Morning Ed: World {2017.01.19.Th}

Todd Gordon and Jeffery Webber discuss Canada’s oppressive history in Latin America.

Alana Samuels explains why Norwegians and Americans see inequality differently.

Who has more to lose with Brexit, the UK or the EU? {More}

As you have probably heard, Obama closed the gates on Cuban refugee policy, bringing it in line with the rest of the world. Here is a look at The Last Cubans In.

A French newspaper is forsaking polls and horse race journalism for their upcoming election. One would think there is a middle ground, but I’m not sure there is.

Kishore Mahbubani looks at the datapoints and trends pointing to an Asian Century, which Chinese president Xi Jinping looks ready to move on.

Evening the score after the fall of the USSR? Putin’s man is working on secession movements worldwide. Well, outside of Russia.

From paragon to bystander, the Samantha Power Story.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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245 thoughts on “Morning Ed: World {2017.01.19.Th}

  1. In regards to the Norway article, I am all in favor of comparative public policy, but there are real limits to comparing the United States to small, homogeneous Northern European countries, especially ones with large oil endowments. It’s great that Norwegians are less comfortable with luck determining who gets what in their society, but how about the luck of being born in Norway as opposed to say, South Sudan? There are historical reasons that a particular culture developed in Norway, so of course that is going to be reflected in the attitudes of its citizens. And maybe Norwegians, and other northern Europeans and East Asians, are just better at running large welfare states than everybody else.

    That Jacobin article is… well, it’s barely written in English. But I suppose that’s Jacobin’s shtick.

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    • Most Nordic countries aren’t really that homogeneous anymore. According to Wikipedia, there 325,000 people in Norway from a Non-Western background. Norway’s population seems to be around 5.25 million. Wikipedia also states that most of Sweden’s immigrant and immigrant descendant population is from a non-Western background and they amount to about ten percent of the population of around a little under 10 million. Two-thirds of 590,000 immigrants and their descendants in Denmark are also from a non-Western background. Denmark’s population is 5.7 million.

      Other European states are significantly more diverse and populated than the Nordic countries. France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Italy have much more generous welfare states than the United States and populations in the mid to upper tens of millions. There are over four million British Asians and nearly two million Black British people along with 600,000 others. France seems to be about 15% non-European in origin. Germany is about 8% non-European in background. Wikipedia states that the population of the Netherlands is around 16.4% non-European in background.

      Israel is another developed with a heterogenous population and a high amount of ethnic conflict that manages to have a much more generous welfare state than the United States.

      Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have very homogenous populations but aren’t known for generous welfare states or squishy liberalism.

      There really isn’t a lot of evidence to support the theory that you need a low and homogeneous population to have a generous welfare state.

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      • Except the bulk of that diversity is recent, coming long after the largely homogeneous culture had a chance to develop such attitudes.

        I agree that the author places too much on admiration of wealth & dodges the association of luck & sin.

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        • I think Canada also can serve as something off a counterpoint. Not that different from the USA in population demographics, similar settler colonial histories, quite different level of welfare policies.

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          • The American counter is that we have no black people, which inhibits American solidarity.

            That Canada has to deal with an even larger minority that speaks another language is the counter to the counter.

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          • What Canada and the other Anglophone countries prove to him is that political systems matter. The American political system has lots of veto points to stop legislation on anything. It gives the opponents of the welfare state more opportunities to gum up the works. Other Anglophone countries have fewer veto points and legislation of all sorts is easier to enact.

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            • The American political system has lots of veto points to stop legislation on anything. It gives the opponents of the welfare state more opportunities to gum up the works.

              What a terrible system we have. If only we could change it to make it easier for liberals to take and then spend other peoples’ money it would be a wonderful life.

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      • There really isn’t a lot of evidence to support the theory that you need a low and homogeneous population to have a generous welfare state

        .
        I don’t know what theory you’re talking about? It’s not a question of whether any given country have a generous welfare state. It’s a question of any given country can have a generous welfare state that employs successful anti-poverty interventions, is equally generous to ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups, and is fiscally sustainable.

        Go through the list of countries with large welfare states and you’ll find a range of outcomes. Comparing ourselves to the small group of counties that perform exceptionally well on that range is of limited value. We might as well compare ourselves to the Gulf countries and ask why we’re not all driving Maseratis.

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      • There really isn’t a lot of evidence to support the theory that you need a low and homogeneous population to have a generous welfare state.

        That isn’t exactly the theory.

        The theory is that there is another iron triangle that consists of the following:

        1. Generous Welfare State
        2. Multiculturalism
        3. Open Immigration

        Pick two.

        You can have a generous welfare state and open immigration! You’re just going to find yourself with stuff like “language laws” (and not just language laws…).

        It’s like pointing out that the iron triangle found with regards to health care doesn’t exist because, hey, rich people can afford health care that is both Done Right and Done Fast.

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          • Fair enough.

            But I was more responding to the argument that “you need a low and homogeneous population to have a generous welfare state.”

            I’m saying that, if it were my arguments that you were subtweeting with this phrase, that you weren’t addressing my arguments but a strawman of my arguments.

            If you were attacking other arguments entirely, I apologize for butting in and thinking that it was my arguments that were being subtweeted.

            As for evidence behind my assertion, it seems to me that any push toward having all three will result in collapse and I can’t see evidence of any system existing that has all three (though there is no shortage of countries that have picked two or fewer of those).

            I suppose a really good counter-argument would be “Ha! Here’s a country that has all three!”

            And then I can say “They have language laws.”

            And then you can ask why I’m suddenly bringing up language laws.

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        • The fact that all the northern European countries have immigration laws that make the US look down right welcoming is important. They accept refugees, but the fact is, should the point of origin ever settle down, those refugees can be sent straight home.

          Although that has more to do with the practicalities of a generous welfare state than it does cultural attitudes regarding fairness & luck.

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        • 1. Generous Welfare State
          2. Multiculturalism
          3. Open Immigration

          Pick two.

          Isn’t Canada a country with a generous welfare state, quite multicultural (not just the French thing, but Asians, First Nations, and now plenty of Latin Americans), and with a flexible and open immigration policy?

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          • Canada leans pretty heavily on skill-based immigration. They can also be selective and screen. They look at immigrants as an investment, and as such would make things difficult for Elizabeth Piccuito because they see her disabled son as a bad investment.

            In any event, I know some (though not all) border hawks who would take the Canadian system, and I think it would alleviate the concerns of many uncommitted, but it’s not an option on the table.

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            • They have language laws????

              Yes they do, like most every other country in the world.

              But I’m not sure if you think that having two official languages (or three like the Swiss(*)) is a good or a bad thing. Is that left as an exercise for the reader, so you can argue against whatever we say?

              (*) have you ever seen a Swiss milk carton? All scribbled up in three languages is the tiniest fonts

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                • Yeah, why in the hell would I bring up language laws out of the blue like that?

                  I give you ‘s Uncertainty Principle:

                  “Everything is simultaneously good and bad until ‘s interlocutor states an opinion about something. Stating any opinion causes the Jaybird Function infinite possible values to collapse onto itself, and the interlocutor is always wrong.”

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                  • I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m saying that language laws are not compatible with a robust “multiculturalism” and, as such, are evidence of the two things that are still on the table are open immigration and robust welfare state.

                    I’m not using the kind of multiculturalism you find at Epcot’s World Showcase as my definition of multiculturalism.

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                    • I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m saying that language laws are not compatible with a robust “multiculturalism” and, as such, are evidence of the two things that are still on the table are open immigration and robust welfare state.

                      Says you. Ignoring the Canadian case, Switzerland is a good example. A small country with four official languages, two very different religions, one of them, Calvinism, with a very dim view of the “other”, and, lest we forget, at least six civil wars in its history.

                      The result is a multicultural country with a strong welfare state, and very strict Language Laws, we don’t want any of the cultures to feel offended (*)

                      Now, you can argue that Switzerland is also the land where people voted for a ban on mosques, so their multiculturalism has a limit. My response would be that what the Swiss are against is not multiculturalism per se, but the refusal of Islam to be itself multicultural, and play by the rules of multiculturalism.

                      It’s not news to anyone here the tension resulting in “should we tolerate the intolerant?” I would say that if the Muslim community subscribed to the liberal, multicultural, mindset, there wouldn’t be a “No Mosques” issue. There is not, as far as I know, a movement to ban Indian or Chinese worship places in Switzerland, but then, Chinese and Indian communities have always, everywhere, subscribed to the multicultural project.

                      (*) It is also one of the most restrictive countries citizenship wise (but fairly open to immigrants as residents), but you were arguing the incompatibility of Language Laws and multiculturalism, not between Language Laws and immigration.

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                      • My response would be that what the Swiss are against is not multiculturalism per se, but the refusal of Islam to be itself multicultural, and play by the rules of multiculturalism.

                        So… you see why this is weak, right? You don’t need me to go into it?

                        My definition of “multiculturalism” is *NOT* “different kinds of restaurants and different churches to pick from on Sunday”.

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                        • So… you see why this is weak, right? You don’t need me to go into it?

                          My definition of “multiculturalism” is *NOT* “different kinds of restaurants and different churches to pick from on Sunday”.

                          Yes, I want you to get into it, and tell me what is multiculturalism.

                          People used to kill people about what church to go on Sunday. People killed people about that, even in four languages Switzerland. The origin of multiculturalism is exactly “we can go to different churches on Sunday, and even talk different languages, at home and in the street, and no one has to die or kill about it”

                          Indian people in America, and in Switzerland, can be neurosurgeons 9-5 Monday through Friday, and then go home to eat with their fingers, after stopping at the temple on the way to light burn flowers and offer fruits to Krishna. And no one bats an eye at them. No one says Indian people should stop throwing colored dust at people, or stop eating goats, or that Indian women should not wear saris in the shopping mall (or in their office as VP of marketing for a Fortune 500 company), or that they must stop arranging marriages for their children (*).

                          Multiculturalism is exactly that, letting people of different religions, different behaviour, and different language, share a common space and interact with each other. Multiculturalism is offering beef sausages in baseball parks to accommodate the scruples of a minority. Multiculturalism is “Para español, oprima el dos”. Multiculturalism is the Vatican issuing a commemorative stamp of Martin Luther. Before multiculturalism, the proper response to people that prayed differently was to kill them. Now, it is to consider them as your potential neurosurgeon.

                          The problem is that Fundamentalist Islam (and certain varieties of Fundamentalist Judaism and Christianity) do not sign-off of “everyone can go to its preferred church on Sunday”. They not only want to do their thing, but understand God as requiring them to make sure no one does anything not their thing.

                          The problem is not an excess of multiculturalism, is that some people do not accept the multicultural detente.

                          (*) And, by the way, the ethnic difference between an Indian and a Pakistani is nil.

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                          • Yes, I want you to get into it, and tell me what is multiculturalism.

                            Multiculturalism is accepting different attitudes for such things as human rights, what they entail, and who they extend to.

                            Such things as “should women vote?” or “should people who don’t own property vote?” are questions that different cultures have achieved different answers to and some of these cultures aren’t compatible with other cultures.

                            Multiculturalism says “it’s okay that other cultures have reached different conclusions” and the attitude that says “you know what, that culture needs to change is not multiculturalism”.

                            There are matters of taste and matters of morality and multiculturalism allows for multiple matters of morality.

                            Pointing out that, hey, we’ve got different matters of taste sprinkled all over the map and they used to be considered matters of morality but they aren’t anymore is not a counter-argument against multiculturalism.

                            Allowing for different conclusions to be reached on matters of taste is to be expected.

                            Disagreeing on what is and what is not a matter of taste is where multiculturalism has teeth.

                            (Ethnicity can be used as a proxy for culture but it is not culture. I don’t know anyone who is arguing otherwise.)

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                            • Multiculturalism is accepting different attitudes for such things as human rights, what they entail, and who they extend to.

                              You know, Jaybird, you don’t even need to include the other two parts of your inconsistent triad to attain an inconsistency given your definition of “multi-culturalism” since what you’re suggesting is that anyone who views themselves as a “multiculturalist” must benignly accept an outcome pursued by individuals who actively try to marginalize their rights and opportunities. Which is incoherent all on its own.

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                              • As an example of what I mean: According to your definition, ante-bellum black slaves could be criticized as being “insufficiently multi-cultural” because they didn’t accept that powerful white people had a different conception of human rights than they did.

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                                • I don’t see “multiculturalism” as a good in and of itself.

                                  There *ARE* cultures that we should be intolerant of.

                                  For example: White Supremacist ones. Sexist ones.

                                  To use the example of the bellum, the North was not particularly multiculti when it came to their attitudes toward the South.

                                  But if you see “multiculturalism” as a good thing in and of itself, it’s probably cognitively dissonant to think of the North not being sufficiently multi-cultural. So you just define the White Supremacy that existed in the South as not being part of its culture, I guess?

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                                  • Presumably you care about rights, tho, yes?

                                    So, why define “multiculturalism” as contingent upon conceptions of rights which you reject? That doesn’t seem to be your definition of the term.

                                    Which makes me think you’re arguing against a view you’ve heard out there in the web wide world, rather than arguing for a view you actually hold. Which are radically different things, seems to me. And which is counterproductive taboot.

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                                    • I believe rights exist, yes. I believe that most of the stuff that you and I agree would be a right qualifies as a matter of morality rather than a matter of taste.

                                      And more than that, we’ve reached similar conclusions about how the right ought to be treated.

                                      But when it comes to stuff like, oh, the burqa, we have to resort to “well, if women *WANT* to wear it, I guess it’s okay” when it comes to seeing women in the US who wear it.

                                      When it comes to cultures that say “women *OUGHT* to wear the burqa”, we’re left with… what?

                                      Discussions of tolerance?

                                      So, why define “multiculturalism” as contingent upon conceptions of rights which you reject? That doesn’t seem to be your definition of the term.

                                      It’s not *JUST* contingent on those things, but “what is a matter of morality vs. a matter of taste” is where cultures come into conflict with each other.

                                      How should women dress? We see women dressing as a matter of taste. They can wear what they want and it ain’t none of our business.

                                      So what happens when this comes into conflict with a culture that says that women shouldn’t show their faces outside of the house?

                                      Define things so that our saying “no!” doesn’t qualify as “intolerance”?

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                                      • But this is just more complaining about (no, that’s wrong: judgment of!) people who don’t see things like you do, seems to me.

                                        How are people supposed to think more like you do if you don’t express the views which you want people to think more consistently with?

                                        Criticizing is easy. Especially when a person’s ideology is merely to criticize other people for embracing an ideology which fucks everything up for everyone everywhere. Super easy.

                                        Like, SO easy…. Especially in America, where punition and blame are the primary emotional responses to disagreement.

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                                        • Don’t see it as “complaining”. See it as me saying “it’s going to fail because it’s unworkable even in theory”.

                                          The counter-argument seems to rely on how it’s not unworkable in theory if we define things differently.

                                          It’s going to break, we see it breaking even now. I’m not intending to say “it’s breaking” as a criticism. I’m intending to say it as an accurate description of it changing states.

                                          It’d be breaking even if I wasn’t, as you say, “complaining”.

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                                      • The Pope would be surprised to learn that you believe that him being a Catholic is a matter of taste, like him liking (I suppose) grilled meat, and not a great matter of morality, on which it hinges the salvation of his soul.

                                        Multiculturalism takes morality very seriously. In particular, the moral foundations of fairness and of harm.

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                                        • I’m not one of those “the soul exists” people. If he’s familiar with those people, I’m pretty sure that he would take my belief that his Catholicism is merely a matter of taste in stride.

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                                  • I don’t see “multiculturalism” as a good in and of itself.

                                    Not even if you accept J_A’s definition above? That multiculturalism means not killing people for going to a different church?

                                    C’mon, Jaybird. Just stop it with the meta.

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                                    • That multiculturalism means not killing people for going to a different church?

                                      If we define “multiculturalism” as that thing that Epcot does with the World Pavilion, then let me say that I am 100% in favor of multiculturalism.

                                      And I’m going to need a different word for the thing that I’m talking about willingness to allow other cultures to reach different conclusions on matters of morality and freely mix with one’s own.

                                      (Going to a different church is a matter of taste now. It wasn’t always.)

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                                        • I guess if we agree that it’s still multiculturalism so long as the other cultures change to agree with us on the substantive issues of what is a matter of morality and somewhere in the same ballpark of how to deal with those matters of morality, then put me down as a full-throated supporter of multiculturalism.

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                                          • I guess if we agree that it’s still multiculturalism so long as the other cultures change to agree with us on the substantive issues…

                                            Jaybird, you’re speaking incoherence now. Even you (YOU!) don’t think we should accept (eg) radical Islamic goals to be tolerated as a cultural practice in the US (what with all the murder and all). Which is to say that even YOU have a boundary on what constitutes the acceptable, and pragmatically defined!, limits of multiculturalism.

                                            To be honest here, I have no idea what you’re arguing here, since you’re adopting the view that everyone individually gets to make up the meanings of terms as they use them in their own subjectively determined context.

                                            I didn’t realize until just now that even you have fallen from grace and embraced the subjectivity of postmodernism. :)

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                                            • Yes, but I do not consider myself a fan of multiculturalism.

                                              I think that cultures that disagree with me substantively on matters of morality need to change until they no longer disagree with me.

                                              And I think that if people from those cultures come to “my” culture, they need to change and if they are unwilling to change, they need to leave.

                                              And you know what? I’m pretty sure that most of the folks here agree with me on these points.

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                                      • How important is it to have a word for what you are discribing though? I don’t think any country seriously attempts to practice it.

                                        There are many places that attempt a weaker version where a lot of private morality is left to your own community mores, but you have to buy into the public basic norms to get along with everyone.

                                        Meanwhile, when most people are talking about multiculturalism, they are talking about a stronger version of EPCOT multiculturism. Because that’s proven to be a workable ideal.

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                                        • You know the clash of cultures we’re now seeing in Europe?

                                          I think it’s very important to have a word for it.

                                          Meanwhile, when most people are talking about multiculturalism, they are talking about a stronger version of EPCOT multiculturism. Because that’s proven to be a workable ideal.

                                          Are there places in the world where we could not, absolutely could *NOT*, have an EPCOT World Pavilion? And I’m not talking about Antarctica.

                                          If so, reaching the point where those places *COULD* have an EPCOT World Pavilion involves changing the cultures of those places.

                                          For what it’s worth, I’d be a big fan of changing those cultures. I don’t think that they should stay the way they are now. We should make them a lot more like us.

                                          But I don’t consider myself a fan of multiculturalism.

                                          Or whatever the word is that we’re debating whether we need.

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                                          • I’m not a fan of it either. I just wouldn’t call it multiculturalism.

                                            That might be background speaking though. Multiculturalism is the name of a general guiding policy my country adopted in the 1960s when we decided to be race blind to immigrants. It discribes efforts to make the place friendly to the EPCOT thing.

                                            What’s happening in Europe is very much not what that policy was. Its uncontrolled migration of people the society can’t successfully integrate at the speed which they are entering. Uncontrolled migraton, that does break down the modern social system.

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                                            • Uncontrolled migraton, that does break down the modern social system.

                                              Uncontrolled migration of not only people, but immigration of capital, too. There most certainly is a humanitarian motivation justifying immigration policy, but the underlying logic at root is not indistinguishable from grounds upon which capital flight is justified. It’s “economics” all the way down.

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                                            • What’s happening in Europe is very much not what that policy was. Its uncontrolled migration of people the society can’t successfully integrate at the speed which they are entering. Uncontrolled migraton, that does break down the modern social system.

                                              For the avoidance of doubt, what’s happening in Europe is not that the “elites” decided to invite a bunch of foreign guestarbeiter. What happened was that, within a few years several million people embarked in a trek towards Europe, most from the Mddle East, some from Central Asia, some from Saharan and subsaharan Africa.

                                              Every day, several thousand people were arriving to the Greek islands or to the coasts of Italy and Spain. What do you do with those people? What are the realistic options?

                                              1-Shoot their boats in the water and make sure they drown before they reach European coasts
                                              2- Pen them behind barbed wire inside masive refuge/ concentration camps, feed them, clothe them, but don’t allow them to exit for several years until somehow we find a way to transport several million people to their land or origin (or just drop them in the Northafrican coast and let them walk home)
                                              3- Somehow, try to integrate them across Europe

                                              What happened in Europe was not a matter of immigration, or open borders, it was a matter of population displacement the size of which we hadn’t seen since the WW2 postwar. Including it in a discussion about multiculturalism adds heat without light.

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                                          • Multiculturalism is accepting different attitudes for such things as human rights, what they entail, and who they extend to.

                                            Well, at least we have got to a point where there is a definition we can look at.

                                            I would say that no, that’s not what multiculturalism is, or should be. I subscribe to an Enlightenment version of multiculturalism, which essentially says that you can’t decide about what other people, other individual people, should be.

                                            there are certain axioms, some explicit, some tacit, in my multiculturalism that need to be true before multiculturalism can actually exist. Among them, Multiculturalism is an individual sport. You make space for every individual, not for every community. Individuals can freely join-and walk away from- any community. Insofar as a “community” coerces individuals within them into a certain behavior, that community, or culture, is outside multiculturalism(*).

                                            Multiculturalism is also a bilateral thing, and this is another unspoken axiom . If you don’t subscribe to multiculturalism towards me, you are putting yourself outside the umbrella of multiculturalism. That’s the paradigm of “we do not tolerate intolerants”.

                                            Once everyone in the room subscribe to the unspoken axioms, them we can go to our individual church, and then meet for Sunday lunch at the ethnic restaurant. It’s my turn to pick.

                                            (*) the Internet is being enough to have people that have said anything, but I doubt no one in Obama’s White House or Department of State really believed that “it’s fine Saudi women can’t vote or drive, that’s their culture and we respect every culture, because we are multiculturalists”, instead of just looking the other way at the practices in the name of realpolitik.

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                                            • I subscribe to an Enlightenment version of multiculturalism, which essentially says that you can’t decide about what other people, other individual people, should be.

                                              And what about the cultures that say that you can decide about what other people, other individual people, should be?

                                              Personally, I’d like those other cultures to only exist in museums and history books.

                                              And then, after those cultures are gone, I will be delighted to embrace this definition of multiculturalism.

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                                              • And what about the cultures that say that you can decide about what other people, other individual people, should be?

                                                I already answered that question, those cultures are outside the protection of the umbrella of multiculturalism.

                                                Seriously, the only people that argue that multiculturalism means that gays in America cheer when gays are executed in Iran, because multiculturalism, are the strawmen that inhabit the fantasy world of Rod Dreher’s comment threads. In real life no one says that Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or the Hasidic Jews, must not change, and soon.

                                                At the heart of multiculturalism you have individual freedom. Multiculturalism may (circumstances are important) protect cultures that shun those individuals that chose to act against their culture’s mainstream. Multiculturalism does not extend to protecting violence against those individuals.

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                                                • So, great. If we’re down with eliminating certain cultures (but only the bad ones) but celebrating the rest and then calling that “multiculturalism”, I’m a full-throated supporter of multiculturalism.

                                                  I’m glad we were able to hammer that out.

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                                                • In real life no one says that Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or the Hasidic Jews, must not change, and soon.

                                                  Google “Ben Affleck Angrily defends Islam on Bill Maher’s show”

                                                  The idea that all cultures aren’t created equal isn’t present in parts of the left. If we’re all equal then all cultures are equal, and criticism of other cultures is racism.

                                                  Ben really really wants to believe that Islam’s problems with gays (etc) is limited to a few bad apples. He’s defending Islam against the idea that there is a problem. Mainstream left-leaning media basically reported that Ben was doing good deeds and not that Ben was ignorant.

                                                  http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/06/showbiz/tv/affleck-maher-islam-real-time/

                                                  What Bill is pointing to is surveys saying VERY large majorities in some of these countries think the death penalty is appropriate for leaving Islam, and a bunch of other seriously anti-multicultural ideas.

                                                  I don’t think gays in America cheer when gays are executed in Iran, but I do think there are large numbers of leftish-gays in America who don’t know that happens, and who think Israel shooting terrorists is a much larger problem than whatever Iran is doing.

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                                                  • You know who else defended Islam?

                                                    George W. Bush, in late September 2001.

                                                    Several (not all) contemporary Islamic societies have grave cultural problems, which put them outside the pale of multiculturalism. Interestingly, most of these cultural attitudes are fairly recent (post XVIII century). Until then, Islam was a much open, tolerant society, which developed and introduced a fairly strong concept of multiculturalism more than a thousand years ago (what the Ottomans within still living memory called millet).

                                                    There’s is nothing in Islam that requires women not to drive or vote (*). There’s just a bunch of men that decided in the XVIII and XIX century to force women into chattel slavery. Just like there is no requirement in the Torah to throw stones at women that walk with bare arms, and it happens in contemporary Jerusalem all the time.

                                                    And if Bill Maher will come and say that Judaism is to blame for those stones, well, I’ll be happy to defend Judaism in his show too.

                                                    (*) I can’t say for sure that there is no Sura about killing gays, but for sure Leviticus does include such prescription)

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                                                    • I’ll agree that Islamic societies have a numbers problem, in which a large number of people do subscribe to, let’s call them, non multicultural ideas, including the death penalty for apostates.

                                                      Now, calling them deplorables will just make them dug their heels even more. Or so tells us Jaybird when he talks about Trump voters.

                                                      It’s to the multicultural West/Far East/South’s advantage to bring these societies into the EPCOT Agreement. So we need to find a way to reach to them, and offer them a place in EPCOT where they will be free to do their thing on Fridays unmolested, and will be welcome to ethnic restaurants on Sundays, while making clear they have to stop forcing unwilling others to comply with their rules.

                                                      Now, banning them from building a mosque, or a cemetery, or shooting their lifeboats in the Mediterranean and watching them drown, will definitely not convince them that they would be welcome to EPCOT, if only they subscribed to nothing not much more egregious for them than the millets of a hundred years ago.

                                                      The West/Far East/South alternatives are to convince Islamic societies to join EPCOT, or to bomb them into the Stone Age. Just harassing them, I doubt it will work.

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                                                      • Interestingly, most of these cultural attitudes are fairly recent (post XVIII century). Until then, Islam was a much open, tolerant society, which developed and introduced a fairly strong concept of multiculturalism more than a thousand years ago (what the Ottomans within still living memory called millet).

                                                        Sure, when Islam was the dominate force in it’s section of the world, they were fine on top and benevolent by the standards of the time. However the standards of the time included slavery and mass illiteracy.

                                                        Just like there is no requirement in the Torah to throw stones at women that walk with bare arms, and it happens in contemporary Jerusalem all the time.

                                                        But there are requirements in Islam that it run the state (and wage wars on unbelievers). We want to gloss over that, just like we want to gloss over Christianity’s anti-women’s-rights aspects, but this is the aspect which is giving the modern world problems so maybe we shouldn’t.

                                                        And if Bill Maher will come and say that Judaism is to blame for those stones, well, I’ll be happy to defend Judaism in his show too.

                                                        Are you suggesting that Islam isn’t connected to Islamic terrorism, ISIS, Sharia law, and so forth?

                                                        Now, calling them deplorables will just make them dug their heels even more. Or so tells us Jaybird when he talks about Trump voters.

                                                        The word we need to understand here is “majority”. Ben was making noises about empowering the moderates, which is a fine sounding phrase, but it’s anti-democratic to empower the 5% against the 95%.

                                                        Lots of people want take their religion seriously, and to have their religion taken seriously, and the Priests certainly want that because God always wants what is good for the Priests.

                                                        So we need to find a way to reach to them, and offer them a place in EPCOT where they will be free to do their thing on Fridays unmolested, and will be welcome to ethnic restaurants on Sundays, while making clear they have to stop forcing unwilling others to comply with their rules.

                                                        In other words, we need to give them a way to not take Islam so seriously. That’s fine, and maybe just increasing income and access to technology will do that, but there are problems, and IMHO it’s not racist to point that out. It’s very possible that the people/Priests actually understand exactly what we’re offering them, and simply reject it.

                                                        Overturning the big scientific paradigms takes a generation because the old generation which grew up knowing something needs to die off. Cultural paradigms may take longer.

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                                                        • @j_a

                                                          God’s followers want to give him credit for everything good that happens and no blame at all for anything bad. That’s not very useful for rational evaluation.

                                                          IMHO a religion is largely on the hook for everything, good or bad, done in it’s name. There are a few corner cases where the clearly crazy act in ways everyone else disavows and would prevent if possible, but that’s not on the table at the moment.

                                                          There’s little point in claiming a problem is “cultural but not religious” when the issue comes down to priests of God seeking power by inventing enemies and/or forcing conformity, and their followers then carrying out their orders.

                                                          So religion is fueling the Right to Life. It’s fueling those Jews throwing rocks at women in the name of being Jewish. It’s fueling both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian problem. It’s fueling every act of terror prefaced by “alllah ‘akbar”.

                                                          Their respective religions are on the hook for each of them. Often religious problems have religious solutions so that’s a good thing.

                                                          It’s a bad thing to give a religion the ability to hurt/kill people without the bad press that comes with it. Think about how long the Catholic Church enabled their “problematic” priests.

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                                                    • These sorts of discussions about what Lee has called the “illiberalism problem” in multiculturalism assume that multiculturalism is a simple solution that if adopted, conquers the difficulties that happen when different cultures engage with each other.
                                                      As if it is some ideology that can address and answer the myriad of problems afflicting the human condition.

                                                      There also seems to be a collapsing of the distance between dialogue and outright coercion, something most political factions struggle with.

                                                      As if, for example, there is no difference between exhorting Saudi Arabia to be more tolerant, and invading and forcibly converting their population to liberal secularism.

                                                      As if there is no difference between welcoming American Muslims to practice their faith, and turning a blind eye to honor killings.

                                                      The frequent assertions I hear about Islam “having a problem” does this; it makes the practice of Islam a binary, an either /or question of the One True Faith.

                                                      Which itself, is a radically fundamentalist way of thinking.

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                                                      • I think you are meshing together two distinct problems that Lee has pointed out in liberalism.

                                                        1. The “illiberalism problem” is that liberalism has never had a good solution towards people who do not expect the norms and traditions of liberal democracy and can’t do so without becoming illiberal themselves.

                                                        2. The multiculturalism problem is that a lot of liberals seem to like “lite” multiculturalism when it comes to food and holidays and quaint customs but generally seem shocked when different cultures have very different ways of doing things. Do you know how Midwestern types (usually from homogeneous communities) are calling New Yorkers cold/unfriendly? The reason for this is because New York is filled with a ton of different cultures with very different ways of doing things and there are neighborhoods where this all mixes together. Lee’s neighborhood is filled with upper-middle class professionals, young hipsters right out of college or grad school, ultra-traditional Jews, and a working-class Hispanic community, and some Eastern European Orthodox/Catholics. The best way for this not to explode in a tinderbox of “you are doing this wrong” is for everyone to keep to their own sometimes. Every now and then, you can see a traditional Jewish person get a coffee at a hipster place but it is very uncommon and a bit of a surprise to see it. There are still issues when Haredis try and ask young hipster women to “please cover up” while in stores owned by the Haredi.

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                                                        • There is also the problem that liberals can be quite inconsistent when it comes to dealing with traditional cultures. I have friend who is a very modern feminist women but gets warm fuzzies when she sees Ultra-Orthodox Jews because her grandfather was a Jew.

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                                                        • That’s a generalized problem. My grandfather, who travelled all over the world when he was in the Army, has mentioned his problems with many Asian cultures.

                                                          He finds them rude. He knows intellectually that what he considers “rude” they consider “polite”, but he says his gut reaction is just the opposite. He learned to push past it when he was in the Army because he had to deal, politely, with Japanese citizens and officials.

                                                          He still says his gut reaction remains the same. (It’s body language, eye contact, and a few other things. He can rattle them off, and he’s been out of the military since like 1955).

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                                                      • As if there is no difference between welcoming American Muslims to practice their faith, and turning a blind eye to honor killings.

                                                        In the US, we have 23-27 honor killings per year. It’d be nice to try to deal with them before dead bodies drop to the ground. At the moment we seem to be dealing with them as standard domestic violence, but there are differences we’re mostly ignoring.

                                                        http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/11/10/honor-killing-in-us-justice-department-mulls-guidelines-as-grim-toll-rises.html

                                                        https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/248879.pdf

                                                        The frequent assertions I hear about Islam “having a problem” does this; it makes the practice of Islam a binary, an either /or question of the One True Faith.

                                                        By the standards of first world nations, Islam does have problems.

                                                        You trying to narrow that statement to a “binary” thing is an effort at political correctness. Next you’ll be bringing up Christianity’s bloody past to point out that all religions are imperfect and all people/cultures are fundamentally equal and equivalent.

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                                                        • From your link:

                                                          There is no reliable summary data available for the United States regarding the
                                                          prevalence of honor violence. However, based on the literature review, interviews, and
                                                          online searches conducted for this study, cases of any type of honor violence appear to
                                                          be rare in comparison to other types of crime in the United States.

                                                          But OK, lets go ahead and say there is some.
                                                          But why do we single out violence among Muslims as somehow unique, odd and set apart from violence among say, Christians?
                                                          For example, in the Islamic community killing a child who violates religious norms is given a special name, “honor killing”
                                                          But why would we consider it differently if it were an informal practice?
                                                          For example a Christian man who beats his son who comes out as gay, or his daughter who violates her chastity vow?
                                                          We don’t call it a special name here in America, but it does happen, right?

                                                          All those “Purity Balls”, the Quiverfull fundamentalists and FLDS polygamists; We prefer to cleave these people out as bizarre outliers, and they pretty much are.

                                                          But are they more outlier than violent Muslims?

                                                          It would be an overstatement maybe, to accuse fundamentalist Christianity to be “exactly” like fundamentalist Islam.
                                                          But- the line between them is pretty fuzzy and arbitrary.

                                                          Doubly so now that the bulk of fundamentalist American Chistendom has thrown their lot in with Trump/Pence in the apparent fervent hope he will establish the Kingdom of Gilead.

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                                                          • You’ve gone from “we won’t turn a blind eye to honor killings” to “there is no problem”, apparently because inside the US, all cultures are supposed to be equal.

                                                            cases of any type of honor violence appear to be rare in comparison to other types of crime in the United States.

                                                            Adjust those numbers for percentage of population and they become scary high. The US is 1% Muslim (all types), and Muslims with that as a cultural background is less than 10% of that (I found figures claiming roughly 150k but that was from 2012).

                                                            The US as a whole had about 16k murders (including the drug war), adjusted for population and that 24-27 becomes something like 24k to 54k.

                                                            For example a Christian man who beats his son who comes out as gay, or his daughter who violates her chastity vow? We don’t call it a special name here in America, but it does happen, right?

                                                            Of course it happens. However you’re suggesting a beating, somewhere in a country of 300 million people, is just as bad as two dozen honor killings in a population of roughly 150k. Or maybe you’re suggesting any violence at all makes all subcultures equal?

                                                            What you’re not doing is putting down numbers for anti-gay violence. Counting dead bodies would be best since that’s extreme, hard to hide, and easy to count.

                                                            But are they more outlier than violent Muslims?

                                                            Count dead bodies and get back to me. For 2016 start with 50(ish) corpses in that Florida gay nightclub.

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                                          • It took centuries, to develop the EPCOT Thing. You shouldn’t be so dismissive of it.

                                            It started with people killing each other over Works and Faith (we are elliding killing each other about the filioque). We killed each other until we killed a third of middle Europe. Then we sort of stopped killing each other, but we nevertheless dragooned others out of the country, or subjected them to political and civil restrictions (try being a Catholic in enlightened England at the time of Victoria’s accession). Eventually we got to a point were we accepted that it was fine what church we went. Or even going instead to Temple (that took way longer, and many more corpses).

                                            Through a similar process it became ok to let people talk whatever language they wanted at home and in the street, and even went all the way to writing it down in laws, so people that spoke something different had access to justice.

                                            Along the way we decided it was not that important if your ancestors had successfully pillaged villages in the name of the King or not. And in living memory, we even got to the point that women were no longer chattel.

                                            Add races, gays, etc., to the mix, and we have EPCOT. Bloody happy we do

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                                            • It took centuries, to develop the EPCOT Thing. You shouldn’t be so dismissive of it.

                                              I’m not dismissive of it. I think it’s great. But it’s not multiculturalism. It’s a Monoculture. With great restaurants, interesting architecture, fun outfits, catchy music, and it’s fun for the whole family.

                                              But it’s not multiculture. It’s monoculture.

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                                          • for what its worth… I think you are correct in your distinctions about multiculturalism and its implications.

                                            I think you have to be a little more precise about what you mean by here and there… lest you are working in a form of cultural jihadism… must all people over there conform to your proper moral sentiments, where is here? Are all the people here obligated to fix the people there? Is here big or small? Or are all there’s really just emergent here’s.

                                            Fascinating to me is comment about the melting pot. I’d long wondered whence that unifying myth had gone, but didn’t realize it had been actively discarded. That’s telling, if true.

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                                            • The melting pot assigned a single unilateral definition to cultural encounters.
                                              Everyone discarded their prior culture and embraced a new unified identity.
                                              Even in its most idealized form, this became a problem.

                                              There are at least two aspects of cultural encounters.
                                              One is where we recognize our commonality, which the melting pot does.

                                              But the other is where we acknowledge our differences and accept them as well.

                                              Example-
                                              Jews bleed when we prick them, just as Christians do. But they aren’t Christians, and we aren’t Jews.
                                              And neither they nor we have any intention of discarding the millenia of our respective cultures.

                                              In order to fully embrace others, I need to grasp both what makes them the same as me, but also respect what makes them different.

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                                            • must all people over there conform to your proper moral sentiments, where is here? Are all the people here obligated to fix the people there? Is here big or small? Or are all there’s really just emergent here’s.

                                              Prior to Iraq II, I thought that We, as a society, had a moral responsibility to bring Democracy to the world. As it turns out, the desire for freedom does *NOT*, in fact, beat inside of every human heart.

                                              I don’t think that Western Culture understands what makes EPCOT possible. That thing is what we need to export.

                                              Now we just have to figure out what it is and figure out how to best go into the world and make disciples of all nations and teach them to observe these things.

                                              But if we don’t know what it is, we’re going to fail and make things worse.

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                      • On the other side, Serbs and Croats are ethnically indistinguishable, speak the same language, share a very similar culture (true, Croats are Catholics and Serbs are Orthodox) and have hated each other to death (literally) for close to a thousand years.

                        So it’s not as if a common language and ethnic homogeneity are guarantees of a successful polity.

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                        • So it’s not as if a common language and ethnic homogeneity are guarantees of a successful polity.

                          I’m not trying to guarantee a successful polity!

                          I’m trying to point out that if you want one, you’re going to have to make concessions to reality at some point and if you don’t, you’re going to find yourself without a successful polity.

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        • The theory is that there is another iron triangle that consists of the following:

          1. Generous Welfare State
          2. Multiculturalism
          3. Open Immigration

          Pick two.

          Why not pick all three? Can you point out the logical inconsistency between the three of em? I don’t see it.

          What I think you mean to say is that from a practical pov paying for a generous welfare state breeds resentments which are expressed by imposing conditions on immigration and acculturation. Which, as far as I’m aware, every country in fact DOES do.

          So, I think you need a fourth condition on the iron triangle for it to actually work as a philosophical critique, something about human nature, which brings us squarely back into the empirical world of pragmatics (rather than principles) which is where the discussion should actually be located.

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          • I’m not even understanding the “multiculturalism” angle.

            As in, “A generous welfare state only works in homogenous cultures but not in a place where my taxes may help someone different than me”.

            Or rather, I understand it, I just don’t understand why we should accept it.

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          • A generous welfare state relies rather heavily on the whole “trust/collaboration” thing.

            You want a robust welfare state? You need high levels of trust and collaboration.

            Multiculturalism allows for different kinds of trust/different kinds of collaboration within a society and it’s okay. It’s not saying “sorry, you have to change to be like us”, it’s saying “the way you do it is okay and the way we do it is okay and being different is okay”.

            Open Immigration is one of those things where people with different kinds of trust/different kinds of collaboration come in.

            You can maintain an equilibrium of trust/collaboration with multiculturalism if you don’t have open immigration, you can maintain an equilibrium of trust/collaboration with open immigration if you impose a certain standard of trust/collaboration, but if you have multiculturalism and open immigration, you will not be able to maintain the type of trust/collaboration necessary to maintain a robust welfare state.

            And this isn’t me being judgy and saying “X is good” or “Y is evil”.

            As if good or evil had anything to do with this.

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            • if you have multiculturalism and open immigration, you will not be able to maintain the type of trust/collaboration necessary to maintain a robust welfare state.

              Didn’t the New Deal, the very epitome of high trust and collaboration, occur almost immediately after a huge wave of immigrants to America?

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              • the very epitome of high trust and collaboration

                Really?

                I thought that Denmark was the epitome.

                I thought that the New Deal was grossly insufficient and people who pointed to the New Deal as “hey, I don’t need to help you, use those programs over there” were jerks and that’s why we had Johnson’s “Great Society”.

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              • But the New Deal did little for a group of much less recent immigrants, one which had long been excluded from the circle of trust and dependency and in some ways still is to this day. (In case it’s not obvious, this is a group whose immigration was involuntary.)

                Not that good or evil has anything to do with that,

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                • @jaybird
                  The New Deal was flawed, and was as distant from the wave of immigration as we are today from the immigration Amnesty of 1987.

                  But it was an example of a high trust collaborative effort, and the immigrants were still a new feature on the American landscape. Thats why Capra’s films made such a big deal about them.

                  The idea that we can’t tolerate immigrants and a welfare state is contradicted by historical fact.

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                    • Wait, wasn’t it you who said this:

                      1. Generous Welfare State
                      2. Multiculturalism
                      3. Open Immigration

                      Pick two.

                      Because whoever said that, I’m disagreeing with.

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                      • And your position is that Roosevelt’s New Deal took place during a time of multiculturalism and open immigration?

                        Because, for what it’s worth, if the US was about as multicultural today as it was in the 40’s, I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t consider the US to be particularly multicultural.

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                        • But it was multi-cultural at the time. Melting pot and all that. Remember?

                          We’ve come a long way, yeah?

                          Add: Oh yeah, I forgot. It’s all about to implode into anarchic dystopian government-enforced institutionalized chaos.

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                                • It was a solid, praiseworthy, anti-establishment populist speech.

                                  I think he gets a second term (depending on his health and potential impeachment proceedings….) if his policies actually work. And that doesn’t mean actually increasing “the base’s” value rankings in a material sense, but that he doesn’t fail so abysmally that his anti-establishment/anti-Warshington rhetoric no longer has any political bite. Easily done, seems to me.

                                  Plus, even tho the vast majority of people don’t like him, if both parties fail more abysmally wrt candidates than he has wrt to policy by the next election (which is actually quite likely!!) he gets re-elected even without substantive gains on the ground.*

                                  * Supposing he wants to run again, anyway.

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                                    • Obvious, diagnosable psychosis is no longer a disqualifying condition to attain the Preznitcy. I’m not sure it ever was, actually.

                                      He’ll get there (inshallah) just so long as people believe he’s the antidote to sclerotic Warshingtonian insideriness which makes their lives worse.

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                                      • And actually Mike (to put my cards on the table) one of the differences between the US and other liberal democracies across the globe is that WE believe that sociopathological psychosis is actually a socially constructive behavioral state.

                                        So in that sense, all bets are off until we redefine the terms of the transaction.

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                                        • There’s a difference between psychosis and personality disorder. (Be grateful you never had to learn that.) And – are you saying that our leaders are nuttier than the average liberal democracy’s? I’d really want to see some support before I’d believe that.

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                            • Then you were taught poorly.

                              The melting pot is the idea that (non-economic) cultural differences recede into the background in a (economically-based) culture where bootstrapic opportunism and reward is highlighted.

                              THAT was the great promise of America.

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                        • Why do you think multiculturalism wasn’t as big an issue in 1936 as it is today?

                          When we look at those old movies of the New Deal era, we see only white people, forgetting that for the people of the time, half of those “white” people weren’t really “white”.

                          Remember how in 1920s the Klan reached its zenith of power, in direct response to the waves of immigration and the panic over the ebbing of white power.

                          Fun fact- my grandmother had to instruct my uncles to stay indoors on certain nights when the Klan went out riding. Why? Because they were not really “white” they were Eastern European Catholics. Apparently the Midwest in the 1920s was a place where I would be some exotic minority. Today I am the very model of whitebread.

                          So yeah, the New Deal DID take place during a period of multicultural assimilation and turmoil.
                          And the arguments you’re making now, are really no different than the ones made then.

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                      • For what its worth, I think the policy tensions Jaybird are discribing are real, but wouldn’t formulate them as an iron triangle.

                        Instead you have a balance between size of welfare state and openess of immigration and the way it balances is by a societies particular skill at intigrating immigrants. Integration can take many forms, including assimilation and forming accepted subcultures within the larger society amoung others. The velocity of intergration determines how much immigration you can afford for a certain degree of welfare spending that the immigrants would be eligible for.

                        Immigration integration is quite distinct from multi-culturalism. The example of Switzerland is a place explicitly multi-cultural, but notoriously hostile to immigrants.

                        I think you’ve become excessively fond of the iron triangle concept and are overapplying it in this instance.

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                  • Fwiw, Chip, I think you are overestimating how much trust and collaboration existed in March 1933. Financial credit was a hard thing to come by and unemployment was at near 25% largely because of the very low level of trust and collaboration in many levels of society and nearly all levels of the economy.

                    FDR’S first order of business, and the thing that worked the best, was to act to restore trust and collaboration. Whence bank holidays, fireside chats, “Fear Itself” and paradoxically, floating off the gold standard.

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                  • The idea that we can’t tolerate immigrants and a welfare state is contradicted by historical fact.

                    True. Immigrants typically come here to work and get rich.

                    On the other hand we have Israel’s example of paying a subculture to not work resulting in the expansion of that subculture to problematic levels (I’m thinking of their massive numbers of torah-studiers).

                    We also have our own example of the expansion of the welfare state resulting in the enabling (and likely encouraging) of dysfunctional behavior. Paying people to not get married can result in them not getting married.

                    Different branches of my family ran into that with interesting differences. Each faced: Pregnant girl, could get married to boyfriend, or could collect more in state benefits if she doesn’t.

                    In one tremendous social pressure was brought to bear to convince the couple to get married anyway. In the other… it wasn’t, they didn’t, and long term it didn’t work out well.

                    Multiculturalism means different subcultures will have different outcomes from a one size fits all welfare solution.

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                  • However, the idea that we can’t tolerate immigrants and a European-style welfare state seems to be supported by current evidence from Europe.

                    Interestingly, in the US it seems to be natives who have the problems with welfare dependency, while immigrants tend to do fairly well.

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                    • Both those paragraphs can’t be true together, can they?

                      I mean, if we generalize that native born Americans are more likely to be dependent on welfare while immigrants are more likely to be self-supporting, doesn’t that suggest pretty strongly that the antipathy to immigration has very little to do with economics?

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              • Chip Daniels: Didn’t the New Deal, the very epitome of high trust and collaboration, occur almost immediately after a huge wave of immigrants to America?

                No, it was nearly a generation later. The start of WW1 (in Europe) was the end of the turn of the century wave, then legislative and executive action surpassed immigration in the 20s, then the Depression and WW2 suppressed immigration even more.

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            • You want a robust welfare state? You need high levels of trust and collaboration.

              Same for robust immigration and robust multi-culturalism, Jaybird. My point is that you’re not providing a philosophical analysis of the limits of governance but an empirically based description of problems inherent in politics, so the terrain we should be navigating is the political and not the conceptual.

              More to the point: since I don’t see a logical problem with the three premises in the iron triangle you propose (without the addition of an additional premise or governing condition anyway) I don’t have a problem with countries adopting pragmatically-based solutions which attempt to balance competing interests precisely because those interests are politically motivated. I mean, that’s the point here, isn’t it, at least insofar as we want this discussion to actually touch the real world?

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              • Robust immigration doesn’t require much collaboration at all.

                People move in. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to interact with them. You don’t have to trust them. They just move in.

                Same for multiculturalism. Hey, Little Italy is Little Italy, Chinatown is Chinatown, and the WASPs live over there. No interaction, no collaboration except after church when the WASPs want to go out to eat.

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                • Robust immigration doesn’t require much collaboration at all.

                  People move in. You don’t have to do anything.

                  Well, other than change your view that those people shouldn’t be allowed in here.

                  Other than that, sure, it’s easy.

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                    • Well, now this is getting frustrating.

                      The only thing you’re arguing, as far as I can tell, is the logical inconsistency of a set of principles, one which I (personally) don’t think is logically inconsistent (and you’ve done so, I should add, by including a modifier to each one – “robust” – with an as yet undetermined and seemingly question-begging semantic value…)

                      If you wanna reduce your argument to the political (as I think you should) then you’re still not arguing anything other than that individual people and their various constituencies have competing interests. Nothing earth shattering there, actually, since advancing individual interests is the functional definition of politics.

                      So I can’t tell what you’re arguing, Jaybird.

                      Maybe if you proposed your own views on how that inconsistent set should be politically resolved in the US given that you think we live in a low trust/collaboration society would help. At that point, at least you and Chip (and me, for that matter) could actually discuss things at the same level rather than you always being one (meta) level above the people you critique.

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                      • Well, it’s a lot like the iron triangle for “done right, done cheap, done fast”.

                        Sure, it’s possible to increase the cost a little bit, and extend the timeline a bit, and allow for a little more tolerance for “good enough” and, sure, it’s possible to make all kinds of concessions.

                        But, it seems to me, that the goal is a “robust welfare state”, right? We want something like Denmark, right?

                        Well, that’s not going to be possible without a certain level of homogeneity *OR* a certain level of restrictions on who is allowed in.

                        And pointing out that the US has achieved the New Deal programs while having the immigration laws that we had at the time (letting Europeans come into the country no matter which part of Europe they came from!) and the multiculturalism found from having Polish people live only a few miles away from German people as a counter-argument to what’s possible is, I suppose, a counter-argument…

                        But we don’t have anything close to open immigration.
                        We don’t have anything close to multiculturalism.
                        And we don’t have anything close to a robust welfare state.

                        Because we make all kinds of concessions.

                        If you want to increase any one of these things, you’re going to take a hit to at least one of the others. At least one.

                        If you don’t think so, great. Sure. We can get back to arguing about how awful Trump is and being surprised at Brexit and wondering which of the right-wing parties is going to win the election in France and wondering how the AFD is going to do in Germany.

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    • It would have been more interesting if the author had offered some thoughts about the Norwegian-American region that flipped from Democratic to Republican this last election. It was an historical shift. Seems important.

      The notion of merit can play out different ways, its not just whether fat cats are the sole authors of their success, but whether public servants merit earning three times the amount people in their communities they serve, or whether public universities exist to serve their community (a/k/a the Wisconsin idea). If some are lucky, others are unlucky, which doesn’t mean that they too cannot contribute. All of these are aspects of what are described as a moralistic political culture that was at least at one time dominant in the Upper Midwest. Perhaps that culture no longer exists, and the dominant strain across the U.S. is simply individualistic.

      (That last paragraph are not necessarily my views, these are just ruminations on a different political culture)

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      • I think this is an important observation, and I would pair it with the yawning chasm between the Catholic Church and the American Catholic laity.

        On issues such as community solidarity, trade unions, the death penalty, and war, the Church is what we call progressive, emphasizing collective cohesion and responsibility, while the laity are much more individualistic.

        It wasn’t always this way.

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        • Some of this is particularly true about Wisconsin since the western half historically was mostly Scandinavian Lutheran and the eastern half mostly German Catholic. As a neighboring observer, some of the policy approaches appear to be different, sometimes generous benefits are tied to mutual responsibilities.

          My recollection of the initial school voucher program was that the State also substantially increased funding for education for Milwaukee children. That’s not usually how school voucher advocates talk about things — its about empowering individuals and saving taxpayer dollars. Individualism vs. Community morality. I wonder if school vouchers only work, assuming they do, within certain frameworks of community responsibility.

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    • It’s great that Norwegians are less comfortable with luck determining who gets what in their society, but how about the luck of being born in Norway as opposed to say, South Sudan?

      The next step is for Norway to give their oil money to Sudan to bring the Sudanese up to a acceptable level of Norwegian poverty as a way to make up for their birth privilege.

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  2. I think the article on Norway has some good points. Americans tend to be more religious than other Western countries and the American protestant tradition is heavily influenced by Jean Calvin. There is a strong tendency to see poverty and bad times as a result of sin in the American theological tradition. Another recent New York magazine article states that American policy doesn’t do well for people who suffered a bad break and people are dying as a result.

    We saw this yesterday in the debates about automation. There was a certain poster who believed that life isn’t fair and nothing should be done to make it more fair. Something in the American psyche makes this line of thought more common in the United States than other Western countries.

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    • There was a certain poster who believed that life isn’t fair and nothing should be done to make it more fair.

      Was that moi? Maybe not, while I believe that life isn’t fair I don’t think I said that nothing should be done to make it more fair. I did say that it wasn’t gov’ts job to provide healthcare but I think that was about the extent of the discussion.

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  3. Samantha Power: Well, if she was really all that upset with the “do nothing” Obama WH, why didn’t she resign in protest?

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      • Well, reading that, I think I detected a serious undercurrent of “holy crap, nobody saw Brexit coming, nobody saw Trump coming, if we’re going to be of any use at all, we have to abandon the stuff that everybody relied on that didn’t help them see what was coming”.

        I mean, a newspaper that can’t tell you what is going on (but makes you feel better) is eventually a newspaper that will not make you feel better.

        And if the newspaper neither informs you nor gives you endorphins?

        Why in the hell would you buy it?

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        • The 2005 French Referendum on the EU Constitution (via Wikipedia):

          Initial opinion polls showed a clear majority in favour of the Constitution, but public opposition grew over time. By May, the “Yes” campaign’s lead was smaller than the opinion pollsters’ margin of error.

          Still it was inconceivable that the French people would reject the referendum; it made no sense. Still . . .

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  4. I think the luck article is spot on. I have had a lot of dumb luck, both good and bad, over the past few years. Mainly in terms of job and career stuff.

    Example, I was laid off in March 2016 and had a few weeks of freelancing here and there. At the end of June, a bunch of projects were cancelled on me and I was panicking about money. I ended up getting a temp job that paid better than I have received before and it kept me through the summer and the fall.

    I don’t see why a bad break or randomness should determine how good or bad a life someone has.

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    • I’m going to have to really look into this. A lot of the special provisions in immigration law for Cuban refugees like Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act aren’t things that can be changed by executive order. It should need an act of Congress to repeal and the President to sign the repeal legislation.

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    • ” He made refugee policy for Cubans the same as policy for all other refugees.”

      haw. He eliminated the undeserved privilege given to certain persons solely due to their having been lucky enough to be born in a specific country! We should be thanking him for striking such a blow to inequality!

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  5. Re: The luck article.

    I’d be very interested to see the results of the unlucky test done with different minority groups.

    And it would have to be localized, so white Americans would have to be compared against black, hispanic, and asian Americans, while Norwegians would probably have to be run against recent refugees.

    Then confound it by giving the unlucky person some more details, like poverty, gang affiliation, or criminal history for Americans; strong conservative muslim social attitudes for Norwegians, etc.

    Be curious as to how magnanimous the testees would be given that knowledge.

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    • Do you remember this Onion video:

      http://www.theonion.com/video/ceo-worked-way-up-from-son-of-ceo-34330

      I know a lot of shall we say, guilty white liberals. These are people who grew up more than comfortably upper-middle class. They grew up upper-class and can live lifestyles that are not necessarily in jive with their chosen professions (usually but not always in the arts). Of course, they are surrounded by people who are constantly broke and/or maybe close to starving because of their dedication to an arts career.

      What I wonder is if there are certain switches that cause people different ways of dealing with these privileges and advantages. People who go to the left acknowledge their advantages and might think “If we lived in a more equitable society, I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about living a lifestyle that goes above my income.” Is there a version that causes someone to deny their own advantages and privileges and make them feel like they earned something on their own merit instead of through luck?

      I think acknowledging luck is very hard because it means taking away the concept of merit and free will and/or it diminishes the ideas meritocracy. So yeah the suburban kind got in Harvard or Yale or MIT but did they do so on their own merit if that kid was sent to science camp since they were 7, or had parents who got them SAT and other tutoring classes which are expensive, etc. I can see why someone would want to deny that luck exists or become okay with just letting everything be the chaotic dice roll because it requires less action and/or it creates an illusion of free will.

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      • One issue is that acknowledging the role of luck in life is that to scary for many people. It suggests the universe isn’t orderly or with a guiding hand they can appeal to. To much luck in life means their prayers or belief that things always work out won’t help them. They are at the whims of fate. Things don’t’ always work for the best. You can be a good person and bad things, terrible undeserved things, can still happen to you. Bad people can prosper.

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        • One might look at the rather amazing success of the prosperity gospel*, for instance.

          By “amazing” I mean I didn’t realize how flatly and angrily it was rejected by quite a few powerful Christian sects. I watched a normally rather sedate evangelical absolutely lose her gourd over the topic. “Vile heresy” was the nicest thing she said about it.

          She voted for Trump and spent a good thirty minutes railing against the fact that a rather well-known prosperity doctrine pastor is giving an invocation at his inauguration.

          *If you’re not familiar, the tl;dr version is “Godly people get rich and successful, because God rewards”. With the unspoken consequences that if you’re rich, you are loved by God. And if you are poor, it is because you are a vile sinner.

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            • If my experience within the church is worth anything, it’s the Arianism that did it.

              The prosperity gospel was generally seen as tacky and bad doctrine but you had to argue that “knock and the door will be opened, seek/find, etc” didn’t mean THAT it meant THIS and you’re explaining that if you’d read the original Greek and whatnot.

              Arianism? Might as well be Mormon.

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              • Yeah, I’m just basing it on your buddy Erik Erikson’s screed about her, the one where a Hindu pujari’s invocation was better than a fake Christian’s because souls would then be at stake in the latter case.

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                • It’s rare to see an argument where the appeal to the current year would be more than irrelevant but the debate over whether to allow for an Arian Heretic to give some sort of invocation at some public function fits the bill.

                  That said, I can see why Erikson didn’t go for it.

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          • There is also the secular version exemplified in that book The Secret. The author was on Oprah and it made a big splash when it came out. Good attitude/thinking/vibes brings good things; bad thinking brings bad things. That sounds nice and all but more than a millisecond of thought leads to some nasty conclusions about bad things happening to good people. But people ate that slop up, they just wanted to feel in control of their lives and attribute bad things to people thinking wrong instead of life being inherently unfair and often cruel.

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            • I could understand you being worried about that, but I’ve never seen the prosperity gospel or The Secret used as ways to blame others for failures, only as supposed keys to success.

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              • I see how people can phrase The Secret or PG as just about successes but the theory is pretty simple. If positive thoughts lead to good things then why do people get raped/cancer/The Holocaust etc. You sort of can’t have the positive parts w/o the negative side. Well that is if you want to fully think through the idea. It helps to sell the deal focusing on the positives, but that is salesmanship. The negative is an obvious correlate.

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                • I remember hearing of this high school teacher who regaled her class with a heartwarming inspirational story of how her cancer went into remission after she prayed really hard to Jesus.

                  Until a 16 year old boy said his mom prayed also, and died of cancer anyway. Sort of harshed her mellow.

                  One thing a lot of Christians like to ignore is that God wants us to die.
                  Its like, built into the deal and everything.

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                    • Hmmn, Tolkien is pretty clear that the entire point of his work is a study of Mortality. From letter 131:

                      Anyway all this stuff [Silmarillion and LoTR] is mainly concerned with Fall, Mortality, and the Machine. With Fall inevitably, and that motive occurs in several modes. With Mortality, especially as it affects art and the creative (or as I should say, sub-creative) desire which seems to have no biological function, and to be apart from the satisfactions of plain ordinary biological life, with which, in our world, it is indeed usually at strife. This desire is at once wedded to a passionate love of the real primary world, and hence filled with the sense of mortality, and yet unsatisfied by it. It has various opportunities of ‘Fall’. It may become possessive, clinging to the things made as ‘its own’, the sub-creator wishes to be the Lord and God of his private creation. He will rebel against the laws of the Creator – especially against mortality.

                      There are also numerous passages in the Unfinished tales that have fascinating conversations between Elves and men (usually women) about the nature of mortality and immortality.

                      Death and Mortality are quite literally the cornerstones of the entire mythology.

                      On God and Death, I know Chip knows better, so we’ll leave it at snark.

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                      • You’re right, I was being flip and handwaving is the absolute wrong term. You don’t have to dig into the letters, even, it’s all there on the page. The distinction between Elves and Men, the fall of Numenore, the different paths of Theoden and Denethor, etc etc etc. It’s all incredibly central to the themes and mythos. I guess what I was failing to communicate is that Tolkien provides a very direct theology of it: death is a gift that sets men apart, which you need to have if the Elves are on hand to make it obvious that the creator didn’t need to make people sickly and mortal.

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                        • Yeah, “handwaving” seemed a bit off; unless, as you note above, it is the sort of handwaving that says, hey, come over here and read my works on mortality and death. :-)

                          There are some really interesting passages in the Histories that explore the Elven/Human understanding of mortality; in particular the conversations between Finrod and the Edain woman, Andreth.

                          The History of Middle Earth: Book X “Morgoth’s Ring;” Part four, Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth

                          The Histories can be a bit of a chore to locate, not to mention read… so there’s a pretty good summary here.

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                          • You can find “Morgoth’s Ring” online for about ten bucks. Bit I admit I never read it carefully, just skimmed looking for the dirty parts.

                            Anyway, Marchmaine links to

                            a discussion between two characters, Finrod Felagund, an Elven King, and Andreth, a mortal woman that took place during the Siege of Angband (though when originally written was placed much later)

                            which is Tolkien all over. He never finished his history of the First Age because he could never stop “fixing” it.

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                  • I’ve seen people point this out when athletes thank God for their success. Aside from questioning whether God really cares who wins a game, the criticism is rooted in, “Were the guys on the other team not praying as hard as you?” I’d actually like to see someone put that question to an athlete making such claims.

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                    • A more charitable interpretation is that they’re thanking God for their good health and athletic ability, so that they could compete and do their best. On the other hand, you could argue that that’s even worse, because lots of people don’t even have that.

                      IMO, religion makes a lot more sense if you think of God as a capricious tyrant whom people have to pretend to love, lest they provoke His wrath.

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                    • It’s an act of humility to give God credit for one’s victory, and take the blame for one’s own defeat. To work harder after failure and to thank God after success are both good things.

                      I don’t think many athletes, if they’ve ever thought about it much, believe that God favors one team over another. I bet you’d also find a lot of athletes who thank God after a loss. But you also have to remember that Christians don’t think of prayer as a quid in exchange for a quo. It’s time spent with a loved one. If I saw my grandmother after a sports win, I’d tell her how happy I was, and if I lost, I’d share my frustrations and pain. I wouldn’t be going to see her because of the results of the game. I’d be going because I love her.

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                    • That always reminds me of the old Chris Rock bit interviewing the loser of a boxing match. “I was doing fine until the second round when God starts punching me in the face. . . He could heal me too, but he ain’t going to. He’s just going to let my eye be all fished up. That ain’t cool.”

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                • There’s no contradiction between the ideas of the natural and the supernatural. The idea that suffering is necessarily unholy is impossible to reconcile with the Bible and Christian tradition, though.

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            • I have a friend whom I really like that really believes in this secular self-help positive thinking ideology. Negative thinking can hold you back and prevent action but right thought does not lead to right result.

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              • Rabbi Tarfon and the Elders were once reclining in the upper story of Nithza’s house, in Lod, when this question was posed to them: Which is greater, study or action? Rabbi Tarfon answered, saying: Action is greater. Rabbi Akiva answered, saying: Study is greater. All the rest agreed with Akiva that study is greater than action because it leads to action.

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        • Right the “Just world” thesis and the theodicy problem. I wonder what ever happened to the nation that produced this speech though:

          Then make Charley your father, Biff. You can’t do that, can you? I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.

          -Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesmen

          Are we too far from the Great Depression? Was there always a section of the nation that hated thinking this way and they have gone back to being dominate?

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          • Was there always a section of the nation that hated thinking this way and they have gone back to being dominate?

            Grandpa Cain owned a small-town grocery in the poorest part of Iowa. Took on enormous debts during the Depression because he could get credit and wouldn’t let people starve. Paid the last of those debts off in the early 1960s, leaving the store free-and-clear so he could sell the business and retire. IIRC, what he told me was, “Mike, rich folks can afford to be patient and they don’t ever forget whose side they’re really on.”

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          • “I wonder what ever happened to the nation that produced this speech”

            Considering the phenomenal amount of wealth and effort we put in for each other’s care in this country, both public and private, has any other nation ever come closer to living out that speech? I mean, let’s not pretend that it’s Thunderdome out there.

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        • Luck? I didn’t think rational science based liberals could say luck? I thought what you have was either built by someone else or the result, in my case, of cis, white male privilege for which i must feel eternal guilt.

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      • Hadn’t seen that one.

        And yes, I think we are too far from the great depression. You’d think having it good would engender a greater degree of compassion, but I think it just heightens the anxiety of how far one can fall. Which is why I think people are willing to under-emphasize luck and over-emphasize hard work/merit. It helps cement in their minds that they deserve what they have because it wasn’t handed to them, they worked for it, so if someone or something tries to take it from them, they can feel safe in righteous indignation and demand it back.

        However, at the risk of hypocrisy, how much of a factor luck plays in any one person’s success is highly variable. Some people truly have found success through mostly hard work and good instincts, and some people skate by on mostly luck (and the converse is true).

        Personally, given where I started, I’m fine with good luck. Sometimes a bit of good luck brings hope, and can help lift a person. But I’m not averse to taxing the hell out of lottery winnings either.

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        • Related. I’ve talked to a lot of combat vets in my life including from in my family. Not one of them ever denied they survived because of blind luck. Some also praised God but all of them saw people live and die just on dumb luck.

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        • As I said before, I had a lot of good luck and random bad (but not necessarily super bad) luck over the past few years in terms of my career.

          When I was in my last year of law school, I had brunch with my dad and a lawyer he knew at another firm. The firm has offices on both coasts. A year later, I flew back to CA after taking the NY bar (I was already admitted in CA at this point) and I received a call from a partner in the NYC office about a 2-3 month project.

          I do a prefunctory interview and start that Friday. Project lasts literally three months and I get a small project that ends up lasting a year. But then I am out. A few months later, I get another long project because the now retired rabbi’s wife at my mom’s synagogue in the East Bay was a lawyer and they needed help on a big case that involved the same kind of law I was doing at the other firm.

          Rinse, wash, repeat.

          I am very grateful for all these opportunities but am also struck about how much dumb luck is involved in all of them. Even in opportunities that did not involve connections. As I mentioned above, I was really stressed in June about freelance projects being placed on hiatus but I ended up getting a longer project with a much higher pay rate.

          If I were a more religious person, I could see how one would want to find a pattern or watchful eye in this sort of activity.

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      • People who go to the left acknowledge their advantages and might think “If we lived in a more equitable society, I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about living a lifestyle that goes above my income.” Is there a version that causes someone to deny their own advantages and privileges and make them feel like they earned something on their own merit instead of through luck?

        If there is one constant thread that runs through most of my political beliefs, it’s that deciding on which policies to pursue based on what helps one group of privileged white people feel better about themselves than some other group of privileged white people is a supremely effing stupid way to do public policy. And yet, so many of our policy discussions play out as a morality tale. Also, this is how white supremacy gets operationalized, in the belief that the fate of the world lies in white people picking the correct political orientation.

        I’m always mildly surprised by how much pushback I get against this idea.

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        • It may be distasteful if there’s universal education and healthcare because that makes privileged white people feel virtuous, but there’s still universal education and healthcare. In fact, since that stuff is tax-supported, it’s largely privileged white people paying for it.

          I mean, sure, privileged white people suck. Of course they do.

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      • — It’s true tho. I get the funniest looks when I see a long line outside the women’s room and then say “fuck this” and just strut into the men’s room.

        Funny story. One time I did that. It was a restaurant with “single occupancy” restrooms, but which were still gendered — which is actually pretty silly, but whatever. Anyhow, when I was coming out of the men’s room, there was this giant bearded guy in a Slayer tee shirt waiting. He looked at me and said, “Hey! That’s the men’s room!”

        I looked him up and down and then said, “Gender is a social construct.”

        He laughed. As one might predict, the giant bearded guy in a Slayer tee shirt turned out to have a sense of humor.

        Plus remember that time that Scott Alexander linked to that weird, raving article that said we trans gals get a statistically impossible 20 point IQ boost!

        We’re gorgeous and smart!

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  6. The other day I made a comment about how the term anti-intellectual increasingly has little to do with the possession or deployment of intellect or interest in endeavors that make use of intellect and much more to do with tribal signalling.

    Well, here is a pretty good example of that: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/01/18/david-gelernter-fiercely-anti-intellectual-computer-scientist-is-being-eyed-for-trumps-science-adviser/?utm_term=.594c8ab044a3

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    • As a computer scientist myself (only the MS, not the Ph.D) I’d be pretty leery of hiring one as a ‘science adviser’.

      I don’t think mathematicians or engineers are a good fit for that job either, and CS is sort of a weird mix of the two.

      It’s very unlike most sciences, which makes it rather difficult for experience to translate over.

      (All that said with no knowledge of the person in question. Just my personal belief, as a guy with CS degrees, that we’re pretty far from the average scientist).

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      • morat20,
        Believe it or not, a lot of science these days is computerized. Analytic solutions are good for beginners, but anything real requires a numeric solution most days of the week.

        THAT said, I want a scientist, no matter what his degree is in. I know computer scientists who work for NOAA and NASA and the CDC. They do plenty of science and public policy. Those are the people I want running things.

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      • A CS prof with a sufficiently expansive curiosity would probably be OK. Math/Eng/CS all intersect the other disciplines so broadly that a person could have a healthy understanding of a wide range of disciplines.

        My work is mostly math & CS, but I intersect with any discipline that wants to do numerical simulations, so I’ve gotten some pretty solid exposure to a lot of different fields.

        ETA: However, calling a Prof with a posting at Yale an anti-intellectual is a Vizzini kind of move.

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        • Well yeah, I didn’t comment on that at all.

          Mostly it’s just…CS is a weird sort of science. I mean on the one side you’ve got pure information theory, which is a subset of mathematics and the other you’ve got electrical engineering for computer design, and in the middle you have the applied CS stuff that’s more than just the programming you learn in a C class, but it’s just advanced applied programming.

          My CS degrees were math (a surprising amount), some EE (circuits, computer architecture), a LOT of programming and design theory, and a breadth of shallow coverage of various CS applications (DB design, OS design, etc).

          It’s a very applied field, which I think tends to create more of an engineering mindset in most (and a mathematicians mindset in a few).

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          • Oh sure, a CS can easily do all sorts of work and never actually get exposed to the fields of intersection. You get handed a generalized set of reqs and you go to town. Just like a mechanical engineer can spend his life designing parts for a 747 and never learn how airliners get put together.

            But you gotta be a really incurious sort to do that, or work in a place that discourages that kind of curiosity.

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    • — Agreed. I’m no fan of Gelernter’s politics, but he’s clearly “intellectual.”

      Actually, I’ve met the man. He treated me respectfully. I dunno. He’s certainly at a higher intellectual level than most of Trump’s boob crew.

      This is not the place to fight Trump.

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  7. There are problems with trying to combine “multiculturalism” with the idea that “income differences are because of luck”.

    Make a list of success factors, and most of them come down to “picking good parents”. That’s not just money, it’s also (mostly) things like married, not using drugs, valuing education, stepping in when the school system fails, etc.

    Other ways to phrase those things are “middle class values”, or “culture”. This the US, you’re certainly allowed to have other cultures, but it’s nonsense to pretend that all values (or behavior) result in equal outcomes.

    I look at inner city high poverty areas and I really *hope* we’re looking at problems created by culture, because most of the alternatives are actually worse. I look at the behavior of some of my relatives over the years and think “strong social spending” is code for “enabling dysfunctional behavior”.

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      • Data points A and B in contradiction to “its not just money”: George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump.

        The “born rich” grow up watching their parents so you’re not going to separate culture from money there. Instead, look at people who actually do get their money purely by luck. Five years later, 70% of lottery winners are broke.

        http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2016/01/why_do_70_percent_of_lottery_w.html

        Both Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson were given hundreds of millions of dollars by society. Are we supposed to think that them running out of money was a matter of bad luck and not dysfunctional behavior?

        In theory, in a mono-cultured environment hard luck corner cases are going to be the dominant story. In our multi-cultural environment, the bottom ranks of society are going to be filled by people whose cultures don’t think much of education.

        According to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population. 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read.
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/06/illiteracy-rate_n_3880355.html

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        • George W. Bush’s businesses failed over and over again, but he kept getting moeny to start new ones. He finally became rich via:

          1. Being lent the money to buy into the Texas Rangers baseball team.
          2. Lobbying the state to build them a brand-new stadium.
          3. When 2 led to the team’s value going way up, selling the shares at a significant profit.

          You’re right that there aren’t many Americans whose culture would lead to that career path.

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          • RE: GWBush
            :Shrug: What you’ve said doesn’t disagree with what I’ve said.

            We’re talking about large social trends, there’s going to be *lots* of individual exceptions.

            But on the whole education is an economic advantage in our society. And on the whole individuals from cultures which value education will do better.

            Of course that’s just one cultural impact, there’s a *ton* of other cultural advantages and disadvantages. Gun violence is probably in there, ditto having kids outside of wedlock, and there are others.

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              • Michael Jackson worked every day of his life starting when he was 9. He had lots of problems, but not lack of work ethic was not among them.

                This is like saying: “Other than that Mrs Lincoln, How was the play?”

                It’s awkward to call one family a “culture”, but Mike’s strengths AND his problems both came from how his parents raised him.

                …Jackson acknowledged that his youth had been lonely and isolating.[37] His deep dissatisfaction with his appearance, his nightmares and chronic sleep problems, his tendency to remain hyper-compliant, especially with his father, and to remain childlike in adulthood are consistent with the effects of the maltreatment he endured as a child.[38] (wiki)

                Like most people, his upbringing, which we can call “family”, “culture”, or “home environment” were HUGE influences on Jackson, and trying to attribute either his strengths or his flaws to “luck” seems problematic.

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            • Yes, positive social virtues like a functioning family, sobriety, education and so on do help tremendously in producing wealth and resiliency.

              But, and this is a very big “but”, access to bottomless pools of cash and social status help very much as well.

              Having a network of family friends and associates with money and connections can overcome a poor work ethic and weak personal habits, as GWB and Trump have demonstrated.

              Likewise, even all the moxie and family virtues don’t very often combine to life someone from rags to riches. The reason those stories get told, is that they are ,well, extraordinary.

              And I am not sure what the connection is between “multiculturalism” and “based on luck” inequality. I hardly need to point out that immigrants have a famously powerful work ethic and tightknit family structure.

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              • Mostly I agree with you. I’ve got minor quibbles, but they’re minor. The number of people with unlimited contacts/money is vanishingly small. GWB wasn’t a success without his Daddy, Trump is an ass all by himself.

                I hardly need to point out that immigrants have a famously powerful work ethic and tightknit family structure.

                Yes. That’s a point I might make.

                And I am not sure what the connection is between “multiculturalism” and “based on luck” inequality.

                The point I’m making is the article was basing their tests on “bonus or downfall because of bad luck”, but that, as a concept, is much more rejected in the US simply because of the reality here.

                In a mono-cultural environment, selling “luck” as a big influence is pretty easy, that makes it much easier to support social transfers. There for but the grace of god go I.

                In the US, most of your “luck” is “what is the culture of your parents”? That makes it a LOT harder to support social transfers. We could sub in the words “dysfunctional behavior” for “culture” and it’d pretty much mean the same thing. And worse, a dysfunctional culture is perpetuating across generations.

                And we also get into “choice” here. If you choose to not learn how to read, or write, or do math, there are easily predictable outcomes which stem from that choice. Protecting people from “luck” is different from protecting people from themselves, even if they can point to their parents for what they were taught or not taught.

                It’s basically meaningless to point out that GWB had a money cannon helping him his entire life. Society doesn’t do that for anyone, that a few parents can do it for their children is self correcting in the long run and pointless because it’s so rare. I assume you’re not suggesting we prevent parents from helping their children, and you’re also not suggesting every child be treated as GWB.

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  8. Alana Samuels explains why Norwegians and Americans see inequality differently.

    It’s worth noting that the difference between the percentage of Americans and Norwegians who wanted to redistribute the luck-based bonus is about the same as for the competence-based bonus. That is, it’s not so much that Norwegians were less tolerant of luck-based inequality as that they were less tolerant of inequality for any reason.

    It’s also odd that more Americans, and about the same number of Norwegians, wanted to redistribute when it was inefficient than when it was efficient.

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    • “it’s not so much that Norwegians were less tolerant of luck-based inequality as that they were less tolerant of inequality for any reason.”

      Yeah; it’s not that they think that reward should be commensurate with effort or results, it’s that they think Everyone Should Get The Same.

      “It’s also odd that more Americans, and about the same number of Norwegians, wanted to redistribute when it was inefficient than when it was efficient.”

      Not really. “Look! Look how devoted to virtue I am! I pick the virtuous answer even when everyone gets less money because of it.

      One thing I’d have liked to see would be “random reward to one versus no reward to either“. Like, would you prefer that nobody get anything rather than one person get a seemingly-undeserved reward?

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