- May 2022
Frank Wilhot's: "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect." https://crookedtimber.org/2018/03/21/liberals-against-progressives/
Libertarianism is notionally grounded in the idea of self-determination and personal responsibility, but in practice, powerful libertarians routinely trade off (others') freedom for (their own) tax savings.
An intriguing thesis.
Too often we trade away others' freedom(s) for small benefits to ourselves. This pattern has got to stop. The system should be closed in such a manner that the small trade-offs are balanced out across all of society.
Cory Doctorow also highlights the recent Texas abortion law which targets abortion providers. Rich Republicans who have backed this law will still have the power and flexibility to drive or fly to another state for their abortions when desired. There are no consequences for them because they're not in a closed system. If abortions were illegal everywhere and anyone getting one were to be prosecuted regardless of where they got their abortion, then the system would be more "closed" and without loopholes they could use. As a result, laws like this would never be passed because they would apply equally to those who were making them. Legislators and judges should think more about walking a mile (or a lifetime) in another person's shoes more often.
For lack of a better term let's use the idea of "political calculus" to describe this. Calculus is the mathematical study of small changes. So a small change to an individual isn't a big thing, but in the aggregate it can have profound and destructive effects on large swaths of the people.
In large part, this is how institutionalized and structural racism flourishes. We take small bites of powerless individuals which in aggregate causes far more harm.
This is all closely related to the idea of "privatizing profits and socializing losses".
- Dec 2021
After all, imagine we framed the problem differently, the way itmight have been fifty or 100 years ago: as the concentration ofcapital, or oligopoly, or class power. Compared to any of these, aword like ‘inequality’ sounds like it’s practically designed toencourage half-measures and compromise. It’s possible to imagineoverthrowing capitalism or breaking the power of the state, but it’snot clear what eliminating inequality would even mean. (Which kindof inequality? Wealth? Opportunity? Exactly how equal would peoplehave to be in order for us to be able to say we’ve ‘eliminatedinequality’?) The term ‘inequality’ is a way of framing social problemsappropriate to an age of technocratic reformers, who assume fromthe outset that no real vision of social transformation is even on thetable.
A major problem with fighting to "level the playing field" and removing "inequality" is that it doesn't have a concrete feel. What exactly would it mean to eliminate inequality? What measures would one implement? To fix such a problem the issue needs to be better defined. How can the issue be better framed so that it could be fought for or against?