Episode 284 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: how simple and cheap it is to start your very own podcast on the Everything-Voluntary.com podcast network; an article he wrote in July 2018 titled, “People Leave if They Can, And You’re People“; humanity’s history of migration; why you should leave if your environment becomes intolerable; and more.Continue Reading
“We wanted workers, but we got people instead.” This line from Max Frisch didn’t just give George Borjas the title of his most recent book. At last Friday’s immigration conference in St. Cloud, Borjas declared it his all-time favorite immigration epiphany. The point, he explained, is that immigrants aren’t just machines that produce stuff; they have broad social effects on our culture, politics, budget, and beyond.
Borjas is right, of course. In fact, he doesn’t go far enough. After all, even machines aren’t just machines that produce stuff. They too have broad social effects on our culture, politics, budget, and beyond. If you look closely at any major technological development, you can justly say, “We wanted tech, but we changed society instead.”
Consider cellphones. When they were first introduced, you might picture them as more convenient phonebooths. But they’ve revolutionized not only our society, but our psychology. Many human beings now interact with their phones more than they interact with fellow human beings; go to any public place and you will see this to be true. Even when we are talking to fellow human beings, cellphones have changed the tone and tenor of our conversations. When I casually chat with my friends, for example, we often fact check each others’ assertions. And cellphones are crucial for social media, which has dramatically swayed not only public discourse, but elections and policy. Without Twitter, would Donald Trump’s candidacy even have been able to get off the ground?
When driverless cars come, they’ll disrupt our whole society again. Commuting time will plausibly skyrocket, especially in high-rent areas. If you can relax – or even sleep – in your car, why pay $1M for a tiny apartment downtown? Indeed, once you get rid of the driver’s seat, we’ll probably turn cars into small motorhomes, so “living out of your car” could become an alternative lifestyle rather than a tale of woe. And what will happen to all the truck drivers, taxi drivers, Uber drivers, and delivery drivers?
Still not convinced? I trust you’ll admit that nuclear technology did more to the world than slash electric bills.
Verily, we wanted tech, but we changed society instead.
How should you react to this truism? You could say, “Duh, everybody knows this already.” That’s my knee-jerk reaction to Frisch’s quote, too. But both “duhs” are too dismissive. “Obvious once you think about it”≠”Obvious.”
What else is there to say?
1. You could retreat to agnosticism. “Well, there are direct economic benefits, plus an array of intangible social effects. We don’t know how to measure these intangibles; we don’t even know if they’re good or bad.” This is basically what Borjas said about immigration in his Friday talk. There’s no reason we couldn’t generalize it.
Reaction: Philosophically, agnosticism of any kind is incoherent sophistry. We always have some information. We can and should combine this information with common sense to form reasonable guesses about whatever question is on our minds. Crucially, “information” includes psychological evidence about the errors to which the human mind is prone. And one of the best ways to keep your guesses reasonable is openness to bets.
2. You could start by measuring the direct benefits, then see if any of the broader social negatives are plausibly in the same ballpark. If not, the standard conclusion still goes through despite the complexity of the world.
Reaction: Once you factor in the value of time, this is typically the best approach for laymen. It’s a quick way to resolve a wide range of policy disputes, especially if you embrace some version of weak deontology rather than consequentialism.
3. You could try a lot harder to study the measurement of so-called “intangibles.” This might require a massive research program to fill in the enormous gaps in our knowledge. Or perhaps if you play around on Google Scholar, you’ll discover that many researchers have already measured the stuff you imagine “no one knows.”
Reaction: This is the best approach for experts. If you do good work and/or publicize it, you also help laymen reach the truth with modest mental effort. So earn your paycheck!
Whatever you conclude, know that immigration is nothing special. Everything has broader social effects. These complexities are no reason to defer to popular prejudice, which is what I suspect Borjas hopes we’ll do. Instead, these complexities are a reason to think broader and work harder to get the best answers we can.Continue Reading
Want to run? Experts say you need nice running shoes, controlled diets, and fancy nutrition gels.
Want to start a podcast? Experts might tell you that you need the latest microphones, a sound mixer, a perfectly soundproof room, and high-cost conferencing software.
Want to get into photography? Experts might say you need to get a fancy camera and understand aperture, shutter speed, ISO speed, exposure, and all the rest.
Of course, they’d be mistaken.*
You *can* become a runner without equipment. Equipment can help prevent health risks in the long term, but then people have also been running long before running stores were a thing.
You *can* be a decent photographer without investing tons of time and money. If you know how to capture the right moments and you use the right light and angles, you can get good shots.
You *can* start a podcast, even if you don’t have the production capabilities of FOX News or CNN. Just get a microphone and someone interesting to speak into it.
Expert opinions are great, especially when they help you to get a job done. But I get rebellious when expert advice seems calculated to terrify the hearer into helpless dependence on experts (and the things they sell). I’ve seen myself and others get to that place of paralysis before. I get out by doing the things I’m not supposed to be able to do, and doing them with a lot less knowledge and a lot fewer resources.
It takes a bit more work, but it’s well worth it to try things your way (without being cocky or careless) when experts tend to stand in the path instead of clearing it.
And it’s so much fun, because it’s so much fun to set people free from fear of starting.
*Or you would be mistaken for taking their advice as absolute. These words are wisdom when applied to the extremes in running, photography, podcasting – if you’re going pro, you do want to make investments like these.Continue Reading
Looking back at 20th Century “world leaders” [sic] such as the domestic enemies Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and LBJ, and foreign thugs like Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and all the rest, it seems socialism was all the rage– even when called something else.
So many “common people” also fell for the socialism lie and thought envy was a great thing to rally around and use as a foundation for a “society”. Socialism was everywhere, and we are still suffering the effects.
The 20th Century should be known as the Socialist Century.
My hope would be that it would be a singular mistake, not repeated in the 21st Century. But I’m not optimistic. Judging by current trends, we may be entering Socialist Century 2.0. And it may end up being even worse than the previous century before it’s over and done.
Too many pseudo-thinkers still love the idea of stealing from some and giving to others. For political power and money. They lie when they claim it’s about caring. But, all politics is based on lies, so what do you expect?
It seems obvious that socialism will increase until self-inflicted disaster forces an end to it.
I hope you and I can use the awareness of what’s coming to prepare and prosper throughout it– or at least survive it. If you can profit from it, on the backs of the socialists who are trying to eat you alive, do it with a clear conscience. If you can profit off the socialism by helping the rare fellow non-socialist through the rough times, just know you are providing a service– you are one of the good guys.
Through all the pain it causes you, just remember the monumentally greater pain it will cause the dolts who embrace it when their chickens come home to roost. They’ll be shocked and caught by surprise. You won’t. That makes you mighty.Continue Reading
This episode features a lecture by criminal defense attorney Marc Victor from 2018 telling the horrific story of physical violence, bureaucratic malice and criminal perjury he endured while he was “presumed innocent”. A riveting tale of how his devotion to protecting the rights of persons accused of crimes by the State was energized to a whole new level through the harrowing experience he suffered.Continue Reading