Morning Ed: United States {2017.04.25.T}

Well, this is pretty admirable. I say “admirable” because the easiest thing for them to do is outline the difference between them and Muslims and say, by omission, “if you want to go after them, go after them.

My first instinct is to say that if something that’s 100-to-1 happens, the odds were probably not that low to begin with. Good for California all the same.

I guess this should be legal, but if I had a friend that asked me I would suggest considering working at a strip club first.

I agree with Noah Rothman here. A lot of people resent the coverage that ruralia has been getting since the election, but Noah Rothman put some of my own thoughts into words, that it’s really a double-edged sword: The media loves stories of decline (and can actually get quite snippy when some region doesn’t go with the script.

I am imagining Charon telling Mr Elliot “I have some terrible news…”

Tyler Cowen says that actually West Virginia is undergoing a productivity miracle if people can’t find work.

Most excellent! It is important that young people discover that entrepreneurship is the road to frustration and misery and industriousness is for chumps.

I would have voted for faster Internet for free, but I guess I’m missing something or something.

From Greginak: Media bias regarding rural America?


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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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165 thoughts on “Morning Ed: United States {2017.04.25.T}

  1. The Reason article does not quite get why progressives have complicated feelings about the sex for room and board act on Craig’s List. Thats because the Reason position is basically that exploitation does not exist and everybody has free agency. To the Reason staff these sorts of agreements are fine as long as two or more consenting adults enter into them on their own free will. Liberals or progressives as Reason calls them sees these things as more complicated because we believe that power discrepancies and exploitation do exist. We also believe that people should not have to demean themselves for the basic necessities of life. Or as FDR put it, “a necessitous man is not a free man.” Its not that we don’t believe women have agency, its that we don’t think free agency is enough to justify modern day concubinage.

    If the Utah lemonade stand law is written like the article presents, kids don’t need a license to run a business, I can see more than a few adults using this loophole as a way to run a business without getting the necessary license. Just set up the business in their kids name. I guess this is another difference between liberals and non-liberals. Non-liberals see kids selling lemonade as something cute or as a sign of budding entrepreneurialism. Most liberals see it the same way. Some liberals see it as a sign of exploitation. Loomis at LGM is basically against all forms of child labor including things like this if you push him on it.

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    • I’ve noticed that when a situation involving sex work worries me, it usually worries me about as much if you substitute any other form of demanding physical and/or emotional labor for sex work.

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    • To me the better response to situations like this is a robust social safety net to ensure that people entering into these types of arrangements really are doing it of their own free will. The problem isn’t unusual or taboo sexual relationships, the problem is economic insecurity.

      Banning it is another trip down the road of trying to pass laws and use law enforcement and the criminal justice system to save people from themselves which has a pretty sorry history in this country, including for the people who are supposed to be receiving the protection. It also rests on a lot of retrograde and questionable assumptions about sex and power dynamics.

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      • I largely agree but Reason and many libertarians have never supported a strong safety net because socialism and freedom.

        So that is the problem. Anything but the safety net is still a strong pull in the US for many.

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      • That’s sort of the goal of my heuristic. I know I get kinda squicked out by prostitution and the like [1], so swapping out another kind of work and asking, “Well, would that bug me?” corrects for that, or at least I hope it does.

        [1] My knee-jerk aesthetic reactions don’t seem like a good basis for public policy, but if we banned lobster, I wouldn’t complain.

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      • I think that a robust public safety net would work better than an outright ban but like Saul I’m politically skeptical of it get any passed even as a result of horse trading. Safety nets involve taxes, government spending, and those people getting what they don’t deserve. Those are seen as threats to freedom to by many people.

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        • @pillsy

          I agree that it’s the harder fight but I also try to follow a first do no harm principle. Failing to do that is what gets us carceral feminism and a lot of the other policy failures libertarians rightly criticize.

          It reminds me of the issues with pay day lenders. On the one hand I do agree it’s predatory but I think just banning it could be worse for the people it’s trying to help by trading one evil for another. Instead of dealing with the lender who is at least subject to some oversight they now get to decide between not buying groceries or taking their chances with Bobby the loan shark. Better to attack the poverty that puts people in these situations to begin with.

          There’s a lot of this in our politics where we fight symptoms instead if diseases.

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          • It’s more than a harder fight, it’s something we aren’t going to get a quid pro quid on it. If we made a proposal to allow commercial sex or the above sort of contracts in exchange for a more robust social safety net than the answer will be a resounding no. Many would argue that real feeedom involves abolishing all social safety nets and allowing these types of contracts.

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            • I actually think what just happened with the attempt to repeal and replace the ACA has done a lot to expose the weakness of that argument. It’s something some vocal Republicans and some libertarians believe in theory but which has pretty limited traction when people start to contemplate how it would actually play out.

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              • Once something exists, it is generally hard to take away including allegedly unpopular programs like the ACA. But the big issue is getting those into existence.

                I think the ACA is nothing short of a major political miracle despite all its flaws. It was the first truly substantive increase in healthcare access since Medicare and Medicaid were introduced. And it took 13 months of work from Obama, Pelosi, and Reid to pass something that would meet the approval of moderate Senators like Nelson and Leibermann and also Senators like Bernie Sanders. Plus it involved some short-deadlines because of the Franken v. Coleman dispute and the death of Kennedy/election of Brown.

                I can easily imagine a world where Coleman won reelection and the ACA fails because of it.

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              • Its hard to get rid of safety net programs but they need to exist first. I am unwilling to move on something that might make the other side happy without something we want at the same time.

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            • The, “No,” would be resounding, but I expect it would be resounding because there’s a lot of overlap between people who really hate the idea of legalizing sex work and people who really hate the safety net.

              The counter-party isn’t libertarians.

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              • I suspect that the debate about whether sex work should be decriminalized, legalized, how, and when is one of those things that will never be solved and is politically intractable.

                There are calls for decriminalization and legalization among liberals and the Democratic Party but also plenty of people on the left (including many women) who think that we should not legalize because they sincerely believe that no person can go into sex work as a free thought. Plus they think legalization just helps perverts and philandering boyfriends/husbands and that is gross.

                Even on the legalization side, you have people who want legalization and regulated (where do the brothels go*? How do the prostitutes advertise? Is streetwalking okay? Do you need regular STD checks?) and those that don’t want any regulation and stick to their regulation free guns.

                *A friend of mine lived next to a brothel with her young children when she lived in SF and I don’t know if she had any qualms about prostitution per se but she did have qualms about the johns coming in and out and having to explain sex work to her kids at too young an age.

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                • The irony that the left has a significant population of people who are so willing to deny women agency by making the claim that no one can go into (and thus remain in) sex work without some degree of coercion/duress…

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                  • I very much doubt the truth of your assertion.

                    Sex work has all kinds of tiers. No police force much cares about four-star hotels arranging for escorts for businessmen or the high-end on-line stuff.

                    What police forces and prosecutors care very much about (at least in LA County and unfortunately just recently) is young girls being trafficked into street-level prostitution.

                    It’s within my memory that cops are now pursing johns much more aggressively. There has been an outpouring of academic research and public radio coverage in recent years that it’s a relatively small group of men who are repeat consumers of prostitution, especially for the trafficked girls.

                    (pet peeve: This topic is discussed regularly at my dinner table. But for people who don’t know much about the issue, I wish that people would do a little more factual research before commenting.)

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                    • How does any of what you say counter my assertion?

                      The fact that there are girls & women who are in sex work through coercion/duress does not mean all are. And sure, the cops probably aren’t interested in the high end escorts who are clearly operating of their own free will, but the law is not written to reflect that. And when people lobby to change the law so as to fully remove women from the role of perpetrator, there is a lot of pushback from all sides.

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                      • yes, there are some on the left who believe that all sex work is inherently coerced. There are also some on the left who believe silly things about vaccines.

                        However, you also find, on the left, the persons who believe that sex work is a form of work with a long and colorful history, that consensual sex work should be legal, and that non-consensual sex work is just another form of rape. These people, in recent years, have been a much louder and more successful voice.

                        I apologize for being rude. But the successes of the second group are real and important. Johns, not the girls, are now the group facing time for paying for coerced sex, at least here in LA County (and the story is much more complicated than that). I’m not aware that libertarians played any role in the changes being made, but if they did then more power to them.

                        So now comes the hard question — how do you draw the lines? When are the cops and DAs sufficiently sure of the testimony of the 18-year old (17? 16? 20? 21?) girl stating that she’s doing this voluntarily, and when do they think she’s being coerced?

                        I don’t think it’s an easy question and the people involved in addressing this issue on a day to day basis (including cops, prosecutors, judges, public defenders, child protective services, immigrants rights activists and few others) all bring their own personal and institutional biases.

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                        • I am aware that there has been movement in some places to de-emphasize enforcement upon the sex worker and focus it upon the customer and the employer, and that is great. I’ve heard heard of courts and legal aid organizations that help women who were convicted of prostitution while being trafficked get their records expunged, which is also awesome.

                          But as far as I know, outside of Nevada, there is no place in the US where sex workers can not be arrested and convicted for plying their trade, and there is no significant movement to end that; which means that there remains a large component of people on the left who are A-OK with that status quo, and the efforts of police/DAs/judges/legal aid is working on the most extreme of margins.

                          If it was legal and regulated, then the ability of a pimp to keep a girl under control would be severely curtailed, because all she would have to do is walk into a police station and swear out a complaint.

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                    • As best as I can tell the current approach is as follows:

                      1. Draconian enforcement for the poor, addicted and mentally ill.

                      2. Blind eye to the rich provided it remains discrete.

                      3. Policy based on moral panic and highly politicized research alleging (but never substantiating) rampant and outrageous criminal conduct.

                      The similarities to prohibition are pretty striking.

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                      • #2 doesn’t even need to be that discrete. Just check out the backpages of any alternative weekly, Craigslist, or looking around parts of cities for “massage” parlors that advertise the ethnicities of their employees on the singage in front of the establishment.

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                      • I think its important to point out that the Reason article wasn’t talking about all sex work but something that could be described as concubine contract where a person gets room and board for sexual services to a particular person for the contract’s durations. I think this comes across way too much like slavery for many people including myself.

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                        • I think it would depend on the terms of the contract and how enforceable it is (e.g. if the concubine wishes to end that means of recompense, does the contract permit the remainder of the lease to be satisfied with cash payments?).

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                  • I think the issue was explained below pretty well. I have a different definition of duress/coercion than the one Brandon, Damon, and Jaybird are going by below.

                    I personally think sex work should be legal but I also think it is an interesting thought experiment: What percentage of people would choose another form of work if they had better employment options and/or we had a more robust welfare state? I am honestly curious about this.

                    I think that there are still people would choose to go into sex work FWIW.

                    That being said, sex work is a wide and varied thing. You have strippers/topless dancers, porn actors, prostitutes/fetish workers at varying levels and things done, etc.

                    I’ve had female-friends say that they were considering foot fetish work at varying low points of employment and needing cash quick. IMO a more robust welfare state would have dissuaded my friends from making this consideration. I also know guys who told me they lost their virginity to prostitutes and a bunch of “friend of a friend” paid for college/grad school by being an escort stories.

                    The issue I have with the Craigslist ads tying housing to sex is that they seem more likely to be exploited or lead to exploitable situations because it is someone lacking cash and needing housing quickly.

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                    • I absolutely agree with you! I do think that a better safety net (we all know my preferred, by now) would probably result in a lot of women not choosing to participate in sex work, or, alternatively, for the wages and working conditions of sex work to improve quite dramatically.

                      ETA: Provided that sex work was legal and enjoyed some degree of regulation &/or contract enforcement.

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                  • Hmm. I don’t agree (surprise!).

                    The reason I left the Ls is that I realized how much class in this country is like Palmolive – we’re soaking in it, don’t pay attention to the people who tell us about it relentlessly, and it’s green and bubbly.

                    Off of actual college campuses, the idea that economic concerns color our power dynamics is, if not mainstream among liberals, at least extremely common.

                    You can’t have a relationship based on consent with someone in your chain of command, or whose end-of-term grade determines their college chances. Is it too much of a strwtch for even a liberal to make to see that “if you pay her rent” is in the same category (yes, notme, I know what you think already)?

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                    • My comment to Saul was in regard to sex work, not the sex for housing topic. As I say elsewhere, a lot of the trouble an under the table sex for rent arrangement could be remedied by not making it illegal and folding it into the same legal regime normal rentals exist under.

                      Also, how is this necessarily different from;

                      Girl likes guy
                      Girl moves in with guy (but fails to get put on the lease)
                      Girl decides she doesn’t like guy and gets the boot

                      ?

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                      • Morally, or (potentially) legally?

                        In terms of morality, we’re in Grey And Grey territory. But legally, there has to be a bright line. To me, it’s similar to age of consent – there are some boundary cases, but you want to draw the line to protect the 90 and inconvenience the 10.

                        To a guy with my social life, sex workers would solve many problems. The reason I don’t avail isn’t legality – it’s that the remunerative aspect screws up the consent dynamic, since there’s really no way to be sure.

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                        • At least you admit there is a squishy grey area!

                          Personally, I’m of a mind that such arrangements (a formal “sex for housing” thing) is probably complicated enough that we should not necessarily support it in law, but nor should we necessarily make it illegal. So if/when things go sideways, and it lands in front of a judge, the normal response would be something along the lines of, “The tenant has 48 hours to vacate and the landlord is not due any monies except the cost to bring the unit back to rentability.” And if it is especially contentious, perhaps a no contact order without a third party present to mediate.

                          Or something along those lines (remembering that IANAL).

                          My main goal is to avoid making it necessarily illegal, just a bad idea if people can’t agree on and maintain the boundaries.

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                          • Oh, of course it is – the older I get I’m perpetually surprised.by how little isn’t grey vs. grey.

                            I think the main difference between our positions is that you want the structure to give maximum tools to achieve the right result, while I want maximum friction to avoid the wrong result.

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                            • I don’t mind friction, it’s lockdowns I want to avoid.

                              If such arrangements required Sheldon Cooper style roommate agreements that are crafted by the tenant & their attorney, that should offer enough friction to discourage the stupid.

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          • Oh definitely. A lot of the time it seems like proposed solutions have more to do with being seen to do something that addresses the immediate problem in a way that has few short-term costs to the government.

            Then again, a plan that starts with, “Step 1: Eliminate poverty,” is a little on the intimidating side.

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            • Well if you phrase it that way then it is pretty daunting. I think if the concern is impoverished women there are all kinds of things progressives already largely support (access to birth control, universal subsidized daycare, minimum wage and paid leave) that can help. Obviously there are hurdles with these types of programs as Lee said above. To me more criminalization is not only ineffective and counterproductive but a sign that we’re giving up on solving these problems.

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    • Additionally, Libertarians have traditionally have had a huge blind spot to a problem in this specific situation…in fact, *most* people talking about this missed it:

      The same entity is controlling a person’s ’employment’ and their housing. (In fact, they are being explicitly paid in housing.)

      This has, throughout history, caused *all sorts* of problems, because it is easy for employer to create situations where it is hard to extract yourself. I.e., company towns, and payment in scrip. Or, going further back, sharecropping, or even actual feudalism.

      For a free society, the person signing your paychecks should not be the person you are writing rent checks to. It’s just a *dangerous* situation to be in.

      This is not to say that *all* such situations are exploitative. I mean, the US military provides housing for its employees, and that seems entirely reasonable. (Although the US military also isn’t allowed to threaten to fire someone overseas and leave them homeless and stranded in another country.) And no one claims that the president getting housing is exploitative, although again, it’s pretty hard to fire the president.

      But it’s very easy, when someone is on both ends of that, for them to *set up* an exploitative situation, where quitting your job, or looking for a job, cannot be done under the threat of homelessness, and likewise you cannot shop for other housing because you’re risking your job.

      Especially where the arraignment and employment, is, presumably, completely undocumented. (Because it is, technically, illegal.) I suspect these people will be legally treated as *houseguests* and can be removed to the street at any time (Instead of going through the legal eviction process), which introduces a whole new level coercion in their job…and when their job is *sex*, uh…well, that got rapey fast.

      But even removing the sex from it, and removing the problem of having *undocumented* agreements about housing and employment….just having housing provided as payment of employment is problematic in general, and something we, as society, should try to discourage, because it is very easy to end up with people who *cannot* reasonably leave their jobs.

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      • The military may not have “exploitative housing” but two words: Stop / loss. Any entity that requires you to sign a “contract” that allows them to unilaterally change the terms of that contract (in case of war/yadda) is de facto exploitative.

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        • If lawyers were free and the courts paid for your rent and food in the five years between you being illegally kicked out and the courts ruling in your favor. And the eight years of appeal.

          In real life, in that situation, that contract would work better as toilet paper for all the good it’d do you.

          Contracts, sadly, aren’t the magic shield a lot of people think they are. They’re only enforceable to the extent you have the money to pursue enforcement.

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              • This. In San Francisco (where I have as close to “experience” on the law as anywhere) the mechanisms are the lease agreement (if you pay, you get to stay under almost any circumstance), eviction proceedings (if you don’t pay, some time in the distant future the Sherriff might kick you out), and various special-circumstance laws (if the landlord wants to live in your unit, they can kick you out–but it creates resale problems for them and they have to pay relocation).

                So the contract, like most, basically only works because people are generally honorable and honest on these things. But the tenant has enough de-facto leverage (they can withhold rent, use rent directly to fix unfixed issues, etc.) that there’s little profit in exploiting a landlord’s formal leverage except in unusual cases. Of course, a bad tenant can do a lot of damage before the landlord is free of ’em.

                It’s hard to see how you could give the in-house sex worker any de-facto leverage to protect them if they want out (with their stuff), or want to stop performing and find other work without being homeless, unless you let cops issue on-site restraining orders to the homeowner (which I doubt libertarians would like much).

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                  • I understand there’s an element of moral squeamishness regarding legalizing the sex trades, Lee, but I get the feeling something else is in play here: that you think doing so would increase exploitation of women and young girls. Seems to me the current laws encourage exactly the types of exploitative relationships you think they eliminate and that legalizing it would be better for women by reducing that type of exploitation.

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                  • And THAT is the true objection. It isn’t about the legality, or anything else that could be mitigated through regulation and/or contract enforcement.

                    It’s that you can’t buy the idea that the arrangement can possibly be as benign as cash for housing. Which I find very interesting, given how many crimes of violence are the direct result of money being owed in some fashion.

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            • We were talking of company town situations, yes? Wherein a former, and now disenchanted with you personally, employer might be able to continue harassing you via their ownership of your housing and how that sort of problem can stack? (Which is why we don’t have company towns, company scrip, etc anymore).

              Perhaps I misunderstood your response, as I thought it was that contracts could prevent those abuses which were so common, historically.

              In any case, I’m guessing you’re lucky enough to have never had a landlord who took a disliking to you. Suffice to say, the written contract is…a pretty poor shield. Legality and contractual obligations be damned, you’ll never recover what you’re owed in damages. It’s a really crap situation with a really clear power disparity.

              That’s without the “company town” part.

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              • No, I wasn’t thinking about company towns as such.

                And yes, I went to college, I’ve had shitty landlords who scam for every red cent. Like I said elsewhere, I am not saying sex for housing is a good idea, but the objections I’ve seen so far all seem to have at their base an assumption that the landlord is obviously a scummy sexual predator who will clearly take things too far in short order, because only scummy sexual predators would place such an ad.

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                • Yeah, but David — in the post you were replying to — was talking about living where your “job” and “your living accommodations” are intertwined which, military aside, has historically not worked out well.

                  And that contractual guarantees against that are worth exactly nothing, because suddenly unemployed people kicked out of their homes illegally generally lack the funding to pursue legal recourse.

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                  • That’s my bad, I have been engaging too many different debates on this, the details are getting crosswired. Also AFAIK, the Reason article never mentioned anything about the tenant being fully supported by the landlord (the tenant was not necessarily barred from outside employment), so I am not sure why that got introduced as a conditional.

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        • A lot of the (very valid, btw) concerns you have here could be mitigated if the practice was legal and had enforceable contracts, much like a normal lease would.

          That just introduces other concerns.

          All prostitution, legal or otherwise, is generally a one-off done with a prostitute that, *at the time*, chooses to have sex right then with a specific person.

          To have a housing contract where rent is *paid* in sex, you have to define all sorts of rules and requirements…how often is sex required, is it scheduled, is there a penalty for late payment?

          Now, of course, there is nominally a ‘contract’ negotiated for all prostitution (Even if illegal, and totally verbal.), just like for all service transactions…but it is basically ‘thirty minutes of a predefined sex act right now’ or whatever. It’s not trying to schedule repeated stuff in advance.

          Stretching consent out like that makes it much less likely to be *actual* consent. Normal prostitutes, and in fact everyone, consent to sex *right then*. They don’t consent to sex six months down the line. Yes, in theory, they have to reconsent to it at the time even if they’re under contract, (See also: Martial rape, where we shot down the idea women could ‘pre-consent’ to sex and not back out.), but ‘consent to this sex act or you are penalized via the contract you have signed’ is *not really consent*.(1)

          Does she get vacation or sick days?

          Is this sexual contract it transferable, i.e, can the sex worker swap in subs? Can the homeowner loan her to other clients? Can he charge those other people?

          Is he going to provide her with proper documentation so she can correctly pay her taxes (Legally, yes, you have to pay for housing provided as income.) and deduct her business expenses?

          Is he required to meet any standard of personal hygiene? Does she have personal space? Can she date, and have sex with, other people?

          And, here, we get to part of the reason why ‘your employer provides lodging’ is so problematic throughout history: Often, it turns out that employers are *jealous and noisy assholes* if they also control your housing, especially if you housing *is* your work. The clear delimitation between ‘on the clock’ and ‘not on the clock’ is entirely gone.

          And I suspect here, it would be *exceptionally* gone. They don’t just control her housing in the sense of being their landlord, it literally *is* their house. They are living with their employee. They aren’t going to respect *any* boundaries.

          So, yes, it is, hypothetically, possible that there could be some contract that defines clear sexual duties and times for those, and clearly defined private areas, and all sorts of things…but the thing is, the sort of people who are running those ads are *exactly* the people I do not expect to be constructing such contracts. (Not even illegal verbal ones that have any sort of detail…and these women are not going to be experienced prostitutes so don’t know what sort of rules they have to lay out.)

          I suspect those people offering free housing are basically considering having *leased* themselves a woman that is available for whatever, whenever they want, under whatever rules they want, or out on the street she goes.

          Another question: Wouldn’t sexual harassment laws still apply, even if prostitution became legal?
          The woman: ‘My boss keeps trying to have sex with me, and gets upset and threatens to fire me when I refuse, creating a hostile work environment.’
          Their lawyer: ‘Didn’t you literally sign a contract stating you would have sex with him? Is that not the whole premise of your employment.’
          The woman: ‘Yes, but under sexual harassment laws, my boss saying I must have sex with him or he will fire me is *still illegal*. It is the most illegal thing there is under those laws! That law doesn’t change just because ‘sex with him’ is literally the job I have been hired to do.'(2)

          1) For those who wonder how it works in legalized prostitution: From what I understand, those women always have the ability to turn down clients. They are operating in a commission-based system. The brothel cannot say ‘Have sex with this person or you are fired’, although presumably if they never have sex with *anyone*, they won’t be kept on the staff.

          2) Again, in legalized prostitution, people are not told, or even asked, to have sex with their *boss*. They are given an opportunity by their company to have sex with the company’s *clients* and offered a cut/commission/however it’s phrased.

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          • Which basically all boils down to: it could be done, but doing so would be a colossal mess thanks to certain legal frameworks and our societal & emotional hang-ups about sex, so it would not be recommended (excepting, possibly, along some margin or other that would represent a really special case). So, don’t do it, and please don’t ask us to try and enforce it.

            PS thanks for at least kicking the hypothetical around rather thoroughly.

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          • “Live-in girlfriend” seems more likely to have a job of her own, or at least to be promptly employable, than “concubine.” Given employability, “live-in girlfriend who ends her girlfriending” appears more likely to be able to obtain housing when said girlfriending ends.

            Maybe (meaning “likely”) that’s me importing my priors into the implications of those contrasting phrases. Note also that we’re assuming that it is the (further prior, male and relatively speaking more affluent) partner of the woman in question who owns or otherwise holds possessory rights on the living quarters.

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            • What if we change “live in girlfriend” to “wife” and place our protagonists in a conservative community that expects women not to work outside the home, leaving her without a work history; should we be taking legal action to prevent this sort of situation from arising? If so, what?

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              • The law’s answer to the question is, “Yes, at least sometimes, because ‘wife’ is a legally different status than ‘live in girlfriend’ or ‘concubine,’ carrying the implication that possessory rights in a residence may in some circumstances be community property.”

                Now, you asked an “ought” question rather than an “is” question, but mostly I think the law’s answer is about right.

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                • I’m also more interested in looking at the question before the fact (should marriages in which one spouse has no independent economic resources be discouraged through some public policy?) than after (should a divorce(e) without independent economic resources have legal claims on their ex-spouse’s resources?).

                  Edit: though I agree that the existence of provisions for communal property and so forth are an important part of what makes a case involving marriage quite different from one that does not, and I think that said provisions should weigh heavily in differences between policies before the fact.

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  2. The Reason article goes to my suspicion that Libertarians don’t believe in any concept of coercion or exploitation. I think prostitution should be legal but I think ads like the ones above can easily lead to captive situations. Yet Libertarians seem hellbent on denying duress as a a concept.

    Tennessee: Well I guess state provides Internet is socialism but paying a corporation lots of money gets campaign contributions and cushy jobs.

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    • Yet Libertarians seem hellbent on denying duress as a a concept.

      Ask a libertarian about taxes and see how hellbent they are on denying duress as a concept.

      Here’s the problem. This is what duress actually is:

      Do this for me, or I will make you suffer.

      Libertarians are well aware that this is a thing, and that it’s a problem, which is why we support laws against violent crime, and also why we’re suspicious of a lot of government activity. Here is the thing you’re trying to conflate with duress:

      I see that you’re suffering for reasons that have nothing to do with me. If you do this for me, I will help to alleviate your suffering.

      Do you see how these are not only not the same thing, but actual opposites? Treating them as if they were the same thing betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what coercion is and why it’s usually bad.

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    • I figured out years ago that libertopia, and its more extreme cousin anarchotopia, feature an implied rough equality of resources to make the system work. The David Friedman anarchotopia scheme is based on everyone having a gang of thugs for hire, with a balance of thuggery keeping everyone playing nice. This only works if everyone can afford a quality gang of thugs.

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      • “This only works if everyone can afford a quality gang of thugs.”

        Hiring directly or hiring by taxes, the quality of enforcement matters. Subjective value matters either way.

        Things can go pear shaped either way, because at the end of the day if your desire is to have the right kind of people in place, then you need some strategy to have the right kind of people in place.

        If that strategy is: let the elected few from a narrow candidate pool determine what I want, well thats a special kind of human nature.

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  3. Yes, “hot” homeless women being exploited. I think the term contradicts itself. Oh, and , you assume these people are “demeaning themselves”. That’s your opinion and not necessarily their opinion. Everyone is exploited to one degree or another. No one is forcing these “hot girls” to consent. There are plenty of housing options available, especially for hot girls. Case in point. I noted one day my SIL had a semi flat tire. I suggested we go fix it. She said she’d get the gas station guy to fix it later. I asked, “you just going to bat your eyes and smile at him and he’ll fix it?” She answered “yes”. Hot girls can crash on some friend’s couch….some beta’s couch…etc. just like this: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1256029/

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    • You really think that all of these ads are going to involve “hot homeless women@ and that nothing can go wrong or that women will always find it easy to leave these arrangements if they want to? Considering that you actively believe in evil behavior and even encourage it as good for humans because it makes them tougher, I’m incredulous at this response.

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      • I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but if I was going to post an ad such as this, I surely would not want some old woman I found unattractive to “clean the house in lingerie” for me. So, yes, I presume that, at a minimum, the ad poster will be the one evaluating the “hotness” of the applicants. As to any problems that might occur in this type of arrangement, should I be worrying about the drug addicts who “will do anything for a fix” as well? Where are you going to be drawing the line as to the “deals” people will accept that I should or should not be worrying about? If you have agency, and everyone does, that’s all on you.

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    • Isn’t it interesting how, when men give women material resources in exchange for sex (or in this case the vague possibility of sex), the “exploitation” narrative is always that the man is exploiting the woman? Why is it that no one ever accuses the woman of exploiting the man’s desire for sex?

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      • Excellent point. I do indeed know a few women who use that “exploit”. I’ve been a victim myself, although I was only exploited for a rather expensive dinner. Remember, women are always the victims….patriarchy, lack of agency, sexism, cocks for glocks, yadda yadda…

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              • I think it’s resides in all of us [1], which means that there are going to be serious conflicts over it, in good faith and bad, and we’d best cross our fingers that they can be resolved without a lot of people being shot or starving to death. And maybe while crossing our fingers, focus on ways we can come to agreements with less shooting and/or starving.

                Some of those arrangements seem to work OK. Others very much don’t.

                [1] I can’t think of a coherent alternative place to locate it. Theists could ask their god(s), but I’ve noticed that they often get different and mutually incompatible answers to such questions, so doing so changes little.

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                    • Well trizzlor is deploying the tenets of need, very much in the same ideology ground of:

                      A man in need is not a free man.

                      Which continues on in a conflict of the two freedoms, because to make a man not need requires provisioning.

                      Provisioning by the modern liberal ideology means the state or some semblance of a authoritarian social construct is to collect value from who it wishes, consenting or not, to fufill the provisioning.

                      It is a perversed type of freedom. The freedom to make order as the priority, and grant people freedom as a secondary priority.

                      ‘Conditional’ freedom granted by the people in control of the construct. Not ‘we the people’ but only the people of an authoritarian nature that would grant a social construct agency above and beyond the agency of an individual.

                      Nearly naked coercive authoritarianism running under various banners.

                      The other freedom requires that freedom be first as a priority. The individual is sovereign. Free from the whims of social construct demands. If he wants order of a kind he can consent to that order or withdraw when it is no longer is of subjective value. Any particular social construct only survives by consent.

                      We must be careful when we say “I think it’s resides in all of us” because in that, there is a decision of what kind of freedom we want.

                      One of these freedoms has led repeatedly to starvation, oppression, and shooting, the other one does pretty damn good until it forgets how base capitalism works. Suicide by social construct values instead of subjective values.

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                      • Provisioning by the modern liberal ideology means the state or some semblance of a authoritarian social construct is to collect value from who it wishes, consenting or not, to fufill the provisioning.

                        This is true as far as it goes, but I’m not sure it really goes quite as far as all that. After all, societies that are laid out in rough accordance with modern liberal ideology have a pretty decent record of providing freedom from need while, at the same time, allowing substantial freedom to own stuff, trade stuff, and enter into contracts [1]. The rest of the liberal program (freedom to speak, assemble, worship, et c.) are good at heading off the kind of disorder that leads to shooting and starving [2,3].

                        That’s not the only way to have prosperity, but the examples I’m familiar with that do have prosperity are more, rather than less, authoritarian. Singapore is no libertopia.

                        We must be careful when we say “I think it’s resides in all of us” because in that, there is a decision of what kind of freedom we want.

                        Maybe the freedom to decide for one’s self what is right is dangerous, but attempts to take that away are far, far more dangerous. Of course, once everybody has that freedom, you have to figure out what to do about disagreements.

                        While it’s far from perfect, the modern liberal ideology seems to provide the best way to resolve those disagreements.

                        [1] I’m not nearly far enough to the left to believe that capitalism is, in and of itself, an authoritarian social construct.

                        [2] In honor of , I feel compelled to mention Somalia, but that has much less to do with people deciding they don’t a state and much more to do with people shooting at each other to seize control of the state and wrecking everything in the process.

                        [3] Of course, if people don’t have any freedom to own stuff, that is, as you note, something else that seems to lead to shooting and starving. When people in power start throwing the word “hoarder” around, you’re pretty much hosed.

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                        • Hmm, it appears you have included classical liberalism in the mix with modern liberalism. I think before we can go further it may be of value to define the differences of each.

                          Specifically the interactions of social agency and individual agency. Also in the areas of how modern liberalism is a practice of creating groups of people while classical liberalism was more individual oriented.

                          As far as starving goes it may be noteworthy of when base capitalism gained traction and what that did to hunger and to slowly curb fuedalism. Not the stuff we practice today (or even since the fall of the cottage industry), but it had a pretty good run. One of the downsides being a crazy quantum of two legged critters running around the earth.

                          Peace is a individual gift we give each other. It is not granted from social constructs. It is something we are in continual exercise of as individual construct. Peaceful people are peaceful whether social constructs exist or not. Violent people are violent whether social constructs exist or not.

                          What does change is how the disagreements are escalated. I can solve 99.9% of mortal disagreements in a individualist republic with a set of dueling pistols.

                          Mortal social construct disagreements have advanced into mechanized warfare and nuclear proliferation.

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          • Time to link to “The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics” again.

            Excerpt:

            On March 11th, 2012, the vast majority of people did nothing to help homeless people. They were busy doing other things, many of them good and important things, but by and large not improving the well-being of homeless humans in any way. In particular, almost no one was doing anything for the homeless of Austin, Texas. BBH Labs was an exception – they outfitted 13 homeless volunteers with WiFi hotspots and asked them to offer WiFi to SXSW attendees in exchange for donations. In return, they would be paid $20 a day plus whatever attendees gave in donations. Each of these 13 volunteers chose this over all the other things they could have done that day, and benefited from it – not a vast improvement, but significantly more than the 0 improvement that they were getting from most people.

            The response?

            IT SOUNDS LIKE something out of a darkly satirical science-fiction dystopia. But it’s absolutely real — and a completely problematic treatment of a problem that otherwise probably wouldn’t be mentioned in any of the panels at South by Southwest Interactive.

            There wouldn’t be any scathing editorials if BBH Labs had just chosen to do nothing – but they did something helpful-but-not-maximally-helpful, and thus are open to judgment.

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  4. without providing it any special tax breaks or grants; EPB is profitable and doesn’t rely on taxpayer money)

    The issue is the first for EPB since 2008 when the utility issued $226.8 million in 25-year bonds to finance the initial build out of its fiber optic and smart grid system. EPB also benefited in 2009 from a $111.6 million federal stimulus grant for its smart grid.

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        • Look past the clickbait headline. The “free” part is that EPB wants to invest in expanded infrastructure without additional outside financing. Yes, it received a stimulus grant eight years ago. Said grant turned out to be wildly successful, resulting in a self-sustaining financial model while offering a hugely popular service that more people want in on. I know that it is an article of faith in some circles that “federal stimulus grant” is synonymous with “belly up to the trough” but EPB is exactly what this sort of grant is supposed to accomplish, while in the meantime the free market fairy seems to have been on vacation.

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  5. I’ve read Cowen’s article twice, and I still have no idea of the point he’s trying to make. Yes, West Virginia isn’t a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but WV’s unemployment rate still puts it in the top (bottom)? quartile of states, and frankly, federal employment is the only thing that’s going to ever more equalize it with Regular Virginia.

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    • I think his point is that the implied high labor productivity rate in WV makes it a good candidate for business investment.

      EDIT: Arguably removing the unemployed from the workforce might be helping productivity by removing the least productive labor hours.

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    • I think the idea is to contest the narrative of decline in WV (which is wrong, though not for the reasons that Cowen hits in that article), and perhaps to suggest that the broader economic divergence narrative needs more nuance, at the very least.

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  6. The stories that Noah Rothman are talking about are really no different than the story told in the Wire (for instance.)

    The only thing that bothers me, and this applies to many of them, are the ones that appear to be unstuck in time. Specifically, when prime working age people reminisce of how their fathers had a pretty good thing going. The math rarely works out.

    i.e. if you’re 30-45 years old, your parents didn’t see ‘stability’ in the economy or the workforce. They experienced the dislocations of the oil shocks, high inflation, and at least 3 significant recessions between 1970 and 1990.

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    • Boomers bitch like hell about the stagflation. Boomers don’t understand what “the economy goes to hell” looks like.

      Yes, stagflation was a moderate bad. But, really? That was a decent stable time compared to the Long Depression, or half a dozen other times I could name.

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    • There was a Rick Perlstein article a few months back that, among other things, examined that economic mythology and suggested they might not hold up, at least for one believer in Oklahoma. I haven’t done any sort of double-checking, and there’s other stuff going on, but I thought it was an interesting read.

      Some of the things, of course, ring very true to me. People often seem to only have a vague how much they pay in taxes, and how it breaks down between local, state and federal taxes.

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      • The main thing I get from this is that most voting is done for emotional or tribal reasons and facts and data do not matter. This is true from the entire political spectrum. Some high information voters use data to vote but most do not.

        Another thing that I get from this piece is that people don’t live in the same narrative universe even if we live in the same physical one. How different parts of the country perceive the Civil War and Recobstruction are a good example. It’s very hard to get everybody on the same page without a certain amount of government control.

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        • I agree with the first paragraph.

          The fact thing is interesting though because a lot of facts are meaningless outside of belief and ideology.

          Say it is true that the government is spending more money on Medicare. Is this a sign of compassionate government? bloat? Or just as aging population with unprecedented life spans?

          Interpretation is going to depend on ideology

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      • “Liberals must listen to and understand Trump supporters. But what you end up understanding from even the sweetest among them still might chill you to the bone.”

        What chills him? Apparently, the claim that Reconstruction was a failure (I’m not sure anyone debates this), that the post-war South was left poverty-stricken from which it has not fully recovered (I’m not sure this is debated either, but the exact causal chain is), and slavery might have gradually ended without war (something largely refuted in Time on the Cross, but we are in the realm of counterfactuals).

        In the grown-up room, people can reasonably debate these comments.

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        • My guess was this (it’s what bugged me most):

          Slavery and Reconstruction? “I was using it as an example of government intrusion and how violent and negative the results can be when the government tries to tell people how to think. I take it you saw it in terms of race in politics. The way we look at the same thing shows how big the difference is between our two groups.”

          You may be able to debate some of the other comments, but rejecting the idea that slavery and Reconstruction (and its failure) was primarily about race and politics is pretty bizarre.

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  7. Yeah, the lemonade stand run by kids is fine, but how long will it be before we see adults running businesses that are fronted by their kids? I guess the state presumes that parents have their children’s best interests at heart unless proven otherwise. This is probably the best policy, but I’m unenthusiastic.

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  8. I re-read the Rothmans piece to refresh my memory, and (no real surprise) I liked it.

    One of the things that bugs me more than a little about the kinds of pieces that Rothman describes is (IMO) they tend to reinforce, rather than weaken, the bubbles for their target audiences. “Trump supporters”, they seem to say, “are an exotic tribe who live in Shamblesville, Ohio, not the sort of people you meet and know.”

    Maybe that makes sense for someone who literally lives in Manhattan and never leaves, but a ton of us Acela corridor denizens live in suburbs of the various metros, and those suburbs typically have substantial numbers of Trump supporters living in them. Lots of them are college educated, have top quintile income, and so on—in other words they’re less different and alien from us than the guy from Shamblesville who lost hope after the widget factory moved to Mongolia.

    Of course, the way some people write about this stuff, I’ve never seen an episode of Girls, like the burgers at Chili’s, and am friends with people who smoke cigarettes, so I’m virtually a coal miner.

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  9. http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/04/portland_to_stop_corporate_inv.html

    The City of Portland did the most Portland of things and voted to divest from all corporations. The mayor opposed but the Ragging Grannies (yes there was a protest-singing group called the Ragging Grannies) got the council onboard. I don’t have strong opinions on this but it raises some interesting philosophical questions:

    1. If you are a city council member and/or otherwise in charge of the finances for a municipality, who is your fiduciary duty to? Is it to the citizens? the employees? Both?

    2. Does being a fiduciary mean ignoring the social/political concerns of your constituents? If yes, under what circumstances and with what limitations?

    3. Do the Ragging Grannies and activists reflect the average Portland resident or is this just a case of a dedicated minority getting something done because most people don’t have the time, patience, or energy to attend city council and other governmental meetings? Could the Ragging Grannies have been ignored successfully?

    My guess on number three is that the Ragging Grannies are probably more of a dedicated minority or a lot of people like them but aren’t as hardcore on the issue of complete corporate divestment. In SF (another city known for being ultra-left), the radicals can command victories in some city council districts and smaller elections but they have a hard time winning city-wide elections. In every city wide election I have seen, it is usually a center-left Democrat vs. further left Democrat. The most recent one was Scott Weiner v. Jane Kim for the State Senate seat. Scott Weiner is very much a liberal but one who works with market economics and wrote an essay about how the laws of supply and demand apply in San Francisco and the way to end the housing crisis is to build, build, build even if it is only condos for techie-yuppies that got built. Jane Kim ran on a pro-renter but anti-development platform. Scott Weiner also drew ire for suggesting that maybe we shouldn’t allow guys to walk around naked with just a sock around their dick. Both Scott and Jane advanced in the jungle primary but Scott won the November general election easily.

    See also David Chiu v. David Campos for State Assembly.

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  10. Re the last link, about the media effectively limiting rural America to the Census Bureau’s Midwest plus WV and PA…

    The media loves themes. One of the themes it loves these days is the decline of the Democratic Party in “rural America”, taken broadly to mean everything between the Sierras/Cascades and the Appalachians, and the Atlantic Coast south of Virginia. The switch of the Solid South is old news; the West didn’t fit the pattern this election cycle; but ah, the Midwest plus WV and PA. Governorships and state legislature chambers flipping rapidly over the last decade, and this time WI, MI, and PA — all part of the Blue Wall that got so much play leading up to the election — went for Trump. It’s where the story is.

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    • There are lots of stories. Framing “rural” as equaling old white true Americans is just one story. The media is following part of a narrative but less willing to look around to see more of the entire picture. Seeing rural as white places or more authentically American is not a new story. Many parts of the media has loved that frame for years. Tim Russert was one who loved the stories of real American in small Penn towns.

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    • I’d say it’s, “Left 0, Hacks Who Make a Living Poking the Left with a Stick 2.” Free speech is just an innocent bystander getting splashed with poop as those two factions fling it at each other.

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        • No, I’m saying that the protesters are stupid marks who, aside from having really questionable ideas about how public discourse works, are the only reason Coulter and Yianopolous have jobs. They’re getting played and people like Coulter are laughing all the way to the bank. Now she gets to stamp, “Banned at UC Berkeley” on all of her promotional materials.

          The only reason why performance artists without any substance get paid big bucks is because their performances make people jump. If you don’t want those types of trolls to get paid speaking gigs, stop jumping and they’ll fade away.

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    • “Ann Coulter said Wednesday that she is canceling her planned speech at the University of California, Berkeley, because she had lost the backing of conservative groups that had initially sponsored her appearance.”

      Yes, a conservative voluntarily choosing not to speak after losing support of other conservatives is as transparent an attack on free speech as the left can offer.

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      • “Late on Tuesday, the conservative group that was helping Ms. Coulter in her legal efforts to force Berkeley to host her, Young America’s Foundation, said it could no longer participate. “Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students,” the group said.”

        So you expect them to put themselves in danger b/c the school and local cops wont protect her. That’s classy.

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          • Everything I’m reading indicates that the “lack of support” was all due to the danger of violence erupting, so I don’t think I understand your argument either.

            The fact that Berkeley’s offer was a date when students were not in class is particularly alarming. It implies that the the likelihood of violence decreases when there are fewer students around, which is not what I’d expect to hear if we want to blame it all on outside agitators.

            I’d love to see every identifiable student involved in actual violence or property destruction expelled and students who actively interrupt campus event suspended. Do that for a few cycles and see if the problem gets better.

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            • I’d love to see every identifiable student involved in actual violence or property destruction expelled and students who actively interrupt campus event suspended. Do that for a few cycles and see if the problem gets better.

              This.

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            • That’s not the reason to have it during reading week; the students are all in town but have nothing to do but study, so they’re more likely to join in, not less.

              The reason to do it during reading week is to make it easier for people to avoid any resulting brawl, since they don’t have classes and the like.

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          • You say she isn’t going to speak bc the groups pulled out on her but won’t bother to acknowledge why they pulled out. Once you see why they pulled out it isn’t as simple as you like it to be. You make it sound like they pulled their support for her bc they no longer agree with not the threat of lefty violence.

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    • In the interest of fairness, liberals and leftists who aren’t currently enrolled in colleges have been pretty much uniformly opposed to the campus lefties on this one.

      There’s less broad sympathy for content-based restrictions than you think. There is, otoh, a lower bar for possible incitement than rightists, or even liberals close to the center, might in isolation draw the line.

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