What is the Alt Right » John C. Wright’s Journal

Source: What is the Alt Right » John C. Wright’s Journal

I suspect the “Alt Right” is more of a fuzzy set. Some people, groups, and ideas definitely belong inside the set, others definitely belong outside, and some are located somewhere along a very fuzzy line.

To make matters worse, there are any number of folks with a vested interest in placing third parties either in or out of the “Alt Right”. For example, Democrats seem to want to expand “Alt Right” to encompass anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for President.

Due Process Is Making A Comeback For Students Accused Of Rape

Source: Due Process Is Making A Comeback For Students Accused Of Rape

But due process appears to be making a comeback. By K.C. Johnson’s count as of Sepember 8, 59 accused students had received at least partially favorable rulings from judges after they sued their schools for gender-bias and denying due process. I believe this count is now over 60.

Some of these judges decried schools shifting the burden of proof onto accused students, some stated cross-examination was essential, others noted the potential ramifications for expelled students that activists seem to ignore, and others simply said the campus kangaroo courts were “unfair.” These are just four examples of due process wins for students, but there are dozens more.

Those are just the judicial wins. Accused students have been racking up settlements with their universities for years, with a seeming uptick in 2017. Some of the settlements came from high-profile cases, like Columbia University settling with the man accused by “Mattress Girl.”

With court wins in the background, DeVos rescinded the Obama-era guidance that led to this chaos and denial of civil rights for accused students. She promised to create guidance using the proper notice-and-comment period that Obama’s education department had ignored. She promised to hear from all parties with related interests, including victims and self-described victims, accused students, lawyers, schools, and others. The system she hopes to create will benefit both accusers and the accused, neither of whom are being served well now.

How Legal Activism Stopped the Market from Abolishing Segregation – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

Source: How Legal Activism Stopped the Market from Abolishing Segregation – Foundation for Economic Education – Working for a free and prosperous world

The Untold Story

What is often lost in the short history-class-version of this case is the effort by the company to comply and remove the segregation law. This may appear counterintuitive to some, but the market reality made segregation expensive. Looking at the requirements of the law (see above) makes it clear why securing separate accommodations, either by car or partition, is costly, and when you are in the business of selling seats, increasing the likelihood of empty seats works against that interest.

In the 1950’s the economist Gary Becker at the University of Chicago began to write about the economics of discrimination. His writing was contemporaneous to the Brown case which was decided in 1954. Becker’s book, titled The Economics of Discrimination and released in 1957, began a discussion on discrimination in the market which has yielded counterintuitive results in many instances.

Using economic assumptions to describe discriminatory behavior, Becker observed two basic features of discrimination. First, that discrimination may depress the wages and employment opportunities of those discriminated against and conversely that the discriminator may pay higher wages to avoid hiring a minority.

If for example, a white worker gets paid $2 more an hour than an African American worker, the employer is paying a $2 an hour penalty to maintain his discriminatory preferences. Over time, this is a difficult practice to maintain in a competitive environment. The result is parity when comparing equal, similarly situated people. Most employers or businesses are not willing to pay that penalty in the long run.

Since Becker’s book, others have also observed the impact of discrimination in markets and the tendency to move away from discrimination unless the base is sufficiently broad and the taste for discrimination is rather strong. However, in this scenario discrimination is highly likely to arise via democratic mechanisms as well, as it did in the South unless there is a constitutional constraint to prevent discriminatory democratic results.

Additionally, when faced with strong preferences for discrimination those discriminated against are likely to move to geographic areas with more equal outcomes, much like the movement to the north of about six million African-Americans during The Great Migration, which was certainly exacerbated by Jim Crow.

The Free Market Is the Great Equalizer

What Plessy illustrates is that even in a place willing to legalize discrimination (meaning the democratic taste for it was sufficient to be legislated, even if it failed to reach a true majority due to potential disenfranchisement), the market was pushing toward more equal market outcomes and had to be artificially constrained. Essentially, the Plessy verdict granted a special interest group their preference and arrested the development of the market preventing it from moving away from discriminatory practices.

With the hindsight of Becker and others like him, we see how Plessy set the stage for years of subsidized discriminatory behavior. In practice, the schools and other segregated venues behaved as cartels with the ability to impose costs on an industry and essentially remove it as a matter of competition for certain services. If all market actors faced the same imposed costs, there is no incentive to compete to remove that cost.

The Plessy verdict prevented the market from removing discriminatory behavior and it also created a rent-seeking incentive. With the Plessy verdict, racists and segregationists learned they could implement their preference of a segregated society by diffusing the costs among the population at large. Until Brown, these rent-seekers were able to implement their market preferences and it is no surprise that after Plessy Jim Crow continued to grow throughout the South.

There is also a political reason why markets should be preferred over legislation to remove discrimination. Markets tend to work quietly in the background; there is no grand political movement, no sweeping legislation, and very little reactive backlash against those politics that ingrain, often unintentionally, discriminatory views.

In contrast, the doux commerce thesis suggests markets are institutions that bring about desired social change, peace and cordiality, and anti-discrimination becomes a byproduct of this thesis. Two of the most recent advocates of this view have been Deirdre McCloskey in her Bourgeoise trilogy, and Nathan Oman in his book, The Dignity of Commerce. Markets create more peaceful, less discriminatory communities simply because they penalize discrimination and introduce personal interactions within the market.

The lessons of Plessy, often overlooked, are two-fold. The market removes discrimination in a more peaceful manner if we allow it to do so but the desire to intervene on behalf of one group or another is very alluring (an argument to restrict, maybe chain, democratic governments may be merited to some degree based on this observation).

When we take the stance that intervention is necessary we increase the risk of a less peaceful outcome and increase the incentive for rent-seeking behavior, even when discrimination is not the underlying impetus. Understanding the history of this pivotal Supreme Court case teaches how markets provide more favorable outcomes and dispels the myth that free markets are tools of oppression.

Second Amendment: Timeless Natural Right, Protected | National Review

Source: Second Amendment: Timeless Natural Right, Protected | National Review

What part of ‘unalienable’ do you not understand? A progressive correspondent asks: “If you were drafting the Constitution in 2017, would you include the Second Amendment?” It’s an ignorant question, but one that was asked in good faith, and the answer may be illuminating to some of our friends who are mystified by conservative thinking on the question.

The short answer is: Yes, of course a 21st-century Bill of Rights should codify the right to keep and bear arms. The document does not create the right; the right precedes the document, which merely recognizes it and ensures that the government is constrained when, inevitably, its all-too-human members are tempted to violate that right.

Progressives take a tabula rasa view of the human condition, the human animal, the human experience, and human society. In this view human beings, individually and corporately, can be shaped into . . . whatever we desire to shape them into. Rights, in this understanding, come from the state: We decide together, through democratic and other political means, what rights and obligations people are to have, and the state acts (in theory) as our instrument in that matter. If you take that view, then the progressive attitude toward the right to keep and bear arms — that it is more trouble than it is worth and that it therefore should be reduced or eliminated altogether — is entirely understandable.

Conservatives take a different view, one that is rooted in the nation’s foundational philosophy. The American premise is a theological premise: that all men are endowed by their Creator — not the state — with certain unalienable rights. For our Founding Fathers, who were steeped in the Anglo-Protestant liberal tradition, this was not only the truth but the “self-evident” truth. The right to keep and bear arms, like the right to speak one’s mind, worship as one sees fit, and petition the state for redress of grievances, is not the king’s gift to give or to withhold — the matter was settled by no less an authority than God Himself. For those who are not of a religious cast of mind, the same conclusion can be arrived at through the tradition of natural law and natural rights, which the Christian liberals of the 18th century understood as complementary to their discernment of Divine intent. Whether one believes that man was created by God or by evolutionary processes, the conclusion ends up being the same: Man has reason, individual and corporate dignity, individual and corporate value, and these are not subject to revision by any prince, power, or potentate.

Put another way: The right to keep and bear arms would still be there without the Second Amendment. Like the right not to suffer political or religious repression, it exists with or without the law. It is an aspect of the human being, not an aspect of the governments that human beings institute among themselves. The state does not grant the right — the state exists because the right exists and needs protecting from time to time. The state protects our rights from criminals and marauders, and the Constitution protects our rights from their protectors.

No doubt that sounds like a lot of crazy talk to many of our progressive friends. “Rights from God! Imagine!” That is a critical failure of our most progressive institution, the schools, which consistently neglect — or decline — to provide our students with even a rudimentary education in American civics and the history of the American idea. It isn’t that the modern left-winger is obliged to accept the intellectual and philosophical basis of the American order, but he ought to understand that things are the way they are for a reason. The idea that the Second Amendment could simply be repealed — that’s that! — isn’t only an attack on the right to keep and bear arms: It is an attack on the American constitutional order per se. That our progressive friends often are so pristinely ignorant of the moral order underpinning the American Founding is one of their great intellectual failures. They do not understand the American idea, and, as a result, they do not really understand their own ideas, either.

Why did the Founders care so deeply about the right to keep and bear arms, to such an extent that they put it on equal footing with freedom of speech and freedom from arbitrary government violence? That’s a complicated question. There were concerns unique to the Founding era, among them the libertarian dread of standing armies. Without a permanent military, the ability of the people to organize quickly and effectively against threats foreign and domestic was essential. One possible threat was that of tyrannical domestic government, something that weighed heavily on the minds of the Founders, who knew Roman history. (To say nothing of English history!) Our modern progressive friends scoff at the notion that the Second Amendment could really allow ordinary Americans to frustrate the tyrannical ambitions of a modern federal government with the modern U.S. military — gunships, nukes, and all — at its command. That’s probably true, though one need not be a sophisticated military tactician to appreciate the fact that the mighty America military has been bogged down for 15 years in Afghanistan, unable to tame a raggedy gang of modestly armed rustics — there is more to warfare than armaments.

But there is much, much more to that question than revolutionary fantasies. The government’s ability to maintain order does break down from time to time, if only locally and temporarily. The Second Amendment is not only for imaginary revolts against overbearing authorities in Washington. It is for events such as the Los Angeles riots of 1992, during which the local police authorities comprehensively failed in their duty to protect the lives and property of citizens. This is an example of something that often eludes our progressive friends: Government is an instrument, a tool. Anything that is permissible for government to do is permissible for the free people who form that government to do. We deputize the police to protect our lives and property because we desire that this crucial and dangerous work be done in a fashion that is orderly, predictable, and in accordance with the rule of law. We want to avoid feuds and vendettas and the like. But we do not forfeit our right of self-defense when we delegate self-defense to the state. That is universally acknowledged: That is why shooting a burglar in your house isn’t murder or impersonating a police officer. When the water was high in Houston and people needed help, those in a position to give that help did not say: “Well, I’m sure somebody from the county will be along in a bit. Good luck!” They rendered aid, even in cases in which doing so probably involved breaking a law or two.

The right to bear arms is intrinsically linked to citizenship, another fact well understood by the Founders but lost to many of our contemporaries. From the ancient world through feudal Europe to the American colonies themselves, some people enjoyed the right to bear arms and some did not. In the latter category were serfs and slaves. Slaves and free blacks were of course widely and generally prohibited from owning weapons in the antebellum United States: Under Louisiana law, a black man carrying a cane in public was subject to summary execution; Maryland law forbade free blacks from owning dogs, which were considered a potential weapon. If you desire to know who is really considered a full citizen, look at who is permitted to bear arms. For the Founders, a society in which only government officials enjoyed the right to bear arms could not be a proper democratic republic at all, because the vast majority of the people would have been excluded from full citizenship.

Again, there is nothing requiring the modern American progressive to share this philosophy. But we ought to ask ourselves what the alternative is. The short answer is totalitarianism, in principle if not in practice. If rights come from the state, and if we enjoy our liberty and our property only at the sufferance of the state, then nothing is outside the state, and there are no limits on it other than passing democratic whimsy. (If you think “whimsy” is too loose, consider this progression: Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump . . . ) If everything is negotiable, then there are no rights at all, properly understood.

So, a Second Amendment even in the 21st century? Yes. There are permanent things and non-negotiable truths. The Second Amendment did not create the right to keep and bear arms; it was created by it. Much has changed since 1776, including, of course, the efficacy of small arms. But some things have not changed, including the nature of human beings and the nature of their relations with one another. Neither technological progress nor political regress obviates any of that. That’s what “unalienable” means.

Minimum-Wage Proponents Continue to Believe in Free Lunches – Cafe Hayek

Source: Minimum-Wage Proponents Continue to Believe in Free Lunches – Cafe Hayek

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

In “The $15 Minimum Wage Crowd Tries a Bait and Switch” (Sept. 26) David Neumark explains the challenges facing today’s minimum-wage researchers. Yet the difficulty of quantifying the consequences of minimum wages is even more daunting than Prof. Neumark’s excellent essay reveals.

First, because minimum wages in the U.S. have been in place for more than a century (Massachusetts enacted the first American one in 1912) and have consistently risen over time, employers long ago learned to adjust to their existence. Business decisions – especially the choice of how much labor to use relative to machines – are made with the expectation that minimum wages will rise. Thus, because firms adjust the sizes of their work forces in anticipation of minimum-wage hikes, measuring changes in employment after any given minimum wage hike fails to account for the jobs that were never created because employers expected the minimum wage to rise.

Second, while fewer jobs for low-skilled workers is a chief and especially unfortunate result of minimum wages, it isn’t the only negative result. Many other responses to minimum wages are possible instead of, or along with, reduced employment opportunities. My colleague Dan Klein offers some examples: the extent and difficulty of work duties grow; flexibility in employee scheduling lessens; fringe benefits and on-the-job training decrease; lockers, free food, and other amenities for workers are cut; workplace safety, comfort, and amiability decline. Because most of these other possible downsides of minimum wages are practically impossible to capture in empirical data, studies of minimum-wages’ effects almost certainly underestimate the harm inflicted on low-skilled workers by minimum wages.

Obamacare Was Built With the Flaws Trump Now Exploits – Bloomberg

Source: Obamacare Was Built With the Flaws Trump Now Exploits – Bloomberg

 

I chose not to argue that Obamacare was going to collapse and be repealed in its entirety, but rather, that Obamacare would not, and could not, be the program that had been promised or intended. It had already failed to deliver on key promises for coverage, affordability and of course, the infamous promise that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” It was also dangerously unstable, requiring steady executive intervention just to keep the program from collapsing. I argued that these executive interventions, enthusiastically supported by the law’s proponents, were setting a precedent that would eventually be used against it. Worried that health care was too hostage to the vicissitudes of the markets, Democrats had instead made it the prisoner of politics.

“Essentially they’ve made it so that Republicans can undo two-thirds of this law with a stroke of the presidential pen,” I said at the close of my opening statement. “Obamacare is now beyond rescue. The administration has destroyed their own law in order to save it.” Four years later, we are watching those dominos fall.

{….}

Remember how we ended up with the particular version of Obamacare that became law. Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, and a growing sense that they were on the verge of a second New Deal. They thought they didn’t need Republicans, and they thought they couldn’t get Republicans, so they made little effort to involve Republicans in drafting, beyond offering token concessions to a handful of liberal Republicans who might have made nice bipartisan window-dressing at the signing ceremony. Republicans, predictably, spent a year talking down the bill, and by the time it was nearing passage, a majority of the public opposed it.

Then Massachusetts — Massachusetts! — sent Republican Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat, a phenomenon that was widely (and in my view correctly) put down to a desire to block Obamacare. Rather than saying “if we’ve lost Massachusetts, we’ve lost America,” Democrats rushed a draft version of the bill into law through a parliamentary procedure that obviated the need for Brown’s vote.

This draft bill, unsurprisingly, had problems. It also overhauled almost a fifth of the economy. It also had the implacable hostility of the opposition, and a public that was pretty angry at politicians for passing it. By the end of the year, Democrats had lost control of Congress, and with it, any hope of making all the changes they’d fantasized after they passed the bill and found out what was (and wasn’t) in it.

That put Obama in the nasty situation of presiding over a program that couldn’t work as written, and couldn’t be legislatively altered. So he proceeded with the only avenue open to him: dubious executive measures that temporarily shored up the program, but weakened even further the slim foundation of political legitimacy that held it up. And here we are seven years later, watching as one by one, those supports sway or snap.

And thanks in part to the voter revolt that Obamacare triggered, those powers have now been handed over to a president who doesn’t simply take political legitimacy for granted, but seems actively hostile to it. The scramble to pass and sustain Obama’s signature initiative may have badly hurt the cause: to make the health-care system fairer, broader and more efficient.

If Obamacare dies now, in this way, the country will be worse off than if it had never passed. And I’m not just talking about the growing notion among both parties that the idea of elections is to get into power and exercise whatever power you can, by whatever means you can get away with, until voters take your toys away again.

In the worst-case scenario, large swathes of the country will have “bare” individual markets where everyone will be magnificently equal in their inability to purchase insurance. And the memory of Obamacare staggering onward for years, down a trail of broken promises and underwhelming results, will make voters reluctant to trust any politician who suggests that we embark on another such journey.

Is Obamacare beyond rescue? If not, it could certainly use some. And at this point, it’s hard to see who is going to swoop in to save the day.

Guns and Alcohol

Someone dared to compare alcohol deaths and other harms with those from guns.

 

Clayton Cramer proposes some “reasonable” alcohol restrictions, based on what the gun control crowd considers “reasonable” restrictions on guns:

1. Mandatory background checks for every alcohol purchase. Felons, DUI convicts, and domestic violence misdemeanants prohibited.

2. One six-pack or one bottle of wine per day. Who needs more than that?

3. Distilled spirits have no legitimate need in a polite society. Everyone knows high alcohol percentages are part of the problem. Completely ban them.

4. Mandatory serial numbers on every alcoholic beverage container so that when teenagers are arrested, we can track it back to the retail customer.

5. Every vendor will keep records for 20 years of all beverages.

6. Brewers and distillers will be held liable for every violent crime or traffic accident caused by their product.

7. You cannot buy distilled liquor outside your state of residence.

Just like you want for guns! 1, 4, 5, and 7 are current federal gun law. 2, 3, and 6 are the alcohol equivalent of what the control movement wants.