Sunday, April 30, 2017

Doublethink about majority rule

Right-thinking people have long said that because markets are not self-regulating, they need regulation by government. When I asked how government is self-regulating, a progressive told me that government is self-regulating because of elections. Apparently, the voting booth is like the Teacher from Star Trek.

Now, however, Salon (and I'm citing that fake-news site for the fact that people are saying something, not for the truth of what is being said) tells us,

Are tens of millions of Americans really this stupid? If the findings from a new ABC News poll are any indication, then the answer is yes....
So where does that leave us?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Someone actually wrote this: Pride fests and those evil corporations

In The Advocate, Alex Morash writes,
Today our rights are threatened again, and many in the LGBT community are afraid of what is happening to our country. We need a Pride that marches for our community’s struggles; it's time to march, protest, and resist!
What concrete suggestion does Morash make?
Pride celebrations in most major cities have gotten stale, using the same tired model that focuses on a parade that is filled with big corporate sponsors hawking their wares.
Businesses are increasingly willing to accept us, and that's terrible! It's bad when businesses choose to accept us but good when government compels them to, or something.
In these times we need Pride to courageously stand up to corporate interests and get back to being a march for our rights.
So we should stand up to those who are willing to be our allies? I thought that the point of such a march would be stand up to those who actually threaten our rights.
This is at the heart of why the national Pride march is getting so much attention; it’s not speaking to the affluent or to big corporations, it’s speaking to everyday working-class queers
So everyday working-class queers don't buy goods or services or otherwise participate in a market economy? That's useful to know.
— an audacious act in today’s LGBT community
How's the weather on Counter-Earth?
When Pride committees allow corporations to feature so prominently, Pride comes off as supporting corporate interests over the needs of our community.
False dichotomy is false.
Does anyone think the Pride events of today, filled with luxury brands truly speak to the one out of every five LGBT people living below the federal poverty line or, for that matter, to the rest of us who are not wealthy?
I've somehow overlooked all of those luxury brands. Are the promotional t-shirts by Brioni, or are the likes of Hot 99.5 FM, Food Lion, and Coca-Cola now luxury brands?
Pride needs to speak for us, and we need Pride to reflect who we really are — diverse, not all affluent, and proud to come in every color of the rainbow.
Should Pride reflect an ideologically diverse community in which not everyone buys into trendy anti-capitalism? Also, as the commenters ask, how will Pride get paid for otherwise?

See also Needlessly alienating potential allies and A movement, not a market?.

Friday, April 21, 2017

New York City's war on tobacco

The New York Times is valiantly engaging in investigative journalism, and by "investigative journalism" I mean "parroting whatever those in authority say."

De Blasio Backs Plan to Lift Base Price of Pack of Cigarettes to $13

Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged his support on Wednesday to a series of initiatives to cut tobacco use, proposing to raise the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes in New York City to $13 and vowing to sharply reduce, over time, the number of stores that may sell tobacco products.
What could possibly go wrong? It's not as though anyone ever smuggled cigarettes or as though New York City had good transportation links to any other localities.
In 2002, when Mr. Bloomberg took office, 21.5 percent of adult New Yorkers smoked, according to the Health Department. As Mr. Bloomberg banned smoking in bars and restaurants and set a minimum price for cigarettes, the rate fell to 14 percent by 2012, and it has fluctuated since.
Meanwhile, in the US as a whole in the same period, it fell from 22.5% to 18.1%. I grant that the rate of smoking fell faster in New York City than in the US as a whole, but the fact that it did fall in the US as a whole and the fact that the rate started out lower in New York City suggest that other factors were at work.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Someone actually wrote this: The Federalist on pornography

In The Federalist, Dustin Murphy writes a screed against pornography that is larded with the usual proofs by assertion. A few passages stand out, though.

According to Murphy, the antisocial effects of pornography include the following:

One of the greatest tragedies of porn’s antisocial effects is that it fuels an anti-child culture. Thinking sex should be open to procreation, or that the two go hand-in-hand, is regarded like VHS tapes: out of style. Some people consider parents with three or more children to be crazy, and children are generally viewed as a burden. Anyone with a large family has probably experienced negative comments in grocery stores or coffee shops.
In addition to the false dichotomy, the cause of the anti-child culture, if such a thing exists, is pornography because Murphy says so.

As for whether one person's use of pornography harms others, Murphy argues,

Recording sex devoid of love violates a couple’s right to share authentic human love and to experience the whole person, not just private parts, during sex.
No, it doesn't. People are still free to do just that. Murphy's argument is just a short stroll from "Freedom is slavery."

He continues that

laws ought to promote the common good, which is to perfect the community.
In addition to being exactly the sort of collectivist reasoning that conservatives at least used to oppose when liberals used it, that argument presupposes that perfecting the community is possible. It is odd that someone who elsewhere expresses a belief in God argues that secular government can perfect the community. Besides, I am not sure that I should want to live in Murphy's perfect community.