Randoms

– “Urban Future somehow missed the excited side-track discussion that bolted to the conclusion: America voted in November 2012 to spare itself from Social Darwinism. Yet, sadly belated as it may be, our rejoinder is unchanged: nothing ever gets spared from Darwinism. That’s what Darwinism is.”

Reframing politics.

– Arnold Kling is blogging again.

– Rod Dreher on “normal.”

– I, for one, welcome liberals (like Krugman) to the domain of race realists.

– I’ve blogged quite a bit about DC’s changing demographics. If you’re interested in this topic, here’s more on the murder rate and the school system.

– Following the US election, it’s increasingly likely that marijuana and gay marriage will be legal in the US. This blog’s position on the former is that drug laws were the mechanism by which the Warren Court’s protections of criminals were undone, thereby making it possible to actually arrest and convict criminals. It’s therefore worth noting that the states that “legalized” marijuana were the relatively low crime states of Washington and Colorado.

With respect to the latter, it’s fun to think about what other fundamental rights will be discovered in the coming years. I have friends that are gay, and none of them can explain why they need the state to recognize their relationships. The best they can come up with is that if their “marriages” are legal they’ll be able to visit each other in the hospital if one of them is sick, however none of them know anyone that’s actually been denied this particular privilege.

Totalitarian democracy: “Each one of these telltale signs is amply observable in today’s Britain and most other so-called democratic states.”

– Some economists have been criticizing manufacturing fetishism, for example. I’ve defended “manufacturing fetishists,” so I’d note that most of them don’t fetishize manufacturing so much as they fetishize a working class that actually works.

– What do men want?

– At least he’s honest.

– Sailer has been touting the marriage gap, but it’s nothing compared to the Cathedral gap.

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15 Responses to Randoms

  1. James says:

    I have friends that are gay, and none of them can explain why they need the state to recognize their relationships.

    I agree with the proposal in Thaler & Sunstein’s Nudge: allow people to sign custom marriage contracts, but have a default option whose terms are unremarkable.

    If two men or women want to sign a contract saying they are “married”, with financial and legal consequences X, Y and Z, why prevent them? If the religious right doesn’t support gay marriage, they would be able to divorce (excuse the pun) their institution of marriage from the contract recognised by the state.

    The problem here is étatism: each side wants to influence the nature of the government’s central social planning, instead of going their separate ways. The conservatives will inevitably lose, of course.

    • Vladimir says:

      If you’re insisting on the French spelling, shouldn’t it be étatisme?

      In any case, “statism” is a bad copout here. Even the most minimal government must still involve things where it’s necessary to recognize what constitutes marriage and what doesn’t.

      • Jehu says:

        As long as you insist on taxing people as Households, as opposed to merely Heads, you’ve got to have a definition of household that is hard to game. This is doubly so if you’re insisting on some sort of progressive taxation of income. If you taxed by consumption (sales), property tax, or tariff, you wouldn’t have to care as much. But because we’ve decided that we want to tax events like income, estate/death transfer, and the like, we’re stuck with a government that has to care about things like this.

      • James says:

        Mises uses “etatism”, which is in the English dictionary
        —but I see the accent doesn’t belong there. I prefer “etatism” to “statism” because I think the latter connotes a preference for anarchy.

        To elaborate, I consider it sensible to unbundle two functions of existing “marriage”: a social ceremony, and a legal union. The etatism to which I object is the idea that the government should stipulate the terms of one highly specific legal union, and treat people who have signed this contract differently to others in numerous respects that aren’t part of the contract. I don’t think that the government should engage in social engineering, and I also sympathise with homosexuals who are financially penalised under the existing system.

        I would prefer there to be a wide range of enforceable contracts that create firm commitments between two (or more) people, whatever their sex. Whether someone wants to call these contracts “marriages” is up to him. I accept that the state should refuse to enforce certain contracts of this type, whose terms are beyond the pale. (To decide what is truly “beyond the pale”, without curtailing the diversity of viable choices, is a job for a sound government.)

        Otherwise, as long as the church or any other institution understands that they are free to exclude homosexuals from their premises, rituals and organisations, I doubt that they would care about gays’ contractual relationships, any more than they care what type of bank account they use. Christians and social conservatives would follow their marriage ceremony by a separate signing of a suitable contract of union. Unfortunately, institutions are pushed towards etatism by the state’s denial of their legal right to exclude.

        Thaler & Sunstein list the government entitlements and mandates that accompany marriage:

        1. Tax benefits (and burdens). The tax system offers big rewards to many couples as a result of marriage—at least if one spouse earns a great deal more than the other. (There can be a big marriage penalty if both spouses earn substantial incomes.)

        2. Entitlements. Federal law benefits married couples through a number of entitlement programs. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example, an employer must allow unpaid leave to a worker who seeks to care for a spouse; it need not do so for “partners.” State laws often grant similar advantages to members of married couples.

        3. Inheritance and other death benefits. A member of a married couple obtains a number of benefits at the time of death. A husband or wife can give his or her entire estate to the spouse without incurring any estate taxes.

        4. Ownership benefits. Under both state and federal law, spouses may have automatic ownership rights that mere partners lack. In community property states, people have automatic rights to the holdings of their spouses, and they cannot contract around the legal rules.

        5. Surrogate decision making. Members of a married couple are given the right to make surrogate decisions of various sorts in the event of the other’s incapacitation. When an emergency arises, a spouse is permitted to make judgments on behalf of an incapacitated husband or wife. Partners are far less likely to obtain these benefits.

        6. Evidentiary privileges. Federal courts, and a number of state courts, recognize marital privileges, including a right to keep marital communications confidential and to exclude adverse spousal testimony.

        #1, #2, #3 are social engineering and I think they should be abolished. #4 and #5 are the type of thing that my “legal unions” deal with.

        I’m not sure about #6. This isn’t a matter of private contract, and it may be a valuable function of government. I doubt that the Christians and progressives would get too worked up over this one matter, though.

      • vishmehr24 says:

        James,
        I notice that your list misses a word “Children”-the very reason the marriage exists. The Family Courts are interested in Children and thus the defintions of family and marriage are contested.
        Consider the case of Lisa Miller who lost custody of her biological child to her ex-lesbian partner. The ex-partner had no biological link with the child at all but the Court awarded her full custody.

  2. asdf says:

    So much of the economy is “flim flam”. If I sell someone a financial product they don’t need because I can play on their emotions I’ve provided a “service”. However, I think we can all agree the service in question didn’t increase anyone’s quality of life.

    It’s very hard to determine the value of services. Is it useful or just the product of some market failure. Hard to say. It’s easier with manufacturing. There is a physical thing you can point to and say, “at least this thing of tangible value came out of our labors”.

    • Zimriel says:

      Among the “services” are maintenance jobs, including healthcare.

      Maybe curing my melanoma (say) is worth $10,000,000 to me. To some of my friends it might be worth $100. To you it’s worth probably 5 cents. (Since you don’t know me.) To certain people round ’bout the web, they might pay $2000 just to watch me die of cancer.

      So when someone says “value” I have to ask, for whom? And then we get into the only means of value we have, which is the agreed-upon amount for the service offered.

      • asdf says:

        Healthcare services are tangible. You were sick, now your healthy. It’s a real thing. I think we can both agree that if a guy sold you sugar tablets saying it was medicine then it would not be considered a valuable service. We used to call such doctors “quacks”.

        Anyway, I’m a little tired of the church of subjective value. Yes, people do value things differently. However, we all know that some people value things incorrectly. It’s bloody obvious, you no doubt speech as such everyday. If you pay $100,000 for some sugar pills you got bamboozled. End of story. That price isn’t “correct” or “the best” because you agreed to it. If some third party had stepped in and stopped the transaction (like the FDA) you would be a lot better off.

        Now we can have an argument about whether the FDA, or any government body, truly can determine value better then consenting individuals (sometimes?, ever?) However, let’s not pretend that value is just some subjective reality we make up. It has a real objective component. That’s why we talk about things like people getting ripped off. Because they pay for something thinking it has value X but it really have value Y.

  3. “Totalitarian democracy?”

    What the hell is with all this rhetoric of trying to shame democracy on democracy’s own terms? Why do we need to prove that autocracy promotes freedom, or that democracy promotes slavery? These things aren’t true, but it’s a bit baffling to me that people who’ve ostensibly turned to the Dark Side care so much to keep a leftist frame (I can only imagine that this is the cause behind the Moldbug-Hanson debate).

    I like Roissy’s idea much better (ironic, since he’s a paleocon at best): Just ask them why they fuck goats.

    Jeeze, guys, you’re Dark Lords now. You’re allowed to cackle madly.

  4. Piscitelli says:

    I actually esteem an individual’s wordpress concept, where take care of you get a their hands on it thru?

  5. Handle says:

    Derb has a post detailing his “Dark Enlightenment” blogroll. I’m sorry to say that neither you, Spandrell, nor nydwracu were on it, which are outrageous oversights.

  6. SOBL1 says:

    Witht he current state of election fundraising, our 2012 election was between Crony Social Darwinism vs. Crony Socialism.

    Your ‘randoms’ link posts are always good to read. Thanks you for assembling them.

  7. asdf says:

    Foseti,

    My government employment ended a week ago. I don’t know how you do it. I found it the most depressing year of my professional life.

  8. James says:

    What do men want?

    Men want to sell their scrap girlfriends for cash
    And spend it getting too high
    Men want to kick back on the holodeck
    Surrounded by 200MB of high-def NPCs

    Women want to wear tissue-thin silk
    Woven from the stringy remains of scrap men
    Women want to be transmuted
    And sent into orbit

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