Print Story poor people going to college
By gzt (Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 04:10:44 PM EST) gzt, walking, deadline, college, poor people, nozick, kim jong un (all tags)
The top decile of performers on standardized tests who are in the bottom quartile of income hardly apply to selective colleges at all. However, those that do get in at about the same rate as others and enroll and graduate at the same rate. See here:

Part of the reason is that they don't know they can do this, don't know that they will be given generous aid, and don't know anybody else who's done this. Note the table: the "most competitive" schools, if you get in, will be the cheapest for the student to attend. It's not an affordability issue. Of course, you know, it's nice work if you can get it, attending a "most competitive" school.

Kind of annoyed: have a test scheduled for next week in the evening, but they're thinking of moving it. I can't plan other stuff if the test could be put on some other random date.

I can definitely see DOMA getting struck down. Prop 8 seems less likely - it's hard to get rid of it without legalizing gay marriage in all the states and I don't see the Supreme Court doing so just yet. But it's very surprising how fast public opinion has been moving on this in the past 2 years. Opposition is crumbling fast.

I was planning on walking to campus today, but lost track of time and didn't have time to make it before my class. However, I also didn't have time to catch the bus, so I walked and was late. It takes, like, 35-40 minutes at a normal walking pace. I plan to do this a bit more often now that the weather is getting better. It takes maybe 15 minutes by bus, so if I have to kill much time to wait for the bus, this is approx equivalent. But I don't want to do this on days where I'm carrying my gym bag in addition to my backpack.

Nozick abandoned his extreme Wilt Chamberlain libertarian argument by the 80s - are there any real libertarian moral philosophers anymore? I don't mean to imply that dmg's assertion that he is an island is in any way disreputable without an argument to the contrary, as Nozick's arguments are still popular even if he didn't like them anymore by the time he died, but is anybody significant still championing the idea?

Took a prospective student to lunch the other day. She's choosing between here and a couple other places - frankly, with her other choices, I'd think hard about choosing the one that starts with M over this one, but that's just because they are working hard on the machine learning/statistics interface. I probably should have applied there last year, but I heard that last year they essentially didn't accept anybody and I think the deadline was wrong for me. And I'm happy here - familial considerations were also a concern. But her interests might be different from mine, so, you know, there you go. "Regardless of who knocked her over, police had no right to chase Juaquez into the home without a warrant when all he was doing was video recording them from across the street." If whatever the guy was doing was enough for the police to arrest him, they could certainly follow him into the house without a warrant when he fled.,31821

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poor people going to college | 37 comments (37 topical, 0 hidden)
sadly, poor students tend to be unattractive by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 07:11:31 PM EST
and unable to obtain the advantageous marriages necessary to establish an elite legacy. instead, they find themselves in dead end careers in the arts or social work and fail to move the ball forward for the communities they come from. at their fifteen year high school reunions, their classmates look at their cheap suits and dresses, their chain smoking and downtrodden expressions and whisper to each other "hey, didn't she go to yale or something?" -- and conclude that their careers as bank clerks, insurance salesmen, and workers at the local software mill were shrewd alternatives whose virtues would be well recommended to their children.

re: gay marriage, one shouldn't underestimate the extent to which the poll movement is driven by people realizing it's politically viable and soon to be a done deal, versus the axe with which karl rove dug another trillion dollars of war and suffering out of the backs of the american middle class. then of course, there're the business oriented conservatives realizing their ticket to four more years is about to go down in history as yet another shameful episode in social conservatism. it's looking like in retrospect, the issue will be so clear-cut that opponents will be viewed in a similar light as those who argued the biblical provenance of slavery.

dead end careers in the arts or social work by gzt (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 07:33:16 PM EST
that's hardly the fault of their marriages, is it?

[ Parent ]
sure it is. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:00:41 PM EST
for example, an ivy leaguer interested in social work who marries into a good situation may instead become a politician. an artist who marries into a good situation may not have a dead end career or may not end up being a chain smoker in a dress from the burlington coat factory at her high school reunion.

of course, these outcomes are possible without the advantageous marriage, but that's hardly the rule.

[ Parent ]
If I understand correctly by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:11:00 PM EST
you're saying any major outside a STEM major is worthless, a waste of time and money, unless you're part of the elites. Such majors should be restricted to community colleges and land grant universities for poor folk.

[ Parent ]
plenty of 'STEM' majors are worthless, by the mariner (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:19:10 PM EST
but that's beside the point. i'm just saying the poor can't get a break, even if they do go to a real university.

[ Parent ]
the mariner is right, of course by nathan (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 09:11:46 PM EST
Look at me. I dropped out of a top 5 doctoral program in the fine arts because the prospects of a 60-40 shot at a $38k/year job as a prof at a rural Bible institute weren't appealing. My wife finished hers and she got to have the dubious pleasure of supporting us by teaching at two really bad universities while I was getting my law degree. I made almost as much teaching GMAT 6 hours/week as a 2L as she did teaching "full time" (i.e., a few hours short of full time at each school since that way, the fervently liberal college administration got to avoid paying benefits).

If I'd married money, there's no way I'd be at work at 9 pm on a Tuesday. I'd be a prof with a private income enjoying the best of both worlds: an intellectually stimulating job where you don't have a boss and you can phone it in once you've got tenure, and enough money not to buy my clothes at Goodwill.

I'd have been much better off if I'd realized at 25 that, while I had the talent and personality for academia, I didn't have the social or family advantages that a successful academic or artistic career usually requires. That's for my kid, possibly, if I'm successful enough and can afford to pay his Manhattan rent or w/e until he makes it big, but it isn't for me.

[ Parent ]
college administrators are the same reptiles by the mariner (4.00 / 1) #32 Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:52:44 AM EST
responsible for everything else that is unwholesome and wrong in america. don't be fooled by their positions on diversity, etc. this is particularly true of the, shall we say, shittier institutions out there.

[ Parent ]
as to community college, by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:46:35 PM EST
land grant university, and bible college graduates in "STEM" fields -- let's take the land granters to establish an upper bound. let's take a 23 year old land granter with a degree in electrical engineering (one of the better "STEM" fields) versus a 21 year old journeyman electrician from where-ever-the-fuck midwest shithole. the EE major has better long term career prospects in theory, but he also has student debt -- probably not that much since he grew up in a corn field not too far from the university. he better have done a fair amount of free or almost free work as a "college student"/intern to get a chance at a job doing any kind of actual engineering. he ends up doing a job whose title would've had the word "technician" in it twenty years ago at a disappointing wage.

the journeyman gets paid roughly the same amount throughout his career, starts debt free, and never thinks about the big things he thought he'd do when he was a freshman. meanwhile, the EE kid never meets the interesting people or encounters the challenging ideas that make college worthwhile, because he went to natty light u. he moves to some shitty suburb and votes republican for the rest of his life.

of course, the elite student wouldn't bother with EE because it would be too much like trade school.

[ Parent ]
Can't agree with you. by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 10:41:39 PM EST
BSEE University of Maryland. I don't think any community colleges around here included EE. UMBC (which looks a lot like a community college when taking summer courses and likely lacks what you are talking about) may have offered the first couple of years of engineering, but I think you had to transfer to College Park after that.

I'm really wondering what I could be missing in terms of "interesting people or big things". Enormous State Universities have pretty much any opportunity you can name (including coasting through without seeing any of it) and that probably hurt my GPA more than a bit. I will admit that my financial situation would have been better if I had gone the electrician route* even without the construction boom. I was going to go with Nathan and agree with you, but this seems a little far out on a limb.


*Assuming I could do it: my father has no Mr.Goodwrench genes to pass onto me. I can act as a pretty skilled technician (couldn't when I graduated) but the thought of plastering over any electrical work scares the bejesus out of me (I didn't hit many of lm's** "man's gotta do" list).

**Wasn't it Technician's list that only lm qualified for?

[ Parent ]
i know it and you know it. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 07:43:30 PM EST
mariner is trolling. Of course EE from wherever is fine.

[ Parent ]
sure, but so is trade school, right? by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #31 Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:48:08 AM EST

[ Parent ]
I don't mean to speculate about anyone's priors or by nathan (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:42:37 PM EST
commitments, either in this diary or elsewhere.

I will say, however, that it comes across as damned odd when people who would have no trouble assenting to "free will is an illusion", "there is no absolute morality" and "evolution has no direction" (not to mention "looks like Thomas Nagel's lost his marbles") start talking about history as though it is stage-managed by a benevolent teleological force. It seems to me that, if someone's commitments include the first three phrases in quotes in the previous sentence, it's just not consistent to say that the present majority has discerned a moral truth and that we have therefore, as a society, become morally better than we were before. The best she can say, "Society has, happily, temporarily turned in a direction that accords with my moral intuitions, though admittedly they aren't binding on everyone since it's meaningless to claim that they are 'true' (or 'false') or that, indeed, there is such a thing as a transcendently true belief that can compel assent from all reasonable, informed people".

[ Parent ]
what is there to transcend? by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 07:39:35 AM EST
has american society grasped a moral truth it did not grasp in 2004? this is not a question of such depth and complexity involving such remote comparisons that a universal, absolute frame of reference is required to address it. people who email the latest from national review online out to their christian fellowship study group are not from another time or culture, whatever they might like to believe. judging them within the context of the time and place they live is not out of bounds, their cries to the contrary notwithstanding. right or wrong, it's not beavis and butthead vs. totemism to take a clear stance re: gay marriage.

in the united states, there is a standard, whether you call it moral or not: are people raising grievances about their treatment under law being addressed in accordance with basic founding principles? or is popular prejudice preventing that from happening? right now things are moving decidedly toward the former and there is a real sense in which that is progress. in america, all reaonable, informed people are not compelled to assent, but history will be their judge.

[ Parent ]
consensus is a reed by nathan (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 09:02:28 AM EST
people who email the latest from national review online out to their christian fellowship study group are not from another time or culture, whatever they might like to believe. judging them within the context of the time and place they live is not out of bounds... [emphasis mine]

I agree that there is demonstrably an established or at least emerging consensus favoring same-sex marriage. This is a recent development -- 40 years ago, it would have been a sub-1% fringe view since the secular mainstream left was quite anti-gay. (I'm too lazy to do my homework with Ngram and provide links, but that's never stopped me from posting before. But all you have to do to see this is right is to look at what Marxists and Freudians thought about homosexuality.)

From a legal positivist point of view, appeal to consensus is a conversation-stopper; elections have consequences and the "wrong side of history" is whatever the majority says it is. In that sense, you're right that these loathsome Christian study group reptiles are on the wrong side of the emerging consensus and are thus losers, dead-enders, dead but haven't realized it yet, etc. They are out of step with their time and their time will destroy them. The problem is that this cuts both ways -- 200 years ago there was a consensus in favor of slavery, executing sodomites, etc. The "context of their place and time" is the only way in which people are judged as the history they live in unfolds, but as you have shown yourself, this has a way of getting out from under you.
in america, all reaonable, informed people are not compelled to assent, but history will be their judge.
Would you be as confident in the judgments of history if you did not believe that there was a historical trend going your way? (And mine -- I was for same-sex marriage before it was cool, on freedom of association/no bare animus/as a professional artist, half my friends were gay grounds). What I'm saying is that there's no reason to assume that the future will be ever more liberal forever and ever, amen.
has american society grasped a moral truth it did not grasp in 2004?

I think it partly has and partly hasn't. To the extent that Americans have decided that gay people deserve the rights they are demanding, it has. To the extent that Americans have decided that marriage is just NBD, it hasn't and it's just reveling in cheap sentiment: "See, we are one step closer to achieving the end-point of Whig history." Without sympathizing with bigots qua bigots, I think we have to ask ourselves where resistance to gay marriage was coming from.

Same-sex marriage emerged as an issue at a time when the family as an institution was going to pieces. The conflict over it is partly about full civil rights for gay people and partly about our anxiety over the weakening of marriage and family generally. (As I'm sure you know, over 40% of American children are now born out of wedlock, and for every such child whose parents are long-term cohabiting Scandinavian style, there are a dozen whose family situations are simply chaotic messes). The anxiety is proper, though of course stigmatizing and scapegoating gay people is a dumb, cruel and futile response. But are we as a society even capable of acknowledging the collapse of family? The fact that it's elicited a dumb, cruel response doesn't mean that there's no underlying problem, it just means that some of the people who are trying to express their anxieties found a bigoted and stupid way of doing so (probably because they are not very bright and they are targeted by demagogues).

A society with collapsing family structures is not a society that's on the road to liberal utopia. We only have a liberal society because we can afford it and, since weakening families undermines the next generation, it makes both reaction and further economic decay more likely. Anti-gay prejudice is a recurring intuition that needs to be addressed by education and socialization. Kids who grow up "street" or "trailer park" are not likely to grow up the way we'd like.

[ Parent ]
it's not about consensus. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 09:57:45 AM EST
the founding principles of the united states point a way forward in any each era of american history. they are opposed by rather similar forces in each encounter between standing tradition/law and claims of new rights and freedoms. equality under law establishes a dynamic that has a powerful moral character. so the nro reader is not merely on the wrong side of consensus or history in my view.

as for gay marriage circa 2004, the point was precisely that it was cruel and stupid. in a country where political discourse is dominated by specialists in strategic communications, polling, focus groups, and so forth, you're remarkably willing to ascribe complex social awareness to political sentiment against out-groups. the collapsing family is surely a problem, but it has nothing to do with gay marriage or hollywood. it has to do with the objective decline in the material circumstances of low to middle income people in the US and, to a lesser extent, liberalization of divorce laws, perverse incentives in the social welfare system, etc. this talk about debasement of culture and so forth is largely a piece of cleverness used to avoid addressing the underlying issues of education, employment opportunity, law enforcement etc. that are the bottom of family disintegration. as you're fond of saying, the marriage situation among those doing well does not seem to be suffering at all. this is telling, since they are exposed to the same supposed cultural evils.

in other words, even if it were true that opposition to gay marriage was just a product of misguided but understandable concern about the state and evolution of the american family, it would still nothing more than misdirection calculated to head off any growth in the size of the public sector.

[ Parent ]
it's not just in America by nathan (2.00 / 0) #16 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 12:05:15 PM EST
the founding principles of the united states point a way forward in any each era of american history.

How is it that same-sex marriage was all over the world in 2010 even though it was nowhere in 1970? Forget America for a second, it is legal in Holland, Canada, Argentina, Israel (sort of), Iceland... Perhaps this is just due to Americanization, but that seems backward since it would entail arguing that Iceland is more American than America is. Americans who support it today may do so in a peculiarly American way, but TBQH non-gay allies seem, to me at least, to support it on human rights and human dignity grounds and to support their gay friends, not with reference to any uniquely American principles. (This is distinct from the specific constitutional questions raised, but in America, that doesn't really matter because given a sufficient majority, you can rewrite the Constitution freely; most people frame the issues in moral, not legal terms).

If you want to step back a bit and to argue, more broadly, that liberal principles necessarily entail same-sex marriage even if earlier liberals didn't realize it because they lived in more illiberal societies, then you're arguing for teleology. There's a hidden term in there: "liberalism must increase and triumph". Absent that, there's no particular reason to expect future societies to be more liberal than ours. This was the point of my original post: it's weird to hear people talk earnestly about the randomness of life, the illusion of free will and the parochialism of universal morality and then to turn around and say that providence has decreed same-sex marriage. OK, fine, they don't say that, but they do say things like "wrong side of history", which amount to the same thing once you take them to be normative rather than descriptive.
the collapsing family is surely a problem, but it has nothing to do with gay marriage or hollywood.
Hence "cruel, stupid, futile", as I said. And, as you noted, the presence of demagogues. Where there is existential anxiety, it would be strange if demagogues did not turn up like vermin in a granary. And I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to paint me as some kind of loon blaming "Hollywood" for the collapse of the family.

All that said, I'm not at all sure that many mainstream American liberals would agree that (1) the family is collapsing or (2) if so, that this is a bad thing. Why don't you post a diary on DKos arguing that we need to shore up the nuclear family? $5 says you'll get modded down pretty quick. I don't attribute this to ill will, all I'm saying is that it's an important issue that is getting worse fast and no one is talking about sensibly. (I wish that I could talk about it without instantly being associated with televangelist types).
it has to do with the objective decline in the material circumstances of low to middle income people in the US and, to a lesser extent, liberalization of divorce laws, perverse incentives in the social welfare system, etc.

People were a hell of a lot poorer in 1930 (or 1830). Have a look at some period photos. The working class were lean as rails and they owned about two sets of clothes a head. But the illegitimacy rate was in the low single digits and much higher proportions of kids grew up in two-parent homes.

That aside, standards of living have got to decline at some point -- our present rates of consumption cannot be sustained. Since the family is declining as it is, are you saying that we might as well just cut our own throats now since it will soon be in free fall?
you're remarkably willing to ascribe complex social awareness to political sentiment against out-groups.

You're remarkably willing to write off 150 million people as evil bigots who are educated stupid. With most political issues, there are good and bad people on both sides, even if there is one side that's clearly right. I'm interested in understanding why good people are on the wrong side of this issue. Of course, if your position is that there are no good people on the wrong side of this issue, there's nothing more to talk about.

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Back in my youth by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #18 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 01:38:42 PM EST
I read way to many books by Robert Heinlein. One of them was a collection of stories called Expanded Universe that included a section called "Where To" which was various predictions about the year 2000 made in 1950, with updates in the 1960s and 1980 (possibly earlier, but it was published in 1980). I remember only a few of them were terribly cautious (I think one happened about 1960, probably something about jet air travel), but by 1980 a few of them were still standing. RAH insisted that despite all evidence, he would stand on Communism falling (seemed more on principle than real hope). The bit about claiming that the car had been the biggest change in the US seemed pretty interesting, along with the "there is something out there that will be just as big. We don't know what it is, unless it is the computer chip".

The reason I bring all this up is that his primary theme about the future was "marriage is doomed". I think he would be pretty shocked by the idea that the only change would be which two people would join (he envisioned groups of each sex*), but he certainly nailed the idea that people could change such a fundamental concept, and soon.


* Not sure how much was fan service and how much was Mary Sueism to have multiple lovelies falling all over "RAH", but I think he was serious about the mutability of marriage. Note that he wasn't quite alone, and I remember a sci-fi lit class where a [female] student seemed to think a fixed year contract mentioned would be more stable than the "death to us part" than the [female] instructor thought (I'm guessing the book, Childhood's End, was more a product of the instructor's generation even if Arthur C. Clark was quite a bit older).

[ Parent ]
he talks about "chain marriage" etc. in by nathan (2.00 / 0) #19 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 01:48:13 PM EST
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

[ Parent ]
And most of by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 02:30:43 PM EST
his post-stroke works. Friday was in one, I'm pretty sure Time enough for Love had a few. I think Sail beyond the Sunset was set in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, so not there. I suppose it would have been too easy on the New Martian Church to have the yokels accepting the group's "sharing water" as a "real marriage". I'm not sure if it was various Author's notes or part of "Where To", but RAH certainly spilled a lot of ink over the future of marriage. No idea if this had anything to do with divorces in 1930 and 1947.


PS. The internet has moved on. Googling "RAH" doesn't give any links to Heinlein on the first page.

[ Parent ]
i don't generally comment on europe etc. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #22 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 05:34:16 PM EST
though i certainly respect their unique cultural context(s). i'm content to confine my commentary to american public life.

it may be true as you say that it is difficult to get a hearing about family oriented issues from liberals. when you see the prominent political organizations associated with phrases like "the decline of the family" are focus on the family and the family research council, you get an idea of why that might be. advocacy of these issues has a rather checkered past. this talk about the family has been the political cover for some of the most noxious bigotry in american politics for decades now.

if this talk about the family were serious, it would come from people making proposals involving money. instead, it's about banning things, eliminating programs, not teaching this or that. most people at daily kos have probably (correctly, in my view) concluded that any movement on "the family" will simply empower groups with an agenda that has few socially redeeming features.

so you want to know why good people are on the wrong side of the issues of the day? it's because bad people know things about the good people that make them useful. the bad people know that the good people are full of hatred, anxiety, and simple ignorance. all they have to do is push the right buttons. i really doubt that anxiety has much to do with illegitimacy rates, by the way.

if you ask me, the anxiety and anger that fuels this culture war horseshit is really about the supreme court saying some quakers and catholics were right to say their kids shouldn't have to recite protestant-flavored prayers in school (of course, this quickly morphed into complaints from jews and atheists), some dude from baltimore saying creationists in tennessee are superstitious hicks, so forth. it really is a dark and shameful thing that's not very sophisticated.

i wouldn't say i write off these people. i'm saying they're unsophisticated rubes and they ought to know it. it's bizarre that we're in a political environment where we're afraid to say it and we pretend there must be some other explanation. why do so many people feel the constant need to be reassured that they can have a christmas tree visible from a public road?

[ Parent ]
no offense, man, but that's a punt. by nathan (2.00 / 0) #24 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 06:37:42 PM EST
i'm content to confine my commentary to american public life.

Same-sex marriage is rapidly becoming legal all over the world. It's an international movement. You can't credibly say that this is simply the working out of the dialectic of liberty implicit in the American constitution since it seems to be happening exactly the same way here as everywhere: people everywhere are discovering that they have no moral objection.

What I've been trying to say for several posts now (a modest claim, surely) is that this new morality that everyone seems to be feeling might be kind and broad-minded, but it isn't very coherent. But whatever, no one seems to want to talk about that, so I'll drop it.
this talk about the family has been the political cover for some of the most noxious bigotry in american politics for decades now.
I don't find this line of argument very impressive. It's like a pro-life activist saying, "Since liberals want a large state and no restrictions on abortion, we have to oppose all enlargement of the state", a statement that's practically self-refuting when put that way. If liberals, as you claim, have decided to collectively ignore the illegitimacy and family-collapse issues because of James Dobson, that's tremendously irresponsible and petty of them/us.

Not to disparage single or non-traditional parents who give 110% and raise great kids, but statistically the outcomes among kids of broken homes are really bad. After controlling for other factors, they're at much greater risk of drug addiction, rape and molestation, homelessness, whatever negative social indicators you want to talk about.

I don't think that ultra-right bigotry advocacy groups are the only people talking about this on the right, either. We've talked before about Heather MacDonald (I went and read a bunch of her stuff after we talked about it, actually) and Charles Murray recently published a book on this topic (that I haven't read).

As I said in my previous post, I don't think it's a principally economic issue either, since modern American families are less stable than those of people in much poorer countries or those of Americans of past, poorer generations. And not to be facile, but it's just obvious that a family of two burger flippers is still better off than a single burger-flipping mom (at least barring perverse incentives in the tax and aid systems, but I dont' think the incentives are that perverse). The Family Research Council is not going to fix this problem, but I don't think liberals even want to think about it, and the liberal explanations that I'm accustomed to hearing -- for instance, that it's because there are no good jobs for poor people -- just don't pass the sniff test.

Also, I think there are a relatively small number of relatively well-off liberals who see themselves as enlightened bohemians unconstrained by outmoded patriarchal institutions, etc. You aren't going to turn on law professors or Katie Roiphe or w/e by talking about the need to stabilize the underclass through strengthening the nuclear family. Many would sneer, "Better off without it," which makes me wonder how much they really care about poor people. I don't see a remotely comparable anti-family bloc on the right.
so you want to know why good people are on the wrong side of the issues of the day? it's because bad people know things about the good people that make them useful.
Presumably this isn't limited to cultural conservatives. Who's pulling liberals' strings, and to what end?
if you ask me, the anxiety and anger that fuels this culture war horseshit is really about the supreme court saying some quakers and catholics were right to say their kids shouldn't have to recite protestant-flavored prayers in school (of course, this quickly morphed into complaints from jews and atheists), some dude from baltimore saying creationists in tennessee are superstitious hicks, so forth. it really is a dark and shameful thing that's not very sophisticated.

But just about every country has some kind of a "conservative" movement. In Canada, for example, there's this weird split personality situation in the square provinces. On the one hand, they're where the national liberal movements came from (the NDP started off as a farmers' party and achieved its first big successes under Saskatchewan's Tommy Douglas, and for ages far-right Alberta was ruled by Social Credit, a Christian socialist movement under the leadership of "Bible Bill" Aberhart). On the other hand, they're the power base, at the federal level, of the hated Conservative Party. No one in British Columbia votes for Harper because of the Scopes Monkey Trial. You can fill in your own examples from wherever.

I realize I may be going a bit far afield, so let me summarize. (1) I think that social conservatism is not unique to the USA. (2) I think it's something that every industrialized country is experiencing in some form, and that it's brought about by dislocations common to them all. (3) I also don't think that social conservatives worldwide are a mix of genuinely evil people and terrified rubes being puppet-mastered by Karl Rove -- that seems exactly wrong since in most countries, the conservative parties and movements are grass-roots organizations. (For instance, the Conservative Party of Canada is only about 10 years old and the core of its membership came from the genuinely grass-roots Reform Party, a protest party that was basically ginned up by one guy and his disciples beginning in rural Alberta. In Europe, new right-wing parties, many of them deplorable, are constantly coming out of the weeds these days). (4) I don't think it's productive to just tell people over and over that they're stupid bigots and rubes. Even if you're right on all counts, it's bad strategy. But beyond that, their complaints are at least of sociological interest -- even if you think that all the solutions they contemplate are sick, wrong and ineffective, shouldn't we at least listen out of diagnostic interest?
it's bizarre that we're in a political environment where we're afraid to say it and we pretend there must be some other explanation.

People are afraid to say all kinds of things these days. This is hardly limited to the left. Do you really feel that your speech is chilled? 

[ Parent ]
* intermission music * by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #30 Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 06:45:04 AM EST
the mariner will be engaged in international travel (not to europe) for the next 24 to 36 hours.

[ Parent ]
it's a post 9/11 world. by the mariner (2.00 / 0) #37 Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:30:25 AM EST
People are afraid to say all kinds of things these days. This is hardly limited to the left. Do you really feel that your speech is chilled?

it's always been the case that it is better for younger people in nearly any field to avoid even mild controversy. so, yes, like everyone, i feel my speech is chilled.

regarding global rubery, i do not say that country-fried idiocy is unique to america. i do say that good ol' country folk in america have a particularly dark history, though. (a history that is simpler than polite discourse lets on.) i do say that a lot of people with rather antisocial political agendas have made good for themselves mining the cultural deposits left by that history.

that matters to me. it's absurd that in a nominally advanced country, we see idiot op-ed's like this in which educated people feel the need to hm and haw, i can only hope dissimulating about their feelings on a matter brought forth by a member of the church of 19th century dianetics against the book-learnin' blasphemy at wtf state. rational public discussion, it seems, simply isn't possible anymore.

as to whether it's productive to call people rubes and bigots, the political winds feel hopeful on this score. it may finally be the case that barely disguised efforts to reject black votes actually hurt the perpetrators. maybe the sayings of the strip mall fathers re: rape are no longer winners.

meanwhile, as to the issue you raise, the decline of the family, it continues to be the case that no serious proposals are being made by the faction of the motherland. is it callous for liberals not to want to grab these issues with two hands and run with them? or do they run with them in their own way? does anyone really doubt that the progressive social agenda, including universal healthcare, would be good for the impoverished and families in general? (it seems to me this is precisely the fear on the right.) so liberals don't want to frame the discussion of social progress in terms of the family. neither would i. the subject as seen in the media is dominated by rabble-rousers, full of landmines and bomb throwers. culturally, the basic idea that divorce is bad for children is catching on, i think, so what else is there to say?

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I started my life in a trailer park by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 11:07:30 AM EST
while my parents attended a large land grant university and acquired government flour (which they used to mark out badmitton lines).

Look how well I turned out!

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I understand you, friend by nathan (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 12:12:44 PM EST
This is where I'm from:

I think things may have gotten a little more meth-y in the white underclass lately, if you'll forgive the pun. Hardening class lines, assortative marriage by income and education, w/e.

My point is, anyway, that homophobia is widespread among the extremely lumpen, and that a society with collapsing rates of marriage is therefore going to have more homophobia, not less.

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My kin are more wholesome by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #20 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 02:00:29 PM EST
they eschew meth for beer, lots of beer.

Except for the fancy pants salesman uncle who's into whiskey.

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I agree with much of that by lm (2.00 / 0) #26 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 07:43:47 PM EST
but this sticks in my craw, ``From a legal positivist point of view, appeal to consensus is a conversation-stopper'

LOL, wut?

Hint: legal positivism has jack-all to do with consensus.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
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I know what the term means, lm by nathan (2.00 / 0) #28 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 08:29:07 PM EST
That's one of those things they teach you in law school.

It's true that I skipped a step by not explicitly saying "a sufficiently broad consensus will typically be reflected in the laws adopted by a democratic state and, thus, from a positivist point of view, such a consensus is by definition 'right' once it is law." Strictly speaking, consensus doesn't end conversations from a positivist POV, but laws that are enacted by consensus do end conversations b/c (1) they are the law and (2) the existence of a consensus means they're probably going to remain the law going forward.

But I have faith in my readers.

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I don't buy either (1) or (2) by lm (4.00 / 1) #29 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 09:41:39 PM EST
(1) being law never ends the conversation with regards to positivism because the law can always be changed.

(2) it is questionable as to whether consensus means that something is going to remain law even in a democratic system.

But carry on.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
no kidding. by nathan (4.00 / 2) #33 Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:50:28 AM EST

re: 1 -- I didn't say that any consensus, once enshrined in law, forever barred the possibility of any future change or reverse, and I'm not sure why you'd think that I did say that. Obviously consensuses (odd-looking word) emerge and recede.

The sentence in which I said all this went on:

elections have consequences and the "wrong side of history" is whatever the majority says it is...

So once the majority has declared its views and taken action to enshrine them as positive law, the conversation is over. The whole point of positivism is that the law is whatever the sovereign says it is. In a democracy, a sufficiently large majority is sovereign, and today, there is an emerging majority that is enshrining same-sex marriage in law because of its moral views.

re: 2 -- of course it's questionable. My posts are long enough as it is, no one is paying me to write them, and if they get even longer and more discursive even fewer people will bother to read them. I'm not going to bother to include footnotes saying "all this, of course, is subject to the usual considerations, like the susceptibility of a lethargic minority to targeted activism, regulatory capture, w/e". I assume that everyone reading my posts is aware that there are many cases where writing laws by poll would produce different laws than those actually on the books.

Of course, that kind of hedging would be appropriate were I writing a scholarly piece. It would be appropriate to criticise even my tossed-off discussion board posts for not hedging were I arguing (deludedly) for the general principle that laws always reflect every consensus, however broad, transitory and tepid. But my claim was that a new, strongly-held consensus appears to have emerged in most developed (and some semi-developed) countries in the span of a generation, and that this consensus is in the process of being enacted into law in democracies all over the world. So pointing out that democracies don't always uphold all consensuses (there it is again) doesn't really speak to the issue: all over, majorities are now demanding something, the laws are changing to reflect this, and since these laws reflect the strongly-held views of the majority, the opposition is reduced to merely tactical resistance.

I also want to respond more generally. The way we casually use language is necessarily overbroad. Words like "always" and "never" always imply caveats unless you're writing a mathematical proof. Broad statements about fuzzier subjects will inevitably be subject to attack by counterexample or a showing of overbroadness unless they contain so much hedging that they become unreadable. But pointing this out doesn't accomplish very much. I don't want my posts to read like a 200-page credit agreement. I assume everyone I'm talking with is (1) aware that categorical statements have implicit caveats and (2) makes such categorical statements themselves all the time. So what do you really want me to do differently?

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one way the conversation could have gone by lm (4.00 / 1) #36 Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:36:21 AM EST
lm: this one point sticks in my craw
nathan: I can see that, my wording was less than precise

I think that's the way that casual conversation would have developed.

Instead the response was a rather condescending lecture.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
Yeah. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 08:16:03 AM EST
"Hot Pursuit" doctrine is supposed to be only applicable to felony offenses. Cops today are generally 'tards.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

No by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #13 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 09:57:28 AM EST
There are no good libertarian philosophers because libertarianism is morally bankrupt philosophy that has about as much chance in working in the real world has communism did.  It relies on everyone respecting the base principles, just like communism did.  And just like communism, it doesn't allow for populist movements that spawn dictators, people who will manipulate everything for money and power.

That also doesn't cover the morally flawed "fuck you I've got mine" nature of libertarianism. 

That being said, there are some ideas from libertarianism that we could consider.  but as a method of governance, pah.  If people could govern themselves and dictators didn't rise we wouldn't need democracy. 

Libertarianism, as it exists in the Republican party right now, is a new skin for pro-corporate behavior and fuck the poor.  Same old, same old, new name.

"So I will be hitting the snatch hard, I think, tonight." - gzt
But communism has some great philosophers by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #23 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 06:35:18 PM EST
Or at least one.

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Well by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #34 Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 12:43:46 PM EST
I can't argue with that. I just don't see any real brains behind libertarianism.  I see a movement motivated by greed and self-interest.  Neo-Conservatism 2.0.  They are even having purity problems within the movement right now.  Their message boards are full of "no true Scotsman" fallacies and witch hunts for Libertarian puritanism.

Lucky for us, movements like that always limit their own impact by being exclusionary.

"So I will be hitting the snatch hard, I think, tonight." - gzt
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What would by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #35 Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 03:27:06 PM EST
a "great libertarian brain" do? It still has the issue of not being a system that is functional when applied to Homo sapiens. My limited understanding of libertarian publication tends me to believe that it is little more than a pro-corporate lobbying front. Any "great libertarian brain" would have to create a maximally corporate friendly form of libertarianism to avoid being shouted down.


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I'm not convinced of that by lm (4.00 / 2) #27 Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 07:49:55 PM EST
The problem isn't so much that libertarianism has no philosophical backing per se. It's that other philosophies need to be brought in order to make a complete political philosophy.

As but one example, many libertarians subscribe to the Lockean view that use implies ownership. But this theory of ownership has nothing to do with liberty per se. There is nothing in liberty as a first principle that allows someone to derive even such a basic thing as property rights.

So what happens is that libertarianism as a popular movement becomes almost entirely divorced from the intellectual analysis of political theory.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
[ Parent ]
poor people going to college | 37 comments (37 topical, 0 hidden)