Yascha Mounk and Adolph Reed, Jr.; Matt Yglesias on consequentialism; Richard Hanania's resentments; Cactus and Rob Henderson;
In lodging an EA criticism of Woke shibboleths, it is not enough to point out that misgendering is less bad than war crimes, child abuse, starvation, etc. The Woke could reply that virtually everyone already knows that these things are very seriously bad, so public opinion need not be swayed about them; that what opinion-leaders should do is, rather, to stimulate opposition to things that are often *wrongly downplayed*, like misgendering. So, the critic of wokeness needs a stronger premise: that misgendering is not bad at all (or only very, very slightly bad). From this, it does, indeed, follow that the Woke are misplacing their efforts.
"Rather, they are missing some instinct that allows them to use common sense to see through ideas that are fashionable and high status, but clearly false."
It's the other way around. Conforming to elite fashion is the common instinct. It's the people of that class who can't get with the program who are abnormal.
“ . . .the model there is that the society could be one in which 1% of the population controls 95% of the resources, and it would be just, so long as 12% of the 1% were black and 14% were Hispanic, or half women, and so on.”
I remember being struck in the early 1990s by this same idea, in an early sort of proto-woke class at my liberal college taught by a famous “queer scholar”. I naively went to college believing that liberalism meant an equality based on individual liberty, and that the oppression of others was a profound evil.
But what I discovered was that liberalism – at least that which called itself “liberalism” – was really about simply changing the person with the boot on everyone’s throat from some white man in a business suit to a lesbian with spiked hair.
"Rather, they are missing some instinct that allows them to use common sense to see through ideas that are fashionable and high status, but clearly false." -- He's simply describing an inferiority complex. That's the big thing. Right wing thinking can be overly stupid and tribalistic at times but what separates rightists from leftists is often self esteem.
>"I imagine that if shamans were given medical degrees and allowed to work in hospitals, real doctors would see that as an insult to their profession."
Wait until Hanania finds out about Naturopathic Doctors. They get to call themselves doctors, open medical practices, "treat" patients, hire nursing staff, etc. yet provide nothing of value and heal nobody.
I did read the Hanania piece, but he is wearing increasingly thin, as I can never figure out what he wants me to DO beyond share his anger.
"By the 80s, or certainly by the end of the Clinton administration, class and political economy have disappeared from American political discourse (or at least policy-oriented discourse) almost entirely. And culture is all that's available for us to understand existing inequalities."
A bit of truth in this in that Republicans gave us a "Moral Majority" to spearhead opposition to Clinton and not a "Growth Maximization Majority" and they have become every better at using identity politics to achieve power.
‘… ccounts of why people are poor.‘
They don’t work hard enough or not at all?
There is historically over the centuries a close correlation between someone’s wealth (relative) and how hard they work.
As far as culture - yes it has been observed too that in some cultures hard work is to be avoided in favour off minimum effort, resulting in lower wealth. Other cultures prioritise work - example, the Protestant work-ethic which got the proto-USA on the road to economic greatness.
>>While I give credit to EA for at least trying to go beyond mere virtuous intentions and to think in terms of consequences, it is still only an intention to think about consequences. If you really care about consequences, stick to the market, which enforces consequentialism. Use the heuristic that if your firm makes profits, it made people better off. If it doesn’t, it didn’t.
It seems like the right analogy here is to *purchases* rather than to firms. EA is about consumption, not investment. Economic activity always terminates in consumption. Effective altruists prefer to consume goods in a way that (first and foremost) satisfies other people's preferences rather than their own.
Like the parent of a hungry little boy who has no money or earning potential of his own, the effective altruists believe, on the basis of good evidence, that there is someone (the child/the recipient of benefits from charity) who has little or no productivity to contribute, but who could nonetheless benefit greatly from some consumption. So instead of consuming directly themselves, the EA/the parent channels some of their wealth toward the consumption of the recipient/child.
Thus I don't think it's right to think of EA people as making an investment. Rather, they are making a purchase--purchasing utility that is experienced by other people rather than themselves.
(To come at this analogy from another angle: indisputably, there are people in the economy who are so unproductive that their vital interests can only be advanced by other people's economic activity on their behalf. If these people were, in their current state of affairs, left to consume only what they can gain by trading the fruits of their productivity with others, massive amounts of potential utility would be lost/left on the table. Clearly children are like this. EAs believe that the global poor share this trait to some extent, and I think they have excellent evidence for that belief.)