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The Conditions Under Which Progressives Will Lease Us to Businesses

One last minute bill in the Rhode Island General Assembly, H8324, may or may not be going anywhere, but it’s worth a look as an educational exercise.

Very simply, it would require any “hosting platform” (e.g., AirBnB) that allows people to “offer any property for tourist or transient use” to be responsible for making sure that the rentals are in compliance with state and local laws and regulations.  It would also require the platform operators to take a more active role in the collection and transfer of all relevant taxes.

This little change in law, affecting a narrow portion of a single industry in the state, carries some important questions of the sort that we don’t consider thoroughly enough.  What is the nature of commerce?  Who works for whom?  Who has responsibility for whom?

From a free-market perspective that starts with the individual as the origin of all economic activity, the property owners are responsible for the product that they are offering, and the hosting platforms work for them.  Because they are the constituents of state and local government, they have a say in that government and can arguably be said to have consented to granting it some authority to regulate their activities.

The progressive perspective that has long been insinuating itself into Rhode Island government and encroaching on Rhode Islanders’ rights is very different.  That view doesn’t begin with individuals as autonomous sources of responsibility and power.  The Rhode Islanders seeking to rent their property don’t truly have ownership of themselves.  Rather state and local government has claims on their activities, and the hosting platforms own their rental businesses.  It is therefore reasonable for the government to require platforms to make sure that their workers comply with its requirements.

From a free-market perspective, a government that imposes requirements on people might create incentive for them to hire a contractor to do tasks for them — for AirBnB to provide inspections for regulatory compliance, for example, with an extra fee.  But from a progressive perspective, the government has a right to tell companies that intend to draw profits from its people what conditions they must impose, or else they cannot do business here.

In other words, progressives implicitly believe that the government is renting us out to the companies.

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Learning Lessons from Our Neighboring States

Here’s the Yankee Institute of Connecticut highlighting a Pioneer Institute study out of Massachusetts:

Pioneer Institute’s study “Back to Taxachusetts” tracks ten years of Connecticut data from 2008 to 2017 and is rife with sections entitled “Corporate exodus,” “Stagnant economy,” and “Voting with their feet,” to show Connecticut’s tax policies have left the state failing, whereas Massachusetts has become an economic powerhouse.

“Connecticut provides a real-world, sobering example of how a seemingly attractive tax-the-rich scheme can backfire badly on a state, turning rosy projections of revenue gains to real-life losses, and damaging business confidence in the process,” wrote Gregory W. Sullivan, research director for Pioneer Institute.

The study was authored in response to a “coalition of labor unions, community groups, and social advocacy organizations,” trying impose a 4 percent tax surcharge on individuals in Massachusetts earning over $1 million per year through a “Fair Share Amendment” to the state constitution. The amendment was placed on the voter ballot, but was challenged in court.

Union-aligned progressives are pushing for the same sorts of things in Rhode Island.  So far, the firewall of sanity has held in the Ocean State, but one can only hope Rhode Islanders are paying enough attention to learn the lessons when other states fall for the far-left pitch.

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Fun-Sized Depends on the Comparison

Have you seen the “Fun-Sized” promotional videos that the state Commerce Corp. is crediting with an up-tick in tourism?  You can watch all 14 videos, here, pretty quickly, because each is only 10 seconds long or so.

Each one starts close in on people doing something fun and then quickly zooms out so the viewer can see that it’s all happening in close proximity to other things.  The idea is clever, and the idea of being able to enjoy a variety of activities across a small state is compelling, for some kinds of vacationers.  Still, the cumulative effect gives the sense that Rhode Island isn’t so much a small state as a large, loosely coordinated resort.

I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad.  I’m not sure how I feel about it, when it comes to promoting tourism.

As a cynical small-government conservative in the Ocean State, though, I’m inclined to dislike the impression on grounds of political philosophy, though.  A resort, after all, tends to be more-tightly coordinated, run by a central authority.  To the extent that the “resort area” is part of the appeal, they’re explicitly catering to customers of the resort.  If Rhode Island is a resort, then the central powers are the driving force.

And of course, there’s the point I’ve made before.  A key reason Rhode Island has such diversity of aesthetics around the state is the independence individuals used to have to define their neighborhoods.  The more we centralize power and concern ourselves with the minute affairs of people who live in other towns and attempt to redistribute wealth from one area to others, the less that diversity will characterize our state.

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The Market Improves Decision Making (For People and Government)

Whether for individuals in a job market or nations dealing with trade, the competition of the market leads us to make better decisions.  The cause is not only the motivation that competition creates, but also the ability to learn from each other.  Such was Richard McKenzie’s argument in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this weekend:

… While some behaviorists support government “nudges” to improve human decision making, politicians and bureaucrats often are no better at making rational decisions than ordinary citizens. Markets are a more effective mechanism for rewarding rational thinking. Persistently irrational decision makers in a competitive marketplace can be expected to misjudge costs and overlook profitable trading opportunities—and, consequently, lose access to resources. They can also be pressed to move from highly competitive markets to low-pressure venues (for example, university and government bureaucracies), leaving markets to more (though not perfectly) rational decision makers.

The more rational decision makers can, by their market decisions, show their irrational counterparts how they can be more prosperous by altering their working heuristics. This means competitive processes can make remaining participants more inclined to consider opportunity costs, ignore sunk costs, and discount future opportunities more accurately.

McKenzie is an emeritus professor, so presumably he wouldn’t argue that “low-pressure venues” do not have value, but his point is an important one.  The dynamics of a collective entity, like a nation, are similar to those of individuals.  People can make irrational decisions, and because government is made up of people, we err if we rely too heavily on them to make decisions for everybody.

And just as individuals thrive when they have to compete and have examples around them of those who are competing better, so too can states or nations advance through rational competition.  If only Rhode Island’s politicians would come to understand competition in this true sense, rather than irrationally focusing on competing on subsidies for major companies and movie producers.

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Bowling Subsidies Now!

Appearing on Rhode Island Public Radio’s “Political Roundtable” show, recently, Rhode Island House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, who is running for governor as a Republican, had an exchange with political analyst Scott MacKay:

MacKay: It sounds, in a way, like you don’t really care whether the PawSox go or not.  Do you realize this is a part of Rhode Island culture and family entertainment that hundreds of thousands of people go to every year?

Morgan: I do understand, and I have taken my children, as well, to the PawSox stadium, but I still believe it’s a private company at this point.  We can’t build a facility for every private company.  I mean, why don’t we build bowling allies; a lot of families like to go bowling.  Why don’t we build miniature golf entertainment areas?  At some point, we really have to keep taxpayer monies for the things that actually are economic development, will actually build good jobs in Rhode Island.

Morgan should have concluded that thought by saying we have to keep taxpayer monies for things that are actually government responsibilities, but her point is otherwise right on.  The problem, however, is that conservatives can’t win this sort of reductio ad absurdum argument with progressives, because the latter will happily say, “Go ahead.”

Perhaps progressives won’t generally have the personal affection for bowling or mini-golf that they have for baseball, but nobody should doubt that they’d be happy to use government resources for family entertainment if somebody were to credibly propose doing so.  After all, family time is very important.  Why shouldn’t government build facilities to foster it?  Isn’t government supposed to do everything important for us?

Of course, the conservative reply might be that the lack of a private market for a bolling alley in a particular area is simply evidence that people aren’t interested in that activity in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile.  But however inexpensive the activity is, there might be some families that would jump at the chance if the price came down a little and who, without that opportunity, instead spend their time doing unhealthy things isolated from each other.  And hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders have fond memories of bowling with their families.

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When Blackouts Come, Will We Remember to Blame the Right People?

Valley Breeze publisher Tom Ward has an important warning related to the latest government-backed wind project in Rhode Island:

I’m OK with wind turbines miles offshore. But when the May 31 Journal story ran out of political high-fives and got to the end, it came to our daily reality. Wrote Alex Kuffner, “The price of power from the Revolution project is still uncertain.” Its cousin, the Block Island Wind Farm, “will ultimately cost ratepayers (that’s us!) hundreds of millions of dollars in above-market costs.”

One day later, an opinion column also appeared in the Journal, by Meredith Angwin, of Vermont, a physical chemistry researcher and pro-nuclear power advocate. The headline: “We’ll lose power in the winters ahead.” In it, she detailed the now well-known facts surrounding the coming closing of many of New England’s traditional electric plants. …

What I know with 100 percent certainly is this: If in eight years rolling blackouts come to New England during the winter, families who live here will have been put in danger by radical environmentalism and the politicians who practice that religion. Short-sighted decisions from a decade earlier will come home to roost as energy costs explode, children shiver, schools close, and businesses grind to a halt. Those who caused the problem will be long gone. Reasoned people need to demand predictable power today.

In too many areas, across too many levels of government, we’re simply failing to take the future into account.  The incentives of big government all but ensure that this will be so.  Our government is very skeptical about the goodness of people and our ability to guide our own lives, but it ought to be skeptical of its own ability to micromanage the universe.

Look to any socialist country to see what happens when the predictable consequences of big-government policies come to pass:  They scapegoat the people who are trying to keep things going, nonetheless, particularly those in industry, perpetuating a cycle.  We can already see the beginnings of this process with all of the ideological legislation that treats business owners as if they are morally suspicious characters.

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The Union Organizer Who Thinks States’ Worth of People Don’t Care About Their Children

Americans periodically complain about the rancor in our political discourse, and while it’s certainly nothing new (and is better than, say, murderous feuds between factions), they have a point.  We do better as a society to the extent that we can discuss difficult matters without doing and saying things that escalate emotions unnecessarily.

For the most part, doing and saying such things is probably inadvertent; relatively few people are so deeply engaged in public debate that their rhetoric is thoroughly conscious.  Among those who are deeply engaged, some portion who use inflammatory rhetoric do so because they’re passionate and their sincere beliefs can’t help but inflame the other side.  And then there are those who escalate emotions in order to isolate their opposition and manipulate everybody else.

I’d put American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten in that last group, and find the sort of rhetoric that Dan McGowan reports from her to be beyond the pale:

“Providence, Rhode Island is not Oklahoma City or Phoenix, Arizona,” Weingarten told reporters gathered outside Mount Pleasant High School. “And the fact that a mayor of this city is not sitting down trying to solve these problems and acting more like what we see in states that haven’t really cared about their kids is shocking to me.”

According to this self-interested union organizer, entire states’ worth of Americans don’t care about their children.  Why?  Presumably because their elected officials don’t give as much money to her members as she’d like.

If this were some isolated statement, that’d be bad enough, but we’ve more than ample experience with teachers unions in Rhode Island to know that it’s part of a deliberate organizational strategy to keep union members feeling undervalued and citizen-governments in constant turmoil that can only be relieved by giving in to the union’s demands.  In short, it’s exactly the sort of attitude and behavior that ought to embarrass professional teachers and, if the Supreme Court decides for freedom in the upcoming Janus decision, lead them to cancel their memberships.

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Philadelphia Insists on Worship of the Progressive gods

Welcome to the new “inclusive” paradigm:

Over the past 25 years, Sharonell Fulton has been a mother to more than 40 children through foster parenting in Philadelphia.

She has opened her heart and home to children who have suffered abuse and trauma, offering them an oasis of love and comfort during tumultuous times. …

When Philadelphia recently severed ties with Catholic Social Services, Fulton said that she felt fully “the pain of rejection.” Fulton, who had been using the Catholic Social Services program for her own foster parenting, said that seeing “the city condemn the foster agency that has made possible my life’s work fills me with pain.”

Sadly, nothing is as important to progressive governments as fealty to their gods.  Everybody must proclaim the truth of the progressive religion.  In ancient Rome, Christians were persecuted and executed if they would not go through the motions of worshiping Roman gods.  Very often, the early martyrs weren’t required to explicitly reject their own beliefs (by, for example, speaking ill of Jesus) so much as to bend a knee to the supposedly more powerful ones under a supposedly divine caesar.

Just so, Philadelphia Catholics aren’t forced to proclaim the falsehood of their beliefs, but only to behave as if their beliefs must be false for all practical purposes.  This modern variation is so much the worse because it doesn’t exact its punishment on the believers, but on the suffering and disadvantaged people whom the Catholics wish to help.

We’ll see how history judges secularists who believe it is better that children should suffer than that they be helped by Christians acting according to their beliefs.  Of course, those of us who believe in God also believe there is a much more important judge than credentialed chroniclers of the past.

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Maine Council of Churches Finds Inclusiveness to Require Exclusion

We should expect to see more of this sort of news:

After the Maine Council of Churches changed its decision-making process earlier this year, the Bishop of Portland was forced to withdraw from the group, the Portland Press-Herald reported Tuesday.

The council had previously required unanimous agreement before advocating on a public policy issue, but in February adopted a simple majority vote. This meant that continued membership in the group could have forced the Diocese of Portland to be represented by views at odds with Catholic teaching.

This shows the typical progressive approach to tolerance. When the radicals were in the minority, they were satisfied with an organizational neutrality and acceptance that allowed the group of religious leaders to work together on issues on which they all agreed.  As soon as the radicals had secured a majority, the organization shifted its focus to excluding those who disagree on a very narrow range of cultural (essentially sexual) questions.

Being inclusive, you see, means excluding.  Acknowledging agreement on just about every area of social interaction is sublimated to the LGBTetc agenda.

This is not so new.  Progressives like to think that they’re at the cutting edge of human evolution, but their impulses are very old.  An in-group defines a moral necessity, and as soon as they’re able to enforce it as the mandatory law, they will.

Western civilization has had a pretty good run advancing pluralism and the ability to coexist while disagreeing.  Perhaps it is ironic that the (abstract, arguably demonic) forces of intolerance would manage to reverse that progress in the name of tolerance, but I fear that our education system has too long tilted toward propagandizing over truly educating younger generations for us to recover without drifting a while into darker times.

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A More Competitive United States Means Better Lives

One never knows how much weight to put on these sorts of indexes, but this is good to see:

The U.S. dethroned Hong Kong to retake first place among the world’s most competitive economies, thanks to faster economic growth and a supportive atmosphere for scientific and technological innovation, according to annual rankings by the Switzerland-based IMD World Competitiveness Center. . . . The renewed top ranking aligns with the positive U.S. growth narrative over the past year. Growth averaged 2.9 percent in the four quarters through March, versus 2 percent in the prior period.

The mind boggles at the notion that Americans would be content to give up that title.  Of course, the complexities of our electoral system mean it’s never that straightforward, and to the extent that there is such a choice, a fair people will often accept a little bit less competitiveness in the name of helping others.

The missing piece, therefore, is awareness that this is a false choice.  A more competitive economy is one in which there is more opportunity and more churn in who is on top.  It’s one with higher prosperity, which means more money flowing around and a greater capacity for charity, too.

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If They’re Together, Who’s Left Out?

It probably means I’m one of those people who refuses to engage in constructive dialogue, but I’m skeptical of these Rhode Island Foundation events:

What do you get when you mix a bunch of Rhode Islanders who disagree about public issues with 47 gallons of marinara sauce?

“You find common ground and ways to civilly disagree and debate,” Neil D. Steinberg, the president and chief executive of the Rhode Island Foundation, said Thursday afternoon ahead of the foundation’s annual meeting. A significant portion of his remarks prepared for the meeting discussed the foundation’s recent Together RI initiative, in which nearly 1,300 people attended 20 dinners around the state from late March to early May.

There are two possibilities, here, that may depend entirely on the viewer’s perspective:  Did these events mingle people who disagree or darken the lines around what a certain segment of insiders thinks is acceptable?  It’s their forum; they set the tone; they choose the venue; they control the debate.  Most importantly, they decide what beliefs and behaviors count as “civil,” and they write the summary report after the fact.

This is the same organization, don’t forget, that promoted a slick and offensive video tarring Rhode Islanders as uncouth complainers who should just be quiet until the kids who mouth the RI Foundation’s preferred line have grown up and taken over.

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The Many Ripples of Upending the Culture

Not that long ago, this would have been a satisfactory explanation:

Carruthers said 98 percent of the spa’s clientele is female, and he employs no male staff. The spa has waxed the arms and backs of male clients, but has never hidden its inability to accommodate a Brazilian wax for a male.

“When we’ve been asked about a male Brazilian wax [which removes hair from the client’s genital area] in the past we tell them we’re not able to provide that service and they move on,” Carruthers told the Windsor Star. “It’s never been an issue.”

So what’s changed?  Well, as PJMedia’s Tyler O’Neil explains, in the view of some people, having male genitalia no longer makes one male.  Thus, a man who says that he’s a woman feels entitled to sue a waxing salon for $50,000 because its female Muslim employee will not play along with his view of reality.

One suspects that the money is not really the issue.  Our society has cultivated a toxic system of self-interest, activism, and moral euphoria.  For a more-local example, look to a sensationalizing article in GoLocalProv.  When a lesbian couple inquired about preschool at a nearby Christian school, the school sent them, among other things, the affiliated church’s statement of faith, which included the phrase, “the Bible, the word of God, clearly identifies homosexual practices as sin and abhorrent to God.”

The applicants sought publicity against the school, and the response led the organization to take security measures.  The person who incited that response disclaims responsibility:

“The fact that he said he contacted law enforcement? I can’t help with what the Internet reaction was. I can’t help who called or who did any of that. If people are that incited, they’re incited for a reason. I was simply trying to raise awareness,” said [Lisa] Hazard.

Not that long ago, those inclined toward alternative lifestyles encouraged an attitude of “live and let live.”  If a school had found itself under threat because somebody had discovered that the headmaster was homosexual, and if the person who had promoted that discovery had denied responsibility because “people are upset for a reason,” Hazard’s ilk would have cited it as evidence of intolerance.

So what’s changed?  The radicals feel they have the upper hand, so all that talk about tolerance and diversity is no longer convenient as they seek to force universal conformity to their worldview.

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Matt Brown, the Anti-Progressive?

Some comments from Democrat gubernatorial candidate Matt Brown strike a curious chord, especially prefaced with WPRI reporter Ted Nesi’s characterization that it represents “a pitch based on science”:

“I think we need to remember, we know now from DNA studies, recent DNA studies from all around the world, that we actually all started out together,” he said. “There were as few as 1,000 of us, human beings, struggling to survive on the African savannah. And we did survive, and we went north and we went around the world.”

“But in the process, we found every possible way to divide ourselves against each other,” he continued. “We found race, we found religion, we found nationality, ethnicity, and politics. And so now we are divided, and that makes us powerless. … [W]e’re going to have to make sure that people recognize that now, because these problems are so big, that the only way to solve them is to find a way over these divides.”

So, is Brown saying that he’s against identity politics and all of the left-wing policies that dice humanity up into ever-smaller groups and pit us against each other?  Or (far from being “based on science”) is this just the typical “Imagine” pablum about which the reader or listener is encouraged not to think too hard?

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A Canary in Seattle

The city of Seattle is blazing trails in the assault on business and disincentive for job creation, and Seattle Times columnist Jon Talton is correct to warn of a reckoning:

One thing is clear. The tax will not be paid by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, or any other real or imagined toffs running the targeted companies. It will be “paid” by hiring fewer people here, making fewer investments, thus perhaps reducing overall taxes to the city. This is not sticking it to The Man.

One of the fascinating aspects of the jobs tax is how it reveals a tectonic shift in Seattle politics.

The slow-moving but generally pragmatic center-left that governed for years has collapsed.

Some of Talton’s lessons are either (it seems to me) either off base or specific to Seattle.  I’m suspicious, notably, of the blame that he puts on the GOP for becoming a “hard-right party” that exploded its leverage by booting its centrists.  One needn’t change the tilt of one’s head too much to see that as something more like a center-right party that didn’t move far enough to the left to keep progressive activists from attacking its donors and volunteers.

Consider Talton’s complaint that voters don’t have options; that can be a sign that people won’t run, given the charged atmosphere.  In short, this probably isn’t quite the distinct trend that he presents it as:

Meanwhile, a hard-left movement arose with the activist foot soldiers, infrastructure and energy to win municipal elections. It might represent a minority of voters, but given the withering away of the old order, it can win. Voters don’t have alternatives.

This lesson is probably increasingly universal across the country.  An activist infrastructure has been built up with funding from embedded interests (like labor unions), a supremely wealthy progressive elite, and siphoned taxpayer money from the Obama Administration.  At the local level, it targets any politician or grassroots organization that attempts to offer an alternative, and so the alternative doesn’t get a voice.

So… the city gets insane tax-and-spend policies that create obvious incentives against economic activity and for reliance on public subsidies.  A reckoning will come, indeed.

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Matt Brown’s Disastrous Platform

One can have little doubt that Matt Brown’s platform is right in line with the views of progressive Democrats.  One can also have little doubt that Matt Brown’s platform would be economically disastrous for Rhode Island:

On policy, Brown said he wants to reverse various recent state tax cuts, such as by raising the top income tax rate from 5.99% back to 9.9%, where it stood until 2010. He also said he would raise the top corporate rate from 7% back to 9%, but wants to create a graduated system that lets smaller companies pay a lower rate. He has not yet decided whether he wants to raise the estate tax, he said.

Brown pledged to increase funding for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for low-income residents that has grown to about a quarter of the state budget.

So, increase dependency on government and suppress the free market dynamism that pays for government programs.  Brown’s program would push Rhode Island into the accelerated spiral that Connecticut is experiencing and the flight of the productive class.

It seems unlikely that Brown will actually have a chance to push his program as governor, but his end point is that toward which progressives are incrementally moving the state.  We need to take his succinct statements as a warning.

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National Popular Vote and the End Game

Upon the entry of Connecticut into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, Michael Walsh emphasizes the practical motivation and effect:

“Work-around”? Nullification is more like it. But this is typical of the fascist Left, offering a “solution” to a non-existent problem in order to improve their chances at permanent political domination. It frustrates them to no end that having conquered California, New York, and Illinois in order to bank 104 electoral votes before a presidential campaign has even begun (270 are needed to win), they discovered that transforming those states into Democrat ghettos meant that every popular-vote margin over 1 is wasted, since the overall national popular vote doesn’t matter.

As I argued when Rhode Island took this leap, it makes no sense for small states.  Rhode Island and Connecticut have more leverage under the electoral college than under a popular vote regime.  But the powers who be in these states trust that their political party will continue to dominate other, bigger states, so they’re willing to sell out their own voters in order to take leverage away from other small states that either aren’t as partisan or are partisan in the other direction.

Walsh has it correct when he writes:

… the idea of independent and, dare I say “diverse,” states is repugnant to totalitarians. As they go about rewriting the history of the United States, one of the things they’re trying to expunge is the idea that thirteen separate colonies came together in order to form a more perfect union. The nation they envision — and which they’re on their way to realizing — is one ruled from Washington, with the states acting as administrative satrapies.

We can project farther into the future, too.  We’ve already had plenty of indication that, once Washington, D.C., is reliably fixed in the hands of an executive to their liking (one who will use the power of government to hurt their enemies and skirt the Constitutional order to subvert that troublesome legislature), they’ll turn to shifting power to a global elite.  Their goal is a planet that has no place to go where you can live as if their philosophy might be wrong.

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Conscientious Versus Issue-Conscious

I wouldn’t claim that I help this curve much, but it certainly has the ring of truth:

Do our behaviors really reflect our beliefs? New research suggests that, when it comes to climate change, the answer is no. And that goes for both skeptics and believers.

Participants in a year-long study who doubted the scientific consensus on the issue “opposed policy solutions,” but at the same time, they “were most likely to report engaging in individual-level, pro-environmental behaviors,” writes a research team led by University of Michigan psychologist Michael Hall.

Conversely, those who expressed the greatest belief in, and concern about, the warming environment “were most supportive of government climate policies, but least likely to report individual-level actions.”

This applies to other issues, like charity.  Big-government types who want to use tax dollars to solve every problem sometimes behave as if that’s their contribution, so they don’t have to use any of their own money additionally.

The central consideration, here, is probably that concern about an issue is a different thing from agreement with a certain approach to solving the problem (especially in the balance of other issues), and “conservatives” tend to be more comfortable with this distinction. The lesson of the above findings may not be that self-identified environmentalists are more likely to be hypocrites, but that people who are willing to take individual action are more likely to see that as a solution.

I do think, though, that there’s something to the idea of “moral licensing”:

Previous research has found doing something altruistic—even buying organic foods—gives us license to engage in selfish activity. We’ve “earned” points in our own mind. So if you’ve pledged some money to Greenpeace, you feel entitled to enjoying the convenience of a plastic bag.

(Via Eric Worrall.)

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Good for the Rhode Island Womxns (to an Extent)

A sincere kudos to the Rhode Island Womxn’s Initiative, which originated as the Rhode Island branch of the National Women’s March for refusing to go along with the partisan mandate to ignore the bigotry of Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan.  The local group has principles, at least.

Of course, those principles come with a bit of the new left-wing craziness, as seen in the group’s name.  Womxn?  When did “x” become a vowel?  How does one pronounce that — “womzin”?

A more serious matter — fascinating, really — is how the concept of “an inclusive movement” winds up being so non-inclusive.  Most obviously, one of the two largest groups in the country, heterosexual white men, is clearly excluded, at least to the extent that we don’t repudiate our own identity as such.

But this new X dynamic also excludes women qua women to the extent that it denies the legitimacy of their having their own voice absent “trans women and all people who don’t identify as strictly male or female.”  That is, the group includes everybody up to, but excluding, those who identify as strictly male (although presumably those who are biologically women would get a pass on that, oddly), and it won’t recognize the unique identity of those who are biologically female and identify as such.

If one were to set out to construct a society in which nobody feels secure and settled except those who hold political power, and therefore feel untouchable, one could not do better than to concoct this ideology.

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A Quick Thought on the Politics of Choice

Progressive Democrat Representative Aaron Regunberg, currently running for the six-figure do-nothing gig of lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, has taken the opportunity of a Planned Parenthood endorsement to remind potential donors that his grandmother was an executive director for that abortion provider in the days before Roe v. Wade:

Her name was Bunny Regunberg. But “Bunny” was a bit of a misnomer. Grandma Bunny was not friendly and fluffy, she was a fighter. And she had to be, as executive director of her local Planned Parenthood in the years before Roe v. Wade.

My grandmother’s work stressed the importance of empowering people to make choices for themselves. Grandma Bunny passed away in 2016, but she left me with a deeply held commitment to stand up and fight for reproductive justice for all.

“Empowering people to make choices for themselves.”  One wonders how far support for such empowerment goes for Regunberg.  Choices about the schools that their children attend?  Choices about how their money should be spent?  Choices about work conditions and compensation?  The list of choices that progressives like Regunberg seek to remove from people’s range of freedom goes on and on.

Apart from self-destructive “choices” that tend to put people under the loving wing of government, progressives’ devotion to “choice” seems to be limited to this “reproductive justice,” which is the farthest thing from justice for the unborn children whom it kills.

In most areas, progressives understand that “choice” and “justice” can be in conflict.  I’m inclined to disagree with them about the circumstances in which that’s the case, but it would explode their rhetoric about abortion if they were forced to admit the trade-offs.

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Turn Left Where the ACLU Used to Be

At least for my entire lifetime, there has been a tension to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  The general sense in the ’90s that it leaned a little left transitioned in the ’00s to a period during which libertarian or even conservative supporters of the group could say things like, “But they’re still good on [this] and [that].”  Now, aided by the wave of available donations for anti-Trump activism, the organization has made a decision, as Scott Greenfield suggests:

This is no civil liberties program, prepared to stand up for constitutional rights no matter whose are at risk. This is a progressive political group, riding the legacy coattails of a group that may still be called the ACLU but has made the active decision to change its mission from the defense of civil liberties for all to promoting a distinct political ideology for its adherents. And it’s gotten fat and rich as a result. …

There are still state organizations, old-time members and staff, who have a certain lust for constitutional rights. When they can support them, stand up for them, without offending their groundlings and piggy banks, they will likely do so. But they will not defend the Constitution if it conflicts with the popular whims of progressive change.

Glenn Reynolds adds that the Trump Era is something of a “Great Revealing, where once-revered institutions turn out to be cheap, partisan shams.”  That may be a little harsh, if only because even shams have to do enough to keep people believing the hype if they want to be perpetual players.  What appears to be happening with the ACLU is that the rewards of letting its freak flag fly have swept away that long-term view and allowed the progressive organization to more overtly be itself.

There is still a need for organizations that promise to defend civil liberties across the board, so perhaps we’ll see right-leaning organizations take up some of the more-leftish causes in order to gain the market of the center.  Meanwhile, the ACLU will be just another far-left activist group, and someday, the tide of the Pubescence will recede, and the various flavors of activism will have to compete with each other for dwindling funds.

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Some Interesting Correlations with High Taxes

Investor’s Business Daily found striking correlations between tax burden, presidential vote, population loss/gain, and government fiscal condition.  In general, high-tax states tended to vote for the Democrat in the last election, tend to be losing domestic population to other states, and tend not to be in great fiscal condition.  As IBD suggests:

One way to look at all this is to conclude that poorly managed states are trying to force taxpayers to cover for their mistakes. But, taxpayers won’t stand for it. Which strongly suggests that high-tax states need to set a new course, toward lower taxes and less spending, if they want to stop their population losses.

Of course, that’s a big “if.”  As long as they can keep the scheme going, population is only incidental… never mind that our governments are supposedly instituted to represent the people who actually live in an area.  That isn’t any longer true in a fundamental sense.

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Being Able to Meet Your Son

The short documentary, I Lived on Parker Avenueis very moving.  As a CNA article by Maggie Maslak explains, it’s about a meeting between David Scottons — who was seconds away from being aborted, but was instead put up for adoption — with his birth parents.

“I hope those who watch will see what the adoption option can do. Without the adoption option, I would not be here today…my parents would not have the gift of their only child; nor would my grandparents have the gift of their only grandchild. That’s what adoption does. It can save lives and build families,” he said.

Moving forward, David plans on “always keeping in touch” with his birth parents, saying, “I am looking forward to seeing my biological sister and half-sister grow up as well.”

Pro-abortion advocates will likely call the film emotionally exploitative and self-serving for the young pro-life advocate at its center, but the subject is inherently emotional.  To warn of exploitation would be to forbid pro-lifers from telling the compelling, true stories that support their views.

The question of whether David Scottons is serving his own interests as an activists gets to a curios rhetorical device that we see often from the left.  On one hand, as we’ve seen with recent school shootings, nobody is presumed to have authority to speak on an issue unless they’ve been personally affected by something.  On the other hand, somebody on the right who advances his or her message through a compelling personal story is presented as trying to cash in.  The common theme, obviously, is that one is never presumed to be advocating in good faith for culturally or politically conservative issues.

Give I Lived on Parker Avenue a viewing.  Then do what you can to find and support similarly compelling productions.  On abortion as on a great many issues, we’re so clearly in the right that the only way we lose the battle of ideas is to back down when we’re attacked unfairly and illogically.

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