Episode 324 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following entries to r/unpopularopinion: qwesrst writes, “It’s dumb to complain about native land being stolen every single bit of land on the entire earth has been stolen”; Kingen232 writes, “Some cultures are better than other, and disliking the culture of a people doesn’t make you racist.”; Kat_nu writes, “Racism is not the same as Cultural stereotyping.”; and kayasphotographs writes, “It’s fine to not love your family members or in-laws.”Open This Content
Very often when I say something about having no need of being governed, some “Jeenyus” will come back with “Then you are free to leave my country“. Ignoring the rules about not leaving with your property and the fact that there is literally no free place left to go.
Nope. To government-supremacists, if you don’t like the gang that controls your neighborhood, don’t try to kick them out, just leave. Leave your property behind, leave your family, leave your friends, leave everything familiar. Because the gang has a better claim to your territory than you do– according to their supporters. And if you resist, their hit men will murder you.
This is exactly the same option you’d have if the mafia has taken over. I mean, if another mafia has taken over.
Government is a mafia.
If you don’t like the way they run the territory they claim– the archation they commit– you can leave. Giving up all your land and leaving behind most of your money as an exit fee. And to what gain? You’ve landed in the territory claimed by another mafia.
Maybe that’s sometimes still the best you can hope for, but it’s not the solution it’s claimed to be by supporters of the government mafia.
So when some brilliant government-supremacist says “Love it or leave it” they are admitting that government is a mafia. Thank them for making your point for you.Open This Content
Consider the following specimens of Social Desirability Bias.
1. This is my country, I would never want to live anywhere else.
2. Patriotism matters more than money!
3. I couldn’t bear the thought of my children not growing up as citizens of [my country of birth].
4. This is the greatest country in the world.
5. Nothing is more important than keeping our whole family together.
6. We’re nothing without our traditions.
7. Our identity matters more than gold.
8. We’ve got to solve our country’s problems our own way.
9. We don’t need foreign help to build a better country.
10. My country, right or wrong.
Claims like these are popular all over the world. No matter how awful their country is, people love to proclaim their undying devotion to folk and land. Why then have hundreds of millions of people left their countries of birth? Because the migrants don’t literally believe this flowery talk. Though almost everyone voices these sentiments, actions speak louder than words. The act of migration says something like:
1. My country is subpar, I want to live somewhere better.
2. Money matters more than patriotism.
3. I can bear the thought of my children not growing up as [citizens of my country of birth].
4. This is not the greatest country in the world. Not even close.
5. Enjoying a higher standard of living is more important than keeping our extended family together.
6. We’re going to dilute our traditions and adopt some foreign ones.
7. I would like more gold and less identity.
8. Our country isn’t going to solve its problems “its own way,” so I’m moving to another country that has its act together.
9. I need foreign help to build a better life.
10. My country is a major disappointment to me.
Quite a list of heresies! You could demur, “This may be what migrants say with their actions. All the people who don’t move, however, are saying the opposite.” But this overlooks the glaring reality of draconian immigration restrictions. At least a billion people would migrate if it were legal. And since migration is a drastic step, belief in these heresies must be widespread indeed.
My point: Immigrants do what people aren’t supposed to say. They are the living embodiment of the fact that nationalism and identity politics are mostly doth-protest-too-much rhetoric rather than earnest devotion. As I’ve explained before:
[Note] the stark contrast between how much people say they care about community, and how lackadaisically they try to fulfill their announced desire. I’ve long been shocked by the fraction of people who call themselves “religious” who can’t even bother to attend a weekly ceremony or speak a daily prayer. But religious devotion is fervent compared to secular communitarian devotion. How many self-styled communitarians have the energy to attend a weekly patriotic or ethnic meeting? To spend a few hours a week watching patriotic or ethnically-themed television and movies? To utter a daily toast to their nation or people?
The main reason people resent immigration is probably just xenophobia. But a secondary reason, plausibly, is that every immigrant is a tiny beacon of unwelcome candor. The act of immigration says, “Trying to fix my country of birth is a fool’s errand. The people I grew up with are hopeless. Instead, I’m going to personally fix my own life by moving to a new county that works. It won’t be perfect, but I’m willing to suffer for years to make the switch.”
As an iconoclast myself, I love what the act of immigration says. Most people, however, hear the implied heresy and recoil.Open This Content
The riots of the spring of 2020 are far from without precedent in the United States. Indeed, they seem to happen once a generation at least. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots are such an example of these “generational riots.” And while most people know about the riots, less known – though quite well known at the time – were the phenomenon of the so-called “Roof Koreans.”
The Roof Koreans were spontaneous self-defense forces organized by the Korean community of Los Angeles, primarily centered in Koreatown, in response to violent and frequently racist attacks on their communities and businesses by primarily black looters and rioters during the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Despite their best efforts, over 2,200 Korean-owned businesses were looted or burned to the ground during the riots. It is chilling to imagine how many would have suffered the same fate had the Koreans not been armed.
Standing on the rooftops of Koreatown shops they and their families owned, clad not in body armor or tactical gear, but instead dressed like someone’s nerdy dad, often smoking cigarettes, but always on alert, the Roof Koreans provide a stirring example of how free Americans of all races can defend their own communities without relying upon outside help.
The Koreans of Los Angeles were the ultimate marginalized minority group. They were subject to discrimination and often victimized by the black community of the city. Due to language barriers and other factors, they lacked the political clout of other minority groups, such as the large Mexican community of Los Angeles County. This in spite of their clear economic success in the city beginning in the 1970s and 80s.
The reasons for the tensions between the Korean and black communities of Los Angeles pre-dates the riots, which were largely just the match that ignited the powder keg that had been this region of Los Angeles for years. To understand what happened in Koreatown in 1992, it is necessary to understand much more than simply the Rodney King trial and the resulting riots.
The Roots of Korean Business Ownership in Black Communities
How is it that the Korean-American community of Los Angeles ended up owning so much property in what were largely black neighborhoods? The answer, ironically, lies in a previous riot, the Watts Riot of 1965. This riot, which included six full days of arson and looting, was kicked off when a black man was arrested for drunk driving.
The riots occurred roughly at the same time that the Koreans started showing up in America. This meant that, among other things, businesses and real estate were very cheap to purchase. The newly arrived Korean immigrants began buying up the businesses that no one else wanted. By the 1980s, it wasn’t limited to Los Angeles – Koreans were dominating the mom-and-pop shops from coast to coast. But the resentment in the City of Angels was growing.
Prologue: The Death of Latasha Harlins
While it was not the start of tensions in the city between these two communities, the killing of Latasha Harlins in 1991 certainly ratcheted the situation up to a new level.
Harlins, whose personal life is a hard-luck story that does not bear repeating here, was 15 at the time when she was shot and killed by Korean shopkeeper Soon Ja Du, a 51-year-old woman born in Korea. Du generally didn’t even work in the store, a task that typically fell on her husband and her son. However, that day she was covering for her husband who was outside in the family’s van.
Du claimed that Harlins was trying to steal a $1.79 bottle of orange juice, but witnesses said they heard Du call Harlins a slur and heard Harlins say she planned to pay for the juice, with money in hand. After reviewing video tape footage, the police agreed with the witnesses. Video footage further showed Du grabbing Harlins by her sweatshirt and backpack.
Harlins responded by striking Du twice, which knocked the latter to the ground. Harlins started to back away, prompting Du to throw a stool at her. The two struggled over the juice before Harlins went to leave. Du went behind the counter and grabbed a revolver, firing at a retreating Harlins from behind from three feet away. Harlins was killed instantly by a bullet to the back of the head.
Billy Heung Ki Du, Ja’s husband, rushed into the store after hearing the gunshot. His wife asked where Harlins was before she fainted. Mr. Du then called 911 to report an attempted holdup.
Mrs. Du was charged with voluntary manslaughter, a charge that can carry up to 16 years in prison. At trial, she testified on her own behalf. The jury recommended the maximum sentence, which the judge rejected, instead giving Mrs. Du time served, five years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $500 fine. The California Court of Appeals upheld the sentence about a week before the riots began in a unanimous decision. Harlins’ family received a settlement of $300,000.
The case wasn’t the first example of tensions between the two communities, but it was a microcosm for them and perhaps the worst from an optics perspective. In 1991, the Los Angeles Times reported that there were four shootings in the span of just over four months involving a Korean shooter and a black target. The store was eventually burned down during the riots, never to reopen.
That same year, there was an over 100-day boycott of a Korean-American-owned liquor store that ended when the owner was effectively bullied into selling his store to a black owner. Then-Mayor Tom Bradley, who many blamed for the riots, was instrumental in coming to this “settlement” which chased a Korean owner out of the area.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
The Book of Genesis
Whatever your views of Genesis, the idea of human dominion holds water.
All humans need freedom and responsibility in their lives. Together, those map pretty well to the ancient Judeo-Christian idea of the “dominion” of all humans with regards to the creation around them.
So how do we find this dominion and sovereignty in the midst of a world full of people who want to dominate us? From bosses, cubicles, and controlling relatives to restrictive apartments, consumer debt, and backed-up traffic, we can tend to feel less like people exercising dominion and more like peasants or sharecroppers living in someone else’s world.
The answer can be to cultivate at least one thing, place, or activity you can truly call your own – where *you* are master.
Maybe it’s an art studio. Maybe it’s a woodworking shop. Maybe it’s a piece of land. Maybe it’s the animals you take care of. Maybe it’s a blog. Maybe it’s your family. Ideally, it’s all of the above. Whatever it is, it must be *yours*, something or someplace or sometime in which you are answerable only to God.
Your area of dominion should be more than just a haven from the parts of your life in which others dominate (though it can serve that purpose). It should be the spiritual heart that feeds everything you do.
Here you get to express your creativity on your terms. Here you get to bring uncommon order and beauty and attention to detail. Here you get to lavish time on the small things. Here you get to rest and enjoy or work all night through. Here you get to share with pride or keep your work secret.
Dominion brings out our best selves, and as we find more and more spaces in which to exercise it, we become better people. Pretty soon we become hard to dominate. And pretty soon we find we can exercise dominion in our whole lives.Open This Content
1. The U.S. political system is deeply dysfunctional, especially during this crisis. Power-hunger reigns in the name of Social Desirability Bias. Fear of punishment aside, I don’t care what authorities say. They should heed my words, not the other way around.
2. Few private individuals are using quantitative risk analysis to guide their personal behavior. Fear of personally antagonizing such people aside, I don’t care what they say either.
3. I am extremely interested in listening to the rare individuals who do use quantitative risk analysis to guide personal behavior. Keep up the good work, life-coach quants – with a special shout-out to Rob Wiblin.
4. After listening, though, I shall keep my own counsel. As long as I maintain my normal intellectual hygiene, my betting record shows that my own counsel is highly reliable.
5. What does my own counsel say? While I wish better information were available, I now know enough to justify my return to 90%-normal life. The rest of my immediate family agrees. What does this entail? Above all, I am now happy to socialize in-person with friends. I am happy to let my children play with other kids. I am also willing to not only eat take-out food, but dine in restaurants. I am pleased to accommodate nervous friends by socializing outdoors and otherwise putting them at ease. Yet personally, I am at ease either way.
6. I will still take precautions comparable to wearing a seat belt. I will wear a mask and gloves to shop in high-traffic places, such as grocery stores. I will continue to keep my distance from nervous and/or high-risk strangers. Capla-Con 2020 will be delayed until winter at the earliest. Alas.
7. Tyler suggests that people like me “are worse at intertemporal substitution than I had thought.” In particular:
It either will continue at that pace or it won’t. Let’s say that pace continues (unlikely in my view, but this is simply a scenario, at least until the second wave). That is an ongoing risk higher than other causes of death, unless you are young. You don’t have to be 77 for it to be your major risk worry.
Death from coronavirus is plausibly my single-highest risk worry. But it is still only a tiny share of my total risk, and the cost of strict risk reduction is high for me. Avoiding everyone except my immediate family makes my every day much worse. And intertemporal substitution is barely helpful. Doubling my level of socializing in 2022 to compensate for severe isolation in 2020 won’t make me feel better.
Alternatively, let’s say the pace of those deaths will fall soon, and furthermore let’s say it will fall by a lot. The near future will be a lot safer! Which is all the more reason to play it very safe right now, because your per week risk currently is fairly high (in many not all parts of America). Stay at home and wear a mask when you do go out. If need be, make up for that behavior in the near future by indulging in excess.
Suppose Tyler found out that an accident-free car were coming in 2022. Would he “intertemporally substitute” by ceasing driving until then? I doubt it. In any case, what I really expect is at least six more months of moderately elevated disease risk. My risk is far from awful now – my best guess is that I’m choosing a 1-in-12,000 marginal increase in the risk of death from coronavirus. But this risk won’t fall below 1-in-50,000 during the next six months, and moderate second waves are likely. Bottom line: The risk is mild enough for me to comfortably face, and too durable for me to comfortably avoid.
8. The risk analysis is radically different for people with underlying health conditions. Many of them are my friends. To such friends: I fully support your decision to avoid me, but I am happy to flexibly accommodate you if you too detest the isolation. I also urge you to take advantage of any opportunities you have to reduce your personal risk. But it’s not my place to nag you to your face.
9. What about high-risk strangers? I’m happy to take reasonable measures to reduce their risk. If you’re wearing a mask, I treat that as a request for extra distance, and I honor it. But I’m not going to isolate myself out of fear of infecting high-risk people who won’t isolate themselves.
10. Most smart people aren’t doing what I’m doing. Shouldn’t I be worried? Only slightly. Even smart people are prone to herding and hysteria. I’ve now spent three months listening to smart defenders of the conventional view. Their herding and hysteria are hard to miss. Granted, non-smart contrarians sound even worse. But smart contrarians make the most sense of all.
11. Even if I’m right, wouldn’t it be more prudent me to act on my beliefs without publicizing them? That’s probably what Dale Carnegie would advise, but if Dale were here, I’d tell him, “Candor on touchy topics is my calling and my business. It’s worked well for me so far, and I shall stay the course.”
12. I’ve long believed a strong version of (a) buy-and-hold is the best investment strategy, and (b) financial market performance is only vaguely related to objective economic conditions. Conditions in March were so bleak that I set aside both of these beliefs and moved from 100% stocks to 90% bonds. As a result of my excessive open-mindedness, my family has lost an enormous amount of money. The situation is so weird that I’m going to wait until January to return to my normal investment strategy. After that, I will never again deviate from buy-and-hold. Never!Open This Content