Uber Panic

The killing spree by a Uber driver in Kalamazoo will doubtless reinforce efforts by various municipalities to tighten the screws on Uber, Lyft, and similar operations. (Lemonade stands are probably in for a bad summer, too.)

After all, if one Uber driver kills people, all Uber drivers must be suspected of harboring homicidal tendencies. By that logic, many occupations and preoccupations should be more tightly regulated; for example:

Actor. Remember John Wilkes Booth?

Artist. Jackson Pollock wasn’t the only person who died when he wrecked his car.

Fan. Selena wasn’t the only celebrity to be killed by one.

Phlebotomist. Jeffrey Dahmer was one.

Democrat or Jaycee. Dahmer’s soulmate John Wayne Gacy was both.

Ph.D. student. That’s James Holmes.

I could come up with many more examples, but you get the idea: All X are bad because _____ is an X and he is bad.

 

The “Marketplace” of Ideas

Markets are physical or virtual places in which individuals and firms buy and sell products and services, sometimes competing directly and always indirectly. (Even a so-called monopolist must compete for the consumer’s dollar.) A market transaction occurs when a buyer gives a seller something of value in exchange for a product or service.

Some commenters have suggested that there’s no marketplace of ideas. They’re right, insofar as there’s no exchange taking place — ideas for money or something else of value. But there are competitions among ideas. Those competitions involve active vendors of ideas (e.g., religious, political, scientific), who vie for adherents, even though the vendors may receive no payment from their adherents.

Unlike true markets, where competition usually eliminates sellers whose products and services are found wanting, the competition of ideas often leads to the broad acceptance of superstitions, crackpot notions, and plausible but mistaken theories. These often find their way into government policy, where they are imposed on citizens and taxpayers for the psychic benefit of politicians and bureaucrats and the monetary benefit of their cronies.

The “marketplace” of ideas is replete with vendors who are crackpots, charlatans, and petty tyrants. They run rampant in the media, academia, and government.

Caveat emptor.

Dumb-Ass Logic

Will Wilkinson, writing about some idiots who inhabit Cato Institute, notes that their

case for Bernie Sanders is simply that Bernie Sanders wants to make America more like Denmark, Canada, or Sweden … and the citizens of those countries enjoy more liberty than Americans do. No other candidate specifically aims to make the United States more closely resemble a freer country. That’s it. That’s the case.

Here’s the problem with that “logic”: You can’t take a country that has a lower index of freedom than Denmark, Canada, Sweden, etc., and make it freer by making it more socialistic. The citizens of those other countries enjoy as much freedom as they do in spite of — not because of — their socialistic institutions.

Luckily (I think), president Bernie would face a Republican-controlled Congress. Though the actual will and ability of Republicans to oppose big government has become highly suspect.

Society

If anything irritates me more than political correctness, left-wing cant, and thoughtless drivers it’s reification. By that I mean the practice of treating broad classes of things (e.g., Americans, voters) as if all members of the class harbored the same views and acted in concert.

Reification is manifested in such expressions as “the national will,” “the American character,” “the wishes of the electorate,” and (perhaps most egregiously) “society.” All such constructions submerge individual differences and suggest degrees of agreement and connectedness that simply do not apply to large masses of people.

Take “society” (please!). How many times have I read “We as a society have decided…” such-and-such about a government policy? Too many times. “Society” decides nothing about government policy. Politicians, bureaucrats, influential elites, and voting blocs set government policy.

Why arbitrarily constrict “society” to the geographic boundaries of the United States? If “society” consists of the myriad cultures, religions, social classes, economic classes, occupational classes, neighborhoods, churches, clubs, etc., etc., etc., that are comprised in the United States, it wouldn’t be a stretch to add Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean nations — and perhaps the whole Western Hemisphere — to the mix. In fact, given the vastly varied origins of Americans, it wouldn’t be a stretch to add the whole world to the mix.

There you have it: “Society” is synonymous with the population of Earth.

Doesn’t that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside? Well, it might if you’re a muddle-headed lefty or a wishy-washy centrist who likes to think nice thoughts.

Here’s a way to squelch that warm, fuzzy feeling. Think about the people you don’t and wouldn’t associate with, and ask yourself (honestly) if you consider them to be members of the society to which you belong — the people with whom you associate because have much in common, including mutual trust and respect.

If you’re a lefty or a left-sympathizer (e.g., a well-off person with more money than sense), can you honestly say that your society includes, for example, ghetto gang-bangers or rural rednecks? I’ll bet that your honest answer is no. And while you’re on an honesty kick, you can probably list a lot of other types that you wouldn’t include in your society.

So, let’s quit talking about “society” and start talking about what really happens to our money and liberty when politicians, bureaucrats, influential elites, and voting blocs gang up on the oppressed majority.

Pop Logic

If you’re old enough to fight, you’re old enough to vote.

An 18-year-old is strong and full of energy — just what a foot-soldier should be. An 18-year old is impetuous and usually has little in the way of income, property, or investments to protect — just what a voter should not be. (Voting should be restricted to persons aged 30 or older who have income, property, and investments to protect.)

It’s okay to (insert crime or egregious behavior here) because others have done the same thing.

This is an attempt to absolve a person or group favored by the speaker or writer. By the same logic, the favored person or group could be absolved of murder. This kind of “logic” is often used to excuse the behavior of politicians (e.g., Hillary Clinton) and to justify reverse discrimination (e.g., “Whites got away with X, so it’s okay for blacks to do X.”)

Abortion should be allowed until X weeks, when a fetus becomes viable.

If the certainty of survival determines whether a human being should live or die, the human race should be exterminated because everyone is doomed to die eventually.

The death penalty doesn’t deter murder and should therefore be abolished.

It is because of such sentiments that the death penalty is no longer a common or certain punishment for murder, and therefore less of a deterrent than it used to be. Moreover, the death penalty is properly justified as a punishment. Its deterrent effect is secondary.

The death penalty is barbaric and should be abolished.

Murder is barbaric, and murderers should be executed so that they can’t murder again. And if potential murderers get the message, so much the better.

It is far more costly to enforce the death penalty than it is to keep a murderer in prison.

That’s because the cringing opponents of the death penalty have made it costly to enforce.

“Migrants” (the PC term for illegal immigrants) are human beings, and should be allowed to enter our country freely.

It’s true that illegal immigrants are human beings. The real question is whether immigration law should be changed by Congress (and not by executive fiat). By the “logic” of those who favor unlimited immigration, murderers (who are human beings, after all) should be allowed to murder with impunity.

Borders are arbitrary and shouldn’t restrict the movement of people who want to better themselves.

That’s okay if you know whether everyone who’s crossing a border is doing so to better himself — and not at the government-enforced expense of others. And if borders are arbitrary, why should you call the police if someone trespasses on your property and steals from you?

The “rich” should pay their fair share of taxes.

A person who says this is ignorant of the fact that the “rich” (i.e., those who earn high incomes) pay an overwhelming share of taxes. And he probably doesn’t consider himself to be among the “rich,” who are “those people” who earn more than he does.

I’m “rich,” and my taxes aren’t high enough.

The government accepts voluntary contributions. What you probably mean is that the government should raise taxes on the “rich,” presumably to give more money to the “poor.” Which suggests that you’re not rich because you’re smart. If you were smart, you’d know that government keeps a big chunk of taxes to pay above-market salaries to government workers and contractors. The poor would be better off if you and like-minded “rich” persons just sent your emissaries among the “poor” and handed out money. Or perhaps you don’t understand that the money which you spend and invest creates jobs that help to lift up the “poor” and end their dependency. Self-reliance is to be nurtured by job creation, not discouraged by handouts. But, as I said, you’re probably among the dumb “rich” — if not among the guilt-ridden (for no reason) or emotionally addled (i.e., functionally dumb) “rich.”

I like politician X because he’s becoming more popular.

That’ the implicit reasoning behind the bandwagon effect. For example, some people go from “undecided” between X and Y to “favor X over Y,” and it shows up in the polls. This leads the wishy-washy — bereft of principle and wanting to be on the right side of a trend — to join the movement toward X. And because of that more of the wishy-washy join the movement. And so on. The wishy-washy don’t necessarily prefer X and Y for an ascertainable reason, they just like to be on the winning side.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Sorry, but as much as I favor an almost-unlimited right to bear arms,* I can’t swallow that one whole. Unless you’re a witch or wizard, you can’t kill a person by pointing a finger at him. Guns do (often) kill people when people with guns point them (or not) and pull the trigger. And I daresay that most of the killings are intentional. Further, it’s likely that there would be fewer murders (though probably more crimes, overall) if there were fewer guns around. It’s psychologically and physically easier to kill someone with a gun than with a knife, a baseball bat, a garrotte, or bare hands. But even if guns were outlawed, I — like millions of other Americans who own unregistered weapons — wouldn’t give up my gun. Technically, that would make outlaws of me and the other millions, thus validating the motto “If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” But we would hold onto our guns to protect ourselves from the real outlaws — those who use guns to harm, rob, and coerce others.
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* I draw the line at persons who have been convicted of felonies against persons and property, loonies, idiots, and minors. I don’t draw the line at type of weapon — anything goes.

People who oppose preferences for blacks (e.g., unmerited job offers and university admissions for the sake of “diversity”) are racist; people who oppose homosexual “marriage” and preferences for homosexuals are homophobic; and people who disagree with politically correct positions, such as preferences for blacks and homosexuals, are hateful.

All such statements are cheap rhetorical tricks, played by people who don’t want to confront the real issues; for example:

  • the harm done to non-blacks and homosexuals (and members of  those groups, as well) by preferential treatment
  • the harm done to traditional marriage by the state’s encouragement of nontraditional marriage
  • the predictable harm to property rights, freedom of association, freedom of speech, and the rights of non-preferred groups that follows inevitably from preferential treatment for any preferred group
  • the harm done to civilizing social norms by the disparagement of traditional norms, such as heterosexual marriage and advancement based on merit.

But blacks, homosexuals, etc., are victims.

So, it’s all right to victimize whites, Asians, heterosexuals, etc., but not blacks, homosexuals, etc. (For the tone-deaf, that’s a rhetorical statement, not a claim.)