 2, what about the harm it may also cause?

14 chuck martel December 22, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Name a contemporary secular intellectual that fled religious tyranny. Maybe a female that did was Camille Paglia, who escaped Catholic bondage in upstate New York and has since moved to freedom in Philadelphia. I forgot about her.

15 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Secular intellectuals in the West are disproportionately Jewish. Presumably they are well aware that in a more religious society they would be even more of a minority. But they can hope to hold leadership positions in secular societies.

There can’t be many Jews who would be happier for Christians to be more Christian given the record of Jewish-Christian relations.

There is a simple test – how many “secular intellectuals” criticize Jewish religious groups? The Ultra-Orthodox regularly refuse to co-operate with the authorities in child sexual abuse cases for instance. The New York Times written anything on that lately perhaps?

16 Cali girl December 22, 2016 at 7:17 pm

The alt Reich doesn’t even bother hiding their anti-semitism.

17 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 7:57 pm

On what possible ground can you call that anti-semitic? OK. You don’t like that example. Let me give you another. The “secular” Left is entirely fine with Islamic religiosity. If they really believed in secularism, they would be agreeing with Richard Dawkins when he points out the problems with Muslim societies. They are, by and large, not.

There is a large body of “secular” writing that has no problems with Islam. That praises Sufis. That praises increased Islamic practice. That defend Islam whatever it does – including hudud punishments, veiling, even FGM. They wouldn’t do that if they were, you know, actually secular.

No doubt you think that is racist too.

18 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 9:56 pm

I imagine that most secular people are more concerned with things other than religiosity of others, and more so on whatever things they want.

For example, there are some lines in both Christian and Muslim texts which are not consistent with a rights-based state. So, people are totally welcome to think that that 0.1% part of laws that God might disagree with … he will disagree with it.

For example, I’m not aware of much of anyone questioning age of consent or marriage age laws, regardless of what they think about religious matters.

On topics such as abortion and gay marriage, I think most religious people are OK to leave those matters to God, and don’t assume that any strike whatsoever might be sufficient for damnation.

19 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 9:58 pm

I should perhaps pre-empt that I’m not speaking on behalf of the 1.5 billion Muslims of the world or a similar number of Christians. SMFS like to pull that line in these kinds of contexts.

In the process, he might manage to avoid doing the same, to define entire billions of people at a time as monolithic groups.

20 The Rage December 22, 2016 at 11:39 pm

ROLF, the “alt-reich” are run and serviced by Jews. Call girl, your post is a big fail, you don’t get it. I mean, you simply don’t get it. “Secular Intellectuals” are a myth, everybody is a secular intellectual via the Abrahamic train.

21 So Much For Subtlety December 23, 2016 at 5:39 am

Nathan, yet again you simply comment for the sake of commenting. Do you really think it is too much to ask your reply has something to do with something I have said?

And yes, we know you speak only for yourself.

22 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 7:53 pm

How can you forget the images of daily executions of gays during the Bush administration. Dark times.

23 David D December 23, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Yes, those were horrible years. I was executed three times during his first term alone (I got better).

24 Hazel Meade December 23, 2016 at 9:39 am

I would count myself among those who have fled religious tyranny. I think it’s quite a common phenomenon. Most of the US is Christian. Hence most people grow up in religious households. Hence it’s likely that most secular intellectuals probably recieved some kind of religious education. Whether it counts as a tyranny may vary, but it’s probably not all that rare.

25 ladderff December 22, 2016 at 6:53 pm

You are making the tired mistake of confusing liberty with status and/or power.

For example: “The homos have the ______ to force a baker to make them a cake.”

If you put “liberty” in there, we might as well not have that term at all; it would forestall your error, whether it be deliberate or not.

26 mulp December 23, 2016 at 11:58 am

Free market economics must be contrary to religious liberty.

My religion tells me to pay black skinned people less and charged them more than white skinned men for identical free market transactions? And treat as black any white who treats blacks the same as whites.

Libertarians argue no government intervention is required because the market will destroy religious liberty by bankruptcy.

27 Turkey Vulture December 22, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Two solid points.

Not sure why you threw “dysfunctional white identity politics” in there, since I don’t see how, to the extent it exists, it would be the cause of the cultural or economic problems. If anything, it would be a symptom. It seems to be a wink to your audience that, even when you say “A simple question is this: When you wake up in the morning and start to ponder your day, can you really imagine that, on key issues, “the deplorables” (whomever you might identify them to be) might be right and you wrong?”, we all know that those dumb racists are actually wrong.

28 Alain December 22, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Agreed on the line about ‘dysfunctional identity politics’ but Tyler has a job to keep, and he can’t simply attack the left on Bloomberg (no matter how softly) without consequence, so he had to throw them a bone as if to say : don’t worry I’m really on your team.

I ignored the line since the rest of the article was quite good.

29 anon December 22, 2016 at 5:09 pm

I don’t know what Tyler was thinking, but this came across my screen today:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/real-time/Jewish-family-flees-Lancaster-County.html

30 Cali girl December 22, 2016 at 7:21 pm

The right supports Israel but that juat costs Jewish (and many multiples more Palestinean) lives. Give Israel to the Palestineans and take in any Jewish and Palestinean Refugees who’d like to come. Without the Israeli occupation to cause animosity, both Israeli and Palestinean refugees could be resettled in the same location.

31 anon December 22, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Israel has a complicated situation, but I think it is really a mistake to jump from Lancaster County to Israel, on the basis of “a Jewish family.”

The Lancaster thing is apparently a conflict between freedom of religion and a desire for religious conformity.

32 So Much For Subtlety December 23, 2016 at 5:53 am

You know, I remember when the Left was opposed to ethnic cleansing. Oh wait, no I don’t. They have been since Stalin’s day.

But, out of curiosity, how does driving millions of Palestinians out of the only homes they have known, and millions of Jews out of their own country actually improve things?

Wouldn’t Occam’s Razor suggest you have simply been terrorized into surrender and the Palestinians have killed enough people like you for you to give them anything they want? In which case, perhaps you might like to think about what they might ask for next?

33 Hazel Meade December 23, 2016 at 9:41 am

Like that’s in our power to do. The Israelis might have something to say about it.

34 Hwite December 23, 2016 at 11:05 am

“Without the Israeli occupation to cause animosity, both Israeli and Palestinean refugees could be resettled in the same location.”

Yeah, because Arabs are well known for their short memories. Not sure if this is trolling or just stupid.

35 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:19 am

You’re saying we should sail across the ocean, conquer Israel, and expel all the Jews!!!!

Amazing! The left wing- ethnic cleansing for me but not for thee!

36 Hwite December 23, 2016 at 11:04 am
37 dan1111 December 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Dysfunctional identity politics may start out as a symptom, but it quickly becomes a contributor to and perpetuator of problems.

Blaming someone else for problems becomes a substitute for real solutions. Accountability of political leaders breaks down, since all failures are someone else’s fault.

38 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:01 pm

I especially agree with the sentiment that the left controls the press and media to the extent that it’s simply not possible for a professor of economic to speak critically of an left wing thing, or basically anything whatsoever in the direction of maybe sometimes some tax isn’t dumb and maybe distributional aspects which reduce inequality can be seen as maybe OK.

Due to the Stalinist tyranny where left wing positions, or any move whatsoever in that direction, cannot be criticized, we must re-read everything between the lines in the appropriately opposite meaning, if and when this is consistent with reaffirming prior understanding of reality.

This is the reality we live in.

Also, maybe making it illegal for Congress members to make investments in any other way than blind trusts (or equivalent) would be a good idea, right?

39 chuck martel December 22, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Apparently there is no such thing as “dysfunctional black identity politics”. Marion Berry wasn’t the mayor of Charlestown, WV, was he?

40 anon December 22, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Apparently Chuck is drinking furniture polish.

41 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Yeah, he does that sometimes.

42 Yo! Jill! December 22, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Still discussing ideas, i see.

43 Jeff R December 22, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Coleman Young’s tenure brought great prosperity to his constituents in Detroit.

44 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Probably better to discuss in the broader context of the majority of black identity politics, which are perhaps less dysfunctional than whatever instances you might point to.

For example, Obama himself might fit into the category of “not dysfunctional black identity politics”.

45 albatross December 23, 2016 at 12:45 am

In general, I think identity politics are a force for evil in the world. The usual result of identity politics is that we all end up voting for the crook because at least he’s *our* crook.

46 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 3:13 am

Obama campaigned primarily on a broad message of unity, not black identity politics. A message focused on black identity politics would not carry someone to the White House.

47 Alain December 23, 2016 at 8:53 am

Haha. Unity. You clearly work in marketing.

He ran on a platform of being the 1st African American president, along with a ‘throw the bums out’ message. That’s it.

48 Sam the Sham December 23, 2016 at 9:41 am

Alain, that’s not fair. Obama did indeed campaign on unity. I would say he governed differently, but he certainly campaigned as a president for everyone. He really would not have won so handily otherwise.

49 Brian Donohue December 23, 2016 at 11:41 am

I agree with Dan and Sam on this.

I think the best way to think about Obama, and the way he thinks about himself, is “outsider”, kind of above the fray. He doesn’t have a lot in common with most black Americans (although blackness has been useful to him seeing America through black eyes.) A singular character with an exotic background.

I think it helped him be Presidential.

50 msgkings December 23, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Brian and Sam are right, Alain gives us his usual partisan idiocy.

51 Hazel Meade December 23, 2016 at 9:46 am

As others have pointed out, an increase in religiosity would likely be tied to greater social oppression of woman and gays, including more hate crimes against gays and more women forced into life-limiting shotgun weddings or compelled to bear children they don’t want.
Those are significant downsides in terms of individual liberty.

From a libertarian perspective, social dysfunction such as drug abuse is a problem individuals bring on themselves. It’s not the governments job to stop people from abusing opiods. Certainly not at the cost of limiting the liberty of people who aren’t dysfunctional.

52 Hazel Meade December 23, 2016 at 9:47 am

Oops, meant to be a reply to the main thread.

53 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:22 am

More hate crimes? Is there evidence that Christians commit more hate crimes?

54 Sam Haysom December 23, 2016 at 11:46 am

Christianity reminds Hazel of high school where she was a socially maladjusted dweeb.

55 msgkings December 23, 2016 at 12:31 pm

Internet comboxes remind Sam of high school where he was a bullying C- student in metal shop.

56 Turkey Vulture December 22, 2016 at 4:38 pm

On the religiosity point in particular, I think part of the issue is that we have a hard time accepting that our worldview may not be a great one for everyone to adopt (if it is even a good one for us to adopt). I have never been religious, but in my youth I tended towards a more militantly atheist stance, in part because I grew up around a lot of religious people who seemed to look down on me or want to convert me, but also in part because I figured I possessed The Truth and needed converts.

Now I believe that it would be a very unpleasant world, for myself and for others, if most people shared my worldview. We only need so many Turkey Vultures.

57 Thiago Ribeiro December 22, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Do we even need the one we already have?

58 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Says Thiago?

59 Thiago Ribeiro December 23, 2016 at 6:23 am

Who else?

60 Sam the Sham December 22, 2016 at 7:19 pm

As our resident christian religious reactionary, I should probably post in this thread, but I’m going to see Star Wars Rogue One with the wife and friends. I’ve only skimmed it so far, so let me know what sort of apologetics I should start working on!

61 anon December 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

There is a strong overlap between this and the position I have outlined over the last few days. I support a strong public morality. I think it can come in many overlapping forms.

Perhaps I am less “religion for them and ethics for me.”

There is common ground, and we are in this together.

62 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Yeah, there is an issue of Tyler pushing other people to do stuff he himself would not do. Most of us can agree that it’s good to have ethics. Lots of people would rather not have religion, and, if so, why push it on them, especially when you are not religious yourself?

63 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 3:17 am

I don’t think he is really saying “push people to have religion”, but rather, that the intellectual class should stop opposing religion so much, and rather see and be willing to say that it has a positive side.

64 Librarian Party December 22, 2016 at 5:58 pm

anon, have you considered getting a blog? No one’s going to read it, but don’t let that stop you.

65 anon December 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm

I have 2 followers on Instagram. My life is already complete.

66 Sam the Sham December 23, 2016 at 8:27 am

As our resident Christian fundy/reactionary/what-have-you, I’m far more concerned about the ethics than the religion. Now, it’s not strictly true that we have freedom of religion in America, nor was it ever intended thus: for instance, the Aztec religion has human sacrifice. That was never meant to be allowed in the US, and thus there is NOT freedom to practice Aztecianity.

The US Constitution was a product of the Enlightenment and really only had 1 ethic: Liberalism, ie tolerance for others, maximizing freedom. Because of this one value, such practices and religions that actively require subjugation are therefore de facto not welcome here. You cannot take captives and sacrifice them to satiate the gods. Not yours. You can believe in a teacup orbiting the sun if you wish – you can believe that lizardmen control the Illuminati and that the moon landing was faked on a soundstage on Mars, and you can persuade others to join your group, but you are not allowed to force or subjugate anyone.

HOWEVER, Liberalism on its own is not sufficient to produce a working society. You get partially there by saying “Your rights stop where my rights start,” but that’s a vague enough line to cause severe contention. Other ethics are needed. Christianity, from theological tradition, had 7 main ethics to practice: Courage, Temperance, Wisdom, Honesty, Faith, Hope, and Love, or in another tradition they were: Industry, Patience, Kindness, Love, Humility, Chastity, and Temperance. These prior to the Enlightenment were considered self-sufficient for a functioning society – I would agree that Liberalism is a required and very welcome addition.

Simply voting on what is ethical or not, and letting it change with the seasons, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. One day it will be the 10 Commandments, the next it will be Progressivism, the next it will be Sharia Law, and the next yet you can vote Liberalism and democracy itself off the table. None of these scenarios is a good one. I agree Liberalism in America should be held above all others, but we need something more fixed in place, not vulnerable to the whims of fashion. What Else? Anon, from the other thread we both have a strong favor towards Honesty/Truth. I’m all for replacing the foundation of libel laws from “Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness” from Exodus and to a more universal principle.

67 anon December 23, 2016 at 8:38 am

Very good. I think Ethics are more than fashion though, we work from thousand year old crib sheets on those as well.

68 Sam the Sham December 23, 2016 at 9:17 am

Oh, yes, ethics are far more than fashion. Our legal system is not. Separate But Equal was fine until it wasn’t. Slavery was ok until it wasn’t. I want a better anchor for our major laws than “We like this idea currently”.

69 Faze December 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm

You are a brave man to support religion on these grounds. You may recall the social program of the Black Muslims called for self-reliance, continence, temperance, and entrepreneurship. Sane leadership and few tweaks here and there to their theology, could have made the Black Muslims a positive cultural force. Certainly, they were no screwier than the early Mormons.

70 anon December 22, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Maybe too, I should mention a related thought .. there are fundamentalist enclaves all around the world, in the best cases they are nestled within broader more cosmopolitan societies.

People in the enclaves often think the corrupt cosmopolitans should be more like them, blind to the fact that it is the cosmopolitan agnosticism that protects them.

Without that, it is religious war. Every spot on the globe without the cosmopolitans, has the religious war.

71 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm

+10

72 Thomas December 22, 2016 at 7:38 pm

There is a wide gulf between the open minded cosmopolitans the left thinks they are, and the collection of racists, sexists, and totalitarians that they actually are. The open minded and intelligent skew libertarian, not SJW.

73 anon December 22, 2016 at 9:14 pm

I think you are narrowing a worldwide pattern to a local bias.

Coptic Christians and Egyptian Muslims coexisted because Egypt achieved a cosmopolitan culture, now sadly in decline.

74 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm

“The open minded and intelligent skew libertarian, not SJW.”

Yes, because you firmly believe that yours is the only virtuous political tribe.

75 The Rage December 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm

You do realize that “SJW” is a cosmo-intellect created term. It doesn’t exist in the real word. Yet, you mumble it out.

76 Hazel Meade December 23, 2016 at 9:50 am

I thought it was invented by gamer-gaters.

77 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:25 am

All terms are created bro. Does macaroni & cheese not exist because someone created the term?

78 Turkey Vulture December 22, 2016 at 4:48 pm

On your second point, it made me think of this bit from H.L. Mencken, which I have long been fond of:

“What I admire most in any man is a serene spirit, a steady freedom from moral indignation, an all-embracing tolerance — in brief, what is commonly called good sportsmanship. Such a man is not to be mistaken for one who shirks the hard knocks of life. On the contrary, he is frequently an eager gladiator, vastly enjoying opposition. But when he fights he fights in the manner of a gentleman fighting a duel, not in that of a longshoreman cleaning out a waterfront saloon. That is to say, he carefully guards his amour proper by assuming that his opponent is as decent a man as he is, and just as honest — and perhaps, after all, right.”

79 Jan December 22, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Then he snorts 40mg of oxy so that he can make it through another four hour shift at McDonald’s, where he will match wits with Garrett County’s best soda refill scammers. In the end, they’re both proud warriors.

80 Thomas December 22, 2016 at 7:39 pm

“I hate poor white people”

81 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:01 pm

Jan is a poor white person.

82 Thomas December 22, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Yes, but 24k per year as a non-profit “assistant director” (supervising like 3 part time volunteers) is so much higher status than 50k per year as a blue collar deplorable. Jan is classy.

83 Anon December 23, 2016 at 12:07 am

He’s poor white trash from Detroit, which explains his odd mix of liberal politics and boorishness.

84 Jan December 23, 2016 at 4:17 am

What else do you guys know about me?!

85 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:26 am

Only Europeans name their sons Jan

86 rayward December 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm
87 Floccina December 22, 2016 at 5:16 pm

It was felt that MD’s where not prescribing enough pain killers recently they have overshot and are prescribing too much. The drug companies always wanted to sell more drugs. IMO we should not try to put this on them, it’s not there job.

88 anon December 22, 2016 at 5:28 pm

This might get back to public morality – or whether a mass production, mass consumption, society is an end in itself.

89 Jan December 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm

It’s true that the medical community drove this in large part by hyping the “epidemic of untreated pain,” making pain the “5th vital sign” and generally blowing it out of proportion. https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/2016/6/16/ama-drops-pain-as-vital-sign

However, the drug companies had a lot to do with it as well. Purdue, the maker of OxyContin, did plenty of illegal stuff, including downplaying the potential for addiction and intentionally misleading patients and docs about the drug. Google their settlements.

90 Anon December 22, 2016 at 5:17 pm

Ironic to remember that Marx called religion “the opium of the people.”

I wonder in history how many died due to religion and how many due to drug abuse.

91 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Nationalism has probably killed an awful lot more people than religion, in particular in recent centuries.

92 TMC December 22, 2016 at 10:35 pm

Socialism/Communism has the high scores.

93 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Lots of ideologies score high– isms of various sorts.

94 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 11:21 pm

There was the Russian civil war. And the Russian economic development under consumption-light capital-heavy development (killed quite a lot of millions – Stalin probably didn’t care – maybe not do that again). Both of which Russian (the second of which became “Soviet” as an empire).

And there’s also the Chinese civil war. Followed by Maoist repeats on early Stalinist mistakes (never do forced collectivization, or maybe not forced anything – it will backfire).

A sort of nationalism was involved in both cases.

But in both cases, most of the people died due to experimentation with stupid policies, and not by the sword or gun, and I’m not sure that specifically concluding that deaths=equal is going to lead to the correct appreciation of the extent of evil that occurred within those systems.

So, if you’re thinking about promoting anything socialist, striking forced collectivization off the list pretty much sums up what we need to know. Aside from that, things seem pretty debatable. (A Lenninist technocratic elite might also be troublesome, especially without strong provisions to prevent its subversion towards some form of Stalinism or maybe some sort of NAtionalist equivalent)

Oh, one more detail. Dresden and Hiroshima were both communist disasters. That’s why we just don’t pay attention to whatever tallies they might be linked to.

95 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 3:50 am

Writing off the Communist body count as “oops, a mistake” is a serious whitewashing of the record.

First of all, you have ignored the mass executions that have occurred pretty much everywhere communism has been implemented. While the numbers here are smaller than those who starved due to bad policy, the body count is still massive. For example somewhere between 400,000 and a few million were actively killed in the Cultural Revolution. Even some of the starvation may have been intentional policy rather than a mistake (scholars debate whether the millions who starved in the Ukraine were genocide).

Secondly, communism inherently creates the conditions where “mistakes” such as the starvation of millions can occur. It’s not just the unworkable economic policies. Suppression of dissent, making the truth subservient to political ends, acceptance of violent upheaval as part of the expected narrative, and devaluation of individual human life create a perfect storm of conditions for these disasters to happen and not be corrected once they do happen.

Starvation deaths were not simply due to untested ideas of communism; completely absurd, obviously false ideas were made the bases of policy and caused untold harm. For example, in the Soviet Union a crackpot theory of biology held sway for 30 years and greatly contributed to crop mismanagement. In China, labor was diverted from agriculture to a backyard steel making program that was obvious folly to anyone with knowledge of steel making. And a political campaign against sparrows caused grain-eating insects to proliferate. This sort of dysfunction is endemic to communist systems.

96 The Rage December 22, 2016 at 11:46 pm

I would argue the “nationalism” of the Soviet Union via Russia was behind much of the “Communist” killing. They wanted to industrialize the heart of MOTHER RUSSIA!!!!! and they got rid of the useless chaff around them to do it. Sounds like some of the stuff I have heard in “other” places.

97 JWatts December 22, 2016 at 5:21 pm

“When you wake up in the morning and start to ponder your day, can you really imagine that, on key issues, “the deplorables” (whomever you might identify them to be) might be right and you wrong? ”

Yep, every single day.

98 Jan December 22, 2016 at 5:24 pm

“In Utah, for instance, where an unusually high percentage of the population is Mormon, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and broken families are all much smaller problems.”

Utah is among the top five states for drug overdoses, particularly Rx opioids. That may or may not include as many Mormons as Tyler thinks, but it is objectively high:

http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/prescription-opioid-overdose-deaths-and-death-rate-per-100000-population-age-adjusted/?dataView=1&currentTimeframe=0

https://www.statista.com/statistics/246637/top-ten-leading-states-concerning-death-rate-of-drug-overdose-in-the-us/

99 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 5:53 pm

Salt Lake City also has the 2nd highest rate of suicide attempts out of all major cities in the U.S. So people must be finding an alternative way to get out of bad marriages, rather than divorce, eh?

To get to the article, google for the title:

Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior in 33 Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2008 to 2010

100 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 5:55 pm

I think Tyler is sincere about thinking that religion is a wonderful thing to encourage, for people other than himself. But it looks like saying everything is great for Mormons and other religious people, on the basis of decreased drug addiction and decreased divorce, is cherry picking the data.

101 albatross December 23, 2016 at 12:50 am

So how would we come to agreement about what regions or communities are doing better or worse in our country?

102 Zach December 22, 2016 at 8:06 pm

I have to say that simply driving through Utah and Nevada in close succession lends support to Tyler’s point. If you’re planning to live in a small town in the middle of a desert, a Mormon small town isn’t a bad choice.

103 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:40 pm

LOL, of course you can be sure of that by just driving through.

104 albatross December 23, 2016 at 12:51 am

I think it’s probably a good choice if you’re Mormon. Otherwise, you’re going to be an outsider in your community.

105 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 3:51 am

Do you have personal experience of that, or is it an assumption?

I don’t have personal experience of Mormon small town life, so I don’t know for sure. But all the Mormons I have met have been very friendly and welcoming.

106 Floccina December 22, 2016 at 5:29 pm

I think it is inevitable that the opiate epidemic will be temporary.

107 Jan December 22, 2016 at 5:48 pm

As in it won’t last forever or literally kill everybody? Agree.

108 Uribe December 22, 2016 at 5:32 pm

I don’t believe in ghosts but think it would be good if more people believed in ghosts. Does that sentiment, however sincere, promote belief in ghosts?

109 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Yes, for Right Wing people, it does. Because it is “good” and “solves problems” without having to spend a cent on social services or a social safety net and without making it mandatory for employers to pay people a minimum wage they can live on.

110 chuck martel December 22, 2016 at 6:01 pm

The only real commitment is financial commitment. That’s what an engagement diamond is all about. The more money invested, the greater the “care” factor. Achieving the goal is secondary to the depth of commitment.

111 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Except social service and welfare in general only make the situation worse. They are a never-ending sink because the more money you give people for being dysfunctional, the more dysfunctional people you have. The higher the minimum wage, the more unemployed.

In the end, the only way to solve problems is through a moral change.

112 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:11 pm

“In the end, the only way to solve problems is through a moral change.”

Interesting. Seeing the world through morality colored glasses. Are you unaware that tons of problems have been solved in this world, with changes that were not about morality?

113 So Much For Subtlety December 23, 2016 at 5:55 am

Well, no. Not one. By all means tell me which problems you think were solved without a moral change.

114 msgkings December 23, 2016 at 2:18 pm

@SMFS: pretty much any advance in agriculture, medicine and sanitation are examples of improvements having little (nothing?) to do with morality. Basically technology is amoral.

115 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Religion is not a right wing affair.

116 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:31 am

Isn’t it?

117 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:07 pm

Yea if it means you stop acting like a prick to people who do believe in ghosts and pushing for politicies that seek to marginalize and oppress ghose believers.

118 stephan December 22, 2016 at 5:35 pm

” I find America’s largely secular intellectual class oddly unwilling to spell out this simple case for more strict religion ”

It may be a good thing but how is it supposed to come about ? People easily have the option to be strictly religious today; it’s free mostly so therefore not out of reach. I have to conclude they’re not that interested. Should the government step in and pay for a religious revival instead of spending on infrastructure?

What about other religions like Islam ? Do we really want more strict adherence to Islam ?i.e behead those that take illegal drugs, that probably would take care of the problem

119 chuck martel December 22, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Revivals of religious enthusiasm have been cyclical affairs throughout history. Similar cycles have occurred with excessive alcohol consumption, gambling, prostitution and other behavior frowned on by certain elements. A large part of immigration to the American colonies from England was inspired by Puritan disgust with the licentious culture of Stuart England. Islam itself was in part a rebellion against perceived pagan excess of that era.

120 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:03 pm

“Should the government step in and pay for a religious revival instead of spending on infrastructure?”

Of course not. This is a Right Wing solution, so no money is to be spent– except on crony capitalism. The whole point of the “solution” of religion is to have a “solution” to problems that does not involve spending money on anyone but crony capitalists.

121 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:11 pm

The hard left in this country could simply take its foot of the secular fundementalist pedal. Then again a religious revival in this country probally delivers the coup de grace to the left in this country so that kind of decency isn’t to be expected.

122 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:07 pm

Yes, Sam, when someone disagrees with you about whether religion is the cure for all malaise, it must be because they are indecent. Because you are suffering from the delusion that yours is the only virtuous political tribe

123 Jan December 23, 2016 at 4:01 am

Oh, liberals can do whatever they want and religion ain’t coming back to this country. It’s on an irreversible decline.

Ironically, most of those bad, brown and yellow immigrants that lefties want to let in are religious and might even become US conservatives if you let them. But that certainly isn’t the trend. Hold on to those sub-replacement level whites.

124 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

Sorry, what is wrong with yellow immigrants? And what religion are they? Koreans may be Christian, but Chinese? Japanese? Are you talking about Confucianism and ancestor worship?

125 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:14 pm

I think most Muslims do not interpret extremist interpretations as “more strict adherence”, but instead as a perversion of the original.

For example, Wahhabists/Salafists are not exactly that common among the world of Islam (although rumour has it that they are sponsoring more foreign funding to build mosques, etc.).

126 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:45 am

And you think that because…? Because it appeals to your worldview?

127 msgkings December 23, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Your worldview is that most Muslims are extremists?

128 Jeff R December 22, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Is more religiosity the cure for what ails Michigan? It couldn’t hurt, but I’m thinking back to Tyler’s recent conversation with Joe Henrich, and I wonder. Henrich’s comments were that religions helped promote in-group cooperation, trust, ethics, and thus enabled institutions to be scaled up. Saving people from opioid addiction wasn’t part of the picture. Remember, Tyler, your pessimism regarding the growing gap between modern lifestyles and the lifestyles our genes were optimized for. Part of that modern lifestyle in many places means a)you don’t have to work if you don’t want to, and lots of people don’t want to because the work that’s available isn’t very rewarding either financially or psychologically, and b)access to recreational drugs is high. That being the case, maybe there isn’t a lot that can be done here.

You cite Mormonism as seemingly effectively innoculating people against certain behavioral risks, someone above cited the failures of various brands of Protestantism to innoculate urban black populations against many of the same risks. Why is Mormonism better at this than say, Lutheranism, Baptism, etc.? I think that’s a question that needs to be answered if we’re to really believe that old timey religions are the key to making the Midwest great again.

129 Dzhaughn December 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm

More religiosity is at least as good idea as Krugman’s Fake Alien Invasion. (Indeed, I don’t see a Keynesian objection to spending money on papal indulgences.)

Cowen and Krugman fail in the same way here, however. People can’t just pretend.

130 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:13 pm

This is exactly what ever dissolute ancien regime count said too. Then came the French Revolution boy did they learn how to pretend fast during the exile and restoration.

131 anon December 22, 2016 at 5:48 pm

+1. Or why not yoga? Veganism?

132 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Mormonism isn’t any better. See Jan’s comment above that
“Utah is among the top five states for drug overdoses, particularly Rx opioids.”

http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/prescription-opioid-overdose-deaths-and-death-rate-per-100000-population-age-adjusted/?dataView=1&currentTimeframe=0

https://www.statista.com/statistics/246637/top-ten-leading-states-concerning-death-rate-of-drug-overdose-in-the-us/

Also, as I stated above, Salt Lake City also has the 2nd highest rate of suicide attempts out of all major cities in the U.S. So people must be finding an alternative way to get out of bad marriages, rather than divorce, eh?

To get to the article, google for the title:

Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior in 33 Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2008 to 2010

(My ability to link to articles has been disabled by this site, for some reason.)

133 Jeff R December 22, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Not sure I’d read too much into suicide attempts. Looking at these stats from the CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6345a10.htm

Utah as a whole has a suicide rate of about 20 per 100k, whereas the national average is about 15. Five people per 100k is not that much.

134 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:26 pm

It’s doesn’t look like that big an increase. But suicide attempts are bad enough, and rare enough, that an increase in them can be a sign that life may be less worth living in one particular place than in others, and, if so, I would want to know why.

135 Thomas December 22, 2016 at 8:05 pm

Lol. By the same argument Chicago is definitive proof that D policies make people homicidal. P.S. how late is your library open?!

136 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:05 pm

There are plenty of cities that are Democratic but have lower crime rates e.g. Seattle.

137 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 3:57 am

@MITOVPT, wanting to know why there is a suicide increase is a sound position. But 20 minutes earlier you were claiming that it “must be” people trying to escape the restrictions of Mormonism. Perhaps you should have taken a more cautious stance to start with.

138 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:46 am

Are those cities full of white and Asian people?

139 carlospln December 22, 2016 at 10:49 pm

“five people per 100k is not that much”

Yeah, its only a 33% increase.

Fuck ’em.

140 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 4:57 am

The point is that it is difficult to reason from an increase in a very low rate, not that the deaths don’t matter.

141 Careless December 22, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Why is Mormonism better at this than say, Lutheranism, Baptism, etc.?

Well that’s an easy one: practicing Mormons have their behavior policed.

142 Dzhaughn December 22, 2016 at 5:40 pm

+1 on pointing out the analysts are largely thinking of ways to buy votes.

Still, while the poverty rate does not differ much across states, but the median income level differs a great deal, easily by 50%. If it is votes you want, aim there. I’d wager that if you want to alleviate poverty and despair, aim there as well.

143 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:09 pm

There is no problem with getting votes, for Republicans. Dems need to counteract fake news, voter suppression etc. in order to get votes. Dems want to alleviate poverty, but it won’t necessarily get them votes. Dems got health care to a lot of people who couldn’t afford it before, who then turned around and voted for Trump.

144 Thomas December 22, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Dems want to take from whites earning <200k and give it to minorities in ways that ensure continued dependence.

145 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:42 pm

So says the Right Wing, who thinks they are the only virtuous political tribe.

146 The Rage December 22, 2016 at 11:51 pm

lol, give them to blacks, rrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhtttttttttttt. And Republicans want to take all white earnings and give them to wealthy Jews. Check mate. Bye bye Republicans.

147 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:48 am

A lot more hispanics than blacks. What are the statistics on welfare recipients and race? Welfare spending is rather low and after-transfer poverty is also rather low, but Dems try to play it up and I think do want to increase those transfers.

148 Floccina December 22, 2016 at 5:41 pm

BTW:

A Village With the Numbers, Not the Image, of the Poorest Place

The Amish and Mennonites tend to be on the low end of USA earners also without so many problems.

149 Floccina December 22, 2016 at 5:42 pm

I must have messed up the link to: “A Village With the Numbers, Not the Image, of the Poorest Place” Here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/nyregion/kiryas-joel-a-village-with-the-numbers-not-the-image-of-the-poorest-place.html

150 Jan December 22, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I don’t really buy Tyler’s assertion that there is a strong case to be made for “more strict religion” to solve “cultural malaise,” which I think he is saying is a surrogate for declining health and/or economic outcomes. I’ll show why.

1) Here is a map of states shaded by share of people reporting weekly religious service attendance.
http://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/whv6ujwyukyb7q_r-y5vua.png

2) Here is a map of states by per capita GDP.
http://i.imgur.com/klCA4KB.png

3) Here is a map of states by white male life expectancy. You can easily find maps that are all-persons life expectancy, but I wanted to answer an anticipated rebuttal/question.
http://www.gnxp.com/blog/uploaded_images/journal.pmed.0030260.g001-707084.png

151 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:19 pm

I think everyone wishes religion had a more salutary effect on black dysfunction. But sometime interested in the truth rather than tribalism would probally taking that skewing of the data into account.

152 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:19 pm

Indeed. Let’s thrash out this topic of black dysfunction.

153 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 4:17 am

Such a high-level simplistic comparison is prone to all sorts of problems and doesn’t really show anything one way or another.

On the other hand, there is a body of scientific literature on this specific question which stongly supports Tyler’s claims. For one example, this study found frequent religious service attendance was associated with a seven year increase in life expectancy at age 20: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher_Ellison/publication/227279776_Religious_Involvement_and_US_Adult_Mortality/links/0046351a738949409b000000.pdf

BTW, contra to some claims here, this effect has been found across different groups, including in the black community.

154 JWatts December 22, 2016 at 6:01 pm

“Let’s consider poverty indices, adjusted to account for government benefits to individuals. For Maryland, which is not generally considered troubled, and which usually votes Democratic in presidential elections, the measured poverty rate is 14.3 percent. ”

Also, by the very same Census index, the worst poverty rates in the nation are:

District of Columbia. 22.2

California 20.6

Florida 19.0

Louisiana 17.9

New York. 17.9

Perhaps the rancor of modern politics is being driven, not by traditionally poorer states, but by traditionally richer states that are experiencing rising poverty?

155 chuck martel December 22, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Wait a minute, this is starting to edge into Piketty territory.

156 anon December 22, 2016 at 6:31 pm

As someone said in a prior thread, state level numbers aren’t terribly useful. Wealth and poverty clusters are much smaller. Especially relative to larger states.

157 anon December 22, 2016 at 10:40 pm

A nice national graphic with county level resolution:

http://visualizingeconomics.com/blog/2007/08/11/united-states-poverty-map

States with big counties have chunkier data, but I don’t see one clear pattern. It’s a lot of things.

158 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:50 am

What’s up with South Dakota and Montana?

159 Librarian Party December 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Good article sans the signalling.

What you need is shame. Around 1968, the intelligentsia decided to abolish shame, proclaiming that nobody could be blamed for their condition in life. Religion will give you it, though I wish we could have shame back without it. The Japanese have shame with very little religion.

I do think, also, that focusing on the material misses the point. The guy who has no job and lives with his parents may have a fine material existence, he might have more living space than his Betters who cram into New York City. He still isn’t going to feel great about his position in life, nor should he. There’s a major problem with the lack of jobs due to automation and mass immigration, as soon as Trump takes office, the media will rediscover it.

160 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Mass immigration, LOL. Immigration is net zero. Any lack of jobs has nothing to do with immigration. Google for this article on the politifact web site:

Jeb Bush says illegal immigration is “net zero”

It was found to be True.

161 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 4:29 am

The narrow point that net illegal immigration over the last few years has been zero is true.

That hardly rebuts overall claims that a huge number of illegal immigrants have entered the U.S. and are competing for U.S. jobs. That is clearly true; the debates are mainly about the overall economic impact of this and what sort of value judgement to make about it.

162 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:51 am

Also, hard as it is to believe, not ALL immigration is done illegally

163 Jan December 22, 2016 at 6:38 pm

What’s the evidence that high shame societies are richer, healthier or happier?

I’ve lived in a couple such countries and they aren’t doing so hot compared to the US.

164 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:01 pm

I am sure there is no such evidence. I would bet that the opposite is true. Shame can work to change behavior, but it shouldn’t be used often, or else it loses its positive effects, and the negative effects of it get bigger. It should be a last resort, not a first resort, in problem solving. Almost any other way to shape behavior is preferable, except in the most extreme situations.

Punitive people do enjoy shaming everyone. But that doesn’t mean it works well overall, when used frequently. Think of when people try to guilt trip you. It may not work. And even if it does, think of the negative effects of that. They are significant.

165 jonfraz December 25, 2016 at 8:27 am

Shame only works in relatively small and static communities. When people live fairly anonymous lives in large communities with lots of turnover (which us most of us these days) shame is pretty meaningless

166 BenK December 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm

So it’s paternalistic to say “we want to help” when really you mean “we want to disempower”?

167 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:24 pm

“We want to shove religion down your throat, whether you want it or not because we want to pretend we are helping your class of people, but without having to spend any money to help you” is worse than paternalistic. It’s cruelty wearing a mask of charity.

168 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 6:31 pm

As opposed to the subsidizing of Black family breakdown? Children without a father in the home are more open to physical and sexual abuse, to mental illness, to criminal records and pretty much every pathology known to mankind.

Christianity brings nothing but good into people’s lives and communities. We all benefit by living near them.

Cruelty is insisting that people pursue their own selfish ends with other people’s money. Your policies come with a death toll. But you are too self righteous to see it.

169 Jan December 22, 2016 at 6:40 pm

So you’re actually helping a poor black kid in Detroit by not offering her subsidized school lunch?

170 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 6:52 pm

Tough love. It is the only way to go.

How does allowing parents to avoid their responsibilities and spend more on drugs or wide screen TVs actually help poor children? No one in America is so poor that they cannot afford a school lunch for their children.

171 Jan December 22, 2016 at 6:58 pm

“No one in America is so poor that they cannot afford a school lunch for their children.” That’s an interesting perspective. I assume you don’t think there are hungry kids in this country. Further, I assume you believe church food pantries and winter coat drives are counterproductive, because giving people things is not tough love.

172 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 7:11 pm

Jan December 22, 2016 at 6:58 pm

That’s an interesting perspective. I assume you don’t think there are hungry kids in this country. Further, I assume you believe church food pantries and winter coat drives are counterproductive, because giving people things is not tough love.

On the contrary I think there are a lot of hungry children in America. Because in the end welfare cannot make up for two good, loving, heterosexual, biological parents. It just encourages people to have children they are not yet in a position to care for. So a lot of children go to bed hungry. The solution is not to encourage even more feckless people to have even more children they cannot care for. A better solution would be to jail anyone who has a child without first having a house.

Church drives have two causes – they make the people doing them feel virtuous and they provide something to the poor. So does welfare. Except a Church drive involves people actually getting involved and seeing the difference they are making. Whereas welfare involves most of us looking at our tax returns once a year. People who support welfare don’t care if it works or not. In fact we know it does not. It only makes things worse. Upper middle class Whites support because of that virtuous feeling they get whether or not it helps. It is resistant to change. A Church group will know if they are actually helping or not fairly quickly and will change their policies if it doesn’t. So it is superior in many ways.

However, overall, Church drives are probably bad things. One of the causes of the Industrial Revolution was the Reformation which destroyed what welfare there was. It dissolved hospitals, charity homes, orphanages and the like. It forced people to rely on themselves. That is much better for everyone concerned. Otherwise you get situations like the Middle East with an entire class of professional beggars who game the system because everyone is morally obliged to give welfare.

173 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 9:57 pm

Jan, it’s a Libertarian thing there– believing that everyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps– even if they are barefoot.

174 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:53 am

Jan,

The main problem is that the parents have the money and they spend it on other things. It’s rare as a % but still a lot of people. I have no problem with school lunches but there is a problem with tax/welfare policy that encourages mothers NOT to get married or live with a partner.

175 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Actually hard leftist like you are simply being asked to not indulge in your animus for religion. Even better treat the majority religion of the USA with the same deference you treat Islam. That’s all that’s being asked of low level hard left drones.

176 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Oh, poor Christians, they have life so hard, because they are so discriminated against and so ill treated by progressives.

177 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 4:32 am

As a Christian, I agree that U.S. Christians should not have a persecution complex.

But that’s clearly not the point that Tyler (as a non-believer) is making. He’s just saying that perhaps the intelligentsia should have some introspection about whether their attitude toward religion is correct and productive.

178 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:54 am

Die, strawman, die!

179 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Well, there’s always the freedom to follow all the rules. But that’s child’s play compared to disempowering people by helping them.

I bet that giving someone $500 a month really disempowers them a lot.

180 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:55 am

Your sarcasm is terrible and confusing

181 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm

To get to this article ,google for the title: Think religion makes society less violent? Think again.

“According to the latest study from the Pew Research Center, the 10 states that report the highest levels of belief in God are Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma (tied with Utah). The 10 states with the lowest levels of belief in God are Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Alaska, Oregon and California. And as is the case in the rest of the world, when it comes to nearly all standard measures of societal health, including homicide rates, the least theistic states generally fare much better than the most theistic. Consider child-abuse fatality rates: Highly religious Mississippi’s is twice that of highly secular New Hampshire’s, and highly religious Kentucky’s is four times higher than highly secular Oregon’s.”

Right Wingers somehow warp torture the data to make it seem like religion solves all problems– I guess, because Right Wingers want to slash the social safety net and feel good about it– and spend all tax money on crony capitalist welfare queens and none on the poor, and feel good about it. But the data just do not support this “solution” to problems.

You could even make a case from the data that religion causes crime– or that crime causes religion, or– perhaps more likely– that both crime and religion are caused by poverty and/or ignorance.

182 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 6:45 pm

You think you have made a point about religion but actually you have made one about race. You have simply rediscovered Tip O’Neill’s point that all measures of social well being improve the closer you are to the Canadian border. Which is to say, the more Blacks, the more crime, family break down, drug use, and so on.

Blacks also being more religious but in their own very non-judgemental way.

183 Andre December 22, 2016 at 7:32 pm

Lol, I know blaming black people is popular everywhere, but you going to put WV and Western Mass on us? New heights.

184 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 8:02 pm

I am not blaming anyone for anything. Nor did I mention West Virginia. What I did say is that when Jill says this:

the 10 states that report the highest levels of belief in God are Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Oklahoma (tied with Utah). The 10 states with the lowest levels of belief in God are Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Alaska, Oregon and California.

She is not actually measuring a genuine difference because the populations are not the same. What she is measuring is the number of Black people. The first ten have large African American populations. The second ten are pretty much White bread.

185 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 9:54 pm

There are many conclusions you could draw from these stats. You choose to draw the conclusion that black people are the significant factor that causes crime to increase. As I said before, one could also make the case from the data that religion causes crime. I prefer that conclusion, actually. Since correlation does not necessarily mean causation, the data don’t prove any of these hypotheses, of course.

186 So Much For Subtlety December 23, 2016 at 5:45 am

No there isn’t. There is only one sensible conclusion to draw – you are not comparing like populations. That is it.

I choose to recognize reality. The reality is that Blacks commit crimes at a rate an order of magnitude greater than Whites. This is a fact. You may not like that fact but it remains true none the less.

I make no comment about correlation or causation. You are simply avoiding the issue.

187 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:56 am

Jill,

If you actually cared you could easily determine which is true. Look at comparable people who differ only by religiosity. I believe the more religious are less criminal.

188 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:24 pm

Maybe belief in God helps them to deal with the fact of the existence of people like you with agendas to spin negativity around excess skin melanin without anything constructive to offer to the situation.

189 So Much For Subtlety December 23, 2016 at 5:59 am

Maybe it does. Who knows? Who cares? This is the reality. You can accept it and move on. Or not. Up to you. Nothing I have said involves an agenda. Everything I have said is true.

Nothing can be done before we recognize and accept the truth. Falsehoods lead to nothing of use.

190 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:57 am

Yeah tan people are the source of all our problems. Stop tanning!

191 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Why is divorce something Tyler assumes we want to stop? Do we really want people to have to stay married to people they don’t want to be married to, perhaps because the spouse is abusive to them or to the kids? I don’t want that. But having people stuck in horrible marriages seems like some big ideal to Right Wingers, for some reason.

192 So Much For Subtlety December 22, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Divorce causes the children of well educated, promising Ivy League graduates to die five years earlier than average. Presumably it does worse to the lower classes.

Again your policies come with a death toll. A sizable one in this case. You still don’t want to see it.

193 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 9:49 pm

It is not clear whether it was the divorce that caused the damage, or the unresolved conflict between the parents. I would be surprised if children of parents who have knock down drag out fights, but who were forced by the state or by their religion to stay together, would fare better than the children of divorced parents would.

194 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 5:13 am

Clearly there are some cases where divorce would be preferable (physically abusive relationships being the most obvious). A culture where divorce is normalized will allow these harmful arrangements to end.

However, such a culture also causes lower commitment to marriage, such that people who could “make it work” and provide a good home end up splitting up, with detrimental effects on children. Also, it will lead to fewer people getting married in the first place. Both cases drive an increase in single-parent households, which a lot of research shows have worse outcomes.

This is in part a debate over which effects predominate, and what policy has a net benefit. It’s not simple. And yes, it’s quite hard to untangle issues of confounding and causation in research on these topics.

195 So Much For Subtlety December 23, 2016 at 5:37 am

Actually it is pretty clear. We know from conflicted families that do not break up. Again you simply do not allow reality intrude on your prejudices.

196 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 5:44 am

I’m on the same side as you in this debate, but I am skeptical of your certainty about the evidence.

Some studies of the issue may attempt to control for marital conflict, but that’s a very hard thing to do in practice. Is there some research you can point to that you think does this robustly?

197 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 11:58 am

Yeah it is not clear at all that divorce has any negative effects let alone of the size you posit

198 chuck martel December 22, 2016 at 7:07 pm

The state subsidizes divorce. The state enters an argument between two people by inevitably choosing to support the one with no testes, both directly and by compelling support from the testicled. A disagreement that wouldn’t be life-changing becomes irreversible when the testicle-free component signs the dotted line.

199 prior_test2 December 22, 2016 at 10:58 pm

‘The state enters an argument between two people by inevitably choosing to support the one with no testes, both directly and by compelling support from the testicled.’

So, about lesbian married couples that divorce – who is the one with testicles?

200 Truth December 23, 2016 at 12:22 am

You sound emasculated and weak.

201 MyName December 22, 2016 at 10:21 pm

Divorce is often used as a useful marker for other social problems as it is an open record that can be easily tracked and compared between areas. The assumption is that a happy prosperous couple generally does not get a divorce at nearly the rate of a couple that has one or both partners in financial or social trouble (or both) with no network to turn to for help.

This was likely less true in the past where divorce was much harder to get and had a higher stigma. Couples would stay together even when they shouldn’t.

202 Tyler Fan December 22, 2016 at 6:48 pm

WV and KY should strive to be as religious as successful sister states MA and MD?

203 JWatts December 22, 2016 at 6:52 pm

Well this seemed ridiculously topical so:

“One mom’s shocking before-and-after photos — showing how her “disgusting” life had been ravaged by meth, cocaine, and heroin addiction — are going viral for their combo of shock and hope this week.

Hall, now an avowed Jesus devotee and mom to an 18-month-old girl, … ”

https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/mother-shares-before-and-after-photos-of-meth-addiction-inspires-many-175546985.html

204 Jan December 22, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Religion physically rewires people’s brains, completely blocking the reward pathways that drugs like heroin and meth activate.

205 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:27 pm

Jan you have the kind of repugnant personality that would do a lot more damage from the inside of Christianity than outside throwing weak bitterness bombs.

206 Jan December 23, 2016 at 3:53 am

Sam, whatever are you talking about? Have I offended your weak worldview based on racism and religion by suggesting that they aren’t magic?

207 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Ha she looks the same before and after!

208 Edgar December 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm

”I find America’s largely secular intellectual class oddly unwilling to spell out this simple case for more strict religion”

Not really. The Oberklasse’s desire to replace Christianity in the US with Islam via immigration couldn’t be more obvious. The word ‘Islam’ is derived from the root verb istaslama (استسلاما); which means ‘to submit’ or ‘give in’ or ‘surrender’. Islamic populations, if one has to generalize, are a submissive lot. US intellectuals dream of moving out of the postmodern malaise into a new order of secular deification in which a tractable population will express deep gratitude for the nobless oblige of their betters. Francis Fukuyama’s 2006 essay “Identity, Immigration & Democracy” (http://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles-files/gratis/Fukuyama-17-2.pdf ) is the Oberklasse roadmap. Fukuyama writes ” Islam is a highly legalistic religion, meaning that religious belief consists of conformity to a set of externally determined social rules.” Just what the Oberklasse ordered! Why not import them into the West. More is bettter because “Muslim communities have even expressed ambitions to challenge the secular character of the political order as a whole. These types of group rights clearly intrude on the rights of other individuals in the society and push cultural autonomy well beyond the private sphere.” Perfect! Just the ticket to neutralze the untere Klassen: “each European nation-state needs to create a more inclusive sense of national identity that can better promote a common sense of citizenship.” And off we go, in side-by-side marching order to the Oberklasse drumbeat, obedient, trusting and committed to the wise vision of intellectuals. And completely free of all that pesky individualism and pluralism.

209 Jan December 22, 2016 at 7:09 pm

Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not Islam we want to replace it with. It’s SUNNI Islam. Get some facts before spewing off pal.

210 Sam Haysom December 22, 2016 at 8:28 pm

You aren’t elite you have no idea what the elite wants.

211 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:28 pm

What do “the elite” want?

And … who are these “elite” people? What jobs do they have? What’s their income profile? What sorts of things are they doing to conspire to manipulate and control “the masses”?

212 Jan December 23, 2016 at 3:54 am

Sam, you continue to make yourself look silly.

213 Jan December 23, 2016 at 3:58 am

According to every whining, finger-pointing bible thumper and Big Business cronyist over the past month, I am “the elite” simply because I am a liberal who lives in coastal city and qualify for big tax cuts under Trump. But I guess I’m not elite.

Sunni Islam forever.

214 Sam Haysom December 23, 2016 at 9:49 am

You post roughly roughly fourteen hours a day here (I’ll give you that you give Soros his money’s worth) so I can’t speak for every post. But the vast majority of the time what I normally see is people reminding you that you aren’t actually elite and poking fun at your attempts to claim that mantle. Do you parrot elite political opinions like most low level hard leftists- yes of course. Hardly means you are elite-just that you subscribe to a hand me down hard leftism.

215 Mine Is the Only Virtuous Political Tribe December 22, 2016 at 9:45 pm

“The Oberklasse’s desire to replace Christianity in the US with Islam via immigration couldn’t be more obvious.”

LOL. Someone has been reading fake news. It is not obvious to anyone but you. I am not going to read that whole article you cited, but if it says that Fukuyama wants Islam to replace Christianity, I’ll eat my hat.

216 Matthew Young December 22, 2016 at 8:24 pm

The dominant regional factor, weather, then coast line and ports, then be a retirement state.
The last regional factor is being a redneck ex coal miner.
Illinois is emptying out, as in forced migration. That is an illness worse than being a drugged, redneck, unemployed miner.

The major factor in regional politics is simple,California has the money to fed the national Dems, NYC is running low. The other major factor in national politics is that Texas had a lousy candidate when it was their turn at the Swamp.

Finally, the last horror the Swamp faces is the 2020 census which all but seals the fate of east coast rule forever. Texas and California and Florida will dominate a 20-25% shift in House representation. That makes either California or Texas a definite veto in the Swamp House and it makes the small state senators to almost certainly shut in the other direction.

But, the long term dominant factor is weather. How much human evolution happened in Canada?

217 Troll me December 22, 2016 at 10:32 pm

Maybe a dozen homeless people a year. Too bloody independent and stubborn in refusal to accept what help is available, and maybe for some reason along the way decided no bloody way they’re going to “work for the man”. No doubt, that would have gotten them diagnosed with a few different things along the way …

Just not really that significant in terms of “human evolution” (whatever that means in particular in your lexicon).

218 MyName December 22, 2016 at 10:36 pm

I don’t believe the two are completely separable. The economy has changed which causes the next generation (especially the higher achieving members) to move to where the opportunities are and so the culture of a place changes for the worse, as well as the opportunities available for the children of the people who stayed. It doesn’t take very long for this to spiral downwards to the point where the place just becomes stagnant.

Churches can be part of the glue that keeps a community together, as can other civic organizations, but if you don’t have people with the money and time and energy to put into these groups you can’t rebuild the culture. And if everyone is too worried about figuring out how to survive from month-to-month, the organizations can only function at a basic level anyways. The change from “farming villages” to “company towns” to “rustbelt cities” has unravelled alot of the communities in the past 100 years or so. And at this point, the service oriented specialized economy in the U.S. pretty much requires you to be either in a large metro area, or in some way easily connected to one of the knowledge centers that provide other opportunities if you want to move forward.

This may change as other advancements in IT allow you to choose a place with much lower overhead to build a new business. However, the question is: if you can build a business anywhere in the country (or the world) why would you choose the upper midwest (for example) over somewhere in the sun belt?

219 The Rage December 22, 2016 at 11:31 pm

RFK was whining about the “amazing poverty” of Appalachia in the late 60’s before he got his head blown out. There is nothing new here. The midwest simply isn’t any different than many other areas. If you are on the coasts, there are “bad sides” to excessive money. The midwest doesn’t have that.

220 freethinker December 23, 2016 at 4:24 am

In India religious faith is taken for granted and it is almost impossible to come across an atheist even in regions where people swear by an atheist mass social leader. Few intellectual and scientists even bother to question if it stands up to logical scrutiny. Yet there are horrendous crimes against women and corruption is rampant. Divorce rates are lower than in the west not because mainstream Hinduism and other religions of India regard marriage as sacred but because divorced people are frowned upon and because women had to live with abusive husbands due to financial dependence. As far as my country is concerned religiosity has nothing to do with morality .

221 dan1111 December 23, 2016 at 5:57 am

I think there are two limitations here:

1) The limitations of “generic” religion. In fact, different religions have very different beliefs and very different expectations of their followers. The impact of following the Hindu religion on one’s life would be very different from following Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, or something else. This is something that I think is unhelpfully papered over in this debate.

2) Level of religious commitment. In many cultures everyone is expected to nominally be part of the dominant religion, but this may involve minimal commitment. It’s true in America, where about 75% say they believe in God and 70% call themselves Christian, but only around 20% or so regularly attend church (and church attendance itself is a fairly minimal step in terms of practicing one’s faith). Studies of the impact of religion usually focus on those with evidence of religious commitment, like church attenders, rather than everyone who says they are a member of a religion.

222 shrikanthk December 23, 2016 at 6:39 am

You are wrong about everything.

India is one of the most virtuous places on earth. With voluntary adherence to rule of law despite weak law enforcement.
A land where Dharma rules in the hearts of men (and women)
A land where all life is valued and which has historically reported low rates of war and violence (Eg : Nothing comparable to 30 yrs War in India).
A land with very high rates of happiness, high self-reliance, small welfare state, strong family networks.
A land where people don’t take themselves too seriously and ego is rightly frowned upon.

It is a great country. A Dharmic country. And it’s a shame that men like you denigrate your own land in an international forum such as this blog.

223 Cliff December 23, 2016 at 12:04 pm

But don’t you think there are problems with crime against women and corruption?

224 shrikanthk December 24, 2016 at 12:50 am

One has to have an appropriate control for comparison.

In the absence of religion, crimes against women and corruption would be much worse problems.

Female workforce participation in India is growing by the day and is way higher than in most if not all Islamic countries.

225 M December 23, 2016 at 4:28 am

Sorry Tyler, seems substances to me. No need information – we’re already aware you’d like dupe voters who vote for free market candidates because they make religious noises.

226 M December 23, 2016 at 4:43 am

*seems substanceless

227 Hazel Meade December 23, 2016 at 9:46 am

As others have pointed out, an increase in religiosity would likely be tied to greater social oppression of woman and gays, including more hate crimes against gays and more women forced into life-limiting shotgun weddings or compelled to bear children they don’t want. Those are significant downsides in terms of individual liberty.

From a libertarian perspective, social dysfunction such as drug abuse is a problem individuals bring on themselves. It’s not the governments job to stop people from abusing opiods. Certainly not at the cost of limiting the liberty of people who aren’t dysfunctional.

228 Sam Haysom December 23, 2016 at 9:51 am

Rest of the world: “Hey hard left maybe it would be better if you didn’t act like a complete asshole.”

Low level Hard leftists: “who are you calling elite.”

It’s hilarious to watch.

229 Seth December 23, 2016 at 11:42 am

Has any checked to see how many Hillary voters the opioid epidemic has claimed?

230 collin December 23, 2016 at 12:25 pm

I find a giant contradiction that libertarian economist support strict religious communities. Your argument completely supports Marx religion is the “Opium For the Masses” that we need everybody to be Utah to improve the economy. It is just libertarian economist don’t support religion directly with money but make wishes that is was true.

Several points:
1) For most social issues Blue States do better than Red States with divorce rates and single motherhood. Why is this true? (And blue states have just high minorities.) It appears Red State have the biggest cultural weakness here. Also aren’t most social issues better than 1985 when the nation was more religious? Why is that?
2) I don’t see how constant economic creative destruction does not create constant cultural creative destruction. Economic and culture interlink more than you account for.
3) Outside the state of Utah and Israel, name a very religious modern developed nation. Whatever reason, developed nations are post-religious in nature.
4) Why should Blue States care about falling Red States?

231 M December 23, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Re: 1) Divorce rates relative to marriage rates and single motherhood relative to motherhood?

(Though even for the latter http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/11/upshot/the-north-south-divide-on-two-parent-families.html?_r=0

“It’s not just a red-blue political divide, either. There is a kind of two-parent arc that starts in the West in Utah, runs up through the Dakotas and Minnesota and then down into New England and New Jersey. It encompasses both the conservative Mountain West and the liberal Northeast.

Single-parent families, by contrast, are most common in a Southern arc beginning in Nevada, and extending through New Mexico, Oklahoma and the Deep South before coming up through Appalachia into West Virginia.”

Single motherhood is more common in South. Higher fertility culture.

232 JWatts December 23, 2016 at 3:56 pm

“Single motherhood is more common in South. Higher fertility culture.”

You probably need to look at it by race. Single motherhood is far more common among black women everywhere and there’s a higher percentage of black women in the South.

233 jonfraz December 24, 2016 at 9:03 am

But not in the Southwest or Appalachia. This is not just about black people

234 Donald Pretari December 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm

You sound a bit like a libertine English aristocrat who favors an established church to keep the common people in line , even as he never pays any heed to religion himself, preferring to violate its dictates at will for pleasure. I salute you.

235 David D December 23, 2016 at 6:16 pm

I would argue that the problem is not a lack of religion, since many who think they have no religion have merely switched from worshiping a god to worshiping the State.

When all else fails. . .
When you come to the end of your own resources. . .
When there seems to be no hope and no solution. . .

To what do you turn then?

That is your god.

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