Seriously, ESR nails it:
Seriously, ESR nails it:
This is one of those “I wish I had said it so well” things:
Summary: Respect is always earned.
This has sadly come close to home, as it where, of late.
It’s worth a read.
The point being missed: an Hegelian or Marxist will very easily “pledge allegiance to the mimicry of tolerance.” They have already done it. They’ve been doing it for a century. They are doing it now, most notably at Berkeley. War is Peace. Speech is Aggression. Beatings and Intimidation are Freedom. Gramsci and Alinsky would nod approvingly.
(Title by Margaret Ball)
*** A few days ago a fellow (I presume) responded on AccordingToHoyt saying that the U.S.A. is past the point of being able to repair the mess being made by those who push for an ever more socialist state. The claim was that things are to the point that nothing can really be done and any attempt would be met with the final destruction of the Individualists. This was not met with agreement. My response is reproduced below. I had no title for this, as it was a simple comment, but thanks go to Margaret Ball for coming up with a great title. ***
In each case, more energy can be applied and nothing happens…. until the key level is exceeded. Then – and only then – will a reaction a occur, a spark arc over, the boiler blow. So far “nothing happened” is being misinterpreted as “we can keep doing this.” No. The level hasn’t reached some unknown criticality… yet. Many of us can “see it coming” but even we don’t know what the “last straw” will be. When it comes, it might seem very, very minor…. except it was the last straw of many, many straws and criticality was achieved.
As much as we might be trying, we have yet to actually reverse the polarity of the moron flow.
*** ADDENDUM: I am not advocating violence or revolution. Such things tend not to end well. The U.S.A. already got very very lucky in that regard twice: George Washington pointedly rejecting the idea of any form of royalty, and post-Civil War, as bad Reconstruction was, the general situation was still better than such things usually go. I would far prefer we somehow manage to reverse the polarity of the moron flow and get people to take responsibility and control of their own lives rather than demand the redistributive theft of the hard work of others. Alas, it seems the Worst Idea in History (that wretched thing by Karl Marx) is sadly attractive.
I do hope that the proposed anthology of ‘Last Straw’ type stories suggested in further comments comes to fruition and the authors enjoy readership and recompense. If it also serves as warning, that would be great, but I doubt that such warning will be taken. ***
Cyanide is a poison. On that there is no real argument. A biochemist could explain how it messes up a deep level of a key system and is thus a very nasty poison. And yet there are foods, intentionally eaten even by the non-suicidal, that contain cyanide. But people aren’t dropping dead due to eating spinach or even lima beans [Are you sure about lima beans? – Ed]. What gives? What gives is that while spinach and lima beans and other foods do indeed contain cyanide, they contain only very very tiny amounts. Amounts that are physiologically insignificant. The dose is so low there is no poisoning and life goes on.
A more applicable thing to this post is vitamin D. Vitamin D is a thing necessary for people and a deficiency results in bad things happening. But too much for too long and other bad things happen. There is a range for which vitamin D is beneficial. If you have a deficiency, a change of diet and/or supplementation is a good idea. Downing several “100%” supplements every day, day in and day out, is not a good idea. You can get away with it for a little while, but over the long run you are apt to run into trouble.
Government is, in a way, like vitamin D. We need some. We do not need too much. Unlike the vitamin, the deficiency can result in an overdose. Consider the special case of pure anarchy: Zero government. It is not a stable condition, as some form of governance will arise. It is, unfortunately, most likely to be of the dictatorial sort as power will be exerted by strength alone and the strongest, most brutal, wins the day. The overdose condition is also unstable, but it takes longer to fall apart. It could take a lifetime or several. When everything is government controlled, why bother doing anything more than the utterly necessary, if one will not truly benefit from the effort? Thus arises the Soviet-era joke, “They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work.”
The current Big Argument has been cast a few ways, as Left vs. Right, as Urban vs. Rural, as International vs. National, and on and on. The casting that seems the most likely to me was as drloss put it, Statist vs. Individualist. Those calling themselves liberal or progressives, as well as those calling themselves conservatives, and libertarian all claim to be Individualist rather than Statist. Yet examples can be found for each group that actual behavior is Statist – provided they are the ones running the state, of course. The Statist view is that government and its regulations are a tool to force people (those other people, of course) to behave in a set, presumed ideal, way: Government’s job is to stuff mere man into an angel mold and apply pressure until conformity occurs.
The Individualist is not trying to destroy all government. That’s the mark of the insane. What’s desired is lowering the dosage of government back down into the therapeutic range. Starting with at least President Wilson and certainly with FDR the idea regarding government and regulation in the U.S.A. was “more is better.” For a Statist, more is indeed better: more regulation is more control is more power. Some regulation is desirable. We like our food to be pure, our drugs to be safe and effective, our purchases to live up to their claims, our water to be clean. But an excess of regulations means that everyone is guilty of something and the rules can be enforced to ‘deal with’ the supposed Undesirable of the Month. The boot on the face is that of the Statist. The Statist can be of any claimed party alignment, the bootprint is just the same.
“All regulation is about public safety” has been claimed, and that might have even been the original intent. A call for cleaner water when a river catches fire certainly seems sensible. What isn’t often said is that when the big story hit it was a case of one bad incident getting attention after many worse incidents and that that very waterway was actually already getting cleaner. But one spill got national news coverage and mindshare. The EPA that came into being to fix things might have been needed, it might not have been. Now consider how the EPA, the very thing meant to clean up and keep clean waterways, amongst other things, has managed to severely pollute multiple waterways in recent months. One might well ask, “Is this Agency really necessary?”
A regulation that once made sense, might no longer be needed. In the days of vacuum tube (or thermionic valve) radios, some designs were more expensive as they used more tubes and each one meant more supporting components as well. This lead to advertising the number of tubes as an indication of quality, to convince buyers the higher price was worthwhile for better sensitivity, selectivity, or sound quality. When the transistor came along, at first things were much the same, but the expense fell rapidly and the advertising became a gimmick. Eventually it was ruled that advertising the number of transistors in a radio was not an honest indication of quality. In 1968, this made sense. In 1978 it still made sense. By 1988 integrated circuitry meant the transistor count wasn’t very meaningful. I’ve had no luck finding the article, but I do recall sometime in the last several years there was something about dropping the rule against advertising the number of transistors. Not from an outbreak of marketing department honesty, but as nowadays so much is integrated circuitry with a huge number of transistors that advertising the count would be pointless.
Absolute deregulation, like absolute anarchy, would be insanity. That way lies rickets or the equivalent. But scrapping excess regulations should be a net benefit. Maybe two can’t be scrapped for every new one within a particular subject or agency, but it would be worthwhile to try. And in other places perhaps three or four could retire to the ash-heap of history. For the Statist this downright scary: It’s a loss of control. For the Individualist this is hope, the hope of the yearning to breathe free becoming a satisfying reality instead of mere yearning.
An Individualist is not someone utterly independent of others, nor even necessarily trying to be. The Individualist rather wishes his associations and any dependencies to be things chosen freely, with a wide selection of choices. He is not his own doctor, his own electrician, his own plumber, his own auto manufacturer, and his own farmer all rolled into one. He is someone desiring to be able to choose his physician from amongst many, to choose an electrician from amongst many, to choose a plumber from many, to choose his make and model of automobile from a wide variety, and to buy such food as he pleases. Not for him is the life of government prescription, “Thou shalt have the physician thy bureaucrats so decree. And only the decreed treatments, and only to the decreed degree.” He is the Statist’s nightmare, for he is variable. And he brazenly recognizes the angel mold for being the Perillos device it really is. Quite naturally, the last thing he desires is more government and more regulation.
You might find a higher percentage of the rural population acting Individualist and speaking out in favor it than in more urban areas. There are urban Individualists as well, though they might be quieter or more swamped by Statists. This gives the impression of a Rural-Urban divide. Similarly the claims of individualism are more apt to be spoken of those on the political Right and benefits of state power and uniformity by the political Left. Words are cheap (I’m giving these words away right now!) but actions speak truth. People desire Individualism – at least for themselves. “There ought to be a law” is in general the Statist approach: Conform to MY ideals! The Individualist is not against all laws, but the needlessly interfering ones. Theft, the uncompensated taking from one not freely giving, is and ought be illegal. Demanding that lighting be only by some limited means, for example, is not rightly any of the law’s business. How one has light is one’s own lookout, whether one chooses LED, fluorescent lamp, incandescent lamp, or oil lamp. Demanding it be one or not be others is an overdose of regulation and is toxic to liberty. To end or nearly end one method the way to do it is not to make it illegal, but to offer better as seen by the customer.
What regulations exist forbidding the manufacture and sale of phonograph cylinders? As far as I know: none. Yet they are historical artifacts, not things sold in great quantity today. They were not banned. They were superseded. Disc records took up less space, were easier to mass produce, and provided longer play time. Eventually compact discs and digital distribution came along, pushing cylinders further into history. An entire industry transformed, a few times, largely without government intervention. We didn’t need a new drug, nor more of an old one.
And yet some insist that things are different today and we need more regulations, big brother’s universal helper. But we know that if we take on even more of those, we’ll get an overdose.
 Vitamin A is similar, but I went with D as it seems to take a lot more for a lot longer for things to get truly bad. As shown by the last several decades, an excess of government is generally more a chronic than acute affliction.
 Saw that one spreading on Twitter a while back.
 Alright, the number of transistors could be advertised, but they had to be used as transistors and contribute to the radio’s performance as a radio. Counting transistors used as diodes, or one just stuck onto a circuit board wouldn’t cut it. The result was that by and large rather than giving an honest count, no count was given. It was easiest to say nothing.
This was originally posted at AccordingToHoyt a couple weeks back:
Since I wrote it, I am re-posting it here as well. The text below is my writing. The title, however, I missed. Sarah Hoyt came up with a far better title than I had. I suppose that sort of thing ought to be expected from someone who writes professionally.
Racist! Fascist! Nazi! Misogynist! Xenophobe! Homophobe! Thank you!
Recently $HOUSEMATE and I were dining out and our server had the curious habit of saying “Thank you” during every interaction, whether it made any sense or not. This is likely not a quirk of the server, but of a current trend in customer service. A local store suddenly has a “Thank you” policy for every customer interaction as well. Evidently they got severely dinged on a secret shopping rating of late for not having that, so now they have the policy in place. The idea is understandable: promote the idea of gratitude and polite customer service. There is a problem, though. And you’ve likely already figured it out. That “thank you” happens whether it makes any sense or not, and happens at every interaction. Thus it is both misused and overused. Misuse and overuse lead to resistance – that is, it loses the desired effect and becomes useless at best. Here, the worst is that it might be a joke shadow of itself.
The other words in the [sub]title are not as polite, nor used for the same purpose as “thank you” yet they have the very same issue: misuse and overuse. Racist once meant someone had an automatic negative reaction to those of some other race. (For this purpose, assume that ‘race’ actually exists and can be determined by trivial observation of skin color, even if that might not really be true). This was, and in a few cases still is, a problem. Racism lead to racial discrimination, unfair testing at polls, and all the other various Jim Crow laws. A society that does this is denying opportunity to some, and thus reducing its own potential. It wastes available manpower and brainpower to its detriment.
Fascist and Nazi are related to each other, Nazism being a particular brand of fascism. And back in the 1930’s and 1940’s they had a set meaning for a particular style of governance. While fascism is decidedly Not Good, the Nazis took to it with a horrifying efficiency that resulted in things so evil that it was truly unbelievable for many until newsreel footage showed things really were that bad. This didn’t merely waste potential, it destroyed manpower and brainpower.
Oh, manpower? In the sense of people available to do things. It’s not misogynist, it’s simply the right English word. Genuine misogyny is just like racism, only aimed at women instead of those of a particular race. This is another one of those “brilliant” ideas that permits a society, if it chooses, to artificially limit brainpower and, yes, manpower even if it is ‘womenpower’.
And then there are all the -phobes. Xenophobe for ‘fear’ of the other, the foreign. Homophobe for ‘fear’ of the same sex (or gender, if you must). There are likely many others, but one needs to stop staring into the abyss sometime. How much real fear is there? Almost none. There are almost certainly a few people who really are genuinely fearful of members of this group or that. A few. Not a majority. Not even a sizable minority.
The idea that these words apply to nearly half of society is breathtaking in its absurdity. If discrimination truly allowed lower pay for equal work, what sane business wouldn’t be rushing to hire the cheaper labor wherever and whenever it could? Seen any “Men need not apply” or “No Caucasians” or “Non-citizens only” help wanted signs? Me neither. Maybe it’s this bubble I’ve been living in. Oh, wait, haven’t seen the furious cries of outrage that would accompany any of those, either. Hrrmmm.
But if you expose a population to something over and over and over, a tolerance builds up. A resistance, that protects that population from the something it is being misexposed and overexposed to. That is how new antibiotic resistance comes into being. The surviving germs survived… and then the next set will be all from those survivors, and a higher percentage will survive the same treatment. This repeats until the resistance is so effective that the antibiotic is ineffective.
It’s not quite the same for people, as ideas tend not to be immediately fatal – even the astonishingly bad ideas. Systems can develop resistance as well, and society is system or a collection of systems. There is a new theory of Type 2 diabetes emerging, that the problem is insulin itself. The current standard treatment deals with one symptom – high blood sugar, which is more than just a symptom and is a real problem, but doesn’t address the immediate (yes, something else has to start the initial insulin resistance) root cause. “Insulin resistance protects the cell against… insulin.” is how at least one doctor sums it up. More insulin leads to more resistance, which means yet more insulin for treatment, and yet greater resistance in a vicious cycle. Some new treatments are being tried that reduce blood sugar without increased insulin. There is hope that this might break the cycle and have better outcomes – but it’s not common practice, nor the “received wisdom” yet.
Resistance protects the population or system from whatever is being resisted. In that theory of Type 2 Diabetes, the population of cells uses insulin resistance to protect itself from insulin. The cells are stuffed full of glucose and here comes insulin insisting they take in yet more. What to do? Bar the doors and increase the resistance. In antibiotic resistance, germs develop protection from antibiotics. And in our society, we are developing resistance to words that once meant things, but their misuse and overuse has robbed, or is robbing, them of power.
Consider that in the 1970’s and 1980’s an accusation of racism was a potent thing, a near nuclear attack on character. In recent years the end of the power of the word wasn’t the election of a black President, at least not directly. The end of the power was the stimulus-response accusation by many that any disagreement with that President was purely and only racist and not a genuine disagreement on policy. If everybody is a racist, nobody is a racist.
Other issues also happened. Gamergate. Sad Puppies. And perhaps others still, but each had nasty accusations that bore no relation to the actual issues being raised. And the result? Immunity, resistance develops. It’s not much at first and it’s rough going, but the result of wave after after wave of misuses and overuse is that more and more see that is indeed misuse and overuse.
And now we have many using the terms xenophobe, misogynist, sexist, fascist, and Nazi. The result is that those words, too, will lose their power as the targeted population becomes ever more resistant to them and regards them no longer as a danger, but as meaningless drivel, or even a joke. “That’s racist!” has already been used as a joke and is its own punchline. The R-bomb has been defused by its very wielders. To them, I have only this to say: Thank you.
There is another problem. That is that having rendered the words powerless, what happens should the actual evils they originally described truly manifest? As some abuse one linguistic “antibiotic” after the next, they each become impotent in turn. The overused and abused tool dulls. The disease can then run away, controlled or contained only by whatever lingering immune response society has left. Despite hysterical claims, that is NOT the case right now. Yeah, to those doing this and making future problems much harder to solve, thank you – for nothing. Great job, throwing all the antibiotics around for something not even a cold. There should be a statue to your stupidity, for it is monumental. Thank you!