On a recent episode of the Tom Woods podcast, musician and libertarian Eric July lamented the attacks he’s received for being an outspoken libertarian. He’s often told that he’s no longer an authentic black man because he is not a leftist Democrat type. As a youth, he was a gang banger who preyed mostly on other black people. He wondered why now that he no longer preys on other blacks, and instead advocates for non-aggression, he should be considered an enemy to black people. This was a fantastic point. Could it not be said that those who prey on black people are the useful idiots of white supremacists? Could it not also be said that eschewing that life for a life of peace and popular creative expression is contrary to the wishes of white supremacists? Teaching blacks self-improvement, financial literacy, responsibility, non-aggression, firearm safety, and a host of other life improving concepts should not be seen as a betrayal to one’s blackness. For Eric July and other black libertarians and conservatives to be attacked this way serves white supremacy. That’s a damn shame. And that’s today’s two cents.Continue Reading
Pointing out that all humans have the exact same– equal and identical– rights isn’t the same as saying all humans are exactly the same.
I notice “bordertarians” and other borderists making this nonsensical mistake over and over again in a desperate attempt to justify their anti-liberty position.
Rights don’t depend on where a person was born, where they stand, or which State claims ownership over them. Rights only depend on their species and on them being alive.
Some cultures are better than others because some cultures (by which I mean the individuals who make up that culture from the “bottom up”) “tolerate” liberty and respect rights better than others. This doesn’t alter anyone’s rights.
Some individuals are better than others because some individuals archate less often, and don’t support archators as much as others do (they are more ethical than those who archate and support archation more often).
Some people are smarter than others, and everyone is smarter about some topic than just about anyone else.
Humans hold a variety of beliefs; often contradictory beliefs inside the same brain. It only matters what people do, not why they do it, or what beliefs led them to act. Some beliefs are better than others, and some are outright reprehensible– those which convince a person it is right to archate being among the nastiest beliefs. Yes, some people believe it is OK to govern others; these people are holding a barbaric primitive belief. Everyone else has the right to defend themselves from the people with this belief if they try to act on it. No one has the right to govern because this is a right which can’t exist. If it did it would contradict itself.
Humans come in a variety of sizes, shades, and shapes. This is irrelevant to their rights.
Humans are equal in the rights they have, and in nothing else.
This truth doesn’t justify devotion to a theft-funded, anti-property rights, Big Government welfare/warfare program at “the Border”. Nor does the intentional and dishonest conflation of political “borders” and private property rights. It’s amazing to me how they can turn this around inside their own minds and call a rejection of their favorite type of communism “leftist”. How can you twist your mind that much? I have no idea.
If someone who is otherwise libertarian believes something to the contrary, they are mistaken and internally inconsistent on this topic– perhaps only on this one topic. They might be a fine person otherwise, but on this, they are wrong. And I would be dishonest if I failed to point this out.Continue Reading
He has the soul of an activist–he sees himself as a movement progressive. And halfway through his term as A.G., Schneiderman, 58, has become New York’s definitive liberal, using the national prominence his predecessors brought to the office to try to yank an increasingly centrist Democratic Party back toward its progressive roots. He’s become a gatekeeper for the left.
Even if both of these figures miraculously turned out to be innocent, there must be plenty of vocally left-wing perpetrators of sexual violence. My question: What do liberal abusers really think? What’s actually going on inside their heads? Consider some possibilities:
1. Global insincerity. If you enjoy acts of sexual violence, vocal liberalism seems like a useful way to distract attention from your crimes. In their hearts, people like Weinstein and Schneiderman are apolitical. They don’t care about the issues they claim to care about, and don’t loathe the political “enemies” they claim to loathe.
2. Local insincerity. Another possibility is that liberal abusers are, by and large, sincere left-wing ideologues. But they covertly doubt liberal views (indeed, mainstream views) on sexual violence. So while they think it’s OK to, say, beat their girlfriends, they earnestly yearn for a $15 minimum wage.
3. Reactionary-in-liberal clothing. Perhaps liberal abusers are secret but sincere proponents of reactionary patriarchy. They think women are their born slaves, so they have every right to engage in unrestrained sexual violence.
4. The political is not personal. Some utilitarians think that utilitarianism is an ethic for governance, not personal behavior. Perhaps some liberals picture liberalism the same way: Society should adhere to leftist norms, but individual liberals are free to pursue their self-interest as they think best.
5. Self-control problems. Saint Paul famously said, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” Perhaps liberal abusers face the same demons. They deeply love liberal ideals – including ideals about proper sexual behavior. But when they interact with actual women, they’re overcome by their own lust and anger.
6. Self-conscious evil. Rather than suffering from self-control problems, perhaps liberal abusers just don’t feel like doing what they think is right. While they’re perfectly able to control their impulses, and concede that their impulses are immoral, they choose evil anyway because it’s more fun for them.
Conservatives probably gravitate to explanation #1, while liberals will more likely favor #5. To me, mix of #2 and #6 is most psychologically plausible. It’s hard to believe that liberal abusers are globally apolitical; that’s taking method acting to an inhuman level. Still, liberal abusers have an especially strong motive to exaggerate their commitment to feminism. That said, their behavior probably falls far short of whatever looser norms they do accept. Furthermore, since abusers are almost always repeat offenders, I don’t buy “self-control” excuses. After all, a multitude of commitment strategies are available to any latter-day Paul who “just can’t help himself” – starting with “never spend time alone with non-relatives of the opposite sex.”Continue Reading
How much guilt does the “average statist” have for their beliefs, and how much slack should we cut them?
I’ve been having an interesting discussion with Jim Henshaw, the former Chair of the Hawaiian LP, recently of regions closer.
He says I “come across as a bit unforgiving at times“. And, I can see that. I’m pretty sure this has caused me to lose followers and financial supporters. So, I asked his advice.
“…it throws me a bit when people label [a standard leftist bleeding heart] as the enemy, or as evil, or whatnot. It doesn’t comport with my observed reality that someone can be loving and have wonderful intentions and be, from my standpoint, dead wrong. They’re not the enemy, they just haven’t had their noses rubbed in the consequences of government coercion enough to overcome the programming and cognitive dissonance.”
So, I wondered what level of guilt the teen anti-gun activists have. They aren’t lawmakers or enforcers, after all, and many people see them as having “wonderful intentions”.
“I’d say the teen anti-gun activists are arguably almost as culpable as the people making policy, since they are stridently expending enormous energy to try to change public opinion and policy.”
In his reply, he expressed that he considered there to be degrees of statist guilt. His rankings of statist actions is:
“…on a scale from making policy, to implementing policy, to huge expenditures on a mass scale urging changes in policy, to making contributions in time or money to statists when asked to do so, to voting, to trying to force one’s opinions upon individuals they meet in ordinary life, to volunteering opinions only when asked, to quietly keeping one’s thoughts to oneself, to thoughtfully considering the point of view of people urging one not to violate the NAP, to thinking the NAP is morally correct but in the action at hand an exception is warranted, to actually consistently living by the NAP to the best of one’s abilities and trying to detect where one has a blind spot about the NAP that needs to be fixed … to you.”
It was funny, because after I sent him the question, I started thinking how I would answer if I had been asked the same, and that’s similar to the conclusion I had reached.
Now, I wouldn’t place myself at the end like that, even though that’s where I strive to be. I have many flaws. But my whole life has been an attempt to think about the “blind spots” I had. And I’ve found plenty of them over the years. When I find them, I try to get rid of them, and by doing so, I move closer to the “anarchy” part of the map. That has been the oneconstant.
But, back on topic, he offered:
“I would distinguish between people who are unaware of the immorality of their actions versus people who are aware of the immorality but persist in doing evil acts.”
I try to do this. It’s why I insist that people aren’t evil; actions are. But, of course, people who keep choosing to commit evil are going to appear evil. And once you’ve pointed out the evil they are supporting, if they refuse to listen, but continue to promote evil, does their opportunity to claim innocence end? I am not certain.
He shared a couple of specific examples from his own life.
“I’ve tried time and time again in political discussions with my GF to show that there is no distinction between taxation and theft, and she just keeps saying they just ARE different and then shutting down the topic when I ask in what way are they different. She can’t defend it, but the cognitive dissonance has not reached the point where she will change her mind.”
“I’ve gone a bit out of our way to drive her to where she could see the border into Mexico, and she was horrified at the physical evidence that we live in an open air low security prison. I think I also sowed some seeds of doubt when we headed back to Austin, hit an immigration checkpoint around 100 miles from the border, and I pointed out that we got sent to the cursory single question lane to the left, but that anyone looking latino was almost certainly being sent to the much longer and nastier line to the right, that the federal government was stealing her money to implement racist discriminatory treatment, which I think resonated with her since she’s black and had ancestors who were owned by plantation owners.”
So she’s not ready to accept the reality of what she promotes, but she has been exposed to the horrors and did seem to feel something about them. That’s a start, at least.
I’m probably always going to seem unforgiving toward statists, or at least toward any of their acts or views that are statist. I’m much “nicer” in person than online. I have to be considering I’m surrounded by statists every day, as you probably are, too. I don’t think I’m obligated to excuse statism any more than I’m obligated to look the other way when someone is being bullied any other way, but… maybe I could be nicer to convince them to stop advocating government violence against non-violent people.
And, on any given topic a person can be either in favor of statism or liberty, with the vast majority of us holding an unexamined jumble of such views — being nicer might help in filling up each person’s “Bucket O’ Freedom™”, drop by drop.
On the other hand, some people aren’t going to respond to coddling and need a figurative slap in the face to snap them into the reality of what it is they promote. Maybe this blog isn’t the place for those who want to be coddled (despite their Bucket O’ Freedom™ being as shot full of holes as a beat-up rusty bucket in the desert that has been used for target practice with an unregistered machine gun).
What do you think?Continue Reading
Overall, reactions to The Case Against Education have been civil and fair. While I’ve been heavily criticized, I’ve been criticized for what I actually said and believe. My main disappointment: While the quality of the left-wing critiques has been fine, the quantity is modest. Yes, I had a great conversation with Sean Illig at Vox, and Steve Pearlstein has a nice write-up in the Washington Post. And don’t forget my animated podcast with center-left Michael Baranowski on The Politics Guys. But I’d still say my un-left podcasts outnumber the left podcasts by 10:1. – and at least so far, no left-leaning think tank has invited me to speak.
This strikes me as particularly unfortunate because there are many results in The Case Against Education that leftists should appreciate. Starting with…
1. Lots of workers – especially less-educated workers – are paid less than they’re worth. If signaling is important, there are bound to be numerous “diamonds in the rough” – good workers who are underpaid because they lack the right credentials to convince employers of their quality.
2. Lots of workers – especially more-educated workers – are paid more than they’re worth. Again, if signaling is important, there are bound to be lots of bad workers who are overpaid because they obtained misleadingly strong credentials.
3. A lot of education is meaningless hoop-jumping. Campus radicals have long accused the education system of imposing an irrelevant, backward-looking, elitist curriculum on hapless kids. I say they’re right.
4. The education market is inefficient. In signaling models, education has negative externalities. My story therefore implies a serious market failure, where self-interest leads students to pursue more education than socially optimal.
5. Locked-in Syndrome. Due to conformity signaling, the market for education isn’t just inefficient; it’s durably inefficient. The education market doesn’t just fail; it durably fails.
6. The government’s “ban” on IQ testing is grossly exaggerated, and does next to nothing to explain employers’ reliance on credentials. While the Griggs case nominally imposes near-insurmountable hurdles on IQ employment testing (as well as virtually every hiring method), it is cursorily enforced. Lots of U.S. employers admit they use IQ testing, and the expected legal costs of doing so are tiny.
7. Credential inflation is rampant. Technological change explains only a small fraction of the evolution of the modern labor market. The popular perception that workers need far more education to get the same jobs their parents and grandparents had is deeply true.
8. Working your way up takes ages. While there’s good evidence that worker ability raises pay, the process takes many years. If you’re smart but uncredentialed, even a decade of work experience isn’t enough to fully catch up.
9. In many ways, the labor market used to be better for people from poor and working-class families. Sure, average living standards are much higher today than in 1950. But in 1950, there was far less stigma against high school dropouts, and very little stigma against workers who didn’t go to college. Moderns who look at college graduates from poor families and see “social justice” are neglecting the troubles of the massively larger number of kids from poor families who never get college degrees.
10. Forcing middle-class aspirations on everyone causes misery and failure for poor and working-class kids. Lots of kids loathe school. They’re bored out of their minds, and humiliated by teachers’ endless negative feedback. Such kids disproportionately come from poor and working-class families. But since the middle- and upper-classes control the curriculum, they’ve stubbornly moved to a “college-for-all” approach to school – and turned vocational education into an afterthought. The result: Most poor and working-class kids endure thousands of sad hours, then leave school unprepared for either jobs or college.
I don’t deny, of course, that The Case Against Education has plenty of right-wing lessons, too. Scoff if you must, but I try to just follow the arguments and evidence wherever they lead. My point is that there is plenty between the covers of my latest book that the left should appreciate. To all my left-wing friends, I say in all sincerity that I’d be delighted to discuss all this in depth!Continue Reading
I didn’t v*te for Trump. Or anyone. I got over that tail-chasing spasm a while back, and I refuse to consent to a ruler of any sort. And I’m certainly not going to endorse one!
That being said…
Donald Trump was not the dawn of the corrupt, disgusting president. I get tired of statists of the “left” pretending he was. Their most recent darling, Obama, was just as bad, but he was corrupt and disgusting in ways they liked so they ignored it. And still do.
And, really, every president, congressvermin, mayor (except Mayor Stubbs– RIP), councilcritter, etc. is the same. Corrupt to the core, because corruption is built into the “system” and can’t be eliminated without abandoning government (the onlysane and ethical choice, really).
I also get tired of statists of the “right” pretending Trump is somehow OK, because he’s doing what they want (even as he doesn’t, but that’s another story).
The statists of the “left” love to moan about how awful it is that anyone could have v*ted for Trump. I agree. I also think it was awful anyone threw their support behind Hillary, Bernie, or whatever else was running for the job. Including Vermin Supreme– the only honest candidate.
Elitist “leftist” statists love to show how elite and enlightened they are by trashing Trump. Let Trump trash himself; he’s doing a good job of that. But admitting you supported one of the other parasites doesn’t really show you in a good light. And Trump-bashing, while acting as though someone else would have been preferable, is downright delusional.Continue Reading