23 September 2013

Blaming the Victims

A comment on Vox’s blog (it’s a good idea to read the whole post for context):

Good Lord. It's been common wisdom for an age that you never send nude photos of yourself to anyone, because they're guaranteed to appear on the Internet. Is this woman -- this putatively adult woman -- deaf, dumb, blind, cognitively disabled, or all of the above?

This sort of thing—blaming the victim—generally troubles me.  While I agree that women should definitely exercise more prudence in regards to sending nude pictures of themselves, I just don’t understand why the vengeful ex-boyfriend is let completely off the hook.  Unless I missed a key Sunday School class, I’m 100% sure it’s undeniably wrong to post nude pictures of your ex-(wife, -girlfriend, -etc.) online for the sake of vengeance.  Just straight-up wrong.  Hence, I’m confused as to why the girl gets blamed for doing something stupid, possibly wrong, while the guy basically gets let off the hook.  I mean, the real asshole in this scenario is the guy seeking vengeance.  And while the girl is probably no saint (and probably an attention whore), there’s just no denying that the guy was morally and ethically wrong to post a picture of his ex online, particularly without her consent.

As added note, Vox isn’t quite right when he says, “it would be absolutely insane to try to make a law against this sort of thing.”  Vox is correct that it would be insane to pass legislation that defines rape as the unwanted posting of nude pictures of oneself by a third party.  However, it is entirely feasible to let judges make new case law that basically states that people who send nude pictures to a romantic partner have a generally reasonable expectation of privacy, such that it is wrong to share the media received without first getting permission to do so.  After a while this would become a longstanding legal precedent, and would essentially function as strongly binding case law.  Incidentally, this is basically how common law works.  This seems like a reasonable solution to me, as it gives victims a chance for justice but doesn’t put innocent parties at much risk for a legal shakedown later.

A Nation of Pussies

Pardon their French? Coca-Cola recently issued an apology to a family after one member purchased a Vitaminwater with a bottle cap bearing an offensive message.
Blake Loates of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada told Metro Calgary she was shocked when she opened her beverage and read the words "YOU RETARD," written inside of the cap. The language was particularly painful to her and her family as one of Loates' younger sisters, Fiona, 11, has cerebral palsy and autism.
The cap inspired Loates' father, who lives in Tacoma, Wash., to issue a lengthy letter of complaint to Vitaminwater's parent company Coca-Cola.
"What would you do if you opened up your bottle of Vitamin Water and on the bottom of the lid it read, "YOU RETARD"?" Doug Loates wrote in his letter swearing off the beverage company for life. "Think about it. I bet you'd be pissed off if you had a Fiona in your life… Can you imagine if SHE had opened this bottle?"

I know that it is very profitable to be in a state of perpetual offense; lots of lawsuits are just waiting to be won by the right sort of offense-taker.  That said, it is truly sad and disgusting to see how some people allow themselves to be upset by what amounts to trivial bullshit.

First of all, who reads bottle caps?  That’s just stupid, unless one is trying to win a contest, and even then that’s kind of sad.

Second of all, how is anyone willing to let themselves be offended by any sort of message on an inanimate object that is not necessarily intended to be viewed by them, and therefore cannot be assumed to have malicious intent?  And does one really want one’s emotional state determined by things like that?

At any rate, I think it’s clear that Canada deserves all the mockery it receives for being basically a nation of wimps, because clearly no one in that shithole is strong enough to withstand the withering hatred spewed forth by those diabolical bottle caps.  Seriously, what a nation of pussies.

Why Sex?

If we assume that God's intention can be revealed through our "design", then the period of fertility privation that occurs during the menstrual cycle would be a feature and not a bug of the system. In other words, did God intend sex to be infertile during a portion of a woman's menstrual cycle? Because, if he did, the telos of sex during this period is not fecundity because by its very nature the act is sterile by divine design. This is at odds with the Church's teaching. The only way you can square the circle between tradition and our understanding of physiology is to assume that the the infertile period of a woman's menstrual cycle is some sort of privation. But that of course leads to the conclusion that God deliberately produced a faulty product. (There's a whole host of theological problems with that.)
Given the coitus is possible during all stages of the menstrual cycle, what the design of the cycle reveals is that coitus can only achieve its telos of conception during a small portion of it. The rest of the time coitus is intrinsically infertile by design. It would appear that the telos of coitus varies with the stages of the menstrual cycle and the Church's insistence that the coitus is intrinsically orientated towards procreation would appear to be at odds with the findings of physiology.
A sexual act performed during this infertile period is meant to be intrinsically infecund by design. The problem with the idea that sexual activity achieves it telos when conception occurs would mean that woman is intrinsically privated during her infertile period. This would mean that God either deliberately designed a fault (mistake)in women or that he deliberately intended sex to be infertile during this period. i.e. a sexual act performed during the infertile period is teleologically complete and not ordered towards procreation.
Then again, there is the issue of menopause. Did God make a mistake? Is menopause a disease or a deliberate state intended by God? If it is intended by God, then intercourse during this period is teleologically complete and intrinsically not orientated towards children.

As a preface, it should be noted that I’m not Catholic, and not at all well-versed in Catholic theology.  But then, I always feel like I can detect a faint whiff of bovine feces every time I get close to Catholic theology.  I’m not meaning to disparage the Catholic tradition by any means, but I always get the feeling that the Catholic conception of God is one of a being who is perhaps somewhat more stern and emotionally stunted than the Bible makes him out to be.  My own opinion is that Anglican theologians (particularly Lewis and Phillips, though Lloyd-Jones and G. Campbell Morgan are good as well) of the mid-twentieth century had a more correct understanding of God, so I tend to operate more from their theological framework than any other.

That aside, I think there is a glaring, albeit understandable failure in catholic theology regarding sex and procreation.  Specifically, the idea that sex is solely for procreation is a rather fallacious assumption.  Part of this simply stems from the rather human tendency to categorize things singularly, and part of this stems from a longstanding scientific blind spot.

Succumbing to the tendency to categorize things singularly is somewhat understandable.  However, given that most body parts have multiple functions, it seems a little shocking that theologians were unable to conjecture that perhaps even sex itself has multiple functions.  For instance, the male penis is designed to deliver semen for the purpose of procreation.  It is also designed to channel waste fluids (urine) out of the body.  The penis has multiple purposes.  The human hand likewise has multiple uses: it can grab, it can be used as a sort of club, it can be used a sensor of sorts, and so on.  In like manner, assuming that a certain act is defined solely by its most obvious result is to make the mistake of categorizing singularly.  Thus, saying that sex is only, or perhaps just primarily for procreation, is simply a mistake.

The second problem cannot be blamed on theologians.  The science of neurology is only now beginning to explain the operation of the human brain, although it still has many major shortfalls.  That said, it has recently come to light in the last couple of decades that sex plays a significant role in the pair-bonding mechanism.  Specifically, the sexual act triggers the release of a couple of different neurochemicals (if memory serves me correctly, they include but are not limited to: oxytocin, vasopressin, and dopamine), and the effect that these chemicals have on the human brain is similar to that of crack cocaine, which means that people essentially become addicted to their sexual partners.  As I’ve noted before, I believe this is what God means when he says that “two become one flesh.”

At any rate, I hope my somewhat shallow and ignorant theological meanderings help to clarify some of the thinking on the matter of the teleology of sex.  I think that it’s a little clueless to say that sex is simply for procreation when it clearly is a very pleasurable act (perhaps it might help to have theologians that didn’t view sex in merely theoretical terms, but that’s just me).  That doesn’t mean the procreative aspect is irrelevant, but perhaps it would be best to not make it the primary focus.  And perhaps it would be best not to overthink things, but that’s a post for later.

20 September 2013

Coming to Terms

In a prior post, I clarified one of my philosophical points of view regarding knowledge and certainty for the benefit of one of my favorite bloggers.  However, I think it important to make another clarification about terminology in argumentation.

One of the most common logical fallacies is that of the straw man, in which one defeats an argument that no one has made.  Sometimes this is intentional, as part of rhetoric designed to mislead people.  More often, though, at least in my experience, it’s the case that those who refute straw man arguments are completely unaware that they have done so.  What happens is that someone misunderstands or misinterprets someone else’s argument and proceeds to address the misconception.

This is an understandable occurrence, as a good number of people are vague or unclear when presenting ideas (and I’ve certainly been guilty of this).  A lot of people have a very specific meaning in mind when they use a specific word and forget that their specific definition may not naturally occur to others at all.  Instead of being up front and clarifying this, they simply go on about their business and assume that whoever is listening (or reading, etc.) will simply catch up.  Some of this is necessary, as clarifying and qualifying every nuance is extremely time-consuming, and may not always be necessary.  Trying to make a coherent argument doesn’t require an infinite amount of qualification, but that doesn’t mean none is ever necessary, either.

In keeping with this, one of the more amusing aspects of the open borders debate between The Crimson Reach and Ryan Long is that both sides are basically talking past each other because they refuse(?) to come to terms with each other.  I think it’s obvious that Ryan Long’s position on borders and immigration is perfectly logical within the constraints of his worldview (hell, I even agree with it, with caveats, of course).  But at the same time, Crimson Reach’s position is also perfectly logical within the constraints of his worldview (and I also agree with it, with certain constraints, of course).  Ryan is right that people should have an absolute right to freely associate and trade with whomever they want, insofar as doing so doesn’t violate anyone else’s rights.  And Crimson Reach is right to be worried that current US immigration policy will have deleterious effects on US citizens.

Now, I won’t be so insulting as to say that both views must be kept in balance of on another, but I will say that it is foolish to ignore the rights of those who live outside the US.  I will also say that it is foolish to argue that opening up the borders will lead to utopia.  There are other considerations to be made with border policy in lieu of the fact that the US federal government is spending trillions of dollars a year, and forces a ridiculous number of taxes and regulations on its citizens.  It’s not exactly the case that the only thing preventing the US from being perfectly libertarian is federal immigration policy.  Since economic effects don’t occur in a vacuum, it seems a little short-sighted to simply advocate for open borders without first pausing to consider the practical effects of this policy in light of the current statist quo.

More to the point, though, it’s always important to debate (and simply understand) people on their own terms.  This is where true wisdom lies.  Each person has their own concerns, and there is always some degree of validity to said concerns.  An employee at a store will have a different view of things than the manager, who in turn will view things differently from the owner.  This is inevitable, and quite human.

Personally, and at the risk of having my libertarian card revoked, I think that Marxist economic analysis has a fair degree of utility.  I think it is true that capitalists exploit workers, and sometimes mistreat them while also being unreasonably demanding. I think this state of affairs is deplorable, though I don’t think state intervention is a wise solution.  By the same token, though, I also think that a lot of employees are worthless pieces of shit who ought to be grateful that they even have a job at all.  While a good number of employees are d-bags, it is also true that most employees aren’t anything to write home about.  Thus, the leftist empathy of Marxism and cold-blooded rationalism of capitalism both have their place in everyone’s intellectual framework.

Ultimately, the point I’m getting at is that it is important to understand other people’s viewpoint.  You don’t have to treat it like gospel, but assuming that anyone who disagrees with you has absolutely no legitimate grounds to do so is simply foolish.  Their view may have some serious flaws, but it is likely that it is not completely devoid of legitimacy.

A Word of Clarification

For Ryan Long:

Grey suggests that this means that the value of knowledge is in its ability to predict the future; that we come to believe in the best estimator of reality thanks to its proven value as an estimator. He might even be right about that - but even if so, what does that have to do with truth or knowledge? Something isn't true because it serves as the best estimator, but the exact reverse: because something is true, it therefore serves as the best estimator.

While my writing on the subject hasn’t been particularly consistent, at least in regards to term usage, I would actually say that the value of knowledge is in its ability to recall the past.  In contrast, it would be beliefs whose value is derived from its ability to predict the future (or the past, even).  My main dichotomy is that of knowledge and beliefs.  Knowledge is experiential in my worldview, and thus refers strictly to what one experiences directly for oneself.  Belief is non-experiential, and refers to that which one experiences vicariously.  Burning your hand on a hot stove is knowledge; being told that touching a stove will cause your hand to be burned is belief.

As such, beliefs aren’t true or false, per se, but rather more reliable or less reliable.  Because something is more reliably replicable, it is more reliable.  Really, there is no way to truly determine what is the best estimator of reality, but rather what is the most accurate estimator of reality within the context in which it is used.

More to the point, we can know personal truths for ourselves, but we can only really ever guess at external, universal truths.  We can’t ever really know with perfect certainty how accurate our guesses are, but their practical functionality does serve as some sort of proof of their validity.

I trust that this clarifies rather than muddles.  I use these terms in particular ways in order to elucidate the difference between knowledge and belief, and to show that certainty is not necessarily a by-product of knowledge.  Honestly, this stems from my theological philosophizing, and happens to be useful in understanding science, epistemology, and even human behavior.  The reason why most people act with certainty is not because they know a lot, but because they believe a lot.  Thus, life is less certain than most people will admit.

19 September 2013

Seriously, Fuck The Jews

First, Pat Buchanan:

On Fox's "Huckabee" Sunday, Lindsey laid out his scheme:
"I'm going to get a bipartisan coalition together. We're going to put together a use-of-force resolution, allowing our country to use military force ... to stop the Iranian nuclear program. ... I'm going to need your help, Mike, and the help of Americans and friends of Israel."
In July, Graham told a cheering conference of Christians United for Israel: "If nothing changes in Iran, come September, October, I will present a resolution that will authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb."
That Graham is braying that he intends to give Obama a blank check for war on Iran is not all bad news. For he thus concedes Obama does not now have the authority to attack Iran. [Emphasis added.]

Israel wants to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad toppled, its ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday, in a shift from its non-committal public stance on its neighbor's civil war.
Even Assad's defeat by al Qaeda-aligned rebels would be preferable to Damascus's current alliance with Israel's arch-foe Iran, Ambassador Michael Oren said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.
His comments marked a move in Israel's public position on Syria's two-and-1/2-year-old war.

At this point, it’s easy to simply be beyond outraged.  You have total fucktard Lindsey Graham saying that we need to go to war with Iran to help Israel, and then we have the ambassador from Israel saying that Israel wants to see Syria toppled.  Fucking seriously?  What is the US, Israel’s bitch?  The sad thing is, it’s hard to argue no.

Now, I don’t really have a problem with the money-grubbing, tightwad bastards* known as the Jews, nor do I have a problem with Israel duking it out with its Middle Eastern enemies.  I do, however, have a very huge problem with becoming a de facto debt slave that’s going to be on the hook to cover the massive debt that the US will undoubtedly incur by fighting Israel’s wars.  I don’t want to pay those taxes, now or ever.  (And since the Jews are so rich,* I don’t see why they can’t fund their own damn wars.)  Again, if Israel wants to shoot at brown Muslims, more power to them.  If Jews in America want to send money to their compatriots in the motherland, more power to them.  But if Jews want me to be forced to pay for their war, they can go fuck themselves.

* For those who have pussies for brains and don’t understand what race-based humor is, this is race-based humor.  Don’t take it seriously.

It’s Time to Kill Leviathan

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent was arrested Friday for conspiring to smuggle illegal aliens into the country.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers arrested David Alexander Díaz-Torres in Orlando, Fla., according to the Justice Department.
Díaz-Torres and five others were charged in a 13-count indictment for bringing, transporting, harboring, and shielding illegal aliens within the United States.
According to a Justice Department press release, a group of Brazilian nationals were smuggled through the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Díaz-Torres allegedly allowed the Brazilians through a TSA security checkpoint without questioning them.
The group then flew to New York, Boston, and Philadelphia on commercial flights.
“It is very troubling when law enforcement authorities have to arrest a corrupt federal employee who is alleged to have undermined our nation’s security, our overall safety, and the public trust and confidence we place in those chosen to protect and serve,” A U.S. attorney said in a statement. [No shit. –Ed.]

I tend to view the whole immigration debate with a high degree of amusement because the discussion is mostly theoretical.  By this I mean that illegal immigrants are coming into the United States in droves, with the help of the federal government even, so the real question is really whether the United States’ immigration laws should be worded in such a way so as to admit the current reality.

But more to the point, it is truly mind-boggling that someone who is being paid by citizens to enforce customs and immigration is doing the exact opposite of his job.  It’s akin to a firefighter moonlighting (heh) as an arsonist.  Whether you think US immigration policy is stupid, counter-productive, or flat-out wrong is irrelevant, once you sign an employment contract saying you’ll enforce immigration laws to the best of your ability, your opinion no longer matters, and should not override your contractual obligations.

Really, though, the bigger problem is that corruption has become so entrenched in the federal government that it has spread even to minor players in the less-significant bureaucracies.  This, of course, is indicative of a larger problem and portends the coming dissolution of the federal government, thanks to the inevitable decomposition that tends to accompany rot, both physical and moral.

Obviously, the coming collapse of social order doesn’t bode so well, especially since it is always the honest and uncorrupted who get completely fucked over.  There’s something undeniably sick about the United States, and the only cure left is necessarily potent.  Unfortunately, the cure just might end up being worse than the disease.

16 September 2013

Fuck The Jews

Since 2009, the National Security Agency (NSA) has been sharing raw signals intelligence (SIGINT), including information about specific US people, directly with Israel’s counterpart to the NSA, The Guardian reported on Wednesday. The British newspaper’s revelation comes once again from the documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to American journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.
According to the five-page memorandum of understanding, the agreement appears to be a one-way street. Israel, at least as far as this document is concerned, is not obligated to reciprocate.

I feel like this is a really obvious point to make, though I doubt that any in Capitol Swamp read my blog, but the United States federal government does not exist to be the unofficial arm of the Israeli government; it exists to represent the citizens of the United States in a limited manner clearly proscribed in the United States Constitution.  Now, I know that the constitution is basically a joke at this point in time, and that no politician feels beholden in the least to uphold and defend the constitution per their oath of office.  However, it sure would be nice, and would likely put conspiracy theorists’ ramblings to rest, if the US  government wouldn’t be so blatant in its service of Israel.  Seriously, is it really that much to ask that elected officials act in the country’s best interest?  Or must they always be beholden to the Jews?

More to the point, if Jews are going to continue to press their luck in biting that metaphorical hand that metaphorically feeds them, they should be surprised to discover that the hand that once fed them is at some point considerably more inclined to slap the shit out of them.  But that’s just common sense.


Back in the 1950s, addiction more or less meant heroin abuse. Now, the term has branched out to embrace drinking, gambling, shopping, sex, eating, obsessive compulsive disorder, computer gaming, television watching and internet use. The list expands constantly, serviced and encouraged, says Peele, by a growing and hungry treatment and therapy industry.
Britain, I suggest, is following the US in stockpiling neuroses, but he is not convinced; he thinks we are, like most Europeans, still reasonably resistant to addiction disease concepts. "No one is as addicted to addiction as Americans," he laughs. "Americans love that. They say, 'You know you bite your nails? Well, that's a disease, and we've got a drug for it.' Americans will always take that drug. [We] like to medicalise things."  [Emphasis added.]

While I don’t deny that addiction does have a basis in neural function, and is this partly a physical phenomenon, I do think that it is also true that a good portion of what is currently passed off as addiction is little more than an excuse for behaving irresponsibly.  Instead of blaming one’s lack of self-control on oneself, some would rather blame their lack of self-control on addictions.

It’s not their lack of self-discipline or their desire to behave irresponsibly that causes people to engage in bad/evil/counter-productive behavior; it’s simply addictions (that one willingly indulges in) that lead to problems.  As long as you have a vice, you can’t be blamed for your bad behavior.

Is Prosperity Everything?

Via Scott Shackford, at Reason, we learn of "The Scourge of Illegal, Underground Dinner Parties." In short, people are paying to attend dinner parties featuring fancy food. And such transactions are unregulated.
Naturally, people are concerned. Presumably, some of those concerned parties are restaurants that are subject to heavy taxation and regulation that are nonetheless facing competition from the seedy purveyors of underground dinner parties. I don't think the people concerned about unregulated dinner parties are going far enough. You know what else is unregulated? The kitchen at my house.
Think about what the means for a second. It means that my children--children, mind you--are being fed food that's prepared in unregulated, uninsepected, and possibly less-than-sanitary conditions. The burgeoning field of Helen Lovejoy Political Economy demands that something must be done. For the children, of course.

This satire strikes keenly at the heart of the matter:  just how far will you go to ensure that everyone acts fair and enjoys a perfect life?  The leftist vision of a utopic world in which everyone basically shares the same values and has equal access to good things (whether food, shelter, clothing, or art) is predicated on the continued pursuit of prosperity.  Nothing will ever truly be perfect enough.  It’s not enough that people enjoy greater access to fresh and healthy food to a greater extent than has ever been known.  No, more safety regs are needed. That illnesses from improperly prepared food are at an all time low (and have relatively minimal consequences to boot) is irrelevant; more perfect is needed.

While Carden’s point may seem satirical, it will eventually become truth since busybodies must always be busy; hence their name. See, busybodies do solve problems.  When busybodies set out to fix what they perceive to be as problem, they do usually succeed at their task.  The problem, though, is that busybodies must always have some sort of problem to solve, and so once all the real, major problems are solved, busybodies must either solve minor and inconsequential problems, or else create problems out of whole cloth in order to feel some sense of purpose.

Thus, the real question is whether prosperity is truly everything.  Surely it is true that those living in America in the 21st century are more prosperous than anyone who has lived before.  The hallmark of this modern life is the complete absence of meaningful problems, as seen by the popularity of the “fort world problems” meme.  We are prosperous beyond our ancestors’ wildest dreams, and yet we are not happy because our prosperity precludes us from having meaningful problems to solve, which in turn precludes us from having a meaningful existence.

No wonder so many view life as pointless, and no wonder so many engage in self-destructive behaviors.  Without a challenge, life is simply too facile to be enjoyed.  Thus, prosperity is not everything.  Rather, it is the winner’s curse, a goal whose attainment breeds discontent.

An Interesting Question

I can think of at least two mechanisms here.  First, when economic growth is high and wages are rising rapidly, there may be less public opposition to inflation.
Second, whenever there is lots of growth, markets are forward-looking and the supply of credit outraces the growth of the moment, a’la Long and Plosser (1983).  This leads to immediate inflationary pressures.

Alternatively, it could just be the case that inflation is nothing more than a monetary phenomenon that causes a bubble mechanism which in turn provides the illusion of growth.  But there’s no way any intelligent economist would overlook this possibility, right?

11 September 2013

Whatever Happened to Gobal Warming?

Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.
The disclosure comes 11 months after The Mail on Sunday triggered intense political and scientific debate by revealing that global warming has ‘paused’ since the beginning of 1997 – an event that the computer models used by climate experts failed to predict.
In March, this newspaper further revealed that temperatures are about to drop below the level that the models forecast with ‘90 per cent certainty’.

Remind me again why scientists demand to be taken seriously?

This is a ridiculously quick about face on one of the most cherished beliefs of science fetishists everywhere.  Just a few short years ago, the cries that we MUST do something about global warming were reaching a fever pitch.  Now we must do something about global cooling.  There is no rhyme or reason to the madness, at least until you understand the entire point of crises:  the expansion of government power.  As Sonic Charmer pointed out, regardless of whether the earth is warming or cooling, the solution is always more socialism.

A while ago I wrote about the constant-crisis mindset, and I think it helpful to revisit the concept here.  For whatever reason, there appear to be a large portion of people who are simply incapable of observing change.  Instead, they must scream about and demand it be stopped.  They can’t take a minute to consider whether the change is good, bad, or neutral.  They can’t think about the change in terms of tradeoffs (e.g. while global warming would hypothetically reduce the coastline of Florida, it would also make Canadian land more suitable for farming).  Instead, they latch onto one negative trend, extrapolate it infinitely, then bandy about like Chicken Little, proclaiming that the world is about to end.  What’s sad, though, is that these short-sighted fools are still viewed as wise experts to be consulted on such matters simply because they can speak in technical jargon.

I’m beginning to suspect that most people enjoy living in crisis mode, either directly or vicariously.  Solving this sort of self-created problem gives their lives both purpose and status.   Thus, the popularity of global temperature trends and the pseudo-science behind it can be explained by the human desire to be part of something important and popular, but only a cynic notices these things.

An Ugly Policy

The galloping injustice of “lookism” has not escaped psychologists, economists, sociologists, and legal scholars. Stanford law professor Deborah L. Rhode’s 2010 book, “The Beauty Bias,” lamented “the injustice of appearance in life and law,” while University of Texas, Austin economist Daniel Hamermesh’s 2011 “Beauty Pays,” recently out in paperback, traced the concrete benefits of attractiveness, including a $230,000 lifetime earnings advantage over the unattractive.
Still, the issue has generated few serious solutions. Though to a surprising degree, we agree on who is attractive and who isn’t, differences in looks remain largely unmentionable, unlike divisions of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation. There is no lobby for the homely. How do you change a discriminatory behavior that, even though unfair, is obviously deep, hard to pin down, and largely unconscious—and affects people who would be hurt even to admit they’re in the stigmatized category?
Tentatively, experts are beginning to float possible solutions. Some have proposed legal remedies including designating unattractive people as a protected class, creating affirmative action programs for the homely, or compensating disfigured but otherwise healthy people in personal-injury courts. Others have suggested using technology to help fight the bias, through methods like blind interviews that take attraction out of job selection. There’s promising evidence from psychology that good old-fashioned consciousness-raising has a role to play, too.

Well, I suppose this is one way to drive Hooters out of business.

This whole business of lookism is too stupid to take seriously, but it is characteristic of this modern age to find that lunacy is treated as profundity.  I do wonder, though, how anyone expects this to be implemented.

I mean, the only to say that you were discriminated against based on looks is to admit that you’re ugly, and even the most hideous land-whale will never let such an utterance escape from her lips.  You could argue that the one who was hired was prettier, and that might make for a solid case.  But, this leaves the problem of arguing that someone of presumably acceptable looks was discriminated against in favor of someone prettier.

Incidentally, this explains why HR requirements are so fucking stringent.  The whole point of having applicant requirements that no one can meet is to ensure that one has a reasonable case for disqualification.  You weren’t discriminating against the fatty applying for the job, they just didn’t meet the (impossible) requirements.  Of course, the attractive person who was hired didn’t meet the requirements either, but then no one needs to know that.

Thus, what will eventually happen is that companies will have even more stringent requirements for potential applicants so as to better shield themselves from potential lawsuits.  Ever notice how whenever more laws are created, only the lawyers profit?

God and Sex

I’ve had some jumbled thoughts swirling around in my brain for some time now, mostly related to some of the deeper theology underlying sex and relationships.  It seems that there is lots of confusion on the matter, most of it rooted in bad theology (or philosophy, for my irreligious readers).  I don’t feel confident that my answers are correct, but I do feel confident that others’ answers are wrong. What I write now is mostly an iconoclast thought experiment that I hope delivers some sort of catharsis as I write.  In many ways, it feels like what I’m about to write is akin to Your God Is Too Small.  It’s easy to identify and describe false gods; it’s nearly impossible to describe the correct One.  To paraphrase Jens Lekman, I know who God isn’t.

Part One:  The Natural Order

“It’s amazing that women can easily rebel against God, biology, society, their husbands, but they’ll drop on their knees for a cad. It’s no wonder PUAs are so full of themselves.” –Frank

It appears that Frank has never read I Corinthians 11, though I suspect that the same can be said of many other nominal Christians as well.  In the aforementioned chapter, Paul says that, “the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”  From this I gather that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  But maybe I’m just simple.

In another passage, Paul would say “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”  Going back to the beginning, we find that God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”  Then we find that “the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.”

By now, it should be clear that Frank has a rather unbiblical understanding of the role of women.  Woman was not intended to worship God or serve God.  God is not the head of Woman.  In fact, Jesus is not the head of Woman.  Man is the head of Woman, and Woman is designed and created to worship and serve Man.  God did not create Woman to be a helper for Himself, but rather a helper for Man.  Thus, it is only fitting that women will drop on their knees for a cad instead of God since that is far more in keeping with their intended function.  Thus, their desire to serve Man, even in the form of cads, is not truly a rebellion against God, though it may be unwise or short-sighted, or even disadvantageous to society.  But I will have more to say on that later.

Really, the notion that Woman (or women) answers to God is simply unbiblical.  There is a natural order to this world, and a natural hierarchy within it.  The Natural Hierarchy, as given by God through the apostle Paul is as follows:  God rules over Christ, who rules over Man who rules over Woman.  Anyone who says otherwise is a liar (or an ignoramus, or a coward) and serves Satan, perhaps unknowingly.  And I will have more to say on this later.

Part Two:  Raising Cane

“For over a year now, I’ve been asking: ‘Considering that the Christian man is called to marriage alone for sexual release, and that the world is full of sluts (there aren’t nearly enough virgins to go around), how is Game anything but a round-about method of telling Christian men to Man-Up and Marry These Sluts?’” [Ital. original, ed.]

Here’s a better question:  Why do so many “Christian” leaders and writers get so hung up on adhering to God’s original ideal?1

This is, believe it or not, a very serious question.  Hebrews 11 provides a list of paragons of faith, and it is quite illuminating to see how many of them deviated from God’s Ideal for Marriage™.  Abraham had a child with a woman who was most certainly not his wife.  Jacob had two wives, and bore children by two more women to whom he was not married.  Rahab was a professional fornicator.  David was a murderous, polygamous fornicator (who happened to be a man after God’s own heart).  And all of these sexually impure people are paragons of faith to be imitated by followers of Christ.

Now, I hope that people don’t conclude from this that I’m advocating rampant sexual license.  However, saying that sexual purity is The Most Important Thing™ is clearly a pile of nonsense.  If God can look at a man who cheated on his multiple wives, then covered up his adultery with murder and still say that said cheater was still a man after his own heart (upon repentance, of course), then clearly there are some things in life that are more important than sexual purity.

“But,” some hypothetical Straw Man might rejoin, “what about all the New Testament laws against fornication?”  What about them?  Are we to believe that any deviation from God’s ideal somehow makes it impossible for God to work within us?  Are we to believe that God’s love cannot turn a slutty woman into a loving wife?  Or is God’s power so weak and trifling that it cannot reform the heart of Woman?

But then, this is really a trick question, is it not?  For it is not God who transforms Woman, but Man.  And the man who can transform a slut into a wife is a the type of man that God can transform from a sinner into a saint.

See the beauty of the hierarchy is that enables us to see, however dimly and briefly, a glimpse of eternal beauty. As Woman is to Man, so Man is to God, which is why God’s most graphically heart-breaking lesson in the Old Testament consists of God telling one of his servants to marry a prostitute.  (I’ve written on this before, but the lesson does not appear to have stuck.)

In the eyes of God, all men are, in a sense, spiritual sluts.  All men have chased after lesser gods (like sports, careers, money, status, fame, etc.)  When Man finally become interested in God, he generally does so only after he realizes just how vain and worthless his other masters are.  Very few men have served God and God alone; most have sought after other gods (and isn’t true that even after men come to God, they still often long for their former masters?  Is that not the essence of temptation?).  It is fitting, then, that Woman is a reflection of Man.  As Roissy once said, men and women always deserve each other.  Or, more broadly, men get the women they deserve, and vice versa.  This is Bible.

So, given that Man generally experiments with other gods long before he becomes interested in Jehovah, why should it be the case that Woman behaves any differently towards Man?  (Especially since the earthly is a reflection of the spiritual.)  Or, to state it another way, if you’re going to play around before you get serious (about God), why shouldn’t women play around before they get serious (about you)?

Here’s what’s beautiful:  God doesn’t stop wanting Man once Man becomes infatuated with something else.  God still desires a relationship with Man, even after Man has been broken by hedonism, abused by the capriciousness of status-seeking, or traded his glory for scars.  He still wants Man, even with all his pain, his scars, his brokenness, his hurt, his imperfections.  But not only does he want us, he wants to heal us, and be the perfect master for us, giving us purpose in life.  He doesn’t promise that our lives will be easy, or that the healing process will be painless, but he will make us far happier than any of our other masters could.  Unlike our prior masters, God is Love.

So, if God so loves Man that he will pursue Man even when Man is but a dirty beggar living in the gutter, does it not behoove Man to do the same to Woman?  To put it in starker relief, do you really want to stand before God and complain that your wife wasn’t pure for you when you weren’t pure for God?

Part Three:  The Social Gospel, or The Appeal to Society Fallacy

Eventually rubber has to meet road.  Cars are absolutely worthless sitting in a factory.  Unapplied theology is the same.  Most men will still bristle at the call to man up and marry sluts, and for good reason, too.  Even though most men are, in my opinion, absolute fools in spiritual matters, they still retain enough of their intuition to understand just how repellant the notion of marrying sluts truly is.  It’s truly strange, though, how most men seem utterly incapable of drawing the obvious conclusion from the most common Biblical metaphor:  God isn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of being in a relationship with Men who have been broken by capricious masters but still long to be with the masters who ruined them.

“But,” many men will undoubtedly sputter, “I’ve been perfectly faithful to God.  I’ve attended church and everything! I’m a productive member of society, I pay my taxes, I provide for my family, I live by the rules, etc.”  As if this is faithfulness to God.

On Vox Day’s Alpha Game blog, the byline reads, “Breaking the chains, winning the games, and saving Western Civilization” (Emphasis added, ed.).  From what I’ve read of the manosphere, this does seem to be the general theme.  There is this sort of notion that everyone should learn Game, everyone should learn how to rule his wife, and so on, in order to save Western Civilization.  The general impression that I get is that guys should learn Game in order to save their marriages, and thus ultimately society.  Being a good husband because God demands that of you is more of an afterthought.

It has been noted by somewhat shallow theologians, like my father, that if everyone were to live by New Testament principles, we would have a fairly prosperous and stable society.  This observation is true, but misses the point.  If everyone were to live by New Testament principles, everyone would be children of God, and the resultant prosperous/stable society would be incidental.  I would theorize, based on what I’ve read and heard, that many nominal Christians view Christianity as a means to the end of highly functional, perhaps even utopic, society.  Even atheists, at least those of the honest, non-aspie type, will argue as such.  Thus, Christianity, and the attendant organized religion that inevitably surrounds it, is not viewed fundamentally as a means of having a relationship with God, but as a way of having something else.  Thus, most Christians don’t really love God, but rather his blessings.  Or, more accurately, what they perceive as his blessings.

(I note, with some degree of amusement, that the patriarchs of faith listed in Hebrews 11 (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) were all nomadic herdsmen.  While other exemplars of faith were part of a more civilized society, or even built it (David, e.g.), it is intriguing to note that the father of the faithful lived in what would today be considered relative poverty.  Yes, Abraham had lots of flocks, but few Americans living in the 21st century consider animal farming to be a mark of success and high-status.  Given Abraham’s nomadic lifestyle, I would be willing to be that few Christians living in America today would want to live just like Abraham did, since Abraham’s lifestyle would be generally considered uncivilized.  In spite of his lack of civilization, Abraham was more than able to live a life of faith because ultimately he was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God.)

Christians don’t look to the reward; they look to the here and now.  Perhaps that’s why Christ asked, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? So, if Christian men are focused on solving the problems that belong to God (say, the ordering of Nations and Governments), can it really be said that Man has faith in God?  (And if the answer is yes, then why isn’t Man content to trust God to set in place the proper authorities?)  To go back to an established metaphor, if Man is going to try to do God’s job, thus upending the natural order, why should Man be surprised when Woman tries to Man’s job?

Ultimately, feminism is a reflection of Man’s pride, which is seen in Frank’s earlier comment.  If a Man assumes that he needs to order the nations, then he places himself above God.  But God has to exist somewhere in the hierarchy, and Frank, and others like him, ultimately conclude that God is still above Woman and that, consequently, Woman should answer to and worship God.  So, if you screw up one part of the natural hierarchy, it shouldn’t be surprising if you end up compounding your mistake by screwing up another part of the hierarchy.

What is ultimately revealed is that Man isn’t really all that faithful to God.  Most men, it would appear, are far more interested in doing God’s job than living in submission to him.  (And isn’t it interesting how that mirrors most men’s complaints about women:  most women are unsubmissive and try to do men’s jobs so as to have no need for men.)  Men don’t really worship God, they worship human society.  Fittingly, their women have followed suit.

Part Four:  Those Who Burn

“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.  But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” –Rev. 21:7-8

If the earthly is a metaphor for the spiritual, and it is, then it should make sense that only those who submit to God in this life are fit to live with him in the life to come.  To this end, living in submission to God means knowing your place.  If you’re a Man, you live in submission to Christ.  If you’re a Woman, you live in submission to Man.3  Consequently, it should also make sense that those who do not live in submission to the natural order, or work to upend the natural order, will be condemned to everlasting punishment.

To this end, those listed as deserving punishment in Revelation 21 can be broadly viewed as those who subvert the natural order.  What’s intriguing to me is that cowards are the first people listed as subverting the natural order.

I think that the pervasive triumph of evil in these modern times is due to cowardice.  There have always been men who have trumpeted pernicious false doctrines, and there have always been men who have lived by false doctrines.  However, it is not always the case that a majority of men have paid lip service and otherwise sought to justify false doctrines and evil practices.  Thus, when God condemns the cowardly, he is condemning those who refuse to stand up for what is right, or those who pay lip service to evil for whatever reason (to keep their job, social standing, etc.).  Edmund Burke was right when he said that, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  This corresponds with the principle espoused by James:  “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

From what I can gather, it is generally only a minority of people that engage in a lot of the evil listed in Revelation 21.  There do not appear to be a lot of people that are diligently working to upend the natural order by engaging in what God calls abominable acts.  However, there do appear to be a lot of people who are passively engaging in upending the natural order by sitting passively by and paying lip service to the pretty lies of the modern age:  equality, feminism, social justice and its attendant activism, and so on. To pay lip service to these lies and pattern your life to profit from them makes you at least a liar, assuming you know the truth, and a coward to boot since you would rather live comfortably than live honestly.  And that is why liars cowards will have their part with the abominable people.  If one can get along with liars and the disorderly in this life, it is only fitting to assume that one can continue to get along with them in the life to come.

Part Five:  Catharsis

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” –Solomon

While it might appear that this post is about the manosphere, or Cane Caldo, or Frank, or anyone else, the truth is that it is really about me.  I once believed in equality, I once believed that Woman answers directly to Christ, and so on.  Not only did I once believe what I now repudiate, I taught it publicly and propagated the nonsense I now decry.  I thought completing the checklist was a surefire sign of faithfulness, and I did my best to complete the checklist.  Even now, on my blog, I still get caught up in writing about hypothetical fixes for society’s ills.  Deep down, I desire to play God, and in so doing work to upend the natural order. I hope that God will be merciful to me.

But an even greater truth is that this post isn’t really about me or anyone else, per se, but humanity.  And this post is really just Genesis 3, but with different names and in a different setting.  This post is about human pride, the scourge of humanity’s existence.  Since the beginning, and even to the present, Humanity is still seduced by the prettiest lie of all:  that we can be like God, knowing good from evil.  We can’t, but that doesn’t stop us from believing the lie.  And so we embrace feminism and chase dreams of building a utopic society.4  We are proud.

God doesn’t call me, or anyone else, to fix society.  He doesn’t all me to rule the world.  He doesn’t call me to judge the world or be the arbiter of ultimate truth.  God calls me—and he calls you—to love Him, and love my neighbor as myself.  Life is about relationships.  We have a relationship with God, and a relationship with our fellow man.  We are to love both God and Humanity alike, though the expression of our love will vary, naturally.  We aren’t called to know truth, or defend truth, or chase after abstractions, though such pastimes are fun and occasionally harmless.  We are called to love.  “Be ye therefore imitators of God as dear children.” “God is love.”

The foundation of the law is love.  We are commanded by God to love him and one another.  That is our role, and we must content ourselves with it.  We need to know our place and act accordingly.  God will take care of the rest.

1.  For those whose memories may need refreshed, Jesus taught in Matthew 19 that the ideal for marriage was one man and one woman for life and Paul taught in I Corinthians 7 that marriage is the proper exclusive realm for sexual release.  Thus, sex prior to marriage, or with multiple partners while married, is very much a sin since it would be a deviation from the ideal.

2. Other interesting notes:  Noah got drunk and had his nakedness uncovered by his son, hardly an example of sexual prurience.  Joseph’s citation of faithfulness makes no reference to withstanding the temptations of Potiphar’s wife.  Samson was simply an idiot when it came to women (cf. Judges 14 and 16), and certainly violated God’s law against intermarriage (cf. Deuteronomy 7:1-5).

3. Perhaps in another post I will deal with the theology of this particular aspect of the hierarchy, and with submission to earthly authority in general.  For now, I will simply say that C.S. Lewis gets quite close to the general issue in his book The Last Battle.  In chapter 15, Lewis recounts the tale of a Calormene who had entered into new Narnia.  The Calormene was a servant of Tash (a false or harsh god, depending on how you interpret Lewis).  When the Calormene met Aslan, Alsan welcomed the Calormene to new Narnia and said that all the service the Calormene had rendered to Tash would be counted as service rendered to him.  It’s really a quite beautiful scene, and well-worth reading.  Anyhow, I imagine that God’s judgment will be similar, in that service rendered in good faith to another master (Woman to Man, e.g., or child to father, servant to master, citizen to ruler, laity to clergy, etc.) will be accounted as service rendered to God.

4. Utopic does not necessarily mean perfect, but rather simply represents an ideal state.  All who would design a society must implicitly have an ideal form of it in mind, else plans would be impossible.  Thus, even the libertarian realist who simply desires respect for property rights must ultimately believe that some sort of panacea will hypothetically be attained once his ideal is achieved.

02 September 2013

Why The Open Borders Movement Is Illogical

My sporadic blog spat with Ryan Long—done in good faith, of course—is the fodder for this post.  While I’m basically an anarchist at heart, the reason I don’t generally support the Open Borders movement is because at its heart it is fundamentally a contradiction in terms.

To me, supporting the Open Borders movement is akin to designing a house without doors in the various entry points.  The entire point of putting doors on a house is to regulate who can enter and leave the house, and on what terms, and at what time, so forth and so on.  Likewise with borders, the entire point of their existence is to regulate who can enter and leave, the terms and times of entrance and exit, and so forth.  The Open Borders movement, though, is basically arguing that borders should still exist, but that they shouldn’t be used to regulate anyone’s movement.

A more logically consistent approach would be to advocate an anti-borders movement.  This is a considerably more anarchist approach, and one that would argue for the dissolution of borders, rather than simply making borders meaningless.  But this approach, in order to be logically consistent, must also argue for the complete dissolution of all governments and states, since without borders it would be essentially impossible for any state to function very long.  Thus, anyone who would wish to advocate for the free movement of labor must ultimately, if they wish to remain logically consistent, argue for pure anarchism.

In contrast, it is downright stupid, and quite anti-liberty, to argue that the borders of the state should be meaningless all while accepting the existence and operation of the state as a given.  This government policy would open itself up to lots of abuses—basically people, mostly immigrants, who would accept government benefits without paying the requisite taxes—and ultimately end in destruction once it becomes clear that not everyone is playing by the same rules, thus undermining government authority, and leading to a breakdown in social trust and cooperation.  Altering one variable of governance in the name of increased liberty is not libertarian; it is stupid, irresponsible, shallow, and nonsensical.  Liberty exists on more than one plane and along more than one line; being an absolutist for open borders, or for dissolving the tax code, or altering just one variable in a system of governance is indicative of naïveté and poor thinking.  Either go all in on anarchism, or accept the fact that the cause of liberty within a system of governance is a little more complex than simple sloganeering.

While I’m on the subject, I think it worth mentioning that anarchism is not a system that will lead to rainbow-colored unicorns distributing pots of gold to everyone.  If anarchism were to be tried globally, my bet is that the global society would become more tribalisitic, and that each of the increased number of tribes would each highly homogenous.  In addition, wealth be spread more equitably, but everyone would be poorer since the state would no longer be around to incentivize economies of scale.  My guess is that, in keeping with the supposition of tribalisitic solidarity, people would feel more trapped in their culture, as they would face social ostracism for violating social norms.  Anarchist utopia is as stupid, if not more so, than socialist utopia, and is probably as delusional.  While I am an anarchist at heart, I don’t believe that my life would be easier, or that I would necessarily be wealthier, or that I’d even be exposed to a diverse array of people were the various states around the globe to suddenly cease to exist.

At any rate, my opposition to the Open Borders movement is simply an intellectual pursuit.  I obviously have no influence on American policy, especially since I refuse to vote.  My readership is quite small, and a significant chunk of it is foreign.  My advocacy of or against certain policies, then, is simply an intellectual pursuit, a way of passing time and expending some creative energy.  While I would certainly like to see the elimination of all states and governments (or at least the dissolution of the federal government of the United States), I think that Open Borders advocacy has the potential to harm a lot of people and spread a lot of fascism in the name of liberty, and that’s just the sort of PR that the liberty movement does not need.

Drugs Galore

Prescriptions for painkillers in the United States have nearly tripled in the past two decades and fatal overdoses reached epidemic levels, exceeding those from heroin and cocaine combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
At the same time, the first-ever global analysis of illicit drug abuse, published this month in the British medical journal The Lancet, found that addictions to heroin and popular painkillers, including Vicodin and OxyContin, kill the most people and cause the greatest health burden, compared with illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
High-income nations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, had the highest rates of abuse, 20 times greater than in the least affected countries, according to the Lancet study.
In the United States, enough painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around the clock for one month.
Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told Al Jazeera that the U.S. is facing a dangerous epidemic of overdoses and addictions related to painkillers. "According to the CDC, this is the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history," he said. "CDC has data demonstrating that around the same time doctors began aggressively prescribing these medications in the late 1990s, there have been parallel increases in rates of addiction."

This is going to be a fairly personal post, as it ties into some discoveries I’ve made about myself since I started drinking alcohol about two months ago.  I grew up in an extremely conservative, extremely religious family.  My dad is a preacher in a very fundamentalist denomination, and he made it very clear to me from a very young age that if I ever drank alcohol, I was pretty much going to hell since alcohol is a very evil drug that is quite addicting, and once you’re in its clutches, it’s difficult to escape.  Basically, touching even one drop of alcohol is not only unwise, but it’s sinful in the extreme.

It’s been a couple of years since I believed that the mere consumption of alcohol was sinful, but I did not really have any opportunity to give drinking a try until I finally moved out on my own a couple of months ago.  Since I’ve started drinking, I’ve discovered a couple of things, the chief of which is alcohol does not really change you.  It may reveal you, but it doesn’t fundamentally change who you are.  The first time I got drunk,* I basically acted like a funny asshole, but without reservations.  When I’m sober, I’m often a funny asshole, with very few reservations.

When I drink alone, though, I often become quite introspective, and have a strong desire to write before sobriety chases away my insight.  When I’m sober and alone, I still tend to be pretty introspective and I still have a pretty strong desire to write and express my thoughts.

Additionally, I’ve discovered that alcohol is not quite the force of destruction that many hyper-conservative religious folks claim it to be.  I still show up to work on time and work as hard as I can for my boss.  I still take my responsibilities seriously and carry out my duties as best I can.  I pay my bills in full and on time.  I take care of my possessions, manage a budget, cook for myself, and basically act like a responsible adult.  Clearly, alcohol is not destroying my life.  I don’t drink all that often, and when I do I don’t drink all that much, at least generally speaking.  I don’t think I’m an addict, but if I am, I’m the world’s most functional addict.

The point I’m getting at in all this is that America’s so-called “drug problem” is really more of a spiritual problem.  If it’s true that alcohol doesn’t change you, and if it’s true that it’s possible to live like a responsible adult while still drinking regularly, then ultimately the reason why people have such problems when drinking is because they simply have problems in the first place, and alcohol only exacerbates the issue.  Basically, alcohol is just a crutch.  The same is true for other drugs.  If you use drugs to dull the pain of your life, or to forget problems in your childhood, then ultimately the problem isn’t drugs.

I find it telling that America has an increasing problem with drugs as it becomes increasingly irreligious.  While the connection between the two variables seems obvious to me, I will concede that it may simply be correlation. However, I do suspect it is the case that there are a lot of hurt, angry, dysfunctional people in America whose only chance to move beyond the pain is through mind-altering drugs and medication.  They need a crutch, and doctors are only too happy to prescribe one for them.  Instead of the constructive crutch of religion, though, many are now opting for the destructive crutch of mind-altering drugs.  Instead of getting a prescription from the Great Physician, they seek a prescription from their general practitioner.

I believe it was Marx who called religion the “opiate of the people.”  In this post-religious America, though, the people no longer have religion.  Thus, they opt for opium instead.

* The only reason I got drunk in the first place was because a gay designer kept buying me shots of Fireball.  He eventually propositioned me (and I declined), and then I ended up calling one woman a bitch, though I still got a goodbye hug from her, and then later I propositioned the waitress.  It wasn’t my proudest moment, but at least I have another cool story to tell people.

Rank Hypocrisy

That’s no doubt what the cheerleaders of Countryside High School in Clearwater, Fla., are saying to the news that their uniforms violate the school dress code and they can't wear them to class on game days, according to a story from WFTS-Tampa.
Officials at the school, which is located in the Tampa Bay area, are telling the students that their school-provided cheerleader uniforms should cover shoulders and the skirts should reach midthigh.

So, what’s inappropriate for school hallways suddenly becomes appropriate on the sidelines of a football field on a Friday night?  That’s apparently what at least one public school seems to believe.  Instead of, you know, being consistent and either altering the school code or the hem lines of cheerleaders’ dresses, the school just waffles on the subject, at least for now.

What I find most intriguing is how the school will basically acknowledge that one’s dress does have some bearing on how one is treated by others, and that one’s dress (or lack thereof, amirite?) can actually be distracting/disruptive.  This is all very obvious to anyone with common sense and the ability to observe the world honestly.  However, the school seems to forget this understanding come game time.  Obviously, sporting events are a little different from academic settings, but I still don’t see how it’s okay for completely grown to be able to leer at underage girls in revealing outfits, but it’s not okay for underage guys to do the same in a classroom setting.  I guess it just goes to show how fucked up society is when it comes to thinking intelligently about male and female sexuality and age.  Of course, that’s not really news.

Other obvious lessons apply:  coed academics is stupid, homeschool your kids or die, don’t let your daughter be a cheerleader, don’t let your daughter dress like a slut and then parade around a bunch of grown men, society is hyper-sexualized, etc.  Same stories, different day.

Implicit Aristocracy

Economically, the high-IQ misanthrope has an even weaker case.  Smart people may excel in all activities, but as the law of comparative advantage reveals (see here and here) everyone's better off if people with high IQs outsource their less challenging tasks to others.  In a society of Einsteins, Einsteins take out the garbage, scrub floors, and wash dishes.  What a mind-numbing waste of talent!

Caplan’s argument is correct on its own terms, obviously, but is fundamentally useless because the assumptions it rests on are largely inapplicable to the real world.  There is no society of Einsteins, which I take to mean a society of super-intelligent people, defined as, say, possessing an average IQ of 2+ standard deviations above the global mean.  Assuming, for fun of course, that PISA scores from 2009 are generally indicative of a given country’s overall level of intelligence,* it’s clear that while some countries’ populations are smarter than other countries’ populations, it’s not quite the case that there are nations filled to the brim with Einsteins who would be setting out to cure cancer if only they didn’t have to take out the trash.

In the first place, intelligence is not the only variable that has any bearing on solving problems.  Luck/chance/randomness all play a role in finding solutions to various problems (see here, here, here, and here, for starters), as does funding, equipment, and access to other forms of capital.  Perhaps this is assumed in Caplan’s model, but it is nonetheless worth remembering that merely throwing a bunch of smart people at a problem is no guarantee of success.  It’s also worth remembering that some smart people need to provide things for dumb people (like food, shelter, clothing and all that) in order to pay other smart people to solve smart people problems.  At any rate, on a micro level at least, is simply not the case that having all the smart people free to solve problems is a guarantee of any sort of solution, though the odds of a solution being found do improve.

In the second place, though, Caplan makes the unsubstantiated assumption that stupid people are needed to relieve smart people of their less-challenging tasks.  There are several things wrong with this assumption, the foremost of which is that the division of labor is always and forever a good thing, such that each person should specialize in just one thing, and never bother to do anything other than that which they specialize in, save for those tasks which are necessary for day-to-day living (eating, bathing, etc.).  This is a slight exaggeration, of course, but the broader point—that doing any sort of menial labor somehow precludes or otherwise interferes with smart people solving challenging problems, is simply ludicrous.  On a micro level, handling menial tasks does not preclude an intelligent person from solving other problems.  For example, cooking one’s own meals does not necessarily interfere with one’s cancer research.  Even time dedicated to pursuing one’s particular specialization is subject to the law of diminishing returns.

But the other, and far more stupid, assumption is that smart people are unable to solve the problem of menial labor.  Yes, some tedious work is always going to have a significant time component.  And menial labor that is always based on a time component (like babysitting, e.g.) cannot necessarily lead to time-saving innovations.  However, problems like garbage collection have been made more efficient over time due to the invention and innovation of labor-saving devices.  Raw production has been made more efficient due to innovations like the assembly line and automation.  In these cases, smart people have found ways to save on labor by making capital more useful.  The easiest way to do this, though, is to a) be smart and b) have some familiarity with the labor process you are trying to improve.  Thus, the case for stupid people working menial jobs is not as obvious as it might seem, since it might be the case that labor improvements in menial work arise from “Einsteins” learning a menial process and taking time to figure out how to improve it.

An obvious example of this, at least to me, is that of Japan.  Japan has a relatively intelligent population with low numbers of less-intelligent immigrants.  Clearly, Japan is not lacking for technical innovation, and their relative absence of cheap, “dumb” labor does not seem to lead to trash piling up in alleys and a massive number of deaths from typhoid.  The Caplanesque response to this question-begging would obviously be to rejoin with, “and now imagine how much better off they would be if they had dumb laborers doing this work for them, instead of having their Einsteins waste time innovating menial processes.”  But this hypothetical rejoinder is more indicative of one’s worldview (and is logically circular to boot) than it is of the facts on the ground.  Plus, the obvious reply to the hypothetical Caplan response would be, “but would they have had more or better innovation anyway had they focused on improving more complex processes?”  Again, throwing bodies at a problem doesn’t ensure its solution, and innovation of any sort has diminishing returns.

When all is said and done, though, the question of whether cheap, “dumb” labor is wealth-enabling is mostly a matter of ideology, not facts, since it is impossible to know how much wealthier a country would be in the absence (or presence) of more “dumb” labor.  Thus, arguing for or against an increased amount of cheap, “dumb” labor is mostly indicative of one’s ideology than of practical reality because ultimately the answer is unknowable.

Thus, it can ultimately be asserted that Caplan is arguing for a sort of new aristocracy—complete with an underclass—that consists of highly intelligent people solving important, smart-people problems, who are to be served by dumb, low-skilled workers.  At least the society of Einsteins, of which Caplan is surely a part, will not have their important research interrupted by such banal trivialities like garbage disposal and dish-cleaning.  Their technocratic problem-solving will undoubtedly usher the world into a new era of peaceful prosperity, and it’s all thanks to cheap, dumb labor.

* An extremely dubious claim, to be sure, and one made here only for the sake of argument.