Libertarianism and Privilege (aka FYIGM).
On Linky Friday, I linked to this article from TNR about why so few women support Rand Paul. The article also wonders why libertarians are mainly white dudes.
Kevin Drum theorized that men (and mainly white men) are attracted to libertarianism because it is fantasy politics. Drum wrties: “Hardcore libertarianism is a fantasy. It’s a fantasy where the strongest and most self-reliant folks end up at the top of the heap, and a fair number of men share the fantasy that they are these folks. They believe they’ve been held back by rules and regulations designed to help the weak, and in a libertarian culture their talents would be obvious and they’d naturally rise to positions of power and influence.”
Kevin Drum thinks this fantasy is wrong as do I. These could be my liberal biases though. There are many libertarians who are usually thoughtful defenders of civil liberty like Conor F and Randy Balko. I don’t always agree with Conor F and Randy Balko but I do believe that they are sincere fighters for civil liberties for all.
Then there is this comment thread from Slate Star Codex. Scott Alexander writes about why he opposes or is worried by Bernie Sander’s plan to make college tuition free at all public universities. The comment thread asked these very valid questions:
1. Should public universities be tuition free or not?
2. Is universal university education a huge opportunity cost? Interestingly the seemingly smart crowd here thinks yes and that it would be better if more people just started working at 18. I don’t get this sort of anti-intellectualism and strictly commercial attitude. But I am open in my belief that I think it is a sign of an advanced society to see it as a good to let young people have a kind of relaxed entry into adulthood from 18-23 and that society benefits from getting as many people a Bachelors in general.
3. When and why did employers start demanding college degrees for any white-collar job or many skilled jobs?
The third question causes many readers to go into the ugly abyss of racism. The smartest of them stay at the precipice. A not insubstantial number take a headlong jump into that horrible pit.
The generally accepted answer at Slate Star Codex is that employers frequently performed IQ tests for job applicants until the 1970s. The landmark Supreme Court case of Griggs v. Duke Power changed that for the worse. Duke Power only allowed blacks to work in the Labor Department and added a high-school diploma requirement.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that various tests for employment were wrong if they had a “disparate impact” on minorities. The Employer needs to show that an employment test is “reasonably related” to the scope of employment and the job.
I am not sure that this quite correct. The number of Americans with college degrees increased since the 1940s. There was a huge jump during the 1960s because of draft deferments and the Vietnam War. The rising number of college grads during the 1960s (because four years in college is much better than combat) could have caused more employers to demand a college degree as a job requirement. Maybe the Greatest Generation said “My kid went to college. Why should I hire someone from his generation that did not go to college?”
The Slate Star Codex thread is very long. At no point did anyone question whether systematic and structural racism and the long history of Jim Crow caused African-Americans to have a lot less access to education and opportunity than whites. The overall consensus was to blame those dreaded “racial-grievance” liberals who did not allow employers to administer IQ tests. The commentariat at Slate Star Codex imply to varying degrees that they believe that people of African and Latino ancestry are always going to perform less well on intelligence tests. I was startled by the fact that no one brought up anything about adverse effects from Slavery, Jim Crow, and Structural and Systematic Racism.
If the Slate Star Codex commentariat is to be believed, many of them are very smart. They seem to mainly be involved in STEM and graduates of some of the best universities in the United States and the world. Yet this makes them fall for George Orwell’s famous observation that “somethings are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.” You have a seemingly smart crowd at SSC and they think if you brought back the IQ tests they would rise to the top of any job applicant pool. Never mind that there can be other requirements or ways around IQ tests like requiring people belong to the right clubs at the right schools. Do many SSC readers belong to Porcellian?