JUST WAIT UNTIL “WE” ARE “THEY”:

Guaranteed income is the ‘solution to poverty’ we need across America (MICHAEL TUBBS AND RODNEY ELLIS, 02/24/24, The Hill)

Lucile’s story, along with countless others, inspires hope. Hope for a future where people can find better jobs, move into safer housing, and spend more time with their children. Hope for communities that need a little help — just a little help — to flourish and prosper. Hope for a country that recognizes poverty is bad for the soul and bad for the nation.

So why are some Republican lawmakers working to block and ban programs that deliver significant benefits to hard-working Americans, especially when guaranteed income programs are supported by voters on both sides of the aisle?

In a new poll, nearly two-thirds of American voters — Democrats, Republicans and independents — said that they support a guaranteed income. Voters surveyed supported programs that would directly give $500-$1,000 to individuals every month with no onerous requirements or strings attached. They understood the payments would be used by those who needed it to make necessary purchases and would empower people experiencing poverty to transform their lives.

These findings should be a political earthquake and mark the beginning of a policy transformation where leaders at every level of government work together to ensure every family across the country can thrive. But even with overwhelming bipartisan support from everyday Americans, there is a growing movement from Republican state lawmakers to thwart these anti-poverty measures.

The adoption of UBI will be driven by technology replacing the jobs of white men

ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE:

Fake clouds, seeding doubt (Evan Solomon, 2/29/24, GZero)


“Those clouds are not real,” the woman standing next me at the car pickup spot said, pointing to the overcast skies above San Diego.

I had just arrived here to speak to a group of business leaders about Eurasia Group’s Top Risk report and the political landscape ahead in a year of polarizing elections.

“Sorry?”

“It’s usually beautiful and sunny here, but now with the cloud seeding, all we get is this,” she explained, adopting that apologetic tone proud locals use when their home isn’t exhibiting its best for a visitor. She interrupted her weather flow to give me some other tips about local restaurants — “check out Roberto’s taco stand” — and hiking in the area, before returning to the weather.

“Yeah, you know all those floods we had this past month?” she asked rhetorically. “They’re from these clouds the climate folks created with their cloud seeding because they want to block out the sun to cool the Earth down.”

And then she added the kicker: “And it’s poison, you know.”

Of all the risks I had come here to talk about, the poison-fake-clouds-causing-floods risk did not make the agenda. But the theory is so pervasive in California that the LA Times just wrote a long story in order to, well, rain on the conspiracy parade. […]

If someone doesn’t believe the clouds are real, why would they believe the facts about the economy are real?

THE LAWS WE AGREE TO BIND OURSELVES BY ARE THE COMMON GOOD:

Recovering the Republican Sensibility (Andy Smarick, Winter 2024, National Affairs)

There is not an agreed-upon definition of “republicanism.” Indeed, views on republicanism have evolved over two millennia. It can, however, be generally understood to begin with a sensibility, a way of seeing citizens and public life. Five principles outline this sensibility.

First, citizens of a republic are self-ruling and equal. In a republic, the government’s legitimacy flows from its citizens. Republican citizens are on equal footing before the law; they have equal duties and powers to shape the state.

Second, citizens of a republic should demonstrate “republican virtue.” When rulers have near-total power, individuals are expected to be passive while their rulers govern; when the people have power, they have a duty to be engaged in matters affecting the community. Active, constructive participation in public life is thus essential to republican government. Citizens must behave in ways that help the community succeed, including acting with honesty and civility, avoiding corruption and self-dealing, and putting public benefit ahead of private gain.

Third, democracy is the primary means of reaching decisions in a republic. Citizens may vote directly on public matters, or they may vote for representatives who in turn vote on such matters. Republicanism allows for non-elected administrators and judges, but these officials exercise the authority delegated to them by the people, and must operate within the rules the people establish.

Fourth, citizens of a republic must advance the common good. Issues affecting the community are public, not private matters. Republicanism does not tolerate nepotism or cronyism; a citizen should never see a community issue as an opportunity to advance his personal interest or the cause of his family or friends. Similarly, community decisions are not the concern of just the elite; all citizens contribute to the community’s good. This work is the substance of citizenship and the glue that bonds a community together.

Fifth, republicanism requires an active but limited government. Republicanism intends for the state to play a role in advancing the common good, but the state isn’t authorized to do anything and everything. The state can be limited via enumerated powers, individual liberties, and rights to procedures like due process. Republicanism does not emphasize expansive negative rights, but the state cannot rule arbitrarily and cannot dominate individuals or society.

These five pillars do not amount to a formula, or even quite a formal definition. But they describe the contours of republicanism as the founders of the American system of government understood it, and as we might understand it now.

DO AS WE DO, NOT AS WE SAY:

The Awfulness of Elite Hypocrisy on Marriage (Brad Wilcox, FEBRUARY 13, 2024, The Atlantic)

“Is it morally wrong to have a baby outside of marriage?”

“No” is the answer I received from about two-thirds of my sociology-of-family class at the University of Virginia last spring, when I put that question to them in an anonymous online poll. The class of approximately 200 students was diverse geographically, racially, and ethnically. But on questions like this one—asking whether society should promote or value one type of family structure over another—the students I teach at UVA generally say it shouldn’t.

Yet when I asked these same students—who are almost all unmarried—“Do you personally plan to finish your education, work full-time, marry, and then have children?,” 97 percent said yes.

And when I asked, “If you came home at Thanksgiving and told your parents you (or your girlfriend) were having a baby, would your parents freak out?,” 99 percent said yes.

In one sense, these answers are unsurprising. The great majority of my students, about 80 percent, report hailing from an intact family with married parents. (My class at UVA is not exceptional in this regard: 73 percent of students at elite colleges and universities nationally were born to married parents who have since stayed married, versus 51 percent of high-school seniors across the country.) At the same time, a majority of my students are liberal or progressive on many social issues—they are, at a minimum, nonjudgmental about lifestyles unlike their own.

But there’s a problem with this disjunction between my students’ public family ethic and their own private family orientation, a disjunction I see regularly in elite circles. Voluminous research shows that being born into a married, stable household confers enormous benefits on children, whether the parents are rich or poor. The question I put to my students about their life plans involves a variant of what social scientists call the “success sequence.” Research clearly shows that taking three steps—(1) getting at least a high-school degree, (2) working full-time in your 20s, and (3) marrying before you have children—dramatically increases your odds of reaching the middle class or higher and minimizes the chances of your children growing up in poverty.

Yet many elites today—professors, journalists, educators, and other culture shapers—publicly discount or deny the importance of marriage, the two-parent family, and the value of doing all that you can to “stay together for the sake of the children,” even as they privately value every one of these things. On family matters, they “talk left” but “walk right”—an unusual form of hypocrisy that, however well intended, contributes to American inequality, increases misery, and borders on the immoral.

ALL MORALITY IS JUST SELF-GOVERNANCE:

Is Philosophy Self-Help?: In search of practical wisdom (Kieran Setiya, 2/19/24, The Point)

Historians often trace the origins of self-help to 1859, when the aptly monikered Samuel Smiles published Self-Help: With Illustrations of Character and Conduct, a practical guide to self-improvement that became an international blockbuster. (The term itself derives from earlier writing by Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson.)1 Smiles inspired readers across the globe, from Nigeria to Japan. And he inspired imitators—thousands of them. Between his time and ours, self-help has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry.


Smiles was a social reformer, but his book tells people that reform begins at home: self-transformation is, he promises, a sure path to success. The fantasy of self-reliance is a hallmark of the genre—and a focus of political critique. According to the literary critic Beth Blum, “self-help is widely understood as a technology of neoliberal self-governance used to discipline citizens and manage populations”: the social function of self-help is to obfuscate injustice, directing us to work not on society but ourselves. As if that wasn’t bad enough, self-help provokes eye-rolling cynicism. It has become “synonymous with sentimentality, idiocy, and hucksterism”—and this from one of its foremost advocates, the bestselling Alain de Botton. According to its detractors, self-help is glib, politically obtuse and intellectually dishonest: embarrassing, if not shameful. Philosophy is better off without it.

What, then, should we make of the philosophers who write self-help books? Are they bowing to market forces, dumbing down ideas to cash in on a credulous readership? Or returning to a calling they should never have renounced, “a region that from time immemorial was regarded as the true field of philosophy”—in the words of Theodor Adorno, no admirer of dumbing down or cashing in—“but which … has lapsed into intellectual neglect, sententious whimsy and finally oblivion: the teaching of the good life”?

If self-help as a distinctive genre is an invention of the Victorian era, thinking and writing aimed at better living is not. In this broader sense, self-help was entwined with philosophy at the birth of the Western tradition. In Plato’s Republic, “the argument concerns no ordinary topic but the way we ought to live”; and in the Apology, Socrates definitively states: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Philosophy is not just a guide to life; it’s an essential part of living well.

By philosophy, Socrates meant ethics, the systematic study of that extraordinary topic, how to live.

ON THE LINE:

The Revelations of Simone Weil: Like Alexei Navalny, she embodied her ideals despite the personal cost. (Megan Dent, Feb 25, 2024, The Dispatch)

Some may associate theology with cloisters, and mysticism with escapism. Many may associate philosophy with classrooms. Simone Weil combusts these associations. She refused to advance ideas that she had not lived or, more specifically, that she had not substantiated with her own body in the coarse complexity of the real world. She remained tenaciously committed to reality—its pain, its unpalatability, its contradictions—for all of her short and remarkable life. “She didn’t only make very strong comments, she went out and did them, which absolutely astounded people,” one scholar said recently.

In recent days, many have been similarly astounded by the example of Alexei Navalny returning to Russia in 2021, into the hands of those who’d poisoned him and who would eventually kill him. Freedom in Russia was no mere idea for Navalny. It was a hope that he carried back to his country in his own body, the novichok barely out of his bloodstream.

Much of our own politics has become the opposite: disembodied. Reductive answers to intractable questions are the bread and butter of the internet. Never has it been easier to assert, with utter conviction, ideas that are simply untethered from the irreconcilable qualities of reality. This can lead to profound dishonesty—to lies about the world as it really is. Often those making the strongest claims have the least to lose. Their own bodies aren’t on the line.

But Weil, by contrast, embodied paradoxes, evading simple political or ideological definitions. She was, in the apt words of a recent biographer, “an anarchist who espoused conservative ideals, a pacifist who fought in the Spanish Civil War, a saint who refused baptism, a mystic who was a labor militant, [and] a French Jew who was buried in the Catholic section of an English cemetery.”

THE PRIMACY OF tHE oBSERVER:

The surprising origins of wave-particle duality (Ethan Siegel, 2/20/24, Big Think)


One of the most powerful, yet counterintuitive, ideas in all of physics is wave-particle duality. It states that whenever a quantum propagates through space freely, without being observed-and-measured, it exhibits wave-like behavior, doing things like diffracting and interfering not only with other quanta, but with itself. However, whenever that very same quantum is observed-and-measured, or compelled to interact with another quantum in a fashion that reveals its quantum state, it loses its wave-like characteristics and instead behaves like a particle.

PHILOSPHIZING HATRED:

Patrick Deneen Fails to Understand the Liberal Tradition: Deneen grasps neither liberal theory nor even the supposed basis of his own thought (Sharon Kuruvilla, Sourodipto Roy, Feb 26, 2024, Liberal Currents)

Of course, in order to define a positive conception of the elite and the commons, Deneen must define what he considers to be its negative contemporary manifestations. The elite, under liberalism, appears to be the “laptop class”. This is an amorphous collection of Never-Trumpers, campus liberals, college professors who promote Neo-Marxism (distinguished by Deneen from traditional Marxism, as a result of the new variant’s promotion of such anti-traditional forms of thought like critical race theory or critical theory), Silicon Valley professionals, “woke capital” (he does not clarify who could be included here), and all those prone to supporting liberalization of traditional socio-cultural mores. Opposed to these are the salt-of-the-earth coalition of workers and small business owners (but only those who follow Deneen’s conception of right-communitarianism, one would have to imagine. The rest are elites.) To Deneen’s credit, he doesn’t provide a simplistic Manichean understanding of these groups: he is quite clear that the contemporary commons are given to an uneducated populism which manifests itself in the election of immoral figures such as Donald Trump. Nevertheless, Deneen believes that the degradation of the commons is attributable to the elites in the last resort. In one word, we can characterize contemporary elites as “woke”. They promote an ideology that breeds suspicion, emphasize meritocratic competition that destroys social bonds…

The entirety of MAGA is just white male resentment at having to include “others” in the meritocracy and their–justified–fear that they can’t compete on equal terms.

WALLOWING IN UNEARNED GUILT:

Looking Back at the ‘Unmarked Graves’ Social Panic of 2021: A new book tries to explain how millions of Canadians became convinced that the bodies of 215 ‘missing’ Indigenous children had been discovered in British Columbia. (Tom Flanagan & Chris Champion, 1 Mar 2024, Quillette)

One reason this social panic unfolded as it did is that Canadians had already been led to believe that there was some enormous number of Indigenous children who’d simply vanished—“missing children” whose tragic fates had now been discovered. That claim, too, was always untrue.

This concept was popularized by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), whose officials spoke of up to 4,200 Indigenous children who were sent to Residential Schools but never returned to their parents. It is absolutely true that children died at Residential Schools of diseases such as tuberculosis, just as they did in their home communities. And the fate of some children may have been forgotten by their own distant relatives with the passage of generations. But “forgotten” is not “missing.” The myth of missing students arose from a failure of TRC researchers to cross-reference the vast number of historical documents about Residential Schools and the children who attended them. The documentation exists, but the TRC did not avail themselves of it.

Amid the moral panic that began in mid-2021, the “unmarked graves” were presumed to be populated by these “missing children.” Lurid tales of torture and murder, of babies thrown into furnaces and hanging from meat hooks, became popularized. Yet Indigenous parents, no less than other parents, love their children and certainly would have noticed if they went away to school and never came back. There is no record of parents filing complaints with police or other authorities about children who simply vanished—even though there are documented parents’ complaints about harsh discipline (documented complaints that, it should be added, were addressed by school authorities in favour of the parents’ concerns).

Notwithstanding larger debates about the assimilationist mission of these schools, and episodes of abuse, their operation was governed by bureaucratic protocols. As in schools all over the world, each child received an identifying file number upon admission, which was used for administrative purposes.

The federal Department of Indian Affairs also kept close track of students because it paid a per-capita subsidy to Residential Schools. It reviewed admission records meticulously because it didn’t want to pay for the non-Indigenous students who were sometimes enrolled in such schools. For their own part, the Residential Schools were equally motivated to keep track of students because their income depended on such subsidies.

Media stories about Indian Residential Schools are often accompanied by the claim that 150,000 Indigenous children were “forced to attend” such institutions. In fact, scholars generally agree that more students attended day schools located on Indigenous reserves than went away to board at Residential Schools. Children were not required to go to Residential School unless no day school was available. Moreover, a large number didn’t go to any school at all. And it wasn’t until 1920, decades after the Residential School system had been established, that attendance at either day school or Residential School was made compulsory for Indigenous children. And even then, enforcement was often lax. Even by 1944, estimates indicate, upwards of 40% of Indigenous children were not enrolled in any school whatsoever.

For each student who did attend Residential School, an application form signed by a parent or other guardian was required. Numerous specimens have been preserved and can be viewed in online government archives. Moreover, many Indigenous parents saw Residential Schools as the best option available for their children. Cree artist Kent Monkman’s famous painting, The Scream, showing missionaries and police snatching infants from the arms of Indian mothers at gunpoint is a fever dream of the modern Canadian imagination. It’s not even close to an accurate depiction of historical reality, even if taken metaphorically.

YET MAN IS fALLEN:

A personal tale of intellectual humility – and the rewards of being open-minded (Gemma Ware, 2/29/24, The Conversation)

To Daryl Van Tongeren, the pressure to be right all the time is an “unassailably tall order”. He believes that we’re living in a moment where even when people make mistakes, apologize and say they’ve changed their minds, it isn’t good enough.


We demand perfection. Not only perfection now but also perfection in one’s past and perfection in one’s future.

Van Tongeren is a psychology researcher at Hope College in Michigan in the U.S. who conducts research into the concept of intellectual humility. He explains it as something that happens both within us – “our ability to admit and own our cognitive limitations” – and in our relationships with others. “It means being able to present my ideas or interact with someone in a way that’s nondefensive,” he says.

Overall, if somebody is intellectually humble, they are willing to be open-minded enough to revise their beliefs if presented with sufficiently strong evidence.

Because ideologies are utopian they deny humanness.