Thursday assorted links

1. As I like to say, social conservatism is underrated.

2. Taiwan crowdsources some of its laws.

3. Martin Shubik has passed away.

4. Ghosts of black holes from earlier universes?

5. Hybrid humans (NYT).

6. 2600 graphs from the AER (video), and text version: “…of the more than 2,600 graphs in total, more than 80% are line charts.”


1. In conservatism, it's called Order and Stability. In libertarianism, it's called Why I am not a Conservative. It's encouraging that Cowen is coming around.

Straussian take:

Tyler respects social conservatism and religion as a form of social technology that can be used to noncoercively induce more pro social behavior and mitigate the amount of and effects of antisocial behavior.

+1 (as do I)

I am in fact grateful to the holder of this web site who has shared this fantastic post at at this time.

I suspect you only consider it "noncoercive" because you expect to be the one holding the stick.

Honest question. Is shame and public scolding considered coercive or not? Its pretty annoying to be shamed by both the left and the right for various "sins" but is it considered a kind of coercion?

Reasonable people could consider it either way.

But consider it also as a precursor to harder coercion. It gives political cover for that. E.g. "Everyone is already saying this gal/guy is shameful pariah, for (reasons), so we should censor them". Senator Ron Wyden has recently played this game:

The thing to be concerned about is not whether people raise their eyebrowse, and waggle their fingers. But about the mechanisms in society that can turn that into the signal to begin to coercing.

Americans can start but kicking Wyden out of office. But that would only be a tiny step on a long road.

TIL dropping acid shrinks your dick. Or, I think thats what I learned.

Abortion is going to be banned in 30 states, and that day the edgelord libcons will be sneering at the sidelines about comeuppance for sneering liberals.

Run that by me again?

I believe he said "Fearmongering is literally all I have left in this world."


is malcomfriggingladwell and the sociology dept giving millennial memezombies the easily preventable red ichy rash and fever formerly known as

Translation: "It's just like this show I saw on Hulu!"

Anti-abortion activists are the worst kind of social justice warriors.

Worse than furries?

"Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen
- perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not -
the One who looks down on it,
in the highest heaven, only He knows
or perhaps He does not know."
( Rig Veda -Book 10 Hymn 129)

the last time I read something on that site, which was something I could evaluate, the science was so badly mangled by the author it was ignorance-creating, worse than nothing.

Given what they're talking about here, which I definitely can't evaluate, I have very little hope

The Penrose black hole story was not hard to follow. It just did not include the whole story, pun intended. The one objection I had, that Hawking radiation--if it exists--would make any black hole disappear within our universe's lifetime (hence no need to invoke a prior universe) was not addressed I suppose because Hawking radiation is not proven. Nor was the Hubble constant that predicts the universe is expanding (and hence no re-Big Bang) discussed, I guess because that doesn't preclude, logically, that there was an earlier universe (that did not forever expand). A nice mention of Penrose's "Emperor's Mind" was made, and the point about the data maybe showing nothing more than random noise is good.

Bonus trivias (plural): Roger Penrose had a Blenchly (sic) Park codebreaking WWII math brother who was a grandmaster in chess. And some black holes weigh 20 billion times the sun and rotate at close to the speed of light due to constant incoming material which at the accretion disk blows off (and rotates the black hole). Imagine the forces needed to do that, and the time needed! You have to have material incoming for billions of years. Kind of like a merry-go-round that gets energy for rotation constantly, slowly, over time. The black hole must flatten at such high speeds (speed of light! amazing, and also the black hole must get heavier as it rotates, as per Einstein's laws).

Yes, Ray does physics as well as everything else equally well.

Gotta agree with you, you clearly do physics as well as you do everything else LOL

Here is Sabine Hossenfelder on the Penrose stry:

2. We could try an experiment and come up with sound policy on immigration (or healthcare) here. But first TC / AT will have to take out the reply option.

Health care? Don't you love irony. Mercatus recently published a report opposing single-payer health care. As well they should. Unfortunately, the report indicated that single-payer would save $2 trillion (that's trillion) over ten years. They've got some "splainin" to do. Mercatus was ambivalent about the Republican tax and spend plan that will add $1 trillion to the national debt - this year. Here was Cowen's explanation for supporting the "bold" plan: Of course, that was then and this is now, now being the time for Cowen to do some "splainin" about objecting to saving $2 trillion in health care expenses.

Nope. "The top line of the paper’s abstract says that the bill “would, under conservative estimates, increase federal budget commitments by approximately $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years of full implementation.” According to the paper, even doubling all “currently projected federal individual and corporate income tax collections would be insufficient to finance the added federal costs of the plan.”

Two different concepts. If the Federal Budget goes up by $32.6T over ten years but private health care insurance spending falls by $34.6T then you have $2T in savings.

And the health care industry has $2T less of income. Let's just say the industry has very little incentive to reduce costs.

I'm sure Boonton would have no problem with sending people to jail who failed to toe the party line.

Nope, just quietly assassinated by having trace amounts of chemicals placed in their food whenever they order take out. But no need to worry, you're not on the list.

You don't really know that. Private spending goes down by $36.4T, gov't spending goes up $34.4T. Individuals now have $36.6T more income. If they take that and buy enough bonds to fund the gov't they will still have $2T in additional income left over. They could spend that on health care so you don't really know if income in the health care sector will go down by $2T.

Of course the likely result will be that they will spend $2T on a host of various things so health care income goes down by some number less than $2T and income in other areas goes up for the balance.

Actually health care spending drops by $2T that's the initial condition. If they take some of the $2T 'savings' and spend it on health care, then private spending on health care doesn't go down by $36.4T is a number less than that.

Again, the health care industry loses income and that's why they don't exactly fall all over themselves trying to reduce health care costs.

Seems like this rests on the idea that you can cut costs while expanding access and that the costs will stay cut because AMA, AHA, and other industry groups won't eventually capture the regulatory agencies that decide reimbursement rates under this Medicare for All system. I think the odds of that are decidedly not great.

ODD the AMA doesn't care about regulatory capture today given how much health care goes through Medicare/medicaid? Lobbying doesn't work in every other developed country that has some variation on single payer?

I think we are getting confused here. Let's say you drive 1,000 miles a month and the price of gas is something. So your monthly spending on gas is, whatever. For some reason the price of gas falls 10%. You respond by driving 10% more miles so the amount you spend on gas per month remains unchanged.

Your instinct here is to declare you're spending as much as before therefore you're no better off. But this isn't accurate. You *were* getting 1000 miles from your gas spending. You suddenly saved 10% on your gas spending. You opted to use that savings to do more driving. When you took that savings and decided to drive more miles, you had an economy that offered you zillions of ways to spend that money. You decided doing more driving was the option you liked the most and now you got it.

In this model if Medicare for all reduces total spending by $2T, you are free to spend that savings by going beyond Medicare (gap coverage, new eyewear, elective medical procedures etc.).

That's not how % changes work.

At all.

" Private spending goes down by $36.4T,..."

LOL, there's not that much private spending! Not even close. I think all Private spending in the US is around $2.4 trillion per year.

Private spending = Private health care spending

Keep in mind the figures quoted are over a 10 year period. If private health spending is $2.4T this year why would you think 'Medicare for all' would cost in excess of $30T+?

Are you sure about %? Let me work it through: You drive 1000 miles a month. Your car gets 20mpg, you buy 50 gallons of gas per month @$3 for $150. The price of gas drops 10% to $2.70. Now you spend $135 to drive 1000 miles. That's a 10% drop in total spending. Now you say you want to drive 1100 miles. You need 55 gallons to do that which cost you $148.50. Actually it seems you're still saving but we can round that to $150 and declare your're spending just as much on gas as before. Regardless you cannot claim there's no benefit to the reduction in spending just because you decided to put your savings into buying more gas.

"Keep in mind the figures quoted are over a 10 year period. If private health spending is $2.4T this year why would you think 'Medicare for all' would cost in excess of $30T+?"

Because the Federal government already spends $1 Trillion per year on medical care. And $2.4 + 1.0 = 3.4. Which would be $34 trillion over 10 years in 2018 dollars.

"Regardless you cannot claim there's no benefit to the reduction in spending ..."

Where do you get the idea there will be a reduction in spending? The private insurance market spending directly subsidizes marginal spending on Medicaid. Without it, the Federal and state government, would have to cover the difference. Furthermore, Medicare covers it's marginal costs, but does not cover the extra profit that provides capital & R&D spending. So, again the Federal and state government will have to cover those costs.


Ten year figures are usually including population growth and such so it isn't as simple as taking this year and multiplying by 10.

I think you are overestimating what is going on. Private insurance doesn't subsidize Medicare. There are plenty of doctors whose practice is almost entirely medicare patients. This is an area where volume matters. If you see 5 patients per hour and get $60 per patient or see 3 per hour and get $100 per patient, you are effectively making the same income. Taking Medicare can fill your waiting room, taking any one private insurance won't. On top of that you have a small army of clerical workers whose only job is a never-ending war of billers figuring out how to make different insurance companies pay and insurance companies figuring out how not to pay. Right now the entire health care spend has to go to feed that army before spending money on 'capital' or R&D.

Of course none of this is distributed evenly. If you're a doctor who can get all private patients per hour through your practice you'll be richer than the medicare only doctor but in the system as a whole both come together. I suspect what would happen is the health industry would see a reduction in the 'billing army' and would take less per patient as income. Probably you couldn't just translate Medicare rates to the overall system so the savings would be between what the private insurance pays today and what Medicare would pay if it was hypothetically expanded to everyone.

" There are plenty of doctors whose practice is almost entirely medicare patients. This is an area where volume matters. "

Well I do agree if you fire a bunch of the administrative staff and some of the healthcare staff and force the remaining healthcare staff to see more patients for less money per patient, you will save money.

Nearly every country with socialized medicine pays their doctors substantially less than the US average. I doubt you'll get the doctors to go along with it however.

Well I do agree if you fire a bunch of the administrative staff and some of the healthcare staff and force the remaining healthcare staff to see more patients for less money per patient, you will save money.

Well actually if you fire most of the billing staff you can see the same number of patients for less money and doctors aren't putting in any more hours than they were before.

Billing staff in the Private sector is probably less than 6% of the costs, it's certainly less than 12% of the costs. The difference between the US and the lowest spending country for all of Administrative costs is around 12%. Effectively that's your cap on savings.

Errr from the synopsis of your link:
Administrative costs account for 25 percent of total U.S. hospital spending, according to a new study that compares these costs across eight nations. The United States had the highest administrative costs; Scotland and Canada had the lowest. Reducing U.S. per capita spending for hospital administration to Scottish or Canadian levels would have saved more than $150 billion in 2011.

$150B times ten years is $1.5T, but no doubt that $150B from 2011 has grown larger since then...$200B today is not unreasonable so there you get $2T savings.

My only point was that you don’t understand how percentages work. Which is clear, although I think now you understand to some degree since you typed out the math and saw the error.

But it’s clear from this and every conversation that you don’t understand economics.

The change in consumption of healthcare will be driven by what’s called the price elasticity of demand.

It has percentages so I don’t want to scare you off by typing it out. Think of it as the slope of the demand curve.

Driving the cost of a good or service to zero (minus transaction costs) will obviously cause demand to rise, unless you believe the demand curve for health services is close to flat. This doesn’t seem to be be case.

I'm not sure I made any math error. I typed it out, gas price goes down 10%, spending on gas goes down 10%. If you decide to increase your driving 10% your spending on gas goes back up to just about what it was before.

"price elasticity of demand"

Accounted for. Recall I wrote:
"Of course the likely result will be that they will spend $2T on a host of various things so health care income goes down by some number less than $2T and income in other areas goes up for the balance."

If the price of some product goes down, it is a very strange consumer who would take all that savings and spend it just on getting more of that product. Even a drug addict would probably spread savings out a bit on different products if the drug dealer dropped the price of his supply.

mskings, however, wrote:
"Actually health care spending drops by $2T that's the initial condition. If they take some of the $2T 'savings' and spend it on health care, then private spending on health care doesn't go down by $36.4T is a number less than that."

And the problem here is that this is not the same thing. Say we saved $2T on healthcare and as a result we all got Lasik surgeries so we can ditch our glasses. This might indeed read as "we still spend $36.4T on healthcare so nothing is different" but not really. It's "we spent $34.4T on what would have been $36.4T and got $2T extra stuff we wouldn't have otherwise".

Price elasticity of demand is not for one consumer. It's not Boonton's demand curve, it's the population of the US.

You're taking the cost of a bucket of 'services' and making the marginal cost to the consumer zero. Not literally zero due to transaction costs, but damn close to zero.

The system will have to ration itself somehow and this will take the form of queuing. Which is a policy preference you have. Fine.

We would have to increase the tax intake by approximately 100%.

So, yes. 75% marginal tax on households earning over 150k would come close? Maybe 80%. I would expect lots of dual earning couples to become single earner couples overnight. Which would require lowering the threshold even more/raising the marginal rate even more.

If progressives think that's a good deal, as many do, then advocate for it.

Let me work it out with details and you can tell me if I got your point:

OK let's say savings is indeed $2T. The economy has fewer medical billers and administrators and hospitals/doctors also take less income for the same services to some degree. Consumers, inexplicably in love with the idea of Lasik, want to take all that savings and buy as much of it as they can.

Of course some billers might take crash courses in Lasik and some retiring doctors who perform it might decide to stay in the market longer but in the short run supply is limited so the price must skyrocket. As I said, though, consumers are just enthralled so much with it they don't care. In the end they will sink all the $2T in savings on it and capacity will be exhausted. The economy will produce as much health care as before and more Lasik operations. Just not as many operations than if the price had magically been held constant and some unlimited ocean of supply happened to be available.

Even in that extreme case, you can't paint saving $2T on regular health care costs and sinking all of it in a different type of healthcare cost is a loss or even a breakeven for the economy, it's still an improvement. Point of order there, do you acknowledge that would be an improvement or do you dispute that point?

In real life, of course, no product is so beloved that consumers will be indifferent to exploding prices. As the price of operations goes up, consumers will shrug and say things like "well I could just go out to the movies more" or "buy some cool cell phone apps" or an of the millions of other products the economy has to offer. Since consumers will break in all different directions, supply should generally be able to handle the shift in demand. We are talking about consumers spending 5% less on health care over 10 years and doing other things with that money.

So, yes. 75% marginal tax on households earning over 150k would come close? Maybe 80%

I'm sorry but this doesn't quite flow. Right now we cover the old and the very sick with Medicare and a good 90%+ of us have private health insurance of one type or another. Yet we aren't paying 80% of our pay in the form of premiums. Can you explain your thinking here unless you're talking about Medicare4All but without asking anyone under $150K to pay anything more in taxes even if they no longer pay health care premiums via their employers?

I have no idea what point you are trying to get across.

You rant about lasik for a few paragraphs and then switch to a point about taxes.

Maybe you’re becoming sidetracked by putting “healthcare services” in a special category in your mind?

As I said the 80% marginal tax on >150k to pay for it would be the progressive version. The other method would be the European regressive tax, a 15-20% VAT.

Take it to the voters. If they’re willing to see a massive decrease in living standards in the name of “free” healthcare then cool.

But don’t hand wave away 15-20% price increase.

The vast majority of people will be worse off. All in the name of...something.

"“It is likely that the actual cost of M4A would be substantially greater than these estimates, which assume significant administrative and drug cost savings under the plan, and also assume that health care providers operating under M4A will be reimbursed at rates more than 40 percent lower than those currently paid by private health insurance.”

The savings is imaginary. Assume the govt would pay them only 60% of what they are getting currently getting, the current medicare price that is subsidized by normal insurance - that's going away.

That's a bizaar economic concept. Does your boss pay you more because the post office underpays mailmen? Do you shop at a grocery store that charges you 40% higher prices because servicemen are underpaid and the grocery store sells them food for 40% less?

"The savings is imaginary. Assume the govt would pay them only 60% of what they are getting currently getting, the current medicare price that is subsidized by normal insurance - that's going away."

I disagree with this. Certainly it won't be as cheap as it's proponents claim, because it's clear that Private insurance does subsidize Medicare.

That being said, if we legally force healthcare workers to have a higher volume of patient per worker and fire the surplus staff, then there will be substantial savings.

This is no different than a hostile take over of a company by a hedge fund and then reducing the staff by 30%. This is what Boonton is describing and it would result in less spending on healthcare.

because it's clear that Private insurance does subsidize Medicare.

So you should:
1. Become a doctor.
2. Not take Medicare.
3. Rake in 'extra' subsidy from seeing only those higher paying private insurance patients.
4. Laugh at your fellow doctors on the golf course as you pull out your solid gold clubs.

Note the project savings were $2T on $36.4T. That's 5.5% less, not 40% less. I suspect the study already accounted for 'cross subsidies' in its estimates and did not simply assume the Medicare rates would magically apply to all health care spending.

"Note the project savings were $2T on $36.4T. That's 5.5% less,"

That's a great point! We're asking American's is their willing to trade in their current Health insurance for Medicare for a 5.5% savings.

My answer is Hell no. I suspect a large percentage of voters would agree with me.

Ohh yea because it's nice to pay 5% *more* for something that only covers you not just when you have a job but just one particular job and is almost impossible to find for comparable cost if you want to work for yourself or join/start a small business.

It's like "would you rather have a car that you can only fill up at Exxon stations on odd number days and will cost you 6% more or a car you can fill up at any gas station except the oddball libertarian gastation out in Dustball Corner".

Yeah Boonton, the answer is still No.

Very simple solution. Medicare cost / people on Medicare =$X. Anyone who wants a Medicare card whether individual or company trying to cover their workers could simply pay $X to Medicare and get one. You might tell your boss you'll quite if he decides to take that option for the company but will most of the people you work with do so as well?

Where is the deadweight loss of the extra taxation in this model? Marginal rates are not currently very low. Doubling tax receipts is going to cost the economy a lot more than 1x the current receipts.

Back of the envelope, If Medicare for All replaced about $34T of private health insurance spending, most of that would be converted to higher take home cash pay. Since pay in the form of health coverage is generally not taxes, that by itself mean tax receipts would go up by $8-$9T offsetting part of the expanded federal spending without any increase in tax rates. Throw in another $6T if you consider what happens when consumers take the remaining income and spend it only once before the year ends.

Of course careful Boonton comment readers will remember my pet theory that there isn't really any need for the Federal Gov't to tax at all. Let the entire gov't run on deficit and you eliminate any deadweight concerns about taxes.

If only Zimbabwe had hired you. But if you hurry, Venezuela still has a currency for the moment!

Neither country was brought down by deficits, they were brought down by debasing their currency. Not the same thing at all.

oh my fucking god.

Sorry to break your mind but just consider:

Country A: Spends $100B, but taxes its citizens $100B so there is no deficit.

Country B: Does the same thing, but decides a the last minute to not tax $100B but instead sell $100B of bonds to its citizens for whatever the market price is.

Can you explain to me what economic theory would say these two countries are any different? Why would country B become 'Venezuela or Zimbabwe'?

Fun fact: Zimbabwe couldn't afford to buy paper to make money.

I had assumed the idea was to levy a 15% VAT or some such. That's the only feasible way to pay for it.

Or I suppose the progressive answer would be something like a 75% marginal tax on household income over $150k? With a 95% marginal tax on income over $1 mil.

Tax attorneys would certainly see an increase in clientele.

Emigration attorneys also, of course.

I had assumed the idea was to levy a 15% VAT or some such

And what would happen to the price of goods if the 80-90% of the cost of health insurance was removed from the books of the companies making and selling goods and services?


I think he's saying companies would be ok paying more tax to fund healthcare through the government because of the savings not having to cover their employees.

Very simple. Let's say over 10 years companies will pay $36.4T on health insurance for employees. M4All means for the next 10 years they will pay $0.

With this costs gone what would happen? Would not competition imply that prices would drop since costs have gone down? A 15% VAT, then, would be applied not on the prices we are used too but lower prices. Or would they pay workers more raising take home pay? Then prices stay the same but cash income is higher. Or massive stock buybacks and dividends? Well then capital gains are higher.

heres how to cut medical costs
you could eliminate about16 billion dolares/yr and a couple dozen
kardashians by
stopping all elective cosmetic surgery

elective- means its not necessary which means its not really medical spending. we just saved 16 billion dollars/ year by more accurately defining medical spending.

Just a parting thought: take a look at Aetna's standard medical policy for IV iron therapy, based on empirically-driven data, case studies, population health, etc.
It's a common, effective treatment for various conditions but not always medically necessary for others. Your macro discussion of our healthcare payor system gets very interesting when you consider the complex, medical decision-making involved in diagnosing and treatment of disease in a heterogeneous population. Additionally, treatment COST is not always standardized across all payors: sometimes facilities mark up the cost beyond current market value as a "bid" to the insurance company, who often refuses to pay at that rate because it's astronomical. You better believe that both private insurance companies AND medical facilities will continue to incentivize anything that will maximize profit and outrun the competition. (You can disregard this comment if you have unfettered access to autologous, elemental iron ;-)

And another thought on treating the suicidal patient, insurance companies, especially medicaid, will only pay for the hospitalization if there is active suicidal ideation and a lethal plan, ie you need to be "standing at the bridge". But if you just want to gouge your eyes out in the spirit of Greek tragedy, you can do it as an outpatient, says medi-caid.

How does Cowen reconcile his "markets in everything" philosophy with an appreciation for social conservatism? The whole point of social conservatism is to suppress or deny markets in everything through force by the state and social custom, pressure, shame, etc.

I think "markets in everything" is an observation, not a philosophy. Also social conservatism does not inherently involve state control

"Also social conservatism does not inherently involve state control"

Not the Amish version, perhaps, but pretty much every other version does when given the chance.

Or perhaps you’re not noticing social conservatives who are not trying to use the state to enforce their beliefs because they don’t match your preconceived definition of the category.

Which markets does he oppose?

He certainly has a strong bias towards markets in everything or as much as possible. Moreover, even if he is not totally in favor of markets in everything in a normative sense, he clearly seems to believe in markets in everything in a positive sense, so it is part of his philosophical outlook. It's markets all the way down.

I didn't say social conservatism exclusively and solely is enforced by the state. It can be enforced informally through social custom, pressure, and shame. But custom, pressure, and shame are usually codified somehow into state policy or are features of a quasi state power.

The ony time social conservativism does not entail state control is when the religion is the state

Of course! That is why conservatives are indifferent to Roe v Wade and prefer to end abortion through education and improved access to contraception.

You nailed it. Because contraception is just so hard to access in the US.

Uh, if you're poor, kinda yeah.

Your out of touch. It's trivial to get free contraception. They give out condoms for free at all kinds of events and locations.

Yes and of course one of the leading providers of free or low cost contraception is planned parenthood - the darling of conservatives everywhere.

People have the number of children they wish to have.
My grandmother (b.1906) was the ninth child in a family of ten.
She had two children spaced ten years apart. When young, my mother indelicately asked her how she had managed this. Rubbers. Which are cheap, and often free from clinics. In the popular culture the missionary position is so boring it hardly counts as sexual activity anymore; the many other options have not been left to the imagination. As as last-ditch option, self-restraint is free. Cost is not the issue, except in the negative.

Because the straw man version of libertarianism is all most people know, they never figure out how central the idea of "norms instead of laws, if at all possible" to libertarianism of most stripes.
His endorsement of social conservatism is of its norms, not legislation stemming from those norms.

That's not central to libertarianism. It's more like an unstated assumption that's generally ignored because of the cognitive dissonance and inconsistencies it leads to.

Norms are rules and expected patterns of behavior enforced by society. Even if they're not explicitly enforced by the state, the state has to allow their informal enforcement. Opposition to abortion may be a norm, and the state may not explicitly outlaw abortion. But for the anti-abortion norm to be enforced by informal means like social pressure, ostracism, discrimination, etc., the state must allow such means.

“Norms not laws” is the amnesiac magical thinking that ignores how we ended up with laws in the first place

Yes, this is why anti corruption laws are so effective in Latin America. M

Also why high trust societies have high rates of economic growth.

Litigating literally everything will be a boon to commerce.

Just ask Trump.

Anti-corruption laws don't work in Latin America because nothing works there. Yet, the same laws in the USA do work. Ask Trump how well those anti-corruption laws are working.

The measurable outcomes and legal structure of a society is like the part of an iceberg that is above the water line.

Below it is the civil society, norms, and culture which makes the other part viable.

Plenty of things “work” in Latin America. Anti corruption laws are not one of those things.

The laws in the US function somewhat adequately. Less so than a high trust culture, more so than a zero trust culture.

Under common law, norms are generally "produced" or "discovered" (whatever you want to call it) by prior judicial decisions over adversarial legal contests.

I'm unsure how being socially conservative is incompatible with free markets.

Could you explain how me not being promiscuous means I can't let markets work, or something similar?

Social conservatives don't like it when other people are able to buy drugs, abortions, or sexual services freely in the market. Then tend to like it when they themselves and only themselves freely buy drugs, abortions, or sexual services freely in the market. Capisce?

No, that's not how it works. Those would be non-social conservatives who vote for authoritarians.

How quickly people forget. Rep Tim Murphy from PA, Mr. Pro-Life, backed by the Family Research Council who publicly denounces Trump for not being tough on abortion but secretly demands his mistress to have an abortion:

Never ceases to amaze how, on an economics blog, commenters really think they made their argument by citing one anecdote.

It's way to hard to find multiple sources and statistical evidence. I prefer to search for the facts that match my world view and stick with them. /sarcasm

Of course, this is a conservative website and conservatives love just so stories. Like the just so story someone posted about conservatives not really wanting to use laws to enforce conservative social norms.

Did you just use an anecdote to criticize the use of anecdotes?

Supporters are irrelevant. Social conservatives are social conservatives, not people who vote for social conservatives.

I live conservatively. I don't want to have the government point guns at people to force them to live like I do.

This is not difficult to understand.

+1, a world where social dogma enforces promiscuity, divorce, weak family bonds and counter cultural rejection of traditions, via shaming and force, would not be one with a lesser and greater extent of markets than our status quo, necessarily.

6. Best to watch it while listening to Japanese electronic dance music.

Wow that physics news made quickly to MR aswell.

1. I don't understand how this is a case for social conservatism. It seems more like a case for not using Twitter.

The case for social conservatism is simply that there are a significant people who think and live like that.

No one asked you, or Tyler for that matter.

Why do you have a problem with the existance of people like that? Nobody's forcing you to be that way yourself.

Cue: people on ludes should not drive

Shockingly if people practice social conservatism in their private lives society would almost certainly be better off:

Monogamy dramatically reduces the amount STIs I get to treat (also GSWs); it also helps with psychiatric disorders, finances (yours and the public's), and according to the data your sex life.

Temperance in use of psychoactive substances would eliminate tens of thousands of accidental deaths, millions of indirect medical deaths, and again be a major boon to society in terms of taxation, familial stability, and crime.

Religious observance, according to first pass statistics, would do more for health than curing cancer. It would do more for poverty alleviation than food stamps. And it would do more for suicides and overdoses than all the ERs in the country.

Civility reduces litigation costs, increases lifespan and healthspan, and decreases incarceration.

Choosing to forgo social conservatism is endorsing many, many costs. Nudging society to be more accepting of social liberalism is nudging society to burn scarce resources on wealthy people who want to have more fun and condemning people who suffer from addiction, mental health disorders and terrible self-control to much worse lives than they would have in a more "stifling" context. You can certainly make fine libertarian arguments about freedom being more valuable than lives or QALYS, you can make justice arguments about the costs of social conservatism being born disproportionately by ethnic/religious/sexual minorities ... but if everyone woke up tomorrow and decided to be personally socially conservative virtually all of the public health metrics and all of the pubic finance metrics on a first order basis.

The costs of social conservatism tend to be things seen: hedonism foregone, choices removed, etc. The costs of social liberalism tend to be unseen, but the little drama linked above is likely burning thousands of dollars for no particularly good reason. If it continues, we may well have some nice market shocks that will kill people (e.g. I am sure that a major loss in Tesla will but some foolish investors at risk for suicide) because the wealthy and famous enjoy doing things which are blindingly obvious detrimental to most measures of health and productivity.

If social conservatism is the cure to society's ills why don't we allow more immigration from more socially conservative parts of the world like sharia law countries? Feminism is much easier to stop when they can't drive cars. Gays would have a harder time getting married if we throw off buildings first. Yet Saudi Arabia is no utopia.

Largely because radical authoritarianism is not socially conservative. Saudi culture, and Wahabism in general, is not about maintaining social ties and giving the test of time its due; it is a radical interpretation of Islam that seeks to overturn centuries of conservative Sunni practice. It quite explicitly believes that radical change is mandatory.

Much like when similar radical religious experiments were tried (e.g. Cromwell's England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Munster, Tibet, Punjab, and early Arabia) we could expect mass immigration of radical Wahabis to undercut conservatism by demanding radical change.

If you look at the immigrants who do well in the US, the ones who live in a socially conservative manner tend to top the list: Nigerians, Indians, and Chinese immigrants have all held to the broadly social conservative ethos without being radical on religion.

As always, conflating conservative with reactionary and liberal with radical is simply muddying the waters. Imposing radical change will always carry temporary costs, be it for conservative or liberal ends.

My question is much more straight forward: if social liberalism is helping society why is there so little progress about personal achievement?

Why are women reporting ever growing gaps between desired child bearing and completed childbearing? Why are people reporting having ever fewer friends? Why are suicide rates climbing? Why are people reporting more mental health issues?

Why does there appear to be some degree of dose response to all of these issues with geographic and temporal clusters of social liberalism? We have run the social liberal experiment for decades in the West. We are not happier. We are not healthier.

We are not more fulfilled. We have made a bunch more stuff and made a small amount of humanity fantastically richer while also removing all social constraints on their behavior. That has resulted in exceedingly little progress on most indicators of human well being.

If we look at the vast majority of improvement in human life for the last few decades pretty much all of it has been in places that have not embraced social liberalism as quickly and deeply. By far, the most socially liberal areas of the last century saw the worst outcomes due to this wacky marriage of social liberalism (e.g. abortion, easy divorce, secularization) to communism and other dysfunctional systems throughout the world.

Frankly, my model is that when society becomes wealthy enough a bunch of elites decide to consume social liberalism at the expense of society. Shockingly, this is what I have observed in the West and in African kleptocracies; the powerful break traditional constraints and while the disadvantaged live with the death and destitution that follows.

George W Bush was socially conservative but he gave the world the Great Depression 2.0. Obama was supposedly a Marxist Muslim but he fixed up everything and we are now in year 8 of economic expansion. Also, try speaking for yourself. You might not be happier or healthier, if so God Bless, but I and the people I care about are quite happy these days. We are not rich, we are middle class and even though not everything is perfect, we very much like it here in the evil "social liberal" USA.

"George W Bush was socially conservative but he gave the world the Great Depression 2.0. "

A baffling bad view of economics. President Bush most definitely did not cause the global recession. It was largely a result of the sub-prime market in real estate and a financial crisis.

Well I agree with you the GWB did not cause the GFC, but it wasn't the sub-prime problem it was the Fed who, just as in the Great Depression, didn't stablize monetary growth.

People in the West are definitely happier and healthier now than in the past. Suicide rates have not increased; if anything, there is a slight long-run downtrend in most Western countries (while socially conservative Japan has a much higher suicide rate, Meanwhile, self-reported happiness is higher and life expectancy in the US is almost 10 years longer than in 1960. Women are having fewer kids than they want because they have more other options competing for their time. People are more willing to talk openly about mental illness because there is less stigma and more treatment. People's friendship and relationship quality is also higher now that people build relationships based on shared respect rather than proximity--as can be seen in the rapidly falling divorce rate. And the world's most socially liberal areas like Western Europe and US coastal cities also have some of the lowest rates of many social dysfunctions such as crime and discrimination. I also don't understand how "elites" consuming social liberalism affects anyone else; others are free to live as liberally or conservatively as they like. If they look at elites and see that social liberalism isn't working, they can be conservative. But the reality is that social liberalism works, because healthy relationships are built on strong individuals making choices that are best for them, rather than following a one-size-fits-all script.

I am in general agreement with most of this, but this sentence: "Women are having fewer kids than they want because they have more other options competing for their time" makes no sense.

If women are choosing other options freely then they are having as many children as they want. So first world women want to have more kids than they do. It's a good thing they do not. The species universally has fewer kids when their affluence rises and infant mortality drops. This is because no planet can handle exponential population growth. Most animals instinctively know when to reduce fertility, and thinking animals like us know not to have so many kids when you are confident the ones you have will live to adulthood.

We need to get the remaining still poor countries up to speed and fertility will drop. Yes even in Africa.

Here’s the analogy I thought of when I saw that survey. If someone were to ask me what my ideal income is, I’d say millions of dollars a year. In reality, I know it would take an incredible amount of sacrifice to focus single-mindedly on earning money to get that ideal income, so I earn a much lower income but have more fulfilling work and time to spend with family. So I’m making less income than my ideal, but that’s because I have the choice to pursue other options and am not forced to maximize my income (as could be the case if I were expected to be a sole breadwinner!). It could be the same with women and children—their ideal number of children is higher, but their ideal amount of non-children activities is higher still.

The relative benefit of each activity is determined by social cost.

Take sex. Suppose we had magical technology and we voted in a $100 tax for each sex act people participate in. Sex rates fall because they optimal tradeoff between sex and other activities now is not just time cost, but also $100.

After all, the trade off for homosexual relations back in the day worked exactly in this manner. Relations with your preferred gendered equilibrated with other concerns (career, social respectability, not getting jailed).

Is society better or not under any of these scenarios comes down to how much we intrinsically value certain things. Would women be better off it were easier to achieve desired fertility but harder to get desired career achievement? Most of them say yes, but they live in a world with exceedingly high "taxation" on following through.

Nobody dies saying they wished they had worked harder or achieved more. I cannot begin to count the number of people I have seen die wishing for more time with family and more (any) kids. Could be wrong, but a priori it sure seems like society has not helped people achieve what they tell me on their deathbed they most wished to achieve out of life.

Desired fertility and completed fertility were much closer in the less liberal past.

In any event, how exactly are you defining "freedom" for cooperative endeavors? If a woman wishes to marry and have four kids, is it her "free choice" if her husband's job is outsourced and the resulting financial stresses limit childbearing? Is it a free choice if she eschews early marriage in order to avoid financial hardship and undertakes higher education (e.g. JD, MD) and finds that her fertility wanes before she can have four children?

Modern society has done many things which make fulfilling desired fertility much harder - jobs have concentrated, housing costs have escalated, number of fertile years post-educational attainment have fallen. At any particular step there were choices available but their impact eventually restrains free choice.

Consider the plight of my grandparents. Jim Crow did not prevent them from becoming low end wealthy. Unfortunately it did mean that they needed to move cross country (leaving behind family), it also meant they had to pick professions carefully, and it meant that they had to forgo some of the benefits of having wealth (e.g. no flaunting it). They made their choices and achieved, but the cost made many of their peers make other choices.

And this is the problem with this sort of "freedom". At best people make rational decisions and have to trade off second order priorities (e.g. completed child bearing) to secure primary priorities (e.g. financial stability). At worst, the system is rigged against them and only a small echelon have the cognitive and social skills to successfully navigate the world.

But 'twas always thus. Life is hard, and about tradeoffs. "Society" can't make tradeoffs go away, people still have to decide what they want given the constraints of their society. All "society" can do is try to create and maintain a system where people are free from the most basic hardships (food, clothing, shelter) and that allows people the most freedom to choose how to live.

Most people "successfully navigate the world". Most people get what they need, if not everything they want (hat tip Mick Jagger). I'm not sure what the problem is.

And who decides what people "need"? We successfully fulfilled most of Maslow's hiearchy two bottom rungs 50 years ago. Yet I am seeing increasing numbers of people who lack love, respect and esteem. And where does most of cherished aims of social liberalism stand? At self-actualization. The view I see living at the top and serving the bottom is that social liberalism helps people like me self-actualize while making it harder for the poor, uneducated, and ill have a harder time achieving basic psychological needs.

For most of the people I treat the things they value most, are exactly the things that social liberalism has made harder to attain in an atomized world. Their lack also correlates really well for early death in the lower classes. So do tell me again, how a statistical certainty of dying young is just some superfluous "want".

You are dodging the question. What can 'we' (society) change to satisfy those individual needs you mention?

Modern society has done many things which make fulfilling desired fertility much harder

This made me so mad I wanted to call it up and tell it to stop. But I couldn't find a phone number (or an address) anywhere. Can you help?

This is gibberish. US coastal cities certainly do not have lower crime rates. marriage to divorce ratio has not changed since the 1980s (in the US), only marriage has declined. People absolutely live more socially isolated lives. Self reported happiness means little (Danish rates of depression treatment and suicide for ex).

Individuals, almost wigh exception, are not competent to make choices without a strong (almost suffocating) bedrock of tradition and example to live by.

Coastal cities have significantly lower crime: New York City’s murder rate is less than 1/10th of New Orleans’s (not to mention the fall in crime overall). Also, there is ample research showing that never-married people are psychologically better off than divorced ones, so a fall in the divorce rate seems good even if it is accompanied by a similar fall in the marriage rate. And happiness is fundamentally subjective so self-report is the best measure we have.

new orleans is a coastal city with a high crime rate

Ditto Baltimore, if being on the Patapsco estuary of Chesapeake Bay counts as "coastal"

Correct the demographics of cities for income and their outcomes plummet. The fact that rich people, throughout all of history, have better outcomes is not particularly surprising.

As far as liberals consuming social capital. Please. They actively discriminate against religiously devout individuals. They routinely demand that people violate their conscious. They actively shun people not for performing wrong actions but having wrong beliefs (just try saying "The current longitudinal data suggests that gender reassignment surgery is not effective at decreasing suicide risk or increasing life expectancy" an see how many people will even engage with the data rather than just shun you).

Again you are assuming that everyone is rational enough, having sufficient will power, and informed sufficiently to make wise choices absent social controls. I see thousands of addicts who say that isn't so. I see thousands more who try to commit suicide, who beat their kids, who abandon their families, etc. because they cannot function well on their own.

Liberal policy assumes that everyone is able to live well on their own. This is categorically false. Nobody cares because hey it is the uneducated, mentally ill, poor, etc. who suffer; rich people get to have more fun so eff the less fortunate; it is their own fault.
If we are feeling generous will burn some money on some bureaucrats who will try to ameliorate the social breakdown caused by elite manners being aped by people without the cash or connects. These will almost certainly fail and will certainly be more costly than having the old social organizations. But hey we will have new set of higher status jobs for people who get educated and a very small number of petty kings of the bureaucratic fiefdoms, so score one more for the elites.

Re: Liberal policy assumes that everyone is able to live well on their own.

Huh? Explain then the strong liberal emphasis of social safety net for people who cannot live well on their own. I think you have liberals confused with libertarians.

"Re: Liberal policy assumes that everyone is able to live well on their own."

Yes, that description is Libertarian.

Liberals assume that people can't live well on their own and must have a web of laws and regulations with rigorous enforcement to ensure that they behave correctly.

Liberals believe that everyone can handle access to psychoactive substances (ethanol, marijuana, etc.) responsibly. They believe that legalizing these things and eliminating restrictions on them (e.g. Blue Laws) have few if any side effects.

Likewise, liberals believe that a free-for-all of marriage and divorce laws will result in people freely choosing to enter, maintain, or dissolve marriages responsibly. They want to have freedom to "consciously uncouple". The fact that a culture of easy divorce preys most upon people who have the hardest time maintaining economic stability while single matters not to them.

Liberals believe everyone will be able to have sexual relations in accordance with their risk tolerance and preferences. The fact that basically 80% of the STIs I treat happen to people who cannot do so is irrelevant to them. Likewise, the fact that sex, for whatever reason, seems to be explosive to social networks, child rearing arrangements, and the like seems never to register; after all if you are educated and decide to explore non-monogamy and things turn south you just buy your way out of the consequences. There is not a day in my professional life where somebody does not have sex blow up in their face in a way that they "should" be able to predict but are unable to actually predict.

Liberals want everyone to have the freedoms they want. They believe everyone will be as competent as themselves. When they see hardship about them they respond with bureaucrats with cash transfers. Unfortunately these are almost always far less than being nudged by social mores into non-self destructive behavior.

Liberals, of course, are not alone is the bogus projection of self onto others. Conservatives routinely believe that everyone will be able to make wise investment decisions with their retirement funds, yet many of my patients endorse lottery tickets as their preferred "investment". Conservatives believe that everyone will be able to make rational decisions about all manner of complicated contracts (e.g. housing, employment, rent-to-own), yet I see a large number of people unable to handle these basic economic tasks in manner consistent with their stated preferences. They believe these will be offset by private charity and some form of spillover from the stupendous gains from unshackling the economy.

Most of the cost of policies are not born by the upper-middle class or elite who actually lobby for, read about, or enact political change from anywhere on the spectrum. It is born by the people who are not as rational, who lack impulse control, and who lack various support mechanisms.

Me? I am quite confidant that there are many people who cannot manage without guidance and reinforcement (both positive and negative) in many areas of life. I can endorse some constraints on both social and economic mores. The exact lines are blurry and change with society - change is never cost free and sometimes you cannot get there from here.

But it is utterly astonishing to me how many liberals believe people need social freedom and cannot manage economic freedom while conservative flip those two. Libertarianism is nice if you place a lot of intrinsic value on freedom, but seems terrible if you actually care if people with psychosis die in the streets. I am okay restricting people's freedom if it will help them achieve their own stated goals (e.g. medical holds and involuntary medication trials to break psychosis and see if the patient wants to stay on them once they have regained competency). Obviously it is trade-off, but I cannot endorse many of the policies currently popular; I have seen them destroy too many lives.

Well said, here and above.

"As always, conflating conservative with reactionary..."

Always helpful to remember that the people who coined the term "reactionary" for their opponents, were the people who killed Lavoisier.

Well, Lavoisier discovered oxygen, one of the most reactive elements there is.

Well, the pun was supposed to be implicit. But whatever works. In a game of free-association, "French Revolution" should be followed pretty frequently by "Lavoisier;" and hopefully it will be remembered principally as a footnote to his name a thousand years from now.

Suicide rates have increased. Worldwide they were 15/100,000 in 1960. Today they are 30. We have seen recent increases in: Japan, Britain, the Netherlands, and the US. So both the most coarse data and some of the most fine data show increasing suicides.

Regardless, if life is so much better why is suicide not falling precipitously? We have consumption rates over double of our ancestors. We have eliminated virtually all overt racism. We have massive legal protections for gender, ethnic, religious, etc. minorities. We spend massively more on social welfare.

Yet somehow spending literal trillions on improving living conditions, we have at best a flat trend line for suicide. Given that we have better pain killers, more recreation opportunities, etc. this highly suggests a securely increase in suicide rate offset by economic and technological development. You are, of course, free to argue that having more effective painkillers for cancer patients increases suicide rates or that all of the things we historically use to mitigate suicide risk are counter-productive, but it seems much more parsimonious to say secular suicide risk is being offset by economics and technology.

That is pretty damning. If you look back at 19th century definitions of Utopia - we are already living the dream. If you look at the places with the lowest suicide risk, it certainly are not the liberal enclaves of the world.

Suicide comes from 2 sources. The first is literal mental illness (depression), bad chemicals in the brain. The only solution there is medical intervention. I suspect that kind of suicide hasn't increased.

The kind that has is people lacking meaning in their lives. These people aren't necessarily clinically depressed, but they are bored or find life pointless. This is probably a condition of modernity, and in fact even affluence. When you no longer have to struggle to live, what is the point of living? I suspect most of these kinds of suicides are people without family, or old people who don't see the point of living longer. It's tragic but again, it's individuals making choices given the modern world.

I sympathize with your point of view, Sure, there are problems with modernity that did not exist in times past. But there are more advances on net than problems. And furthermore I'm not sure what solution you propose. If you are saying make it mandatory for everyone to stop being free to live their lives as they see fit, and to be religious, and to marry young, and to have 3 kids....I mean, what exactly are you suggesting we change?

I treat more people with high risk psychiatric conditions today than my mentors did. Divorce, friendlessness, economic anxiety, high stakes testing ... all of these are known to increase the odds of children eventually developing mental health disorders. Pretty much every risk factor for depression and the like is increasing. After all cortisol, dopamine, or heck prolactin are not independent of environment. Our brain chemistry is very much influenced by the environment in which we live. So no, I have great data that mental health metrics are getting worse. Making a claim that it is all reporting bias is pretty hard to sustain.

But even if we assume that incidence of mental health issues is constant, there are also risk factors within that population. E.g. being depressed increases your risk of suicide, being depressed and drinking increases it more. Being depressed and drinking excessingly, well that is getting to some pretty high odds as these things go. Likewise being bipolar increases the odds you will commit suicide. Being bipolar and married lowers suicide risk. Much like every other medical risk, suicide responds to environment.

As somebody who has to make the call if it is safe to send a suicide attempt home all the things I am trained to look for: social support, purpose for living, financial stability, family connections, etc. are all becoming rarer.

In a nutshell if you take somebody who is depressed, strip them of their friends, give them a job that lacks obvious prestige or value, and distance them from their family - their suicide risk skyrockets even when I control for depression severity.

Modern society is taking all the social supports we bloody recommend people develop to prevent each step on the progression from depression to suicidal ideation to attempt to completion and making them rarer for people to have.

What I am advocating is much more cultural:
1. Stop saying dumb things like religious beliefs are just bigotry and comparing opposition to social liberalism as the new Jim Crow or even Holocaust.
2. Stop creating a climate where exercises preferences for social conservatism is costly. Stop discriminating in higher education against the religious. Stop using lawsuits against people who hold opposing viewpoints. Stop using government and the courts to signal active hostility to long held traditions (e.g. crucifix memorials).
3. Stop creating de facto penalties for people choosing personal conservatism. For example, universal pre-K will mean hiking taxes on those trying to invest directly in the early rearing of their children. It will create increased social expectation of continuous workforce participation. At the very least extend the resources given for exercising social liberalism to conservative practice.
4. Actually do a full accounting of policy and use equal data measures (e.g. I have yet to hear a single liberal ever address the single deepest longitudinal study about suicide risk and gender reassignment when discussing transgender policy). Don't just slam Regnerus for using statistical instruments superior to ones breathlessly reported in the press. Stop doing political fact checks that are use different metrics for opposing view, sample opposing views with different frequencies, and use different framing for opposing views.
5. Break the liberal hegemony of society's major gatekeepers. Maybe try to have a 1:3 ratio among faculty for Republicans to Democrats. Possibly have a 1:5 ratio of social conservatives to liberals.
6. Maybe, just maybe begin to nudge society towards more conservative mores. Increase alcohol taxes. Don't endorse philandering politicians for re-election (and yes I support that for Trump as well as Bill). Respectfully portray conservatives in media (e.g. more non-crazy Black Pentecostals, fewer ignorant rural hicks) and more importantly more conservative behavior actually being honest and not just a setup for hypocrisy.

1. Sounds good, I agree
2. Also good. Although like with 1. I don't think it's as bad as you say. I know and am related to many religious people, they don't have any discrimination against them and they have no problem being religious. They aren't noticeably happier or healthier than I am but that's anecdote.
3. The poor and non-elite you are trying to help don't pay very much in taxes, and they wouldn't to fund pre-K. What 'resources' are given to liberalism that you want given to conservatives? Specifics?
4. Better studies and data, a good idea.
5. Affirmative action for Republicans...ok I guess?
6. Increase alcohol taxes: yes. The rest I don't see how it can be mandated.

As I said above, your point of view is valuable and has a lot to recommend it. But all we can do is spread those values in our sphere. You can't legislate morality or culture.

I am becoming a big fan of Sure.

I hate to keep singing a one note samba, but I still think one of our big problems is a loss of social capital. Humans evolved to live in small groups, in which they had much social/psychological support. We have not evolved to live as disconnected individuals floating through the universe as free agents tied to nobody.

Agreed, and there's no optimistic 90/10 split for this problem.

Tangentially: the much-anticipated universal pre-K (with the "pre"-part most assuredly, eventually extending back to birth) that Sure referenced above is proof that the cultural elite, who supposedly trust everybody to function fine stoned all day, and live responsibly with all their own choices in an environment uncurtailed by either custom or law, do not really trust them that far.

I mean, it's another in a long line of terrible ideas, but it's also kind of a sign that they haven't totally lost their minds.

'Monogamy dramatically reduces the amount STIs I get to treat'

One of the more interesting things I remember from the advent of effective (compared to no test at all) HIV testing was that the largest single group clamoring to be tested were married people who claimed to have no other sex partners than their spouse. Not only was that the group with the lowest need for HIV tests, it also demonstrates just how much married people themselves believe in monogamy, apparently.

And then there was the DNA testing (UK, I believe) of a few thousand people in a town that revealed roughly 10% of the children were clearly not genetically related to the legally defined father.

If you wish to say that the reducing the transmission of STIs by reducing the number of sex partners is basic science, and easily demonstrated, you are of course correct. If you claim that the sort of monogamy that means one sex partner over a lifetime is a realistic public health goal, then human behavior proves how unrealistic that goal would be.

(I would further note that in countries where health care is easily available, and where people having (potential) multiple sex partners is part of the social tradition during events like Fasching, the transmission of STIs is considerably lower due to other public health measures than advocating monogamy.)

It is almost like I explicitly said adopting social conservatism in their personal lives. Yes, personal adoption of monogamy is a massive social good.

As far as society, well like oh everything else, it is a trade off. having 90/100 people be monogamous is vastly better for STI epidemics than having 80/100 let alone 50 or 25. Once we have enforcement costs or the like, sure the will be some optimal trade off between how heavily we enforce social standards of monogamy (e.g. social pressure, shunning, jail, execution have all been tried in the past) and how much benefit we gain. Just because people will fail is no reason to get rid of a norm. After all a sizeable percentage of Americans will also commit assault, yet we keep the "shall not harm others" social norm precisely because it is better to have the standard and fail than to simply not have the standard.

It's difficult to impossible to enforce private morality, which is why Prohibition failed. Modern technology offers some Panopticon possibilities but I doubt even the most rock-ribbed of social conservatives wants public surveillance cameras in their bedrooms.

Bingo. Sure is not wrong, monogamy is the way to go. Just not sure what can be done about it. All people can do is urge those they know to go that route.

Prohibition failed because politicians wanted easy money. First by getting in bed with the mob and then by repealing Prohibition during the Depression as a measure to raise revenue. It had actually done massive amounts towards saving lives and increasing quality of life.

Oddly enough this pattern repeated itself many times over both within the dry states and with other countries. Prohibition dramatically reduced alcohol related death (e.g. cirrhosis) and governments decided it was better to raise revenue (either through taxation or monopoly).

Oddly enough, prohibition had lifelong impacts on alcohol consumption so if it had been sustained for another generation or two we likely would have saved millions of live by today.

Thanks for providing a sound answer! I'm sorry I did not check back to read it yesterday. I do think many of the things you list are not exclusively "conservative" values, although they are often lumped as a group into social conservatism. In my own, fairly liberal social circle, self reliance and responsibility are highly valued, including with respect to substance use, so those value dont have to go along with church attendance.
My point is it is possible to formulate a social order that is "liberal" and secular but also incorporates personal responsibility in ones public and private life. An openness to unconventional lifestyles does not entail an abandonment of all social norms. You can have norms that are rationally aligned to respecting one another and being responsible for oneself with having to have those norms be grounded I traditional religious teachings.

"You can have norms that are rationally aligned to respecting one another and being responsible for oneself with having to have those norms be grounded I traditional religious teachings."

Does this scale up from your social circle, though? Is there a particular society you're thinking of?

I don't know if you'd call it a "society". Maybe a "subculture". I mean, I think Burning Man people tend to have that ethos. It's pretty anything goes, but you're responsible for your own experience, and you have to clean up your own trash and feed yourself and be self-reliant (which is designed to weed out serious drug abusers) and obey various norms especially regarding sex and consent. You're also exhorted to be inclusive which is analagous to "civility". There's norms that are designed to create an inclusive tolerant community where people can be free to do things that would go against conventional "conservative" morals, but they are still held to be responsible for their behavior and the costs that that behavior imposes on others.

With all due respect, your social circle is undoubtedly filled with people who are well above the mean in many measures of self control and ability. If there is a way to scale up tolerance of non-monogamy that doesn't result in the lower echelons catching syphilis, gonorrhea, and the like, I just have not seen it.

If you look at the best metricated societies in the world, they are very non-diverse and have extremely strong social expectations. As someone who has spent time in some of the most hellish places on earth I remain terribly skeptical that what works for people who read this board will work for the bottom 10%.

You might be right. Personally that is how I feel about tolerating racism. Highly intellectual people can have a clinical academic discussion about the relative intelligence of black Africans, but if you try to scale that up to the whole of society, you'll quickly find that the bottom 30% of white people interpret that information as blacks are inferior subhumans who should be shunned.

I'm not adverse to keeping religion around as a rule system for less intelligent people as long as the more intelligent people aren't forced to adhere to it.

And that's the crux of the issue. Sure is saying we ALL need to go back to a religious, constrained culture because the bottom 10% can't handle liberalism. Just don't see it as possible or desirable for the other 90%.

Social conservatives like Trump show you how the game is played. If you have sex with a woman that is not your wife, you pay her $130k out of a secret hush fund that you hope the FBI won't know about using campaign funds illegally and also make the woman sign a contract with a dozen loopholes because you cheaped out on competent people who also don't like the odor you give off. That is how you social conservative. What Elon is doing is more an amateur hour liberal progressive act like Anthony Weiner.

"Social conservatives like Trump"


Christian conservatives back Trump with a zeal that would make mullahs blush.

you know what you wrote is, if you intended to make a point, pure logical fallacy, correct?

Trumpty dumpty's current problems are an example doing not socially conservative things and thereby getting into a mess.

Giuliani says that if the United States impeaches Trump there will be a "people's revolt." Sounds like things will get ugly soon. Pass the popcorn.

Trump supporters rioting in the streets in support of Dear Leader should be quite the show to watch. A month ago they were all clamoring for a Nobel Peace Prize. Remember that?

Social conservatism is just the Divine Right of Kings writ small. Away for those who benefit from the status quo to use violence to enforce conformity while pretending it is based on universal morality rather than personal self-interest.

1. I think everyone overanalyzed TC's comment. It's just that there's something to be said for staying home and watching Newhart with the spouse.

One argument for social conservatism goes: People want to do various things that seem like they'll be fun at the time but often turn out badly. Rich people can make lots of those decisions and wind up okay eventually. Poor people can't. Social conservatism keeps people from making many of those decisions.

Of course your future self welcomes the reduction in discount rates, but overall, is utility lower? I sometimes wonder if there is too much satisfaction vs fun for people with low discount rates. Consider, is it better to flare out in a blaze of glory or live your life in a fog of contement?

1. Being uptight is underrated.

1. Why can't rich industrialists be nice and clean cut these days? Like Howard Hughes.

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