URLs du Jour

2022-04-14

[Wrong Direction]

  • As our Eye Candy du Jour illustrates… Bryan Caplan provides us with The Ironclad Argument Against Racism. Spoiler:

    Racism is wrong because collective guilt is wrong.

    This doesn't make any sense to those who like collective guilt, and use it as a weapon to achieve other goals.

    In the past, most whites were racist. Even today, many are. Without collective guilt, however, you have no basis for punishing whites in general. You couldn’t tell a white college applicant, “We’re going to discriminate against you, because white people in the past discriminated against blacks.” Or even, “We’re going to discriminate against you, because modern whites continue to discriminate against blacks.” Instead, you would have to tailor any punishment for specific misdeeds - ever mindful of the danger that if you stray into collective guilt, the punisher himself deserves punishment.

    So while the ironclad argument against racism unequivocally condemns racism, it also bars the way to a no-holds-barred, by-any-means-necessary War Against Racism. Which, on reflection, is a feature, not a bug. If your road to a just society requires constant injustice, you’re headed in the wrong direction.


  • Every college should have an actual monument to destructive assumptions. But since that's not an option, we'll have to stick with the one noticed by George F. Will: $1.6 trillion in student debt is a monument to destructive assumptions.

    Anyone who has taken a swig from the flask of recent history knew President Biden was going to decree another extension of the pause on federal student loan payments. While celebrating the economy’s health — 3.6 percent unemployment, 2 percent unemployment for college graduates — he has announced a sixth extension, through Aug. 31, to give borrowers relief from current economic conditions.

    The Constitution, which modern presidents treat as a tissue of suggestions to be complied with when doing so is not inconvenient, says: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (if the committee has 20 members or so, it has about half of the Americans who care about responsible budgeting) is not amused. It says this will bring to more than $115 billion the effective disbursement, granted by executive largesse, of funds that otherwise would have flowed into the treasury in payments of principal and interest. Now four more months, at about $5 billion per month in non-accrued interest, will fuel consumption in the overheated economy.

    GFW guesses that Biden "probably assumes that the gratitude of up to 41 million beneficiaries will exceed the resentment of borrowers who scrimped to pay their debts." I hope he's wrong about that.


  • The libertarian menace continues to work its insidious way… Kerry McDonald is amused, and so am I: CNN Slams Libertarian Children’s Books—Causing Sales to Surge.

    Last week, CNN published an opinion piece arguing that the “right-wing children’s entertainment complex is upon us.” Prominently featured as a case in point were the Tuttle Twins children’s books, created by Connor Boyack to offset the progressive propaganda that many children now confront in classrooms across the country.

    The books, which have sold more than 3.5 million copies, weave in libertarian themes related to individual freedom, limited government, free markets, and entrepreneurship, and frequently highlight the work of great thinkers such as Frederic Bastiat, F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and FEE founder, Leonard Read.

    I'm ashamed to admit I was ignorant of the Tuttle Twins literature. And (sigh) it's probably too late for me to buy them for my kids, since they are in their thirties.

    The author of the CNN piece, Nicole Hemmer ("Associate research scholar at Columbia University with the Obama Presidency Oral History Project") seems nonplussed about the general phenomenon of kids' books written from a conservative/libertarian perspective. What could they possibly be bothered about? Well…


  • Here you go, Nicole. John Stossel will educate you about Kids' Books in the Woke Era.

    Bookstores now sell only certain kinds of children’s books.

    “Go into Barnes & Noble,” says Bethany Mandel in my new video, “and you will be met with a wall of biographies. Probably 27 different books about former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Great. A ton about Kamala Harris. Great.”

    But where are the biographies on conservatives? There weren’t any.

    She found lots on people like Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, and Rachel Carson, but not one on conservatives like Margaret Thatcher or Amy Coney Barrett.

    If you're in the market, Stossel has other suggestions.


  • Interesting take… from John Kline at Heterodox Academy. Sinister Sounds: How the Phonetics of “Scare Words” Amplifies Their Meaning.

    More and more, linguists and phonologists are finding a nonarbitrary relationship between the sound of words and the feelings they arouse in people. Specific sound profiles of words, they assert, can affect their meaning for people at a deep psychological level. Using fake words, for instance, neuroimaging studies have found words like “kiki” to be emotionally arousing whereas words like “bouba” are calming. As researchers have concluded, specific sound profiles “implicitly influence language-users in their final emotional judgment about the meaning of words.”

    This research applies especially well to words like “racist” and “hate,” words that have become increasingly expanded and applied to new arenas, failing, as a result, to communicate much, if any, meaning to the listener. . There are phonetic features in these words that help explain why they have morphed into “scare terms” or “devil words,” which, as the Oregon Association of Scholars (OAS) describe in a recent report, are frequently deployed by professors and students simply to quash opposing views. The OAS calls the practice “the New Censorship.”

    I think by Kline's standards, "statist" should be a pretty good slur to sling at the idolaters of big government.

    It also explains why they prefer "public schools" to tbe (more accurate) "government schools": public is one of those "soothing" words.