Moral Courage and Moral Arbitrage

Every good capitalist is on the look out for imbalances in the market, opportunities to earn a profit off of a thing that either the market lacks completely, or current businesses do very inefficiently and ineffectively. You can consider it a form of arbitrage.

Today’s politicians, media talking heads, celebrities and the like are moral capitalists, even though they are economic collectivists. That is to say their morality is a form of arbitrage, always for sale to the highest bidder, where each statement they issue is calculated to profit them personally.

Take Marco Rubio, who today issued a series of tweets condemning Donald Trump for suggesting that the Charlottesville attack, and other similar incidents between Antifa and White Supremacists, was equally the fault of both parties. Donald Trump’s position is that both are hate groups, and both are quick to resort to violence to further their political goals, and that putting them together like that was surely going to stir up violence.

Personally, I think Trump is somewhat understating the case. White supremacists are exceedingly rare, even if they’ve received a shot in the arm from SJWs harping on white people all the time (hint: that tends to manufacture more supremacists, not less). What happened in Virginia may very well represent peak white supremacism, the very most such groups are capable of. Antifa and militant Marxists, meanwhile, enjoy far greater support from media, financiers (oh, the irony), and society-at-large. Antifa dwarfs Klansman and Neo-Nazis. Militant Marxists are, by far, the greater threat currently.

But that being said, Trump did put his finger on the central point: both groups espouse violent ideologies that are incompatible with freedom.

Marco, meanwhile, in his own words, pins 100% of the blame onto the supremacists.

rubio

This argument is remarkably similar to Antifa and other Marxist groups saying that mean words justifies violence, that speech they don’t like justifies burning down cities and attacking people. It is okay for them to violently shut down anybody right-of-center on college campuses around the country, but it is not okay for anyone right-of-center to speak.

Marco is on a continuum with the SJWs on this matter. He concedes the central point, that violence is an acceptable response to speech deemed offensive. Yes, in the case of Neo-Nazis and Klansmen, the speech actually is offensive. But it is still speech. Until it isn’t, anyway.

But if you’re a regular reader of The Declination, you already know my position on freedom of speech, and how speech alone does not justify violence.

To be fair, a lot of people are saying this, though, so let’s analyze this a little differently. Why does Marco denounce the white supremacists so readily, yet lets militant Marxists off the hook? As a man of Cuban ancestry, he ought to be very familiar with the depredations and dangers of Marxists. Why is he so willing to assign them 0% of the blame?

There is moral arbitrage here. When some politician or celebrity denounces Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and other assorted white supremacists, he is cheered. He is called stunning and brave. He is bashing the fash, taking a brave stand against the most evil ideology of man. In other words, he gets a huge moral bonus in the eyes of the media. It is easy to denounce white supremacists, who probably represent less than a tenth of a percent of the population. And it is profitable to do so, as well.

If it’s cheap and profitable, expect everyone to jump on the bandwagon. The explosion of Nazi denunciations is like the proliferation of those little fidget spinners that cost 10 cents to make and sell for $7.99 in every convenience store from here to Seattle. Everybody wants a slice of that action.

Meanwhile, taking a similar stand against Marxism is expensive. If a politician or celebrity stands up and denounces Marxism as a hateful, murderous ideology that is at least as evil as Nazism, he is often shot down. Real Marxism, of course, has never been tried. Real Marxism is a good theory, a good idea that maybe just hasn’t been implemented quite right. It’s morally true and righteous, and even if it has some problems, surely bashing the fash has to take precedence, right?

Except Marxism has a much higher share of the population. Marxism is celebrated openly on college campuses around the country. Marxists trash cities, riot, commit acts of violence with frightening regularity, and Marco assigns them 0% of the blame, because somewhere, there is an inbred Neo-Nazi off his meds tweeting from his mother’s basement.

Marco obtains a moral profit from denouncing white supremacism. He incurs a moral cost from denouncing Marxism. Playing the moral arbitrage for profit thus demands he pin the blame for political violence on only one participant. Then he is “stunning and brave” in the eyes of the body politic.

Marxists have been doing this as long as I’ve been alive. It is correctly seen as stupid and disgusting to wear an Adolf Hitler t-shirt. Yet somehow Che Guevara t-shirts are absurdly common. The Nazi swastika is correctly seen as a hate symbol, yet the Soviet hammer & sickle is given a pass. It is a historical tragedy that Communism was not discredited with the same vigor as Nazism was.

It is socially cheap to oppose Nazism. It is socially expensive to oppose Communism.

Donald Trump, whatever his other faults, possesses enough moral courage to speak the truth: both groups are hateful. And he paid the price for speaking that truth. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, lacks the stones, even though as descendant of Cubans, he ought to know better than most.

I’m very disappointed in him. I expect this from Democrats who have lacked moral courage as long as I’ve been alive, I even expect it from Republicans who have no history with Marxism. But I do not expect it from a Cuban Republican. Of all people, Marco, YOU should know better. Stop playing the moral arbitrage and speak honestly.

After all, even Donald Trump is showing more honesty and integrity than you are, right now.

Weaponized Empathy and the Edge Case

Weaponized Empathy has long been a topic of discussion here. Today, let’s break down a very common use of it in private circles, in debates between regular folks on social media.

The tactic looks something like this:

Conservative: I believe in [insert policy here].
Progressive: Here is a sad story about someone (or even a hypothetical someone) who would be affected by the policy. Do you want this person to suffer?
Conservative: Well, no, of course not…
Progressive: Well then, you shouldn’t believe in [the policy]. It’s immoral.

This is an exceptionally low bar to clear for the Progressive. No matter what political positions a person might have, at least some people, somewhere, can be found who would be negatively affected by it. If, for instance, the tax code were simplified, the poor IRS agents auditing people with a microscope for violations of their arcane system might lose their jobs. Or, perhaps some poor person somewhere might end up with slightly less from the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Clearly the Conservative then wants poor people to starve, and IRS agents to be unable to feed their families. This is, of course, a rather blatant example, but read on for a more subtle and more powerful version of the argument.

Once a negative example is trotted out, the Progressive declares moral superiority and thus victory in the debate. Clearly he is more moral, because he wants to make sure nobody slips between the cracks, and everyone gets their fair share of… whatever.

A classic example can be found in this debate with Ron Paul, wherein the liberal moderator trots out a hypothetical person who has “a good job” but somehow has no money, decides not to buy a healthcare plan, has no existing government aid, can obtain no charitable aid, and possesses no friends willing to help him, and is experiencing an expensive health problem. What would happen, asks the liberal?

The absurdly unlikely (but theoretically possible) scenario is thus implied to be proof that we need government-managed universal healthcare.

Conservatives need to stop accepting this low bar as evidence of anything. Time after time, I’ve witnessed Conservatives argue these types of absurd positions by positing equally unlikely ways the free market or charity will cater to all such edge cases. Once dragged down to this position, victory is impossible. The best debaters may score a draw, edge case vs. edge case. Everyone else will lose, and the Progressive will trumpet his moral superiority over the evil, greedy Republican Uber-Nazis until he is blue in the face.

Ron Paul, being a very smart man and a doctor himself, argued this thing to a draw. I doubt many others could have pulled this off.

This is the wrong way to argue the point. It is, in fact, tacitly accepting that the Progressive’s position that the edge case means anything about national policy in the first place. Progressive policies, even if they are theoretically universal in scope, will also be subject to edge cases, as the Charlie Gard incident demonstrated. In fact, one essential truth about government micromanagement is that it is likely to result in more such edge cases, not less. Bureaucracies aren’t known for their intellectual flexibility. More people will fail to get the care they need, not less.

But even that isn’t quite the right way to argue the point. Leftism is demanding a sort of universalism that simply isn’t possible in any human institution. And, invariably, when the institution falls short of universal perfection, it is excoriated by the Left and used as justification for giving them (as in the Progressives themselves) more power under the excuse that they are morally superior. It is nothing more than a blatant power grab, thinly disguised as a moral argument.

This must be challenged immediately in any debate with them that goes down the edge case path. “Are you demanding perfection? That every single person receive 100% of all needed care? If so, you are a lunatic. Hard cases make bad law.”

This moves the bar up a notch. Now the Progressive must demonstrate that his system is better at a meta level, not just an individual hard case level. Weaponized Empathy can still be deployed at higher levels, but this is generally much more difficult, especially given the fact that Socialism generally produces very poor results when taken as a whole. However, expect the next rung on the Progressive argument ladder to be something along the lines of “well, Nordic Socialism is just great.”

More on that argument later.

A Friend Encounters the Left in DC

Lately, the political world has narrowed. It has become small. When the shooting happened at Pulse, in Orlando, I saw folks I knew distraught over the affair. I knew people who lost friends there. I’ve DJed in that area many times. It was too close for comfort. It is one thing when such violence is far away, and quite another when you realize how near to you the lightning struck.

Well, it’s happened again, and even closer this time.

My friend Louis, who lives less than a block away from me, has now been a subject of national news after an altercation over his support of Trump.

Because of ongoing legal matters, I cannot tell all of the details. What I can say is this: Louis acted in defense of himself and his family.

He brought his Trump “Make America Great Again” hat with him on his vacation to our nation’s capital. Louis has been a strong supporter of Trump from day one. In this, we sometimes disagreed, on occasion, as my support for Trump was somewhat more grudging and less enthusiastic. But nonetheless, he wanted to support our President on his trip to DC, and I can’t blame him for that. While in a restaurant with his wife and two daughters, he was heckled by three men over his hat. There were threats made in front his family. I won’t repeat them here, but note that they were targeted at his wife and daughters as much as at him.

Louis tried to leave the restaurant, not wanting to deal with that sort of thing while on vacation, but while waiting for an Uber ride to pick him and his family up, the three came outside and continued with their heckling and threats. And then one of the men struck him.

Suffice it to say, once they turned the situation physical, it did not go so well for them. 3 on 1, and they got their asses handed to them.

DC Police, of course, sided with the Leftists immediately. After all, it’s not exactly a bastion of Trump support. They tried to charge him with a hate crime, despite the fact that it was the anti-Trumpers who kept following him (this much has already been proven from cameras inside the restaurant), and it was them who struck first. Fortunately, it appears that his lawyer got the hate crime charge struck down, at least. But Louis’ defense will be expensive, and victory is not at all assured, unless camera footage from outside the restaurant can be found covering the incident. The punishment is the process, and he’s suffering it now.

Our political world is narrowing. Or, at least it sure feels that way to me. Used to be I didn’t know anyone who had been through political violence like this. Now, it’s becoming routine. Not to mention Antifa has been calling Louis and his wife continuing with various threats, and trying to post bad reviews of his business. Standard operating procedure for them, I suppose. Our block is ready for them, of course, should they try anything particularly stupid.

But, being cowards who only attack with 3 to 1 superiority (and still lose), I doubt we have much to worry about. Until the next such incident, anyway. Next time it could be you, dear reader, or even me.

Be ready.

I Need a Vacation

Of late, politics has been particularly nasty and overly repetitive. Russia! Russia! Russia! Trump tweeted something. Something was sexist, or racist, or some other thing. And then there’s a contingent of folks who are non-ironically bringing Nazi shit back. No, I’m not talking about being anything right-of-center (we’re all Nazis according to the political Left), I mean folks who actually break out the swastikas, Hitler quotes, and Jewish conspiracy theories.

All of this is too much. It’s headache-inducing. At one point, I could laugh at politics. Bill Clinton couldn’t keep it in his pants, George Bush tried to eat a pretzel, and we all remember the flying shoe of death. Rubio robot recited his lines, Chris Christie was a giant donut, and Trump blamed Megyn Kelly’s foibles on Rosie O’Donnell.

Today, the amusement has been sucked dry, and replaced with the constant bleating of sheep. It’s not funny anymore. Everything is identity politics. Everything. You can’t have a glass of milk without someone saying that milk is white, therefore racist. You can’t enjoy Chinese takeout without accusations of microaggressions. You can’t even fish in my neck of the woods without some PETA protesters coming by and dumping your catch into the sea and calling you a murderer.

Most folks in the world just want to be left alone. And that is precisely what cannot be countenanced these days.

Well, to hell with that. I’m going to take a break from politics for at least a few days. Maybe I’ll write about whiskey, or technology, or Byzantine history. I don’t know.

But no politics.

I highly recommend other folks do the same from time-to-time. This level of politicization cannot be good for anybody.

Developing News: House Majority Whip Shot

Take a look for yourself over at Fox News: Steve Scalise, aide shot in Virginia.

Reports on my Twitter feed are indicating that witnesses claimed the gunman asked “where are the Republicans” before going on his shooting rampage. So while unconfirmed, given the target and that possibility, this is likely a politically motivated attack.

Yesterday, I got into a long-winded war on Facebook with a number of former friends who decided to take issue with a post in which I told people I was no longer going to censor my politics in public. One of the fascinating things, as it relates to this news, is that one Lefty made the claim that I was “exaggerating oppression.” I.e. he felt that there was no anti-right wing bias, and that I was making it all up. He claimed that the Kent State shooting was proof that it was more dangerous to be a Leftist, than a Rightist.

And then he dared me to come up with a single Right-winger shot for his politics by a Leftist.

It appears his wish came true.

More to come as we learn more.

Tuesday Afternoon Errata

I had a long successor post on Marxism planned for today, but the workload is too much for that, presently. So enjoy a few little tidbits before we move on to Part 2.

First off, if you’re a regular reader of The Declination, you are no doubt familiar with Francis over at Liberty’s Torch. And today, he has reminded me in rather amusing fashion that he is, in fact, an engineer. After all, only an engineer would use a term like PDOOMA (Pulled Directly Out Of My Ass). He goes on at some length to discuss the problems with climate simulations, and why the ones currently utilized are likely to be about as accurate as a crystal ball at a trailer park psychic’s home. This would be amusing enough, but then he resurrects an old post from Eternity Road to tell us, at some length about PDOOMA, and how to tell when a bad actor is doing exactly that with his statistics.

I highly recommend both pieces. Between both posts, it explains almost every objection I have to the notion of “man-made climate change.”

Second, this morning I became aware of an interesting tizzy going down on Facebook. Jon Del Arroz, an up-and-coming conservative author, managed to rustle the jimmies of Mike Glyer, of Vile 770 fame. Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen soon joined in, with Mike Glyer periodically slinging insults at Larry, to the effect of how stupid everyone else was, and how smart and special Glyer himself was. Mike Glyer often tries to hide under a veneer of respectability, but his SJW instincts steered him badly off kilter today.

It’s all rather amusing stuff. Feel free to peruse and laugh. Naturally, I had a few contributions to the thread as well. Vile 770 is, in effect, an intellectual equivalent of a sewage treatment plant, where Mike Glyer tries to put a nice face on some very nasty Progressive characters, whose primary reason for posting at Vile 770 is to sling hate on conservative authors.

Francis talks about Garbage In, Garbage Out. Well, there’s Mike Glyer’s place for you, in a nutshell. Here is a reliably-informed diagram of the inner workings of File 770:

sewage_Treatment_plant

I’ll leave you with my own estimation of Mike Glyer’s intellectual prowess:

Also, it’s worth noting that Mike Glyer’s insults basically boil down to “neener neener, I’m smarter than you.” It’s the sort of childish taunting you’d hear in an elementary school playground. It’s also projection in its pure form.

You see, Mr. Glyer probably spent most of his youth getting smoke blown up his ass about how special he was, how beautiful and unique he was, like some kind of special snowflake. Now, reality came and ran over his puffed-up dreams like a goddamn freight train. Here men like Larry Correia and Jon Del Arroz do good for themselves, and Glyer has to be thinking “why can’t I be that good, I’m special, I’m smart, I’m a snowflake?”

Here’s a life lesson for you, sir. The people who blew smoke up your ass when you grew up were liars. Every damn one of them. All of the buttslurping pond scum at Vile770 are as useless as you are, sir. You’ve contributed nothing of value to this planet, certainly nothing worth getting paid the kind of money Larry makes. You are the architecture critic who never built a building, the movie critic who never held a camera, the political pundit who can’t even be bothered to crawl his lard-filled, twinkie-stuffing ass to the voting booth.

Socrates once explained that he couldn’t find a wise man, and he himself was not wise. But he was wiser than some for knowing this. And every time you crawl out from whatever cesspit you hail from and insult your betters, I am reminded that though I’m no great shakes in the success department either, compared to the likes of Larry, I’ve got one up on you for at least not being a pretentious, delusional fuckwit staring at my own reflection like Narcissus, with his face plastered and drunk in front of a toilet full of his own vile spew.

PDOOMA indeed.

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