Say No To Puritarian America

Avatar

Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

Related Post Roulette

63 Responses

  1. Avatar Douglas Hayden
    Ignored
    says:

    As a full believer in social democracy, I’m throwing up the hands and shouting ‘Testify!’ Safety nets are good, puritanism in any form are not.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    A fine rant!

    PS While Bug was breastfed, he was on formula the first two weeks because he could not latch for physical reasons, a fact the first 3 lactation ‘specialists’ missed. And, of course, pumping is an exercise in frustration until the milk starts to flow, which often doesn’t happen until after the baby is nursing.

    So yeah, 2 weeks of specialists making my post-partum wife feel ashamed. Let’s give those folks some legal power as well.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    OTOH, those vegans who won’t even try to breast feed and only feed their babies a diet of nut-milks… I’m sure it can and has been done and led to a healthy baby, but IIRC, the amount of care that must be taken to balance the diet is pretty high, and new parents are often luckily if they can remember to put on pants in the morning.Report

  4. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    And you may be right. Drinking soda and alcohol are bad. Smoking is bad. Breastfeeding is good. But the greatest good of all is respecting individual liberty. It’s in human nature to pursue the perfect at the expense of the good, and the good over the good enough, but perfection isn’t attainable. Perfection doesn’t exist but in the minds of bureaucrats and opinionated college students. Aiming at perfect usually ends up with a system that’s onerous and unenforceable. And it’s in the nature of government to inflict rules onto people badly, unevenly, with too heavy a hand. Charging the government with creating a perfect moral system will end in disaster. We gotta accept that good enough is good enough.

    So as a bureaucrat who is well past highschool – we don’t aspire to perfection either. We will never have the resources for perfection. Hell, we don’t have the resources for good enough most days. And none of us who actually do government for a living are aiming to create a perfect moral system. We can’t do so with humans.
    But what we can do – and I and my fellow scientists do daily – is look at what the data tell us. In the case of breast feeding (which my wife did with all three kids, including the one she had at “high risk” at 40), we have data that tells us the breastmilk is a top level source of nutrients; that certain socioeconomic groups (like black women) were actively discouraged from breastfeeding for many non-medical reasons, and that women who want to breastfeed in all but the largest metropolitan areas lack institutional support in medical settings to do so. That data leads to the conclusion that government can support personal liberty by creating and sustaining certain groups and actions that enhance and support breastfeeding as an option, and that then facilitate the use of formula where it make more sense. The whole point of Latch NY was not to create criminals out of mothers who choose formula, but rather to break a cycle that wasn’t responsive to data collected on it – to essentially correct yet another market failure.
    Were there over the top stories of people taking it to an extreme? Sure. That isn’t a nefarious plot of the whole. It’s what happens in human systems. But market failures are a real thing and hoping that human nature will turn on itself both individually and collectively and voluntarily correct these failures is even more folly then what you suggest.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Philip H
      Ignored
      says:

      I accept that everything you say is true but it’s also a bit blind as to how this stuff can and often does play out in real life. I actually wrote a post about my own family’s experiences awhile back (here if you’re interested: https://ordinary-times.com/2018/04/06/on-expertise-and-advocacy/).

      Now I’m a liberal and unlike Kristine am less dismissive of the idea that the state can at times be a force for good. But often enough well meaning ideas and policies do end up being enforced in crazy ways, and sometimes in ways which are totally counterproductive. Doesn’t mean that inaction is always the way to go but a big dose of perspective and humility is too often missing. People making policy need to actually ask questions like ‘what if we implement this so robustly that we actually confuse people about the facts’ or ‘is this so important it should be enforced by people with guns and the power to break up families’? Sometimes the answer may well be yes but most of the time it isn’t and its far from clear to me that these things are actually considered.

      That’s something this whole breastfeeding thing really reinforced for me anyway.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s a selection bias problem. Often enough, when something like Latch On NYC is dreamed up and implemented, the people who sign on early to push things and enforce things are the puritans. They are the ones who can not be dispassionate arbiters, who will try to move the needle as hard and as fast as possible, everything else be damned.Report

      • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        Wow great piece!! Thanks for sharing, reading, and commenting!Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        You assume those of us charged with implementation don’t do that. More often then not we are faced with untenable trade offs of resources – namely bodies and money.

        Take the Clean Air Act – passed along with the Clean Water Act to stave off increasing economic cost from pollution (and as a cynical ploy by Nixon to brand himself as an environmentalist) enforcement of the clean air act was shoved down to the states by the EPA because the EPA will never be given the tools to do the necessary science, much less the necessary enforcement. State governments have even less resources to do enforcement with, so most of the work is now making sure the necessary fines are collected, since its cheaper for most industries to pollute and pay fines then actually scrub their emissions.

        I’d argue that’s crazy and counter productive, but the other two alternatives – repeal and hope for market corrections that won’t come voluntarily or fully funding science and enforcement – are not going to happen either. So as the OP says, we have good enough because we will never get to perfect.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          But your own examples (EPA, Clean Air Act) really do evidence a distinction. In those cases you’re talking about big, tragedy of the commons type issues, or situations where powerful actors are using their resources to avoid accountability for doing real damage to the public. That is not the same as using aggregate statistical analysis about what foods might be marginally healthier to lock up food for children. I think we can all argue about where exactly the lines are, and it can definitely be blurry but to me this is as clear as it gets and quite illustrative of the problem with reflexive statism.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          The EPA, much like the IRS, also suffers from the Iron Law, which we can easily see when such agencies make it a priority to go after low impact targets who have limited resources to fight with, just so the agency can keep their enforcement numbers up there. So the big bad guys get to skip because the agency would rather show large numbers of individual actions, rather than a smaller number of higher impact actions (mainly because it is difficult to quantify ‘higher impact’, and it’s easier to go after smaller fish).Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Philip H
      Ignored
      says:

      “Science” has been used to justify all sorts of things.

      “Science” knew that ulcers were caused by stress, not bacteria.
      “Science” told us to put babies to sleep on their tummy, not their back.
      “Science” knew that a very low fat and protein, high carb diet based around grains was healthy and so America started living on Snackwell’s cookies and got fatter and fatter.
      “Science” told us you could foretell criminals by the shape of their skulls.
      “Science” gave us drug-resistant microbes and DDT.
      “Science” has been used to “prove” women inferior to men and blacks inferior to whites.
      “Science” has been used to warp the criminal justice system and convict the innocent..
      “Science has been used to justify a host of evil things https://ordinary-times.com/2020/03/01/my-corona-authorities-bureaucracies-and-the-illusions-of-safety/
      And of course “science” is often dead wrong. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1182327/
      https://www.nature.com/news/over-half-of-psychology-studies-fail-reproducibility-test-1.18248 https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/3/14792174/half-scientific-studies-news-are-wrong

      Science is in the midst of “The Replication Crisis” right now https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis because so many scientific studies, particularly in psychology and medicine (the two kinds of studies bureaucrats really ought to rely upon the most) have been proven untrue.

      Science has limitations and drawbacks and one of the greatest is that it is often used to justify the doing of bad things by good people.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        I didn’t say science – I said data.
        Data can be used to do wrong.
        Religion can be used to do wrong.
        Money can be used to do wrong.

        All of that is true.

        If you are looking for good enough to help people however, then purely commerce driven individual liberty based approaches are the worst way to do so in society because very few people are truly altruistic. The ones who are (like Ghandi or MLK) are generally murdered for it. Most people put their needs above others, and will generally seek to horde or deny resources base don their interpretations of personal best, not societal need.

        So if you want societies to succeed -and I know more then 1 or 2 libertarians who don’t seem to want that – then you need a stabilizing mechanism that operates above the level of person. Data in many forms – including human history – tells us that markets are ABYSMAL at this. which leaves either religion (also abysmal generally) or government. There’s really no other option.

        As to the replication crisis – most of us have railed against this sort of thing our whole careers but we exist – by choice – in a system that still largely rewards volume of publication and can’t accept failure of positive hypothesis testing. Its why the professional societies have all gone in on various scientific integrity policies.Report

        • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          Oh yes, I forgot that data appears left on the ground every morning like manna from heaven!

          Data in many forms, including human history also tells us that governments are also abysmal as a stabilizing mechanism because they’re made up of the exact same people who put their needs above others and generally seek to horde or deny resources based on their interpretations of personal best, not societal need.Report

        • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Philip H
          Ignored
          says:

          “If you are looking for good enough to help people however, then purely commerce driven individual liberty based approaches are the worst way to do so in society because very few people are truly altruistic.”

          Which is why capitalism, a “purely commerce driven individual liberty based approach” has been responsible for the greatest reduction in human poverty and highest standard of living in human history: it doesn’t run on the assumption that people are altruistic, it runs on the assumption that they are selfish and greedy, then outlaws any approach to gaining wealth (i.e. theft) that would otherwise be more efficient than mutually beneficial trade.

          “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages” – Adam Smith

          “Data in many forms – including human history – tells us that markets are ABYSMAL at this”

          Data and History also tells us that central control of the economy via government (e.g. socialism) is even more ABYSMAL at it. Capitalism, like Democracy, is a terrible system…but it is the least worst of all the ones we’ve ever tried.Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Urusigh
            Ignored
            says:

            I have no interest in central planning or control. The great vast majority of liberals don’t either. I have little patience for such things frankly. I agree it hasn’t worked – but I note that the most centrally planned countries end up being run by oligarchies of small numbers of very rich men. The Soviet Union had this challenge and China currently has it in spades.Report

            • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              Than “individual liberty based” approaches are your only alternative. If you reject distributed decision-making, all you’re left with is centralized decision-making.

              Regarding small numbers of very rich men: this is largely inevitable in any system in which luck plays a significant role. You get the same result even just by randomly determining the outcome of actions (i.e. you could have 100 people start with $100 dollars and make them start betting on coin flips, and you’ll see the same pattern emerge where most people stay within a deviation at first, some win big and some lose big, but over continued flips the number who hit $0 and are forced out inevitably increases and the top end of the distribution climbs higher and higher for fewer and fewer people until at some point almost everyone is either broke or rich. Merit, skill, and good judgement (or lying, cheating, and corruption) can improve the odds, but Gambler’s Ruin still determines the overall trend: those who have the least are most likely to lose it all, those who can afford the most losses are most likely to see the greatest gains. That’s just luck.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Urusigh
            Ignored
            says:

            “…capitalism, a “purely commerce driven individual liberty based approach” has been responsible for the greatest reduction in human poverty and highest standard of living in human history”

            OK, we keep hearing this claim so lets look at it.

            In every single nation in the world in which people rose out of poverty, markets were mixed with powerful state control; Everything from Chinese state capitalism, to the American New Deal, or European social welfare state, the rise in wealth was also accompanied by government regulation and control over markets.

            So it would be fair to say wouldn’t it, that “State regulation of markets has been responsible for the greatest reduction in human poverty etc.”?

            Well, no it wouldn’t, anymore than asserting that it was “capitalism” that did this.
            The creation of wealth isn’t the result of a single magic bullet any more than the destruction of wealth is.
            If wealth could be created simply by applying “markets” then Haiti would be as prosperous as Norway. But they obviously aren’t, so something else must be lacking.

            Wealth requires markets yes, but also a high trust and cooperative society, a regulatory state, and other things as well.

            This is an example of the “revolutionary” thinking I mentioned in the other thread, where once the barriers of the old regime are fallen, then the magic of the revolution will just make things happen without further effort or work.Report

            • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              “So it would be fair to say wouldn’t it, that “State regulation of markets has been responsible for the greatest reduction in human poverty etc.”?”

              Depends, like taxes, regulation has an associated cost. That’s like saying “hydration is responsible for health”, dehydration and over-hydration are both lethal and there are plenty of other requirements as well. Given our discussion of the Laffer Curve, I’ll assume that you’re also familiar with “regulatory burden”, but elaborate on the concept for any lurkers. There’s an inflection point to markets such that on one side the market is not optimally free because of distorting factors like monopoly, uncertainty, fraud, etc and on the other side likewise less free due to banned activities, compliance/tax costs, cronyism, etc. Free market Capitalism isn’t one end of an axis with State-run economy on the other, Capitalism is the centrist part of the axis with anarchy on the end opposite State-run.

              “If wealth could be created simply by applying “markets” then Haiti would be as prosperous as Norway. But they obviously aren’t, so something else must be lacking.”

              Capitalism requires wealth to invest, entrepreneurs to invest in, a market with sufficient liquidity to provide a customer base, and the rule of law to enforce business ethics, contracts, and the protection of private property. Seems to me Norway is superior to Haiti on all counts, so superior performance is to be expected.

              “Wealth requires markets yes, but also a high trust and cooperative society, a regulatory state, and other things as well.”

              Those “other things” include capitalists, hence “Capitalism” as the general term. I rather like your point about “a high trust and cooperative society” (e.g. “social capital”) though. That seems underappreciated in today’s politics. I also consider it one of the primary reasons socialism doesn’t scale well, the greater the power and distance differential between the ruler and the ruled the less trust there generally is on either side. Likewise, excessive regulation promotes the assumption that noncompliance would otherwise be the norm, undermining trust in the regulated (and when bad things happen anyway, undermines trust in the regulators themselves). Socialism seems to have a higher minimum social capital requirement than Capitalism, so it fails faster when trust and cooperation drop, but neither work effectively in areas with very low social capital (ironically, Democracy likewise seems to have a higher minimum social capital than Authoritarianism, explaining why troubled economies tend to fall into a death spiral of authoritarian socialism). That social capital is falling in America is a clear and present danger to both our economy and our political system, but good luck getting a majority to agree on the causes or solutions.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    Counter-take: Limited Government is puritanical. It is the puritanism of sucks to be you if bad things happen to you and you are not adequately wealthy enough to handles whatever unfortunate events happen to you. It is the puritanicalism that abhors the concepts of universal healthcare, mandatory sick leave, or mandatory paid vacation unlike nearly every other country in the developed world because it shits its pants at the idea that someone “undeserving” (usually a “blah” person) would get those things. It is the puritanism of hucksters combining Calvinism with a worship of wealth to praise the rich and damn the poor or nearly everyone outside the 1 percent.

    I agree fuck the puritans and puritarians but disagree on who they are.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      here here.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      I think you can favor those types of policies and still think there are real limitations on what the state is capable of achieving, and places that it ought not go, or problems that it isn’t well suited to solving.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      This says a lot more about your understanding of the issues than about people who disagree with you.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      You’re wrong, because limited government doesn’t ban charities, organizations, religious groups, communities, families, friends, and random strangers from doing any of those things.

      Only government can say it’s “my way or the highway.” Only government can say “you have to give us money no matter how badly we manage it and no matter how draconian our policies”. Only government can force people to give money to bloated and corrupt institutions.

      I choose not to give money to the Salvation Army and the Boy Scouts because of their position on homosexuality. I can’t chose not to give money to the US Government because of their position on carpetbombing Bagdhad (and BTW also gives organizations like the Salvation Army and Boy Scouts tax free status).

      This idea you have in your head where “I care so passionately about people but no one else does so I gotta FORCE EM” is nonsense (and entirely Puritanical). Most people do care about helping others! Just because some of us don’t think the government is getting good results with their programs (not to mention, as I literally just did in a previous post, that I favor cutting back on lots of other areas rather than the social safety net, and even expanding the safety net to work more efficiently) does not mean we want people to die in the streets.

      A person can have a different idea about how to get to a particular endgame than you do, and that doesn’t mean they are an eevul person who says “sucks to be you.” In fact, if your idea isn’t working (and human feces in the streets, abandoned needles where children play, homeless camps, and 128 people dying every day of opioids is indicating to me that it isn’t) and all you can come up with is “keep doing exactly what we’re doing, only harder!!!”, that seems to me to be an uncaring and coldhearted response. If you can’t let go of a philosophy you hold very dear, even when it’s obviously hurting people, it may be that the person making another suggestion may in fact care more about helping others than you do.

      Now, I may be entirely wrong about what I think will help, but I’m certainly not a bad person telling anyone “it sucks to be you, hope you die in the streets” and I strongly suspect you know that. So please don’t ever question my motivation in that regard again.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ve worked for charities. They are great in their way but have serious limits. Especially religious charities. Charities have much less funding in general and are limited by when charitable giving is high. They are poorly suited to counter cyclical interventions since giving goes down when the economy hits the crapper but that is when more people need help. Charities can be selective about who they help based on things like religion or sexuality. In rural areas, which you know about, that often mean some people don’t get help or need pretend they aren’t gay, etc just to get help. This, imho, isn’t good.

        I’ve also had a people tell me how pissed they are that the gov is giving their ex health care and money since now their ex could get away from them. Yes i am talking about situations with DV and alcohol abuse. In rural areas churches dont’ have the resources but will side with keeping the family together over little things like getting a DV victim out of the home. Charities have serious limits and if they are the only option some groups will have their liberty limited.Report

    • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      Your claim is nonsensical and illogical. This article is using “puritanical” in the (not actually correct) sense of “imposing one’s own morality on others”, essentially a “benevolent” authoritarianism. Small Government Libertarianism is the definitional opposite of authoritarianism (benevolent or otherwise). It imposes nothing on anyone, so you’re still quite welcome to go form a health care co-op and and offer your own employees whatever benefits you see fit.

      Bluntly, if you think puritanism worshiped wealth or damned the poor you are shockingly ignorant about where much of our American charitable traditions originate. Puritanism answers the “free rider” problem by making it socially unacceptable to freeload while it also makes it socially mandatory for those with excess to provide charity to those genuinely in need. Piss on hard work, self-reliance, and religious charity all you want, but the more you do so the faster you’ll run out of other people’s money and find your socialist utopia ending up a humanitarian disaster like Venezuela .Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      “Other people are not your business.”
      “That’s pretty puritanical.”Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    “But the greatest good of all is respecting individual liberty.”

    Sez who?

    See, this illustrates the libertarian struggle.

    Conservatives and liberals have always understood politics to be concerned with the inherent tension between liberty and order.
    All their theories attempt to create rules and hueristics and tests to help determine when liberty overrides order, or vice versa.

    For example, speech should be free, except for slander, or time place and manner restrictions; Public order must be maintained, but different opinions and customs should be respected.

    Obviously both groups draw different lines, create different test, but they both concern themselves with resolving the tension.

    “The greatest good of all is respecting individual liberty” is a statement that can’t accomplish that since it admits no tension. It doesn’t see the greatest good as an optimum of competing goals, but as one of maximizing one.

    And in its own way, is every bit as oppressive as any nannystatism, because it imposes a singular vision upon people who have shown no desire for it.

    Urusigh in the other thread used the phrase “engineers of the human soul” in describing religion. I was about to comment on the irony of using that phrase, evoking as it does the ugly malign history, but it also reflect the universal choice of people to do exactly that, to find some way to attain solidarity and transcendence.

    People even today in secular cultures have demonstrated repeatedly that they value both liberty and order, and choose to accept the tension even when it leads to clashes.

    Asserting that liberty is the highest goal as libertarians do (hey, its right there in the name!) ignores this revealed preference in favor of an arbitrary moral choice.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Chip Daniels
      Ignored
      says:

      Beyond the scope of the piece. Thanks for reading and commenting, but of course these are not manifestos, they’re articles touching on one tiny piece of the puzzle.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Kristin Devine
        Ignored
        says:

        Is the liberty of mothers in choosing their child’s diet really the highest good?
        Always and without exception?

        Or are there competing goals which allow the state to have a legitimate interest in the mother’s dinner menu?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          Is it a nudge or a push? Does the state have an interest? Let’s say yes. Now the question becomes, how much ‘force’ is justified to satisfy the government interest?

          It’s one thing to offer new mothers information regarding nursing their new baby, and assistance getting the whole thing rolling. It’s something else to lock alternatives away or otherwise demand that nursing be the only option open to new mothers.

          Again, there are gradients at play. While the libertarian ideal may be ‘keep your government out of my life’, the political reality of libertarians is to put forth the question of, “Are you using the minimal ‘force’ necessary to achieve your ends? Can you prove that?”Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Beyond that you really have an honest broker problem in the US that I’m not sure exists anywhere else. It’s one thing to keep arsenic out of the baby food. But that’s not always what’s going on. We also have highly motivated actors who insert themselves into obscure corners of public policy few people know about and that aren’t subject to unbiased oversight.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon
            Ignored
            says:

            Exactly.

            The answer to what “reasonable” search is, or how to balance the need to protect children versus the liberty of parents to control them, are negotiable points, ones that are fiercely debated by people of good will.

            So asserting that “Liberty is the highest good” is as unproductive as asserting that “Protecting children is the highest good”; It doesn’t help us resolve our conflicts.

            Whether forcing nursing mothers to listen to pro-breastfeeding literature is an acceptable use of power or not, is a debatable point, not axiomatically good or bad.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              Yay! Forced ultrasound laws!Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Case in point.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Where we disagree is not whether government should force women to do this.

                We disagree over whether it has the jurisdiction to do this.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You don’t believe the government has the jurisdiction to prevent parents from harming their children?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Ultrasounds == Child Abuse?

                Are you familiar with some of the side effects of 5G radiation?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Protecting the rights of the unborn is a legitimate jurisdiction of the state, according to some, no different than protecting you from being murdered.

                I disagree, but its not obvious and unassailable.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                There are plenty of things that are a legitimate jurisdiction of the state, according to some.

                Where we disagree is not whether government should force people to do things

                We disagree over whether it has the jurisdiction to do these things.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Of course.

                But my original point was that using the language of “X is the highest good” prevents us from finding a path towards disagreement.

                One person wants to maximize liberty; Another wants to maximize order;

                Without an understanding of optimizing competing claims through negotiation and compromise, we are just stuck on first principles.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, I suppose comparing societies wouldn’t work…

                I mean, is it even possible to compare two societies?

                I mean, we can’t even say if our society is better (or worse) this year than last year. How can we say that this one that has the dials turned up to 7 is worse than that one that has the dials turned down to 3?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not grasping what you’re saying here.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If we’re hoping to optimize claims, we have to have some basis of saying whether a society is better than it used to be.

                Or worse.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Why do we “have to”?

                Societies negotiate all sorts of claims about norms and morality and justice, all the while having wildly different sets of beliefs about the good.

                Our modern conception of what is “reasonable” search, or “undue burdens” or “cruel and unusual” were all negotiated and litigated and resolved into their current form without any such basis.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I guess I don’t understand what you mean by “optimize”, then.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Optimize just means reaching an agreement where conflicting claims are resolved according to some set of moral priors.

                Like, conservatives and liberals have each separately worked out an optimum balance between order and liberty as they understand it, and collectively have worked out an optimum balance between their competing frameworks which allows a peaceful resolution.

                What allows them to do this is as Jonathan Haidt noted, they really have a shared start point of values, they just stress different parts of it in different circumstances; Liberty here, Order over there.

                And we can speak each other’s language; I can appeal to an anti-abortion advocate’s sensibilities by pointing out the dehumanizing effects of forced birth, and the tyrannical intrusiveness of those laws.
                I can do this because they also value individual liberty as we do, even if they subordinate it in different places.

                But refusing optimization in favor of maximization blocks that; It doesn’t give us any common area to work with.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, you’re totally using “optimize” in ways that I’m not familiar with, then.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                it’s so funny watching Chip try to do a kafkatrap hereReport

        • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          did you read the entire second half of the piece in which I lay out the issues with this chain of thought? If not, I refer you back to them.Report

  7. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    What no love for the La Lecha Leauge when ranting about pressure to breastfeed? They have been pushing hard for a long time.Report

  8. Avatar Slade the Leveller
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s obvious from Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor of NYC that he has nanny state tendencies. But how successful was he in making any of his opinions take root in reality? From what I can see on the interwebs, the Latch On program failed to latch on (sorry!). His pop tax failed to pass. It’s not clear to me where the danger lies here. Besides, Bloomberg wasn’t a Democrat (at least as far as political office is concerned) until he decided to run in that party’s primary this year.

    There are plenty of politicians on the other side of the aisle who have other nanny state tendencies, just expressed to a different constituency.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Slade the Leveller
      Ignored
      says:

      His pop tax didn’t fail to pass. It was blocked by the courts before it could be implemented.

      Compare, for example, to Trump’s travel ban. Imagine someone defending Trump by saying “but it didn’t go through!”Report

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        Politicians propose all sorts of crazy sh*t that never gets enacted. I’m neither defending nor attacking Bloomberg. It seems as though the political system and the marketplace of ideas both worked as one would have hoped here.Report

      • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        There was no Bloomberg “pop tax” struck down by the courts. Bloomberg got the NYC Dept. of Health to ban large sugary drinks, like the big Arizona-brand soft drinks, not to tax them. The courts blocked it because the NYC Dept. of Health lacked the regulatory authority to do that. The court never addressed what the City Council could have done in its legislative capacity, either to ban big gulps or to tax sugary drinks. (I simply don’t recall, and don’t much care, if he had previously tried to get a tax through the City Council or not before having DOH issue its big gulp ban.) In other places, like Philadelphia, where the city’s legislative body passed an actual tax, there has been no legal problem.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
          Ignored
          says:

          You’re absolutely right. His pop tax didn’t get struck down by the courts.

          His ban got struck down by the courts.

          I regret the error.

          Edit: I stand by the comparison to Trump’s ban being struck down by the courts, though… as well as to attempts to defend the ban not being that bad due to how it was blocked by the courts.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *