Politics Discussion Thread December 2012

by OrphanWilde1 min read4th Dec 2012137 comments


Personal Blog

I skipped October and November owing to election season, but opening back up:

  1. Top-level comments should introduce arguments; responses should be responses to those arguments. 
  2. Upvote and downvote based on whether or not you find an argument convincing in the context in which it was raised.  This means if it's a good argument against the argument it is responding to, not whether or not there's a good/obvious counterargument to it; if you have a good counterargument, raise it.  If it's a convincing argument, and the counterargument is also convincing, upvote both.  If both arguments are unconvincing, downvote both. 
  3. A single argument per comment would be ideal; as MixedNuts points out here, it's otherwise hard to distinguish between one good and one bad argument, which makes the upvoting/downvoting difficult to evaluate. 
  4. In general try to avoid color politics; try to discuss political issues, rather than political parties, wherever possible.

As Multiheaded added, "Personal is Political" stuff like gender relations, etc also may belong here.

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[-][anonymous]9y 25

I skipped October and November owing to election season.

I commend you on this! Up voted.

0FiftyTwo9yI support it in principle, but does it exhibit an excessive US bias?
2[anonymous]9yNot really, considering that according to polls about half of our readers are from the US and their presidential elections there are the stuff of global debate, interest and even tribal feelings.
[-][anonymous]9y 13

Hypothesis: Academic philosophy (and the humanities in general) is useful as a means of gainfully employing people who otherwise would be predisposed to starting radical social movements.

(Limited) Evidence:


If it did serve that purpose, it would do so with high volatility. Social unrest is dependent on macroeconomic factors such as unemployment and recession. Assuming humanities degrees are commercially less desirable than the alternatives, you'd be handing a lot of free time to a bunch of revolutionaries at the worst possible moment.

There seems to be a pretty heavy correlation v. causation problem here because your two primary examples are situations where the shut downs occurred in part because everything else was already falling apart a fair bit.

5Randy_M9yThat seems to presuppose that such people are (only) born, not persuaded into such a mindset by other radicals in, i.e., teaching positions in academia.
4Viliam_Bur9yOn the other hand, maybe "this is the stuff we learn at school" makes it boring, and less attractive to rebels. You could make as popularly hated as math.
2Randy_M9yI find that that mindset it way more prevelant in high school than college/university.
3RomeoStevens9yOr gainfully employing people who were political radicals, e.g. Bill Ayers.
1[anonymous]9ySteve Sailer has been interested in the 1960s and has done some research and speculation, you might want to check out his articles on the matter. Also there was recently some discussion of 1968 on iSteve. Another theory of the Sixties: Vatican II [http://isteve.blogspot.com/2012/12/another-theory-of-sixties-vatican-ii.html] A commenter wrote: My inner metacontrarian can't help but speculate about the stupidity of opening the windows in facilities containing biohazards [http://daily.muflax.com/log/92/].
0ChristianKl9yI don't think academic philosophy is good in preventing it's members from starting radical social movements. People like Noam Chomsky do quite a lot of social activism while they hold tenure.
[-][anonymous]9y 9

As Multiheaded added, "Personal is Political" stuff like gender relations, etc also may belong here.

I am in a polygamous implicitly patriarchal relationships with two girlfriends with whom I'd like to start families. I consider dominance play an important part of my sexuality. Ask me anything.

My position may change in the future without notice. I'm sharing this because I think most people's political positions on related matters are strongly governed by self-validating rationalizations and such information is relevant to trying to gauge when someone is engaged in motivated cognition.

Do you manage your time with particularly elaborate Excel macros?

(I know someone with similar tastes who is in a similar situation - one loved one pregnant by planning, the other at around the same time by accident. I think he spends his entire life [edit: apart from working the day job] just being dad.)

7[anonymous]9yI actually do use spreadsheets and Evernote [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evernote] hacks to manage my time and medium term plans for the future most of the time, especially when I have a very productive period. I have in the past occasionally had week long periods where I am generally not motivated to do anything and profoundly displeased with my life and the world. In those I don't do much of anything and let alone use the mentioned tools. While I know this is a hard lifestyle "just being a dad" actually sounds very appealing to me.

Chastity comes with time to spare, lechery has never a moment.

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

3Randy_M9ySure, it's a nice gig if you are otherwise provided for, I'd wager.
7Multiheaded9yI think that, without the larger social and cultural structures that people call "patriarchy", it's incorrect - mostly connotatively, but it's a denotative inaccuracy too - to call any given private relationship "implicitly patriarchal". It would be like calling the relations between an officer and soldiers in a modern army "implicitly fascist". Meaning that even if superficially there's a lot of similarity (e.g. if you provide financial support and it is understood to "entitle" you to companionship, you engage in d/s play on an emotional/intimate level, you're counted upon to make decisions, etc), it's still a perfectly voluntary, healthy relationship, absent some latent psychological issues or hidden manipulation. After all, your girlfriends wouldn't be shamed, coerced or economically pressured if they decided to break things up or reevaluate the power balance - so there's no "-archy" at work. I'm only saying this because I also think that power play is a healthy and important part of most people's sexuality [http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2010/11/20/do-men-or-women-have-fantasies-of-dominance-and-submission-the-results-noh/] , so it would be good to define it correctly, not letting... anyone frame it as immoral/pathological/inherently abusive.
1[anonymous]9yYou are ignoring the much of classical New Left thought in this response. As an exercise put on your Gramschian [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci] glasses and consider how in a personal relationship based on informed consent, mutual satisfaction and without much support from the rest of society patriarchy exists in a meaningful sense. Bonus points if you see how even with the first two conditions in place this might be something feminism and regular Joe would strongly object to.
3Multiheaded9yWell, I did say: -but I see where you're coming from with this elaboration, yes. I do indeed think that the seeming presense of informed consent and mutual satisfaction can become a cynical, ethically meaningless fake when society and culture have a chokehold on your awareness, your sense of self, your very epistemology. In regards to patriarchy and gender oppression we can see those structures in the Arab world today. I should've specified that in this comment I was only talking about 1st world liberal capitalism, which for all its potential insidious tendencies is contradictory enough that we can assume a degree of individual autonomy and meaningful free choice in private life. I'm not sure if you're just playing the devil's advocate or genuinely trying to share my views on sex and autonomy, but I must say I'm delighted :) As a further example, have you considered that matrial rape [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marital_rape] has been so pervasive and accepted in the West that first-wave feminism made very little headway against it by the turn of the century? That no patriarchal society even bothered to account for it? That it was first criminalized in 1965, after female suffrage has been achieved in every Western democracy? Edit: spelling
6MileyCyrus9yHow are you going to pay for this?
0[anonymous]9yI'm currently in the process founding a company I hope will be very profitable or at least profitable enough to support a large family. Barring this I shall try to find a regular job in STEM, but in that case the wives will have to go to work as well and private tutors instead of home-schooling will likely be required.
1Multiheaded9yHow important is economic dominance to you? Would you wish to keep full ownership of your property and finances, so that you have an implicit instrument of control and economic leverage that would give you a sense of power over your wives? If the wives were to work, would you be unnerved if together they earned more than you and you had no leverage over them? Or do you think that emotional control and force of habit would better secure your dominance? (I'm sorry if any of this is shocking or insulting and I'm considering you in a wrong light. I'm just generally trying to see what power and control mean to you.)
0Eugine_Nier9yDid you mean "founding"?
0[anonymous]9yYes, apologies for the typos it was written on my phone.
5Aharon9yWhat do you mean when you say that your position may change in the future without notice? I would have thought this to be something one has a relatively stable position on. Isn't it rather unikely that you suddenly become a monogamous person and lose your interest in dominance play?
3[anonymous]9yPeople do break up no?
5Aharon9yOf course they do. I interpreted the word "position" in that context to mean your values, not the way they are reflected by reality. It was a misunderstanding on my part.
4Oligopsony9yInasmuch as you relate your sexuality to your politics, do you think your framework would be good for - or is at least undervalued as a personal option by - the wider population, (and/)or are you more concerned that feminism will seek to make your lifestyle choices untenable? (Also, whenever I need to raise my subjective status relative to yours I'm going to think of you as a Gorean. Fair warning.)
3[anonymous]9yYes. Not really. Far too few men are pursuing it for it to be a viable source of power once broken down. And my social circle has an anarchist bent already. It may become endangered by families in general being outlawed but that is decades away even in the worst case scenarios. Read up on them. So far Goreans are an interesting subculture but seem to be bad at political theory. Not that it much matters since politics is not how they prosper.
3Oligopsony9yYeah, don't worry; our timetable's not nearly that rapid.
4Alicorn9yAre your girlfriends willing to talk to us about this subject too?
3[anonymous]9yI'll ask them. I've mentioned the site before but neither showed interest in spending time here so far.
1Viliam_Bur9yAre they even allowed to? (I ask because of the "patriarchal" part. It could mean many things.) :D
7[anonymous]9yOk that made me laugh.
3Eugine_Nier9yWhat is the attitude towards these kinds of relationships in Ljubljana? In particular what do your girlfriends' families think?
3ChristianKl9yAre your girlfriends free to have sex with other men? Do you value having sex with girls with whom you don't want to start families?
0[anonymous]9yIt isn't the case for my regular current girlfriends. I have had friendship with benefits relationships where this is the case. I certainly considered the women involved my friends, not really girlfriends however. Also in those I didn't experiment with traditionalist patriarchal mindsets. Not really. I elaborated on how I view it a few years ago.
6ChristianKl9yWhat do those experiements mean specifically?
-2Athrelon9ySeconded. Does this mean PUA or does it have a more long-term element?
3RichardKennaway9yI have seen in various places strong connections, although never to my knowledge explicitly drawn, between the espousal of (1) MDFS BDSM, (2) PUA, and (3) political positions such as your own. Are these things, in your view, three branches of one tree, the praxis of the same fundamental theory of who we are, in the domestic, social, and political spheres respectively?
1ChristianKl9yKonkvistador political position is Moldbuggian if I understand it right. According to the LessWrong survey 61% of the 18 Moldbuggian's prefer monogamous relationships while only 53% of all LessWrong people prefer them. I didn't calculate whether the difference is statistically signifcant but if Moldbuggians would be more into PUA I would expect their preference for monogamous relationships to be less than the overall LessWrong population. The Moldbuggian in the survey are all male. Code: mold<- subset(survey, survey$AlternativeAlternativePolitics=="Moldbuggian") length(subset(mold, mold$Relationshipstyle=="Prefermonogamous")$Relationshipstyle) /length(mold$Relationshipstyle))
3RichardKennaway9yIt isn't, at all. Back of envelope calculation: Standard deviation of binomial distribution not too far from 50-50 is sqrt(N)/2 = sqrt(18)/2 or about 2 out of 18 = 11%. The Moldbuggians are 8% different from all of LW answering the poll, clearly an insignificant difference.
3JoshuaZ9yI'm confused. What does this have to do with politics?

I'm confused. What does this have to do with politics?

Of all the subjects discussed on lesswrong, the subjects related to sex are the most political in style and motivation. If I recall, this applies even to your own contributions on that subject.

"Politics" doesn't mean "Obama et al".

-2JoshuaZ9yOk. I think I can see how you'd get that. But a more careful classification would see that at LW the political issues have been far more closely connected to gender than sex. But it is possible that this is splitting hairs. In any event, since the edit to include the apparent thread starting comment about personal and political, this seems more clearly political in some form. (I don't like the idea of the personal and political being that connected, but it is a commonly accepted notion.)
2wedrifid9yOn the contrary, I started with 'gender' but replaced it with sex because the former was simply inaccurate. Gender is discussed politically (unfortunately) but sex has been too. Including much (ridiculous) back and forth about what constitutes 'consent'. Saying 'gender and sex' would have been more general and the most accurate but I went with sex because it seemed relevant to the context. I don't like politics getting mixed up with the personal either but unfortunately that seems to be how (most) of our species work. Nearly all actions and expressions, even of personal preference or practice tend to be made as and interpreted as social-political positioning. But taking a step back I can't complain. It is this kind of nosy, interfering, mind-killed application of social force that allowed our selfish aggressive instincts to be channeled in a way that ultimately allowed a somewhat worthwhile civilization. (ie. Politics controlling the personal forced behavioral changes that were beneficial.)
0JoshuaZ9yGender seems to have been discussed much more than sex, although I agree that sex has been discussed but to a much smaller extent. So I haven't seen such discussions here that I recall, but I'm curious what they were and what makes you think such issues are ridiculous. Can you expand on this? This isn't obvious to me.
2MileyCyrus9yDo you have any LW sockpuppets?
1[anonymous]9yI don't see the relevance to the topic at hand but I see no harm in answering your question. Yes I do.
2drethelin9yI'd just like to deny here and now all rumors that I am a Konkvistador sockpuppet
0[anonymous]9yWhy would anyone assume you are?
1shminux9yWhat do you mean by "implicitly patriarchal"? When a dom/sub relationship is non-abusive, it's the sub who has the real power, which seems to contradict your "patriarchal" assertion.
9Jabberslythe9yIt's the sub who has the final say, that's not exactly the "real power". By most ways of calling something patriarchy, most lifestyle dom/sub relationships are patriarchal, they are just a form of patriarchy that is consensual and not immoral by my sentiments at least.
9falenas1089yDepends on the relationship. In some relationships, the sub gives out a set of limits, and other than that the dom has free reign. In more extreme ones, there's even a master-slave relationship, where the master definitely has power over the slave.
5[anonymous]9yWhen a employer and employee relationships is non-abusive, it is the employee that has the real power. Does this sentence make sense to you? I mean it may seem plausible but when asserted if it isn't standard economics theory we will probably want to hear an argument and some related evidence. Where is the difference between the epistemic status of this statement and yours? I'm pretty sure the quoted sentence is popular meme in the wider BDSM community because it is compatible with the status games wider Western society plays with regards to sexual ethics and practice not because it is true (it may be). People in other words approve when something like that is said regardless if it is true or not. Not that I have much experience with their community or subculture beyond reading a few blogs.
4RichardKennaway9yThe meme as both principle and practice was developed as a way of defending BDSM from the vanilla public. Employer-employee relationships are a standard part of society and need no such defence. One might suppose that tautologically, the sentence is true of those relationships which are so conducted, and not in those that are not. But this oversimplifies things. Without the meme in the air, who would think to ask the question, "where does the real power lie?", let alone answer it with "the sub"? But with the idea available, it becomes an option, whether taken or not, for conceptualising and structuring relationships.

In Britain, the government has just introduced Police and Crime Commissioners, who are elected to provide civilian oversight of the local police force - like an American sheriff. Turnout for these elections was very low - just 15%, which has led to the media describing the PCCs as a failure.

I am not so sure. Voter ignorance has been repeatedly demonstrated, but it has also been shown that voters in low-turnout elections are much higher information. This is intuitively plausible - the person who can be bothered to vote in the local council election is much ... (read more)

9Emily9yThis may be too far off topic (sorry), but I'm curious what you mean by this: To me those are an odd set of traits to put together, and I think you imply that people with such traits are somehow more entitled to their vote. Is this what you meant? Would you mind explaining why if so?
[-][anonymous]9y 15

I think you imply that people with such traits are somehow more entitled to their vote. Is this what you meant?

I can't speak for OP, but I can give my reason to think such a thing.

First off, democracy isn't a terminal good. People having a say in how the government is run is supposed to produce better goverment, not be an end in itself. As such, words like "entitled" are the wrong ones to use here I think. Better to ask what is the value, from a consequentialist perspective, of certain people having or not having the vote. The vote is a trust that you place in people to select good government on your behalf, not a right that they deserve.

If you can agree with that (which I'll admit is rather radical), then the interesting question becomes whether civic-minded responsible homeowners would make a better decision than the population at large. It some sense, it seems likely. In another sense, the sanity waterline is so low that even the political opinions of most responsible 10% of the population are unlikely to be correllated with what would actually be good.

For various reasons I no longer believe in democracy.

3Emily9yI somewhat agree with you. Actually my view used to be quite similar, but I changed some of my opinions to become much more in favour of democracy, if not as a terminal good then as a best choice out of a bad set of choices, mainly because the potential for abuse by any system that disenfranchises any minority group (under a broad definition of minority) is just too great. That's the reasoning behind my admittedly loaded use of "entitled" here: I believe we have a responsibility to make sure everyone gets a say, because otherwise we end up abusing the ones who don't. That's just how people seem to work.
[-][anonymous]9y 10

So your position is that the least harmful government we know of is democracy with no one left out of the process. That's reasonable. My history and poli-sci knowledge isn't good enough to say what might be lurking in "that we know of". However, there seems to be rather strong mechanisms by which especially democracy becomes disfunctional and corrupt.

That's the reasoning behind my admittedly loaded use of "entitled" here: I believe we have a responsibility to make sure everyone gets a say, because otherwise we end up abusing the ones who don't.

Ok, but it's confusing to mix normative and empirical/instrumental discussion together. Mixing them signals muddled thought, which makes it harder for people to interpret charitably. Try to seperate them as much as possible.

"The majority will tyrannize any minority without political clout, therefore we should make sure nobody is lacking in political power" is a much more useful statement than anything involving "responsibility" "rights" "enitled" etc. (mind you I think it's wrong, but it's at least composed of empirical predictions and instrumental suggestions that can be interrogated cleanly.)

3Emily9yAgreed, that is a better way of stating what I meant.
2Salemicus9yIt has nothing to do with being "entitled" to a vote. My post is not concerned with the moral status of voting, but rather the outputs. My prediction (and experience) is that a population high in traits like that - basically, conscientiousness - will result in better decision-making for everyone than a population with the opposite traits.
0Emily9yAh, I see. You're probably right that there is some correlation between those traits and conscientiousness. (Not divorced is the one that would surprise me.) However, I imagine that you don't catch many more conscientious people by including any of these sets over and above the set of well-informed voters, which you already mentioned. (Plus, if someone is conscientious but poorly informed, does that help?)
3Randy_M9y5-Among those informed few who vote in smaller elections, especially local ones, are those who stand to benefit materially from one outcome or another. This could be a large enough number to sway otherwise similarly matched candidates, such that whoever wins will owe favors to one group or another. Around here, school bonds almost never lose, and school board members are often very friendly with school unions.
2Salemicus9yInteresting. This is basically what I meant by (4). Is this the case with all such low-level elected officials, or just school board members?
0Randy_M9yAh, yes, I see that now. (And to answer your question, I could only guess. Or try and look it up, but no time for that.)
2[anonymous]9yLiving in the UK, my impression (at least in my bubble) is that the low turnout wasn't due to ignorance/apathy, but due to many people being opposed to the creation of the PCC post.
1Salemicus9yOpposition to PCCs may have been part of it, but my understanding is that very large numbers of people weren't even aware that there was an election being held, and that many more felt they had no information about the role. Certainly that was the impression in my bubble, but you could well be right - unfortunately I haven't been able to find hard data on this. But I think the point holds regardless - local elections generally only get around mid-30s in turnout, unless they coincide with a general election, and I don't think people are opposed to having local councillors.
0Emily9yYeah, I think it was partly that. Personally, I put a blank ballot paper in the box because I don't see the sense in this being an elected position. They should hire someone with the requisite qualifications and experience! The candidates in my area, to the extent that I heard anything about them, seemed to be running on platforms involving "keeping politics out of policing"... from which I infer that putting politics in policing is perceived as unpopular.
[-][anonymous]9y 6

I recently realized that I probably can't pass the ideological Turing test for a mainstream pro-Multiculturalism position (I think I can pass a Libertarian pro-Multiculturalism position). Thus I would very much appreciate some appropriate material to read and consider on the subject.

3TimS9yI'm not sure that I can either - lots of mainstream multi-culturalism seems like wish-casting / motivated cognition to me. :) That said, ChristianKI is right that any advice from us would be more helpful if you tried to outline what you think the mainstream is. For example, I can point you to court cases that explain why the law is what it is. But which cases I would highlight would depend on what legal obligations you think are least defensible.
3ChristianKl9yHow about trying. Afterwards we can tell you where you might lack understanding. 1) Why shouldn't employers be able to descriminate based on sex, race, sexual orientation and religion? 2) What makes descrimiting based on sexual orientation different then prefering someone who's thinking in the Myers-Briggs test over someone who's perceiving. 3) What does it mean that everybody is equal? Bonus Question for more than mainstream understanding: (4) Why does third wave feminism help us to understand better how to achieve equality than second wave feminism?
[-][anonymous]9y 6

William Bradford in “Of Plymouth Plantation”

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop then they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advise of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to them selves ; in all other things to go on in the general way as b

... (read more)

I posted the following proposition on my Facebook, and I was surprised how much pushback I got about it. I wonder how LWers will respond.

Every adult human being should have the right to live in a (perhaps small) society that reflects his or her values.

So ardent communists should have the right to live in a communist society, libertarians should have the right to live in a lightly governed society, devout Muslims should have the right to live in a society governed by Sharia law, devout Christians should have the right to live in a society where adulte... (read more)

I sympathise with your sentiment, but I do think you should expect pushback, because such a notion is obviously problematic. I'll just pick a few of the obvious issues:

1 Incompatibility

It is generally not possible to make different values compatible in this way just by splitting off into smaller societies. Values aren't just abstract, they are moral claims about real things. For example, if my value is that I have the right to retain my inherited feudal rights as Duke of Redland, but the serfs of Redland don't agree, we have a problem. It's not just that I want to live in a generic feudal society, it's that I place moral value in the specific history and laws and inheritance rights of Redland, which I view as just and legitimate. So we need some kind of arbitration decision as to which kinds of values get implemented, and which don't. There is nothing stopping communists from setting up their own little communes, and indeed many have. But they also want possession of already existing wealth, which is always going to be contested.

2 Outsiders

I'm living in my little society, you're living in yours, each one reflecting our conflicting values. But our societies still have to interact. T... (read more)

8NancyLebovitz9yIncompatibility is an even harder problem than you say-- there's a town of 20,000 people. Times get hard, and half of them want to leave, but that will seriously disrupt the social fabric. To what extent is it possible for people to get what they want? Okay, add a social safety net so that no one is driven away by poverty. However, different places appeal more to people of different ages. That stable small town is a good place for raising small children, but too boring for a lot of teenagers, many of whose parents don't want them to move to the big city. The interesting question might be "How close can we get to a society where people can live under the circumstances they prefer?", and the answer is probably "Not all that close, but closer than what we've got now."
0Daniel_Burfoot9yAs a general point, your counterarguments seem to be based on the idea that "value-based self-organization" of human societies is infeasible. But it can't be that infeasible, since an approximate form of it exists today. The current organization of human society runs up against all the same problems you listed - for example, many Americans feel that the current US government is illegitimate, mirroring the feelings of Redland's serfs against their Duke. Modern countries have to interact on issues of trade, pollution, boundary disputes, etc - and those negotiations often break down, with disastrous results. In other words, I am not saying that we should radically restructure the political order. Instead, I am saying that we should take incremental steps in the direction of more smaller societies that are governed by a more diverse set of values, and which compete to attract citizens. In the resulting world, individuals could select a society to live in based on how closely a society matches his/her personal values. Human values will never be perfectly compatible - indeed, they might not even be approximately compatible. But by creating many small diverse societies, and allowing people wide liberty to move between them (this notion of "exit rights" is a key element of the idea), we can guarantee that each individual's values matches up relatively well with the society she inhabits as well as with her neighbors' values. In the case of Redland, the serfs indicate their acceptance of the Duke's hegemony by the fact of their inhabitance of Redland. If they don't like the society the Duke has established, they can always move somewhere else - again, the notion of exit rights is fundamental to the whole proposal. This critique seems particularly out of touch with historical reality. Societies with wildly different values can and do interact to solve problems. The Saudis have been selling oil to the West for decades in spite of the vast differences between the two moral
2ChristianKl9yAccording to the current idea of the self determination of people it's the responsibility of those Americans who hold the US government to be illegitimate to overthrow it. It's not the responsibility of another country like France and help with overthrowing the US government. It's also not the responsibility of France to accept those American's who hold their government illegitimiate as refugees. Do you think that all African citizen's should have a right to move to the US?
0ChristianKl9yThat not exactly the same thing. Saying Muslims have the right is not the same thing as saying every Muslim has the right. There a difference between saying a group has a right and saying that every individual who's a member of the group has the right. It's commonly accepted that every people has a right to self determination. If I'm the only person who thinks that values having a law that requires that every person in my society can only wear red clothes, nobody else has a responsibility to help me to live in such a society.
[-][anonymous]9y 5

The good old SPLC now protects us not just from pick up artists but anarcho-capitalists! I suppose I should say fight the good fight or something like that? I do wonder who is next.

Some thoughts on the fiscal cliff negotiations and Schelling points (I intend to keep this limited to political strategy, not taking sides on substantial policy questions):

The way Congress Republicans have been approaching the negotiations has perplexed some observers. The basic point is, the Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Republicans want to extend all of them, but they are powerless to do it, controlling only the House. Democrats want to extend only those for "the middle class" and let those for "the rich&quo... (read more)

2gkhanna19yIts interesting that you mention Schelling and the fiscal cliff negotiations. I recently wrote a detailed blog post about this you may be interested in. I would love your feedback as well: http://options-trading-notes.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love.html [http://options-trading-notes.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love.html]
0Alejandro19yInteresting post! I agree with much of your analysis but disagree with your main conclusion that: I think creating more scenarios like the fiscal cliff to force "compromise or else…" is a recipe for disaster: some time is bound to arrive where no compromise will be reached despite the elaborate set-up to force one lest disaster follows... and disaster will follow. Instead, I think that the parties should abandon the concern with long-term policies (like the size of the government, the deficit and entitlement programs, two decades from now) that require Grand Bargains, and address only short and medium-term problems where compromise might be easier, because they cannot foresee what unexpected problems and societal changes there will be over such long times, and their current decisions cannot bind the future government anyway. In addition, the US should try incremental moves (like eliminating or reducing the filibuster) that make it easier for an elected party to enact its agenda without so much veto power to the opposition, thus eliminating the need for Grand Bargains. Let the voters throw out the rulers if their policies are too extremely partisan.
1Michelle_Z9yAre there any predictions being made on the possible outcomes of the "fiscal cliff?" I've been trying to find information, but I'm either treated to various articles that leave a distinctly alarmist taste in my mouth, versus people who seem to be saying everything will work out just fine.
2Alejandro19yIf you mean predictions as to "what will actually happen", this depends heavily on the outcome of the current negotiations, and I don't think anybody has a reliable idea at this point. If you mean predictions as to "what would happen if absolutely no change to current law was made", then I think the standard prediction is that there would be a negative hit to the US economy from the "austerity", pushing it back into recession. But this would happen over a period of several months, not right away on January 1st, leaving quite a lot of time for a compromise changing the laws to be negotiated. So there is no immediate reason for alarmism. In addition, this prediction assumes no extra non-legislative policy measures, such as new monetary stimulus by the Fed, that could potentially soften the impact of the cliff. I don't think there are any predictions that can be identified as very reliable a priori, to be honest; economics is hard, and economics combined with politics is super hard.
0Michelle_Z9yThanks. Good to know.
1ChristianKl9yIf you want to have a good negotiating position you don't signal publically beforehand that you are comfortable to give up specific demands that you made in the past. You rather negotiate mostly in secret.
0Alejandro19yThe speculations referred to what smart observers following carefully the DC chatter believed would happen, not the official public statements. Or rather, it is the impression I got from reading some such observers. This more recent post [http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/07/the-fiscal-cliff-deal-comes-clearer-a-37-top-tax-rate-and-a-higher-medicare-eligibility-age/] implies that I was wrong and that a December deal raising taxes is looking plausible after all.
4ChristianKl9yYou are making a mistake if you consider journalists to be "smart observers". Just look at science journalism. Science is even a field where scientists don't have much to gain by deceiving journalists about the true nature of their scientific findings. Politics is on the other hand a field where a lot of actors have a lot to gain by getting journalists to write stories that don't accurately reflect the truth.
[-][anonymous]9y 3

I’m gonna explain game as simply as possible for the skeptics and slow learners: Treat beautiful women as you would treat ugly women.


1MixedNuts9yThis kinda confuses me. Is it something like "When socially acceptable to, talk to people who seem interesting, about shared interests, if you get along well be friendly and seek more contact, but take cues to back off or leave gracefully"? Because that's... basically what the feminists chide Roissy for not doing. Also it's exactly what I do and I can't get a date. (Probably unrelated reasons tho.) Also, he can't mean that completely literally. At some point you're going to want to proposition, or respond to advances from, beautiful people of appropriate gender, but not ugly ones.
1ChristianKl9yRoissy is not saying "Treat ugly women as you would treat beautiful women". He's saying something along the lines of not putting beautiful woman on a pedestal and belief that you have to seek their approval. If you want to understand Roissy in this case, you should think about how he thinks about ugly woman. He's not the kind of person who treats ugly woman friendly.

What is the empirical evidence on how tax rates on the rich affect society? I'm finding it really hard to find unbiased sources, they seem to either say there is no issue of capital flight and decreased productivity, or that any attempt to ta the rich is evil and/or will entirely collapse the economy. Neither of which seem plausible.

0TimS9yI don't know the answer, but I believe several South American countries imposed capital movement restrictions at times in the late 20th century. Perhaps there is literature on the effects of those restrictions?
[-][anonymous]9y 2

The Optimistic Doomsayer, a good interview with John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire famously claimed "we are doomed," but as he reveals, his rejection of utopia, wishful thinking, and pretty lies doesn't entail gloom but a sober, empirically grounded conservatism.

[-][anonymous]9y 2

A talk by Paul Gottfried on How the Left Conquered the Right

4ChristianKl9yI think Paul Gottfried tries to much to understand the modern political discourse with ideas from the early 20st century. Some of the ideas from that time really did loose in the public debate. Modern politics isn't about a struggle between left and right early 20st century ideas. If you try seeing modern politics that way, you won't get very far. He thinks that the wars that the US fights are fought to spread democracy. That's a very naive idea that doesn't really help you to understand how modern politics works.
[-][anonymous]9y 2

In the comment section of a recent blog post Henry Harpending makes an argument that keeping busybodies busy with harmless stuff like trying to close the acheviment gap (and such efforts mostly have empirically been shown to be useless or at the very least vast misallocation of resources) is good for us:

I don’t see any problem at all with this. Concern with “closing the gap” sucks energy from people who would otherwise pursue causes that lead to bullying and pushing people around, like gun control or right to life or eugenics. Gap closing does cost us a

... (read more)
1Douglas_Knight9yMaybe they would do more damage elsewhere, but it appears to me that the current approach to US education has a number of direct costs: (1) stress and bad incentives for the teachers; (2) incremental improvements are ignored and incremental experiments not done; (3) displacement of actually working systems, like vocational education.

Preposition: Despite both reactionary and communist obsession with the Right-Left axis, throughout modern (post-Berlin Wall) Europe, political forces are best (most predictively) divided NOT between Left and Right, but rather between those forces that look up to Brussels, vs those forces that look up to Moscow. Independent-ist forces exist, but they're largely irrelevant as by nature they are isolated and thus weak.

Example: 2012 elections in Greece saw both the far-left and the far-right parties rise to far greater electoral heights than before. Did Greece... (read more)

4Salemicus9yHow well does that explain politics in Western Europe, where for the most part there are no pro-Moscow political parties? It certainly appears that Russian influence on politics is negligible in Western Europe - is this incorrect? Why is hating the EU necessarily a pro-Moscow position? Please explain how the political parties map onto your axis in, say, Britain.
0ArisKatsaris9yIt's not as visible in Western Europe, but I think it's incorrect to call it negligible yes -- e.g. I understand that very recently there was some noise in the UK over the Conservative Friends of Russia [http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/30/activities-of-conservative-friends-of-russia] who used an anti-gay attack on a Labour Party politician who was criticizing Russia's human rights record. It isn't necessarily so. But hating the EU currently helps Moscow policy, so any anti-EU movement will tend to be supported from afar by Moscow, which will in turn tend to lead such movements to end up holding pro-Moscow positions. e.g. The russian textbook Foundations of Geopolitics [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Foundations_of_Geopolitics] says "United Kingdom should be cut off from Europe." Where I use 'universalism' to mean 'focus on equality, democracy, human rights'. Liberal-Democrats -- very Universalist, very pro-EU, significantly anti-Russia [http://www.libdems.org.uk/international_affairs_detail.aspx?title=Russia_condemned_over_Georgia_occupation&pPK=b03b136e-784a-4e48-9cdd-7f30022f8da9] Labour Party - somewhat Universalist, somewhat pro-EU, somewhat anti-Russia (currently -- it used to be different) Conservative Party - minimally Universalist, recently getting more anti-EU, and recently getting cozier with Russia [http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/30/kremlin-orders-diplomats-cooperation-conservatives] BNP - very anti-Universalist, extremely anti-EU, extremely [http://www.bnp.org.uk/news/national/ukraine-elections-put-britains-shame] pro-Russia [http://www.bnp.org.uk/news/eu-now-demanding-politically-correct-laws-russia]. So I think that the pattern I observe holds even in the UK. e.g. The Conservatives are the main anti-EU party in the UK, and they're also in the same parliamentary group in the Council of Europe [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Democrat_Group] as Putin's party...

Out of curiousity, does anybody here oppose right to work legislation?

I specifically ask in view of the fact that unions donate money to political parties (well, a political party, and its candidates; less so the other), and that agency agreements effectively force employees, as a condition of employment, to donate money to a political party.

Zizek (yet again) on revolutionary violence and why it's, like, totally cool.

4[anonymous]9yThat was particularly delicious. For those who don't read Zizekian: 1. Badiou earlier postulated that violence against the state was only legitimate when it was expressed "defensively," e.g., when Occupy Wall Street was thrown out of Central Park, the protesters were in some sense justified in using force to prevent being thrown out. 2. Zizek counters that it's too hard to tell whether or not the state is being excessively violent. 3. Indeed, "from the standpoint of the oppressed, the very existence of a state is a violent fact." Compare with Republican outrage in the post-election cycle -- impotent calls for secession and the like. 4. Therefore, in the twisted sense of the parent comment, "all violence against the state is defensive." 5. He then presents his main historical example, the Jacobin legacy [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobin]. Mostly responsible for perverting the "will of the people" during the French revolution into the violence of the Reign of Terror. 6. Obligatory Hitler/Nazi reference. The error seems to be the slippery conflation from "the oppressed" in part 3 (for whom violence against the state is legitimate) to "everyone" in part 4.
0Multiheaded9yYou know, this ending was kinda good for your average Godwin's law bait. If we're okay with condemning all the German non-resisters and excusing outright "terrorism" against a widely popular regime (like the Maquis' actions in France), then we should also be more tolerant of insurgent/revolutionary violence against modern governments. (By the way, I've come to think that Moldbug's post equating Breivik and Nelson Mandela was justified in this regard - only the ends of political violence really matter, as we all de facto already approve of the means.)

Damn, the resentment to "austerity" programs in Europe is really spilling over to internet comments. I was just reading Rock Paper Shotgun, when...

British LWers, is it like what they say? Are the would-be dismantlers of the welfare state... (EDIT) bringing in really unpleasant consequences for innocent people?

8Salemicus9yI will try and address this comment as neutrally as I can, although it is difficult on such a politically charged issue. There are basically two issues. One is the spending cuts. The other is the macroeconomic performance. They are separate, but linked. The spending cuts are not dismantling the welfare state. In fact, most of the spending cuts are not cuts, they are simply increases less than the rate of inflation. They are, however, causing unpleasant consequences, because people generally like their local library or their benefits etc. And of course everyone is innocent, no-one personally caused the financial crisis. On the other hand, many of the cuts are very justified; for example, people getting paid housing benefit of more than the average salary is utterly indefensible. Not all the cuts are like that, but no-one is getting "really" unpleasant consequences. However, there are no two ways about it, the macroeconomic performance sucks. And this is causing really unpleasant consequences - long-term unemployment, stagnant wages, etc. And not just that, but as RichardKennaway says below, the bad economic performance means that despite the "austerity," the budget deficit has not come down as much as the government had hoped. Some people say the bad economic performance is caused by the spending cuts, but it's impossible to know - there are so many possible causes. For example, our largest trading partner is the Eurozone, which has had truly terrible economic performance. Alternatively, lots of people blame the Bank of England. This is the major issue. - most of the benefit cuts are very popular. To the extent that people don't like the austerity programme, it is mostly because they think it is responsible for the bad economy. In summary, I reject your framing - there are no would-be dismantlers of the welfare state. If the austerity measures are responsible for the bad economic performance, then they are (indirectly) bringing in really unpleasant consequences. O
0RichardKennaway9yI can't see anyone saying anything at that link, other than that the UK games industry got a tax concession from the UK government (which got around EU rules to do it). Context (absent from the linked blog post, including its comments) is that the UK government is also implementing a long-term austerity programme, and not doing very well at it, with a threat (I heard on the radio today) of losing its AAA credit rating. What you are really asking is: