i want men to be able to emotionally connect with people they don’t plan on having sex with. i want men to stop assuming i am planning on having sex with them because i make an effort to engage with them emotionally. i want men to stop feeling personally betrayed by the fact that i engage deeply & genuinely with people regardless of whether i desire them sexually, because i value people & seek to understand & connect with them regardless of sexual attraction
Unfamiliar with aggregate concepts like gross domestic product and inflation, many introductory students struggle to understand the big ideas in macroeconomics. Macroeconomic educators typically respond with boring lectures aimed at bringing students up to speed; or, by jumping to the interesting topics their students are not yet prepared to consider. In an effort to combat this problem, I have incorporated NPR’s Planet Money podcast into my Principles of Macroeconomics course. I describe the podcast and provide a list of episodes others might find useful. In my experience, the Planet Money podcast is well received. Students enjoy listening to the assigned episodes. They report that it made them more interested in the principles course, helped them understand the relevance of macroeconomics, and increased their understanding of many macroeconomic issues. Most students also feel more comfortable discussing macroeconomic issues having listened to the podcast. And nearly half of those students surveyed say they will continue listening to the podcast after the course ends.
In the on-going conversation about whether fringe speech, conspiracy-sites and hate groups should be booted off Facebook, Twitter, etc., here are a few thoughts.
First, these are private companies that put their distributional heft at the service of those they allow on their platforms. We have every right to judge those companies on who they let on and who they don’t. Consider that most of these platforms simply ban not only nudity but even in some cases women breast-feeding. They do that to create a certain atmosphere. They also immediately block almost any kind of content that anyone claims to have a copyright on. It’s not just that they don’t allow copyright infringement. They tip the scales way in favor of anyone even claiming such rights, especially if they have money. They also ban various kinds of speech that can be interpreted as advertising and which undermines their business models.
Each of these are perfectly reasonable. They’re private companies. They’re for profit. They have a right to set certain ground rules to ensure a certain atmosphere on their platform. They can impose terms of service that prevent people from undermining their business models. Viewed more generously, they can impose terms of service that create a specific atmosphere they want for their users. The point is that there’s nothing remotely like free speech on most of these platforms in the first place. The one place where this becomes an issue is where arguably political speech verges into hate speech or menace. InfoWars has no right to be on Facebook. This seems all pretty much obvious and largely uncontested, as far as it goes.
The problem, as I see it, is a bit different. We have collectively ceded a great deal of what feels like the public square to what are simply private, corporate platforms. To a real extent, the places you can exercise your speech these days are on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. That is really the heart of the problem. A big part of the public square has been gobbled up by closed systems: Facebook especially, but also Google’s Youtube, Twitter, et al.
I don’t have any immediate answer to that problem. But that’s what we should be concerned about: ceding so much of the public square to private platforms which really aren’t about free speech in any way and don’t have free speech in any way. They’re all ordered by algorithms designed to maintain time on site and service ad sales. In no sense are they open or free. Manipulation of the flow of speech and ideas is integral to how they function.
Here’s a different way to look at the question. Infowars has been booted off Facebook, Youtube and a bunch of other platforms. But right now you can go to the InfoWars website and watch their shows to your heart’s content. Shouldn’t that be enough? TPM built up an audience over the years simply by word of mouth and reputation. That’s still how we get the great majority of our readership. That should be more than enough. Not being on Facebook just means you don’t have access to their distribution networks.
But what if InfoWars were essentially kicked off the Internet itself? That’s much much harder since it’s so decentralized. But to operate at any scale you need to work with hosting companies, CDNs, various service providers. So that can happen. It may not be a constitutional issue. But if unpopular, ugly viewpoints can’t even get on the web at all, there I think you approach a much more real civic issue. If you’re right to speech is purely notional because you’re barred from the basic architecture of communication, you don’t really have free speech. That’s a problem.
With regard to the platforms, however, what we should be thinking about is that we’ve allowed a series of private platforms to muscle in on a lot of the public square. Many of those companies have bad values and bad corporate cultures. It is precisely because they have imposed themselves on the public square, have mimicked it, as it were, that they have decided to ape the modalities of ‘free speech’. This may seem like a good thing. But I would argue that it’s not. It’s part of passing themselves off as being something more like governments – ersatz governments with ersatz free speech.
It is far better brush the networks back, treat them as businesses and not as quasi-governments with their own corporate versions of free speech, which they very much want to do, on their own terms.
By chance I’ve gotten a couple of similar questions lately. Don’t I agree, asked a friend, that Democrats should give Brett Kavenaugh an honest chance at confirmation to the Supreme Court? We liberals believe in fair play, after all. This was followed by another friend suggesting that liberals shouldn’t actively defend Sarah Jeong’s mocking anti-white trollery on Twitter from a few year ago. That was some pretty illiberal stuff she said.
Well, let’s talk about this. For many decades the Republican Party built its brand by appealing to white Southerners who had left the Democratic Party after the Civil Rights Era. However, the GOP’s appeal to whites inevitably became more muted as times changed and overt racism became less and less acceptable. Finally, when Mitt Romney lost in 2012, the party wrote a post-mortem that admitted they’d taken things as far as they could. The white vote was tapped out, and if they wanted to get to 51 percent in the future they needed to dial back on the racial appeals and instead learn how to attract Asians and Hispanics who were natural constituencies for a fiscally conservative, church-friendly party.
I cheered. But only for a few days. A year earlier the party had fired its first black chairman, and in 2012 they tossed their post-mortem into the dustbin almost as soon as the ink was dry. Then it nominated Donald Trump for president on a platform so viciously racist and bigoted it was like watching an old Ken Burns documentary. The entire party quickly fell in line behind Trump, whose entire campaign was based on his disdain for (wink wink) “political correctness.” Two years later the GOP—including most of the original never-Trumpers—is even more solidly behind him: Mexicans are rapists; there are good people on both sides of Charlottesville; Obama was born in Kenya; Democrats love MS13; we need to prevent Muslims from entering the country; parents and children should be separated at the border; Southern secession was just like 1776; all’s fair in efforts to prevent blacks from voting; and white nationalists are to be coddled, not ridden out of town on a rail.
So this is where we are. The Republican Party can’t win using ordinary methods. On the process side, they can win only by inflating the white vote via gerrymandering, cracked-and-packed districts, and ruthless black voter suppression. On the policy side, they can win only with heavy dollops of strident and outright bigotry against Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Chinese, and anyone else who comes along. Even Canadians will do in a pinch.
Today, the Republican Party exists for one and only one purpose: to pass tax cuts for the rich and regulatory rollbacks for corporations. They accomplish this using one and only method: unapologetically racist and bigoted appeals to win the votes of the heartland riff-raff they otherwise treat as mere money machines for their endless mail-order cons.
Like it or not, this is the modern Republican Party. It no longer serves any legitimate purpose. It needs to be crushed and the earth salted behind it, while a new conservative party rises to take its place. This new party should be conservative; brash; ruthless when it needs to be; as simpleminded as any major party usually is; and absolutely dedicated to making Democrats look like idiots. There should be no holds barred except for one: no appeals to racism. None. Not loud ones, not subtle ones. Whatever else it is, it should be a conservative party genuinely open to any person of any color.
When that happens, I will change my mind about how we should fight the Republican Party. Until then, no, I don’t think Brett Kavanaugh deserves any help from Democrats and I don’t think liberals should waste any time tut-tutting over Twitter mockery from 2013 that all of us know perfectly well doesn’t represent any genuine anti-white sentiment.
Nos victi Reipublicae. That’s it. Whatever works best, I’m in.
The democrats had their chance to push the republican party out of the main stream, they chose instead to continue shutting out third parties from the debates. A one party system is not viable, so they either need to provide a plan for another party to be a viable alternative to the republicans, or they need to just live with the mess they created by demonizing their opponents as racist-sexist-bigoted-monsters for years when they weren't.
I don't know that I agree that the Democrats had any such chance, but I do agree we need to reform voting (via ranked choice / instant runoff). The system we have now makes two-parties a virtual certainty and it's impossible to replace one without a transition period involving serious drama/chaos/violence.
They repeatedly voted, along with the republicans, to block third parties from the debates. To the point where the group that used to run these debates basically dropped the debates because they thought that the actions of the democrats and republicans were bad for democracy. The only time we've dropped one party for another in the two party system, the violence wasn't caused by the party that disappeared, but rather by the one that was remaining. In that case, the Democrats. If history repeats and a third party defeats the Republicans, like the article here demands, do you think it will be the democrats again starting a civil war against the new party? The Democrats have basically won at this point, their ideas have permeated both parties, even if they aren't in the form that the democrats prefer, but we basically have two parties pushing their trade restrictionism, and probably pushing their single payer health care system given the way that has been drifting lately.
Presence at debates isn't really meaningful. Being able to campaign without being chased away as a "spoiler" is what would make a difference. That requires an electoral system that allows voters to rank candidates instead of forcing them to pick only one.
When the republicans replaced the whigs, we still had the system we have now. Thus, that is not a precondition to this happening. What it takes is not having both existing parties telling everyone that they are a spoiler, and systematically silencing any other voices. Trump can make hundreds of gaffes, but if a third party stumbles on one trick question tailor made to be hard to have any sort of correct answer to, instantly the whole media establishment starts acting like they're an idiot and shouldn't be listened to.
(And skorgu, the debate commission is a duopoly, both the republicans and democrats have control over it. The democrats have to be complicit in keeping others out for it to happen. And the majority of the major news outlets lean politically towards the democrats as well, only one major one leans towards the republicans, so that silencing can't be the republicans fault either.)
If you want people to stop calling third party candidates "spoilers" you can either (1) make them all stop doing that somehow or (2) enact voting reform that literally makes the "spoiler" problem go away. If you think (1) is easier than (2) then go for it, it's your choice where you invest your time and energy.
Right, clearly the party that controls 38-odd state legislatures as well as all three federal branches of government is *powerless* to fix anything and their enemies have "basically won at this point".
David Roberts says—correctly—that the climate community has inexplicably concluded that it knows how to change the public’s mind about climate change:
7. “Things are bad, humanity is at fault, fossil fuel cos. are preventing action, but don’t worry, we can still succeed if we muster the political will!” How many times have I read that piece? Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves this is the “correct” sequence of messages…
8. … yet the result is boring as F. People aren’t reading/viewing this stuff & forming the next civil rights movement. They’re changing the channel. Somehow all the amateur social scientists have succeeded in crafting the perfectly accurate, perfectly boring template.
So what’s the answer? Hear me out for a bit on this.
The problem itself is obvious enough: people generally don’t like to sacrifice now in order to avoid some kind of disaster later. The impulse that prompts us to eat a cookie even though it will eventually make us fat is the exact same one that prompts fossil-fuel companies to deny global warming even though it will eventually put all their refineries underwater. We call the former “hyperbolic discounting” and the latter “free market capitalism,” but it’s all the same thing.
There are other things that make it hard to fight climate change—it’s slow, it’s invisible, it’s global, it’s expensive, etc.—but it’s the bit about sacrificing for the future that’s the real killer. We humans just aren’t very good at that. So what strategy might work to get us all to give a damn?
For starters, we might try to think of examples from the past in which large societies decided to engage in communal sacrifice for long periods of time in order to avert some kind of future disaster. I’ll wait while you come up with some.
You’re having a hard time, aren’t you? A few years ago Jared Diamond wrote a whole book about societies that looked collapse straight in the face and … chose to collapse. But we’re looking for examples of success. Where do we find them? Here are a few:
The ozone layer. This is a stand-in for all small-scale problems successfully addressed. The reason we succeeded in fixing the hole in the ozone layer is that all it took was a global ban on CFCs, which was a pretty cheap price to pay.
The Cold War. Think what you will about this, but the Western world kept up a united front in the Cold War for nearly 50 years.
I’m not going to continue. I’m simply going to assert that these represent the two basic classes of successful, large-scale response to impending disaster. In the first, the cost is fairly small. In the second, an enemy is involved. Unfortunately, neither one works in our favor right now. If CO2 were rising due to a massive terraforming war being fought from afar by our neighbors on Venus, no cost would be too high for us to fight back. Likewise, if it were all China’s fault, we’d already be fighting like hellions. But it ain’t so. We’re doing this to ourselves, and I can’t think of any good way to put an enemy’s face on it.
That leaves only one solution: make it cheap to fight. If we can make the sacrifice fairly small, everything changes. But how? A ban on plastic straws, for example, is certainly a small sacrifice, but it’s performative, not real. In fact, pretty much all sacrifices on a personal level—straws, Priuses, recycling, etc.—are fine, but add up to approximately zero. As long as we’re collectively committed to extracting and burning every last hydrocarbon molecule in the earth’s crust, everything we do is just for show.
And make no mistake: we are committed to burning every last hydrocarbon molecule in the earth’s crust. Norway is a lovely, green, socially conscious, Nordic-model democracy. But they are as rapacious as Saudi Arabia in making sure to extract every bit of oil they can from the North Sea. Or how about nice, socialist Canada? Ditto, and they even demand that we build pipelines across the Midwest to transport their oil. Poor, oppressed, earth-loving Africa? Ditto again. The only places on earth that aren’t busily extracting every bit of gas, coal, and oil they can are the places that don’t have any gas, coal, or oil.
In other words, we’re doomed—unless we can figure out a way to make fighting climate change free or cheap. That means renewable energy at scale that’s cheaper than fossil fuels. This is it. There is no other answer.
And that in turn means one thing: lots and lots of R&D and lots and lots of subsidized infrastructure buildout. Put it on the national credit card and it won’t cost much. Convince climate scientists to stop waffling constantly about the cause of increased wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, and so forth, and people will be willing to pay for it. It will take a while, but so would any other solution, and this at least has a chance of working. The coming approach of high-level AI and robotic technology makes it even more feasible.
So in case you’re wondering, this is is basically my take on climate change these days. I don’t like it, but there you have it. Scientists should all be willing to publicly advocate for the level of fear and danger that’s truly appropriate to climate change, and politicians should commit to R&D and infrastructure subsidies without raising taxes to do it. This might work. Nothing else will.