Monthly Archives: June 2022

Political Links June 2022

Some interesting things I read recently, mostly political, including reading through old SlateStarCodex archives.

Slate Star Codex: Contra Robinson on Public Food

Nathan Robinson wrote a pretty good argument against school vouchers (compared to anything I’ve heard before) and this is a response to it.

I mean, sure, maybe one of Nathan’s dozen competent people who could run the program correctly will get in charge. But then why haven’t they been put in charge of our agricultural subsidies? Why haven’t they been put in charge of the dietary guidelines? Why aren’t they in the White House?

Reason.com: She Let the Kids, Ages 3 and 5, Wait Briefly in the Car. Now She Can’t Be a Teacher.

Though I don’t use the political label, I lean libertarian — that is, I’m more libertarian than anti-libertarian. I don’t think liberty is the most important political consideration per se, I don’t care about the non-aggression principle, etc. But if anyone asks me why I lean libertarian at all, I’m going to just point them to this article.

SSC comment thread on the subject of political moderation and extremism

Kestenbaum talks about how most political debates at a given time only focus on a narrow moderate range, even though major change is some direction or another happens over the long run. We forget that the past had completely different overton windows — including, for example, how people saw full slavery abolitionism as an extreme minority view even up to the start of the American Civil War. I found this thread very insightful in thinking about current-day parallels.

Slavery was central to the South’s economy, as much as oil and coal are to ours. It was indirectly a large factor even in non-slave states: shirts worn in Boston were made from Southern plantation cotton. And of course slaveholders held tremendous power in American politics right up through 1860. . . . But it was socially unacceptable in most circles to call for an immediate end to slavery in the Southern states. There was a very widespread view that abolition would infringe on the property rights of slave owners, and that compensating them would be impossibly expensive.

– Larry Kestenbaum, emphasis mine

SSC comment thread on the subject of advising victims

You don’t do Rosa Parks any favors by not telling her what’s going to happen if she doesn’t sit in the back of the bus. Even if she’s planning to go Full Rosa Parks, she’s going to want to do it on a day that she isn’t e.g. rushing home to care for her own sick children.

– John Schilling

Matthew Yglesias: What to do after affirmative action

Yglesias argues that affirmative action is good in theory, but needs to look different from what we’ve got in practice.

Joe Biden has committed to nominating a Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, which as I understand it likely means Ketanji Brown-Jackson (who went to Harvard), Leondra Kruger (Harvard), or Candace Jackson-Akiwumi (Princeton).

ACX comment thread on the definition of conservativism

In this point of view, conservative is the word for those whose political views don’t change. (A data point I’d add for this thought experiment, progressives once wanted eugenics, but we didn’t “progress” in that direction — that’s fine, progressives’ views change!) Elon Musk’s meme is wrong because by the fact that “me” doesn’t change, it signals that the author thinks like a conservative: regardless of his object-level views, he has revealed his true colors as a relative non-view-changer.

In entertaining this idea, I mean it as neutrally as possible, without judgment — it feels like there’s something to an underlying mapping of conservative = infrequently changing views, progressive = frequently changing views. That mapping doesn’t quite fit, but there’s something to it, and I’ll leave the tweaking as an exercise to the reader.