Instapundit » Blog Archive » KEVIN WILLIAMSON ON THE EXQUISITE SENSIBILITIES OF THE OUTRAGE INDUSTRY: If only there were some ea…

I have a couple of friends who seem to run into people who hate them and are determined to make life hell for them. I haven’t had the heart to tell them that if all those people are absolute bastards, what is the one thing they have in common?

Source: Instapundit » Blog Archive » KEVIN WILLIAMSON ON THE EXQUISITE SENSIBILITIES OF THE OUTRAGE INDUSTRY

 

If only there were some easy way to distinguish between the decent and well-intentioned and the callous and hateful. Perhaps we should consider the philosophical maxim of Raylan Givens: “If you get up in the morning and you meet an a**hole, you met an a**hole. If you meet nothing but a**holes all day, you’re the a**hole.”

Social-justice warriors take note.

Two people are thinking of moving into a small town. They ask one of the locals how the people are. He asks them how the people are in the place they’re leaving. Then he tells them the people in his town are just the same.

 

The Plane: Economics in two parts

From The Writer in Black

The Plane: or Why Interest is Justified

This is my own telling of one of Frederic Bastiat’s essays. I like it because it makes clear, why those to provide capital–the means of production–are entirely justified in receiving ongoing recompense for providing that well beyond. Suppose there was a rough carpenter, let’s call him John. He makes a certain amount of money in […]

And here’s part 2:

The Plane (part 2)

Last time we left carpenter turned capitalist John retired, with his capital passed on to his son John Jr.

This time we take a look at John Sr’s old workshop. It’s still sitting there. John Jr. could go into that workshop and start doing carpentry. That’s one measure of the value of that workshop sitting there. Another is that he could simply sell it and let someone else worry about doing the carpentry. But there’s a third possibility. Someone, let’s call him Andre, approaches him. Andre wants to do carpentry but Andre doesn’t have any tools or workshop. Andre could, in principle build his own workshop and acquire his own tools but there’s this one John Jr. has. So he suggests John Jr. let him work in it.

[snip]

So the same principles that applied to John Sr. and his plane apply to John Jr. and his factory. And it’s entirely proper that the people providing capital, the means of production, be compensated based on whatever benefit they could obtain through alternate uses of that capital. And the people managing capital be compensated based not on the “labor” they provide but on the value they bring to the enterprise.

It’s not just Jonah Goldberg

Bill Flax in Forbes Magazine:

In Argentina, everyone acknowledges that fascism, state capitalism, corporatism – whatever – reflects very leftwing ideology. Eva Peron remains a liberal icon. President Obama’s Fabian policies (Keynesian economics) promise similar ends. His proposed infrastructure bank is just the latest gyration of corporatism. Why then are fascists consistently portrayed as conservatives?

In the Thirties, intellectuals smitten by progressivism considered limited, constitutional governance anachronistic. The Great Depression had apparently proven capitalism defunct. The remaining choice had narrowed between communism and fascism. Hitler was about an inch to the right of Stalin. Western intellectuals infatuated with Marxism thus associated fascism with the Right.

Later, Marxists from the Frankfurt School popularized this prevailing sentiment. Theodor Adorno in The Authoritarian Personality devised the “F” scale to demean conservatives as latent fascists. The label “fascist” has subsequently meant anyone liberals seek to ostracize or discredit.

Fascism is an amorphous ideology mobilizing an entire nation (Mussolini, Franco and Peron) or race (Hitler) for a common purpose. Leaders of industry, science, education, the arts and politics combine to shepherd society in an all encompassing quest. Hitler’s premise was a pure Aryan Germany capable of dominating Europe.

While he feinted right, Hitler and Stalin were natural bedfellows. Hitler mimicked Lenin’s path to totalitarian tyranny, parlaying crises into power. Nazis despised Marxists not over ideology, but because they had betrayed Germany in World War I and Nazis found it unconscionable that German communists yielded fealty to Slavs in Moscow.

[snip]

While political correctness as manifest in the West is very anti-Nazi and those opposing multiculturalism primarily populate the Right, it’s false to confuse fascism with conservatism. Coupling negatives is not necessarily positive. Because the Nazis would likely detest something that conservatives also dislike indicates little harmony. Ohio State hates Michigan. Notre Dame does too, but Irish fans rarely root for the Buckeyes.

America’s most fascistic elements are ultra leftwing organizations like La Raza or the Congressional Black Caucus. These racial nationalists seek gain not through merit, but through the attainment of government privileges. What’s the difference between segregation and affirmative action? They are identical phenomena harnessing state auspices to impose racialist dogma.

The Nation of Islam and other Afrocentric movements, like the Nazis, even celebrate their own perverse racist mythology. Are Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright conservatives? Is Obama?

Racism does not exclusively plague the Right. Many American bigots manned the Left: ex-Klansman Hugo Black had an extremely left wing Supreme Court record, George Wallace was a New Deal style liberal – he just wanted welfare and social programs controlled by states. Communists always persecute minorities whenever in power.

The Nazis’ anti-Semitism derived indirectly from Karl Marx, who despite Jewish ancestry was deeply anti-Semitic. Bankers and other capitalists were disproportionately Jewish. Elsewhere, Jews played prominent roles. Before falling under Hitler’s sway, Mussolini’s inner circle was overly Jewish. Peron was the first leader to let Jews hold public office in Argentina. Franco, a Marana, welcomed Jews back into Spain for the first time since 1492 and famously thwarted Hitler by harboring Jewish refugees.

Very little of Hitler’s domestic activity was even remotely right wing. Europe views Left and Right differently, but here, free markets, limited constitutional government, family, church and tradition are the bedrocks of conservatism. The Nazis had a planned economy; eradicated federalism in favor of centralized government; considered church and family as competitors; and disavowed tradition wishing to restore Germany’s pre-Christian roots.

Despite Democrats’ pretensions every election, patriotism is clearly a conservative trait so Nazi foreign policy could be vaguely right wing, but how did Hitler’s aggression differ from Stalin’s? The peace movement evidenced liberals being duped as “useful idiots” more than pacifistic purity. Note the Left’s insistence on neutrality during the Hitler/Stalin pact and their urgent switch to militarism once Germany attacked.

After assuming power, Nazis strongly advocated “law and order.” Previously, they were antagonistic thugs, which mirrored the communists’ ascension. The Nazis outlawed unions perceiving them as competitors for labor’s loyalties, i.e. for precisely the same reason workers’ paradises like Communist China and Soviet Russia disallowed unions. To Nazis, the state sustained workers’ needs.

Even issues revealing similarity to American conservatism could also describe Stalin, Mao and many communists. This is not to suggest liberals and fascists are indistinguishable, but a fair assessment clearly shows if any similarities appear with American politics they reside more on the Left than Right.

The price of everything is everything

Donald J. Boudreaux: Economists’ insights can be mundane & surprising

At first glance, the core insights of economics seem mundane. As something’s cost rises, consumers buy less of it. Producing more clothing requires transferring more resources to textile factories and, hence, away from other uses. When Jen buys a pear from Al for a dollar, she does so because she values the pear more than whatever she otherwise would have purchased with that dollar — and Al values what he will buy with that dollar more than he values the pear.

Pretty straightforward. But what economists do with such “obvious” observations is often mind-blowing.

An important counterintuitive insight was vividly conveyed long ago by my late colleague Gordon Tullock. Asked in the 1960s what government should do to maximize reduction in traffic fatalities, he replied, “Mandate that the steering column of each car be mounted with a steel dagger pointed directly at each driver’s heart.” Initially, that sounds crazy. Yet when you think about it, you realize such daggers would cause drivers to dramatically increase the care they exercise behind the wheel.

Instead of really wanting government to mandate mounted daggers, Gordon was warning government against going too far in mandating safety features such as airbags, seat belts and collapsible steering columns. Just as mandated daggers would lead to more-careful driving, mandated safety features lead to less -careful driving. Safety features truly might reduce highway deaths, but keep in mind the possibility that mandated safety features might have surprising opposite effects.

David Friedman explains another counterintuitive insight: “Economists are often accused of believing that everything — health, happiness, life itself — can be measured in money. What we actually believe is even odder. We believe that everything can be measured in anything.”

What Friedman means is that each of us routinely makes trade-offs among things that seemingly can’t be compared. Consider your enjoyment from going to a concert. Getting there conveniently requires driving. Yet by doing that instead of staying home, you raise your chance of being killed in an auto accident. If you nevertheless drive there, you conclude that the added enjoyment you expect from the concert is worth more than the added safety you’d experience by staying home. That is, you compare the experience of a concert to the risks of driving. Obviously, if the risk of being killed while driving there were high enough, you’d decide to stay home.

Another example: You buy a jacket, telling friends it “cost” you $100. But your statement is inaccurate. When you gave, say, five $20 bills to the clerk, what you really gave up wasn’t five pieces of paper engraved with Andrew Jackson’s portrait. What you really gave up is whatever you otherwise would have bought with those five pieces of paper.

Suppose that, had you not bought the jacket, you would have bought a meal at a nice restaurant for you and a friend. In this case, you compared a jacket to that restaurant meal.

We humans constantly compare apples to oranges — and choose sensibly between them.

Giovanni Gentile

Described as the founder of Fascism, he’s certainly one of the founders of the movement.

Wikipedia has an article on him, which has “multiple issues”.  This article also leads to a “fascism portal” with collected pieces on the subject.

His thought definitely has roots in Marxist and Hegelian philosophy. This may be a problem for those who are determined to assert that Fascism is absolutely, positively, right-wing.

Sacred Cattle and Bias

 

People Are Questioning Your Sacred Cows? Listen Up

There’s good reason to scrutinize claims like the Roy Moore mall story. It’s certainly not to protect a pedophile.

I’m skeptical about the mall story. No one in the New Yorker story seems to have been directly involved with the alleged mall ban; every source who was willing (even eager) to talk seems to have heard the story from someone else. It seems probable that there was a rumor floating around that Moore was banned from the mall; it seems possible that this rumor was even true. But it’s also possible it’s false. Those of us over a certain age will remember how many compelling, yet false, urban legends we believed before Snopes.com was invented. And who was the source for every one of those legends? That stalwart figure, “a friend of a friend.”

So without better confirmation than “35 years ago, I heard from a guy that Roy Moore got banned from the mall,” I will withhold judgment on whether Moore was actually banned. I tweeted as much after I read the New Yorker story. And was immediately inundated with aggressive accusations of covering up for a child molester and general partisan hackery.

I am not generally identified as a member of Team Trump, much less Team Roy Moore. Indeed, prior to my tweet about the mall story, I’d been saying some fairly astringent things about the people who were attacking Moore’s accusers — or worse, saying “But Democrats covered for Bill Clinton!” I just didn’t happen to think this particular story was very strong.

I also didn’t think it particularly mattered. If Moore did everything he has been credibly accused of, would we be inclined to give him a pass because that supreme judicial authority, the mall of Gadsden, Alabama, never got around to banning him?

But as I attempted to explain why this story looks weak to a lot of journalists (I was not the only one who noticed the thin sourcing), I began to understand why I’d triggered such outrage. Because several people asked me some version of the same question: “Why would you even question this story?” In their minds, it was clear that there could be only one reason: because I was trying to somehow salvage Moore’s candidacy.

I get asked this question a lot these days. Why would you even argue about rape statistics, when we know that rape is a problem? Why would you give even a moment’s consideration to those who theorize that global warming could be moderate rather than catastrophic? Why would you raise questions about that terrible gang rape at UVA?

My interlocutors have a point: We all make choices about which assertions we interrogate, and which we accept on easy faith. And because we are biased, we tend to interrogate most ruthlessly the inconvenient claims that stand in the way of something we’d very much like to believe. When someone casts doubt on a politically charged story, it’s not crazy to infer an ulterior ideological motive (even though in this particular case involving my qualms about that Roy Moore mall story, this inference was dead wrong).

But if we are committed to believing only things that are likely to be true, then how much does the motive of a questioner really matter? I’d argue “not much.” Knowing someone’s political commitments tells you that they are likely to accept evidence for some propositions more easily than for others. But it does not tell you that their analysis is wrong.

To the contrary, partisans with an axe to grind are often the people who see what others don’t. The faked Second Amendment scholarship of Michael Bellesiles, the forgeries that suggested Bush had gone AWOL during Vietnam, the imaginary gang rape at a UVA fraternity — in all cases, the people who raised questions were dismissed as cranks and partisans, and often this was actually true. And yet, they were the ones seeing clearly, while the people questioning their motives were not.

Truth is powerful stuff; it can be bottled up for just so long before it bursts its container and splatters all over the place. And when that happens, the revelation of the lie hurts the credibility of everyone who embraced it — and harms the very cause they thought they were helping.

So instead of labeling folks as partisan and dismissing their questions, we should embrace a tough critique regardless of its source. You have your blind spots, just like they have theirs. By overlaying their world view onto yours, you may be able to get a fuller picture. You’ll get closer to the truth by listening to people who see the world very differently from you, especially the ones who ask questions that make you uncomfortable. If what you believe is true, their objections can only refine your ideas into something stronger. And if what you believe is false — well, it’s better to find out quick.

Judeo-Christian Values

Dennis Prager has written a great deal on Judeo-Christian values, which he considers one of the underpinnings of American civilization. Many people have an almost reflexive aversion to the term “Judeo-Christian” and will leap to oppose the term. Judaism and Christianity are different religions, they will point out, which means there can be no such thing as Judeo-Christian anything.

Dennis Prager wrote a set of 22 essays on the subject, including what values he identifies as particularly Judeo-Christian. There’s one website I’ve found that has the essays conveniently in one place.

The Case for Judeo-Christian Values

One thing I think doesn’t get enough attention is the meta-law in Judaism. The Torah could have been interpreted in ways to make Judaism just as oppressive as Jihadist Islam. Instead, the rabbis have a history of interpreting laws so that the harshest penalties are literally impossible to invoke. One example is the ongoing arguments between Hillel and Shammai, and how much more restrictive Judaism would have been had Shammai carried the day.

One could make the case for this as an underlying current that drives the course of religious doctrine and practice. Because it’s not written down anywhere, it can be ignored. Individuals and institutions can swim against the current, at least for a while, but the current eventually overcomes all.