Category Archives: economics

The market does not always do right by us

One of the basic libertarian axioms (at least for many of the libertarians I’ve read) is that a completely deregulated market is a sweet deal for us consumers. The market doesn’t need government to make businesses do right; they have to do right to attract customers. If they fail to give good service (or good products), we shop with someone else and they go belly-up.

Last week’s godawful flight was a reminder what a load of codswallop that is.

I like flying, but the decades since the government deregulated air flight in 1978 (not complete deregulation), it hasn’t gotten better for us consumers. If anything, the airlines thrive on making things worse, then offering extra money to upgrade. As the Consumerist blog put it, though I can’t find the link, it’s in their interest to make us miserable so we’ll upgrade. Seats are small (and could get worse), service is poor and the airlines stay solvent by not having much redundancy: if a flight gets canceled or a crew member doesn’t show, it’s often not easy to find an alternative (in fairness, there are financial reasons for that).

Or consider calling your Internet service, power company, insurer … well, pretty much anyone. Some small businesses pick up the phone; with big ones (or even slightly big ones)  it’s a tedious slog through a phone network. In one case (dealing with one of my mother’s banks), I could not find an answer in the list of “press 1 for X, 2 for Y” options.

Having human operators would be a vast improvement, but that would cost them money; much better to stick us with the wasted time we spend on the phone (Slacktivist points out that we also get the burden of handling Internet and debit card security).

In both cases, we consumers are stuck. It’s often impractical or massively inconvenient to drive out of state (to Mysticon, for instance). If we need to talk to someone on the phone, we need to talk to someone on the phone. And unless we have a boatload of alternatives, we’re stuck. So we suffer, they make more money and the shareholders/owners suck it up. Which is why I also see libertarians explaining this is the way it should be: the only people companies aren’t allowed to screw over are the owners.

Just to be fair, I’ll look at a counter-argument. The conservative flagship National Review has been a welfare case for years. They rely on donations, even to pay their legal bills in a case a few years ago. So they’re not depending on success with consumers to stay afloat. And without the pressure to compete in the marketplace we get articles like Kevin D. Williamson’s (yes, that Kevin D. Williamson. Who’s also the Kevin D. Williamson who claimed Romney was more of a man than Obama because five sons beats two daughters) explanation for why Swedish-style socialized medicine won’t work here. To wit, because Swedes are responsible, while Americans just mooch and want a handout. No, it doesn’t make any sense — but without free-market pressure, it doesn’t have to.


Filed under economics, Politics

The 2020 election begins now! God help us all.

As far as Politico is concerned, Elizabeth Warren is already tanking her chances. No, the secret to winning is trust to old, center-right white candidates! Or wildly popular politicians like … Paul Ryan? But women, it’s essential they be likable!

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, would like you to know that he’s very anti-Trump except where he supports him. One LGM blogger suggests, however, this is a clear sign Romney thinks the tide is turning against President Shit-Gibbon. But NMMNG says if Romney thinks that could land him the 2020 nomination he’s dreaming. But just in case, Trump’s allies are pushing harder to declare Trump the party’s pre-emptive nominee.

And Jerry Falwell Jr. assures everyone evangelicals will stick with Trump regardless of what sins he may have committed. Falwell’s excuse is that Jesus shouldn’t be setting public policy, which quite simply I think is a lie; the religious right (which was founded by his father as a political force) is all about letting their view of Jesus’ wishes define the law.

And of course there are the constant arguments that Dems won’t really be any different from Republicans if they had more power or don’t really care about stopping them. After all they could totally have stopped Kavanaugh making it to the Supreme Court if they tried. Plus arguments that if Democrats trash-talk Trump, it’s all over for them.

In other news:

Trump’s tax cut benefits rich foreign investors more than Americans who don’t own stock.

65 percent of jail inmates haven’t been convicted of anything. The majority are there because they can’t afford bail.

Deplatforming hatemongering websites or starving them of cash has been an effective tactic. Then you get someone like tech CEO Rob Monster, who made it his mission to save the hate-site Gab.

The founder and former leader of Identity Evropa has filed for bankruptcy. Not much detail at the link.

Customers without plastic keep running into problems at businesses that don’t take cash. For one thing, a number of stores don’t say this up front.

More white, right-wing terrorism: Antigovernment radical James Stachowiak calls for people to commit lone wolf terrorist acts.

Chipotle requires employees to sign arbitration agreements giving up their right to sue. Now employees are requesting arbitration and Chipotle is stalling.

Idris Elba says the only reason to worry about Me Too is if you’re guilty of harassing someone. Likewise, while many Wall Streeters now avoid meeting with women and even worry about hiring them, attorney Stephen Zweig says the solution is “try not to be an asshole.”

“Why do we think “innocent until proven guilty” is an appropriate basis for deciding who we invite into our personal, professional, or public spaces?”

“A video clip of two black people showcasing visible anger toward the president would have been played over and over again on cable news.” Hilary Clinton got crap for not playing nice with Trump at Bush the elder’s funeral.


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Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Hand-waving poverty and other links.

There’s a school of right-wing thought that as Jesus said the poor are with us always, there’s no point to helping them. We’re not going to end poverty, we may not be able to help everyone, so what’s the point?

Of course by that logic, there’s no point to paying for police. We’re not going to get rid of all crime,we’re not going to catch all criminals, so why not just give up? But people do grasp that stopping crime is a good thing, even if you don’t bat 100 percent. I dont’ think poverty’s any difference. Helping one person who can’t get medical care (the topic in the link above) does make a difference. And Jesus wasn’t saying don’t bother to help the poor because you can’t end poverty. He’s quoting an Old Testament passage, the point of which is that poverty enduring is a reason to be generous, not to just give up.

There’s a right-wing school of thought that not only is it bad to help the poor with tax dollars, it’s bad to help the poor period. Homeless shelters are bad because they give homeless people less reason to get a job and afford rent. What they need is to suffer so that they’ll have an incentive to get off their lazy asses. Because that’s the real problem, isn’t it?  A variation on this idea is that what poor people really need is not charity but jobs, so capitalism is the real charity. John Stossel, for example, wrote some years back that putting your money into a new business would do far more good than putting it into charity.

Of course that ignores that increasingly money flows to the stockholders, not to paying employees jobs they can live on (see here for more). Nine out of 10 jobs in Silicon Valley pay less than they used to. It’s worth remembering that capitalism by itself has a mixed record at best of helping out the poor and downtrodden. Wages were good in the 20th century because of unions and government support for labor rights, moving us away from the Gilded Age where the worker had no rights at all.

Nevertheless, Kevin Williamson (yes, Kevin “kill women who get abortions” Williamson) takes that ball and runs with it, and runs roughshod over Christiantiy. Sure, Jesus said that if you have two coats, you should give one to someone who doesn’t have one. But you know what? Capitalism mass-produces coats! If you open a coat factory, you can hire people, pay them well and they can afford their own coats! Besides, what if he needs food more than a coat, huh? While Williamson also acknowledges that charity is important, it feels like lip service as he gets to the important point, reassuring rich people that just by running businesses they’re making the world better.

And of course, there’s still the standard war-on-the-poor tactics: Arkansas requires Medicaid recipients report their work hours to keep coverage. But it makes it very hard for them to do so, for example only allowing online reporting.

Rep. Paul Ryan is leaving office getting plaudits for fighting the deficit. But his budgetary priorities increased it. He only cared when it justified slashing the social safety net.

Will Congress start holding banks accountable for misdeeds?

Greed is not good.

A couple of economists continue insisting that supply-side economics works. They’re wrong.



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No, feminists did not create Jordan Peterson

I’ve mentioned Jordan Peterson before — the guy who advocates “enforced monogamy” to deal with incels (he insists he only meant monogamy enforced by social pressure, which seems a dubious solution, even if that is what he meant) and that male dominance is the result of male superiority. NYT’s Bari Weiss thinks these trite sexist ideas are daring; I wonder if she’ll think the same about his recent declaration that women wearing makeup and high heels at work invite sexual harassment (sorry, don’t have a good link). And maybe they should stop wearing it to show they’re not interested in sex.

This is another old, sexist trope: women who dress too sexy should expect rape. And when it happens, they have no-one to blame but themselves. It’s as much a lie as Phyliss Schaffly’s claim that if a woman is known to be chaste, guys won’t hit on her — it’s only the sluts who get targeted (the latter was a-OK by the odious Schaffly). This involves a boatload of assumptions, such as harassment being purely about sex, and not about power, or control, or making a woman uncomfortable enough to quit. That it’s closer to a clumsy attempt to flirt rather than something like this.  That how you dress or the makeup you wear implies consent or at least invitation (even if a woman is dressing attractive to invite attention, that doesn’t mean she has to accept it from anyone). And that women wouldn’t suffer penalties if they went to work with plain, un-made-up faces — because yes, bosses have fired women for not being attractive enough. In one of the first looks-related discrimination cases, a female lawyer was denied a partnership in favor of much less successful associates. Why? She didn’t wear makeup, didn’t look good, and didn’t defer enough to men. It’s like telling women “you won’t be harassed if you come to work in a burka” — even if that was true (I doubt it is) the reaction wouldn’t be favorable.

Now Cathy Young of the libertarian (and ironically named) Reason manages to up Weiss by recycling more tropes, starting with him being feminism’s fault: “contemporary feminism’s main message to men is not one of equal partnership. Rather, it’s: Repent, abase yourself, and be an obedient feminist ally — and we still won’t trust you.” So feminists, by refusing to treat men fairly, drive them into Peterson’s arms.

Her examples? She links to what’s actually a very reasonable column by Irin Carmon pointing out that some men who position themselves as allies don’t walk the walk. No call for repentance or abasement, just stating the obvious — talk is cheap. Perhaps Young was hoping nobody would click through. She’s also playing on one of the oldest tropes, that feminists don’t want equality — visions of feminism as a female power-grab go back to the dawn of second-wave feminism and even earlier.  And as Echidne points out, there’s no evidence guys following Peterson would be open to an offer of equal partnership. Hie message isn’t equality, it’s man on top, all the way.

Young also recycles another old chestnut: feminists said it was okay to use off-color language in front of women! Then they get upset because men use off-color language in front of women! The “stub your toe” test in an early sexual harassment case covers that one well: is the off-color language something you’d say if you got out of bed in the middle of your night and stubbed your toe? Using four-letter worlds for female genitalia, the judge decided, don’t pass the test.

Feminists did not create a market for Peterson’s preachings by being unreasonable or extreme. He’s not new, he’s part of the same backlash that’s been going since the 1980s. And that backlash isn’t against feminism being extreme. It’s against feminism existing.

And as No More Mr. Nice Blog asks, if being routinely insulted turns people into right-wing extremists, why aren’t liberals extremists?


Filed under economics, Undead sexist cliches

Books are too expensive, so it’s okay to pirate them. Oh, really?

While I liked the book Brand Name Bullies, one thing that didn’t go over so well was David Bollier apparently buying into the stock anti-copyright/pro-piracy arguments (some of this is my interpretation so if I’m getting him wrong I apologize). As lots of people will create for free, do we really need copyright to have a thriving culture? If the industry would just make the price more reasonable, or release the album/book/DVD immediately, people would be happy to buy it.

I blogged about some of these arguments a couple of years back, but I’d like to take this post to argue again against the “they’re just too expensive” stance. This is the view that the price of books, or at least ebooks is too high so hey, you shouldn’t have to pay that much, so hey, you’re entitled to steal.

First off, let’s point out the obvious: some people just want their books free. Ditto music.

Second, how exactly are the people who make this argument calculating the “right” price? Are they assuming it’s the labor of putting the book in digital form — laying it out, editing it, creating a digital file? Do they consider the cost of paying for the cover, or publicity? Do they include the value of the actual story itself, because that’s why the book has, you know, words instead of just being a bunch of blank pages. And why, other than I Want It do they assume their assessment of the price is better than the author/publisher? As John Scalzi points out, even physical books of similar size and format don’t cost the same for lots of valid reasons.

To take an obvious example, the price of my self-published books is based on a)a price I think the market will accept; b)a price that gives me an adequate return on my effort. That takes into account that the online bookstores that sell the ebook (or Createspace for physical copies) take a cut; I have to set a price large enough to cover them. Believe me it’s not a substantial return, but what if it was? I’m the one who produced it, I have the right to set a price. If it’s more than the market will bear, people won’t buy it. Except the “you should have made it cheaper” people don’t accept that. They figure they should be able to get the book if they want it and not pay me anything (I’m willing to bet if I had a PayPal or Patreon they wouldn’t be contributing the “fair” price to compensate).

I have no sympathy for this crap. In the many years I did the struggling-writer shtick, I saw lots of books I couldn’t afford. I didn’t steal copies. I wouldn’t do it if I were still struggling. If it was a paper copy, would they shoplift it from Barnes & Noble if they thought it was overpriced? Or how about a restaurant — if the service takes too long (the “they don’t release it fast enough” argument), does that mean they’re entitled to steal food from the salad bar? Soft drinks cost a fraction of what they sell for, does that make it okay to steal them? Or movie tickets — lord knows those are outrageously priced, but does that justify sneaking in without paying?

One argument I see occasionally is that because digital copies are so cheap and easy to replicate, pirating one of them doesn’t hurt the way stealing something physical does. I don’t think that holds up: stealing one copy of Dan Brown’s latest from Barnes & Noble or swiping some breadsticks from Olive Garden certainly won’t cause a massive shortage. Sure, if everyone did that, it would be a problem, but that’s true of ebooks. If 100 people pirate Sex for Dinner, Death for Breakfast, that’s around $100 out of my pocket. That won’t leave me in the poorhouse, but it’s not nothing (and for people who aren’t two-income families, $100 could be very significant indeed).

I realize even if my readers include pro-piracy types, I’m unlikely to change anything. But still, it’s worth saying.

#SFWApro. Image courtesy of Wikimedia, from Charles Elms’ The Pirates’ Own Book.


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Liberals won’t date Republicans? OMG!

At least that’s the word from Washingtonian magazine: DC conservatives are very, very hurt that liberals won’t date them (despite all the Republicans in Congress and their staffers, apparently there are not enough conservatives to date in their own pool). Just because someone supports a white-supremacist president, does that mean they’re beyond the pale?

Right-winger Lisa de Pasquale thinks this is a bad idea: sure, you want someone who shares your values, but why insist on them sharing your politics? Funny, I always hear conservatives describe how their votes are driven by their values, does de Pasquale mean they were lying about that? She goes on to argues that the worst names conservative fling out are “snowflake,” whiny” and “cuck,” which ignores that “cuck” is supposed to be a vicious insult in the alt.right world (and that some conservatives throw out considerably worse—I’ve been called “traitor” a couple of times). “By contrast, those on the right are called ‘Nazis,’ ‘racists,’ ‘bigots,’ ‘sexists’ and, if NRA members, ‘part of a terrorist organization’ by left-leaning people, simply for having conservative leanings.

“Conservative leanings” may be doing a lot of work here. Did someone get called a sexist because they support lower tax rates on corporations. or because they believe women shouldn’t work outside the home or that rape victims had it coming? Both of these could be considered “conservative leanings” but some people with conservative leanings are bigots and sexists. On the far right, for example, we have enthusiasm for controlling women through rape gangs and white sharia. Georgia wants to let adoption agencies turn away gay parents. Or county clerk Kim Davis, who claims she’s a hero for refusing to marry gay couples (or let anyone in her office marry them) but believe she’s the persecuted one (this past post might be relevant). Pundit Rod Dreher thinks French anti-semite and racist Marion Le Pen is pretty awesome, though Of Course he disapproves of her more extreme views.

de Pasquale is just a variation on the time-honored theme that liberals are mean to conservatives and full of hate, unlike, say, Trump. And that campus PC (which squashes conservative voices) is out of control, whereas a right-wing news corporation expanding its propaganda reach is no big. Next thing you know, they’ll say conservative comedy isn’t funny!

Moving on from that little issue-of-the-day—

Pastor Robert Jeffries used to insist it was wrong to compromise moral standards to get the right person elected. In the age of Trump, he’s changed his mind. I’m sure he and the other court evangelicals will be thrilled when Republicans change the law to let them be openly partisan while keeping their tax exemptions. Likewise right-winger Dennis Prager believes Trump destroying liberals is so godly, Trump must be doing holy work. So does Eric Metaxas, who says Trump critics are like the Good Samaritan’s carping brother (there is no brother in that parable).

The Trump White House took the broken system for veterans’ health care and made it worse. They’re gutting consumer protections against financial scams too.

The 1 percent hate pensions because pension programs reduce their power.

The Trump era is like a reality show is a cliche, and not even a clever one.

Even the Trump White House acknowledges Obama-era regulations are cost-effective (but they ain’t changing their anti-regulation policy).

I will give points to Benny Hinn for admitting he was wrong about the prosperity gospel. And to the usual odious Mona Charen for pointing out Republican hypocrisy in talking morality while supporting Roy Moore, child molester (she was resoundingly booed at CPAC for this).

Perhaps this cover by Earl Mayan expresses my feelings best.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover image remain with current holder.


Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

I now defy right-wing political correctness!

A lot of conservatives are happy to denounce “PC” on the left in contrast to their own supposed willingness to stare reality in the face. In reality, PC — in the sense of “blindly accepting dogma” — is something anyone can fall victim to, including conservatives.

For examples conservatives during the W years were adamant that our government did not torture anyone. A detailed report from The Constitution Project shows that yes, we did. And the torture was systemic, common and not at all “a few bad apples.” At the bare minimum higher authorities demanded information, encouraged soldiers to “take the gloves off” getting it and offered no guidelines on what not to do. If nothing else, that’s negligence on a massive (and in some cases fatal) scale.

Nothing in my columns for the Destin Log, however, freaked right-wingers out as much as the phrase “right wing terrorism.” Nope. No way. Doesn’t exist. Not a problem. It’s Muslims, okay and maybe radical leftists but it’s never conservatives. I’m not sure how much is fear of having the anti-terrorist system they’ve supported turned on them, how much sympathy for the far right and how much the same kind of discomfort the word “racist” causes (David Neiwert offers some thoughts on this and other topics in an interview). But “there’s no right-wing terrorism” is bullshit whatever the reason, as the Anti-Defamation League shows with its report, A Dark and Constant Rage. 150 incidents over the past 25 years is a lot for something that supposedly doesn’t exist.

Moving on … speaking of the right wing and racism, here’s yet another Trump sleazebag appointee. Of course the media still flinch from acknowledging President Shit-Gibbon is a racist. Speaking of racism, the real reason the Republicans aren’t cutting a deal on DACA is that they don’t want to. And don’t forget, believing in racist bullshit requires making yourself stupider.

John Roberts and the conservative wing of the Supreme Court have said North Carolina doesn’t have to redraw gerrymandered districts before the fall election. Can’t disadvantage Republicans, can we?

As Shakezula says, will religious-freedom-to-discriminate laws ever be used to deny treatment to adulterers? Or just trans, gay and female people? Heck, with Trump cheating and banging porn stars probably makes his acolytes love him more.

Another day, another abuser exposed. And as usual, it looks like he had people willing to cover up for him. And charges have been filed against another supposedly godly man. And here’s how churches shouldn’t respond.

The Star of David is Satanic according to one right-wing Bible thumper.

Even when Gamergate participants confessed to sending women death threats, the FBI file shows no charges were filed.

Sexual abuse of a coworker doesn’t have to take place in the workplace.

Elderly immigrants being deported don’t get the Social Security they’ve been paying into for years.

It costs the IRS more to employ private debt-collectors than the contractors bring in to the agency.

The Museum of the Bible: more politics than museum.

Anthem’s new policy for covering ER visits: if they decide you should have known that stabbing gut pain wasn’t an emergency, you’re not covered.

And now some links courtesy of the Slacktivist blog:

Hiram Revels was the first black man to serve in Congress. Yet in the places where he lived in work, it’s statues to Confederates, not Revels, that people see.

How we whitewash and sanitize the civil rights struggle.

Back in the 1990s, Pat Robertson warned conservatives against the Illuminati takeover (with the added twist the Illuminati were run by International Jewish Bankers); apparently the Illuminati are still a bogeyman (Alex Jones at the link doesn’t deny they exist, he just denies Trump’s a member).

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Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

NC Sen. Thom Tillis lies a lot (and more political links)

I’ve mentioned Tillis’s bullshit statements about the Affordable Care Act and how he’s trying to make insurance more affordable by killing ACA. Now he’s explaining his support for the GOP tax bill is because it “will lead to bigger paychecks for hardworking Americans.” Unless he defines hardworking Americans as “rich people, including myself,” he’s lying again. Sen. Richard Burr voted for the tax monstrosity too, so I’m sure he’d lie about it if he ever responded to my letters.

Not that the rest of the Repubs are much better. Rep. Paul Ryan wants us to know it’s a heartbreaking burden to labor on as Speaker of the House, cutting taxes on himself and fighting so he doesn’t have to pay estate tax. He’s a noble soul who just wants to stay in office long enough to gut Social Security and Medicare (sure, he went to college on Social Security Disability, but he doesn’t need it now, does he?), then retire to be with his family. So tragic.

Equally tragic: The media pretending the Republicans really wanted a better bill.

And then there’s the last minute decision that allows people who set up their businesses as limited liability companies take extra deductions if, like President Shit-Gibbon and Bob Corker, they’re in real estate.

A police officer refuses to believe trans people really suffer higher rates of police violence. A female captain tells the man he’s showing his privilege. The captain gets suspended.

Slacktivist looks at the symbolism and problems of Trump declaring Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The belief of some religious conservatives that this is good because it helps advance us toward the Apocalypse strikes me as the worst kind of arrogance, a conviction that if they play their cards right they can make the Second Coming happen on their schedule.

An Oklahoma preacher allegedly used his church’s phone number for a prostitution ring he ran.

How Steve Bannon tried to take down Twitter. And in supporting Roy Moore, Bannon seems to have taken down himself. Although right-wing pundits are desperately trying to blame Moore’s defeat on Mitch McConnell instead (or Christians who got unreasonably freaked out by Roy Moore molesting children) Trump, of course, having endorsed Moore now claims he never had much hope for him. And John Rogers of Leverage explains that no, George Soros couldn’t have bused an extra 20,000 fake voters into Alabama.

Reagan declared we should make it harder to vote, something people have to struggle to achieve. Lance Manion points out that the people who advocate this aren’t exactly crossing trackless jungles to deliver their ballots.

Assessing sexual harassment cases when we don’t know the charges.

Rebecca Traister points out the issue in harassment cases isn’t the assault on women’s virtue but the damage to their ability to earn a living.


Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

The right wing and the just world fallacy

The just-world fallacy is the belief that contrary to what our parents told us, life is fair. Take care of your health and you’ll be healthy. Manage your money well and work hard and you’ll get rich, or at least non-poor. Dress modestly, don’t go out alone, and you’ll never be raped.

It’s a fallacy because, of course, it isn’t true. Bad things do happen to good people. We drive carefully and get hit by someone who didn’t (almost happened to TYG and me this week). You follow the rules for finding a good Christian man and you wind up with an abuser. You take care of your health but something still strikes you down. You get out there and meet people only you never meet anyone interested.

The just-world fallacy is common. It’s not something unique to conservatives. It’s reassuring — that there’s a reason for what happened to us/them, that we’re not all vulnerable to blind chance and tragedy, that the world makes sense. That it can never happen to us — sure, she got raped but we’d never do anything that foolish. He got robbed but we pack heat. He got cancer but we take care of ourselves. Conspiracy theories explain why the world isn’t just; just-world fallacy explains that it is. Both comforting in different ways.

With a lot of conservatives, though, it’s not simply a fallacy, it’s a policy. It’s the reason they justify denying people healthcare or benefits, or rewarding themselves by slashing their own taxes. If you’re rich it’s because you’re smart, talented, superior; if you’re poor it’s because you squander your money. Women aren’t in charge of things because men created the world. If you have diabetes, it’s your fault, that’s why you don’t deserve to have the government pay for treatment.

So no help for the poor, they don’t deserve it. Low taxes for the rich because otherwise you’re penalizing success and hard work.

And if your success doesn’t come from hard work? You got a head start because your parents were rich or you took over the family business? I suspect that’s one reason Trump likes to think he and his children are genetically superior — if you tell yourself your genes would have guaranteed success even if you’d grown up in a shack in Africa (and I have heard that statement made by other children of privilege) then having everything handed to you on a plate doesn’t matter. You’d still have succeeded so it’s still wrong to tax you.

Do they seriously believe it? Quite possibly. It’s always appealing to believe you’ve accomplished things through genius, not hard work. It’s easy to underestimate the role luck plays (something I explored in my short story Others Must Fail). At the same time I suspect there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance in play. Trump himself has admitted that having superior genes (for the record, I don’t believe that for a minute) is a matter of luck, but at the same time he sees himself as a super-achiever who earned everything (or he claimed to). Lots of wealthy people credit their talent with success but blame failure on luck, so they totally shouldn’t be penalized for it. Lots of welfare recipients believe “I earned it” through their years of taxes, just like they firmly believe nobody with a darker skin did.

And some, I’m sure, are outright liars who know better — it’s just a convenient excuse, like Paul Ryan claiming blue states are free-riding on the hard work of the red states (nope).

Whether delusion or rationalization, the just-world fallacy gets toxic when mixed in with politics.

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Filed under economics, Politics

Jesus and Ayn Rand are not the same person

But some conservatives keep insisting that objectivism’s belief in survival of the fittest is completely compatible with Christian tenets of mercy and sympathy for the poor and downtrodden. The Conservative Bible Project, for instance, wants to translate (or “wanted to” — I don’t know if that particular crusade is still active) all Jesus parables in ways that show he was really talking about the importance of the free market. Short answer: no he wasn’t; for a long answer, find a blogger better at theology than I am. One such blogger, Rachel Held Evans catches right-wing pundit Erick Erickson arguing that the Bible tells us charity is strictly an individual responsibility, not something for government. Evans points out that’s bullshit.

Certainly right-wing economist Stephen Moore has no trouble worrying about anyone but himself. He’s celebrating that the tax bill hurts education, hurts unions, hurts state government’s abilities to raise taxes or provide services — in short, hurts everyone but the rich. That it makes class divisions more firm (the rich stay rich, the lower classes will find it harder to rise) is, I’m sure, part of it, though Moore doesn’t mention that. And Paul Ryan, lying as usual, declares that cracking down on high-tax states punishes the states that “take” from the low-tax states that prop up the country economically. Nope. Apparently both Ryan and Moore are excited about turning all 50 states into Kansas.

Yet another man exposed as a sexual harasser, specifically Rep. John Conyers, who’s resigning from office. The Root asks if Conyers, a black man, isn’t being judged more harshly than white politicians.

The thing about all those sexual harassers like Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin and Bill O’Reilly? Their sexism helped shape the media narrative that helped elect Trump.

All the ways Republicans will make it harder for students who take out government loans.

Nixon claimed anything he did was legal. W’s attorney John Yoo claimed the president had no legal limits on his power. Now Trump’s lawyer claims that obstruction of justice charges against the president are by definition impossible. The problem isn’t just Trump, it’s Republicans. As noted here.

Roy Moore is unsurprisingly self-righteous in denouncing his critics as pure evil. Dammit, why can’t they respect a man’s need for teenage tail? As Lance Mannion notes, many conservatives love feeling persecuted. The Slacktivist blog once suggested it’s partly because the Bible was written for Israelites in exile and a persecuted Christian church. It’s much easier to imagine themselves as Israelites in bondage than realize that in the US, they’re Pharaoh. Heck, some of them think ABC reporting on Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s people makes ABC a terrorist group.

Speaking of Moore his massive sexism is another good reason not to vote for him.

Apparently Republicans rushed the tax bill through so fast, they screwed up on delivering the corporate tax breaks. Oh, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, who organized the multi-trillion dollar tax cut says the CHIP children’s health-insurance program is having trouble passing because the government has no money to spare.

All that stuff about how the only thing we can do to prevent mass shootings is pray? Totally different if the shooter is an illegal immigrant.

Every Democrat in the Senate voted against the tax bill from hell. For some left-wingers, that just proves Democrats supported it.

For something more positive to end with, Slacktivist looks at the Muslims who keep the peace at Christianity’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

And for something random, here’s a photo by me of a storm drain near our house.

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