Category Archives: economics

No, feminists did not create Jordan Peterson

I’ve mentioned Jordan Peterson before — the guy who advocates “enforced monogamy” to deal with incels (he insists he only meant monogamy enforced by social pressure, which seems a dubious solution, even if that is what he meant) and that male dominance is the result of male superiority. NYT’s Bari Weiss thinks these trite sexist ideas are daring; I wonder if she’ll think the same about his recent declaration that women wearing makeup and high heels at work invite sexual harassment (sorry, don’t have a good link). And maybe they should stop wearing it to show they’re not interested in sex.

This is another old, sexist trope: women who dress too sexy should expect rape. And when it happens, they have no-one to blame but themselves. It’s as much a lie as Phyliss Schaffly’s claim that if a woman is known to be chaste, guys won’t hit on her — it’s only the sluts who get targeted (the latter was a-OK by the odious Schaffly). This involves a boatload of assumptions, such as harassment being purely about sex, and not about power, or control, or making a woman uncomfortable enough to quit. That it’s closer to a clumsy attempt to flirt rather than something like this.  That how you dress or the makeup you wear implies consent or at least invitation (even if a woman is dressing attractive to invite attention, that doesn’t mean she has to accept it from anyone). And that women wouldn’t suffer penalties if they went to work with plain, un-made-up faces — because yes, bosses have fired women for not being attractive enough. In one of the first looks-related discrimination cases, a female lawyer was denied a partnership in favor of much less successful associates. Why? She didn’t wear makeup, didn’t look good, and didn’t defer enough to men. It’s like telling women “you won’t be harassed if you come to work in a burka” — even if that was true (I doubt it is) the reaction wouldn’t be favorable.

Now Cathy Young of the libertarian (and ironically named) Reason manages to up Weiss by recycling more tropes, starting with him being feminism’s fault: “contemporary feminism’s main message to men is not one of equal partnership. Rather, it’s: Repent, abase yourself, and be an obedient feminist ally — and we still won’t trust you.” So feminists, by refusing to treat men fairly, drive them into Peterson’s arms.

Her examples? She links to what’s actually a very reasonable column by Irin Carmon pointing out that some men who position themselves as allies don’t walk the walk. No call for repentance or abasement, just stating the obvious — talk is cheap. Perhaps Young was hoping nobody would click through. She’s also playing on one of the oldest tropes, that feminists don’t want equality — visions of feminism as a female power-grab go back to the dawn of second-wave feminism and even earlier.  And as Echidne points out, there’s no evidence guys following Peterson would be open to an offer of equal partnership. Hie message isn’t equality, it’s man on top, all the way.

Young also recycles another old chestnut: feminists said it was okay to use off-color language in front of women! Then they get upset because men use off-color language in front of women! The “stub your toe” test in an early sexual harassment case covers that one well: is the off-color language something you’d say if you got out of bed in the middle of your night and stubbed your toe? Using four-letter worlds for female genitalia, the judge decided, don’t pass the test.

Feminists did not create a market for Peterson’s preachings by being unreasonable or extreme. He’s not new, he’s part of the same backlash that’s been going since the 1980s. And that backlash isn’t against feminism being extreme. It’s against feminism existing.

And as No More Mr. Nice Blog asks, if being routinely insulted turns people into right-wing extremists, why aren’t liberals extremists?

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Books are too expensive, so it’s okay to pirate them. Oh, really?

While I liked the book Brand Name Bullies, one thing that didn’t go over so well was David Bollier apparently buying into the stock anti-copyright/pro-piracy arguments (some of this is my interpretation so if I’m getting him wrong I apologize). As lots of people will create for free, do we really need copyright to have a thriving culture? If the industry would just make the price more reasonable, or release the album/book/DVD immediately, people would be happy to buy it.

I blogged about some of these arguments a couple of years back, but I’d like to take this post to argue again against the “they’re just too expensive” stance. This is the view that the price of books, or at least ebooks is too high so hey, you shouldn’t have to pay that much, so hey, you’re entitled to steal.

First off, let’s point out the obvious: some people just want their books free. Ditto music.

Second, how exactly are the people who make this argument calculating the “right” price? Are they assuming it’s the labor of putting the book in digital form — laying it out, editing it, creating a digital file? Do they consider the cost of paying for the cover, or publicity? Do they include the value of the actual story itself, because that’s why the book has, you know, words instead of just being a bunch of blank pages. And why, other than I Want It do they assume their assessment of the price is better than the author/publisher? As John Scalzi points out, even physical books of similar size and format don’t cost the same for lots of valid reasons.

To take an obvious example, the price of my self-published books is based on a)a price I think the market will accept; b)a price that gives me an adequate return on my effort. That takes into account that the online bookstores that sell the ebook (or Createspace for physical copies) take a cut; I have to set a price large enough to cover them. Believe me it’s not a substantial return, but what if it was? I’m the one who produced it, I have the right to set a price. If it’s more than the market will bear, people won’t buy it. Except the “you should have made it cheaper” people don’t accept that. They figure they should be able to get the book if they want it and not pay me anything (I’m willing to bet if I had a PayPal or Patreon they wouldn’t be contributing the “fair” price to compensate).

I have no sympathy for this crap. In the many years I did the struggling-writer shtick, I saw lots of books I couldn’t afford. I didn’t steal copies. I wouldn’t do it if I were still struggling. If it was a paper copy, would they shoplift it from Barnes & Noble if they thought it was overpriced? Or how about a restaurant — if the service takes too long (the “they don’t release it fast enough” argument), does that mean they’re entitled to steal food from the salad bar? Soft drinks cost a fraction of what they sell for, does that make it okay to steal them? Or movie tickets — lord knows those are outrageously priced, but does that justify sneaking in without paying?

One argument I see occasionally is that because digital copies are so cheap and easy to replicate, pirating one of them doesn’t hurt the way stealing something physical does. I don’t think that holds up: stealing one copy of Dan Brown’s latest from Barnes & Noble or swiping some breadsticks from Olive Garden certainly won’t cause a massive shortage. Sure, if everyone did that, it would be a problem, but that’s true of ebooks. If 100 people pirate Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, that’s around $100 out of my pocket. That won’t leave me in the poorhouse, but it’s not nothing (and for people who aren’t two-income families, $100 could be very significant indeed).

I realize even if my readers include pro-piracy types, I’m unlikely to change anything. But still, it’s worth saying.

#SFWApro. Image courtesy of Wikimedia, from Charles Elms’ The Pirates’ Own Book.

 

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Liberals won’t date Republicans? OMG!

At least that’s the word from Washingtonian magazine: DC conservatives are very, very hurt that liberals won’t date them (despite all the Republicans in Congress and their staffers, apparently there are not enough conservatives to date in their own pool). Just because someone supports a white-supremacist president, does that mean they’re beyond the pale?

Right-winger Lisa de Pasquale thinks this is a bad idea: sure, you want someone who shares your values, but why insist on them sharing your politics? Funny, I always hear conservatives describe how their votes are driven by their values, does de Pasquale mean they were lying about that? She goes on to argues that the worst names conservative fling out are “snowflake,” whiny” and “cuck,” which ignores that “cuck” is supposed to be a vicious insult in the alt.right world (and that some conservatives throw out considerably worse—I’ve been called “traitor” a couple of times). “By contrast, those on the right are called ‘Nazis,’ ‘racists,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘sexists’ and, if NRA members, ‘part of a terrorist organization’ by left-leaning people, simply for having conservative leanings.

“Conservative leanings” may be doing a lot of work here. Did someone get called a sexist because they support lower tax rates on corporations. or because they believe women shouldn’t work outside the home or that rape victims had it coming? Both of these could be considered “conservative leanings” but some people with conservative leanings are bigots and sexists. On the far right, for example, we have enthusiasm for controlling women through rape gangs and white sharia. Georgia wants to let adoption agencies turn away gay parents. Or county clerk Kim Davis, who claims she’s a hero for refusing to marry gay couples (or let anyone in her office marry them) but believe she’s the persecuted one (this past post might be relevant). Pundit Rod Dreher thinks French anti-semite and racist Marion Le Pen is pretty awesome, though Of Course he disapproves of her more extreme views.

de Pasquale is just a variation on the time-honored theme that liberals are mean to conservatives and full of hate, unlike, say, Trump. And that campus PC (which squashes conservative voices) is out of control, whereas a right-wing news corporation expanding its propaganda reach is no big. Next thing you know, they’ll say conservative comedy isn’t funny!

Moving on from that little issue-of-the-day—

Pastor Robert Jeffries used to insist it was wrong to compromise moral standards to get the right person elected. In the age of Trump, he’s changed his mind. I’m sure he and the other court evangelicals will be thrilled when Republicans change the law to let them be openly partisan while keeping their tax exemptions. Likewise right-winger Dennis Prager believes Trump destroying liberals is so godly, Trump must be doing holy work. So does Eric Metaxas, who says Trump critics are like the Good Samaritan’s carping brother (there is no brother in that parable).

The Trump White House took the broken system for veterans’ health care and made it worse. They’re gutting consumer protections against financial scams too.

The 1 percent hate pensions because pension programs reduce their power.

The Trump era is like a reality show is a cliche, and not even a clever one.

Even the Trump White House acknowledges Obama-era regulations are cost-effective (but they ain’t changing their anti-regulation policy).

I will give points to Benny Hinn for admitting he was wrong about the prosperity gospel. And to the usual odious Mona Charen for pointing out Republican hypocrisy in talking morality while supporting Roy Moore, child molester (she was resoundingly booed at CPAC for this).

Perhaps this cover by Earl Mayan expresses my feelings best.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover image remain with current holder.

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I now defy right-wing political correctness!

A lot of conservatives are happy to denounce “PC” on the left in contrast to their own supposed willingness to stare reality in the face. In reality, PC — in the sense of “blindly accepting dogma” — is something anyone can fall victim to, including conservatives.

For examples conservatives during the W years were adamant that our government did not torture anyone. A detailed report from The Constitution Project shows that yes, we did. And the torture was systemic, common and not at all “a few bad apples.” At the bare minimum higher authorities demanded information, encouraged soldiers to “take the gloves off” getting it and offered no guidelines on what not to do. If nothing else, that’s negligence on a massive (and in some cases fatal) scale.

Nothing in my columns for the Destin Log, however, freaked right-wingers out as much as the phrase “right wing terrorism.” Nope. No way. Doesn’t exist. Not a problem. It’s Muslims, okay and maybe radical leftists but it’s never conservatives. I’m not sure how much is fear of having the anti-terrorist system they’ve supported turned on them, how much sympathy for the far right and how much the same kind of discomfort the word “racist” causes (David Neiwert offers some thoughts on this and other topics in an interview). But “there’s no right-wing terrorism” is bullshit whatever the reason, as the Anti-Defamation League shows with its report, A Dark and Constant Rage. 150 incidents over the past 25 years is a lot for something that supposedly doesn’t exist.

Moving on … speaking of the right wing and racism, here’s yet another Trump sleazebag appointee. Of course the media still flinch from acknowledging President Shit-Gibbon is a racist. Speaking of racism, the real reason the Republicans aren’t cutting a deal on DACA is that they don’t want to. And don’t forget, believing in racist bullshit requires making yourself stupider.

John Roberts and the conservative wing of the Supreme Court have said North Carolina doesn’t have to redraw gerrymandered districts before the fall election. Can’t disadvantage Republicans, can we?

As Shakezula says, will religious-freedom-to-discriminate laws ever be used to deny treatment to adulterers? Or just trans, gay and female people? Heck, with Trump cheating and banging porn stars probably makes his acolytes love him more.

Another day, another abuser exposed. And as usual, it looks like he had people willing to cover up for him. And charges have been filed against another supposedly godly man. And here’s how churches shouldn’t respond.

The Star of David is Satanic according to one right-wing Bible thumper.

Even when Gamergate participants confessed to sending women death threats, the FBI file shows no charges were filed.

Sexual abuse of a coworker doesn’t have to take place in the workplace.

Elderly immigrants being deported don’t get the Social Security they’ve been paying into for years.

It costs the IRS more to employ private debt-collectors than the contractors bring in to the agency.

The Museum of the Bible: more politics than museum.

Anthem’s new policy for covering ER visits: if they decide you should have known that stabbing gut pain wasn’t an emergency, you’re not covered.

And now some links courtesy of the Slacktivist blog:

Hiram Revels was the first black man to serve in Congress. Yet in the places where he lived in work, it’s statues to Confederates, not Revels, that people see.

How we whitewash and sanitize the civil rights struggle.

Back in the 1990s, Pat Robertson warned conservatives against the Illuminati takeover (with the added twist the Illuminati were run by International Jewish Bankers); apparently the Illuminati are still a bogeyman (Alex Jones at the link doesn’t deny they exist, he just denies Trump’s a member).

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NC Sen. Thom Tillis lies a lot (and more political links)

I’ve mentioned Tillis’s bullshit statements about the Affordable Care Act and how he’s trying to make insurance more affordable by killing ACA. Now he’s explaining his support for the GOP tax bill is because it “will lead to bigger paychecks for hardworking Americans.” Unless he defines hardworking Americans as “rich people, including myself,” he’s lying again. Sen. Richard Burr voted for the tax monstrosity too, so I’m sure he’d lie about it if he ever responded to my letters.

Not that the rest of the Repubs are much better. Rep. Paul Ryan wants us to know it’s a heartbreaking burden to labor on as Speaker of the House, cutting taxes on himself and fighting so he doesn’t have to pay estate tax. He’s a noble soul who just wants to stay in office long enough to gut Social Security and Medicare (sure, he went to college on Social Security Disability, but he doesn’t need it now, does he?), then retire to be with his family. So tragic.

Equally tragic: The media pretending the Republicans really wanted a better bill.

And then there’s the last minute decision that allows people who set up their businesses as limited liability companies take extra deductions if, like President Shit-Gibbon and Bob Corker, they’re in real estate.

A police officer refuses to believe trans people really suffer higher rates of police violence. A female captain tells the man he’s showing his privilege. The captain gets suspended.

Slacktivist looks at the symbolism and problems of Trump declaring Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The belief of some religious conservatives that this is good because it helps advance us toward the Apocalypse strikes me as the worst kind of arrogance, a conviction that if they play their cards right they can make the Second Coming happen on their schedule.

An Oklahoma preacher allegedly used his church’s phone number for a prostitution ring he ran.

How Steve Bannon tried to take down Twitter. And in supporting Roy Moore, Bannon seems to have taken down himself. Although right-wing pundits are desperately trying to blame Moore’s defeat on Mitch McConnell instead (or Christians who got unreasonably freaked out by Roy Moore molesting children) Trump, of course, having endorsed Moore now claims he never had much hope for him. And John Rogers of Leverage explains that no, George Soros couldn’t have bused an extra 20,000 fake voters into Alabama.

Reagan declared we should make it harder to vote, something people have to struggle to achieve. Lance Manion points out that the people who advocate this aren’t exactly crossing trackless jungles to deliver their ballots.

Assessing sexual harassment cases when we don’t know the charges.

Rebecca Traister points out the issue in harassment cases isn’t the assault on women’s virtue but the damage to their ability to earn a living.

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The right wing and the just world fallacy

The just-world fallacy is the belief that contrary to what our parents told us, life is fair. Take care of your health and you’ll be healthy. Manage your money well and work hard and you’ll get rich, or at least non-poor. Dress modestly, don’t go out alone, and you’ll never be raped.

It’s a fallacy because, of course, it isn’t true. Bad things do happen to good people. We drive carefully and get hit by someone who didn’t (almost happened to TYG and me this week). You follow the rules for finding a good Christian man and you wind up with an abuser. You take care of your health but something still strikes you down. You get out there and meet people only you never meet anyone interested.

The just-world fallacy is common. It’s not something unique to conservatives. It’s reassuring — that there’s a reason for what happened to us/them, that we’re not all vulnerable to blind chance and tragedy, that the world makes sense. That it can never happen to us — sure, she got raped but we’d never do anything that foolish. He got robbed but we pack heat. He got cancer but we take care of ourselves. Conspiracy theories explain why the world isn’t just; just-world fallacy explains that it is. Both comforting in different ways.

With a lot of conservatives, though, it’s not simply a fallacy, it’s a policy. It’s the reason they justify denying people healthcare or benefits, or rewarding themselves by slashing their own taxes. If you’re rich it’s because you’re smart, talented, superior; if you’re poor it’s because you squander your money. Women aren’t in charge of things because men created the world. If you have diabetes, it’s your fault, that’s why you don’t deserve to have the government pay for treatment.

So no help for the poor, they don’t deserve it. Low taxes for the rich because otherwise you’re penalizing success and hard work.

And if your success doesn’t come from hard work? You got a head start because your parents were rich or you took over the family business? I suspect that’s one reason Trump likes to think he and his children are genetically superior — if you tell yourself your genes would have guaranteed success even if you’d grown up in a shack in Africa (and I have heard that statement made by other children of privilege) then having everything handed to you on a plate doesn’t matter. You’d still have succeeded so it’s still wrong to tax you.

Do they seriously believe it? Quite possibly. It’s always appealing to believe you’ve accomplished things through genius, not hard work. It’s easy to underestimate the role luck plays (something I explored in my short story Others Must Fail). At the same time I suspect there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance in play. Trump himself has admitted that having superior genes (for the record, I don’t believe that for a minute) is a matter of luck, but at the same time he sees himself as a super-achiever who earned everything (or he claimed to). Lots of wealthy people credit their talent with success but blame failure on luck, so they totally shouldn’t be penalized for it. Lots of welfare recipients believe “I earned it” through their years of taxes, just like they firmly believe nobody with a darker skin did.

And some, I’m sure, are outright liars who know better — it’s just a convenient excuse, like Paul Ryan claiming blue states are free-riding on the hard work of the red states (nope).

Whether delusion or rationalization, the just-world fallacy gets toxic when mixed in with politics.

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Jesus and Ayn Rand are not the same person

But some conservatives keep insisting that objectivism’s belief in survival of the fittest is completely compatible with Christian tenets of mercy and sympathy for the poor and downtrodden. The Conservative Bible Project, for instance, wants to translate (or “wanted to” — I don’t know if that particular crusade is still active) all Jesus parables in ways that show he was really talking about the importance of the free market. Short answer: no he wasn’t; for a long answer, find a blogger better at theology than I am. One such blogger, Rachel Held Evans catches right-wing pundit Erick Erickson arguing that the Bible tells us charity is strictly an individual responsibility, not something for government. Evans points out that’s bullshit.

Certainly right-wing economist Stephen Moore has no trouble worrying about anyone but himself. He’s celebrating that the tax bill hurts education, hurts unions, hurts state government’s abilities to raise taxes or provide services — in short, hurts everyone but the rich. That it makes class divisions more firm (the rich stay rich, the lower classes will find it harder to rise) is, I’m sure, part of it, though Moore doesn’t mention that. And Paul Ryan, lying as usual, declares that cracking down on high-tax states punishes the states that “take” from the low-tax states that prop up the country economically. Nope. Apparently both Ryan and Moore are excited about turning all 50 states into Kansas.

Yet another man exposed as a sexual harasser, specifically Rep. John Conyers, who’s resigning from office. The Root asks if Conyers, a black man, isn’t being judged more harshly than white politicians.

The thing about all those sexual harassers like Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin and Bill O’Reilly? Their sexism helped shape the media narrative that helped elect Trump.

All the ways Republicans will make it harder for students who take out government loans.

Nixon claimed anything he did was legal. W’s attorney John Yoo claimed the president had no legal limits on his power. Now Trump’s lawyer claims that obstruction of justice charges against the president are by definition impossible. The problem isn’t just Trump, it’s Republicans. As noted here.

Roy Moore is unsurprisingly self-righteous in denouncing his critics as pure evil. Dammit, why can’t they respect a man’s need for teenage tail? As Lance Mannion notes, many conservatives love feeling persecuted. The Slacktivist blog once suggested it’s partly because the Bible was written for Israelites in exile and a persecuted Christian church. It’s much easier to imagine themselves as Israelites in bondage than realize that in the US, they’re Pharaoh. Heck, some of them think ABC reporting on Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s people makes ABC a terrorist group.

Speaking of Moore his massive sexism is another good reason not to vote for him.

Apparently Republicans rushed the tax bill through so fast, they screwed up on delivering the corporate tax breaks. Oh, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, who organized the multi-trillion dollar tax cut says the CHIP children’s health-insurance program is having trouble passing because the government has no money to spare.

All that stuff about how the only thing we can do to prevent mass shootings is pray? Totally different if the shooter is an illegal immigrant.

Every Democrat in the Senate voted against the tax bill from hell. For some left-wingers, that just proves Democrats supported it.

For something more positive to end with, Slacktivist looks at the Muslims who keep the peace at Christianity’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

And for something random, here’s a photo by me of a storm drain near our house.

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Conservative nostalgia is a dangerous delusion

So Kevin Sorbo’s wife Sam Sorbo has an editorial on Fox News (not linking to it) recycling the time-honored conservative/religious right about how America has lost its moral compass: “American society used to be governed by Judeo-Christian do-unto-others morals. But we have drifted (been pushed, really) into a hedonistic YOLO (You Only Live Once) cultural morass. The upshot of this is a distinct lack of respect for human life in general, as well as a pervasive, insidious obsession with self.” And go figure, her primary examples are not billionaires demanding the biggest tax cuts but Clinton supposedly selling U.S. uranium to Russia and football players protesting police-on-black violence.

Fantasies of some golden age when everyone was moral, kids respected their elders and we could leave our doors unlocked probably go back as long as we’ve had doors. The trouble is, Sorbo, like a lot of religious conservatives, wants us to believe it’s true (and may believe it herself). It’s not. “Judeo-Christian do-unto-others morals” (I always interpret “Judeo-Christian” as “Christian but we don’t want to sound bigoted”) didn’t do anything to stop the hundreds of blacks lynched in the South under Jim Crow — white evangelical churches were strongly against integration and civil rights (that was Jerry Falwell’s big political issue for years). Conservative Christianity was on the wrong side of the women’s rights movement, then on the gay rights movement. Some members are against any religion but their own having First Amendment rights. The idea that we’re in some moral cesspool because we don’t follow Ms. Sorbo’s view of God is just crapola.

Case in point, Bible-thumping theocrat Roy Moore has now been accused of hitting on and getting physical (though not actual presentation) with girls as young as 14 (oh, here are his past views on rape and child abuse). I will be astonished if it makes a difference because a lot of voters in the Bible Belt define “Christian” as anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-liberal, and Moore fits the bill nicely. One voter has declared it’s better to vote for a pedophile than a Democrat because he hates Democrats and thinks they’re evil (a view he apparently does not hold of pedophiles).

Sean Hannity’s interview with Moore apparently left some pundits convinced he’s guilty.  But it’s unlikely any Republican pols will do anything to oppose Moore but wring their hands.

I blogged a while back about allegations Eddie Berganza at DC Comics was a sexual harasser. Buzzfeed presents the words of several women who say yes, he was.

Putin says Russia didn’t meddle in the 2016 election. Trump is very, very upset that people don’t believe him — it might hurt Putin’s feelings.

Trump might not build a border wall or repeal Obamacare, but he’s sure as hell getting right-wing judges appointed to the bench.

Trump thinks a primary argument for passing Republican tax cuts is that he’ll pay a lot without them.

Apparently the UK finds Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity violate broadcast standards for news shows.

A member of the sexist Proud Boys movement thinks trans candidates only won because women have the vote and women vote based on feelings. In contrast, presumably to his loathing for transsexuals which I’m sure he imagines is totally logical.

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Kids, don’t let laziness happen to you!

So right-wing pundit Bill Kristol is pushing for a new, centrist path through American politics, which turns out to be a lot more conservative than most people would think of as centrist (The Left Is Bad! The Right Just Needs Some Tinkering. etc.). Literary Dissection Tray does a good job breaking it down at the link, but there’s one point I wanted to discuss, Kristol’s (and his colleague, center-right Dem Bill Galveston) concern that Americans are dropping out of the rat race. A growing number of young men are not working, and they’re happy not working. And that’s giving Kristol fits.

So the New Center’s solution is to stop American companies shipping jobs overseas, increase the minimum wage — oh, wait, no. It’s to “call laziness what it is … Even if these individuals are not “mooching” off anyone else, social science suggests that the failure to contribute correlates with a whole variety of pathologies including drug use, divorce and depression. The New Center should not be bashful about criticizing individuals who are not carrying their weight.”

First, I will pause to note that divorce is not a pathology, and the response to depression should not be calling someone out for having a mental illness, and to recommend LDT’s critique of the “they spend all their time playing videogames!” line of attack (which Kristol probably imagines is a killer put-down). That said — if these nonworkers aren’t taking government assistance, why on Earth is it Kristol’s damn business whether they have jobs or not? Isn’t that personal freedom, the thing conservatives are so keen on.

Haha, kidding. Kristol, for example, is adamantly opposed to gay marriage, and insists Republicans should oppose it even though the majority of Americans support it. It’s the same way David Brooks thinks we have too much individuality in America, instead of “disciplined, orderly lives” imposed by our wise leaders. Brooks was also among the pundits who thought 9/11 freed us from a world where Americans were too comfortable had too much leisure time, played too many videogames.

This is not a new line of thought. America has always had dropouts of one sort or another: tramps, hoboes, Beatniks, hippies. And there have been always those who feel this is absolutely unacceptable. As Risa Goluboff details in Vagrant Nation (which I thought I’d blogged about but it appears not), the response to people rejecting the  system — not trying to change it or destroy it, simply dropping out — is to make them drop back in. Vagrancy laws were routinely used to coerce drifters, vagabonds and the unemployed into taking jobs for shit wages because the laws made being unemployed and refusing to work a crime. Fifty years after the 1960s, some conservatives still get aroused by the though of cops assaulting hippies.  It’s a common trait among authoritarians to resent people who don’t play by the rules, even if they’re not hurting anyone; not playing by the rules is harm enough.

But in contrast to the people whose idea of rebellion is to be a jerk, dropping out isn’t automatically awful or destructive. Certainly they’re doing less damage than windbags such as Brooks, Kristol or Kristol’s father Irving, who openly yearns for building an American empire. Of course, neither he nor his son will be putting their lives on the line for that mission, any more than TV conservative Joe Scarborough.

But let’s be fair. If they weren’t finger-wagging and telling other people how to live their lives, they wouldn’t be conservatives.

Painting of Sloth is by Hieronymous Bosch.

 

 

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Like a virgin, linked for the very first time

No actual discussion of virginity here, however.

•Roy Edroso watches right-bloggers try to spin Trump’s Mideast trip into something awesome. A less enthused take from Digby.

•The White House wants to block the Ethics Office from looking at whether lobbyists working for Trump are violating ethics rules by working on matters they lobbied the government about.

•Did General Hospital craft a storyline simply to allow product placement for a drug?

•Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, is preaching junk science. I haven’t read the book, but I did look up one issue on which I was curious and he got even the basics wrong.

•Africans should decide which African renewable energy projects need funding.

•With the death of Roger Ailes, Fox News guru, Slacktivist looks at not speaking ill of the dead. While I don’t have a link, Glenn Greenwald has argued that we should speak ill of the dead: otherwise the people declaring how awesome they were will define their legacy and overlook flaws (Reagan’s refusal to approve added funding for AIDS research, Jerry Falwell being a segregationist, etc.)

•Feministing argues that while lots of people protest when right-wing speakers are denied a platform on campus, other viewpoints get shut out without objection.

•Now that Charter has bought out Time Warner, cable customers are getting rate hikes — immediate, with their cable getting turned off until they pay.

•Cable companies commit to net neutrality! Except they won’t say so in writing.

•Reporter Chris Cilliza explains that while the media devoted too much coverage to Clinton’s emails, it’s totally Clinton’s fault.

•Scott Adams of Dilbert fame continues cheering for Trump. Did you know that when President Shit Gibbon does something incompetent, it’s part of a clever strategy? I don’t know what his take is on how most of those Carrier jobs Trump supposedly saved are going away now.

•Did you know that according to the Federalist horror of The Handmaid’s Tale is that dramatizes why gay marriage is bad?

•For-profit colleges sue to stop a rule that protects students from colleges that screw them over.

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Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches