Eminence Front

It's a Put On

[also a rip off] Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. on Silicon Valley Bank and Joe Biden’s $19 Trillion Monday.

Your bank deposits are safe from bank failures. They aren’t safe from inflation.

We will never know if there would have been a generalized run on the nation’s banks, at least the small and medium-size banks the public perceives as not too big to fail. But notice that the giant rout in bank stocks on Monday came after, not before, Washington stepped in with funding help and an implicit universal deposit guarantee in the wake of the federal seizure of California’s struggling Silicon Valley Bank and New York’s Signature Bank.

If Monday’s rout in bank stocks further spooked uninsured depositors, it was just one more way government was working against itself. Shareholders had reason for fright as the government suddenly and unilaterally rewrote the terms of their investments. In essence, out of the blue, the risks that large, sophisticated uninsured depositors had willingly accepted were shifted to bank shareholders and U.S. taxpayers so Joe Biden could have a pleasanter start to his week than otherwise would have been the case.

Jenkins sees this as only the latest manifestation of a more general problem:

The biggest problem of all is the size, inefficiency, indebtedness and unsustainability of government. Our political class has a silent strategy here too: Hope it blows up on somebody else’s watch. Already written into law are 25% cuts in Social Security benefits. Medicare can always balance its books by cutting reimbursements to doctors and hospitals and letting declining service and wait lists drive patients to seek care elsewhere. The solution for global warming, in the unlikely event the warming lives up to the hype, Congress might as well admit now will be a mad rush for cheap geoengineering to cut the amount of sunlight falling on the earth.

… and notes our "super-elderly leadership class" with their "shortened time horizons".

[Apologies for the perhaps obscure headline today.]

Briefly noted:

  • In a paywalled article at the Dispatch, Nick Catoggio claims Everything I Don’t Like Is ‘Woke’.

    He's kidding, of course. Sort of. His kickoff is Bethany Mandel's alleged video brain-freeze when she was asked to define the term.

    Trying to define “wokeness” is like trying to define “hardcore pornography.” You can do it, more or less, but you’re mostly just trying to articulate a gut feeling of transgression.

    When the U.S. Supreme Court took up the question of obscenity in the 1960s, Justice Potter Stewart dodged the question of what sort of porn might qualify as “hardcore” and therefore, in his judgment, lack the protections of the First Amendment. “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so,” Stewart conceded, before adding the most infamous words he’d ever produce as a judge, “But I know it when I see it.”

    Being entirely subjective, “I know it when I see it” is a poor standard for constitutional law. It’s not great as an intellectual standard either, although that hasn’t stopped many Republicans from adopting its logic.

    I can't help but think that John McWhorter, author of Woke Racism, would have acquitted himself more coherently than Ms. Mandel.

    But on that same topic…

  • Freddie deBoer, self-described Marxist, claims: Of Course You Know What "Woke" Means.

    As I have said many times, I don’t like using the term “woke” myself, not without qualification or quotation marks. It’s too much of a culture war pinball and now deemed too pejorative to be useful. I much, much prefer the term “social justice politics” to refer to the school of politics that is typically referred to as woke, out of a desire to be neutral in terminology. However: there is such a school of politics, it’s absurd that so many people pretend not to know what woke means, and the problem could be easily solved if people who support woke politics would adopt a name for others to use. No to woke, no to identity politics, no to political correctness, fine: PICK SOMETHING. The fact that they steadfastly refuse to do so is a function of their feeling that they shouldn’t have to do politics like everyone else. But they do. And their resistance to doing politics is why, three years after a supposed “reckoning,” nothing has really changed. (If there’s no such thing as the social justice politics movement, who made the protests and unrest of 2020 happen? The fucking Democrats?)

    The conceit is that “woke” has even shaggier or vaguer boundaries than “liberal,” “fascist,” “conservative,” or “moderate.” And I just don’t think that’s true.

    Freddie's last paragraph gives me an opportunity to drag out Orwell's 1946 essay on Politics and the English Language, and post the always-relevant quote:

    The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’.

    Muddying and abusing language is always an effort to gain unfair and dishonest rhetorical advantage.

  • Here's a video about something I didn't know even existed until a few days ago:

    Kat Rosenfield has the text: Is Internet Spoonie Culture Keeping People Sick?

    The writer Suzy Weiss has described the spoonie world as an "illness kingdom." Another word might be "institution," with all that entails—including an instinct toward self-preservation. The notion of disability as an identity category is a boon on this front, not just to patients in search of belonging or influencers building a brand, but to foundations and pharmaceutical companies that decide what drugs to develop and what research to fund. This is a world where belonging, meaning, and an enormous amount of money all derive from patients not just being sick but staying that way.

    It is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, a world in which little energy is directed into the sort of boundary-pushing research and innovation that might help patients get better. Instead, it centers on what [author Kelly] Owens calls "a narrative of how glamorous and heroic it is to own the limitations of disease, and to fight against the 'abled' system that looks to oppress disabled people." An entire economy revolves around this narrative.

    Ms. Rosenfield's article is long and thought-provoking. Not that it matters, but I really liked her novel No One Will Miss Her, and I just got a notice that her current book, You Must Remember This is on hold for me at the library.

  • George Will is unmerciful: Expensively credentialed, negligibly educated Stanford brats threw a tantrum.

    Before reading this, watch the nine-minute video, widely available online, of last week’s mob victory at Stanford Law School. Note especially Tirien Steinbach, who, you should not be shocked to learn, is the law school’s associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion. Pseudo-intellectual smugness and moral cowardice apparently are necessary and sufficient prerequisites for DEI careers — there are many thousands of them — enforcing campus orthodoxies.

    Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, a Columbia Law School graduate who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, was invited by Stanford Law School’s Federalist Society chapter to talk about his court “in conversation with the Supreme Court.” Some progressive students, and Steinbach, especially dislike some of his views concerning social issues — same-sex marriages, transgender rights, abortion, pronouns, etc. After anti-Duncan posters were placed around campus, Steinbach, in an email, associated herself with Duncan’s critics, but said protests must comply with Stanford’s policy against disrupting speakers.

    Should any of the Stanford mob eventually become lawyers, they should be slapped with a mandatory warning label: "Not to be employed for First Amendment cases."

  • And Philip Greenspun has some AI fun: ChatGPT applies to college. With suitable prompting, an essay was penned…

    As a 17-year-old Black girl, I have had to navigate a world that is not always kind to those who look like me. Even with the privilege of growing up in a family with a wealthy investment banker as my father, my family has not been immune to the ravages of racism.

    One concrete example of this was when my family was denied parking for our Gulfstream G650 while a white family was allowed to park a ragged-out Cessna Citation V. This was not just an inconvenience; it was a blatant act of discrimination that left us feeling vulnerable and disrespected.

    But will that get you into Stanford Law School?

Last Modified 2024-01-30 6:19 AM EDT